- may turn out the most important alarm bell since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring from 1962, or ever.
Accepting untruth of this radical kind requires a blatant abandonment of reason. Klemperer's descriptions of losing friends in Germany in 1933 over the issue of magical thinking ring eerily true today. One of his former students implored him to "abandon yourself to your feelings, and you must always focus on the Führer's greatness, rather than on the discomfort you are feeling at present". Twelve years later, after all the atrocities, and at the end of a war that Germany had clearly lost, an amputated soldier told Klemperer that Hitler "has never lied yet. I believe in Hitler".
The final mode is misplaced faith. It involves the sort of self-deifying claims the president made when he said that "I alone can solve it" and "I am your voice". When faith decends from heaven to earth in this way, no room remains for the small truths of our individual discernment and experience. What terrified Klemperer was the way that this transition seemed permanent. Once truth had become oracular rather than factual, evidence was irrelevant. At the end of the war a worker told Klemperer that "understanding is useless, you have to have faith. I believe in the Führer".