debunking myths about the Holocaust

“ONLY EUROPE”

Though the Holocaust took place primarily in Europe, Jews of North Africa and Southwest Asia would’ve suffered the same fate as the Jews in Europe had Hitler and his allies had more time before their defeat.

In fact, a network of concentration camps existed in North Africa. For example, some 2000 Algerian Jews were placed in concentration camps in Bedeau and Djelfa, sentenced to hard labor, working on a plan for a trans-Saharan railroad. Many died from hunger, disease, exhaustion, and beatings. Many North African Jews were also deported to concentration camps in Europe, such as Bergen-Belsen.

In November of 1933, the Nazis themselves revealed that they had established a direct contact with the Arab leadership in Palestine, with the hopes of “adapting the Nazi program” to the Holy Land. In 1957, a top secret document came to light, which revealed that Germany and Italy recognized the right of the Arabs to “solve the Jewish question” in Palestine and other Arab nations.

After the outbreak of the 1947 Palestine Civil War, the Arab Higher Committee published a leaflet stating: “The Arabs have taken the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.”

In 1941, a Nazi-inspired pogrom (anti-Jewish massacre) in Iraq resulted in the murder of up to 1000 Jews.

 

“RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION”

Nazi antisemitism, though heavily influenced by centuries of European anti-Judaism (persecution of or bigotry against Jews based on religion), was exclusively racial antisemitism. In fact, the Nazis originally did not persecute the Mountain Jews of the Caucasus because they incorrectly thought that Mountain Jews were religious but not ethnic Jews. Jews that converted to other religions were still persecuted. In fact, the Nazis believed that it was your “Jewish blood” that determined your Jewishness.

It’s worth noting that racial antisemitism was far from a Nazi invention: it has existed since at least the Middle Ages.

In the Nazi hierarchy of race, Jews were considered THE inferior race, below all others.

Racial antisemitism was the main motivator behind the Holocaust. The Nazis justified the Jewish genocide with the belief that they had to eradicate the defective “Jewish racial traits.”

 

“REPARATIONS”

Prior to the Holocaust, some 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe. Around 6 million of them were murdered. Thousands more were murdered in Southwest Asia and North Africa. Poland had the highest Jewish population in the world, with 3.3 million Jews; 3 million were murdered. There is no form of compensation that could ever possibly make up for this.

In 2005, a report found that Jewish Holocaust “damages” add up to $240-330 *billion* dollars. The unpaid wages of slave labor add up to some $11-52 *billion.* After the war, no more than 20% of looted Jewish assets were returned to their rightful owners. Thousands of Jews who tried to recover their properties in Eastern Europe were murdered by squatters in cold blood.

In 1952, while Israel was in the midst of economic collapse, Israel and West Germany signed a controversial reparations agreement. Many Jews vehemently opposed it, calling it “blood money.” 41% of the money was supposed to be given to Holocaust survivors; however, this money was funnelled through an agency, and it’s estimated that only 9000 Holocaust survivors ever received welfare assistance from this agency.

In 2005, 60 years after the end of the Holocaust, Austria finally agreed to pay some reparations. Other countries have vehemently refused to return what was stolen from us.

In the United States and Israel, the two countries with the highest Holocaust survivor populations, about 1/3 of survivors live in deep poverty.

In 2016, Germany agreed to pay remaining Roma Holocaust survivors a one off payment of 2,560 Euros as “reparations.” In 2017, Germany paid Moldovan Roma survivors $600 worth of food and coal to use as fuel.

 

“THE WORLD DIDN’T KNOW”

Recent declassified documents demonstrate that the Catholic Church was aware of the Jewish genocide as early as 1942. When the Church learned of the Nazi “euthanasia” program (read: eugenics) for disabled folks, the Church responded with an uproar, so much so that the Nazis temporarily stopped the program. When the Church learned of the Holocaust, it chose to do nothing.

The Allies were well-aware of the Nazi plan for the extermination of Jews by 1942, though the British intelligence had listened to classified German radio recounting mass murders in Eastern Europe even earlier, in 1941. Knowledge of the Holocaust was not limited to Ally militaries; the general population was aware as well, as a plethora of news reports around the world from the time described enormous massacres of Jews in Europe. Prior to the outbreak of the war, American attitudes toward the plight of Jews in Europe vacillated from indifference to hostility, as many blamed Jews for supposedly trying to drive the United States into war.

Many Jewish activists begged the Allies to bomb the concentration camps or the railroads leading to them. The Allies refused, claiming that they would only attack military targets (which, of course, was not true. See the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

In the 1990s, the Red Cross finally officially admitted that they’d long had previous knowledge of the Nazi plans for the total extermination of Jews and Roma.

As early as 1933, the Red Cross received desperate pleas from prisoners in Dachau concentration camp, begging for intervention. By 1942, the Red Cross had full knowledge of the Germans’ atrocities. They chose to lie about it, with a representative claiming that other than segregation, “no other discrimination was made against [Jewish POWs].”

 

“GERMANY WAS AT FAULT”

Germany, of course, bears responsibility for the Holocaust. But so does almost the entirety of the non-Jewish European population.

The SS — the paramilitary Nazi organization mostly responsible for carrying out the genocide against Jews and Roma during WWII — peaked at about 800,000 members (as of 1944). In terms of numbers, both the Jewish and Roma population of Europe seriously outnumbered them. How, then, were they able to murder 6 million Jews (66% of Europe’s Jewish population) in just six short years?

The answer is widespread collaboration, ranging from Nazi puppet regimes, such as Vichy France, to individual civilians, to international institutions and organizations such as the Red Cross and the Catholic Church. Even groups that actively opposed the Nazis — such as the Polish Home Army, for example — were deeply antisemitic. In December 1943, a Home Army report stated, “There is certain sympathy for the Jews. It is better, however, that they are no longer here and no one desires to see them return after the war.”

Many massacres during the Holocaust were committed by average civilians, not by the Nazis. For example, in 1941, non-Jewish Polish civilians engaged in a premeditated mass murder in the town of Jedwabne, when 300 Jews, including women and children, were burned alive.

Many people in Europe hated the Nazis. But they hated Jews more.

 

“11 MILLION”

You might’ve heard that 11 million people — 6 million Jews and 5 million others — perished in the Holocaust. It’s a myth that has been repeated by a number of influential sources over the decades: Jimmy Carter, the Trump administration, even the Israeli Defense Forces. The problem is that the 11 million figure actually has no basis in reality.

Let’s get one thing clear: though the Nazis persecuted a bunch of different groups, the Holocaust refers exclusively to the genocide of 6 million Jews and about 1-1.5 million* Roma. This is because the Nazis only adopted a genocidal program — with the intent of complete extermination — for these two groups. The persecution of other groups, such as communists and gay men, for example, was also rooted in antisemitism, as the Nazis believed that Jews were to blame for the existence of those groups.

So where does the 11 million figure come from? In the 1970s, Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal felt frustrated about the non-Jewish world’s lack of care about the Holocaust. So he created a figure to de-emphasize the Jewish nature of the genocide, knowing that the world would likely be more interested in the plight of others. Historians who knew him say that he chose the figure carefully: 5 million was a large number, but not a number large enough to obscure the 6 million Jewish victims.

35 million people died in World War II as a result of Nazi aggression. That said, no more than half a million non-Jews were exterminated in death camps. Unfortunately, the fictitious 11 million figure is now used by antisemites to minimize the Jewish-specific nature of the Holocaust.

*while the most often cited number for Roma victims is 250,000-500,000, Roma historians believe the figure is much higher, as Roma deaths weren’t as meticulously recorded as Jewish deaths for a number of reasons.

 

"ZIONISM = NAZISM"

A common social media argument these days is that Zionism is either equivalent to or an extension of Nazism. Most often, people cite the Haavara Agreement as “proof.”

Such claims are completely revisionist for a number of reasons: (1) Nazis persecuted all Jews, whether they considered themselves Zionist or not; (2) the majority of Holocaust survivors are Zionists, and it’s repulsive to equate them with their oppressors; (3) the Arab leadership of Palestine actively collaborated with the Nazi regime during the Holocaust; (4) the Nazis were staunchly opposed to Zionism, which they saw as as a continuation of a broader Jewish conspiracy of world domination.

So what happened? After the Nazis ascended to power, they wasted no time in passing antisemitic legislation, including a boycott of Jewish businesses, and, between 1933-1938, a process known as “voluntary Aryanization” (which later became “mandatory Aryanization”) transferred Jewish businesses and assets to Germans. German Jews became increasingly desperate to flee, but no countries wanted to take in Jewish refugees, and this economic marginalization made emigration virtually impossible.

In 1933, Eliezer Hoofein, the director of the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the Reich Economics Ministry negotiated the Haavara Agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Jews fleeing persecution in Germany could use their assets to purchase German goods for export, thus salvaging their assets and facilitating emigration to Palestine under the immigrant investor visa, in spite of severe British antisemitic immigration restriction policies.

Even so, the Haavara Agreement was met with staunch opposition, both among Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews. Though deeply controversial, it ultimately saved the lives of some 60,000 German Jews.

 

"END OF ANTISEMITISM"

Perhaps one of the most infuriating myths about the Holocaust is that antisemitic persecution ended after World War II. This is such an enormous lie that it would be impossible to fit every instance of antisemitic persecution after 1945 into a single slide.

Between the early 1940s and the late 1970s, a massive campaign of antisemitic ethnic cleansing swept Arab and Muslim-majority countries. Some 850,000 Jews were forcibly displaced from their homes, their ancient communities decimated. Thousands were murdered, tortured, arrested, and more. Their properties were seized and assets stolen. To this day, there has been no formal recognition of any kind, both by these countries or the United Nations.

In the early 1950s, Joseph Stalin, who’d long expressed antisemitic viewpoints, developed a plan for the suppression, forced displacement/ethnic cleansing, and possible genocide of the Jewish People in the Soviet Union. Because of his sudden death, however, the full plan never came to fruition. Even after Stalin’s death, life for Jews in the USSR was impossible. Most infamously, the USSR heavily suppressed Jewish cultural and spiritual life, stripping many Jewish families of thousands of years’ worth of history. Oftentimes, Jews were imprisoned under false pretenses, with the Soviet government accusing them of “Zionist crimes.” People with Jewish last names were subject to highly restrictive university quotas or banned from performing certain jobs.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jews in Ethiopia were heavily persecuted by the government. For instance, in 1978, the Ethiopian Democratic Union went on an antisemitic rampage, when children’s feet were cut off, men were castrated, women were raped, elders were tortured, and women and children were sold into slavery.

These, of course, are only a few examples. There have been thousands of attacks targeting synagogues, Jewish institutions, and Jews across the globe over the past 77 years. In the United States alone, Jews, who form only 2% of the population, are the victims of 60% of religiously-motivated hate crimes and around 10% of all hate crimes, which is an extremely disproportionate figure.

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