Silence Gives Consent
Any soldier, any person, who does not stand up to evil when they see it is responsible for its existance and ultimately for its actions. Those soldiers had free will, and if you hold Hitler responsible for his actions, so too must you hold responsible those who carried out the orders. This is true for any situation, and not just hitler. Hitler is something that is so overused that it makes me sick. I guess that he is the only evil guy around that its politically correct to bash. Don't get me wrong, I hate Hitler with a passion, but others have also done evil things in history as well and get glazed over. Stalin is the most obvious example of this, as Gross has already alluded to. There are also many other evil mass murderers that get glazed over like Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein. I know that for a question like the one Gross posed, there is no easy answer. I will ask you all another very difficult question, would you forgive the soldiers who committed genocide? Simon Weisenthal wrote of such an experience in a hospital, when a Nazi SS soldier, on his deathbed, confessed to him of literally burning hundreds of Jews alive because he was following orders. The SS man wanted Weisenthal's forgiveness because he was a Jew. Weisenthal walked out of the room. Does the Nazi deserve forgiveness, and does Weisenthal have the ability to give it? I think he did the right thing.