I attended an outstanding talk on Sunday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City by Holocaust scholar Thorsten Wagner on the subject of what one might call "Nazi Ethics" -- the emerging notion that the Nazi system of terror might be understood as grounded in a coherent (while also of course evil and horrifying) set of ethical norms. This enterprise is no exercise in Holocaust denial or justification -- far from it. It is rather an effort to understand the Germany of 1933 to 1945 as in some way continuous, rather than discontinuous, with ordinary (perhaps even universal) human experience.
A centerpiece of Wagner's presentation was an astonishing excerpt from a speech that Heinrich Himmler delivered in October of 1943 to a large gathering of SS officials in Poznan (German: "Posen"), Poland. Most obviously astonishing is Himmler's frank discussion of mass murder in simple, direct terms, without any of the code language that the leadership typically used to conceal their program. At a level beneath that, though, is the equally astonishing ethical framing of Himmler's appeal to the SS. That framing should be quite recognizable to us all; it's the invocation of the honor that comes from a loyal commitment to the uglier aspects of duty.
The excerpt lasts about 6 minutes. If you have the time, have a look/listen: