Milgram and Destructive Obedience - Book Report/Review Example

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The Holocaust is the term used to describe the planned and executed extermination of Jews from all German controlled and influenced territories. This tragic event in the history of mankind saw the death of a staggering six-million European Jews during World War II staged by the National Socialist party headed by Adolf Hitler…
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Milgram and Destructive Obedience
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Download file to see previous pages Just how could an entire nation commit itself to the killing of their own based on religious differences The general thought was that the Nazi were purely evil but Stanley Milgram and his experiments tell another story. Instead of the purely evil depiction of the Nazi, the command structure provided the setting wherein those in the lower echelons became obedient to the orders given to them. It was not purely a matter of innate hatred that drove the guards at Auschwitz to exterminate their prisoners but a matter of following orders. Milgram's experiments also showed that even ordinary citizens German, American or any other nationalities can become accomplices in a genocidal act due to the authority that they have committed themselves for employment.
In this paper, I will be analyzing Milgram's experiments and its contribution to the understanding of genocide and basically try to find out what drives people to commit wholesale murder. I will also be evaluating other perspectives and comparing it with Milgram's contentions.
Thomas Blass (1991), a rather prolific writer with subjects mostly on Milgram, relates the situation of the Jews in the pre-World War II era. During the summer of 1944, the Nazis, under the direction of Eichmann and with the assistance of their Hungarian allies, were in the process of rounding up the Jews of Budapest and segregating them prior to transporting them in cattle cars to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Budapest is split by the Danube River into two parts, Buda and Pest. One day during the roundups, a Jewish mother and her two-and-a-half-year-old child were taking the trolley from Pest where they had been visiting relatives, to Buda, where they were currently living in a recently found apartment. Unlike most of her fellow Jews, she believed the unbelievable, deadly rumors about what "resettlement for work in the east" really meant. So rather than remaining in Pest, she obtained forged Christian identity papers and moved to Buda, which had been a largely non-Jewish part of the city. The trolley was crossing the bridge between Buda and Pest when the rhythmic clatter of the trolley-car's wheels was interrupted by the insistent sound of the child's voice: "Mommy," he asked, "why don't I wear a cap like other Jewish boys" This was within earshot of many of the other passengers, which included members of the Nyilas, the Hungarian Nazi militia. With a resourcefulness spawned by desperation, the mother quickly turned to her child and said, "This is our stop," grabbed his hand and got off the trolley- right in the middle of the bridge, quite a distance from their actual destination. Miraculously, no one stopped them.
The question that becomes very important now is why this mother felt threatened by her fellow Hungarians at that moment. If her child had made the same remark before the war she probably would have not taken evasive action. The question, in more general form, is perhaps one the primary psychological puzzles underlying the mass destruction of European Jewry.: What psychological mechanism transformed the average, and presumably normal, citizens of Germany and its allies into people who would carry out or tolerate unimaginable acts of cruelty against their fellow citizens who were Jewish resulting ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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