So when I landed in in Berlin almost two years ago, I wondered: Why did the Holocaust Happen in Germany? How could such nice, cordial, smart, educated, and generally enlightened people have committed such a horrific crime against the Jewish people? Industrial murder. Torture. Sophie’s choices. It was almost inconceivable.
But slowly, slowly, as I got to know Germans, I came across certain quirks. Quirks that you can’t find among other nationalities—that gave me ah-ha moments: “Now I get it! Now I get how this nation perpetrated the Holocaust, not to mention launched a world war.”
I know that people like to attribute Germany’s treatment of the Jews to its antisemitism and perhaps its deep-seated ethical code. But, as Germany’s American-Israeli “shrink,” I figured out there are personality traits that made the Germans more susceptible to the evil of a dictator and to committing horrific crimes without much remorse (at the time).
In Episode 2 of “Dr. Orit,” produced with a popular German political e-zine, Die Achse Des Guten, it answers the question “Dr. Orit: Why did the Holocaust Happen in Germany?” These include the already well-known: “Germans value authority above empathy” and “Germans aren’t really in touch with their feelings.” But there are also some that might surprise you! And not to fear! I also provide a remedy.
And while the German people possessed the traits that enabled them to murder and plunder with such viciousness. They also carried within them a seed that enabled them to recover and have deep regret over their actions. So, rather than continually beat up on the German people for the past, let’s work together. Israelis and Germans, in partnership, to heal the pain and trauma and make amends so that all of these German qualities will, in this generation, be used for good.
In cased you missed it, click here for Episode 1 of “Germany on the Couch with Dr. Orit” on the three steps to truly overcoming Holocaust guilt.