Still, it seems to me, something about compassion and indifference can be learned by looking closer to home. We know that almost no one in the United States protested when Japanese-Americans were rounded up during World War II. And while it is important to stress that the treatment of the Japanese-Americans was in no way comparable to the treatment of the German Jews, a small thought experiment does not seem out of order here. What if word had begun seeping back that Japanese-American children were being murdered in the internment camps? How many of the good people of California would have taken time out from their busy and war-burdened lives to register a protest, or even to learn the facts of the matter? Some, to be sure, and undoubtedly a great many more than the number of Germans who worried about the fate of the Jews. A democratic ethos does make a difference. But can anyone say with confidence that a significant portion of the public would have behaved compassionately? I for one would not bet the ranch on the kindness of strangers.
Hitler's Silent Partners