The word complicity comes from the Latin root complicare, meaning to fold or weave together. When scholars talk about the moral complicity of the German people under Adolf Hitler, this Latin root cuts to the heart of the question we must be asking about ourselves: How do good people become folded into a program of genocide?
As historian Peter Fritzsche says in this interview, “I don’t think the Germans would have voted for the Holocaust, but they accepted the exclusion of people who had previously been considered German citizens.” Acceptance is the key to complicity. Through acceptance and normalization, more and more people become folded into a society that legitimizes a fascist regime capable of greater and greater horrors. The majority of people don’t have to agree with the rhetoric and actions of the regime. They just have to accept it.