Even from the vantage point of the twenty-first century,
the Nazi regime is still one of the most dramatic and destructive episodes in history.
After Hitler, it could only mean death, destruction, and racial hatred.
Nazism has given us words and symbols that continue to strike fear in the hearts
of people who otherwise know very little about Hitler or the Nazi regime.
Think of the term for Hitler's secret police, "Gestapo,"-or the ultimate Nazi symbol,
the swastika, which has become a twentieth-century shorthand for evil.
Nazism is synonymous with terror, concentration camps, and mass murder,
Hitler led the way, but he did not simply brainwash or coerce Germans into performing
or supporting unspeakably brutal acts of violence and murder.
For the nightmare of Nazi ideology and racial hatred to become a lived reality,
tens of thousands of Germans (and also non-German accomplices) had to perform criminal
deeds willingly, sometimes even quite eagerly, that in any normal world would have brought them at
the very least a long prison sentence.
In addition to the active perpetrators, many millions more had to be prepared
to stand by and say nothing as other human beings were persecuted and killed.