|Dad on far left|
My dad died, today, 29 years ago and I think of him often. Growing up with a father who’d been in the Luftwaffe (he joined in 1936), made me sensitive to the issue of being “the bad guy.” Because I knew my dad loved me and that he was a good person in spite of his previous uniform and war history, I’ve always been curious about what makes evil succeed. Dad was a smart guy, after all. How did he get sucked into the Nazi cause?
Here's what I've come up with:
One huge ingredient necessary to grow evil is ignorance. This is happening in Russia right now where the mass media manipulates the truth leaving the average Russia in the dark. Goebbels was a mastermind of propaganda during the Third Reich. He controlled newspapers, radio, and film. It’s harder now with the internet so prevalent, but Putin is making every effort to control that, too.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1968-101-20A / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Ignorance and fear can be fought with knowledge and with courage. My dad was a voracious reader after the war and I have a solid collection of his books. He worked at re-educating himself. He was also a courageous man, forging a new life in a new country and bravely admitting to his past. Today, it's Ukraine's president who models courage to his people and to the rest of us.
My dad paid for his youthful ignorance with the loss of his young family, five years in a Soviet gulag and most of all, a deep sense of shame for his cheerleading of the Führer. But he was open to learn and he was brave to admit when he was wrong.
|Dad with his first-born, Peter|