The holocaust is considered as one of the most horrific times faced by the Jewish community in Europe and the world at large. German dictator, Adolf Hitler is blamed for having initiated the Holocaust which saw more than ten million people murdered including about six million Jews. The German dictator was known to be a very anti-Semitic character as reflected in his Mein Kampf. Though much of the blame for the holocaust has been put on Hitler, he is not solely to blame as other various causes can be identified to have initiated the holocaust (Yahya, para 3). This paper shall provide an overview of the causes that resulted in one of the world’s worst war crimes to have ever been committed in the human history.
The holocaust is regarded as a systematic, bureaucratic state sponsored persecution and murder that was directed towards the Jewish community in Europe just before the Second World War. It is claimed that close to six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime together with their accomplices. The holocaust did not just target the Jewish community but also other groups that were seen to be inferior including the Roma [Gypsies], the disabled, and people of Slavic origin. There were also other groups which were persecuted based on their political, ideological and behavioral grounds. Such groups included the Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the homosexuals
By the early 1930s, the Jewish population in Europe was above the 9th million mark and most of them resided in nations which the Nazi would occupy or had influence during the time of WW II. By the time the Second World War came to a close, the Germans together with their associates had killed two in every three Jews as part of the Final Solution policy adopted by the Nazi regime (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, para 3). The Jews were exterminated by being confined in overpopulated camps, being subjected to systematic murder by use of gas chambers, overworking them without food to death and committing them to mass murder before being buried in mass graves. This has been argued to be the largest scale of genocide to have ever been committed in human history. The holocaust is said to be a history of enduring horrors and sorrows as it reflects the extremes that human beings can go without any spark of human concern nor any act of humanity. According to one survivor of the holocaust, it was painstaking to explain how the holocaust was carried out. He had this to say, “There were not six million Jews murdered; there was one murder, six million times” (Bülow, para 3).
The Nazi rise to power is seen as the leading cause of the holocaust experience. Following the defeat of the Germans in the First World War I, the Versailles Treaty inflicted more pressure on the wounded Germany. The treaty is known to have required Germany to accept the blame of instigating the War and therefore accept responsibility of paying huge sums of money to the Allies. Germany did not have money and therefore took loans from the United States to pay the financial penalties of the war. With the toll of the Great Depression taking a high on the United States economy, the financial institutions in the US which had lend Germany started to demand that Germany repay the loan advancements. This resulted in even more economical suffering for the Germans. According to Yahya (para 4), “the Nazis promised to make Germany a great country, they took over the government to fulfill these promises by rebuilding the nation.” Since everyone wanted to see change in their country for the better, the Nazis were elected and took control of the government with the hope that they would bring the much desired change
The holocaust could not have been carried out without the support from the public. Propaganda therefore became a very crucial element in the Nazi political orientation. Josef Goebbels was made the Minister for propaganda by Hitler and he rose to become one of the most known figures amongst the public. He worked hard to convince the Germans that the Aryan race was the most superior. In addition the use of propaganda was extensive in the whole country especially against the Jews. The Jews continued to receive much hatred and suffering in the hands of the Nazis:
“The economic troubles of Germany were blamed on the Jews. They were accused of taking all the money for themselves. The Nazi party generated extensive propaganda to this end. As anti-Semitism grew within the population, the things done to the Jews by Hitler and his army began to be widely seen as acceptable. Herding Jews into slums, burning and taking their businesses and finally sending them to camps all became common” (Rakoczy, para 4).
The Jews found themselves on the receiving end as the propagandist minister worked hard to spread hatred towards them from the public. According to Goebbels and Hitler, propaganda was an important aspect since they reasoned that when lies are repeatedly heard, eventually they gain acceptance among the public. To ensure that the public was able to listen to the propaganda, radio sets were sold to the public cheaply and the government had control of all the radio stations while forbidding treason charges against the government in the media (Lieberman, para 4).
Once the propagandas became popular anti-Semitic sentiments gained momentum. Hitler supported the racial anti-Semitism as opposed to the religious anti-Semitism which was the hatred that was directed towards the Jews who refused to be converted to Christianity. Racial anti-Semitism on the other hand was the hatred directed towards anybody who could be traced back to a Jewish linage even if the person in question was practicing Christianity. Hitler is known to have facilitated the creation of the Jewish ghettos, burning of the businesses belonging to the Jews and distributed ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, a book that claimed that the Jews were out to take over the world. It can be argued that Hitler’s belief in anti-Semitism was one of the key aspects of his motivations (Lieberman, para 5).
The other concept that contributed to the development of the holocaust can be said to be the lack of intervention from the other nations in stopping what was happening in German. During the Evian conference that took place prior to the war, the US and Great Britain together with some other countries gathered to discuss the events in Germany and during this time, the Jew’s were allowed to voluntarily leave Germany in case they wished. The nations at the conference discussed the need to raise the Jewish quota that could be admitted in their territories. Surprisingly, by the end of the conference, only the Dominican Republic had opened their boundaries for the Jews fleeing away from the Germans.
The obsession that Hitler had, of completely destroying the Jews has also been associated with the fact that He had suffered from syphilis while in Austria as a young boy which was not treated and it may have resurfaced in his later years. The resurgence of syphilis can lead to many eventualities as it may affect the nervous system and the brain. Critical examination of Hitler indicates that he might have contracted syphilis in 1908 while in Vienna which only reappeared in 1935 when it was at the tertiary stage. The effect of the disease on the brain includes aspects of paranoia, megalomania, loss of sense of reality, loss of moral senses and fits of anger (Rakoczy, para 6). These are the characters which were observed in Hitler during later life.
It can be argued that there were various factors attributed to have caused the holocaust. Such factors range from the social, economic, political and individual factors. In a nutshell, they include the anti-Semitism sentiments, demonization of the Jews, the Versailles Treaty with its economic woes on Germany, the Nazi regime and the subsequent the public support without leaving out the mental health of the Nazi leader that is said to have been aggravated by the untreated syphilis (Kimel, para 1). The holocaust has gone down the history books as the most atrocious event to have ever happened among the human race. The holocaust was encouraged by the Nazi regime and the world failed to act fast to stop it. Nevertheless, the causes of the holocaust are many and varied as opposed to being though to have been Hitler alone. Though Hitler was to squarely be blamed for he was the German leader at the time of the holocaust, the causes of the holocaust were gradual and cumulative for over an expansive period of time.
The Holocaust was a horrible period in the history of the world. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, about six million Jews were slaughtered for no decent reason. In William Lace’s book, The Death Camps, he stated that not only Jews were killed, there was about five million Gypsies and other people that were murdered too. There was no way that anyone could stop the Nazis from killing innocent people. People were persecuted from their homes and taken to ghettos. They were also transported to concentration camps, where people were either killed or put to work. William Lace, the author of The Death Camps, found a quote of an anonymous prisoner, “Everybody got a piece of metal sheet with a number imprinted on it… we had to take good care of it, for in case it got lost, one was to be flogged twenty-five strokes… our shoes taken away and wooden clogs given instead… they detailed me to work with coal, which was one of the heaviest jobs…I tried to protest… in return, I suffered several blows in the head with a horsewhip… We stripped off the clothes and went over to get a haircut and shave…there were large tubs with water in them…who knows how many there might have been before me and how many more there going to be after”.
Adolf Hitler was the mastermind behind the mass murders. He killed people by the hundreds, just because they were Jews. To kill the Jews the Germans would use guns in the beginning of the war, but in later days they would use gas chambers. When the Jews first arrived at the camp, they were lied to. The Germans would say that it was only a labor camp. In William Lace’s book, The Death Camps, there was a picture and on the entrance at the death camp of Theresienstadt, there were bold letters saying “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”, which meant Work Brings Freedom, that was obviously untrue. The Jews would then form a line and a German would decide who would live and who would die. Only the tough ones would live, but the unhealthy ones were a bit unlucky. They were sent to “take a shower” which was actually a shower of death. The gas would come out of the shower spouts and everyone in there died. After the gas chambers the Jews would be moved to large ovens in which they would burn and dispose the bodies. All of the concentration camps were full of trickery, so there was really no German that you could trust. Many Jews starved to death because they were not fed well enough, just enough to keep them alive.
One of the most famous prisoners was Anne Frank. She was a very young girl that had a diary and wrote all about her experiences as a Jew in hiding and a Jew in the concentration camp. At her house, she and her family were in hiding. It was behind a bookcase where there was a secret room in which her mom, dad, and older sister stayed. It was impossible to find the Frank family unless someone told where they were. That was exactly what happened. but no one ever found out who the betrayer was. It could have been a close family friend or maybe even a family member. In the “Anne Frank 65 Years Ago” website, “the informant’s name has never been fully learned or confirmed.” On September 4, 1944, all of the family was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne, her sister, and her mother stuck together and supported each other. On October 28, 1944 Anne and her sister were transported to Bergen-Belsen Camp where they died of a typhus epidemic disease. Their mother and father stayed in Auschwitz and sadly, their mother died. Her father carried on and survived The Holocaust, that is when he got a hold of Anne’s diary and published it in 1947.
It a bad period of history since many of the people were killed for no reason. All the Nazis were tried for all the crimes that they did, but the Americans were not able to catch the Nazi leader, Hitler. According to Tabatha Yeatts’s book, The Holocaust Survivors, “Adolf Hitler was not available to be tried for his war crimes, nor was Joseph Goebbels, his minister of Propaganda, because they realized Germany had lost the war”. Even though Hitler ended up dieing, he still accomplished a section of his task, to wipe out a great number of Jews.