Organized backlash against Kate Winslet for ‘Holocaust denial’ film

The Reader
Perhaps the backlash against The Reader started months ago, and I simply wasn’t paying attention. But in the past few weeks, The Reader backlash has reached a fever-pitch. The first major piece criticizing The Reader that I’ve seen came out last week on It was written by Ron Rosenbaum, a prominent scholar of such historical tombs as Explaining Hitler, a book about Adolf Hitler’s propaganda machine and why it worked on the German people.

Just a sidenote: I love Slate, but Rosenbaum is one of my least favorite columnists on that site. He’s very sanctimonious, he tends towards sweeping generalizations and factual discrepancies and at times he can seem like a raving wingnut. He’s brilliant, but he needs a really good editor and fact-checker.

Rosenbaum’s piece, called “Don’t give an Oscar to The Reader” (a bit on the nose, Ron), is very long, so I’m just going to include some of the highlights. His basic argument is that The Reader glorifies the Nazis and the German people who stood by and did nothing, and that the character Kate Winslet plays never really repents for being a mass murderer. He sees the film as part of a new era of “Nazi porn” (his words) and that the film represents the new era of Holocaust denial. One of Rosenbaum’s best points, in my opinion, is that the film tries too hard to create sympathy and empathy for Hanna (Winslet), and that the film should have stuck closer to the book in it’s portrayal of the complicated morality and guilt at play. Here are some of the highlights:

A deeply depressing indication of how the film misreads the Holocaust can be found in a recent New York Times report on the state of the Oscar race. The paper gave disproportionate attention to The Reader by featuring a wistful-looking still of Kate Winslet above the headline “Films About Personal Triumphs Resonate With Viewers During Awards Season.”

What, exactly, was the Kate Winslet character’s “personal triumph”? While in prison for participation in an act of mass murder that was particularly gruesome and personal, given the generally impersonal extermination process—as a death camp guard, she helped ensure 300 Jewish women locked in a burning church would die in the fire—she taught herself to read! What a heartwarming fable about the wonders of literacy and its ability to improve the life of an Auschwitz mass murderer!

I’ve argued that most of the fictionalized efforts [of Holocaust films] either exhibit a false redemptiveness or an offensive sexual exploitiveness—what some critics have called “Nazi porn.” But in recent years, a new mode of misconstrual has prevailed—the desire to exculpate the German people of guilt for the crimes of the Hitler era. I spoke recently with Mark Weitzman, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York office, who went so far as to say that The Reader was a symptom of a kind of “Holocaust revisionism,” which used to be the euphemistic term for Holocaust denial.

In this repellent form of revisionism, most Germans (you know, the ones who helped bring Hitler to power, who enthusiastically joined in his hysterical Jew-hatred and his pogroms, who supported his mass deportations “to the East”) were somehow ignorant of the extermination of the Jews going on “in the East.” They presumably noticed the disappearance of the Jews from their midst (since they eagerly stole their apartments and everything valuable the Jews were forced to leave behind). I once confronted a spokesman for the German Consulate on a panel in New York who was pushing a version of this line; he’d referred to a recent poll that purported to show that the majority of Germans alive at the time of the extermination had—surprise!—no knowledge of it.

“What did they think?” I asked him. “The Jews all decided to go on vacation and forgot to come home?”

[One] of the most damning documents I uncovered in researching my book Explaining Hitler was a revelation that appeared in a Munich anti-Hitler newspaper, the Münchener Post, on Dec. 9, 1931. It had been lost to history until I found it in the basement of a state archive. The courageous reporters of the social-democratic paper had gotten hold of a secret Nazi Party plan for the disposition of the Jews that first used what was to become the widespread euphemism for extermination: “Final Solution” (Endlössung), a word that left little doubt over the mass murder it euphemized. [It’s] clear Germans could have known as early as 1931 (or 1926 if they’d bothered to read Mein Kampf).

They could have known if they’d read about the legal dehumanization of Jews in the Nuremberg laws of 1935 or the state-sponsored pogroms after Kristallnacht in 1938. And if they happened to be illiterate as in The Reader… they could have heard it from Hitler’s mouth in his infamous 1939 radio broadcast to Germany and the world, threatening extermination of the Jews if war started. You had to be deaf, dumb, and blind, not merely illiterate, to miss what Kate Winslet’s character seems to have missed (while serving as a guard at Auschwitz!). You’d have to be exceedingly stupid. As dumb as the Oscar voters who nominated The Reader because it was a “Holocaust film.”

But that’s what The Reader is about: the supposedly difficult struggle with this slowly dawning postwar awareness. As Cynthia Ozick put it in her essay: “After the war, when she is brought to trial, the narrator [‘Michael Berg’] acknowledges that she is guilty of despicable crimes—but he also believes that her illiteracy must mitigate her guilt. Had she been able to read, she would have been a factory worker, not an agent of murder. Her crimes are illiteracy’s accident. Illiteracy is her exculpation.”

Lack of reading skills is more disgraceful than listening in bovine silence to the screams of 300 people as they are burned to death behind the locked doors of a church you’re guarding to prevent them from escaping the flames. Which is what Hanna did, although, of course, it’s not shown in the film. As I learned from the director at a screening of The Reader, the scene was omitted because it might have “unbalanced” our view of Hanna, given too much weight to the mass murder she committed, as opposed to her lack of reading skills. Made it more difficult to develop empathy for her, although it’s never explained why it’s important that we should.

That’s the metaphoric thrust of the Kate Winslet character’s “illiteracy”: She’s a stand-in for the German people and their supposed inability to “read” the signs that mass murder was being done in their name, by their fellow citizens. To which one can only say: What a crock! Or if Hollywood has its way: Here’s your Oscar.

The nudity…gives new meaning to the word gratuitous. [It] was a manipulative tool used to create intimacy with and thus empathy for an unrepentant mass murderer.

From Slate – Ron Rosenbaum’s “Don’t give an Oscar to The Reader

Even before this controversy, there was little chance that The Reader or director Stephen Daldry would win Oscars, but The Reader’s executive producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been waging a tough and expensive campaign for Kate Winslet as Best Actress. Ron Rosenbaum’s column is one piece of an organized backlash against the film, and the Rosenbaum piece is being distributed around Academy voters in the hopes of destroying Winslet’s chance at an Oscar. The Sunday Telegraph has a piece out about the backlash, and how Academy voters are being encouraged to vote for Meryl Streep in Doubt.

I adore Kate Winslet, and I tend to think she’s due an Oscar – this is her sixth nomination, with no wins. She’s one of the best actresses working today, but I have to admit, this might not be her year, again. Meryl Streep’s performance in Doubt was flawless and that film was much less controversial. Considering it’s been 25 years since Meryl last won an Oscar, I have to say that she’s due as well.
The Reader

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

43 Responses to “Organized backlash against Kate Winslet for ‘Holocaust denial’ film”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Ruby says:

    First paragraph – did you mean to say ‘historical tomes’ ?

  2. CandyKay says:

    I also find Rosenbaum generally unbearable.

    He’s one of those writers – Paul Krugman is another, as is Frank Rich – that causes me to turn the page as soon as I see the byline on top of the article.

    All three have basically the same rant which they paste on top of any possible issue, and it’s like being stuck on a long airplane flight with a loudmouth bore for a seatmate.

  3. Sam says:

    These are dangerous times economically and antisemitism is raising its ugly head in Europe, yet again.

    Regardless of her performance there is a danger in ‘glorifying’ this picture and its message of feigned cluelessness to the final solution.

  4. Claudia says:

    The only thing I agree with is that the script should have stayed closer to the book. there really is no gloryfying or anything in the book, it’s just a story about how people in post-war Germany had trouble dealing with Ex-Nazis or people who had been involved, since many of them were “undercover” in society and were exposed later. It’s just a story and it’s told very honestly. the film didn’t catch all of that, but that no reason to start such a campaign, the voters should be able to decide on their own…

  5. Anna says:

    This is unbelievable. Clearly they understood neither the message of the book and film nor the essence of the characters Hanna and Michael. This book has become a modern classic that is read in schools all over the world, it has become a part of many curricula. There is nothing anti-semitic about this story, on the contrary. It brings up the question of what is guilt and it tells the story of two individuals. It’s also important because it tells the (fictional, but still) story of a minor perpetrator of the Holocaust, the kind of story that usually remains unknown. I’m half-German, half-French and I’ve got a lot of Jewish ancestors who went through the Holocaust. The Reader is anything but anti-semitic. The people who say it is just want some attention. I find it unbelievable what kind of stuff “sparks controversy” today. Seriously, there are more pressing matters at hand and more interesting stories to cover if you want to get into the whole anti-semitism debate. This is just ridiculous.

  6. Shannon says:

    “It’s also important because it tells the (fictional, but still) story of a minor perpetrator of the Holocaust”

    Excellent point. I read a lot of books in school about the victims of the Holocaust (fyi – I went to a private school K-12 that was non-religious, but had a very large Jewish population and was very much interested in teaching tolerance. Kind of unusual)

    I have always wondered about the people who aided in the Holocaust. They couldn’t all have been vicious animals, some of them must have had a conscience and realized what they were complicit and doing (not that is excuses anything). Yet we rarely hear about them. It’s either Hitler and the rabid nazis, or those forced into the concentration camps.

  7. Shannon says:

    *complicit IN doing

    Sorry 😛

  8. Maritza says:

    Meryl should get the Oscar, she is great. Kate Winslet should receive an Oscar in a movie where she doesn’t get nude. She is a great actress but I don’t think getting nude is necessary for any movie(unless it’s porn).

  9. tigerlille says:

    historical tomes, presumably, not tombs

  10. tigerlille says:

    Haven’t read the book, will not see the movie, but my goodness, I wouldn’t call someone who prevented 300 women from escaping a burning church “minor perpetrators.” Is that in fact what happened, in the book and/or the film?

  11. Baholicious says:

    This Rosenbaum is just another proponent of ‘Holocaustianity.’ The sacred subject wherein any other point of reference or experience that doesn’t preoccupy itself with hand-wringing over the Final Solution is either ‘anti-semitic’ or the product of ‘self-hating’ Jews.

    There were many stories and experiences during that time that deserve to be told without others rising in indignation and hurling accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ or revisionist history.

  12. Lee says:

    Rosenbaum’s style is pedantic, but there is nothing in this article or any of the commentary to overturn either his position or his claims.

  13. bros says:

    frank rich is brilliant, as is krugman. freidman, not so much. i honestly dont see how anyone could say frank rich makes them want to turn the page.

    on another note, what is it with slate and their movie-hating lately? and do their columnists get paid extra for using the word porn? first it was slumdog millionaire and poverty-porn and now nazi-porn?
    why dont they just STFU and quit crying about every movie that is made. its called art, and it is not obligated to anything.

  14. Sauronsarmy says:

    Jesus its a movie. I’ll never understand why people get so bent out of shape over a damn movie. I bet you they don’t put this much effort into real life bullcrap.

  15. Rio says:

    “The Reader” didn’t deny the Holocaust, but the characters are people of their era, and they wouldn’t have openly talked about it either. When my parents were growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s, people just didn’t *talk* about the Holocaust. My parents knew that Hitler was bad, but didn’t know *why*. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that people really began to open up about what happened.
    “The Reader” is about individuals during that era. Nobody denies that the Holocaust took place, but nobody outright mentions it either, because such things weren’t done. Michael is too young to really know what happened, and Hanna wants to forget– therefore, no discussion ever takes place between them. Michael probably assumes Hanna was involved in the war to some degree, because EVERY adult character surely was. Yet there are no discussions between Michael’s parents about the war, or between any other adult character. To bring it up simply wasn’t done.

  16. Baholicious says:

    Well Lee, to start with nowhere was it made publicly known about extermination. The German public knew about the deportations, certainly. Nowhere was ‘final solution’ mentioned in any internal Nazi document. The term used was ‘special treatment’ by the way and Rosenbaum is wrong on this point.

    People like Rosenbaum are much too hard on the German people. Don’t forget that the Jews were also German people, or at least that’s how they considered themselves. The complicity is theirs to own too – there were a lot of people in a state of disbelief and denial over what was going on.

    The victors of WWI, via the Treaty of Versailles, allowed Hitler to happen more than the German people did. More to point, it could be said that the treatment and unreasonable reparations piled on Germany after WWI helped create him in the first place.

    The treaty not only beat the German people down, it left a power vacuum. A lot of people were afraid it would be filled by the Communists and they chose Hitler.

    Originally the vilification of the Jews was tied to the National Socialist party’s anti-communist platform. It cannot be disputed that many, if the not the majority of key figures in the Communist movement in Europe at the time were Jewish. This, and a platform of jingoistic nationalism, is how Hitler started his campaign of propaganda and why the German people were led along as easily as they were.

    That’s how dictatorships work and by the time the people realize what’s going on, it’s too late when they finally see they’ve been screwed. To blame the German people is to blame human nature.

  17. Elanenergy says:

    I think I understand Rosenbaum’s indignation. This horrific period of history is getting farther into the horizon and it is the obligation of some people (self appointed, but I honor them) to continue to vehemently “remember.” Many, many people choose NOT to understand history, and movies are POWERFUL means (sadly, sometimes the only means) of many to get their history; so, I admire Rosenbaum for his self appointed role in remaining a strong voice to always remember WHAT HAPPENED. If there isn’t that strong voice, if there is a tendency to empathize too strongly with those who were complicit in this heinous history, then it could happen again…..very easily. That’s why he gets all worked up. I’m glad someone does.

  18. FF says:

    Maritza, I’d say it depends on the context of the nudity, it’s tone in the film, and how it does or doesn’t serve the plot.

    For example, in don’t think that scene in Schindler’s List where the women in the camp are nude and in the showers is porn, or the scene in Goya’s Ghosts where Natalie Portman is nude and tortured is porn. There’s a context.

    However, a lot of Oscar winning actresses have gotten nude in the roles that garner them a nom. Not all but enough for it to be an observable tendency.

  19. Baholicious says:

    Elanenergy, it IS happening again all over the world or haven’t you been following history and/or the news?:

    A few examples:

    First of all, the Armenian genocide of 1915 remains unrecognized by Turkey and NATO has done nothing to pressure that country into admitting a genocide took place;
    Stalin’s Ukraine;

    There will be more until the lesson of the holocaust is actually heard and applied equally to all humanity, not just a few.

  20. czarina says:

    I think it’s wrong to say that movies are not a huge influence, especially when it comes to people’s views of historical reality.
    For example, there are people who think that the movie JFK is a historically ACCURATE/documentary of the assassination of JFK–as opposed to a historically based interpreatation with a lot of dramatic license.
    Why I think this discussion is important is because of another post a few days ago, where people were critical of Angelina Jolie for daring to mention the refugees whom the Thai Navy has sent out to sea, possibly to die.
    There was a lot of talk about how she had “no business” discussing a human rights issue, or making things “awkward” for the Thai government…that she is “only an actress” and it was not really Thailand’s problem, etc.
    Obviously, even all these years later, there are many, many people who “don’t want to know” or hear or be reminded of terrible things that are happening to other people. People resent being told, are happy in their “ignorance” and have all sorts of excuses for turning their backs on those who are desperate for help.
    That, I think, is the relavence of a movie like that, and why there are different historical points of view that SHOULD be told.

  21. Zoe (The Other One) says:

    Huzzah and bravo to Baho! Eloquently put and utterly true – if it wasn’t for the cry of ‘anti-semite’ at every turn these days I may well consider what point this piece is trying to make.

    It’s exhausting to be told nigh on continuously that something you previously considered innocuous is actually vicious anti-Jew hate-mongering…and there was I thinking it was a film about an illiterate woman.

  22. FF says:

    Movies may be an influence but they are never a substitute for personal accountability.

    People have to be responsible for the attitudes and actions they choose to take. This doesn’t mean that movies shouldn’t be considerate of the ideas they project but they’re not responsible for what people take away from them. That’s an individual choice.

  23. Elanenergy says:

    No, I haven’t been following the horrors of world news because of my own personal tragedy—my only child died by his own hand and I’ve been a little immersed in grief/shame/PTSD to notice what is happening in the world. So yeah, sorry. But, I am getting better, and part of my recovery is dipping my toe into the “world” through the “lightness” of gossip sites. Think I’ll now go back to What Not to Wear. Ha.

  24. kate says:

    it’s a movie, not a documentary.and the book (which is amazing, by the way) is fiction. aren’t there enough real atrocities in the world for people to protest?

  25. Baholicious says:

    Elanenergy, Celebitchy isn’t exactly typical for gossip sites but we do “lightness” too 🙂

    I am truly sorry about the loss of your child. Best of luck to you and continued courage on your way forward.

  26. Elanenergy says:

    I love Celebitchy because it is a smart “gossip”: site. Thank you so very much for your post. I am truly a compassionate person who still wants a little “light” along with the truth of the very real mess of a world we inhabit. I think you ladies (maybe some guys here IDK) are great!

  27. lunachick says:

    Baho, couple of great posts – thanks for the history lesson. It amazes me that atrocities like Darfur or the massacre in Gaza are still allowed to go on…in many cases with weapons funded by Americans’ tax dollars.

    and…I love Paul Krugman! He’s brilliant, and he explains complex economic theory in layman’s terms better than anyone else I’ve read. I really hope Obama gives him an official role in formulating U.S. economic policy.

  28. lunachick says:

    And Elanenergy…I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child and hope I never have to experience it first hand.

  29. Plobes says:

    I am Jewish, and the descendant of Holocaust survivors AND victims, and I didn’t find this movie at all dismissive of the Holocaust.

    It was a great, complex lesson in German guilt and was very genuine to me.

  30. meme says:

    “Kate Winslet should receive an Oscar in a movie where she doesn’t get nude. She is a great actress but I don’t think getting nude is necessary for any movie(unless it’s porn).”

    Maritza–what is wrong with nudity? why must it always be sexual? this attitude is exactly why our rating system is messed up. people are more offended by sucking on a boob than they are by someone cutting it off.

  31. Asiont says:

    I hope she will not get oscar, she’s one of the most boring actress ever!

  32. Annie says:

    Hear hear Baho!!


    Perhaps we need to send AJ into Gaza region? Then maybe more people will be aware of the many many atrocities going on in our world?

  33. Ned says:

    He is absolutely right.
    If the script has made those choices, then the movie and the selective depiction of the morality of the mass murderer played by Kate should recieve every bit of criticism.

    I noticed in the past that there’s a new German tendency to look for excuses and other methods that attempt to exculpate the German people of guilt.

    Some of it is what Baho is trying to do- by referring to other bloody instances as if they they were anything to do or to make a point about the Holocaust.

    As for Kare Winslet attempt to portray her character in a way that solicits sympathy and “understanding”- that is her artistic and moral choice to use her skill as an actress to that end, and she should not be rewarded for that, but rather criticed.

    I talked in the past about how Kate Winslet takes off her clothes to prop up her performance and garner more positive feelings and sympathy by that old trick.

    That is not ACTING. It’s a ploy, a gimmick.
    An actress that doesn’t trust her talent to be strong enough on it’s own merits and opts to take the physical route to get more attention, is only showing her willingness to “play the game” to get recognition, whatever the price may be.

    “Nazi porn” is another disgusting method used by filmmakers who try to “sex up” the holocaust for commercial purposes at best (and garnering sympathy for Germans and making the hell that was going on, more “fun” and “exciting”).

    Why can’t they give the Oscar to Christine Scott Thomas for “I’ve Loved You For So Long”?
    She doesn’t have a campaign and a massive PR machine like Kate, but she had the BEST performance in a wonderful film that should have gotten much more attention.

  34. NotBlonde says:

    Moderator Note: The comment below contains spoilers. Do not read it if you are waiting to see this movie.

    I really do not understand this guy’s problem. It’s like he’s never actually seen The Reader, just read a summary and formed an opinion.

    The story is all about German guilt. There is a whole bit near the end when Micheal is a law student and goes to see the Nuremberg trials and their class has a whole discussion about German guilt.

    Hanna being illiterate does not absolve her of anything, as is made very clear in the movie when she goes to jail for the rest of her life. You aren’t supposed to feel any empathy for her except that she was illiterate, and that sucks for anyone, even a Nazi guard.

    When she talks about what happened and says that they “couldn’t let the prisoners go”; she starts making excuses and you don’t feel sorry for her at all. You realize that she knew what she was doing and following orders (like so many of them did)that were tantamount to the deaths of 300 women. It is only AFTER she tells her story and makes excuses that you realize that shes illiterate.

    The only empathy I felt for her was that she was illiterate and didn’t know exactly what she was getting into. Nothing more, nothing less. And the movie, I feel, is set up so that people feel that way too. She goes to jail for her crimes: showing that there was definite punishment for the crimes against humanity that was the Holocaust. But you are happy for her in that she learns to read and write.

  35. NotBlonde says:

    Sorry about the spoilers!! I was going to put a spoiler alert on my comment but I couldn’t edit. Sorry again!

  36. Baholicious says:

    **oops, “there was” not “their was.”

  37. MaiGirl says:

    Learning from the posts above:

    I think that it is so unfair to blame Kate for the nudity in the film, call it gratuitous, or assume that it is in some way indicative of a gimmick to cover poor acting talent. The nudity was absolutely necessary for the film. There is a lot of sweetness, innocence, and discovery in many of those scenes. Her nudity, as well as that of the male actor, was part of the seduction, and is also a kind of shorthand for the emotional nakedness that the two characters intermittently allow themselves when they are together. I am sensitive to and kind of enervated by gratutitous nudity, and Kate may have made such films before (Holy Smoke could be argued as such), but this ain’t one of them.

    Also, as many posters said above, the protesters clearly did not see the film, or if they did, did not do so with an open mind and pay attention. The whole damn (excellent!) film is about guilt and culpability, and the point is clearly made that nearly all of the German people were culpable for the Holocaust, at least in willfully looking the other way. Hanna’s illiteracy is only relevant in relation to her being in charge of the group of guards and the author of the report, which she clearly was not. The movie goes to great pains to make it clear that Hanna was very guilty, just not more guilty than the other guards. I think that this film was the most sensitive, intelligent, and complex Holocaust films I have ever seen. It’s unfortunate that some people have rushed to judgement.

    Lastly, I am uncomfortable with partially absolving the German people of their complicity by citing all of the economic, historical, etc. reasons for Hitler’s rise and the resulting Holocaust. While it is true that these factors contributed, they in no way absolve anyone’s personal responsibility to remain humane.

  38. Annie says:

    Great NotBlonde. Way to ruin the movie for EVERYONE.

    LOL JK.

    I would’ve totally done the same thing without remembering to add the disclaimer.

  39. MissSmilla says:

    Kristin Scott Thomas should win the Oscar.

  40. tigerlille says:

    Dear Elanenergy,

    I was so sorry to read about the loss of your child, and in such a horrific fashion. How brave you were to share that. I don’t know if I could survive the loss of my child, how I admire your courage.

    It is ironic. I too decided to sample a gossip blog as part of my own recovery from a series of overwhelmingly sad and frightening events. At first it was light hearted, but then I became more and more overwhelmed by the relentless cruelty and pettiness of the constant negative judgements that people indulge themselves in, and then excuse themselves from, because, what do you expect, this is a gossip site! I finally ended up at Celebitchy, the best of a very bad deal. At least there are not the constant hateful, violent, misogynistic and homophobic sexual statements that you encounter so frequently elsewhere.

    It is a fascinating lesson in self discovery to interact with a gossip blog. But I am never sure if the end justifies the means.

  41. NotBlonde says:

    LOL Annie. I hadn’t even thought I was going to write out any of the plot but as my thoughts were formulating I just wrote down what I thought was pertinent. I got to about the end I thought “I should put a spoiler alert at the top of this” but kept writing, hit submit comment and read it over and was like…shit.

    We need that edit comment option back. To anyone who I spoiled the film for, I am really sorry. I hate it when people do it to me and I avoid spoiler comments when they have spoiler alerts. I feel like such a dick right now…

  42. Diva says:

    @ NotBlonde – Don’t feel too bad. I read your comment and you didn’t say anything about the movie that I hadn’t already heard elsewhere, either through critic reviews or Winslet herself on talk shows.

    I haven’t seen the movie and you certainly didn’t ruin it for me. Like I said, you didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard a number of other places.

  43. Zoe says:

    at Baho, nice summation of high school history and the influences contributing to the Holocaust, but damn,

    “Don’t forget that the Jews were also German people, or at least that’s how they considered themselves. The complicity is theirs to own too – there were a lot of people in a state of disbelief and denial over what was going on.”

    This sentiment literally gave me the chills when I read it.

    I’m with MiaGirl, can’t say it any better than this: “Lastly, I am uncomfortable with partially absolving the German people of their complicity by citing all of the economic, historical, etc. reasons for Hitler’s rise and the resulting Holocaust. While it is true that these factors contributed, they in no way absolve anyone’s personal responsibility to remain humane.”