Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Off-Topic > Off-Topic > General off-topic  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:00
Carlos R's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Roundn'about Basel
Posts: 7,232
Groaned at 105 Times in 95 Posts
Thanked 9,934 Times in 4,178 Posts
Carlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond repute
The Godwin thread...

OK. This is a random stream of thought.

I was having a hair cut t'other day and on the TV screen I saw an old bloke being wheeled about by security guards and a flash of a young man in a (you guessed it) Nazi uniform.

I put x and y together and got 2. Basically what I could work out (no sound) was that he was an old prison guard and got sentenced to life.

I could be wrong on the story, but this got me thinking about the "I was only following orders" excuse.

More recent studies have shown that we can completely lose our moral/ethical compass when put in certain situations: i.e. the Stanford prison experiment.

Given this situational or mob mentality, it is clearly possible that an otherwise normally sane (if that's ever possible!) person could become the most cruel person in a given and specific situation - which, let's face it, prison guards in the WWII death camps were in.*

With this in mind, is it possible that those people on the ground, running the camps could claim a lessened or diminished responsibility due to the situation they were put it?

*Please, please, please note, that I absolutely and fully realise that the prisoners were in a far worse situation, but this is not the point of my post.
__________________
Never let right or wrong get in the way of a good opinion
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:03
Ouchboy's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baden
Posts: 3,324
Groaned at 58 Times in 47 Posts
Thanked 5,642 Times in 2,146 Posts
Ouchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Milgram Experiments show that otherwise good people can do really bad stuff when they put responsabilities on a 3rd person/structure.

Personally, I don't think the responsibility diminished at all. Unless they were somehow threatened with tdeath themselves. And even then is debatable.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:08
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: The Godwin thread...

It's funny, I was just talking about the Nazis last night, and about the fact that people in the anglosphere have a terribly bad habit of completely missing the point of the rise of the Third Reich, which isn't that the Germans are a bunch of nasties out to conquer the world, but that a civilised, developed country, populated by decent people like you and me managed to descend into barbarism worse than pretty much anything seen before or since.

Before the war, those chaps running the camps had been bakers, salesmen, painters, roofers and farmhands. What happened to make these normal people into monsters?

This is an excellent subject for a thread - thank you, Carlos.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:12
Mud's Avatar
Mud Mud is offline
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Romandie
Posts: 2,551
Groaned at 26 Times in 23 Posts
Thanked 5,004 Times in 1,827 Posts
Mud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

I'm certain good people can do bad things in the right situation. It's bizarre in a war situation, where death of the enemy is the directive, to expect the men engaged to do the killing to keep a sound moral sense at all times.

But, I also think that being trained to kill an armed foe and systematically killing and torturing civilians are different enough... even if one is simply the 'prison guard', it's not like you're in a foxhole watching your friends get blown apart (which would be a possible excusable situation for losing it and doing bad things)- you sleep in a bed and walk around with a gun after having your coffee and toast every morning. You have to be aware of utter atrocities in that situation.

Another thing that backs up the concept of maintaining a moral compass under duress is field hospitals. How can a doctor, surround constantly by maimed and dying countrymen, treat the wounded enemy? But they do...
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:12
Carlos R's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Roundn'about Basel
Posts: 7,232
Groaned at 105 Times in 95 Posts
Thanked 9,934 Times in 4,178 Posts
Carlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
Milgram Experiments show that otherwise good people can do really bad stuff when they put responsabilities on a 3rd person/structure.

Personally, I don't think the responsibility diminished at all. Unless they were somehow threatened with tdeath themselves. And even then is debatable.
Interesting - I'd forgotten about Milgram. Quick refresh read suggests that at the risk of punishment you'll obey orders.

But to my mind it is an additional piece of the puzzle, that is separate and doesn't necessarily contradict Stanford.

Stanford, to my mind, showed that you actually took responsibility for your actions (however terrible) - the guards who lost it (and have done so in repeats of the experiement) were not under any particular threat themselves or given any particular orders to mistreat the prisoners. Indeed they were initially told that they couldn't touch the prisoners (i.e. harm them directly).

Rather they were simply put in a situation of absolute power over the prisoners, who themselves, were de-humanised. The rest, as they say is history.

Quote:
Before the war, those chaps running the camps had been bakers, salesmen, painters, roofers and farmhands. What happened to make these normal people into monsters?
And indeed after the war, went back to being salesmen, painters, roofers and farmhands, loving husbands and (grand)fathers. And often after a raid from the Israelis to bring someone to justice, the response is "but he was such a kind man, we never knew...".
__________________
Never let right or wrong get in the way of a good opinion
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:16
grumpygit's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: geneva
Posts: 1,476
Groaned at 29 Times in 16 Posts
Thanked 1,508 Times in 695 Posts
grumpygit has a reputation beyond reputegrumpygit has a reputation beyond reputegrumpygit has a reputation beyond reputegrumpygit has a reputation beyond reputegrumpygit has a reputation beyond reputegrumpygit has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
It's funny, I was just talking about the Nazis last night, and about the fact that people in the anglosphere have a terribly bad habit of completely missing the point of the rise of the Third Reich, which isn't that the Germans are a bunch of nasties out to conquer the world, but that a civilised, developed country, populated by decent people like you and me managed to descend into barbarism worse than pretty much anything seen before or since.

Before the war, those chaps running the camps had been bakers, salesmen, painters, roofers and farmhands. What happened to make these normal people into monsters?

This is an excellent subject for a thread - thank you, Carlos.
What makes any citizen join a facist national front style party? The nazi party simply brought out those sentiments of hate towards a particular race or religion- more recently serbian /kosovo conflict
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:18
summerrain's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 4,350
Groaned at 4 Times in 4 Posts
Thanked 985 Times in 325 Posts
summerrain has a reputation beyond reputesummerrain has a reputation beyond reputesummerrain has a reputation beyond reputesummerrain has a reputation beyond reputesummerrain has a reputation beyond reputesummerrain has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

I didnt buy that whole experiment thing - mainly because the participants are role playing - some possibly might have internalised but they know that they are being paid to take part in this experiment versus real life situations like a Nazi concentration camp.

I believe that its the inherent nature of the individual. If you possess a malicious and cruel streak, the war only brings out and encourages that monster in you to do unspeakable things. Call me idealistic but nothing can ever take away the sense of righteousness in an individual. In the most dire and bleak of circumstances, there is always a choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilm_Hosenfeld
__________________
Remember when someone annoys you, it takes 42 muscles to frown, BUT it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and b****-slap the mother-f***er upside the head.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:20
Chemmie's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Zurich
Posts: 4,144
Groaned at 33 Times in 29 Posts
Thanked 4,951 Times in 2,233 Posts
Chemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

"The Third wave" was also quite the eye opening experiment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 17.05.2011, 13:22
Carlos R's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Roundn'about Basel
Posts: 7,232
Groaned at 105 Times in 95 Posts
Thanked 9,934 Times in 4,178 Posts
Carlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
But, I also think that being trained to kill an armed foe and systematically killing and torturing civilians are different enough... even if one is simply the 'prison guard', it's not like you're in a foxhole watching your friends get blown apart (which would be a possible excusable situation for losing it and doing bad things)- you sleep in a bed and walk around with a gun after having your coffee and toast every morning. You have to be aware of utter atrocities in that situation.
To my mind, that misses the point of Stanford. Normal "healthy" people were randomly assigned to be guards or prisoners, and yet utter chaos occurred in only 6 days forcing them to stop the experiment early - it didn't even make it to half way.

There was no war, no friends being blown up.

Quote:
View Post
Another thing that backs up the concept of maintaining a moral compass under duress is field hospitals. How can a doctor, surround constantly by maimed and dying countrymen, treat the wounded enemy? But they do...
I'm not sure I agree with this. Indeed, I think it is much easier to "stick to the rules" in a combat situation.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 17.05.2011, 14:03
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: na
Posts: 11,248
Groaned at 37 Times in 33 Posts
Thanked 26,732 Times in 8,253 Posts
meloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

An interesting read on the subject:

'Ordinary Men', by Christopher Browning

This documents the men of the German reserve police battalion 101. There were working class middle-aged men, family men, too old to be soldiers and so had been drafted into the police reserves instead. Most were new recruits, most had never fired a shot at a human being before being ordered, three weeks after arriving in Poland - the first posting outside Germany - to liquidate a jewish village. The book looks at how these very 'ordinary men' became mass murders - and asks whether we are all capable of such evil.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 17.05.2011, 14:14
Ouchboy's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baden
Posts: 3,324
Groaned at 58 Times in 47 Posts
Thanked 5,642 Times in 2,146 Posts
Ouchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Dogville... that movie talks about the rationalization on how to act, when you hold an apparent position of power.

ahh... good times
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 17.05.2011, 14:52
NotAllThere's Avatar
Modulo 2
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Baselland
Posts: 14,505
Groaned at 280 Times in 239 Posts
Thanked 21,747 Times in 8,821 Posts
NotAllThere has a reputation beyond reputeNotAllThere has a reputation beyond reputeNotAllThere has a reputation beyond reputeNotAllThere has a reputation beyond reputeNotAllThere has a reputation beyond reputeNotAllThere has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

I think the majority of people are capable of committing atrocities - given the wrong set of circumstances. But the circumstances don't absolve us of responsibility and facing the consequences. I don't think we can know whether we're part of that majority, until we're in the situation of having to choose.

I hope I've never put to the test. And if I am - then I hope I pass.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:16
Pancakes's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Zurich-ish
Posts: 5,057
Groaned at 286 Times in 204 Posts
Thanked 10,672 Times in 4,007 Posts
Pancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Yeah, I guess that morality is unfortunately not inherent to the human race.
I've also been quite curious as to the psychology behind how and why a nation the size of Germany could be convinced that an entire "race" of humans deserved to be imprisoned and exterminated. It was always my understanding that the Germans disliked the Jews initially because of economic reasons, thinking that the Jews were hoarding the money and jobs, etc. (though I could be wrong). Anyways, this makes me think of the Swiss's dislike toward foreigners and about blind patriotism in general. I've even wondered if the Swiss would EVER be capable of revolting if there was ever a dire need, or would they just follow like sheep?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:18
Ouchboy's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baden
Posts: 3,324
Groaned at 58 Times in 47 Posts
Thanked 5,642 Times in 2,146 Posts
Ouchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond reputeOuchboy has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
Yeah, I guess that morality is unfortunately not inherent to the human race.
I've also been quite curious as to the psychology behind how and why a nation the size of Germany could be convinced that an entire "race" of humans deserved to be imprisoned and exterminated.
Whcih comes to prove that 10 million people CAN be wrong....

damn commercials...
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:20
st2lemans's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Lugano
Posts: 32,231
Groaned at 2,466 Times in 1,784 Posts
Thanked 39,331 Times in 18,538 Posts
st2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
I've even wondered if the Swiss would EVER be capable of revolting if there was ever a dire need, or would they just follow like sheep?
You obviously don't know much about Swiss history, do you?

Tom
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:24
Carlos R's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Roundn'about Basel
Posts: 7,232
Groaned at 105 Times in 95 Posts
Thanked 9,934 Times in 4,178 Posts
Carlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
I think the majority of people are capable of committing atrocities - given the wrong set of circumstances. But the circumstances don't absolve us of responsibility and facing the consequences.
Isn't that the crux of it though?

If you can be manipulated by your circumstances - as can be shown - should you as an individual be responsible or should the people who put you in that position take the blame?

People put in deminished responsability pleas all the time, and seem, quite literally, to get away with murder.

Why should the specific construct around a death camp - highly artificial situation, high stress, dehumanised people - be any different in this respect? Indeed, you could argue that the stress and hyper-sureal nature of such a place should make it even more likely that you would have little control over what you are doing.

Quote:
View Post
I don't think we can know whether we're part of that majority, until we're in the situation of having to choose.
I hope I've never put to the test. And if I am - then I hope I pass.
Sadly, I'm not naive enough to think I'd pass - bit of a sheep me...
__________________
Never let right or wrong get in the way of a good opinion
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:31
bigblue2's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Glarus
Posts: 8,082
Groaned at 484 Times in 403 Posts
Thanked 14,715 Times in 5,780 Posts
bigblue2 has a reputation beyond reputebigblue2 has a reputation beyond reputebigblue2 has a reputation beyond reputebigblue2 has a reputation beyond reputebigblue2 has a reputation beyond reputebigblue2 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

you also have to remember the years before, the germans where drip fed propaganda about the jews and there 'enemies' constantly, everything was there fault, no matter how tenuous the link, so there was a hell of a lot of hate, but they didn't really know why, you could say it was a master class in spin.

Seems we didn't learn though, as its all happening again, just replace jew with muslim, and germany with just about everywhere.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:33
Tom1234's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Kanton Luzern
Posts: 16,491
Groaned at 579 Times in 454 Posts
Thanked 24,679 Times in 9,935 Posts
Tom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
I think the majority of people are capable of committing atrocities - given the wrong set of circumstances. But the circumstances don't absolve us of responsibility and facing the consequences. I don't think we can know whether we're part of that majority, until we're in the situation of having to choose.
But that's not the whole story though. The Germans are one of a type but other nations may not act in the same way.
When the Russians over-ran Germany at the end of the war, they were astonished that the German people obeyed, without question, every order, how ever horrific the consequences, that their soldiers gave.

I'm not sure that every nation would act in the same way though I think that many would.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:41
Pancakes's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Zurich-ish
Posts: 5,057
Groaned at 286 Times in 204 Posts
Thanked 10,672 Times in 4,007 Posts
Pancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond reputePancakes has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
You obviously don't know much about Swiss history, do you?

Tom
Ha ha... yes, I will confess that history is not my forte! I will blame this in part on my American education, which unfortunately was seemingly guided by the theory: "If it didn't happen in or directly to America, then it didn't matter". And as for selective reading, I guess my face is usually buried in Physics books more than anything else.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 17.05.2011, 15:43
Tom1234's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Kanton Luzern
Posts: 16,491
Groaned at 579 Times in 454 Posts
Thanked 24,679 Times in 9,935 Posts
Tom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond reputeTom1234 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Godwin thread...

Quote:
View Post
Ha ha... yes, I will confess that history is not my forte! I will blame this in part on my American education, which unfortunately was seemingly guided by the theory: "If it didn't happen in or directly to America, then it didn't matter". And as for selective reading, I guess my face is usually buried in Physics books more than anything else.
Don't worry - they don't teach much foreign history here, either.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
godwin, stanford, we're all nazis at heart, wwii




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Where's that thread thread? flow23 General off-topic 58 21.02.2012 11:27
Not so new to CH, new to this thread! xamich Introductions 1 10.04.2011 22:03
(thread split) Thread for sensitive, thin-skinned people to ramble aimlessly higgybaby General off-topic 80 03.11.2009 16:53
How does the title of a thread affect the tone of your reply to a thread? chemgoddess General off-topic 28 18.05.2009 17:34


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 02:59.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0