And We Think We Are Free
By Nolan K. Anderson
I have often asked myself why human beings have any rights at all. I always come to the conclusion that human rights, human freedoms, and human dignity have their deepest roots somewhere outsidethe perceptible world. These values are as powerful as they are because, under certain circumstances, people accept them withoutcompulsion and are willing to die for them.
- Vaclav Havel
The following notice was nailed to the gate of the American prisoner-of-war camp at Babenhausen/Darmstadt in 1946:
"When you, SS-man Willi Schulze, or you, Corporal Rudi Muller, stride out through this gate, your steps will lead you to freedom. Behind you lie months and years of slavish obedience, years of bloodshed, years in which human individuality suffered incredible humiliations, all of which was caused by a criminal regime whose adherents will not escape due punishment.
You yourself are not to blame. Deluded, you blindly followed the call of a false doctrine. From now on your life in your family circle can unfold free and undisturbed. You have been freed from accursed military service, from guilt-laden German militarism. Never again will a shrill command chase you across the barracks courts or drive you to the battlefield. The ashes of your army ID card have mingled with those of Buchenwald and Dachau.
The victorious United Nations which, through their great sacrifice, have freed you and your descendants forever from military service, have assumed the responsibility of protecting your freedom. But in exchange for that great sacrifice you are duty-bound to make sure that never again in your homeland will a desire for military service arise, that never again will young Germans sacrifice the best years of their lives to the hankerings of the Prussian nobility and their war-thirsty general staff, but that they will, from now on, dedicate their strength and their gifts to peaceful ends.