I came across a story about an album of fotographs that recently surfaced showing the Nazi officers of the camp at Auschwitz relaxing and unwinding. On the same day that Hoecker (SS officer, center) and SS women were snapped enjoying blueberries, records show 150 prisoners arrived at Auschwitz. The SS selected 33 for work and gassed the rest.
How does an otherwise normally gregarious people committ morally reprehensible crimes while retaining the appearance of normalcy in all other respects, without abandoning the essence of its morality?
Perhaps no one comprehends the roots of depravity and cruelty better than Philip Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect. He is renowned for such research as the Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrated how, in the right circumstances, ordinary people can swiftly become amoral monsters. Evil is not so much inherent in individuals, Zimbardo showed, but emerges dependably when a sequence of dehumanizing and stressful circumstances unfolds. He elucidates on the finds of the 1963 Milgram experiments and their implications and how they might help to understand the case of U.S. reservists who perpetrated the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison . . . .
It's a fascinating lecture. To read more go here
Here's a direct link to the lecture.