The Holocaust is the name given to describe the murder of approximately six million Jews in Europe during World War II, which was a plan devised and carried out by the Nazi’s under the rule of Adolf Hitler.
There are many different viewpoints of how the Holocaust actually came about, but my primary belief is that it was down to Hitler. During 1941 the Nazi’s began to display anti-Semitic propaganda as the beginning of their aim to remove Jewish presence in Europe, which they codenamed their ‘Final Solution’.By 1945 an estimated six million Jewish people had died through various different ways such as concentration camps, massacres and forced marches; the six million estimation is roughly two thirds of the current population of Jews in Europe at that time. Many people knew of the ‘Final Solution’ but they did not seem to rise to it, and thousands collaborated with the Nazi regime willingly, although there is much debate to what extent indoctrination and submission of the people to propaganda played a part in their compliance.
The Nazi’s were not the first to persecute the Jews, it began around two thousand years ago. Anti-Semitic teachings were widespread among European Christians. Some people believe that the Holocaust was merely the shocking inevitability which doomed the Jewish people for centuries, and the Nazi’s just exploited that inevitability. The Nazi’s exploited this long lasting hatred with the addition of gas chambers, railway infrastructures, concentration camps and gigantic ovens which made the process much quicker and efficient.Other beliefs have led to the German people being accused for the Holocaust having taken place.
There was a small minority to which the ‘Final Solution’ was their policy, and the Nazi’s also exploited this, making it appear to be the belief of all Germans. There were people who did not agree with the Nazi policy of extermination, but they were indefinitely silenced. The German nation was a new one, and the Germans had not found their sense of national identity due to the bombardment of propaganda and constant indoctrination which I believe left them very little space and time for free thought on such matters. Although, Germany was not the only country which showed anti-Semitic policies, most countries at the time did so, after World War I many Jewish people saw Germany as the centre of modern civilisation.National Socialism was a political ideology which was a one of a kind in the way in which it displayed racism and anti-Semitism. After Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, many blamed the fact that the Nazi’s put so much effort and energy into completing the Final Solution that they had lost sight of their military interests.
This sense of nationalism and racism was not uncommon during this period; many countries had nationalist parties with similar anti-Semitic policies.The Nazi’s bombarded the Jews with countless attacks. It began in 1933 with Hitler ordering a one-day boycott of Jewish business’ and shops. This alone is seemingly harmless, and just simply a jest that would be supported by those who had began to believe that it was the fault of the Jewish people that the Germans had lost World War II. Hitler introduced new laws which prevented the Jews from having government jobs, this began to suppress the Jews as they were no longer deemed equal in a professional respect. Positions of influence such as lawyers, teachers and civil servants were no longer available to Jews, and they were sacked.
During 1934 there was an increase in anti-Jewish propaganda as local councils banned Jews from parks, swimming pools and playing fields; removing the Jewish people’s rights to enjoy themselves in public. In 1935 the Jews were forbidden to represent their country in the Army.Nuremberg laws were passed on the 15th of September, 1935 which stated Jewish people couldn’t be citizens, only those whom had German blood. Germans and Jews were no longer allowed to have relationships, this level of interference in day to day life began to show an extreme form of prejudice towards the Jewish people. In 1937 Hitler attacked the Jews in a speech for the first time in two years. 1938 saw Kristallnacht which was a definite advancement in anti-Semitic policies; many Jewish people were murdered at this time. Jews were de-humanised, males had to use the name Israel and Sarah for the females, and the Jews had to have a red letter J stamped on their passports. In 1939 it reached the extent at which Jews were even prohibited from purchasing cakes and chocolate.
This breakdown of major policies and changes in society definitely shows a serious yet slow introduction of anti-Semitic policies; the slow introduction of the policies made it much easier for the German people to accept.Daily bombardment of propaganda and indoctrination at the very beginning led to the German people accepting the anti-Semitic views. The German people wanted someone to blame for their losses in World War I, and the Germans were a perfect scapegoat as there was pre-existing prejudice. The children were subject to an extreme bombardment of propaganda and Nazi ideologies which made the acceptance very easy. Teaching consisted of different anti-Semitic lessons such as distinguishing the difference between a Jew and a German, and the idea of the Aryan ‘perfect’ race was strongly re-enforced. Hitler had the Hitler Youth programme which consisted of what may be seen as a training regime for the young to become the next German army.
The boys pressured each other into joining the Hitler Youth programme, and those who didn’t were subject to vast torment, humiliation and segregation due to them not participating in the Nazi regime.This shows on a very deep level that the German people wanted to be part of something good. The whole Nazi regime, as many people have said seemed perfect at the time. Hitler had salvaged Germany from an economic low reducing unemployment vastly and providing many services from the state which would otherwise not have been available to the masses. The German people were kept constantly happy, so it seemed, and everything that Hitler and the Nazi regime brought their way was simply accepted. This may be seen as an excuse for the participation of the bystanders and the willingness of the German people to participate in the Nazi regime, but I truly believe that had there not been the benefits that they had received, and been lulled into a false sense of security believing that they were far better off with the regime, that the anti-Semitic views would most definitely have not been accepted and acted upon such as they were.
The SS which was led by Heinrich Himmler, played a major role in the Nazi genocide. It was the SS who were Hitler’s soldiers, they were sworn allegiance to Hitler and were to do his bidding. The SS carried out most of the killing of the Jews, they operated the concentration camps and devised the processes to kill the Jews in the most efficient ways, often using Jewish prisoners to carry the dead Jews to be buried. The obedience of the SS was crucial for the Holocaust to have taken place. Without the cooperation of the SS there may have been much more uproar and oppression. The SS succeeded in oppressing people who objected against the regime, often making an example of them.
The SS were looked up to by the youth, and some of the elderly alike as the strong German figures in society, mainly due to the effective propaganda displayed by the Nazis.Hitler had people constantly working towards him, also known as working towards the Furher, which involved people acting upon Hitler’s ideals and carrying them out. Many people believe that this is why Hitler cannot be directly linked with any orders for the extermination of the Jewish race. There is deemed to be a lack of documentary evidence which links Hitler with the Final Solution as Hitler never wrote orders, he issued them verbally, or by simply nodding his head or waving his hand to show his thoughts on a matter, this led to people acting upon what they thought Hitler would approve, which to them meant that they could gain power, Hitler was seen as all powerful. There was an outcry after a euthanasia policy was brought into operation, which led to Hitler insisting that the extermination plan should not be organised from the Chancellery.
This on record shows Hitler as not to be the one delivering the orders. Writh and Victor Brack claimed that the transfer of the euthanasia programme to the Final Solution was a ‘special commission from the Fuhrer’ which was a ‘Furher-order’.Hitler adopted the Final Solution over time.
It is believed that given the evolution of uncontrolled killing by the local authorities that no decision from Hitler was required. Eberhard Jackel argues that Hitler had made the key decisions for the Final Solution as early as 1940 but A. Hillgruber argues that 1941 was a much more realistic time and that he had located a verbal order from Hitler to Himmler to preparre the Einsatzgruppen for extermination of Russian Jews.
On the other hand, Ian Kershaw suggests that mid-September is a much more likely option due to Nazi policy not being clear. This array of views shows that it is not possible to track down Hitler’s actual intentions and how difficult it is to pinpoint a time or place for which Hitler supposedly ordered the Final Solution to take place.The historical interpretation is one that is presented by many historians that most Germans were unaware of the Final Solution. There is little to no evidence that states that the German people supported the Final Solution, but it must be fact that there was at least a minority who were directly involved in the extermination. Many people claimed that they were brainwashed by the Nazi propaganda which I personally believe is a major factor to their compliance.
There is much belief that in 1930 there was much opposition to radical and violent attacks on Jews. It is said that many condemned Kristallnacht even at the risk of their own liberty. None of this opposition was widely documented, and the majority of reading material leads you to believe that the majority of people were in actual fact in support of the anti-Semitic policies due to a censorship and the fact that some people lived in constant fear and with the inability to speak out due to fear of oppression.In conclusion it is my firm belief that it was due to many factors and the full combination of them all, but dominantly the role that Hitler played that the Holocaust existed. I do not believe that it would have been possible for the Holocaust to have taken place without Hitler and the Nazi party working together adequately in preventing the German people from rebelling against the Nazi regime with a constant supply of intricate propaganda in different forms, some of which in your face, other methods much more subliminal.Ultimately Hitler played the biggest role in the persecution of the Jews as it was ultimately his aim to have a scapegoat, a reason as to why the ‘great German nation’ lost the First World War; the Jewish people were his window of opportunity, and he seized that with a solid foundation and position in German society by being much loved due to his characteristics and the belief held by many German people that he was actually doing a vast amount of good for the German economy and returning it to be the powerful state which it once was.