In response to the laws and policies implemented during Hitler's rule, various countries and individuals chose either to act or not to act. These choices, in turn, placed these countries and people into one of four categories: perpetrators, bystanders, resisters and rescuers. Through a number of case studies, one can identify what may have motivated individuals or large groups to respond in the way in which they did and the consequences that arose as a result.
A perpetrator is an individual who is directly or indirectly involved in the execution of wrongdoing. In Nazi Germany, there were many perpetrators ranging from those who drove the trains loaded with the persecuted to concentration camps and those who signed the orders to have those individuals sent to said concentration camps, to the Einsatzgruppen and the Nazi officials who ran the camps. These people may have been driven to act as they did for a number of reasons; whether out of fear or out of blind obedience, as is often the case, with many Nazi Party officials claiming to have simply been "following orders ". Source 13 shows a picture of Jews being forced to scrub the streets by Nazis, the clear perpetrators in this scenario. While these people may have been "following orders ", others may have been acting on their own beliefs; beliefs formed as a result of not only deeply ingrained societal prejudices but also rampant and widespread propaganda aimed at entrenching Nazi ideology and ways of thinking. Of course, there were consequences to being a perpetrator. Source 10 clearly highlights the remorse felt by those who engaged in the violent acts of the Holocaust, specifically, in this case, the mass execution of Jews. Many of those who had actively participated in the violence of the time were adversely affected by their actions, feeling genuine guilt for what they had done.
The vast majority of the population in Nazi Germany remained bystanders to the wrongdoings of the Nazi government.