I know that the title of this post has been used before, but it fits my point. While reading the morning newspaper, there was a small article about an 88-year-old former SS, Agent Heinrich Boere, who was given the maximum sentence of life in prison for killing three Dutch civilians during World War II. He was 18 when he joined the SS.
Boere admitted killing the bicycle shop owner, a pharmacist, and a businessman. All Jews, no doubt. Here’s my question: How does an 18-year-old get involved with the Nazi party and the SS? Was it patriotism? Propaganda? The secret desire to kill? Hate?
Something motivated that young man to accept a job as a killer. That doesn’t seem normal to me.
Wikipedia says this:
In 1943, Boere became a member of a 15 man Waffen-SS squad of Dutch volunteers, the Sonderkommando Feldmeijer, tasked with killing members of the Dutch resistance and anti-German citizens as retaliation.
The pharmacist, Fritz Hubert Ernst Bicknese, father of twelve was designated by the SS as a target. Wearing civilian clothes, Boere and Besteman walked into Bicknese’s pharmacy and asked him his identity. Upon a positive reply, Boere fired three shots into Bicknese’s upper body.
In September 1944, on a Sunday, Boere and Hendrik Kromhout arrived in Voorschoten at the home of Teun de Groot, a bicycle-shop owner and father of five children, who hid fugitives in his shop and was an acquaintance of anti-Nazi activists. As De Groot, still in his pajamas, fumbled with his wallet to show his ID papers, Boere and Kromhout shot him.
They then went to the apartment of F.W. Kusters, forced him into their car, and drove out of town. The pair then falsely claimed that they had a flat tire, stopped the vehicle and shot Kusters.
Boere was but one of thousands of German SS troops whose goal was to shoot civilians. What does it take to shoot one of your own countrymen? How severe is one’s anger and hate to do such a thing? What motivates such action? It is reported that, in later life, Boere repented of his crimes and asked for forgiveness. This does not seem to be the actions of someone mentally ill or a crazed killer.
These days in America we are seeing a very active and nasty hard right-wing emerge into the light of day. The bring signs, chant, and deride others in sub-human ways. Drawings of the President as Hitler and the Joker are common. Hateful words printed and chanted. Racial slurs and other bigoted comments are hurled at legislators. Angry people overflowing with fear and hate are seen on TV screens throughout our nation.
What’s the next step for these people? Could ‘it’ happen here?