Because Nazi sympathizers/holocaust deniers have been in the news a bit lately, D.J. Waletzky thinks it's worth noting that the founder of the popular health food chain Trader Joe's is, in addition to being the 20th richest man in the world, a former soldier for the German army under the Nazi regime. One response to D.J. went:
"Um, there were quite a few of those. They were -- what's the word? -- 'Germans'."
D.J. doesn't find this to be an acceptable answer. We've dealt with this here before, when the new Pope (also a former soldier in the Nazis' army) was elected. Some people thought this was not something that should be held against him, since service wasn't exactly voluntary in that time and place. My position was that it is something that he should be held accountable for, since others could and did resist, and that although it was perhaps an understandable sin, under the circumstances, it was a sin nonetheless.
But D.J. raises an interesting point that I hadn't thought of before:
"...you have to wonder (speaking of soldiers), if you were willing to take up arms, not to mention possibly giving your life in defense of Nazi Germany, wouldn't you then be just as capable of taking up arms against Nazi Germany? ... Whether you felt "coerced," or genuinely believed in Nazi ideology, joining the Nazi army is, in my view, unforgivable. The Holocaust would not have been possible but for the participation or indifference of the ordinary citizens."
Most of those who defended the Pope (and presumably would defend Trader Joe, or whatever his name is) did so on the grounds that it would have been extremely dangerous to resist orders from the Nazi government. Which is true, but as D.J. points out, it's not as if actually joining the German army in the midst of WWII was a hazard-free proposition. Either way, you stood a good chance of dying a violent death; if you chose to risk such a fate by fighting for the Nazis, rather than against them, why shouldn't you be held responsible for that choice?