In 1941 the ultimatum was Hitler’s attempt to genocide of the whole Jewish race in the Holocaust. So for this essay I’m finding out what may had lead up to the Holocaust, why anti-Semitism developed, and why Jews were separated from society, condemned ‘impure’.
According to records the majority of people started hating Jews as they blamed them for killing Jesus, because when Jesus was lead before the procurator, Pontius Pilate, for sentencing. Pontius Pilate left the decision to the people weather or not Jesus should be executed the early church tended to place the major blames on the Jews. They became the scapegoats for most people as many Jews refused to become Christians. This led to the belief that God rejected Jews as they had rejected Jesus, a theology was developed claiming that Christians were true Israel, God’s chosen people. God had cast aside the Jews he had sent them his only son and they had rejected him.
Appalling accusations were made towards Jews, for example they were accused of sacrificing their children, were compared to wild beasts and had their synagogues deemed as meeting places for assassins of Christ.
As a result of this Jews scattered and dispersed into many small communities within larger ones after having a revolt crushed in Palestine by Romans. This was called DISPORA.
St. John Chrysostom said,
‘The Jews sacrifice their children to Satan. They are worse then wild beasts. The synagogue is a den of scoundrels, a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ. The synagogue is a curse. She has extinguished within herself the light of the Holy Spirit. I hate the Jews.’ This caused many anti-Jews to touch the synagogue. Because the Jews were blamed for the Death of Jesus this caused many rumours such as this, which grew more, more hatred. This was a typical rumour which over time turned into rumours such like, Jews do the rituals in there synagogue’s and kill Christian children.
St. Thomas Aquinas also said,
‘It would be right to keep the Jews, because of their crime, in slavery. Princes may take away everything owned by the Jews.’ When Hitler came into power ST. Thomas’ word were put into action, all Jews valuables were taken away including Fur’s and diamonds.
Martin Luther claimed,
‘Synagogues should be set on fire. Secondly, their homes should be broken down. Thirdly, their Rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more.’ So their Synagogues were set on fire their homes were broken down and their lively hood taken away. Not only was there lively hood changed they were massacred in great numbers, segregated in ghettos, required having identifying marks or wearing distinguishable garments and were economically crippled by imposing restrictions on their businesses. Jews were forced to become money leaders and as the Christian church did not like people who lent money and charged interest for it (USURY) this was another reason why people disliked the Jews.
Jews were also blamed for natural disasters (for example, famine and plague) and accused of poisoning wells and drinking Christian children blood (the blood libel) for pass over.
A contemporary description in 1144 which sparked a massacre.
‘The Jews of Norwich bought a Christian child before Easter, tortured him with all the tortures wherewith our lord was tortured. And on long Friday hanged him on rood-in hatred of our lord’
There way of thinking was to set alight Jewish religious buildings, break down their homes and threaten their Rabbis with death if they were to continue preaching.
The defeat in the First World War and the ensuring crisis paved the way for an upsurge of nationalist feeling in central Europe. Many Germans blamed the government of the new Weimar Republic, which included many Jews, for their defeat and post- war humiliation.
Richard Rubenstein once said,
‘Once the Germans were defeated in World War 1 the Jews who had always been regarded as a stranger and alien in Germany, became regarded as an enemy.’ Again this gave people more of a reason to hate the Jews they were scapegoat for everything that German’s could not or would not that responsibly for.
The author Christopher Marlowe wrote a play in 1633 called the Jew of Malta. This gave an insight into how Jews were looked upon by the rest of humanity with the main character, Barabbas and Ithamore making outrageous claims as to what they have done and witnessed. Claims from Barabbas include:
‘Well, I’ve been prowling around at night. I kill sick people. Sometimes I go and poison wells. Now and then I encourage Christians to become thieves and then I ‘shop’ them. I’ve been a doctor: and I’ve certainly kept gravediggers busy. I was an engineer in Charles the fifth’s army and I managed to blow up both sides. I’ve driven people to suicide by lending money and making them bankrupt. And now I could buy this town if I wanted to.’
Ithamore, as though Barabbas’ claims are nothing out of the ordinary, responds:
‘ Well, sir, I’ve been burning down Christian villages. I was a holster in an inn; night crept into bedrooms and slit throats. I’ve been to Jerusalem. There I spread powder on all the places where Christian’s pilgrims kneel. I laughed to see them limping on stilts.’
There also were protocols, which were apparently written by Jews but were in reality fictional works of Russian anti-Jewish fanatics in the late nineteenth century. But unfortunately people at the time they were written didn’t know this so believe that they were truly written by Jews, this caused many to stop Jews from buying businesses and destroyed the ones already in motion. The protocols read as follows:
‘ For eighteen centuries, Israel has been at war with the power of the cross. Eighteen centuries belonged to these enemies. The future must belong to us, the people of Israel. The real power will be in our hands the day we have all of the world’s gold. The best way to get this power is to control all industrial, financial and commercial operations. And we must be familiar with everything that earns a high status in society, like philosophy, medicine, law, political economy: in fact all branches of science art and literature. In the past we got ordinary people to think about their own rights. Then, they began to look on kings as not appointed by God. And then, when we took away their religion, the power was thrown into the streets and snatched up by us. The political power of the Gentiles is no more. But as landowners they are still dangerous to us. So, at all costs, we must deprive the aristocracy of their lands. The best way is to put up rates and taxes.’
This was all fiction and designed to encourage a more passionate hatred for the Jews.
Hitler was one of many people who hated Jews. He wrote a book called “Mein Kampf “, meaning ” My struggle “. In this he says:
‘The biggest and greatest lie about the Jews is that they are not a race but a religion. Many other lies are built on this. With devilish joy, the black-haired Jews lies in wait for the unsuspecting girl. He infects her with the blood of his race. This steals her from her people. The Jew sets out to destroy the racial foundations of people. For example, the Jews brought the Negroes into the Rhineland to infect the hated white race with their blood. But a race, aware of its pure blood, cannot be made slaves by the Jews. So they try to infect individuals. And, in politics, he tries to replace democracy with the dictatorship of the Proletariat. Marxism is his weapon. He will then rule with a brutal fist. And so, the Jew is out to destroy Germany completely. The press of the Jewish stock exchange and Marxists stirred up hatred against Germany before the last war. This made other stated forget their true interests and turn against Germany.’
A number of issues fuelled Hitler’s fire in his hatred of Jews. One of these was ” Romantic Movement “, where Jews had no part in medieval chivalry, knights, tournaments etc…
” Capitalism “, or big business was another. Jews were supposed to control big business, so revolutions opposing large businesses hated Jews due to this, although most huge companies were not often in Jewish hands.
By the 19th century, Charles Darwin developed a theory of evolution. This was based on ” survival of the fittest ” and humans took it upon themselves to make this rule not only apply to animals adapted best to their habitat to survive, but also to them selves. It was easy to use this idea to suggest that one race of men might be superior to all others-this being the Germans in Hiltlers views and Houston Stewart Chamberlain introduced the idea of an Aryan race, (a typical north Europeans with blonde hair and blue eyes), to dominate Europe. Which Hitler did not even fit into.
Gobineau, author of ” on the inequality of the human races ” had the idea of ” pure blood “, which could easily be made impure by inter-racial marriages or having an inter-racial family. Strengths, morals and personality were all believed to be products of pure blood. So from then on Jews were separated from all races, Jews were only allowed to interact with other fellow Jews.
All of the reasons in this essay contributed to the mass hate and dislike of Jewish people, an unfair condemning of everything they did or took part in and to conclude a large number of Jews suffered intolerable pain and were massacred in huge numbers.
It was estimated that 6 million Jews died in 1945, 4,566,000 of which in Soviet Union, Poland and Baltic States, and 125,000 in Germany alone.
As a result of a few exaggerations and misinterpreted truths, many Jews suffered and died painfully.
A quote from Anne Frank’s diary said,
‘ What one Christian does is his own responsibility. What one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.’ Anne Frank died in 1945 at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp aged 15.