My grandmother, being a shrewd judge of character, was able to accomplish this because she knew Nazis were human beings, desirous of gold and social position; most did not swoon over Nazi ideology. The majority of Nazis were careerist, simply yuppies on the make ("just looking for a better life for their children") -- and Nazi officials were giving out the jobs, so they joined the party.
In post-war Germany, memory itself seemed to have been firebombed to ash and rubble. For ordinary Germans, the extent of Nazi evil was too great and their own contribution too quotidian to accept personal responsibility for crimes committed by the state. How could the flickering of such tiny desires set the vast world aflame?
Yet over time, after much internal struggle and public confrontation by the nation's artists, writers, and political activists, later generations of Germans began to accept and take responsibility for the crimes of their collective past. They rolled back the cold slab and forced themselves to gaze within the unmarked tomb bearing the remains of the mortifying history they had buried.
This stands in stark contrast to the manner that the people of the US approach, if at all, the unsavory aspects of their nation's history. From the genocidal practices inflicted on Native Americans (my father's people) to the irradiated ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the killing fields of the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, South and Central America and Central Asia, the people of the US have refused to acknowledge and take ownership of the collective sins they carry.
German soldiers were no more evil than their fellows in the US military, who, for example, man the operation systems of Cruise Missiles and navigate predator drones, and kill, detached from feeling, from thousands of miles away. After all, they are only following orders, just doing their jobs as loyal soldiers and good Americans...just like all those good Germans of my grandmother's day.
Although, on a personal level, I carry a pedigree of atavistic oppression in my bartered blood (my father, born on a so called Indian reservation; my mother rushing to these shores with the flames of the Holocaust at her back) I acknowledge my guilt in all crimes against humanity. For I am human; therefore, I cast a long shadow of instinctual, racial barbarity behind me.
In the late 1940s, my grandmother ran guns to the Irgun. She embraced the desperate, nationalist delusion of Zionism. I understand why she did this. But, now, everyday, Palestinians are forced to their knees in order to make amends for the sins of Europe.
Although its origins and workings seem to us mysterious and evanescent, evil remains proliferate because our traumatized psyches see it as a force of good. Evil is a deranged angel of self-preservation, convinced his wicked machinations and destructive fury are bulwarks against outside forces aligned to bear his doom.
And that is why I don't support "our troops." They are the delivery system of US imperium (even when deployed for "humanitarian" bombing campaigns by audaciously hopeful, Democratic presidents) and should be regarded as such.
Yet, even as I make the pronouncement, I must maintain a stubborn skepticism regarding my own claims of innocence in the matter.
"A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor." -- Carl Jung: "The Philosophical Tree" (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.335
The myth of Eden and the fall of mankind is a metaphor for leaving the innocence of childhood. In Eden, God, the Father, is above; the very ground is Mother"where the fruits of paradise flow like mother's milk. Like children, and domesticated animals, the psyche is held suspended there, in primal grace, in a state of unconditional trust to authority.
Accordingly, the much-maligned serpent brings freedom, including freedom's regrets and sorrows. Ambiguity comes into the world, as opposed to a father-mandated, mother-ensured totality. (In the socio-political realm, for example, if this psychic passage out of ossified Eden doesn't proceed, its mode of mind can rise as a totalitarian outlook on life. Apropos, the nostalgia of the right to return to an idealized, free market guided and family values beholden, paradisiacal past that never existed and can never be.)
With the loss of one's perceived innocence, the world's freedoms, with its multiplicity of things, arises"not only animal e'lan -- that being, the ability to be present in the breathing moment, aroused by the scent of blood and pheromone held on the wind -- but also foresight and logos i.e., adulthood with all its regrets, responsibilities, reflections, recriminations, and equivocations.
The serpent is the hero/anti-hero of the tale. He is the co-creator of the human psyche. He should be given his due, in regard to providing us with the knowledge necessary to leave the pointless inertia of paradise and blunder into the possibility that we may know ourselves to a greater degree and thus be able to see the world before us with a bit more depth, nuance, and clarity.
"Purists are deadly, and so they know all about deadly sins." --James Hillman
I have rightwing friends who conflate freedom with predator drones; they rage against the government while swallowing the Pentagon's propaganda like mother's milk (a nourishing concoction"if your mother happens to be the Medusa).
(When, for example, a Democratic president orders the launch of cruise missiles, they claim it is done more in sorrow than anger -- none of that crass, testosterone-redolent, smell of blood on the wind excitation evinced during military operations under Republican administrations is allowed on public display.)
Why is rage such anathema to liberal sensibilities?