WWIIThinking back to WWII, i can't help but wonder, are Americans even strong at all, i mean if we ever encounter a situation like the Germans would we be able to preserve our ideals or are...


Thinking back to WWII, i can't help but wonder, are Americans even strong at all, i mean if we ever encounter a situation like the Germans would we be able to preserve our ideals or are civilizations fragile and we are all monsters so under the same circumstances America or anyone else could have carried out such barbarism?


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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps to play devil's advocate, I would argue that we didn't really demonstrate that we were much stronger than those who perpetrated the holocaust and we certainly didn't do anything to stop Stalin killing tens of millions of people after the war so clearly we weren't that opposed to it.

If you look at our tactics of firebombing, area-bombing of cities, the use of the atomic bombs as ways of terrorizing and murdering as much of the enemy civilian population as possible, it isn't the same as the holocaust but it can certainly be looked at as inhuman and barbarous.

So I would hesitate to hold us up as having much moral authority or to suggest that we wouldn't necessarily be willing to do the same thing given the appropriate circumstances.

Don't get me wrong, I sure hope we wouldn't, but I don't think there is much historical evidence to suggest with any certainty that we wouldn't.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As far as Americans being that barbaric, we should perhaps consider Slavery as its own American holocaust. Thousands of human beings were kept in bondage, often murdered and tortured, and denied the most basic human rights with government acquiescence. Perhaps we have moved on from this point; one can only hope. But the fact that a Hitler, a Stalin and a Mussolini came about at the same time, primarily because of economic difficulties; I'm not so sure we should be too comfortable. We did, at one time, elect a President to four terms who wanted to tinker with the Supreme Court because it wouldn't agree with his "New Deal." Even now there are attempts from time to time to tinker with the Constitution. Then, of course there is the Tea Party crew. The only protection we have against descending to such barbarism is to remain vigilant against any improper infringement by government on the rights of people.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hard to know this, of course.  I would say at least one thing would make us less likely to do something like the Holocaust.  That is the fact that we have this tradition of democracy and tolerance.  I know that we aren't always (to say the least) tolerant.  However, it is part of our national ethos in a way that it was not part of the German national ethos in 1933.  In other words, we at least talk the talk of tolerance and democracy.  It is a major foundation of our country (at least rhetorically).  So it would take more to make us really go over the edge.


brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ever see the pictures from Andersonville Prison in Georgia during the Civil War, or Belle Isle in New York?  Tens of thousands of people crammed into inadequate space and shelter, virtually starved to death with rampant neglect, abuse and disease were the norm in those places.  So yes, Americans are capable of such barbarity, and our republic almost did collapse under the weight of such bloody sacrifice.  No society is invulnerable because all societies are made up of humans.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Americans did allow the government to round up Japanese-Americans and stick them in camps for the duration of the war. Although they weren't killed there, how would we know? Many Germans didn't realize what was happening to the Jews. In more recent times, we found put our government had secret prisons and regularly tortured inmates. Barely a ripple. Why? Prejudice against the Japanese then, and Muslims now. We don care what happens to the people we're suspicious about.