Yesterday, the New York Times revealed that the CIA and FBI used "at least" 1,000 Nazis as informants and spies during the Cold War. Many of the Nazis were allowed to live in America, as if they were not Nazis but upstanding American citizens, thus revealing what many of us have long known to be true: There are Nazis among us.
Luckily, the great Dorothy Thompson, one of the most badass, under-appreciated journalists in the history of journalism, long ago created a game called "Who Goes Nazi" to help us identify the Nazis in our midst, both actual and potential. She published an account of one night of play in the August 1941 issue of Harper's—you can find the whole thing here—and it's a fantastic read. I trust Thompson on the subject of Nazis because she interviewed Hitler in 1931 (she described him as "the very prototype of the little man").
Here are some salient points in Thompson's guide to the Nazi mindset:
"Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work—a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his intellect to discipline. He has been treated to forms of education which have released him from inhibitions. His body is vigorous. His mind is childish. His soul has been almost completely neglected."
"I think young D over there is the only born Nazi in the room. Young D is the spoiled only son of a doting mother. He has never been crossed in his life. He spends his time at the game of seeing what he can get away with. He is constantly arrested for speeding and his mother pays the fines. He has been ruthless toward two wives and his mother pays the alimony."
"Mrs. E would go Nazi as sure as you are born. That statement surprises you? Mrs. E seems so sweet, so clinging, so cowed. She is. She is a masochist. She is married to a man who never ceases to humiliate her, to lord it over her, to treat her with less consideration than he does his dogs. He is a prominent scientist, and Mrs. E, who married him very young, has persuaded herself that he is a genius, and that there is something of superior womanliness in her utter lack of pride, in her doglike devotion."
"L is the strongest natural-born Nazi in this room. Mr. B regards him with contempt tempered by hatred. Mr. B will use him. L is already parroting B's speeches. He has the brains of Neanderthal man, but he has an infallible instinct for power. In private conversation he denounces the Jews as "parasites."
Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you'll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Nazi in a crisis.
Play it at your next dinner party!