Response to the Readings and Videos

Posted on: 16th May 2023


This is a difficult read as it relates to unimaginable suffering. Read at least up to page 13 in the article, then watch the video "In Memory of Millions." Then play my video "Auschwitz Lesson" after which you can play the other videos. Lastly watch the video on the Milgram Study of Obedience. After you read the text, I am looking to hear some response about the holocaust and what we can learn from the millions who suffered and died. The Milgram Study was designed to see how ordinary people could do such unimaginable things to fellow human beings. What was behind their motivation to cause so much suffering and death? What role did obedience play? Tosia Schneider in her presentation at UWG also describes what it was like to be subject to this kind of torture. With this said, I am expecting to hear from you some reference to what is in this reading and the videos. The following are some of my thoughts about this Theme. You do not necessarily have to answer all the questions I have posted.

Here are some thoughts about a Hidden Curriculum in our schools: What is it that we are doing or not doing that might foster such extreme behaviors out of normal people?

How do we stress obedience and respect of authority? How is it taught in our schools? Too many parents, obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.

What kind of understanding about obedience does our teaching lend itself to? How do we teach obedience as it relates to moral judgement?

How can we teach respect for authority and at the same time teach our children to resist authority when it becomes morally wrong?

It is vital that we are aware of the dangers which are inherent in a "hidden curriculum" which expects blind obedience at all costs.

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Response to the Readings and Videos

The Holocaust was a terrible time of suffering, but it is not the only time in history when people have suffered and died. The first pages of the book deal with the suffering of slaves on plantations. “Auschwitz Lesson” is an exciting video. It is an example of participatory learning with students who have grown up in a country where the Holocaust was not common knowledge. It is difficult for us to imagine what it must have been like for a person of Jewish heritage to be living under Hitler’s rule.

Friedrich describes the German invasion of Poland and the atrocities against Jews, Poles, and other nations. The book does not attempt to compare the Holocaust to other events. Instead, Friedrich believes that the Holocaust is unique because of its massive scale. The Milgram study provides a scientific basis for understanding why this happened on such a large scale.

In the video “In Memory of Millions,” you will find a few questions that you can answer. There is a list of reasons people could have conducted experiments like this. The nature of authority is one. Those who enforce the rules believe that they have the right to make those rules and punish traitors and spies with their own “shock guns.” The second is obedience. In the Milgram study, participants often stepped up to administer more shocks even though they had learned that the other person was in pain or was already dead. The third reason is anonymity, in which people may not care who dies as long as there are no witnesses. The fourth is the desire to learn what people will do in dangerous situations. The fifth is the desire to learn how human nature works as much as possible.

In the videos, we see some people who had been tortured, others present during torture, and others who had their entire families murdered by Nazis. Two responses held that this type of behavior could never happen again. One said, “How can it happen again? After all, we are now a much better society.” The second was, “We know better now, and if people were still capable of such things, we would be in trouble.”

Milgram believed that the Holocaust was created by an entire society led by German citizens. This study also demonstrates the power of obedience and authority. The researchers in charge of the experiments had authority over the participants, and they were told to continue even after they saw someone in pain or dead. The experimenters did not order them to do these things, but they used their authority to convince people that this was the right thing to do.

Milgram describes a situation where he decided to let his students take care of some classroom pets he was taking home as a young teacher. One day, he arrived home without one of the animals because it had died under student care. As a result of that incident, Milgram decided to understand how humans would behave under these circumstances.

This study has been among the best-known studies in social psychology. Milgram analyzed some experiments that examined obedience to authority and conformity to group norms and group pressure in his article. Milgram’s experiment demonstrated that ordinary people would obey the instructions of authority figures and act against their conscience if they were committed to an experiment or goal. The test subjects believed they contributed to scientific research on learning and memory by administering a series of electric shocks to another person. The “shocks” were fake, and there was no actual victim. During the experiments, two-thirds of test subjects carried out stronger electric shocks despite cries of pain from the victim (an actor who was pretending) and even shouting that the victim had a heart condition.

The Milgram experiment also supported the bystander effect in some situations where individuals witnessed an injury or crime but did not intervene. The bystander effect was first described by psychologists Philip Zimbardo and John Darley. Researchers recruited volunteers to participate in a psychology experiment where the subjects gave electric shocks to another participant acting under pretenses.

In summary, obedience and authority may be used to some degree in this study because people would follow the instructions of their supervisors no matter what. But if they are given a task that they think is harmful or degrading, they will also break the rules. They will turn off their conscience.

Peter Seiyanoi

Peter Seiyanoi

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