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Nuit et Brouillard
April 12, 2013 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Night and Fog is a 1955 documentary directed by Alain Resnais.

It is mortifying, for both its brutal imagery, and poetic narration, but moreso, the fact those two could seemingly live together.

Censored by the French over one shot it only came to fruition after writer Jean Cayrol, a camp survivor himself, agreed to write the script.

The soundtrack was by Hanns Eisler, whose music was banned by the Nazis in 1933.

[What follows is 30 minute documentary film concerning two Nazi concentration camps. Please be warned there are some very NSFL/triggers ahead.] [previously]

Night and Fog

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
posted by timsteil (32 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was first turned on to Night and Fog by a Languagehat comment, which quotes Phillip Lopate's essay on the film:
Past and present finally converge in a chilling pan shot of a ceiling, over which the narrative voice tells us: “The only sign—but you have to know—is this ceiling, dug into by fingernails. Even the concrete was torn.” This “but you have to know” (mais il faut savoir, in the original French) has a double meaning: a) you wouldn’t see it unless tipped off to what it meant and; b) you must take this in now, you can no longer escape knowing it.
posted by Iridic at 11:58 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I saw this in my history class in high school. The teacher told us about the content and we were allowed to go to the library and skip it, which only a couple of the girls did.

The images I saw in this film are still in my head and do not allow me to speak politely to Holocaust deniers. This is a good thing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:15 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have memories of watching this in elementary school. But that can't be even in the 80s.
posted by khaibit at 12:32 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post.

So, I never actually studied history, outside of American public primary and secondary schools. In fact, I don't remember having an actual "history" class after the 6th grade, but that seems unlikely. At any rate, I never learned any real nuance of history or of any major historical event. In fact, I never learned many details of major historical events, let alone the minor ones. My World War II education is easily summed up into: Hitler was evil; the British were stalwart (and bombed a whole lot); Americans were ambivalent until Pearl Harbor and then we dropped atomic bombs on Japan.* And, by the way, Italy was Fascist for a while and the French lost early. Plus, some stuff happened on the Russian front before we won. Go us!

Which brings me to my question: Why do we call them "concentration camps"? Is it because the Jewish people (and other "undesirables") were concentrated there? Or some other reason? Is it a literal translation of the German term for the camps?

*Actually, my German teacher in college was (as a small child) a Czech refugee from WWII . He recommended that I see Zentropa when it came out. He and I had several conversations about the firebombing of Dresden (where one of his grandparents had lived as a child) and the LACMA Entartete Kunst exhibit, which I was lucky to see. I should probably have sought out more conversation with him. I might have left college better-educated and more-rounded than I did.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do we call them "concentration camps"

Actually, if you're thinking about Auschwitz, it's a death camp, rather than a concentration camp.

Concentration camps were first used by the British in the Boer wars, to literally concentrate the hostile enemy population and hence leave the guerilla Boer fighters nowhere to shelter.

The nazis had both concentration camps, first established in 1933 for political opponents and death camps (roughly from 1942) to work undesirables to death (Jews, Roma, Polish, various misc. political opponents that had to disappear into nacht und nebel. The former term was largely used to cover up the reality of the death camps.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:41 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Bombing of Dresden
posted by timsteil at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2013


Why do we call them "concentration camps"? Is it because the Jewish people (and other "undesirables") were concentrated there?

Yes. Concentration camp is a general term that was in use in English prior to the Holocaust. It originated during the Second Boer War, according to the OED. The term "concentration camp" has has become so associated with the Holocaust, however, that it has left general use. Sometimes you'll have people trying to distinguish between general concentration camps and the specific "death camps" that the Germans had... this is probably a lost cause.

Holocaust also has a meaning separate from it's meaning in the WWII context: originally a term from ancient Greek referring to a burnt offering (i.e. animal sacrifice), coming to mean a great fire or disaster or total destruction. Some will attempt to distinguish between capital-H Holocaust and the general term holocaust; this also is probably a lost cause. The word now refers to the attempted genocide of the Jewish people in Europe.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:47 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why the censorship over that one photo? I saw it in context, at 4:45 in part 1. It doesn't seem any worse than the other photos used near that timecode. Was there something I didn't see due to low resolution? Was it because it was a French camp? That shot starts a sequence that discusses the removal of Jews from Vichy France. That sort of seems like a major point of the film.

BTW, I never heard of this film before but it seems like this was the reference in the title of Oshima's film "Night and Fog in Japan" (Nihon no yoru to kiri). I saw that film and considering the (relatively speaking) innocuous content, it seems the height of arrogance for Oshima to obliquely compare it to the Holocaust.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:48 PM on April 12, 2013


@Charliedont?

Because that photo showed a French soldier/police whatever, wearing a Kepi, guarding a Nazi detainment camp in a Vichy territory. I believe there was a railroad line out of the place.
posted by timsteil at 12:55 PM on April 12, 2013


From Wikipedia:
Another point of contention was that Resnais had included photographs of French officers guarding a detention center, operated by the Vichy government and located in central France, where Jews were gathered before Deportation. This scene prompted a call demanding that the shot be cut because it "might be offensive in the eyes of the present-day military". Resnais resisted this censorship, insisting that images of collaboration were important for the public to see. When Resnais refused to cut the scene with the officer, the censors pressured that they would cut off the last ten minutes of his film.
posted by xingcat at 12:55 PM on April 12, 2013


The censored version of that shot obscures the fact that the person guarding the camp is wearing a Kepi: the hat worn by the French military. I suspect the French authorities didn't like having the population being reminded of the collusion of much of the French state with the Nazi regime.
posted by pharm at 12:58 PM on April 12, 2013


They showed us this film in high school. Skipping it was not allowed. No one left the auditorium the same as they went in.
posted by tommasz at 1:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really urge everyone to find this film someplace other than YouTube. Whoever posted it there did a dirt poor job, and Criterion deserves better.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:32 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes. Concentration camp is a general term that was in use in English prior to the Holocaust. It originated during the Second Boer War, according to the OED. The term "concentration camp" has has become so associated with the Holocaust, however, that it has left general use. Sometimes you'll have people trying to distinguish between general concentration camps and the specific "death camps" that the Germans had... this is probably a lost cause.

Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald were all "concentration" camps. This sort of debate is used to try to confuse people about the British concentration camps, which killed people in much the same way as Dachau (disease and starvation), although on a smaller scale, and were sites for torture and murder.

Were the British in Africa the same as the Nazis? No. But it's sort of a corollary to Godwin's law that because both the British and the Nazis used concentration camps, we can't actually compare the two. So, we can't really think about similar kinds of evil in the anglo world because... Hitler. And thus the fact that the British considered black Africans to be subhuman and treated them accordingly gets confused by distinctions between 'concentration' and 'death' camps and debates about just how many people the British killed.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish people had a less-impressionistic knowledge of this part of history. I don't know how many Americans I have seen claim that their grandfather's unit liberated Auschwitz - unlikely, unless he was in the Red Army. I know that doesn't really matter, and that the American Army liberated Dachau and numerous smaller camps, but these kinds of people tend to have other misconceptions, like that it was primarily German Jews, instead of ALL European Jews, who were slated for murder.

This kind of thing does make life easier for Holocaust deniers, who sometimes persuade people that, e.g. "it was impossible that 6 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz", when the number of victims there was far lower, since many other killing sites existed.
posted by thelonius at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know how many Americans I have seen claim that their grandfather's unit liberated Auschwitz - unlikely, unless he was in the Red Army. I know that doesn't really matter, and that the American Army liberated Dachau and numerous smaller camps, but these kinds of people tend to have other misconceptions, like that it was primarily German Jews, instead of ALL European Jews, who were slated for murder.

This kind of thing does make life easier for Holocaust deniers..


I completely disagree.

Here's a guy I knew, Jim Hoyt, who was in the first squad of 4 US soldiers that discovered Buchenwald. He never spoke of his war experiences until months before his death, when he agreed to a big interview with CNN, but he died just days before it would have happened, so they just published what they had from pre-interviews as an obituary. When his story came out, deniers came out of the woodwork to dispute his stories of seeing a lampshade made from a tattooed human skin. Since he was revealed as the originator of that story, it didn't take long to trace him back through records and find photographic documentation.

It is a huge leap from someone having a friend of a friend who says they heard about human skin lampshades, to someone who says they personally saw the lampshade. That personal truth is something the deniers can never corrupt.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:25 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have memories of watching this in elementary school. But that can't be even in the 80s.

It's possible. My public elementary school had a very detailed curriculum that began covering the Holocaust in 7th grade (late 70s). My memory of seeing this film is of seeing it in a classroom in high school, though.

The father of one of my friends - he was quite a bit older than most of the other dads - had a tattoo on his forearm.
posted by rtha at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I first saw this film -- which was the last time I saw this film -- in junior high school. We had to get permission; as I recall, no one's parents denied it. At that time, a film presentation consisted of a roll of film spooled through a projector (as opposed to playing a video cassette or a digital file), and the quality of any given copy varied. The print that ran that day had a particularly grainy quality that seemed to exacerbate the savagery of the subject matter, and the images appeared haunted. When the film ended, apart from a few sniffles, you could have heard a pin drop in the stunned silence. Needless to say, the film made an impression.

Several years prior to this, while accompanying my mother on a shopping errand to a department store, I got my first lesson in the Holocaust and what concentration camps were. We had been waiting to pay a cashier, when suddenly my mother poked me, and silently directed my attention to the exposed arm of one of the two women in front of us. After the women paid and went on their way, my mother and the saleswoman -- both of whom had been children during WWII -- explained to me why the woman had numbers tattooed onto her arm. This was my first lesson in the horrors of the Holocaust and what that woman must have suffered. I have no recollection of her face, but the memory of her has stayed with me lo these many decades. And it still makes me cry.
posted by cool breeze at 3:15 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I believe Hitler and his gang got the idea of concentration camps from the American rounding up of Native Americans and putting the on reservations. I had read that he had so stated at one time.
We know for sure that one of his vezry favorite writers was a writer of Westerns, cowboy stories.
posted by Postroad at 3:25 PM on April 12, 2013


And thus the fact that the British considered black Africans to be subhuman and treated them accordingly gets confused by distinctions between 'concentration' and 'death' camps and debates about just how many people the British killed.

I think it was the historian Mark Mazower who argued that the nazis basically brought colonial methods to Europe, that what they did in Poland or France was only different in degree, not kind, from what every European colonial power did overseas.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:25 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald were all "concentration" camps. This sort of debate is used to try to confuse people about the British concentration camps,

No, I'm sorry, you're just wrong. Between the Boer War and the Second World War, the term "concentration camp" was a neutral term often used to denote what today would be called a "refugee camp" or "resettlement center" or the like. They were even used in the US for New Deal work camps, for FEMA-type camps for flood and disaster victims, for First World War troop mobilization camps, and so on.

No, it is no longer a neutral term, but historically it was, one reason that the term was chosen by the Germans.
posted by dhartung at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went to a Yom HaShoah commemoration this weekend, the first time I'd ever been, and was struck by a couple of things. I'd read a lot of history of World War II, Shirer's books, etc., etc. but it's something else to see the people, or the children of people, affected by it. A Polish Jew who'd managed to hide out in various ways was the main speaker and said he and his family had, in effect, been on Death Row for 64 months. They lived because of little, almost daily, miracles. Most of his barely concealed anger was aimed at fellow Poles who kept trying to betray them as suspected Jews, including right up to the night before liberation by the Russian army.
The second thing was the strong language the rabbi and others used, even as they spoke in gentle ways. It wasn't a tragedy; it was murder. People were burned; people whose names will never be known were lost, many dying in terror. Neither forgiveness nor vengeance was the theme. Just never again, which we've all heard so many times, but it rang so true in the context of that very moving service.
posted by etaoin at 4:47 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it was the historian Mark Mazower who argued that the nazis basically brought colonial methods to Europe, that what they did in Poland or France was only different in degree, not kind, from what every European colonial power did overseas.

The roots of the Holocaust in colonialism first drew significant interest with Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism), one of many roots. It's sometimes called the "boomerang thesis". Sven Linqvist's Exterminate All The Brutes (1998) also looks at this.
posted by stbalbach at 6:33 PM on April 12, 2013


Saw it as a 6th grader(12 years old). No permission slip, nothing. I believe everyone should see it, however maybe at an little more advanced age than I did.
posted by PJMoore at 7:30 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I never actually studied history, outside of American public primary and secondary schools. ... ... My World War II education is easily summed up into: Hitler was evil; the British were stalwart (and bombed a whole lot); Americans were ambivalent until Pearl Harbor and then we dropped atomic bombs on Japan.* And, by the way, Italy was Fascist for a while and the French lost early. Plus, some stuff happened on the Russian front before we won. Go us! ...
posted by crush-onastick at 2:35 PM on April 12
Exactly. Except that I also learned -- from lame US war movies, probably -- that the US army stomped the shit out of The Nazis and the marines got hurt very bad while stomping the shit out of the Japanese on some islands by Hawaii, plus something happened at Midway, too, whatever Midway was.

Honestly, I don't think I really knew that there *was* a WW2 prior to those bad, sneaky Japanese foreigners started the whole damn thing by bombing Pearl Harbor, killing poor defenseless American sailors on a Sunday morning while they were probably getting ready for church. I didn't even know that there was a fight between Russia and Germany, much less that that front alone -- between those two countries alone -- would count for the biggest war humanity has ever fought.

Perhaps some US kids somewhere were taught more than I was, perhaps some US kids were even taught that war is a soul sickness that all human beings need to watch out for, even human beings from Kansas, or Indiana. Perhaps. But I never knew about it if they were.

~~~

I didn't know as a child any of what I've learned since, didn't even begin to learn anything until Nixon and Kissinger lied their way to Peace At HandTM on the eve of the 1972 presidential election, when I was in high school, and beginning to awaken, just a little bit. The rest of what I know I've learned from reading, my education -- such as I have one -- patched together by words which have fallen into my hands.

Reading Marcus Aurelius, that's when I really began to get it, began to get that piece that war is an integral part of humanity, that war always has been and always will be. (Though with different weaponry of course -- the US war machine need not deal anymore with corpses, it's not like the old days; we've got these drones now, and we just let the peoples relatives bury them "over there.")

Here are some of the very best words on the topic that I know of, words Jane Hamilton put into the mouth of one of my all-time favorite heroines, Ruth, in The Book of Ruth: What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people's hearts. I don't know exactly how or why it gets inside us; that's one of the mysteries I haven't solved yet. ... ... Without putting words to it I recognized the beauty of war; I realized that it was entirely in keeping with ordinary human nature.

~~~

I'd never seen this movie before. In grade school (maybe jr. high but I think grade school, like 4th grade maybe), we were shown very grainy black and white movies of piles of hair and piles of eye-glasses and piles of shoes and piles of bodies and stark, starving faces staring out of haunted eyes, with a few smiling and waving at the camera, because The Good Guys were there. What most of us took away from that -- I know for sure it's what I took away from it, and I'd bet dollars to dimes most others also -- what we took away from it was that Hitler was Evil. Germans were evil, Germans were Nazis with skin lamp-shades and wallets.

Watching it tonight, with different eyes, more knowledgeable eyes, it's still as shocking, and maybe more shocking, and absolutely more unnerving, since I know that it's not Germans, it's not Japanese, it's humanity, it's what people do, it's always possible, perhaps likely.

The Germans and the Japanese have since crafted solid societies, decent societies built upon our designs for them after their unconditional surrenders; they've built these societies doing things which we forced them to do. It didn't and doesn't hurt that they were so humbled by their actions, and then their fathers actions, and then their grandfathers actions, and now their great-grandfathers. Finally, they are freeing from the yoke of those burdens, as they should -- so few are still alive who could possibly have anything to do with the planning and execution of their deeds. Finally they are coming out of their collective societal shame, as they should.

Anyways. The film. So powerful. I was surprised by all of the color footage in a mid 1950s documentary, always what footage I've seen is in grainy black and white, this guy really mixed them well.** It'd be hard to say it's a beautiful film, right -- how to describe it ?? Surprising, it was definitely that, the b/w and color surprised me. It was tight. Unrelenting. So many photos I've seen before and so much previous documentary footage that we've all seen before yet sewn together with that color film so well, the words pulling the weave tight. The music to my ear was not heavy enough, but who am I -- the guy who wrote that score lived the camps, his ear more attuned than my own.
**One thing I didn't like was the subtitles in white rather than yellow when on the black and white footage, I kept my mouse over the pause button to stop the movie, the dialog coming fast and the reading not easy. I downloaded the three parts and watched them on the puter, much easier to scroll back three minutes or five if I want to; had I been in a theater I would absolutely have lost more of the dialogue and/or not gotten the impact of the images, as I'd be trying to keep reading the dialog. I kept thinking that it'd be great to have it dubbed into English, the score kept in but with a good voice in English, but who would choose that voice? But this isn't about the movie, really, more about my experience in watching it.

Those poor goddamn people. Those. poor. goddamn. people. A heartache. Watching them with their children, their families, their wives, getting shoved onto trains, almost certainly none of them able to conceive the life they are going into. Who could believe that their brothers could treat them in this way? One scene -- an older man, leaning out and speaking to a soldier as the soldier was shutting the door on that freight car, that man ... It's to grieve. He was asking for humanity. Probably he expected at least a little decency; it sure looked like that to me. Maybe he asked, with civility -- "When will we get off? How far is this train going? Will my grandson, in that other car, is he okay?" It's to grieve. It's so fucking sad. A heartache, a heart-breaker.

And the end of the movie, every person denying any responsibility. And it was larger than them, that's one of the worst pieces. They were pawns, most of them -- no, not Himmler, no, not the camp commandant's, no, not those sick fuck doctors and nurses. But many people just couldn't make a difference. And everyone else was doing it. They were told it was right, and before anyone starts judging them they'd best look into the Milgram Experiment, conducted at Yale, here in the good ol' USofA -- people in authority tell you to do something, there is a damn good chance you will do it. And if they -- the German pawns -- if they didn't do it they would get killed, perhaps their family also. We marched here in the US, in 2003, so many of us screamed, howled, marched, horrified by the war machine greazing it's wheels, knowing what was coming. And we watched, powerlessly, as it all went down. Iraq. Afghanistan. Blackwater. Those murdering motherfucking scum, Cheney every bit as sick as Himmler, Rumsfeld the same, Wolfowitz, all of them scum. Did we do enough? Should we have lied down in the streets? We could have lied down in the streets, in protest, not that it would have done any good except we could look at Iraqi's with less shame maybe. But in Germany, you lay down in the street and you were cooked, and so was your family.

I hate to write those words. I didn't lay down in the streets. I let my Iraqi brothers and sisters die under bombs thrown in my name by disgusting scum and didn't lay down in the street, I didn't chain myself to a fence. I did go to Crawford, and sit with Cindy Sheehan, a true American hero. But I'm *not* Cindy Sheehan. Maybe I needed to lose more to stand taller, like she did. I don't know. I do know that I don't like myself near as much as I like Cindy Sheehan. ...

~~~

I go on. It hurt, to watch it, seeing Capital H Humanity on that screen. I wish that every US citizen had been forced to see it once a week in 2003, on fox tv. Maybe had I seen it once a week I would have chained myself to a fence somewhere, maybe today I could like myself as much as I like Cindy Sheehan, maybe I could look myself in the mirror more easily. Probably that is what the movie-maker wanted; they damn sure succeeded if that is what they wanted.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:14 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I knew plenty about the Holocaust long before I'd seen Night & Fog, and maybe that's why the moment in that film that really knocked me back was one of the most anodyne: The pages from the catalog where one could order guard towers in different styles ("Alpine, Japanese, Modern, or Budget.") Somehow that trivial detail, implying that the builders of the camps exerted aesthetic judgement, made it a hundred times worse.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


> before anyone starts judging them they'd best look into the Milgram Experiment,

As a magician, I think the Milgram experiment is basically bullshit. When you don't give people enough time to think and hustle them along through a narrative that you know in advance and they don't, you can get them to consent to any old shit. It's called "the fast talk".

You notice that he never tried an experiment to legitimately test people's free will - which would simply be to show them the fake one day and then see if they came back the next. I'll bet he would have gotten, like, 4% compliance that way.

The only reason it worked is because people had no chance to step back and reflect. That is absolutely not true of the Nazis.

And lots of German soldiers would not participate in the camps. Indeed, the German high command was very well aware of this - many soldiers went to the camps, and asked to be transferred, and went on to fight with no blemish on their records.

You can't excuse the soldiers at the camps, and it's a bad idea to do so.

...

By the way, I saw this film around 1977 in Canada.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:29 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


... And lots of German soldiers would not participate in the camps. Indeed, the German high command was very well aware of this - many soldiers went to the camps, and asked to be transferred, and went on to fight with no blemish on their records. ...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:29 AM on April 13
This I did not know, that they could say no. I wonder, do you know if that would also include SS soldiers?

I'm still not sure about the Milgram Experiment, though I think I see what you're saying. I've always seen Milgram as A True Fact, immutable, beyond question somehow. There's lots of good to say about a cobbled together education such as my own, but one big problem is that it leaves holes, gaps in the logic, weaknesses in the overall of it....
posted by dancestoblue at 11:54 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I've probably said this a thousand times on metafilter but...) My great-grandfather was German. His father ran was a station master as a train station very close to Bergen-Belsen. My great-grandfather immigrated in 1910 -- his father and the rest of his family stayed in Germany and from what I understand, the position of station master is passed down through family lines so when I found this out it made sense to me that during the war and the Holocaust, some member of my family worked that train station. If not, it's still safe to assume that a good chunk of my family lived in a very small area that saw trains carrying "undesireables" to Bergen-Belsen on a regular basis...

From that came a strong personal desire to know everything about WWII, the Nazis, and the Holocaust, I think because of some perverse want to understand so that I could do my part to make sure it never happened again. After all of my research my family lineage had convicted me, I felt.

I've read every book on the Holocaust and WWII that I could. There are stacks of them all over my tiny house (my mother is convinced I'll never marry because potential suitors, upon seeing 102 books about Hitler and Goering stacked in the corner, will assume I'm a Nazi sympathizer). And yet I didn't know of this film.

So thanks for this, timsteil. This is yet another chance for me to watch and learn and puts me one step closer to freeing myself from my familial guilt.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:43 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought concentration camps were operated and manned by the SS, not the regular army? I can't imagine the SS leadership being much in the spirit of forgiving refusers to camp guard duties, in any case... On the other hand, I do recall that Himmler himself was worried about the effect that things like mass shootings of Jews and Slavs were having on the common rank SS soldier, and might have pushed for the biggest part of that kind of "work" to be shifted to the dedicated SS Einsatzgruppen whenever possible, as the butchering was causing incapacitating psychological trauma among many of the common rank.
posted by Iosephus at 9:49 AM on April 13, 2013


> I can't imagine the SS leadership being much in the spirit of forgiving refusers to camp guard duties, in any case...

Unfortunately, I'm quoting from a paper book that I don't have here, but it wasn't "refusers" as much as "soldiers requesting transfers almost immediately." IIRC, the researchers in the book had actually gone systematically through the surviving personnel records and hadn't found anyone whose transfer had been refused or who had suffered any apparent career setback as a result of a transfer.

The German high command realized from the beginning that this job was not for anyone, and they wouldn't want to waste quality soldiers. And lots of soldiers were perfectly happy with these jobs...

> I've always seen Milgram as A True Fact, immutable, beyond question somehow. There's lots of good to say about a cobbled together education such as my own, but one big problem is that it leaves holes, gaps in the logic, weaknesses in the overall of it....

Having been a magician for 45 years is fairly specialized education, and gives you a different picture of the world. Phenomena like perceptual blindness seem obvious, and when you read about Milgram, you immediately think, "Ah, the fast talk."

It's not that Milgram doesn't show you interesting things about people - but it's really only applicable to what you can get people to do in one session, while you're standing over them, and as such, not applicable at all to the Holocaust or other such atrocities where the perpetrators got a chance to go back and think it over.

A much more relevant example is the Stanford Prison Experiment, which went on for several days before being stopped because it had gone out of control.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:00 PM on April 13, 2013


I thought concentration camps were operated and manned by the SS, not the regular army?

Oh no. That's why French censors were unhappy with the movie in the FPP: it showed that their own troops were complicit in the extermination program.

I suppose it depends what you call a concentration camp, but if your definition includes all places where Jews were rounded up and imprisoned for slave labor and so forth, then many of the guards were milkitarised police or, I suppose, civilians given a warrant and a gun. But it wasn't just troops; factories or farms that had a few dozen Jews working as slaves didn't have an army base controlling them: they relied on the fact that the whole country had been militarised and there was no place to escape to. Under those circumstances all you need is a guy with a telephone.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:25 PM on April 13, 2013


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