The Milgram experiment

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One question that puzzles many people around the world is how was it possible that a sophisticated nation like Germany could be responsible for something is horrific as the Holocaust?

The scary and the brutal reality is that is was extremely easy. Another reality is that this could have happened anywhere else.

Someone once told me that it must have taken decades to turn people from law abiding citizens to either monsters or bystanders. I told her that it doesn’t take decades to condition people to commit evil, it only takes a few days.

Prime examples are the third wave experiment ,conducted by California high school history teacher Ron Jones to explain Nazi Germany. Another example is the Stanford prison experiment, conducted by a psychology study group led by Dr.Philip Zimbardo, at Stanford University. The  experiment attempted to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison officers.

Both experiments had to be abandoned after less then a week because they basically had become to successful. The key was the aforementioned law abiding citizens, fact is that people follow authority do what they are told and when this happens without any critical thinking or asking questions it is extremely easy to create a genocide.

The 2 experiments mentioned above both had students mistreating other students and even though it created  groups that perceived themselves superior to their fellow students which led to some skirmishes , there was relatively little violence.

The Milgram experiment however went a step further.

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Inspired by defense testimonies during the Nuremberg trials and especially the Adolf Eichmann trial, where it was claimed that ‘they were merely following orders” Stanley Milgram wanted to see how far people would go in obeying an instruction if it involved harming another person, and he was was interested to see how easily ordinary people could be influenced into committing atrocities.

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Three men took part in each session of the experiment:

  • The “experimenter”
  • The “teacher”
  • The “learner”,

 

At the start of the experiment, they were introduced to another participant, who was a confederate of the experimenter (Milgram).

They drew straws to determine their roles – learner or teacher – however this was fixed and the confederate was always the learner. There was also an “experimenter” dressed in a gray lab coat, played by an actor (not Milgram).

In total there  were 40 male participants , aged between 20 and 50, whose jobs ranged from unskilled to professional, from the New Haven area.They would all be paid $4 an hour + 50 cents car fare.

Two participants (one actor) were separated in two rooms where they could only hear each other.

The test subject then read a series of questions to the actor. Each time the actor would answer a question incorrectly, the test subject would push a button that administered an electric shock to the actor(In reality, there were no shocks)with shock levels starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts.

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Although many of the test subjects expressed a desire to stop the experiment at the first signs of screams, nearly every single one continued to push the button when they were told they would not personally be held responsible for any consequences.

65%  of the participants (i.e., teachers) continued to the highest level of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 volts.

The experiment did show that tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or as legally based.

Killing human beings though has a complete different mindset, however these experiments do show how easy it is for people to become complacent and even complicit in unspeakable crimes if it is ordered by an authoritative body whose morals  motives aren’t questioned but just assumed to be right.

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The inconvenient truth is that despite all historical evidence,genocides still happen, not to the same scale as the Holocaust, but genocides are still a reality in the 21st century.

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Sources

Simplypsychology.org

verywellmind.com

 

 

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The day that evil and arrogance was hung.

Eichmann

On May 31st 1962 Adolf Eichmann was executed for his crimes by hanging.

I have read a lot about Eichmann and have seen a lot of documentaries. He was a particularly evil man, he never showed any remorse for all the crimes he committed or ordered to be carried out. Throughout his trial he remained arrogant.

Adolf Eichmann’s last words, before he was hanged  were “I hope that all of you will follow me,”

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Eichmann was one of the architects of the Holocaust. On January 20 1942, he  met with top Nazi officials at the Wansee Conference near Berlin.The conference marked a turning point in Nazi policy toward the Jews. Plans to transport Jews to Madagascar was abandoned, as were other plans for relocation. The focus was on the final solution, the eradication of the Jews.

The most disturbing aspect of the conference was the business like attitude adopted for the mass extermination of millions of people.

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During the Nuremberg Trials, Rudolf Höss the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, testified that Heinrich Himmler had instructed Höss to receive all operational instructions for the implementation of the Final Solution from Eichmann.

After the war Eichmann escaped ,as so many other Nazi war criminals, to Argentina. He had used an alias ,Ricardo Klement, However on 11 May 1960, he was captured by Mossad agents. near his home on Garibaldi Street in San Fernando, Buenos Aires, and was shipped off to Israel.

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On April 11, 1961, Eichmann’s  was put on trial  in Jerusalem. It would the first televised trial in history. He  faced 15 charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes. According to him he was just following orders, But the panel of Judges Benjamin Halevy, Moshe Landau, and Yitzhak Ravehthe judges disagreed, and found him guilty on all counts on December 15 and sentencing him to die. On May 31, 1962.

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The hanging had been scheduled for midnight on 31 May, but was slightly delayed and thus took place a few minutes past 12:00 a.m.His body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.

I was going to include a picture of the hanging, but decided against it, because there will always be some misguided fool who would have sympathy for his dangling body.

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Nazi crimes trials

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Before you read on let me explain the title of Nazi crimes trials. This is not about the Nuremberg trials or any other subsequent war crimes trials. This is about Nazis bringing Nazis to trial as ordered by Heinrich Himmler.

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I will give you a minute to leave it sink in.

The chief investigator and prosecutor  was Georg Konrad Morgen(picture at the top of the blog),  an SS judge and lawyer.

He was demobilized and employed as a judge in the SS Judiciary, which assigned him to its court in Cracow. In Cracow he investigated several highly placed SS officers for corruption, including Hermann Fegelein, a favorite of Heinrich Himmler’s and the future brother-in-law of Eva Braun. He also exposed one of Fegelein’s co-conspirators, Jaroslawa Mirowska, as the head of the Polish underground.

After requesting a transfer, Morgen was instead dismissed by Himmler, ostensibly for acquitting an SS officer of the racial crime of sexual relations with an alien race, but also perhaps for meddling in Himmler’s affairs.He was punished by being sent to the Wiking Division on the Eastern Front. However, in mid-1943, Himmler recalled Morgen to investigate and prosecute corruption in the concentration camp system, which had become rampant, as reflected in Himmler’s notorious Posen speeches.

 

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Although Morgen could not accuse the men of murder or unjust killings, as Hitler’s regime allowed it to make mass murders like those in concentration camps legal, Morgen was able to charge these men with theft, military insubordination, and murder of individuals.

This is the list of those that were indicted

Name Rank Location
Karl Otto Koch SS-Standartenfuhrer Buchenwald
Hermann Florstedt SS-Standartenfuhrer Majdanek
Hermann Hackmann SS- Hauptsturmfuhrer Majdanek
Hans Loritz SS- Oberfuhrer Sachsenhausen
Adam Gruenewald SS- Sturmbannfuhrer Vught
Karl Kuenstler SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Flossenburg
Alex Piorkowski SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Dachau
Maximillian Grabner SS- Untersturmfuhrer Auschwitz
Gerhard Palitzsch SS- Hauptscharfuhrer Auschwitz
Amon Goth SS- Hauptsturmfuhrer Plaszow
Hans Aumeier SS- Sturmbannfuhrer Auschwitz

Rather then going in to each of the accused I will pick out just a few of them.

Karl-Otto Koch

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Koch was first caught for his crimes by SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Josias, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 1941, while he was glancing over the death lists of Buchenwald, he had noticed the head hospital workers name, Dr Walter Kramer. He had recongised him because Kramer had successfully treated him in the past, Josias had started to investigate the death and found out that Koch, being the commandant had ordered Kramer and Karl Peixof, a hospital assistant, killed as political prisoners, because they had treated him for syphilis and in fear of being discovered had killed them.

Josias had also gained reports of a prisoner being shot while attempting to escape, by this time Koch had been transferred to Majdanek in Poland. However his wife was still working at Buchenwald. Josias ordered to have a full scale investigation of the camp by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen. Throughout this investigation, more of the orders to kill prisoners were being revealed, as well as the stolen property of the prisoners. The prisoner who had been shot in his attempted escape was actually told to get water from a well which was some distance from the camp, he was then shot from behind, he was also another one of the hospital attendants who had treated Koch.  

A charge of incitement to murder was lodged by Prince Waldeck and Dr. Morgen against Koch, to which more charges were later added. Other camp officers were also charged, which included Ilse Koch. Koch was arrested in August 1943. Although the camps were known for vast amount of crimes against humanity, the Nazis did not officially sanction cruelty to the prisoners. As strange as it may sound. The trial resulted in Koch being sentenced to death for disgracing both himself and the SS. Koch was executed by firing squad on 5 April 1945, one week before American allied troops arrived to liberate the camp.

Amon Göth

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On 3 September 1943, in addition to his duties at Płaszów, Göth was the officer in charge of the liquidation of the ghetto at Tarnów, which had been home to 25,000 Jews (about 45 per cent of the city’s population) at the start of World War II. By the time the ghetto was liquidated, 8,000 Jews remained. They were loaded on a train to Auschwitz concentration camp, but less than half survived the journey. Most of the survivors were deemed unsuitable for forced labour and were murdered immediately on their arrival at Auschwitz. According to testimony of several witnesses as recorded in his 1946 indictment for war crimes, Göth personally shot between 30 and 90 women and children during the liquidation of the ghetto.

On his birthday in 1943, Göth ordered Natalia Karp, who had just arrived in Płaszów, to play the piano. Karp performed Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor so well that Göth allowed her and her sister to live.

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Göth was also the officer in charge of the liquidation of Szebnie concentration camp, which interned 4,000 Jewish and 1,500 Polish slave labourers. Evidence presented at Göth’s trial indicates he delegated this task to a subordinate, SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Grzimek, who was sent to assist camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Kellermann with mass killings.Between 21 September 1943 and 3 February 1944 the camp was gradually liquidated. Around a thousand of the victims were taken to the nearby forest and shot, and the remainder were sent to Auschwitz, where most were gassed immediately on arrival.

On 13 September 1944, Göth was relieved of his position and charged by the SS with theft of Jewish property (which belonged to the state, according to Nazi legislation), failure to provide adequate food to the prisoners under his charge, violation of concentration camp regulations regarding the treatment and punishment of prisoners, and allowing unauthorised access to camp personnel records by prisoners and non-commissioned officers.Administration of the camp at Płaszów was turned over to SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Büscher. Göth was scheduled for an appearance before SS judge Georg Konrad Morgen, but due to the progress of World War II and Germany’s looming defeat, the charges against him were dropped in early 1945. SS doctors diagnosed Göth as suffering from mental illness, and he was committed to a mental institution in Bad Tölz, where he was arrested by the United States military in May 1945.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

KZ Auschwitz, Einfahrt

Morgen subsequently discovered the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Two packages of dental gold, sent by an Auschwitz dental technician to his wife, had been confiscated by postal inspectors and passed on to Morgen for investigation.Realizing that the gold must have been collected from Holocaust victims, Morgen sent an investigative team to Auschwitz and later visited himself, receiving a thorough tour of the killing center at Birkenau. His investigation was not welcomed though; his assistant SS-Stabsscharführer Gerhard Putsch disappeared and the building where evidence files were stored was burned down.Although he could not prosecute the mass extermination of Jews — which, as he explained after the war, was legalized by order of Hitler — he still went on to prosecute the camp commandant Rudolf Höss and the Chief of the camp Gestapo, Maximilian Grabner, for crimes including murder.

Maximilian Grabner

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In 1943, he was arrested for theft,murder, graft and corruption and was put on trial in Weimar a year later. After the trial, he returned to Katowice. Grabner was arrested by the Allies in 1945 and turned over to Poland in 1947. In the Auschwitz Trial he was found guilty of charges of murder and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to death. Grabner was hanged on 28 January 1948.

In addition to prosecuting concentration-camp officers, Morgen sought an arrest warrant for Adolf Eichmann,as Eichmann himself confirmed at his trial in Jerusalem, but Morgen’s request was rejected.

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After the war, Morgen was a witness at the trial of Nazi war criminals at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg; also the trial of SS WVHA members, and the 1965 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt–am–Main. Thereafter, he continued his legal career in Frankfurt. He died on 4 February 1982.

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Planet Auschwitz

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I was listening to some of  the testimonies of the Eichmann trials yesterday, and I think they actually had a physical effect on me.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit sick and for some reason the little toe on my right foot was paralyzed, this has never happened to me before. It is one thing seeing the evidence but listening to victims who lived through it has a much bigger impact.

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I cannot listen to or read all the testimonies again because I don’t know how it will impact me, but I will post an excerpt of one statement which stuck with me because although it tells something horrible it has a poetic feel to it.

It was the testimony of Yehiel Dinur. who referred to Auschwitz as Planet Auschwitz.Below is an excerpt of his testimony, after the prosecutor showed him a garb from Auschwitz.

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This is the garb of the planet called Auschwitz. And I believe with perfect faith that I have to continue to bear this name so long as the world has not been aroused after this crucifixion of a nation, to wipe out this evil, in the same way as humanity was aroused after the crucifixion of one man. I believe with perfect faith that, just as in astrology the stars influence our destiny, so does this planet of the ashes, Auschwitz, stand in opposition to our planet earth, and influences it.

If I am able to stand before you today and relate the events within that planet, if I, a fall-out of that planet, am able to be here at this time, then I believe with perfect faith that this is due to the oath I sworn to them there. They gave me this strength. This oath was the armour with which I acquired the supernatural power, so that I should be able, after time – the time of Auschwitz – the two years when I was a Musselman, to overcome it. For they left me, they always left me, they were parted from me, and this oath always appeared in the look of their eyes.

For close on two years they kept on taking leave of me and they always left me behind. I see them, they are staring at me, I see them, I saw them standing in the queue…

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