In his final characteristic of German society that allowed the Nazis to reign for twelve years, Moltke points to a subtle and dangerous quality that characterizes all totalitarian societies.

Moltke identifies


Another fact: German people are very anxious about their men or boys who have been reported missing in Russia. The Russians have allowed our men to write home, which was a very wise thing for the Russians to do. Well, these letters are, on their arrival in Germany, locked up or destroyed but not allowed to reach the relatives. About 1000 of these cards had passed the censor through some technical error. The recipients who then tried to answer in the normal way through the ordinary channels were thereupon arrested, questioned, and kept in confinement until they had realized what it would mean to them if they ever talked about the fact that they had received news from their men.

Things like that go on in Germany for months and perhaps years and this is a bit of information for which Germans are eagerly waiting; you cannot explain it away, as you could with the example given about the jews (sic), with the argument that the Germans are impolitic and do not want to hear, that they have put jews (sic) to death. No, even these facts about the communications from Germans in Russia are neither known nor, where you tell them, believed. And where the facts become known, as with officials dealing with the cards of their relatives, there is widespread belief, that the cards are faked and that the Führer in his magnanimity does want to prevent the raising of hopes by the beastly Russians which are unfounded and must give way to still deeper despair once the facts become known.

A third fact: We have now 19 guillotines working at considerable speed without most people even knowing this fact, and practically nobody knows how many are beheaded per day. In my estimation there are about 50 daily, not counting those who die in concentration camps. –

Nobody knows the exact number of concentration camps or of their inhabitants. We have got a concentration camp only a few miles from our farm, and my district-commissioner told me that he only learnt of the fact that there was a concentration camp in his district when he was asked for orders to stop an epidemic of typhoid from spreading to a neighbouring village; by that time the camp had existed for months. Calculations on the number of KZ-inhabitants vary between 150,000 and 350,000.

Nobody knows how many die per day. By chance I have ascertained that in one single month 160 persons died in the concentration camp of Dachau. We further know fairly reliably that there are 16 concentration camps with their own cremation apparatus. We have been informed that in Upper Silesia a big KZ is being built which is expected to be able to accommodate 50 to 50,000 men, of whom 3 to 4,000 are killed per month. But all this information comes to me, even to me, who is looking out for facts of this nature, in a rather vague and indistinct and inexact form. We only know for certain, that scores, probably many hundreds of Germans are killed daily by the various methods, and that the people die not a glorious death, as those in the occupied countries do, knowing that their people consider them heroes, but an ignominious death knowing that they are classed among robbers and murderers.


The dominant characteristic of Nazi culture was violence. The Nazis used violence to dehumanize everyone in an attempt to break the will of the most determined opponents. No one who stepped out of line in Nazi society was immune from immediate retribution administered in the most vicious fashion imaginable.

It is hard to comprehend the subtle violence of a government that would prevent communication from a young man thousands of miles from home reaching his family.

Any community that desires to continue being a place of healing and well-being for its members must do all that it can to guard against the insidious undermining force of violence in whatever form it is manifest.

Gentleness and compassion are dominant characteristics in a humane society. In the absence of these qualities, communities are condemned to perpetual violence and abuse. We will continue to breed violence as long as violence resides in our hearts.

So, in the end, the only hope we have of truly resisting the violence of a Nazi regime, is to find healing, peace, and gentleness in our own hearts. The qualities we develop within are the qualities we will foster in our communities. Healthy human community begins when the members of that community practice inner honesty, self-awareness, and compassion.