The Humanity of a S.S. Officer


When I taught The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender over the past few years, my students found it difficult to understand the compassion of one of the guards in the story. They couldn’t see these beastly men and women in a kind light. We had wonderful conversations about how someone could be both joyful and monstrous which helped my students to see the complexity of the war from an individual’s perspective.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is currently featuring an online gallery of photos of S.S. solders in casual settings. The pictures, from a 60-year old photo album, are a powerful illustration of the human side of these men and women. Seeing them laughing, posing, and celebrating will surely spark some interesting discussion.

via Boing Boing

3 thoughts on “The Humanity of a S.S. Officer

  1. You may be interested in the book Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer. It tells the parallel stories of a German Jew and member of the Hitler Youth, Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck. They are true stories, culled from their autobiographies. What makes it all the more striking is that they spent 8 or 9 years touring together to talk about the dangers of Nazism – how children can so easily be swayed by fanatic doctrine.

    Get a copy of this book if only to read the epilogue, which describes their journey together as a speaking team.

    It takes a huge step forward in de-demonizing ‘the enemy’. Lessons can be learned in the light of present day demonizations I think…

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