Saturday, December 29, 2012

Der Untergang (The Downfall)

I recently watched a German movie called Der Untergang (or The Downfall) about the last ten days of Hitler's life. This was a really good movie that explored Hitler's personality and his effects on World War Two. Hitler really was a great orator and speaker but he was a terrible,horrible human being. For as long as I can remember I have been horrified and fascinated with how one man could captivate an entire country into slaughtering over six millions Jews and countless other ethnic groups simply because they were “different” and not part of the “master race”. Hitler motivated thousands of seemingly normal people to do unspeakable things that you and I would never do. Why is this?

How did normal men and woman go from living normal lives into contributing to the killing and torture of millions of people? If it could happen to them, could it happen to us? I like to think that I could never ever be influenced by anyone to do horrible things to other people simply because they are different. What made Hitler and the German people so different? I think it was just a “perfect storm” of circumstances that allowed Hitler to take power and influence an entire country so completely. It was no one thing. It was Hitler's speaking skills, his grip over the economy and politics, his power in the military,his ability to create a power structure that allowed powerful people to do horrible things and last but certainly not least, apathy from the German people. I am by no means saying that every German was a bad person or is a bad person. In fact to the contrary one of my best friends is German and I really enjoyed my travels to Germany and would love to return. The German people as a whole certainly don't deny their history and Nazism is illegal in Germany now. But, during the Second World War the German people were so captivated by Hitler that many of them did horrible things. Maybe they thought “It isn't really my problem” or “it doesn't directly affect me” or “someone else will take care of it” or simply “I don't care” Whatever the reason, the affects of Hitler and World War Two caused the death of over fifty million people globally and involved almost every major country in the world. This coming just 20-ish years after World War One.

I can relate to apathy in my own life. I can use my blog as an example. I know that I do have a fairly large readership base but relative few people actually comment on my blogs. Why is this? Do people not care? Do they have no time? Do my blogs bore people? Does it take too much effort to comment?Lack of motivation? I think it is a combination of all these things. I am by no means angry or sad about this. I am guilty of this myself. We have become a society of people who do not take action for anything unless we are extremely motivated to do so. Not commenting on my blog will not cause the death of millions of people but in a small way I think it does parallel the actions of World War Two.

Hitler was a very disturbed horrible man who deserves one of the worst places in Hell for what he did but what we need to remember is that we cannot forget the lessons we (globally) as a human race have learned from that terrible period in history. My grandfather was a soldier in World War Two and when he was alive I always wanted to hear stories about the war. As I grew older I stopped wanting to hear stories simply for the sake of hearing a story. My respect for him as a person and his service really grew and I actually LISTENED to what he had to say when I was older. As a kid I just wanted to hear battle stories. I will be forever grateful for his actions and those that he served with they helped preserve my freedom. War is horrible in any form but back then the German soldiers fought for their cause and the Allies for their cause with a purpose. Now war has changed. There are no more battle fields and uniforms and causes. It is now all blended together without a specific cause. I truly hope that this world never has to go through another World War. If you haven't seen Der Untergang (Downfall) I highly suggest it. It is in German with English subtitles. Very powerful performances in that movie.

P.S. Not to make light of World War Two at all, but, there is quite funny “Downfall” parodies on Youtube.
That's all I have for you today,Tyler

2 comments:

  1. I saw that movie when it first came out in the cinema, it is a great (but horrifying) movie.
    I think the reason Hitler and Nazism were able to grab a hold of Germany in such a way doesn't have as much to do with indifference of the German people as, there too, a 'perfect storm' of circumstances to be swept 'off their feet' by Hitler into complete irrational hatred etc.: an underlying feeling of dislike for Jews, a need for a scapegoat, the power of propaganda (I've seen images in color of Nazi-events, very impressive). Societies in crisis seem to polarize around extreme ideologies, extreme left and extreme right. Most people wanted/needed to believe in something? (Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, dictators in South America and Africa today...) Mass psychology is a strange thing.

    But to relate to your other blog about connecting the dots, Europe inadvertently created the social and economical circumstances necessary for the uprise of Nazism after WWI, in the way they punished Germany. When Hitler started exterminating whole groups in concentration camps, a lot of people in and outside Germany simply didn't believe it, couldn't believe that something this horrible was possible. As for Hitler, he was a very lucky man: in WWI he had one of the most dangerous jobs there were, but 'luckily' survived; in a march to take over the power in Germany, the guy next to him was shot dead but not him; after this failed coup he ended up in prison writing Mein Kampf; which of course lead to...

    In any case, no matter what the reasons were, it was horrible. I can only hope that the memory of it will stop us from slipping into another great war again. But human cruelty never ceases to amaze me, there have been so many (lesser known) genocides all through history.

    PS: as for not commenting on blogs (yours or in general), I speak for myself when sometimes I feel I simply don't have anything 'worthwhile' to say, even if I enjoy the blogs. As someone who doesn't necessarily get a lot of comments on her blog either, I can relate though ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have to rent the movie - sounds interesting. I am guilty of not reading the blog for quite some time. Hard to believe. Love ya, mom

    ReplyDelete