In April of 1946, during a break (observing Easter) in the Nuremberg trials, psychologist and intelligence officer Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking Jew, had occasion to interview, at length, Hermann Goering in his prison cell. Goering, in case you slept through every history class you ever attended, or were homeschooled by white supremacists your whole life, was Hitler's Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief during the horrors of the Holocaust. Here he is snuggled up to Hitler in 1944,...and here, in all his fat, facist, Nazi glory. ...and here, as he ended his own life with poison, mere hours before his scheduled execution by hanging for his war crimes. At one point in the interviews, Gilbert recorded Goering's observations that the common people can always be manipulated into supporting and fighting wars by their political leaders:
We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.
"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
This post is in response to the mass e-mail being circulated encouraging all Americans to wear red on Fridays, to show "support for our troops." The message in its entirety makes it clear that in the writer's opinion, to "support our troops," you must also support this corrupt, wrong-minded war we are enmeshed in , and the current administration as well. I simply reject that "logic," and won't be led around by the nose by being kept in a state of fear. I have the utmost respect for the troops on the ground in Iraq...just not for the people who put them there, or for the reasons they did it, and the reasons they keep them there.
All of Gilbert's writings on the trials, including interviews with prisoners, can be found in his book, Nuremberg Diary.