Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils, Expanding the Gleichschaltung and the Collective Guilt of Americans
Gleichschaltung is defined as the integration of man into The State.
Is man the slave of The State or The State the servant of man? Who is to control whom?
What defines “freedom”? Does man recognize he is a captive? How did a man, a community, a collective become subjugated to The State?
How is it that individuals rationalize their participation in the Dictatorship– particularly, those who by their knowledge of God, of history, of principle, ought to know better?
The Dictatorship, also known as The Collective, or The Community, removes personal responsibility from those who have been absorbed into its system ie. Gleichschaltung. Or does it?
In 1953, Jewish Journalist and Professor Milton Mayer returned to Germany to ask German individuals these very questions? Why did they become Nazi’s? Why did they choose to become integrated into The State led by men who were known to be evil? Did they regret the atrocities they as part of The Collective had committed against mankind? Below are excerpts from Mayer’s interviews published in his book entitled: They Thought They Were Free, The Germans 1933-1945.
- Abandoning Principle…little by little.
“ Yes,” said my colleague, shaking his head, “the ‘excesses’ and the ‘radicals.’ We all opposed them, very quietly. So your two ‘little men’ thought they must join, as good men, good Germans, and even as good Christians, and when enough of them did, they would be able to change the Party. They would ‘bore from within.’ ‘Big men’ told them only to abandon one little principle after another, to throw away, little by little, all that was good. I was one of those men.”
- Attrition of the minds, mental deafness ensues.
“You know,” he went on, “when men who understand what is happening—the motion, that is, of history, not the reports of single events or developments—when such men do not object or protest, men who do not understand cannot be expected to. How many men would you say understand –in this sense—in America? And when, as the motion of history accelerates and those who don’t understand are crazed by fear, as our people were, and meld into a great ‘patriotic’ mob, will they understand then, when they did not before?
We learned here—I say this freely—to give up trying to make them understand after, oh, the end of 1938, after the night of the synagogue burning and the things that followed it. Even before the war begun, men who were teachers, men whose faith in teaching was their whole faith, gave up, seeing that there was no comprehension, no capacity left for comprehension, and the thing must go its course, taking first its victims, then its architects, and then the rest of us to destruction. This did not meat surrender; it meant conservation of energy, doing what little one could (now that it was too late to do anything!) and consuming one’s energy doing it, to relieve the present victim (if only by brazenly saying ‘Hello’ to him on the street!) and to prevent, or at least postpone, the fate of the next victim (if only writing a ‘nonpolitical’ letter abroad asking somebody to take an emigrant!).”
- Compromising Conscience by Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils
Another colleague of mine brought me even closer to the heart of the matter—and closer to home. A chemical engineer by profession, he was a man of whom, before I knew him, I had been told, “He is one of those rare birds among Germans,– a European.” One day, when we had become very friendly, I said to him, “Tell me now—how was the world lost?”
“That,” he said, “is easy to tell, much easier than you may suppose. The world was lost one day in 1935, here in Germany. It was I who lost it, and I will tell you how.
“I was employed in a defense plant (a war plant, of course, but they were always called defense plants). That was the year of the National Defense Law, the law of ‘total conscription.’ Under the law I was required to take the oath of fidelity. I said I would not; I opposed it in conscience. I was given twenty-four hours to ‘think it over.’ In those twenty-four hours I lost the world.”
“Yes?” I said.
“You see, refusal would have meant the loss of my job, of course, not prison or anything like that. (Later on, the penalty was worse, but this was only 1935.) But losing my job would have meant that I could not get another. Wherever I went I should be asked why I left the job I had, and, when I said why, I should certainly have been refused employment. Nobody would hire a ‘Bolshevik.’ Of course I was not a Bolshevik, but you understand what I mean.”
“Yes,” I said.
“I tried not to think of myself or my family. We might have got out of the country, in any case, and I could have got a job in industry or education somewhere else.
- Submission to evil rationalized by illusions of Humanitarian Benevolence.
“What I tried to think of was the people to whom I might be of some help later on, if things got worse (as I believed they would.) I had a wide friendship in scientific and academic circles, including many Jews, and ‘Aryans,’ too, who might be in trouble. If I took the oath and held my job, I might be of some help, somehow, as things went on. If I refused to take the oath, I would certainly be useless to my friends, even if I remained in the country. I myself would be in their situation.
“The next day, after ‘thinking it over,’ I said I would take the oath with the mental reservation that, by the words with which the oath began, ‘Ich schwore bei Gott,’ I swear by God,’ I understood that no human being and no government had the right to override my conscience. My mental reservations did not interest the official who administered the oath. He said, ‘Do you take the oath?’ and I took it. That day the world was lost, and it was I who lost it.”
“Do I understand,” I said, “that you think that you should not have taken the oath?”
“But,” I said, “you did save many lives later on. You were of greater use to your friends than you ever dreamed you might be.” (My friend’s apartment was, until his arrest and imprisonment in 1943, a hideout for fugitives.)
“For the sake of argument,” he said, “I will agree that I saved many lives later on. Yes.”
“Which you could not have done if you had refused to take the oath in 1935.”
“And you still think that you should not have taken the oath.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“Perhaps not,” he said. “but you must not forget that you are an American. I mean that, really. Americans have never known anything like this experience—in its entirety, all the way to the end. That is the point.”
“You must explain,” I said.
- Choosing Evil: the problem of the ‘lesser evil.’
“Of course I must explain. First of all, there is the problem of the lesser evil. Taking the oath was not so evil as being unable to help my friends later on would have been. But the evil of the oath was certain and immediate, and the helping of my friends was in the future and therefore uncertain. I had to commit a positive evil, there and then, in the hope of a possible good later on. The good outweighed the evil; but the good was only a hope, the evil was a fact.
“But,” I said, “the hope was realized. You were able to help your friends.”
“Yes,” he said, “but you must concede that the hope might not have been realized—either for reasons beyond my control or because I became afraid later on or even because I was afraid all the time and was simply fooling myself when I took the oath in the first place.
“But that is not the important point. The problem of the lesser evil we all know about; in Germany we took Hindenburg as less evil than Hitler, and in the end we got them both. But that is not why I say that Americans cannot understand. [but can now in 2016] No, the important point is –how many innocent people were killed by the Nazis, would you say?
“Six million Jews alone, we are told.”
“Well, that may be an exaggeration. And it does not include non-Jews, of whom there must have been many hundreds of thousands, or even millions. Shall we say, just to be safe, that three million innocent people were killed all together?”
“And how many innocent lives would you like to say I saved?”
“You know better than I,” I said.
“Well,” said he, “perhaps five, or ten, one doesn’t know. But shall we say a hundred, or a thousand, just to be safe?”
“And it would be better to have saved all three million, instead of only a hundred or a thousand?”
- The Point:
Those who know better, the ‘educated’ influential mentors, should have been Prepared to Resist.
“There then is my point. If I had refused to take the oath of fidelity, I would have saved all three million.”
“You are joking,” I said.
“Or that others would have followed your example?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You are an American, “ he said again, smiling. “I will explain. There I was in 1935, a perfect example of the kind of person who, with all his advantages in birth, in education, and in position, rules (or might easily rule) in any country.
If I had refused to take the oath in 1935, it would have meant that thousands and thousands like me, all over Germany, were refusing to take it. Their refusal would have heartened millions. Thus the regime would have been overthrown, or, indeed, would never have come to power in the first place.
The fact that I was not prepared to resist in 1935, meant that all the thousands, hundreds of thousands, like me were also unprepared, and each one of these hundreds of thousands was, like me, a man of great influence or of great potential influence. Thus the world was lost.
- “Education” –Intellectualism, position, rationalizes away faith.
“You are serious?” I said.
“Completely,” he said. “These hundred lives I saved—or a thousand or ten as you will—what do they represent? A little something out of the whole terrible evil, when, if my faith had been strong enough in 1935, I could have prevented the whole evil.”
“My faith. I did not believe that I could ‘remove mountains.’ The day I said ‘No,’ I had faith. In the process of ‘thinking it over,’ in the next twenty-four hours, my faith failed me. So, in the next ten years, I was able to remove only anthills, not mountains.”
“How might your faith of that first day have been sustained?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. “Do you?”
“I am an American,” I said.
My friend smiled. “Therefore you believe “education.”
“Yes,” I said.
“My education did not help me,” he said, “and I had a broader and better education than most men have had or ever will have. All it did, in the end, was to enable me to rationalize my failure of faith more easily than I might have done if I had been ignorant. And so it was, I think among educated men generally, in that time in Germany. Their resistance was no greater than other men’s.”
Any institution (church, school, college, hospital etc.), organization (service, social and special interest groups), business/industry (contractor, supplier, producer, distributor, vendor, manufacture) or local government (municipal, county, regional, state, etc.) that accepts: funding, tax-exemption, loans, contracts, grants, subsidy or favors from The State (national or local) is part of the process of integrating man into the collective of The State. ie. Gleichschaltung.
Socialist Dictatorships (fascism, communism etc.) are embraced because the people, the collective masses, have been ‘educated’ to want them. The propaganda of socialism is focused on some entity, utopia for which it will control production and distribution, such as economic prosperity and equality.
The people, educated under tutelage of The State, have never developed the spirit, the aptitude, or the desire for Liberty, which of itself originates from faith in The God who abhors the slave State. Sadly, the German and the majority of European institutions of “faith” had long been married to, funded and controlled by The State.
If The State, The Collective, The Community establishes itself as God- as Provider, Lawgiver, Judge and Savior does it also remove personal and collective guilt?
The majority of Germans interviewed by Mayer, never acknowledged any guilt regarding the horrendous slaughters in which they partook against the members of their “communities” and against humankind. After all, they were just obeying what the “educated” State had instructed them to do.
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself,
‘God I thank You that I am not like other men…’ “
They Thought They Were Free, The Germans 1933-1945, by Milton Mayer
The Fascist, His State, His Mind, by E.B. Ashton
Socialism, An Analysis Von Mises
Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Lord Acton, Margaret Thatcher
The Road to Serfdom by Hayek