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All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945. Max Hastings (2012)

December 2, 2013

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“Hans Frank, Nazi ruler of Poland, wrote in his 1942 diary: ‘Humanity is a word that one dares not use … The power and the certainty of being able to use force without any resistance are the sweetest and most noxious poison that can be introduced into any government.’ This is an important statement, for it captures the exhilaration experienced by many Germans and Japanese on finding themselves, together with their local acolytes, occupying posts which conferred absolute powers of life and death. In ordinary peacetime life, men’s and women’s actions are constrained not only by law, but by social convention; even those who might feel no moral inhibitions about pillaging, injuring or killing others are subject to machinery which prevents them from doing so. But the men who exercised authority under the totalitarian regimes, emphatically including that of the Soviet Union, knew themselves liberated from all constraints and safeguards upon the sanctity of human life, provided only that killings advanced the purposes of the system they served. This huge, terrible freedom thrilled its beneficiaries: the few Nazi office-holders who afterwards gave honest testimony described their exercise of power in lyrical terms.”

[op. cit., p. 500]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

Something we all should not forget: mankind is able to be their best and their worst enemy. Circumstances may be of some influence. But the trend is there. Do we have any control over the path we follow? Everyone should think about it and try to answer by him/herself.

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