Tuesday, January 31, 2006

They thought they were free

"What no one seemed to notice ... was the ever widening gap... between the government and the people.

"The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting... . It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway ... and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us...

"Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that ... one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. . . . You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow...

"But the one great shocking occasion ... never comes... That’s the difficulty."

-- Milton Mayer,
They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1938-45 University of Chicago Press, 1955.

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