Are Condemned to Repeat Them

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would
some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when
the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his
farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want
war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for
that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all,
it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and
it is always a simple matter to drag the people along,
whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a
Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a
democracy the people have some say in the matter through
their elected representatives, and in the United States only
Congress can declare wars.”

“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the
leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they
are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the
same way in any country.”

Reich-Marshall Hermann Göring
in G. M. Gilbert’s
Nuremberg Diary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Company,
1947 (pp. 278-279) as quoted in



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