I just saw a “sneak peek” commercial for one of the latest WWII movies to come out: Valkyrie.

Valkyrie is a dramatization of an internal plot to kill Hitler–that much has been made clear by the previews. The commentators punching it up say things like, “This is a story about the greatest evil the world has ever known.”

There are two things that are interesting about that comment. The first thing is that Hitler, while certainly evil, isn’t alone in terms of body count. Heads of state and the armies they control far outstrip the body count of the worst serial killers that act alone.

The second thing comes out of a discussion I had with a friend about WWII movies in general, especially Holocaust movies. It seems that these movies, while often gripping and emotional, don’t ever really progress beyond, “Hitler was bad, Nazis are bad, Concentration camps are bad.”

These movies don’t have to go deeper than that, but it is telling that the question, “Why Hitler?” never seems to be asked. Hitler rises to power in Germany–why? The Nazi party spreads like wildfire–why? Concentration camps are built and various minorities are rounded up and shipped off–why?

Deeper than why Hitler rose to power is why the German people were susceptible to a man like Hitler, why they looked to him as a leader. How did Hitler come to be who he was?

I think that some answers to these questions can be found in The Origins of War in Child Abuse by Lloyd Demause (audiobook) as well as in For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller.

There are deeper and more ancient evils at work that result in the horrors of war.

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