The Eighty Eight Prisoners Who Voted Against Hitler

totenkopfverbande-ssIn 1935, Hitler asked the citizens of Germany for their opinion on whether they should abandon the Treaty of Versailles and begin to build up their army. His argument was that Germany was suffering injustice and in order to pursue “peace with honor” it must be freed from constraints of the treaty.

The prevailing message was that: “…he who does not vote and vote ‘yes’ today, shows that he is, if not our bloody enemy, at least a product of destruction and that he is no more to be helped… It would be better for him and it would be better for us if he no longer existed.” That’s a long-winded way of saying “vote yes or die”.

In the book In the Garden of Beasts, Larson mentioned that of the 2,242 prisoners in Dachau, 88 of them voted ‘no’. Not much can be known about these men, but from the little I gather, there is no more profound form of heroism. In a time when fear clouded the whole nation, when the price of an opposing voice was the very real possibility of death, and when that voice was not to be heard by anyone, I admire deeply the fortitude and character required to vote ‘no’. Most of us will never be tested in this way…

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