In an interview with Studs Terkel, described in "The Good War": an Oral History of World War Two, he takes up the question of Hitler and the justification of war:
All wars are the same. In war, both sides are trying to kill each other over a "principle." And the principle "thou shalt not kill" got lost in the shuffle.I like that last part, and it makes me wonder. Certainly Hitler had power, but he had power because many of the people did what he wanted them to do. He already had, pre-1933, the brown shirts agreeing with him, and using violence to get what he (they) wanted. Hitler by himself could do absolutely nothing. So when we focus on the leaders who get us into wars, we forget that they are not leaders until they have followers, we forget that there is always an option, that people let themselves be bullied, or else follow willingly. The pacifist refuses, either to be bullied, or to follow willingly. If someone kills him, it is the killer who does something wrong, but not the pacifist.
>What about Hitler?
What about Hitler? He was one person. They were all doing what Hitler said. What do all prisoners do? They do what the warden says. The only power Hitler had was the power the people gave him. I felt the whole world had gone absolutely mad, crazy mad. They were in love with war.
I'm not sure I agree with Abbott's view, but it certainly is something to think about.