The infamous holocaust was a well-planned, state-sponsored, systematic prosecution, and bureaucratic mass murder of the Jews and other minority groups by the Nazi government led by Adolph Hitler. The holocaust led to the mass murder of more than 6 million people. Founded on the populist ideology of exploiting the fears of the German people, the Nazi movement was based on the falsehood of painting the Jew community as the source of all the problems that the Germans were facing during the early 1920s. The leader of the Nazi regime Hitler, declared the entire Jews community of being a “deformity on the body politic” (Weikart, 2003, p78).
The holocaust was executed by the Nazi regime and its allies in a process called the ‘sacrifice by fire’. It began in the year 1933 and was fuelled by the racial anti-Semantic sentiments that were predominant in Europe at that time. The entire Jew Community and those who supported them were declared enemies of the state. The holocaust also included communities that fall within inferior ethical groups such as the Roma, Slavic, and the disabled, who were viewed as a burden to the state. This reflective treatise attempts to explicitly review the possible causes of the holocaust and how the Nazi regime was able to execute the genocide.
At the beginning of the 1920s, there was a very strong anti-Semitic feeling growing across Europe. Towards the end of the 19th century, a racist-biological and anti-Semitism was perfected by Hitler who capitalized on the fears and prejudice of the Germans towards the Jew community to roll out a campaign momentum, which propelled him to power. The Nazi movement was packaged as the last hope of the Germans to solve the problem of the Jews’ dominance once and for all.
Although the anti-Semitic tradition was not a general phenomenon in Germany, there was a common feeling of jealously towards the prosperity of the Jew community because of their hard work and well organized economic systems (Weikart, 2003, pp 34-45). To rise to power, Hitler and his Nazi movement decided to capitalize on this prejudice to start a smear campaign to alienate the Jew community as responsible for the social, political, and economic breakdown in Germany after the First World War. Hitler’s campaign machinery even went further to declare a whole community as being a deformity in the political future of Germany.
The anti-Semitic campaign succeeded in segregating the Jew community and isolating them against the rest of the Germans, despite the fact “that the German Jews were among the best assimilated ethnic groups in Europe” (Weikart, 2003, p67). To inspire further hatred, the Nazi party decided to deliberately link the Jew community to communism and were called the Judeo-Bolshevists, thus, positioning the Jewry descent to greatest fears of Germany’s middle class at that time.
Before the holocaust, upon ascending to power, the Nazi regime tried several other means of eliminating the Jew community from Germany. For instance, as a government policy, Hitler and his Nazi military organized for voluntary and forced immigration of the Jews at the slightest opportunity that presented itself. For instance, if a member of the Jew community was found guilty of a minor offense, he or she was presented with an opportunity to be deported outside Germany or face a tough jail term. According to Scheck (2005), “plans surfaced to deport all the Jews to the east, first to eastern Poland, then to Siberia.
Plans were developed that included deporting all European Jews to the East African island of Madagascar” (p355). The above plans were dropped by the Nazi regime at the beginning of the 1939 war in Europe. Before the onset of this war, the Nazi regime had perfected other experimental forms of mass genocide such as the infamous Euthanasia Programme, where persons with different types of disabilities were eliminated by the state. Another significant psychological barrier crossed by the Nazis before the onset of the holocaust was the “Germans’ cruel war of extermination against the Soviet Union. All usual conventions for warfare were dropped at the beginning of the final battle against the Judeo-Bolshevists, who are the Jews” (Abel, 1934, p9).
From the background research, it is apparent that the holocaust was motivated by the unsuccessful results of the previous deportation plans, bad experiences under the Euthanasia Programme, the battle against the Soviet Union, and an urge to execute a permanent solution to the problem created by the ‘Jew community dominance’. The above factors and other prejudices against the Jew community culminated in the full-blown mass murder of more than six million members of the Jewry descent.
To understand the factors that motivate the Nazi regime to execute the holocaust against the Jew community, it is important to review the common ideology in Germany at the time and the possible factors that propelled the regime to power. Besides, it is necessary to establish why the holocaust was so successful in eliminating more than six million Jews, the disabled persons, and other members of minority ethnic groups to explain this historic event from a holistic perspective. Also, it is important to establish the arguments that have been put forward to explain the possible rationale of the Nazi regime in supporting and executing the mass genocide of the Jew community. Therefore, the research questions were defined as;
- What factors motivated the Nazi regime to execute the holocaust against the Jew community and other minority groups?
- What ideologies were put in place to catalyze the occurrence of the holocaust in Germany during the Nazi regime?
- Is there a historical explanation that can be related to the events which led to the holocaust in Germany?
Literature Review/Main Debates on the Nazis and the holocaust
The events that led to the holocaust in Germany started more than fifty years before the Nazis ascended to power. The events were inspired by deep hatred towards the Jew community from as early as the 1860s in Germany (Weikart, 2003, pp 34-35). The hatred was as a result of the general fear towards the community because of their business acumen in banking and moneylending ventures. As a result of this success, there were many wealthy Jews in Germany at a time when the middle-class families from the mainstream ethnic Germans were facing a hard economic time. It was easy to direct the anger towards the wealthy Jews and the entire community as being responsible for their unfortunate state of economic endeavors. As noted by Kestling (1998),
Adolf Stoecker had formed the Christian Social Workers’ party in 1879 and by 1883 riots, as well as the burning of a synagogue in Neustettin, was stoked by Stoecker’s call for a final victory against the Jews. He was followed by
Professor Eugen Euhring, speaking at Berlin University, of the obligation to drive an inferior race from public honor, and Gottingen University’s Paul de Legarde’s (aka Boetticher) suggestion of a three-fold program: the Germanizing of Austria, the conquest of Russia, and the expulsion of Jews to Palestine (p89).
Apparently, from this perspective, it is to argue that the Nazis did not start the hate propaganda against the Jew community. Instead, they capitalized on the fears and general prejudice that had been integrated into the minds of the Germans for more than fifty years. Hitler and his Nazi regime simply took advantage of the existing trepidations to ascend to power and organize the state-sponsored extermination of the Jew community.
Another argument that has been put forward to explain the occurrence of the holocaust in Germany was the nature of the Jewish faith. This religion “established on the foundation of goodness and general ideological tolerance” (Scheck, 2005, p353). This means that the Jew community was not aggressive in trying to present a counter-narrative against the propaganda directed towards them. The domicile approach adopted by the Jew community could be responsible for a large number of deaths in the hands of the Nazis. If they had been equally hostile, they could have at least put a resistance that might have minimized the number of fatalities to a few thousand and not millions (Weikart, 2003, pp 12-17).
Hitler took advantage of the domicile nature of his victims to literary commit mass murder and conspired to eliminate the Jewish from the face of planet Earth. Hitler lacked self composition and an idealistic sage since his judgment was dependent upon just a couple of incidences of religious disarrays to generalize on the Jewish community as the source of evil. The orientations of Hitler and his partners did not bring harmony but proposed the elimination of the Jewish community by bargaining on the ground of religious activities.
Hitler’s theory of the Jew community as the source of problems facing the Germans was expounded towards a dream of destroying a community he felt was threatening his regime (Campt, 2005, pp 56-57). His moral appeal did not lie in the effect generated but the underlying motivation to live within his dream of a nation without a single Jewish.
In Germany, the mass murder of the Jew community members was also castigated by the need to dominate the Jewry descent in terms of economic, social, and other aspects of the society. The holocaust was a term that meant “sacrifice and the Jewish community was sacrificed and persecuted by the Nazi party” (Silvester & Gewald, 2003, p34). At the end of the First World War, the general mood in Germany was that the Jew community was too dominating, especially in the economic sphere. The Nazis took advantage of this predicament to organize the holocaust. This was because the Nazi party felt that the Jewish community was a threat to their regime (Kater, 1989, p24).
As a result, the Nazi regime organized detention and slavery camps where the Jew community members were incarcerated after being rounded up from different regions in Germany. The motivation for forming the concentration camps was a long-standing ideology of prejudicing the Jewry community. According to Madley (2005),
Since the middle ages, Jews were forced by European Christians to work & reside in ghettos, preventing assimilation. Only certain occupations were open to Jews, such as banking & money lending; trades which made some Jews, like the Rothschild, wealthy but also the targets of envy and hate (p442).
The other argument that has bee put forward to explain the occurrence of the holocaust is the rise in the population of the German Jews. According to Stone (2001), the “population of Jewish was on the rise in Germany and they were relatively wealthy as compared to other Germans” (p38). In the eyes of Hitler, the Jewish and other small racial groups were a threat to the uniformity of the German social system. The rise in the population of the Jew community in Germany inspired Hitler to collaborate with other anti-Semitics in Germany to organize the genocide of the Jewry community in 1933.
The holocaust was organized to subject the victims to physical pain and they had to endure names such as dogs, evil, and satanic race. Many members of the German Jews had to pass through prosecution without being informed of the possible crimes committed. Some of the Jewish community members were beheaded and their mutilated bodies dragged along the street in celebration of the ‘end of evil’. Almost five million members of the Jew community were dipped in open acid tanks as the Nazis were singing victory songs meant to mock the melting enemy. Apart from death, the Nazis reposed all the property that was owned by their victims and the looted houses of the Jews were razed to the ground. The few survivors lost their lives due to the inability to access hospitals and were killed by infections on their wounds (Proctor, 1988, p19).
The Nazis were inspired by the intellectual and ideological developments that were presented against the German Jews, in an organized manner to the public, as necessary to get the support of the masses. Besides, the Jew population was on the rise and their unique intelligence was a surprise to Hitler who believed in being superior to other ethnic groups (Peter, 2007, p76). This form of racial discrimination, economic struggles, differences in religious ideology, and divergent opinion on governance motivate Hitler to adopt the ‘final solution’, which involved deportation, mass murder, and conspiracy to completely erase the Jew community from Germany. Robert (2011) explained that,
The Nazi party, who came into power through support from Adolf Hitler, perceived that Germans were superior to other communities. Indeed, the Nazi party sacrificed other inferior communities like Jews and gypsies. Other communities were condemned on ideological and political factors such as socialists and communists (p191).
Moreover, the Germans continued to condemn many other groups when the Nazi movement and ideology spread across entire Europe. For example, “the Germans persecuted Soviet and Polish citizens for slavery” (Marvin & Frederick, 2013, p34). Furthermore, the Nazi party condemned homosexuals who did not act according to expected social norms. The Nazi regime also persecuted religious repels (Jehovah’s Witness) and political dissidents such as the trade unionists, socialists, and communists. Most of the condemned people died because of human abuse and detention. Nazi regime formed slavery and detention camps to incarcerate the Jews and these dissident groups.
The infamous Adolph Hitler of Germany was the central power that pushed for the holocaust. The population of the Jew was on the rise in Germany and they were relatively wealthy as compared to other Germans (Daniel, 2009, p23-24). In the eyes of Hitler, the Jew and other small racial groups were the minority and a threat to the uniformity of the German social system. In 1933, Hitler convinced other German collaborators to carry out an organized, systematic, state-sponsored, and bureaucratic murder and prosecution that resulted in the murder of more than six million Jews, the disabled, mentally sick, and other minority racial groups (Garvin, 2012, p56).
The organized prosecution quickly spread across Germany and many of the survivors had to escape to the death camps. The victims of this madness had to live in inhuman conditions and congested camps where death could call at any time without a warning. The victims had to endure being called dogs and facing prosecutions without being told of their crime (Wiesel, 2012, p 39-40). Some were beheaded and their bodies spread on the streets. Many of these victims were dipped in acid tanks and their bodies burnt away. The victims lost private property and their homes were burnt to the ground. The few who survived had to deal with diseases without any access to the hospitals.
The holocaust was influenced by power games and the need to dominate and create a uniform society consisting of a single race. The ideology of a uniform social system pushed Hitler to convince his collaborators to conspire against the small racial groups and the disabled persons in the society who were viewed as creating the imbalance (Catherine, 2011, p67). For instance, Hitler believed that the mentally ill and the disabled were not contributing to the economy, and yet they depended on the people. Also, the variant religious inclinations inspired the Western allies of Hitler to participate in mass murder that targeted ideological, political, and behavioral differences directed towards the socialists, communists, and homosexuals (Johnson, 2010, p44).
Among other factors, these conspiracies and ideological views influenced the powerful Hitler to convince many to participate in his cleansing ritual to get rid of the ‘patches’ in society. Since most of the Western countries wanted to associate with the powerful Nazi regime, they remained silent or supported the racial cleansing ideology of Hitler to remain relevant in the power game (Wiesel, 2012, p27). Besides, some of the allies of Germany who hated communist and socialist ideology believed that the Nazi regime was doing them a favor by fighting these groups.
Conclusively, the occurrence of the holocaust in Germany was influenced by ideological differences and racial discrimination. These behavioral differences were directed towards the Jews, mentally sick, disabled, socialists, communists, and homosexuals in German society. Also referred to as the ‘sacrifice by fire’, holocaust started in the year 1933 and was inspired by the racial superiority complex. The Jews living in Germany and their allies were declared a threat to society. The holocaust period was characterized by discrimination and brutality towards the minority Jewish community based on their faith. However, historians concur that the stereotype and persecution did not target the Jewish alone by other minority groups and religions.
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