In the unhappy Nazi party every member had a rank, some above and some below. Stick to the rules and you could lord it over those lower. But always you lived under the threat from someone higher. Such unhappiness from pretending you were king, whereas you were just a disposable link in the chain.
I concluded that that was why the uniforms were well styled, to enable party members to live with the distasteful knowledge that they were at the mercy of their superiors. Of course it was not just that their superiors were higher up; that is true in all organisations that have ranks.
The bitter pill for the individual in the Nazi party was that his superiors were Nazis. Nazis started out as bully boys, fighting on the streets. So the threat wasn’t just some theoretical worry of a verbal reprimand or of losing one’s rank. Get it wrong and you could be stood up against a wall. That’s what made it the unhappy Nazi party for each and every member. Even the boss had reason to be afraid.
I read that when the machine gunners were given the task of shooting down massed groups of people in Eastern Europe, they got a taste for it. Or they were horror struck and had to drink to be able to continue. Either way, their commanders learned that they had to bolt down the machine guns. They bolted the guns down so the gunners couldn’t just keep on traversing and murder their own. Once the gunners started, they didn’t want to stop.
Cheka, or The Chekist
There’s a similar theme in the film Cheka, or The Chekist, about a squad of executioners carrying out the orders of the local Soviet in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. First comes callousness, then comes madness, which is a sane reaction to the horror of what one is perpetrating.
There’s a scene in the film where a cleaner is cleaning the corridors, and sees scrawled on the walls by one of the squad ‘Executioner’s apprentice school of the Revolutionary Socialist Party’. To the viewer, we see it was written with poor sardonic wit by one of the squad.
The cleaner lifts her head and looks down the corridor to the closed area. The wheels are turning in her head as she works out what is happening daily down there. She is on the brink between disbelief and of being horror struck when she senses the presence of someone behind her. The leader of the squad is looking down at her, and when she senses his presence she is terrified. And then quickly she takes her rag to wipe off the scrawl. He waits a moment, and then moves on.