I think back to middle school and high school days when everyone wanted to fit in. We all wore the same types of clothes and spoke with the same kind of slang. People always wanted to be a part of a “popular” crowd and reap the benefits of being a part of a group. When someone dressed drastically different or spoke in a different way, it was immediately noticed and spread throughout the school. People made comments and spread rumors. No one wanted to be an outsider because being an outsider meant having to deal with the consequences of a normalized group against you.
The people’s community in Nazi Germany functioned in a similar, yet wildly more racist, sadistic, and terrifying type of way. It is easy to wonder how any normal citizen became a Nazi sympathizer, especially with the political prisons, extreme racism, and rampant violence. Ordinary Germans in part joined the people’s community because they didn’t want to be “against” the group. Terrorism towards enemies of the state, such as socialists, communists, and Jews, were already viciously targeted. In order to avoid punishment, people participated in the Nazi state and went to certain meetings or used Hitler’s greeting. Even if someone wasn’t outright scared of being put into prison, they didn’t want to be isolated from their friends, family, coworkers, etc. that were participating in the Nazi state. It might have been easier for some people to go along with the Nazi party and just ignore certain problematic issues of the regime if it meant being part of the “in” crowd.
In the high school analogy, kids may engage in harmful behavior or start fights with people in an effort to go along with a crowd. In Nazi Germany, the Nazi policies weren’t very secretive, yet people did not readily speak out against them. Concentration camps such as Dachau were not hidden away but near small towns. Perhaps fear of being an outsider was one of the reasons larger masses of people didn’t speak out against the Nazis’ practices.