I believe that my German uncle, the spitting image of my American father, was a decent man who, like the new pope who once joined the Hitler Youth, was swept along by events far beyond his control. He recalled that as a teenager, Hitler was a distant voice on the radio promising to return order and prosperity to a depressed country. Little did he know that the highway built near the town in the '30s, eagerly welcomed for creating local jobs, was intended to carry tanks to conquer Paris, or that the coming war would leave him near death on the Russian front.
After the war, my late father never visited Germany. He couldn't get over the shock that his "landsmen," whom he had respected as the best-educated and most industrially proficient people in the world, had descended to the lowest level of primitive barbarism yet recorded in human history.