From the Nuremberg Trials:
April 15: A defendant calls Rudolf Höss, a commandant at the Auschwitz concentration camp, who testifies that "hundreds of thousands of human beings were sent to their deaths." When confronted about his apparent indifference, Höss says, "Don't you see, we SS men were not supposed to think about these things; it never even occurred to us. ... We were all so trained to obey orders without even thinking that the thought of disobeying an order would never have occurred to anybody."
Aren't these words powerful? For anyone who ever says I am just doing what my superiors tell me, Hoss' words should forever ring as a guard against blind obedience.
And yet it is a fine line that soldiers walk in that respect. If every soldier questions every order and runs it through their personal morals, there won't be an army. If they don't question any order, you have the horrors of Auschwitz.
The SS troops were far to one side of the line, the CO's of the Vietnam era refusing to even serve as a medic and running to Canada were far to the other side. Somewhere in between is necessary.
"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."
- Pastor Niemoller
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