In his later telling of this episode to his interrogators, Morgen said he was so appalled by these things-- though as the authors point out he must have long been aware of the mass killings on the Eastern front-- that he determined that some action on his part was necessary. He says that he contemplated trying to assassinate Hitler, but concluded that Hitler was so well guarded that he could not even come close. He considered fleeing to Switzerland and denouncing the murder regime, but decided against it. His reasons included the thoughts that he would not be believed, that after all he did not want to contribute to anti-German propaganda which would be used to justify a similar program of slaughter by the allies in the event of a German defeat (a bloody version of the Morgenthau plan?), and that he could not abandon his profession and good standing, which his “dear mother and father” had sacrificed so much to allow him to attain—an almost grotesquely parodic version of the classic “good son” scruple.It is of course possible to interpret Morgen's actions as those of a true-believing fanatic, one who was genuinely horrified by SS camp guards taking Jewish girlfriends and enriching themselves with tainted gold. But on the other hand, he might have been telling the truth.
In the end he determined to impede and undermine the progress of the Final Solution by “working to rule.” This meant rigorously enforcing the norms of honor and obedience to law that after all Himmler himself had claimed to insist upon. Accordingly, he proceeded to prosecute relentlessly even very senior figures in the camp hierarchy for any irregularity, self-enrichment or racial sexual peccadillo. He sought to enlarge his jurisdiction beyond corruption to include unauthorized acts of killing. The authors stick to an admirably straightforward, just-the-facts-ma’am presentation of Morgen’s own account and the supporting documents. One cannot help wondering to what extent this was an after-the-fact concoction by a man who had been a high official of the SS, intimately in contact with its worst outrages, seeking to avoid the fate of many highly placed Nazis: hanging or long prison terms. Yet there is solid, objective, documentation of his carrying out just the campaign he claims to have set himself. He procured the execution by the SS of such figures as the camp commandants Karl Koch and Hermann Florstedt and of Georg von Sauberzweig, son of a famous World War I general. And he did seek the indictment—for having misappropriated a pouch of precious stones—of Adolf Eichman, in the midst of Eichman’s project to round up and transport to their deaths at Auschwitz 400,000 Hungarian Jews. Most sensationally, he had sought out and harangued the Gestapo Chief, Heinrich Mueller, about the corrupting effect of the SS men’s participation in programs of mass killing on their spirit, morality and future usefulness (after a Nazi victory). In the end, the SS hierarchy got fed up with Morgen and relegated him to less strategic duties, although some had thought that a short sentence to a concentration camp might have put him in his place.
Anyway it is a fascinating review, well worth your time. Reid concludes:
What kind of people are these, these ordinary mid-level bureaucrats? At other times and in other circumstances they would have been much like the rest of us. Of this vast army of ordinary men and women how do we know who will be the killers, who the willing accomplices, who the knowing time-servers, and who the heroes? How do we know by what processes, moved by what confrontation, what realization, some may change from being guilty time-servers to being heroes of resistance—or like Morgen something in between? How do we know what we would have been in such circumstances, what stories we might have told ourselves to justify acquiescence or complicity, what insight would have moved us to resist? How do we know who we are, what we would be in such times?