The New York Times has a fascinating article from Jessica Shattuck whose grandmother was a Nazi. I have always been interested in trying to decipher the mindset of ordinary Germans swept up by Hitler’s grand plans and how they could cause, through support of Hitler, the death of millions. What would justify, in their minds, their decisions. This article is a look back at an ordinary German and her mindset. The grandmother lived to almost 100.

In those nearly 100 years on this earth, did she wonder if she was directly responsible for the crimes against humanity?
It’s a fascinating look at a woman who chose not to hear what was truly being done because she had her own worries and none affected her.

I Loved My Grandmother. But She Was a Nazi.

My grandparents were Nazis. It took me until recently to be able to say — or write — this. I used to think of and refer to them as “ordinary Germans,” as if that was a distinct and morally neutral category. But like many “ordinary Germans,” they were members of the Nazi Party — they joined in 1937.

My grandmother, who lived to be almost 100, was not, as I knew her, xenophobic or anti-Semitic; she did not seem temperamentally suited to hate. Understanding why and how this woman I knew and loved was swept up in a movement that became synonymous with evil has been, for me, a lifelong question.

She and my grandfather grew up in a working-class suburb of industrial Dortmund, where unemployment was rife; it had been occupied by the French after World War I. They joined the Nazi Party to be youth leaders in an agricultural education program called the Landjahr, or “year on the land,” in which teenagers got agricultural training. My grandmother always maintained that she had joined the Nazis as an “idealist” drawn to the vision of rebuilding Germany, returning to a simpler time and, perversely, promoting equality.

Read Full Article