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Sometimes the best-educated people were those least inclined to take the Nazis seriously, dismissing them as too absurd to last. Karl Jaspers was one of those who made this mistake, as he later recalled, and Beauvoir observed similar dismissive attitudes among the French students in Berlin. In any case, most of those who disagreed with Hitler’s ideology soon learned to keep their view to themselves. If a Nazi parade passed on the street, they would either slip out of view or give the obligatory salute like everyone else, telling themselves that the gesture meant nothing if they did not believe in it. As the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim later wrote of this period, few people will risk their life for such a small thing as raising an arm — yet that is how one’s powers of resistance are eroded away, and eventually one’s responsibility and integrity go with them.

--Sarah Bakewell

"that is how one’s powers of r

by npivic

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