The Holocaust is an event that occurred during the Second World War in Europe that led to the death of millions of innocent civilians as a result of the radical policies, rules, and regulations that had been set up by the Nazi government led by Adolf Hitler. During this Era, the Nazi government targeted different groups as a result of the differences in ideology among them. This included the Jews, Jehovah’s Witness, the Roma, Poles, and other Sales, Homosexuals, individuals with physical and mental disabilities and so on. This essay will critically focus on Jews as the victims of the Holocaust. It will expound on why the Jews were one of the victims of the Holocaust, why the holocaust occurred during this period, the role played by the local population and the experiences of the victims.
Why the Jews
Anti-Semitism has always been present in Europe since the 19th century. During this period, many Jews were persecuted on religious grounds. However, Nazi Germany used legislations, administrative decrees and propaganda to single out and attack the Jewish population in Germany during the Holocaust (Kaplan 17). As of 1933, the Jewish population in Germany was approximately nine million.
By the end of the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds of this population had died. Jews were persecuted during this period exclusively on the grounds of racism. The Nazi government made its people believe that the German Aryan race was the most superior in the world. Basing their ideology on Social Darwinism, they believed in the concept of natural selection in that the strong shall survive at the expense of the weak. In this respect, Nazi Germany formulated laws and policies that aimed at enhancing the Aryan race at the expense of other races including Jews.
The Nazi government did not target Jews due to their religion but as a result of the various stereotypes that had been attributed to the Jewish race itself. Most Germans viewed Jews as a population that had flourished and expanded overtime on various aspects of life at the expense of other races including Germans (Kaplan 134). In addition to hatred, the Nazi government also viewed Jews as a competing race for the limited resources available. Therefore, by eliminating this competition, the Aryan race would flourish. This led to the mass killing of Jews, most of who were living in various concentration camps in German-occupied territories across Europe.
Why this Particular Time?
From the second half of the 19th century, many Western nations had been on the verge of enhancing their political superiority across the globe. This was partly as a result of the industrial revolution that forced nations to expand their empires in search of raw materials and markets for their products. Therefore, political superiority was a critical issue. Germany was also in the race for superiority.
In accordance with the Nazi ideology, the characteristics, attitudes, behavior, and ability of an individual were determined by his/her racial background (Kaplan 25). These traits were transited genetically from one generation to the next. Believers of this ideology further postulated that the Aryan race is superior as compared to other races in the world. In this respect, it was the role of the Nazi government to ensure that this race remains pure.
Additionally, for this population to be sustainable in the long run, it needed to reproduce and multiply, increase the amount of land it had to gather the necessary resources needed to sustain the population, and most importantly to ensure the purity of its gene pool. Therefore, given the fact that land and resources are finite, it was necessary for this population to use violence to ensure its sustainability in the long run.
As asserted earlier, Social Darwinism was the main concept behind which the policies of this nation were based at the time. Thus, in the process of building and maintain a strong Aryan race, Hitler under his Nazi government targeted and persecuted millions of Jews among other victims in the process of ensuring that Germany comprised only Aryans. Hitler made Germans believe that they were superior physically and mentally as compared to all other races in the world.
Role of the Local Population
The German local population also played an integral part in victimizing the Jews during the Holocaust in one way or the other. The Nazi ideology that was preached by Hitler and his followers aimed at targeting the German local population. This ideology aimed at changing the overall perspective and way of thought of Germans and how they related to other races in the world. As a result, Germans developed the notion that they are a superior race all around the world. Additionally, they stereotyped and developed hatred towards Jews (Kaplan 134).
As asserted earlier, the Nazi government introduced policies and laws that victimized the Jew population directly or indirectly. From an economic perspective, local German populations did boycott Jew business establishments. (Kaplan 23) Without the support of the local population, the business establishments of Jews could not be sustainable in Nazi Germany.
Anti-Semitism was always preached through various forms of media, especially the newspapers. Groups, such as the Hitler Youth express these sentiments through their parades all across Nazi Germany. Most native Germans did distance themselves from their Jew counterparts creating a social tension (Kaplan 109). Additionally, the local German population was aware that Jews were in concentration camps across Europe as a result of their racial background.
Experiences of the Victims
As a single race, Jews had one of the worst experiences during the Holocaust as compared to other races. Their experiences are considered to be one of the most brutal in history. First, Jews were publicly discriminated against on social, political, and economic perspectives. As a result, they did not enjoy the rule of law since they were not considered as having equal rights before the law as the native Germans (Kaplan 20). Boycotts by the Nazi government as well as the Native population had a negative impact on the economic performance of Jews during this era.
Jews had also become direct victims of assault by various groups comprised of natives Germans. Most Jews, irrespective of their gender were also arrested as a result of the policies and laws that had been put in place. Most of them were jailed on the grounds that they were communists; allegations that could not be proven beyond reasonable doubts by the courts. However, it was always argued that they were preparing for high treason (Kaplan 80). As a result, Jews found themselves in concentration camps where they have stripped off all their belongings, forced to work under poor conditions, used as specimens in various experiments, starved and killed using brutal ways.
Kaplan, Marion. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.