Eric A. Johnson Quotes
“Most non-Jews, however, experienced a very different Third Reich. Few harbored any fear of arrest even though they too often broke the law in minor ways. Most knew instinctively that the terror apparatus was not intent on punishing them so long as they broadly accepted and went along with National Socialism, which most did. Difficult as it is to fathom, given most people’s conception of dictatorship, most Germans appear to have led happy, productive, even normal lives in the Third Reich. This indicates that a dictatorship can enjoy widespread popularity among the majority even while committing unspeakable crimes against minorities and others.”
“She was trying to free her mother, who had recently been deported to Auschwitz. The lawyer responded bluntly, “You can file a petition, but you will not see your mother again. Auschwitz is an extermination camp.” When she received notification of her mother’s death a few months later—“died of sepsis and phlegm in Auschwitz”—she considered this plausible. “Later, I found out that it was just one of many death notices issued on that day.”
“Adam Grolsch, who had witnessed the Jewish massacre in Pinsk, also witnessed two or three gas vans while he was in Rivne, Ukraine, but their function occurred to him only later: “They were parked in Rivne, and nobody knew what they were. . . . That is to say, they were mobile gas chambers for smaller operations. My attention was drawn to it by the BBC.”
“while some people insisted that the mass murder of Jews was something that “everyone knew about,” others maintained just as insistently that hardly anyone could have known about the Holocaust during the Third Reich. Although the reality lay between these two opposing contentions, people were able to hold completely different viewpoints. This can happen because societies are not homogeneous but are made up of interlocking social networks that allow information to diffuse in some circles while not in others.”
Eric A. Johnson
- Born: in Salem, Massachusetts, The United States.
- Description: Eric Johnson joined the CMU faculty in 1976 after studying at Brown and Stockholm Universities and receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the years he has taught a wide array of courses, primarily focused on modern Europe, Germany, the Holocaust, and social science methods and approaches to historical study. He has held several visiting professorships of various lengths. As part of the CMU exchange with Strathclyde University he spent the 1988-1989 academic year teaching in Glasgow, Scotland. Between 1989 and 1995 he was a visiting professor at the Center for Historical Social Research at the University of Cologne, mostly leading a small research team working on terror in Nazi Germany. From 1995-1996 he was in residence writing and researching primarily at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and he held a similar appointment at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in 1998-1999.
Professor Johnson's research interests dovetail considerably with his teaching. In the first years of his career he concentrated primarily on the history of crime and urbanization and justice. In the last couple of decades he has written primarily on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Presently he is working on American and Allied prisoners, especially pilots, in WWII and completing a personal account of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of Germany.