Genocide: the Nazis’ Original Plan
The Holocaust, which took place during 1933-1945, was a devastating period of time when the German Nazi’s planned to mass murder European Jews. The literal term ‘Holocaust’ originates from the Hebrew Bible’s term olah meaning a sacrifice that is offered up. This was a frightening time for everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish. Approximately six million people were killed as a result of the Holocaust (Roth). Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany at the time, hated Jews and blamed them for all of Germany’s issues as he mentions in his autobiography Mein Kampf. The Holocaust, influenced by Adolf Hitler had two main causes: anti-Semitic beliefs and social and psychological emotions.
In 1933, after Hitler became the leader of Germany, the Third Reich became the main political party and all others were incarcerated (Roth). Hitler strongly believed that Jews were inferior to everyone else. Also, he concluded that people with mental disabilities, physical disabilities, homosexuals, and others who were considered to be different were a threat (Roth). Although the threat they created was not as significant as the threat the Jews produced, Hitler still saw them as people to worry about. The main goal that Hitler aspired to achieve was German sovereignty and a world with no Jews. He went to great lengths in order to ensure that his objectives would be carried out. For example, he built concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, where prisoners faced gas chambers and were mass murdered (Weisner-Hanks et al. 908).
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One cause of the Holocaust was Hitler’s anti-Semitic beliefs. Some areas, such as Protestant and northern areas, Nazified earlier than other areas, such as Catholic and urban areas of the country (Causes and Motivations ). The Nazi’s were very good at deception and staged images and videos to make it appear as though more people attended the rallies than realistically. The minority of the German population actually shared Hitler’s beliefs. Most had preconceived opinions and were more willing to support the maltreatment of Jews as a conceptual idea rather than physically observing these actions (Causes and Motivations ). As Hitler gained more power, the economy improved, and Germany was restored, more people began to accept anti-Semitism. Also, many felt the need to prove themselves and their loyalty to Hitler because they thought that cooperating with the Nazi’s would lead to rewards for them.
Another cause of the Holocaust was social and psychological emotions. A common emotion among the Germans was fear. They feared that they would be forced to face physical consequences as well other punishments. However, fear was not a valid explanation for why people tormented the Jews then killed them (Causes and Motivations ). This implies that without fear and Hitler’s influence, the Jews would not have been treated so poorly. The Nazi leaders were not as uncompromising as they seemed. Although they failed to speak out against derogatory speech and actions, they still respected the public opinions and feelings. They allowed Jewish women to peacefully protest the deportation of their Jewish husbands and didn’t punish Clemens Graf Gelen, the Catholic Bishop of M??nster, for condemning the murder of psychiatric patients (Causes and Motivations ). Even German police had the ability to choose to participate, but many conformed to the group so they didn’t damage their reputation.
Another emotion that was common among the Germans was a sense of gain. After the Jews were sent to concentration camps their land was sold through auctions typically at a discount, giving Germans a feeling of achievement. Jews trusted their friends, who were most likely Polish, to protect their belongings when they were forced to move to Nazi-controlled areas. The Polish would then ration their belongings and sell them for food. Almost 95% of Polish did not return Jewish belongings (Causes and Motivations ). The Third Reich would purchase Jewish land then sell it to win cooperation from the public and make them feel more involved.
Germans also felt a respect for authority. Those in charge follow a chain of command and report to a superior. Stanley Milgram conducted experiments giving people a fake shock to see how they would react. The participants reacted to what they were told was the highest level shock, but realistically they were not actually being shocked (Causes and Motivations ). Some also experienced pressure to conform. People are taught as children to conform to society rather than be different which caused adults to be susceptible to Nazi command. Although not everyone accepted anti-semitic beliefs, they were still tolerated.
As mentioned previously, the Holocaust was strongly affected by the reign of Adolf Hitler. It was believed that he first began to develop his anti-semitic beliefs from living in Vienna because the hatred of Jews was common among Austrians (Miller). Also, the Jews did not have their own territory with communities, therefore they were inferior to everyone that belonged to a state of their own (Hitler, 201). In Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, he refers to his life in Vienna as the saddest period in his life (Hitler, 20). While living in Vienna he forms most of his opinions and values. Before World War 1, Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian Army where he faced many dangerous journeys. Like most Germans, Hitler found the Treaty of Versailles to be humiliating and demeaning.
Irony was a prevalent concept in Hitler’s life because, after the first World War, he despises politics. One thing that irked him was that politicians would publish the news of victories at the end of a war (Hitler, 217). He preferred that they allow the soldiers to celebrate and let the excitement spread rather than announce it to everyone at once. Also, he doesn’t believe that politicians understand the threat Marxism imposes. He believed that Marxism was damaging to humans. Hitler was very judgmental when discussing politics and believed that all of the leaders should be arrested.
His efforts failed and he was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly committing treason. While in prison, he wrote his autobiography, Mein Kampf, which explained Nazi ideas, Germany’s faults, and an interesting description of Adolf Hitler’s life (Miller). After nine months, Hitler was released from jail and encountered an obstacle. The Nazi Party was failing so Hitler conveyed an interest in war propaganda, as mentioned in Chapter 4 of his autobiography. He began to realize that propaganda could make or break the Nazi Party (Hitler, 230). He found it more effective to blame Germany’s failures on the mistakes made by the Weimar Republic. In 1933, Hitler was elected as chancellor of Germany, by the German president, Paul von Hindenburg (Hitler, 571). As a result, Hitler gained absolute power allowing him to implement his plans and control Germany as he wanted.
The publication of Mein Kampf made Hitler immensely familiar to this day. Majority of people know of Adolf Hitler and the impact that he left on Germany and many other countries. He has a reputation that consists of violence and racism. The Holocaust left an impact on the entire world and cause roughly six million people to lose their lives because they were different. Hitler’s decisions initiated a battle for dominance for the duration of the twentieth century. In addition, the Holocaust and World War Two led to the Cold War and instability throughout Europe.
Overall, Hitler and the Holocaust left a large influence on the world, especially Germany. Without Hitler’s pessimistic attitude and critical beliefs, the Holocaust may not have occurred. The main causes of the Holocaust were anti-semitic beliefs and social and psychological emotions. Hitler had a talent for deception which persuaded more people to either accept and participate in his actions or tolerate them. Due to the abundance of power that Hitler had, people wanted to prove their loyalty by cooperating. Germans lived in fear of the consequences they may face if they didn’t cooperate. They also strived to feel a sense of gain by acquiring Jewish belongings at a discounted price. Leadership was very considerate of the public feelings and people were faithful to them. Hitler was extremely important throughout the entirety of the Holocaust because he was the main authority figure for Germany and the Third Reich. He analyzes his life story in his autobiography, Mein Kampf. He wrote this book while in jail for supposed treason. The book outlines his political beliefs and plans he had for Germany when he was released from prison. Although Adolf Hitler created a distinguished name by taking a strong stance on violence and discrimination in Germany, his autobiography also helped publicize his beliefs and actions. The Holocaust was a horrific time for millions of people that could have been avoided if Hitler did not gain support and power.