Susan Griffin's "Our Secret" is a study in psychology. It is a look into the human mind to see what makes people do the things they do and in particular what makes people commit acts of violence. She isolates the first half of the twentieth century and in particular the era of the Second World War as a basis for her study. The essay discusses a number of people but they all tie in to Heinrich Himmler. He is the extreme case, he who can be linked directly to every single death in the concentration camps. Griffin seeks to examine Himmler because if she can discern a monster like Himmler than everyone else simply falls into place. The essay also tries to deduce why something like the Holocaust, although never mentioned directly, can take place. How can so many people be involved and yet so few people try to end it.
Griffin questions the cause of violent tendencies. Is it the way one is raised? To answer this question, she looks at Himmler's childhood. He was raised in a stern and regimented manner with his father controlling every aspect of his life. His father ruled even an act as simple as keeping a journal. Griffin writes, "The very act of keeping a journal, I sensed, would help me into this life that would now be my own" (Griffin 407). She is speaking of the benefits of keeping a journal and how it can act as a way to express your feelings and that it can be an outlet for your emotions. Himmler did not have this luxury. "Gebhard writes the first entry in his son's diary, to show the boy how it is to be done. July 13 Departed at 11:50 and arrive safely on the bus in L. We have a very pretty house. In the afternoon we drink coffee at the coffee house" (Griffin 407). As we can see, Himmler is not even allowed to write as ...
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...h Himmler. In this way an odd system of insulation was created. These crimes, these murders of millions, were all carried out in absentia, as if by no one in particular" (Griffin 435).
When people realize what they have done or taken part of, when they stop letting it "cease to exist" it has chilling effects. "The children of Nazis and survivors alike have inherited a struggle between silence and speech" (Griffin 448). Do we continue to push it under the rug or do we bring it out in the open? The question is do we continue to take the easy way out and forget what happened and for some of us what hand we had in the matter or do we confront the issue and try to learn from it. Susan Griffin's "Our Secret" chooses to tackle the issue of the Holocaust and to educate people about it so nothing like it can ever happen again.
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