Though I agree with the general sentiment above, I have to object to one of the particular points made. One statement above made me have to reply - that no-one in Germany cared
. This is a generalisation, and as we know, all generalisations are false
Firstly, the German population (taken, as I assume Shanoyu means, the 'Aryan' population of Germany, not the Ashkenazi Jews who also lived there, and could well be considered German) were not 100%, to a man anti-semites. I'm not an expert and the socio-economic and political landscape of 1930's Germany, but there were several groups who would have been against the holocaust;
* intellectuals, who tended to be more anti-Nazi than the general population
* the small Communist groups and larger left-leaning parties active in Germany before the rise of Nazism, and of course;
* the trade unionists
* disabled people, and those close to them; another group targeted by the holocaust
* Homosexuals, another targeted group
* Gypsies and Roma (who were in Germany, but might not be considered ethnic Germans)
* Ashkenazi Jews, the European branch of the Diaspora (who today make up 80% of the world Jewish population) were not only in Germany, but could well be considered ethnic Europeans - they had been interbreeding with the populations of Northern Europe for centuries
* Jehova's Witnesses and Freemasons, who were also victims, as well as Protestants and Catholics, who, although obviously not universally persucted, frequently saw dissident clergymen targeted. They may have also been from more liberal-minded wings of their Churches that were against genocide.
But it's also untrue to state that those who supported the holocaust didn't care about it. If they supported it, they probably did so with a violent passion. Here's why;
* Have you ever attended a rock concert, an evangelical gospel meeting, a major sports game, a mass political protest, or any event with a large, euphoric crowd, a charismatic figurehead, and a shared emotion and belief? You know the feeling. Your life, really, is insignificant. Modern life has torn you from your ancestral roots, and the only means you have of expressing your individuality is through your choice of consumer goods. Your greatest achievement in life is having kids. But despite living in a vast, industrialised world, you're very much alienated from the hordes of people you pass every day.
At such events, you can become a part of something significant, and you do so in an emotional and ecstatic way (unlike being a part of a corporate machine, where work tend to be menial, unexciting, and without a strong sense of higher purpose). You stand close to your fellow man, and experience a sense of common purpose, and of being a part of something much greater than yourself. That's what the Nuremburg rallies and similar Party events were like. These were also perfectly choreographed to draw out the desired emotions, telling ordinary people that they were destined to be the princes of the earth, which must have been a wonderful boost top their self-esteem. The concept of race was treated (as with many things) as a metaphor for family, which in the case of a racial group, is quite accurate (members of the same race are genetically related, and generally closer relatives than those of other races) - and therefore, evoked the very strong kinship emotions. In such a state, these people would be highly persuadable.
* Despite the fact that there are many theories on the ultimate justification for morality, most people seem to agree on what is and what is not acceptable to do to another human being. If a philisopher's new theory produces the result that the result that eating babies is morally acceptable, he knows he's gone wrong somewhere. Disputes arise as to where to draw the line between human and non-human. Many bronze age nations (including the Jews) drew the line at their own ethnic borders. Slavers ommited their slaves. Pro-choice advocates call the thing in the womb a fetus, and say that the mother has a right to terminate this parastical peice of flesh, wheras pro-life advocates call it a baby, and don't. Animal rights activists attach personhood to non-human animals, and some to the whole planet. Many people say that criminals, especially murderers, rapists, and paedophiles, should not have any human rights. It is fairly obvious where the Nazis placed the Jews, and propoganda got this belief of Jews as sub-human animals into the hearts and minds of the average German on the street. The Stanford Prison experiment showed how easy it is, with different costumes and roles, to make a person put another of the same race, nationality and class background in the animal category within mere days.
The Concentration Camp Executioners were not 'only following orders'. They were terminating brutal animals, animals who were ruining their country, lining their pockets with German blood, plotting to take over the world, and eating their children. Imagine how you would treat someone you believed was a terrorist, a paedophile, a serial killer, a Satanist and an amoral plutocrat if they were at your mercy. This is how many Germans viewed the Jews. They didn't kill out of fear to stand up for their beliefs, they did it for to fulfil a much higher need - as a moral duty for the good of man.
* Hitler was not a psychopath. This is a word that is often thrown around to either mean a deranged loony who gets a kick out of murder, or a cold, emotionless manipulator. Technically, it refers to people with a specific psychological disorder. Hitler was none of these things.
Many biographers who have researched him discovered instead that he was uber-self-righteous, moralistic and driven. He firmly believed he was on the side of good.
* It may well be true that the German people will not be forgiven the holocaust, even when the last surviving Nazis are long dead. But they should be, as we should have learned from the holocaust is that people should not be blamed for things others of their nation have done. I've been to Germany, it's very left-leaning, very ashamed of itself, and extremely anti-fascist (anti-fascist slogans are popular on t-shirts.) Poor History education in allied countries (particularly the UK) means that the sterotype of all Germans as Nazis remains, and is even widely believed. This is paradoxically the kind of conditions that German Nationalist groups can and do use to their advantage.
I don't know how this simple reply got to be so long (I only decided to writeup in response to the anti-German sentiment I perceived), but it includes lots of ideas that I've been thinking over for a while. The analysis of how and why people did what they did during the holocaust contains an important lesson for humanity about it's own nature.
Since writing this node, I've found out that the real reason why the German population did nothing is because the Nazis defeated the resistance. The fascists and communists where in combat over the direction of Germany; the fascists sold out their populist philosophy to big business, and won. On gaining power, they instigated measures to stop their political foes organising against them.