I watched 'Der Undertag' ('The Downfall') over the weekend. It was about the final, flailing days of Nazi Germany before the surrender in World War II, and it showed what can be simplistically described as the human side of Hitler and the Nazis. It was bizarre to see Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) as a genial old man all kind and patient with his new stenographer (Alexandra Maria Lara).

I couldn't quite express how I felt after the movie, but as fate would have it, I happened upon this post on Conscientious, which alluded to the movie while writing about an exhibit on the Rwanda genocide.

He wrote:

"Of course, seeing an SS doctor portrayed as a hero in a movie makes for uncomfortable viewing (even though one would have to live under a stone to assume that someone high up in the SS was not involved in any crimes).

But it's exactly this discomfort that we need to experience in order to learn something. If monsters commit grave crimes, we are safe - because we are not monsters. If ordinary men and women commit grave crimes, we are not safe - because we are ordinary. This, of course, doesn't mean that we are future genocidaires [perpetrators of genocide], but it does mean that we could be."

That sums it up very nicely for me. It gives me a chill to think that all of us could have a monster inside us, and when the right moment comes along, it devours us.

Image from 'Downfall'


enc said…
I see what you mean. Nobody wants to think s/he is capable of monstrosities.


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