I have often argued that it would be unfair to brush all Germans with the same brush, There were Germans who did resist the Nazi regime. However there is no denying that many were ignorant about the fact what was happening to their neighboits who were either Jewish, Gay, Jehovah Witness, Disabled or Roma/Sinti, or who just had a different political view..
The definition of ignorance is: lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. I recently read an interesting definition of ignorance in an article on a website called Farnham street, it has all sorts of pieces on food for thoughts. They defined it as “Empty Suits and Fragilistas” :[The Empty Suit/Fragilista] defaults to thinking that what he doesn’t see is not there, or what he does not understand does not exist. At the core, he tends to mistake the unknown for the nonexistent.’ I think this was partially the problem in Nazi Germany and that is how the Nazis got away with mass murder and genocide. Because this ignorance turned into collaboration and complicity
But before we judge the German citizens.
The oppressive nature of the Nazi state meant that it was difficult not to be complicit in Nazi activities at some level – although some people played a much more active role in helping the Nazis to achieve their aims than others. Different examples of collaboration in Nazi Germany included: informing on Jewish neighbours, adhering anti-semitic laws,or taking part in boycotting Jewish shops and businesses.
While the Nazi leadership led the way in creating their racist ideology, the anti-Jewish laws and propaganda were implemented and bound into law by those working for the Civil Service . Those who continued to work in the Civil Service following the Nazi rise to power therefore directly contributed to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.
Following the Nazi rise to power, new textbooks were introduced to make sure that all content taught by teachers was in line with the Nazis’ beliefs. This page is taken from a Nazi racial science textbook published in 1934. In the bottom right corner, someone has added another side profile with stereotypical Jewish features and written ‘Jüden’, meaning Jews, next to it.
The Germans weren’t the only ones being complicit. There were many citizens in the occupied countries who were eager to help the Nazi regime. Collaboration took many forms. In some countries the government actively cooperated with the Nazis. In others, individuals or groups acted on their own initiative to offer their help to the Nazis. Smaller forms of collaboration also took place on an individual basis, such as informing on Jewish neighbours (sometimes out of antisemitism, sometimes out of a desire to take over their property, jobs or valuables once they had been arrested or deported)
That doesn’t take away the fact though that this all started in Germany. If the German citizenry would have paid more attention to what was happening, and if they would have asked collectively what was happening to their neighbours, then perhaps the Holocaust would not have taken place, and they would not have to be forced to bury those who their political leaders had massacred, in their names.