The 20th Century as we all know was one of the bloodiest periods in history. Nearly 100 million civilians were killed in this era. In the same period 34 million battle related deaths took place. There are many people such as Willard Gaylin, Stanley Milgrim, Ervin Staub, and David Smith who has theories of why these many mass murders took place.
Willard Gaylin wrote a book titled Hatred: The Psychological Descent into Violence. He says that hatred contains both rage and envy. Gaylin theorizes that’s envy necessitates the hater receiving pleasure from the pain of the hated. He then makes the argument that hate is actually a psychological illness. He uses the killing squads as an example, the professional Enisatzgruppen, who volunteered to slaughter the Jews by hand, were largely psychotic, or at the least individuals. He says behavior as sick as this forms a need for acceptance, and is usually caused a poor childhood. Gaylin’s explanation of hate is valuable to the study. Me personally I disagree with Willard Gaylin’s theories. I believe only a sick man can hate to the point killing someone, but the prisoners hated the enemies and they weren’t sick. His theory is correct in a sense, but not everyone who hates has a psychological disorder.
Stanley Milgrim went another route and made a theory himself. He performed a series of experiments, where a person would come in and in context of a learning experiment told to give severe shocks to another person. The purpose of these experiments was to see how far a subject will proceed before refusing to comply with the instructions given to them. After studying the outcome of the experiments he theorized that the subjects were not ill, but was following the orders of a superior. He was surprised to learn so this was the same for many of the defendants in the Nuremburg trials. This study demonstrates the possibility in these acts may just be trying to protect themselves of their families from danger. I think Stanley Milgrim is correct with his theory. I also believe that people who are acting these mass murders out are really just trying not to die as well, and are protect their love ones. They cannot go against their leader or they would be killed as well.
Ervin Staub took a more collectivist approach. Staub theorizes that mass killing occurs due to a mixture of difficult life conditions such as economic problems, intense political conflict and substantial and rapid technological and social changes. He says that they create disorganization and mighty activate basic needs for humans in groups. Staub believed that when the basic needs where threatened people cling onto their social group. Staub’s theories can be put to the test in a multitude of mass killing throughout the century. I honestly don’t know whether I agree or disagree with Ervin Staub’s theory. I guess mass killings can be because of life conditions but I’m not sure if I 100% agree with his theory even through the Nazi Germany timeline follows it quite well.
David Smith, looking into Rwanda Genocides, followed a different theory. He believes that’s the rulers of Rwanda suffered an acute legitimacy crisis and…