Our Secrets

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The holocaust, an event that has been debated upon for many years, lead to the death of millions of innocent people. It was an incident that was planed quite well, secretly. Evil people, you might call them, who do not deserve to be remembered. How is it that a countless number of people were involved in the holocaust and barely any people attempted to put a stop to it? Can an entire society be anti-Semitic? Can an entire society coincidentally be that ignorant? But really, it is these people that we must remember so that a massive destructive event like the Holocaust does not occur ever again in history. Susan Griffin’s essay Our Secret looks at the minds of various people, focusing the most on Heinrich Himmler. It is hard to deny that he is an awful man for what he did, but it is so easy for people to simply judge without knowing the facts behind his madness. Many may not realize this, but who we are today goes back to how we were raised as a child and who we had to look up to. Just as Himmler’s tough life reminded Griffin of her self-experiences, I myself began to think of my own observations in my own house. Writing this essay, I would like to take the chance to point out what could lead a person to being the adult they are today, and who my own brother could possibly grow up to be someday in the future.

According to Susan, Germans had this general idea of how to raise kids. Dr. Scheber believed that “The pain and humiliation children endure are meant to benefit them. The parent is only trying to save the child’s soul” (Griffin 318). It was important to raise children to become proper and acceptable to the society. Things like the way they spoke and their posture when walking, standing, sitting, and even sleeping, counted. Just like the other German fathers, Gehard controlled every portion of Himmler’s life, which in Gehar’s eyes, was only for his benefit. Susan describes how he even controlled what was written in his diary. “Like the words of a schoolboy commanded to write what the teacher requires of him, they are wooden and stiff. The stamp of his father’s character is so heavy on this language that I catch not even a breath of a self here” (315). This quote signifies how severely Himmler was restrained, to the point where he could not express how he felt. A diary’s common use is to let out ones emotions and feelings that they cannot let out to just anyone in the world. Himmler was not allowed to write what he wanted to write, instead of emotions he was required to write facts about what happened through his day. Himmler never questioned orders. He grew up not thinking for himself. This way of life stayed with Himmler through his childhood and even as he became an adult. Not only was Himmler being controlled, at one point he actually wanted to be controlled. Control became so much apart of him, that he was ok with living under it as he grew. He wanted to be a soldier just like his brother, take commands and work for his country. He was looking forward so much and very proud to someday meet the Führer, serve him, and be “an instrument of the Führer’s will” (329).

There is always that someone we look up to and know we will never be as great and popular as they are. Himmler’s brother, Gehard, was one Himmler looked up to as his icon. He wanted to be just like him: a strong and ‘masculine’ soldier. Himmler knew he in no way could ever be as remarkable as his brother due to the fact that his body is still weak from the influenza he once had earlier in his life. It is people in our lives like Gehard who make us determined to become someone better than whom we are and can actually form a sense of jealousy of that person we look up to. All his life, Himmler wanted to make his father proud and play an important role in his country, even if it meant obeying the commands of others. Looking up to his brother, Himmler’s thoughts shifted towards the idea of gender. He valued the importance of being masculine and that a woman...
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