When you study history and come to Nazi Germany, you probably wonder how someone like Hitler could convince a modern, industrialized nation to blindly follow along in the systematic murder of millions.

Some followed willingly. Some followed out of fear. A few resisted but were quickly disposed of. Not many wanted to stand in the way of recognizing that a once-mighty nation was weak and had to be made great again, no matter the cost.

The thing to realize is that it only took small steps to get there. All Hitler had to do was capitalize on pre-existing bigotry against a particular group of people. Next, he had to convince people that this group was somehow a danger to the nation, and had to be stopped. Paranoia could then metastasize and take over from there. The small candles of hate could be combined, fanned and fueled into a wildfire.

Eventually, “by whatever means necessary” got added to “had to be stopped.”

From there, all else followed.

Small steps. Like saying that all members of a certain group need to be put under surveillance, or put on a registry, or barred from entering the country.

How fortunate we are to live in a country where this can’t happen.