Ordinary Germans remained blind, or at the very least, unconvinced of the industrialized murder of Jews until the end of the war. Although speculation of mass Jewish murders circulated throughout Germany, the confirmed information in the earlier years of the war, such as 1941 and 1942, merely implicated shootings, ditches, and self-dug graves. Reality differed from what was believed by the general public, but because there were few confirmed reports on organized genocide with gas chambers and the like, ordinary Germans chose to question those reports and only accepted genocide as fact once it became unavoidable. Further, the lesser degree of separation between Auschwitz and other Polish camps and Germany made it much harder to swallow and comprehend than the actions occurring in Russia. Russia was further away and much more of a realized enemy, so the persecution of their Jewish population could be put into a distant perspective, on a smaller scale and more imperative than the potential killings of more local Jews.

Additionally, the careful phrasing by the Third Reich and the filtered information relayed to the home front helped to cloud the systemic murders. The Nazi party was cautious to avoid direct mention of gas chambers to the general public as they believed the population was not prepared to handle such extreme actions, even as late as 1943. Nazi apprehension to share the direct truth of their master plans reflects both the overall public sentimentality still associated with the persecuted Jewish population and their confusion over how the deaths were caused. Further, constant reminders of the war effort and the necessity of a stronger race steeled Germans against their wavering consciences. Personal struggles and wartime restrictions also served as a distraction from deportations and mass murders.


Information from the front lines also painted a relatively vague picture and did not inform people of the Holocaust. Many soldiers sent back photos of shootings and laboring prisoners, but because these images were supported by racial education and the extreme need for a supportive home front, they could be accepted as wartime necessity. Once details of more extensive murder came to light, the photographs could be evaluated differently, contextually, but initially they were not indicative of a greater killing system. Ordinary Germans’ relative apprehension to believe of the atrocities committed by their countrymen reflects both their personal moral conflicts but also the careful filtering of knowledge by the Nazi regime.