Apologies in advance if this is disconnected. I picked up a cold on vacation, and these are some thoughts I had.
Newsweek ran a story on the politics of fear about 2 weeks ago. They discussed the (right-wing, though unspecified as such) tendency to disseminate fear of terrorists, immigrants, gay people being allowed to get married, and the like. And the Othering that allows it to happen.
I spent last week in Berlin. One of the things I saw was an exhibit called The Topography of Terror, which is about the SS and Gestapo, displayed on the site of their former basement and jail. There were pictures and brief life stories of people who were tortured and killed, for being dissenters or communists, as well as a section on the concentration camps and the groups that were targeted for extermination.
There were pictures of run of the mill Germans gleefully participating in the Othering of the Jews (including a campaign to boycott stores owned by Jews, using the slogan "buy German!"). There has been a lot of discussion of how could normal people get so deeply involved in such a horrible thing, with some of the answers being that they had no other choice (as NSDAP membership was often a requirement to get a decent job, for example.)
But that doesn't explain the casual anti-Semitism and Othering. One thing does, however: the politics of fear. It's happening in this country right now: casual anti-Arab sentiments, anti-immigrant sentiments, though it hasn't come (yet) to mass violence.
Looking around me, I begin to understand how average Germans were caught up in it. And it makes me worry.