How do previously free people and democracies slide into tyranny and totalitarianism?
In almost every situation there is no one large event that is the fulcrum moment that the momentum swings but instead there are many precipitating events that gradually move a nation further and further to tyranny.
In describing the night of Kristallnicacht in Nazi Germany, Historian and Holocaust survivor Prof. Zvi Bacharach, who was ten years old when the events of Kristallnacht unfolded, stated the following:
“That was the heart of the problem of German Jewry: It was so much a part of German society that the Nazi blow hit it from within. Until 1938 my parents never thought of leaving Germany. ‘There’s no way the Germans we live with will continue to do these things. It’s only an episode.’ That was the atmosphere. It was also the atmosphere on Kristallnacht. They couldn’t comprehend it. It came as a blow. I remember my mother standing pale and crying… I remember her phoning her gentile friends – she had more gentile friends than Jewish friends – No answer. No one answered her.”
Even though the signs and warnings of eventual totalitarianism and persecution are present, it can be difficult to see and understand the reality of the threat.
Previous episodes of Public Occurrences can be found here.