Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918-1945

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source: Information Processing

I recommend this podcast interview with Thomas Kuhne, author of Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918-1945.

Kuhne claims that no German soldier ever faced court martial for refusing to kill a civilian. He estimates that (only?) about 200k German soldiers in total were involved in the killing of Jews or other civilians. But by the end of the war every German who wanted to know about “crimes in the east” could easily find out. This last observation is supported by letters and diary entries of ordinary people. Matters of national guilt or conscience weighed heavily on soldiers and ordinary Germans by the end of the war, Kuhne claims.

Kuhne makes interesting observations about the male social hierarchy within military units. Those who refused to carry out Nazi orders against civilians were regarded as weaklings, but were not subjected to direct reprisal.

There are two means to unite a people — common ideals and common crime.
—Adolf Hitler, Party Leader, Munich, 1923

If this Jewish business is ever avenged on earth, then have mercy on us Germans.
—Major Trapp, Police Officer, Poland, 1942

For there is a great, bright aspect to this war: namely a great comradeship.
—Adolf Hitler, Reich Chancellor, Berlin, 1942

We Germans are the nation that has gone for this war enthusiastically and will have to bear the consequences.
—Franz Wieschenberg, Wehrmacht Private, Eastern Front, 1944

To stick together and to fight side by side and be wounded side by side, that’s our wish.
—Kurt Kreissler, Wehrmacht NCO, Germany, 1945

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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