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Genocide - An Affront to Human Rights

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 164

What is it about human nature that allows the wholesale extermination of entire ethnic groups of people? Although there have been several instances of the systematic genocide of various groups of people throughout world history, there has never been a single human tragedy in the history of man more brutal, devastating, or evil than the Holocaust. The horror that was the Holocaust of European Jews began long before the first gas chamber was used. The systematic destruction of the Jews began with the stripping of basic, fundamental civil liberties and individual human rights-ultimately, the very right to live and breathe among those.Jewish merchants were widely boycotted and harassed by the general German public. There was a very public anti-Jew propaganda campaign launched by German leaders. Anti-Semitism has never been more glaringly displayed in the history of the world.

An estimated six-seven million European Jews, plus several million other non-Jews (Gypsies, homosexual men, Soviet prisoners of war, to name a few) were exterminated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in the years 1939-1944. There are conflicting reports from myriads of historians as to how and why, exactly, the Holocaust happened in the first place. It is believed by many that Anti-Semitism has existed in the World since the Ancient times, with the Nazi-led extermination during WWII being the most recognizable example.

This environment (pure vitriol for the Jews) was cultivated in Germany and large parts of Europe and culminated in the 1935 "Nuremberg Law for the protection of the German Blood and German Honor."A creation of Hitler, among other things, this particular law made it a crime for anyone of German or related blood to have relations, let alone marry anyone of Jewish ethnicity. More importantly, the law also stripped Jews of their citizenship. This was a crushing blow to the Jews because, "A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He cannot exercise the right to vote; he cannot hold public office."Jews were not allowed to display the flag of the Reich, or German colors. They were however, permitted to fly or display their Jewish colors, and why not, as this provides an obvious means of identification. These people (the Jews) were marginalized, ostracized, demonized, and finally, dehumanized. In doing so, Adolf Hitler and the SS essentially stripped the right to life of anyone of Jewish descent.

It's been widely reported that Hitler viewed the Jews and other non-Aryans as a threat to Aryan dominance in Europe and the wider world. The Nazis also saw these non-Aryans almost as a sub-human life form, inferior to Aryans in every way. The Jews were treated as a pest control technician would treat an infestation of rats and other disease ridden vermin. After watching the award-winning film, Schindler's List, the question that myself and many rational minded people are left with, is how did the SS get away with the wholesale slaughter of two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe (Germany controlled an area of Europe that is roughly equivalent to the land mass occupied by thirty-plus countries today)? One would think that the general populations of Germany, Poland, and the rest of Europe would pose significant opposition to Hitler's "final plan for the Jews." Another point argued by historians is the extent to which the German public knew of the Nazi party's policy of total eradication of Jews in Europe. Some conclude that the average German citizen had no knowledge of the death camps and gas chambers, claiming that conventional wisdom suggests that a public that was aware would never have permitted the Holocaust to happen. Others cite Hitler's open public statements of his hatred and pure disdain for the Jews, as well as his intentions after reaching power, as evidence that the Nazi plan of extermination was never consciously concealed from the people of Germany. One thing that seems clear is that the whole of the German government, as well as established and influential civic groups, were in on every aspect of the killings. According to Michael Berenbaum, an American scholar (and Jew):

"Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders; universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics..."

It would seem to the casual observer that all of Germany and most Europeans in general, were on board with the Furor and his plan to wipe out an entire ethnic group. There were some four million Jews living in Poland when the Germans invaded the country. By the conclusion of the war, only approximately four thousand Jews had survived in Poland. It is also certain that without the efforts of Oskar Schindler, even more Jews would have perished in the gas chambers.

Oskar Schindler was a German businessman responsible for saving some 1,200 Jewish men, women and children from the horror of the Holocaust. It's easy for one to question the man's motives because Schindler was a war profiteer who made tons of money on the backs of slave labor. Jews who happened to be skilled workers were spared from death camps in order to work in Schindler's factories for essentially no wages. They were somewhat cared for (basic sustenance), as they manufactured goods primarily for the German army. When given the choice of the gas chambers or forced labor, for many there was no debate. These people were thrilled to work for Schindler, as it was this purpose alone that saved them from death at the hands of the SS.

Schindler referred to those Jews under his employ and watchful eye as "my children." The man never really spoke much publicly about the Holocaust or his involvement. However, according to the website, in a 1964 interview conducted in front of his dingy apartment in Frankfurt, West Germany, Oskar Schindler offers the following quote:

"The persecution of Jews in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years '41 and '42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice."

Schindler goes on to say in the same interview that his conscience simply would not allow him not to do something. The sadism, brutality, and the insanity of Nazism and the "final solution" were too much to bear and support. The website goes on to explain that Schindler and his wife spent untold millions in their efforts to spare as many Jews as possible. The man died penniless; however, he earned the ever lasting gratitude of those who survived the nightmare of the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler is still revered as a hero and a savior among Jewish communities today.

What is apparent to me is that, initially Schindler's interest in the plight of the Jew was nothing more than economics and massive profit. Equally apparent is the metamorphosis or transformation that he went through as the magnitude of the Holocaust enabled him to find his moral compass, and compelled him to do what was right. There are scenes in the movie when this dawns on the viewer. His recognition of the gravity of circumstance was clear in his facial expression in multiple scenes deeper into the film. Near the conclusion of the movie, the scene depicting the Jews gathered around the train that would carry Oskar home (to Czechoslovakia), immediately after the war was over and Hitler's SS had been stopped, was revealing of the man's true character. In this scene, Schindler is very emotional. As his Jewish accountant (and friend?) is expressing the gratitude of those survivors assembled, Schindler bemoans that he could have done more-could have saved "at least one more." As far as the film goes, Schindler's List is one of the most powerful accounts of history that I, personally, have ever seen. It is quite one thing to be told of the massacre of the Jews in grade school with a cursory mention, and yet another to see the horror of the Holocaust depicted on film in its entirety.

So the question remains, how is the systematic genocide of entire ethnic groups permitted to happen? Initially, those people are marginalized. They are most likely the minority in that particular region of the world. After being declared irrelevant, those same people are ostracized from the main of society. At this point, the particular group being vilified assumes the blame for most of the ills suffered by the majority-they are almost invariably demonized. From here, it is not an incredibly far leap to the tyrannical seizure of basic human rights of those so persecuted. In essence, they are almost regarded as animals, as opposed to living, breathing human beings.Once the state-run (or at least heavily influenced by the state) media has done its job ceaselessly in perpetuating the propaganda campaign aimed at a particular group of people, it becomes much easier to either gain the support and the backing of the majority of society, or create an attitude of indifference among those in society, so as to begin marginalizing the targeted group. It is in this fashion that the systematic dehumanization and destruction of any group of people begins. In closing, I would submit to any idealistic fool who believes that an event similar to the Holocaust could never happen in our compassionate, diverse, enlightened and educated society, that all those terms could have been used to describe Nazi Germany in 1939.

My website is currently under construction. I am available for training advice and the like at

Source: EzineArticles
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