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Holocaust Essay, Research Paper
Hitler and the Nazi Party gained power in Germany in 1933 and lost power in 1945 — only 12 years. And yet, by the end of the Hitler regime, the world had been plunged into a global world war, Europe was in shambles and nearly 30 million died. Among the dead were over SIX MILLION Jews — men, women and children –who were systematically and efficiently slaughtered for no other reason than that they were Jews.
This event has come to be called THE HOLOCAUST. In the view of this writer, the term “Holocaust” must be reserved for this specific time and set of events. Certainly there have been numerous atrocities against humankind throughout history, horrible cases of genocide directed against innocent people — 10-20 million black Africans who died during the 200 years of the international slave trade, the decimation of nearly 12 million Native American Indians in North America between 1600 and 1850, and the more recent events in Bosnia and Rwanda.
It is not the intent of this essay to lessen the horror of any of these instances of “man’s inhumanity to man. However, there has been ONLY ONE HOLOCAUST. The event described in these pages stands alone in human history for several reasons:
1. The motivations for it were entirely racial. There was little, if any, economic net gain; in fact, one suspects that the Holocaust brought economic loss to Germany. The victims presented no threat to the German nation, nor to the Nazi regime. Neither national security nor territorial expansion were served by it, though Hitler used antisemitism as a rationale for both.
2. The rational nature of its methodology — its efficiency, calculability, predictability and control – are unparalleled in human history.
3. Its ferocious intensity. The slaughter of the Jews did not begin until late 1938 and ended in 1945.
The unanswered questions regarding the Holocaust far outnumber those for which we have answers and the gap between them grows. The facts are relatively easy to obtain — millions of pieces of documentary (much of it as yet unanalyzed) have produced a virtual flood of scholarly historical works documenting every aspect of the Holocaust. But, the more we study it, the more we know about it, the less comprehensible it becomes. We still seek an answer to the most important questions: Why did it happen? How could it have happened? How could it happen in an advanced, civilized modern nation? Can it happen again? How can its recurrence be prevented? The material presented in these pages is disgusting, brutal, offensive, and shocking. But it is all true and it is the one truth in modern history that the world cannot afford to forget!
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