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DON'T PIN HORRORS ON ALL GERMANS

I would like to respond to the article "Who perpetrated Holocaust? Everyday, ordinary Germans," where A.M. Rosenthal is quoting Harvard professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's book about that subject (April 3, 1996). There is absolutely no justification for the Holocaust, and even one dead Jew is one too many. However, it is absurd to assume that of the 82 million Germans alive at the beginning of WWII, more than one-half of them, which is almost every adult, male and female, knew about the degradation, torture and killing of the Jews. I grew up in Munich and spent eight years in grade and high school during the Hitler regime, and not once do I remember having been exposed to anti-Semitism propaganda in school, church or family. Anti-Semitism was part of the Nazi propaganda that the "ordinary Germans" evaded as much as they could. Twice an attempt was made on Hitler's life, the first one in Munich 1938 and the second one in Hitler's headquarter in July 1944, and both times he escaped. As in any totalitarian regime, only a small number, as in this case the Nazis, had power over life and death.

In Munich we knew about Dachau, and we were aware that anyone who opposed Hitler's ideology could expect a midnight visitor and afterward become a statistic in that place. Besides the Jews, there were many Germans in concentration camps who were conscientious objectors, Jehovah's Witnesses and members of political parties who had bravely criticized the Nazi system. No one ever returned from Dachau to give a report about its infamous condition, nor were there any newsreels, pictures or reports made available in the government-controlled news media to the "average German."What was the main concern of the Germans during those years? Survival. Many lost their homes and loved ones in frequent air raids and other acts of war. More than 12 million Germans in the east were driven out of their homes and had to find refuge in the west. And when we finally learned the truth about the atrocities committed in the concentration camps, we were as much ashamed and shocked as anyone else in the world.

Rudolf H. Strebel

Bountiful