who bears responsibility for the Holocaust?
N*zi antisemitism — and the Holocaust — did not materialise out of thin air. Instead, the Holocaust was the culmination of 2000 years’ worth of systemic and institutional European antisemitism and persecution of Jews.
For centuries, Jews were persecuted, periodically massacred, expelled, denied citizenship, and confined to ghettos in much of Europe. It wasn’t until the French Revolution that the Jews in Europe were first emancipated. This systemic bigotry came to a head during the Holocaust. Considering Europe’s population was vastly indoctrinated with antisemitism, it wasn’t hard for H!tler to rally Germans — and others in Europe — against the Jewish People.
2000 years’ worth of systemic antisemitism made Jews the perfect — and easiest — scapegoat.
The SS — the paramilitary N*zi 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 unfortunate answer is widespread collaboration, ranging from N*zi puppet regimes, such as Vichy France, to individual civilians, to international institutions and organizations such as the Red Cross and the Catholic Church (I have posts on both). Even groups that actively opposed the N*zis — such as the Polish Home Army, for example — were known to sometimes sell out Jews to the Germans. This, of course, circles back to the systemic antisemitism that has plagued Europe for nearly two millennia.
Many people in Europe hated the N*zis. But they hated Jews more.
In July 1938, 32 nations met in Évian, France to discuss the crisis of German and Austrian Jewish refugees seeking to escape N*zi Germany. Out of 32 nations, only the Dominican Republic agreed to take some Jewish refugees — and they did so for their own sinister purposes (their dictator wanted to lighten the skin of the Dominican population). H!tler, of course, used the failure of the Évian Conference as a propaganda tool: it was more than enough proof that nobody wanted the Jews. Unfortunately, he was right.
There are thousands of examples of complicity during the Holocaust, including from Allied nations. For instance, the American Jewish community long asked the American government to intervene on behalf of the Jews (such as by bombing the death camps or railways that led to the camps), which the United States repeatedly refused to do. British Palestine closed its doors to Jewish refugees on the eve of the Holocaust, a decision which the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine decried (the Jewish Agency for Palestine released a statement saying that the British — to appease the Arab Higher Committee — were denying Jews their rights in “the darkest hour of Jewish history”).
Antisemitism mostly presents through conspiracy theories, particularly conspiracies regarding wealth and power. These conspiracies date back centuries. In the Middle Ages, Jews were forbidden from working most professions. However, Christians were not permitted to work with money, so Jews became moneylenders and tax collectors.
Antisemitic texts, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford’s The International Jew cemented these conspiracies, claiming that an elite cabal of Jews controls the world for their own sinister motives.
Additionally, Jews in Europe (and other parts of the world) had long been scapegoated for just about any evil or tragedy, beginning with the death of Jesus. Jews, for example, were blamed for everything from the Black Death to just about any war in history. As such, it’s not hard at all to imagine how Jews became an easy scapegoat for Germany’s losses after World War I.
The Holocaust cost money. An industrialized genocide of that scale couldn’t have been implemented without the financial backing of banks (particularly Swiss banks), corporations, and looted and stolen (largely Jewish) assets. Had Swiss banks not contributed to the N*zi war effort, it’s estimated that the war would’ve ended two years sooner.
Scores of corporations — ranging from Swarovski to BMW — were actively involved with the implementation of the Holocaust. The majority of these companies are still in operation.
As much as a third of the N*zi war effort was funded by stolen Jewish wealth. The N*zis stole about 12 billion pounds in Jewish wealth between 1933-1945.
The biggest Jewish financial “contribution” (for lack of a better term) to the Holocaust and the N*zi war effort, however, was Jewish slave labor. The N*zis had as many as 44,000 concentration and death camps and other incarceration sites (such as ghettos) between 1933-1945. Over 3 million Jews died in extermination camps alone. Most were gassed. Those who weren’t were forced to work, quite literally, to death.
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