Pg 246 – They Thought They Were Free
I have a friend, in America, with whom I once discussed the question of the indeterminate prison sentence for felonies. Himself an opponent of prison sentences of all kinds, he was by way of being a firsthand authority in the field of penology; in his time he had left a half-dozen jails and penitentiaries without, as he put it, permission. When I met him, he was on his way to the Institution for the Criminally Insane at Menard, Illinois. Nobody could break out of Menard. My friend did, a few months later, and when I last heard of him he was at Alcatraz.
I found the above just hilarious. It is used as a chapter opener on Pressure, but pulled out it seemingly has nothing to do with the book itself. Besides being an interesting story.
Pg 276 – They Thought They Were Free
Grimly preoccupied with themselves; deadly serious and deadly dull (only the Germans could have been unbored by Hitler); tense, hurried, unrelaxed; purpose-bedeviled, always driven somewhere to do something; taking the siesta like Communion, with determined, urgent intent; sneering, and not always genteelly, at the Frenchmen sitting “doing nothing” at his cafe (wie Gott in Frankreich, “like God in France,” is the German expression for “carefree”)
His description of the German people make me wonder how a nation’s average character affects the leaders it has. US Leaders are known for seeing “Hitler’s” in every totalitarian country. But what kind of totalitarian country would come about in the United States? Americans are not deadly serious and dull, tense and unrelaxed. We are hurried, purposeful and driven, but we enjoy relaxation and mind-numbing boredom at times. What kind of Hitler would we have?
Obviously, I hope to never find out. It has been incredibly interesting learning about Germany and the nature of people that can cause the downfall of nations. I hope that by research and thoughtful thought I will be able to not take part in the demise of my own people. If I, as an average person, can resist; then the average person will be able to do it. As a German Chemical Engineer said to Milton Mayer:
Pg 180 – They Thought They Were Free
“The fact that I was not prepared to resist, in 1935, meant that all the thousands, hundreds of thousands, like me in Germany were also unprepared, and each one of these hundreds of thousands was, like me, a man of great influence of of great potential influence. Thus the world was lost.”
This post is the conclusion to a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do readily recommend reading it. For additional reading please see the short review of the book itself and a list of other commentary.