"What happened in Germany is an extreme example of what happens when, for whatever reason, people's capacity to make autonomous judgments is overwhelmed by circumstances or set aside for the sake of some vision of the greater good. That a few were able to retain their capacity to judge is of little comfort here, and the overall lesson is that the autonomy of human agents does not only rest on their own power of rational decision-making, their own self-understanding, it also rests on the nature of the community, the presence of a particular form of social context."(Cole,204)
Reflecting on the quote from the Cole article, some aspects speak true to the higher power being that of society and not of God. Individuals put aside their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs and contributed to the slaughtering of thousands of Jews. These were "ordinary men", men who had families, higher education and careers, why would they choose to act in such a manner? Even if the events that unfolded during the Holocaust were meant to be for the greater good of mankind, with full awareness of the pain and suffering that individuals would cause and tolerate why participate?
It is hard to assess the actions of those involved with the Holocaust, whether it be the victims, or the victimizers as outlined in the Cole article, "Facing the Holocaust", because we did not live through it and are analyzing the ordeal from an 'outsiders' perspective.
That being said, one may easily come to justify the actions of the tormentors by stating that they had no choice in the matter, either they participate in the suffering or alternatively they became the one who had to endure the suffering. Cole argues this ideology is not true, "There could be no fear of retribution...