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Helen MacInnes
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Licensed mass murder : a socio-psychological study of some SS killers / by Henry V. Dicks

Licensed Mass Murder;: A Socio-Psychological Study of some SS Killers - Henry V. Dicks

Ok, here's the thing; this book is compelling in its own way.  I know that I wonder about what could have possibly motivated every day Germans to become Nazis in the completely odious sense of that word.  And what better (and also more horrifying) way to find out than to talk to said Nazis and uncover what made them tick?

Unfortunately, this book was written in 1971.  Psychology has changed since then.  I simply can't accept today that Nazi X was motivated to commit genocide because he had an Oedipus complex, or because he was living out his secret necrophiliac fantasies.  Those explanations are too trite, too easy, and too restrictive.  They in no way take into account the complexity of the human psyche, especially the ways in which that psyche copes in times of war and in times of totalitarianism.  I'm not a psychologist, so maybe I'm talking out of my hat, but we're looking at the violent, brutal genocide of millions of people, and you're giving me Oedipus?!  Really?

I also wasn't impressed with the way Dicks paraphrased the interviews.  He could have, and I think should have let the Nazis speak for themselves, but instead, he told me what they said, he inserted his own voice into their monologues, and frankly, he muddied the waters so much I couldn't determine where their voices ended and his began.

It would be interesting to know what made Nazis do what they did.  I just didn't find persuasive answers to that question in this book.