Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Cover Sells the Book

I read the back cover of a book while browsing in a store today, and was immediately intrigued:

How could so literate a country become the scene of book burning and thought control? How could so sensitive a people participate in the organized and pitiless mass slaughter of defenseless and innocent men, women, and children? How could a country with so notable a military tradition stumble into the greatest military catastrophe of modern history?
The latest literary blast at the Bush Administration? Nope. The book, The Life and Death of Nazi Germany, was written in 1967 by Robert Goldston. I paid 25 cents for it, yellowed pages and all, at the local Goodwill store. Goldston's recap of the marketing inherent to selling Hitler (and his vision) to the German people kept me busy most of the afternoon while I was waiting patiently as the wife and daughter conducted holiday shopping duties. Here's a short passage from the section on the Nuremberg trials that just feels very applicable to events today:

How could these defendants, - who should have long since been confines to prisons or asylums or the sewers from which they had sprung - have come to rule one of the most powerful nations in the world? Who or what was responsible for that basic crime against sanity? Who or what was responsible for the atrocious crimes committed in the name of the government? Who was on trial here, only the government of Germany or the entire German nation? Or did all peoples everywhere somehow bear responsibility for the terrible events recited in the indictments at Nuremberg?

So frightful was the impact of Nazi Germany upon the consciousness and conscience of mankind that even today, more than twenty years later, many people still cannot bring themselves to believe it all really happened, that it was all true. It is with a feeling of numb frustration that we still ask ourselves apparently unanswerable questions...