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Pre-World War II Germany and What Led to Holocaust

IB Extended Essay
The Special Conditions and Situations in pre-World War II Germany that led to the Creation and Acceptance of the Idea of the Holocaust

The actual word holocaust simply refers to any widespread human disaster. However, The Holocaust has a much more powerful definition. It was the almost complete destruction of the Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany (Encarta). The beginning of the Holocaust can be traced back to 1935, when the Nazi regime came into power and produced the definition of the term "Jew." Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew, regardless of current religious beliefs. Also, if an individual was descended from two fully Jewish grandparents and belonged to the Jewish religious community, was married to a Jew, or was a legitimate or illegitimate child of a Jew, he or she was considered fully Jewish (Reich Legal Gazette). From 1933 to 1939, Jews were eliminated from economic life. Businesses were taken away, Jewish lawyers and doctors lost their Aryan clients, and Jews lost their jobs at Aryanized firms. Jewish shops and synagogues were burned during the Night of the Broken Glass in response to the assassination of a German diplomat by a young Jew in Paris. After the Poland invasion in 1939, Jews were forced into filthy and overcrowded ghettos. Finally, in 1941, Jews were taken to concentration camps where many were killed in gas chambers or by slave labor. In total, over 6 million Jews as well as millions of Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, communists and other targeted groups were killed in the Holocaust through such instruments as concentration camps, ghettos, and orders to kill Jews on the spot (Encarta).

When looking back on the Holocaust, the question arises on how something like this could happen. Why was nothing done to stop the murder of millions of people? How could individuals simply sit back and watch this happen? The answer lies in the special conditions in pre-war Germany that allowed for the creation, acceptance, and practice of the idea of genocide. As a result of the creation of a group of outsiders, internal strife, powerful leadership, propaganda, extreme organization, and the failure of social controls, the scene was set for the Holocaust to occur (Mazian ix-x).

By creating a group of outsiders, the victim group is separated from the regular citizens and dehumanized. Only when the outsiders are not viewed as human...

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Category:   World War II

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