The Holocaust has become the standard by which crimes against humanity are measured. It is defined as the industrialized mass-murder of predominately Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the homeless, and the disabled; orchestrated and directed by the German Nazi Government1. Many questions arise such as: why was it socially allowed? How were the murders concocted? And what is meant by “industrialized?” Industrialized murder is the mechanized, impersonal, and sustained mass destruction of human beings, organized and administered by states, legitimized and set into motion by scientists and jurists, sanctioned and popularized by academics and intellectuals (Bartov 4). To move forward, it’s important to understand that industrialized murder was often practiced on the western front of World War I2 – decades before the Holocaust. World War I differed from its predecessors, mainly by the magnitude, intensity, and mechanized nature of the killing. The landscape of World War I is the domain of the innocent, inhabited by souls who never expected to end up in them, and conforming to no rational plan or logic decipherable by their victims (Bartov 33). As Bartov says in his essay on Industrial Killing:
“The predicament of the individual soldier on the modern battlefield, I argue, was confronted both on the technical, practical level, by inventing and producing new technologies which freed the armies from the fate of being pinned down by the combination of trenches, barbed-wire, machine guns and artillery, and on the representational level, by forging a new ideology and producing a new imagery of heroism and liberation. In the course of the First World War, and throughout the interwar period, the inevitability of a perpetual cycle of industrial killing on an ever greater scale in the future was accepted by all but a small minority of Europeans.” Similarly, the Nazi’s based their intentions and policies throughout an articulated, shared understanding of Jews,...
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