History: But what were the regular people up to?

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a regular person, say, when the Roman Empire fell? I do, because all empires fall-100%-and so the American Empire will fall, too. How is it to be a regular person during those changing times?

As far as I can tell, regular people were not particularly aware that the Roman Empire had fallen; life went on. Those who could move to the Eastern Roman Empire may have done so. Constantinople was booming and lasted for 1,000 years.

Rooster crosses road in Brooks County, GA. No one asks "Why?"
Rooster crosses road in Brooks County, GA. No one asks “Why?”

The south Georgia county where I live has its share of Civil War memorials. How was it to be a regular person in Brooks County during the Civil War? Were there battles, and farm-burnings and starvation? As it turns out, the war never actually reached here. Brooks County grew food for the war effort and took in wounded  soldiers for rehabilitation, but otherwise, life went on.

How about in Nazi Germany? Did picturesque Bavarian towns suddenly go crazy and goose-step around carrying torches? Were they taken in by the supposedly mesmerizing Adolph? Were they gleeful that Jews were being shipped off to death camps? A Jewish journalist who wondered about all that went to Germany in 1954 to find out. He did not mention that he was a Jew and he became friends with ten regular people, a student, a baker, a cabinet-maker…

As it turns out, life pretty much went on, in fact, Hitler delivered on his promises of making life better with more jobs, more food and even paid vacations. They liked him. They did not think he was a god, just a “little man” who made Germany better. They were somewhat sorry for Jews being arrested, but then they were arrested for treason during wartime, weren’t they? That is a serious offense. Wouldn’t we in America think the same? Probably-and I find that idea deeply disturbing.

They reported that of the 67 million Germans about 1 million were “fanatics;” that is, they believed all that master race, thousand year-Reich stuff. The other 66 million just thought things had improved and they would enjoy it “while it lasted.”

Obviously in changing times, how your life goes depends on where you live. If you lived in Dresden or Hiroshima then the war was pretty much the end of the world. In the little town where the journalist went, life went on pretty much as it always had. His friends had joined the Nazi party to get better jobs, because they really didn’t like the rival communist party and because the Nazi youth programs were fun for the kids.

The book about the ten regular Nazis is available free online. If you know of any others about what regular people were up to during major historical events, please let me know-they are very hard to find. Not dramatic enough, I suppose, after all “life went on as usual” is unlikely to be the theme for the next blockbuster movie.

But what regular people did and thought IS history, I think more so then some “Great Man” thrust into his position by a combination of powerlust and luck.  

1930s German family picnic
1930s German family picnic



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