Are NAZIs bad?

Its been my understanding that the NAZIs did horrible things. Because they were NAZIs? But if you study history, you find that the NAZIs didnt do anything worse that a lot of other groups/societies. Hitler was not a monster spawned once in a millieum. Stalin killed as many or more. Japan killed every chinese it could deliver a bomb to. and if you get past WWII then you get to the US genocide of the Indians,and whatabout Cortez, Australians …

It seems to me that mankind has the ability to do unimaginable things when it has the slightest justification.

Not just isolated groups but its wide spread enough to indicate to me that its a trait of the species.

The difference between Nazis and, say, Imperial Japan is that Japan started a massive war that killed a great many people during which they committed a wide range of atrocities, and they deserve to be blamed for that. The Communists engaged in a level of social engineering that killed million, and they should be blamed for that. But for the Nazis, murder was the whole point. The Jews were not killed to take their territory or achieve a political end; they were killed because the Nazis enjoyed killing them.

Humans are capable of genocide on incomprehensible scales, to be sure, and they can do it for any one of a million reasons. But genocide isn’t the point of Communism or Japense imperialism or even Rwandan bigotry. Genocide is, however, the point of Nazism. Nazi Germany abandoned any vestige of human decency or civilized behaviour. The common accounts of Nazi behaviour are, if anything, softened for consumption. They weren’t as bad as you’ve heard; they were a lot worse.

the difference between communists and democrats can be resolvedl the differences betwene Imperial Japan and its neighbours could have been resolved. The differences between Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda could have been resolved. That they were not resolved before the killing began is the fault of the principal actors and many are to blame for as many murders as Hitler. But those difference CAN be resolved, and usually are. The differences between Nazis and decent human beings cannot be resolved. To be a Nazi is to oppose the basic tenets of goodness and humanity.

Nazis were and are the common enemies of the human race.

If your point is that many historical examples of human atrocities need to be studied and remembered, I agree with you.

If your point is “Lighten up on the Nazis”, there’s a problem.

The specter of a group coming into power in a civilized nation and undertaking to exterminate entire classes of people is shocking and repugnant, the more so since it came to pass in recent times. In terms of evil, it has a deservedly special place in history. Attempts to dilute that evil (by comparison with less shocking episodes, and particularly by the current common practice of calling one’s opponents on a variety of social issues ‘Nazis’) are an insult to the memory of those who died as a result of Nazism.

But I’m sure that wasn’t your intent.

…It’s been my understanding that Ted Bundy did horrible things. Because he was Ted Bundy? But if you study criminal history, you find that Bundy didn’t do anything worse than a lot of other serial killers/mass murderers… etcetera

I’m sure you get my point. Good and Bad are relative terms which compare behaviors and policies with those considered to be “normal” “fair” or “expected.” Certainly if you compare one imperialistic country with another historical example, it’s hard to consider one essentially different from the other, but if you compare both to the common experience of nations, they stand out in a negative way. What makes Western society consider the National Socialists of 30’s and 40’s Germany “BAD” is the same thing that makes the policies of Stalin during the same time period “BAD” and makes Japan’s imperialism and the “manifest destiny” in the US which subjugated and exterminated the native populations “BAD” as well.

Our concepts of what is normal and expected differ among cultures, and change according to the changing mores of each society. Obviously, the common Japanese subject did not consider what his Emperor did to be evil, nor did the average Nazi party member believe himself to be evil, nor did the average US trooper in the Indian wars think of himself as evil. Times change. Beliefs change. Societies change. Sometimes consensus among societies builds. The common consensus is that the Nazis were bad.

Is that helpful?

Would there be any SERBS or KURDs left if the country that wanted to eradicate them was powerful enough to do it?

The TUTSIS and HUTUS have been trying to kill each other for centuries but didnt have the means.

What about the Hindus in India/Pakinstan?

My point is: Are the Nazis any different or were they just good at being bad? I am not arguing that they were horrible. I cant get the image of the soldiers rounding up the czars family (women and children), shooting them, bashing their heads in. They were not Nazis, just soldiers.

My point is twofold.
One, history is full of nice societies doing bad things. The Nazis are the most infamous, but not unique. They were horrible and I dont know of anything worse (and can’t imagine)

Two, due to the variety of societies behaving in such a manner , it seems to me that a society is a fragile entity and the possibility of slipping into these depths is real.

Its easy to externalize such behavior as Nazis, communist, Hutus, … but they were all just us.

the only good NAZI is a dead NAZI.


after the NAZI kills you, it’s a dead issue.

Dal Timgar

Itwas not originally clear where you were going in the OP (or in the couple of threads in GQ), but I would say that you have learned the necessary lesson of the Nazis very well.

We need to identify the Nazis as an example of the worst behavior that people can commit. We must always remember that they were not different as persons than we are. However, the German people did make the tragic mistake of allowing one group of hateful people to lead them into horrible behavior.

This point has recently been reinforced by the book Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah which points out the many ways in which people simply went along with the program rather than challenging it.

We need to set the Nazi atrocities apart so that they do not get dismissed as “just one more” human tragedy, however, we also need to not set them up as some sort of non-human monsters. They were people like us and we need to be sure that we never emulate them.

Killing is always due to hate so to say other killings aren’t as bad misses reality.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to complain about your tax dollars going to kill Jews when other people had no sway over whether or not their tax dollars went to invading France…

general question:

my threads never do specificly state their direction. I like to get a discussion going and have someone else state the conclussion I am considering. I try to use a captivating subject to get people to read it.

Am I going about this correctly?

First off, quit posting to your own thread so much if you want to get a discussion started. As I type this, 4 of the 10 posts have come from you.

Now, back to the original point. Bottom line, the Nazis deserve a special place in infamy for two reasons.

  1. They went out of their way to exterminate whole classes of people: Jews, gays, the handicapped, Gypsies, etc. Others will disagree but I think it’s important to note that these mass murders gained them no strategic advantage. They didn’t do it yo get more land, or more capital, or even to eliminate organized opposition. They simply killed to get rid of them. In other words, no “defensible” motive.

  2. More than anyone else, the Nazis looked to develop better ways to kill, not as a weapon, but simply as a more efficient way to accomplish point one. Mengele’s experiments, stripped of all the pseudo medical research crap simply sought to answer the question “what’s the most efficient way to kill these people?” When mass the mass shootings of the Ukranians proved to be too big a job, they simply developed Zyklon B and a chamber to use it in.

Yeah, but didn’t (insert name of group) do unspeakable things to (insert name of other group)? Of course they did, but that’s not the point. For the Nazis, it wasn’t about conquest, or starting a revolution, or eliminating a rival, or even religious fervor. It was simply about designating entire classes of people as the enemy, then doing whatever they could to wipe them off the face of the earth. The Japanese may have been brutally efficient at Nanking Or the U.S. at Hiroshima), but their goal was conquest, not elimination.

Also, do you think the Nazis would have stopped after they’d eliminated the Jews, Gypsies, gays, etc.? Read what they said about American blacks. They HAD to find new groups of people to designate as the enemy as they eliminated earlier groups. It was a Ponzi scheme of genocide.

And if you can’t get the image of the soldiers going after the Czar’s family out of your head, go back and look at the newsreel footage of the liberation of the concentration camps.

One of the reasons I find the Nazi’s actions so much more disturbing then the Spanish conquistadors, the Hutu’s or Mao’s and Stalin’s communists is not because what the Nazi’s did was so much more terrible in terms of numbers dead or damage done (the Nazi’s after all, did far less lasting damge to the Jews then Cortez did to the Aztec’s), but that the Nazi’s were a socitey very close to our own and still were capable of such attrocities.

At the time of WWII they had the best scientists and schools in the world. They were a christian, developed, industrial country, but instead of preventing the Holocaust, all their developments seemed to actually encourage it. They justified their destruction of the Jews on scientific theories and used their industrial know how to make the killings of Jews far more efficient then in any other genocide I know of.

When it’s African tribesmen or Russian peasantry slaughtering their neighbors, it’s easy to seperate it from our own socities actions by dismissing it as primitive behavior due to a lack of exposure to learning and development. We can’t use this arguement with the Nazi’s, which is why we try to ascribe their actions to “Pure Evil” instead of something that humans just do, regardless of learning, technology, affluence or christiantiy.

Personally, I take your question as a legitimate one, and I will try to answer:

The fundamental difference between the atrocities of the Nazis and that of the others you mention was intent.

Japan did not invade China and slaughter huge numbers of Chinese because their goal was to slaughter Chinese. The purpose was to establish a Japanese empire.

Russia did not cause a famine that killed millions of its own citizens because their goal was to kill millions of its citizens. The purpose was to massively industrialize their nation.


These actions were evil, no doubt, but the intent wasn’t necessarily so. Britain established an empire, and few consider that evil per se. The Japanese used evil methods to achieve a somewhat neutral end.
America industrialized itself, and few consider that evil per se. The Russians used evil methods to achieve this somewhat neutral end.
But the expressed purpose of the Nazis, as demonstrated in Mein Kampf, was to establish the racial superiority of the Aryan people, and to eliminate from Aryan society “mongrel” peoples who threatened Aryan purity. This was evil in and of itself. The Holocaust was simply putting this evil goal into effect. It is therefore qualitatively different.

To my knowledge, only three events in modern times compare - Cambodia, Rwanda and Turkey.
With the possible exception of Cambodia, these events simply differ in degree.
It is possible to argue, although I don’t, that Rwanda was qualitatively different. That argument would go as follows:
The Hutus, although the majority in Rwanda, were second-class citizens, and their intent was to end their second-class status. This is a neutral (or even possible good) goal. The method chosen to accomplish this, genocide, was evil.

It is also arguable that a qualitative difference existed between Nazi Germany, and Cambodia/Rwanda/Turkey in the willingness of the ordinary citizenship to go along with genocide. I’ve only read reviews of Hitler’s Willing Executioners, so I defer to Tomndebb on this.


Hate to post to my own thread but…

I would agrue that the rape of NANKING was worse than the razing of the Warsaw ghetto. Intent notwithstanding. If someone is coming into my village/town/city/country to kill me,my children, and everyone I know then I wouldn’t feel much comfort in the fact that they felt they had a good reason.

At least I am brief when I jump back in!

And you can argue that Hiroshima or the fire-bombing of Dresden was worse than either of those. Could you then argue that the U.S. was as evil as Nazi Germany in WWII? Do you think that it was?
If you don’t (and I assume that you don’t), you have to figure out why the U.S.'s actions were “better” than Germany’s actions. The answer is intent.

BTW, why do you keep all-capping proper nouns?


I always have a problem with the concept that somehow the perception of “good” and “evil” depends on the point of view of the parties involved. According to such ethical relativism, if I believe a certain action is right, then that makes it OK. Societies and beliefs change, however, I think the basic concepts of “right” and “wrong” are fairly constant.

People can be forced to commit “wrong” acts without being “evil”. For example its still wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family because stealing is wrong. It is, however, forgivable.

Another example; It’s not “right” or “good” to drop an atomic bomb on a city and obliterate the inhabitants. It is better that the alternative if it quickly ends a war before a million more people are killed by conventional weapons.

What makes the Nazis particularly evil is that they were able to warp the perception of good and evil for a nation of millions of educated and reasonable people. Through propaganda, they were able to make there actions seem right, or at least tollerable.

Nazi Germany was not simply a nation under the control of an opressive government. If that was the case, the regular German army (probably not the SS) would have dropped their guns and surrendered en mass to the allies as soon as they hit the beach at Normandy (a la Desert Storm). To put up the kind of fight they did required the support of the entire population.

That IMO is why they stand out as particularly evil. Not because their attrocities were any more terrible than Stalins or Pol Pots. But because they showed how easily a nation of normal, inteligent people can turn into monsters.

Er… wasn’t the intent in all these cases to kill people?

I am not sure whether this is for or against the OP, but in JRR Tokien’s letters he mentions a letter sent to a local paper during WWII. In this letter the writer said that because the Germans have clearly shown themselves to be an evil race, the only prudent course of action was to execute every last one of them after the war.

Tolkien was very aware of the cold and terrible irony in this letter.

The point is that, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us…”

Also, as Herman Wouk said, “The beginning of rememberance is the end of war.”

Depends on your definition of “intent”. I’ve been using it as a synonym for “goal”. YMMV.
Further, it raises the issue of whether killing people is always evil. I submit that it is not, whether in self-defense, or in the case of the U.S. in WWII, ridding the world of an evil. The reason I believe that killing someone in the two examples wasn’t evil is “intent” or “goals”. If you accept that proposition, then it follows that degrees of evil can be attached to killing people. I believe that the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, the Hutus in Rwanda, and the Turks are at the nadir of evil. The Chinese, Russians, and Japanese aren’t much higher, but they are higher, IMHO.


Well, I don’t think the ends justify the means. But if you want to say that they do, then the Nazis were trying to create an Aryan paradise. What’s wrong with that?