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An Analysis Of Stanley Milgram 's ' The Good Old Days '

Decent Essays
In his infamous 1961 experiment, Stanley Milgram showed that within practically all humans rests the potential to enact great

violence upon others and that this latent tendency can be exploited by a figure of authority. In Ernst Klee’s The Good Old Days, his

exhaustive and heart-wrenching exploration of first-hand accounts of Einsatzgruppen atrocities and the barbarities performed at

Auschwitz further reveals the extent to which humanity’s intrinsic proclivity toward violence can be abused by the additional

psychological weight of ideology, nationalism, and propaganda. This paper claims that through the high-command’s reaction to the

Einsatzgruppen’s experiences, Klee’s selection of excerpts provides a better understanding of humanity’s frailties than Milgram’s

experiment and it does so using the following three points: the relevance of recommendations that early Einsatzgruppen aktions be

performed by local, non-German citizens, the rationale for the implementation of Gas-vans on the Eastern front, and the real reason

behind Himmler’s eventual order that no punishment should be issued to those soldiers who would refuse liquidation assignments.

An excerpt taken from Eastern Territories Commander, Johannes Blaskowitz’s report to HQ Schloss Spala on February 2, 1940

lays out several well-made arguments against German’s being directly involved in the extermination of thousands of Polish Jews and

dissidents. Although all four points of his argument
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