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Germany

How The Nazis Turned 250,000 Ordinary People Into Murderers

Whether killing with their own hands, orchestrating or quietly aiding and abetting, a disturbingly high number of people in voluntarily fell in line with the Nazi killing machine.

Himmler (center left) visiting the Mauthausen concentration camp in April 1941
Himmler (center left) visiting the Mauthausen concentration camp in April 1941
Sven Felix Kellerhoff

BERLIN — Who's the culprit? At first sight, the question seems simple enough to answer. Obviously, the guilty party is the one who commits a crime, "with his own hands," we might add. But this definition is of course not always enough, especially when it comes to complex criminal networks. Heinrich Himmler for instance, probably never killed anybody "with his own hands," and yet he was one of the Holocaust's main criminals. Just like Adolf Eichmann, the man who organized the mass deportations of Jews to concentration camps.

And what about for lower-ranking accomplices? The conductors who drove the trains to the concentration camps? The guards who prevented people from escaping when they were on their way to the gas chambers? The ordinary people who did nothing to stop the mass killings?

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Geopolitics

Fall Of The Empire? Ethnic Separatism On The Rise In Russia

Far from being a unified state, Russia is full of federal subjects — many of which have spawned separatist movements. Moscow, far from Siberia or the Caucasus and focused on Ukraine, is finding it harder to contain them.

Kalmyks attend the unveiling ceremony of a Buddha statue in Kalmykia, Russia

Pavel Lysyansky

They began to show up more and more in 2019: people were displaying symbols of separatism at protests in different regions of Russia. One example that marked this movement were the flags of the Ural People's Republic at protests during the spring of 2019 against the construction of a temple in Yekaterinburg, the industrial city in the Ural mountains 1,100 miles east of Moscow.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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