Foundations for the Holocaust

How the Holocaust could happen is something that has been pondered for decades by many throughout the world. Blame has been placed on the Nazis, Christians, and all non-Jews. The reason the Holocaust was possible arises from the depths of man’s thirst for blood and the need for superiority. The foundation for the Holocaust was laid during the time of ancient civilizations through arrogance, fear, and the desire to be on top.

Man's Ability to Shed Blood Without Remorse

War, and death that inevitably originated from war, is something that has been around since man first walked this earth. Many of the wars during man’s early years centered around the need for survival. As civilizations grew, the need to see bloodshed left the battlefields. Man created their own arenas for blood for pleasure and for ‘practicality’.

The Romans were notorious for their thirst for blood and willingness to kill. How the Holocaust was possible can be seen in the Roman Colosseum at its height. Thousands died just for the sheer pleasure of the Romans who cheered for the fighting and the flow of blood. This spectator sport became more horrendous when Christians and others who came under the suspicion of the Roman emperor were placed into the spotlight. After the Colosseum opened in A.D. 80, as many as 5,000 died each day in this amazing structure, from gladiators to slaves. This figure only numbers the humans, as many more animals were slaughtered just for pure pleasure. Ironically, it was the built completely by slave labor that was comprised of Jews that were conquered in the final fall of Jerusalem. Waves of particular groups might die, but there was no intent to wipe out particular groups completely. Just times of intense persecutions and death existed. As long as someone died, the Romans were happy.


The Inhumanity!

When one looks at the real pictures that showed the horrors of the Holocaust, one cannot help but wonder how one human could treat another in such a way. But the Romans sat and watched with glee as throats were ripped out by wild animals and man was pitted against man with the sole purpose being the death of one, if not both men.

Was it the fact of who the victims were? Thrown into the arena were criminals. Maybe it was acceptable to rejoice in the death of a criminal even if you didn't know what their crimes were. Slaves captured during war were thrown into the arena. They were trained to fight and could kill like no Roman soldier could. Yet the crowds cheered their death displays. Why? Today we watch a boxing match where two men beat each other up and at times one of them dies. It is an accepted part of the sports we celebrate. Maybe watching the gladiators kill is not so far fetched after all.

What about those who refused to acknowledge the Emperor as a god? Men, women, and children were no stranger to the floor of the arena where they were attacked by starving lions. Crowds gathered to watch these defenseless people be torn to shreds and eaten. What causes a person, an entire civilization, to enjoy such a thing?

Mankind's ability to watch others suffer and feel nothing, maybe joy, was nothing new when the Holocaust was perpetrated. It just followed what the ancient ones had laid out before we were ever born.

The Crusades

This was just the beginning for the European civilizations that were rising up. As the Christian faith began to grow and expand beyond the spiritual realm into the political, desire to ‘reclaim’ the Holy Lands for Jesus and His followers spread quickly. Nine different crusades rose up and marched to the Middle East. Each group was headed by different leaders for different reasons.

The entire period of the crusades (1096-1292 ) was of “tremendous expenditure of human material resources” and was “a story of failure and incompetence.” As the Christian European forces swept the Middle East, thousands died from all sides. Though the Crusades were to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims, others including Jews lost their lives. In fact, when “the army reached Jerusalem and broke through the city walls, they slaughtered all the inhabitants that they could find (men, women, children, newborns). After locating about 6,000 Jews holed up in the synagogue, they set the building on fire; the Jews were burned alive.” The mobs did not set out to murder just Jews. They were wanting to eliminate all who was between them and Jerusalem.


Hatred for the Jews

Yes, mankind can be seen as heartless and cruel. Even entire civilizations can join in on the celebration of violent death. But for the Holocaust there was something else thrown into the mix - a deep seeded hatred for the Jews.

Even if you don't use the Jewish and Christian Bibles as examples, history records many instances of where the Jews were fought for the whole purpose of eliminating their existence. They lived in a violent area of the world where civilization started and everyone fought to come out on top. Captured by the Persians, the Babylonians, and eventually the Romans Jews were killed and enslaved over and over.

Why? One reason was their tendency to remain separate from the world around them. Following the dictates of God, they did not eat like those around them did. They did not live daily life like those around them. They were too different and no matter they prospered. Those around them grew envious. Seeds of hatred were planted.

Under the Roman glory days, Jews, Christians, and anyone else who refused to worship the emperor could be put to death. And they were. But as Christianity spread and became the more prevalent religion, some leaders sought the need to have an enemy they could see. Satan was enough so they found the enemy in the ones they said killed Jesus. Not realizing that they had to read all of their sacred scriptures to realize that no Jew was ever condemned by God for Jesus' death, aside from Judas for his betrayal, they persecuted the Jews.

For the Nazi's to hate the Jews was nothing new though their reasons were more secular.

Nazi Hatred of Jews

Why did the Nazi's hate the Jews? Because Christianity taught them? Not directly as the Nazi's persecuted the Christians as well. Though their examples only helped to support Hitler's belief.

Hitler came to power at a time where Germans were very bitter at their defeat of World War I. Someone had to be blamed. Yes, the world around them that defeated them and kicked them while they were down were to blame, but that was too many and too vast to ignite the fire of revenge so quickly. It had to be someone close and someone who was easily reachable and even easy to hate. Oh, that's right! There were the Jews.

Many Jews lived in Germany. Many of them were prosperous despite the hard economic times. That obviously meant that they were in on the Germans defeat and were to blame. As the message was repeated on who was the true enemy, people began to see the 'common sense' of it and turned against anyone who was Jewish or had Jewish blood in them. Those who were once friends were now enemies. Those who were members of a religion were now members of a race.

It was easy to turn on someone when you feel they are to blame for so much wrong. It is also easy to watch them die horrific deaths as mankind had done many times before. The Nazi's were not the first to callously watch a member of the human race die in terrible ways at their hands. They just improved upon those who had done it before. The foundation had been laid long before.


Conclusion

Was the Holocaust tragic? Unbelievably so.

Were the Nazi's unusual in their treatment of the Jews? Not really as they only did what so many had done before them.

Was the Holocaust new? Yes and no. The heart of it was not as many times throughout the world's history one civilization has tried to wipe out another in very horrible ways. Yes in how it was done and the fact it could be 'witnessed' by the whole world with pictures and videos. It wasn't something isolated in one part of the world. For the first time the world was there and witnessed the events. That made it all the more horrific.

But to say the Nazi's were so creative that they came up with the Holocaust all by themselves is preposterous. They took examples from the past and just improved upon them. They used the foundation and built the walls of the death chambers for one race.

Sources:

Cantor, Norman F. The Civilization of the Middle Ages: A Completely Revised and Expanded Edition of Medieval History. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.

Hale, J.R. Renaissance Europe 1480-1520. Malden: Blackwell, 2000.

Hopkins, Keith. “The Colosseum: Emblem of Rome.” BBC History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ history/ancient/romans/colosseum_01.shtml, (accessed February 12, 2011).

Newman, Leonard S. and Ralph Erber, ed. Understanding the Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust. Cary: Oxford, 2002.

Robinson, B. A. “The Reconciliation Walk.” Religious Tolerance. Org, http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_cru1.htm, (accessed February 10, 2011).

Schleunes, Karl A.The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews 1933-1939. Chicago: University of Illinois, 1990.

Supple, Carrie. From Prejudice to Genocide: Learning About the Holocaust. Staffordshire: Trentham, 2009.

“The Inquisition”, Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ jsource/History/Inquisition.html, (accessed February 18, 2011).

Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.



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4 comments

Alexis Cogwell profile image

Alexis Cogwell 5 months ago from Indiana/Chicagoland

Very intersting hub. I especially enjoyed how you linked the Romans to the Nazis. It paints a great picture leading up to Hitler, shows how history does in fact repeat itself.

Keep sharing our history, and enjoy your weekend.


Readmikenow profile image

Readmikenow 5 months ago

There is much you could add about the treatment of Jews during the history of Europe. Mobs of Christians during the 1400s would take Jews from gettos and burn them alive for sport. Jews were only permitted to have certain low-paying jobs and more. Jews were removed from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. You're right. It started long before Hitler. Good article.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 5 months ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you :) Glad you enjoyed it.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 5 months ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you. You are right about all the years they were treated unfairly. Everyone blames Hitler, but he was taking what the rest of the world had taught him.

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