A Multidimensional Approach to Analyzing the Holocaust

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A Multidimensional Approach to Analyzing the Holocaust:

The Rationale of the German Perpetrators

Erica Lighter

Vanier College

14 December, 2011

A Multidimensional Approach to Analyzing the Holocaust:

The Rationale of the German Perpetrators

This paper examines why the various people involved in implementing the policies of the Nazi regime in Germany – such as the scientists, doctors, prison guards, soldiers, and police – went along with the Nazi policies for such a long period of time; more specifically, there is a focus on the Holocaust in the context of the rationale for the perpetrator’s behaviors. Indeed, the events that took place during the Holocaust consisted of extreme cruelty, and ultimately led to the murder of six million Jewish people. A historical analysis of these events demonstrates the many atrocities that were committed by the Nazis. It is also important to examine the many reasons why the various people involved in implementing the policies of the Nazi regime played their roles unquestioningly and obediently; some of these major reasons can be explained by dehumanization, diffusion of responsibility, propaganda, and with the help of functionalist theory, such as division of labor and the perceptions of the Other.

Key Historical Events

The Holocaust is a genocide wherein the German soldiers systematically killed six million Jews. It is an important and interesting historical event to analyze, as this genocide did not just take place overnight; there were a number of important events that ultimately led to this tragedy. Indeed, history is a sequence of events that can help to explain the development of societies and institutions (Coffin, Cole, Stacy & Symes, 2011, p. xxxviii). Accordingly, the beginnings of Nazi policies can be traced back to 1933, when Adolf Hitler – a powerful political leader – came into power in Germany (Bytwerk, 2005, p. 38). Although many events which are important explanatory factors regarding the Holocaust took place, this paper will address a few key events. Two major events that led up to the Holocaust are the segregation of the Jews from the rest of the German population, and the happenings of Crystal Night.

An in-depth analysis of the historical context of Nazi Germany reveals that, in the beginning, the events that led to the rise of the Holocaust took place in a gradual manner. Indeed, the Jewish people were slowly segregated from the rest of the population in Germany (Fischel, 2010, p. xxxvii). For example, on April 7, 1933, a quota that placed a limit on the number of Jewish students who could be admitted to higher levels of education in Germany was established. Additionally, laws were passed which prohibited Jewish people from holding certain types of jobs, such as working as doctors or politicians (Fischel, 2010, p. xxxii).

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were put into play, which led Jewish individuals to lose their German citizenship (Fischel, 2010, p. xxxii). Ultimately, the Jewish community was seen as a dangerous, diseased group, and the goal of the Nuremberg laws were to coerce the Jewish people living in Germany to move out of the country; this led to the mass expulsion of a large number of Jewish people. This can be largely explained by the Nazi ideology of the ‘pure’ Aryan race. In fact, the Nazi racial doctrine held the belief that race is a characteristic that could not be modified. Therefore, it was believed that Jewish people could never be Aryans. During the 1920s, Hitler made many public speeches, blaming the Jewish people for the fact that the Germans lost World War I.

Indeed, up until 1938, the segregation of the Jewish people progressed in a gradual manner (Friedman, 1954, p. 68-69). More specifically, up until this point, there was not a lot of direct, overt violence. However, in November 1938, a Polish Jew by the name of Herschel Grynszpan murdered Ernst vom Rath, a German politician. As a...
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