Why did the Holocaust Happen

1. The Nazis despised the Jews; propaganda which aimed to spread anti-Semitic ideas was put up everywhere. Source 1 is an example of this propaganda and its aims was to make the Jewish race appear repulsive. It does this by making the Jews appearing in the picture wear filthy aprons, have exaggerated facial features, and look disgusting and ugly (fat, dirty). The idea of this was to make the Jews look repulsive and make pure Germans stay away from them and their shops.

Another aim of this cartoon was to make the Jews seem untrustworthy. The cartoon achieves this by showing the Jews to be doing terrible things. The male Jew is mincing a rat under a sign which says cheap minced meat. This would increase the idea in German minds that Jews were money grabbing and untrustworthy and may stop them shopping in Jewish stores.

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The message of this cartoon is that Jews are untrustworthy, money grabbing, repulsive vermin!

2. Source 2 and 3 are both written by anti-Semitic German leaders and both portray similar beliefs. However, I would say that source 3, the account by Adolf Hitler is more useful in explaining the causes of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany than source 2. The reason for this is that source 2, the account by Martin Luther was written in 1543, therefore would have very little effect on the German people’s views in the early 1900s. An account by the German Leader of the time Adolf Hitler would be fresh in the people’s minds and would have been read by many more people.

As a result of this, source 3 goes much further in explaining why there was anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. Having said this, perhaps Hitler’s views were influenced by Martin Luther’s, and therefore were reflected in his article. In this case Martin Luther’s account is in turn affecting many more people than if this was not the case.

The reason I think that Hitler’s account may have been influenced is because they are both very similar and I think that Hitler may have copied parts of the article. “while we remain poor and they suck the marrow from our bones” and “the effect is like that of a vampire”

Despite this, I still believe source 3 to be more credible in explaining the anti-Semitism because Hitler’s views were far more likely to influence the German public than a man who has been dead nearly 500 years.

3. Sources 4 and 5 give the impression that the Germans were viciously anti-Semitic during the Nazi regime years. I know this because even source 4, which is a children’s book contains anti-Semitic material! Source 5 shows a photograph of a street banner saying “Jews not wanted here” this also implies that people had gone beyond the stage off keeping their anti-Semitic views quiet and it was quite a normal thing to be so prejudiced.

Having said this, both sources could have been a one off as the sources have their limitations. Photographs only show a picture of one specific event at one particular time and therefore do not show the big picture. An example of this would be a photograph of John Lennon being shot by a fan, because there is a picture of it does not mean that all fans were out to shoot him. The book has the same problem as the author could have been the only German writer to be anti-Semitic and again, it would not show the whole picture.

However, I know better than this and in fact the sources do reflect the general feeling of anti-Semitism in Germany, there were many more banners in streets just like this and many books with similar illustrations and writings. Because of this, I know that anti-Semitism was very widespread and vicious in Nazi Germany and the majority of Germans cared little for Jewish people’s feelings.

4. Sources 6, 7 and 8 are accounts by various people, describing what happened on the10th November 1938 (Kristallnacht). Source 6 is written by a non-biased American and in it he explains how most of the German Public were not involved with the events of Kristallnacht and any sign of sympathy from the public towards the Jews caused fury amongst the Nazis “the violence was carried out by SS men and Stormtroopers not in uniform” “local crowds were obviously horrified by the Nazis acts”.

Source 7 was written by a biased German Jew who says otherwise. He explains that there is “unrest amongst the masses” and goes on further to explain that signs saying Jews not wanted have appeared everywhere and acts of terror have caused many Jews to sell their belongings and go away. However, this does not contradict what source 6 was saying, it mainly states the general feelings of anti-Semitism in Germany at the time. Nothing in source 7 explains how the general public turned evil and started burning and destroying Jewish homes and shops, but then again it doesn’t really agree with source 6 either.

Source 8 was written by an anomalous German civil servant who wished to set the record straight to the British Consul in Cologne, Germany. They state that most people had nothing to do with all of the destruction, riots and acts of terrorism. He/She went on to say that “The police supplied SA men with axes, housebreaking tools and ladders.” “A list of names of the Jewish shops and flats was provided”. This source agrees with source 6 entirely and pleads the innocence of the German public.

Looking back with the information we have now, source 6 and 8 are more valid in explaining what happened on Kristallnacht, despite this, source 7 is not incorrect in what it says, but it is from a biased point of view and in all fairness understandably wants to land all of German people in trouble with the rest of the world.

5. Source 9 is an extract from minutes from the Wansee conference. Source 9 is incredibly vague as a document containing detailed information about the execution of the Jews would be too valuable if placed in the wrong hands. Also the leading Nazis did not want anyone to know what was happening to the Jews as it may have caused opposition to the Nazi regime. By leaving the document vague, there are many ways to interpret the information, therefore if anybody found it who they didn’t want to, the Nazis could say it meant a totally different thing. One Nazi could have read the document and think that “dealt with accordingly” could mean find another place for the Jews to live, and another could have thought it meant kill.

Source 10 is written from a modern world history textbook. As it was made as a source of information for all to read (unlike the coded and brief source 9) it contains far more information concerning the execution of the Jews. In detail, it goes through how ordinary people, soldiers, police and many others all helped to arrange timetables, build railway trucks and organise the arrangements for the Jews.

Where as source 9 does not really explain how the Nazis were to solve the “Jewish Question” source 10 does. Source 10 goes on to explain that gas was used to kill the Jews and large German chemical companies battled for the contracts to make it. However, neither of the sources actually goes into detail about how the Jews were to be killed. Source 9 contains no specific information, and source 10 only says that the Nazis used gas. For this reason neither of the sources goes very far in explaining how the Jewish Question was to be solved, but source 10 does contain a lot more relevant information than source 9.

6. Source 11 and 12 are from different sides of the war. On the one side is source 11 which explains why the British and Americans did nothing to prevent the Holocaust, and on the other is a high ranked Nazi. Source 11 states that the British and Americans did nothing because it was a risk for the military involved. Also nothing was done because many other things were happening at the times which were more important concerning winning the war. Perhaps the most important reason for doing nothing was that the holocaust was only a roomer, and it seemed almost too terrible to be true for someone outside Germany.

Source 12 was written by Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments minister and leading architect. He believes that so little was done to help the Jews because people who knew about the holocaust, or had the capability to work out what was happening (such as himself) refused to do so. By not really coming to terms with what was happening or by refusing to believe what was happening, people such as himself could live guilt free. He admits now that “I could have worked it out from the little that I did know. I should have done. No apologies are possible”.

Living in denial was probably the easiest way for people like Albert Speer to live during the holocaust. If he had worked out what was happening, there would have been very little he could have done. If he did try to act and stepped too far out of line, there would have been a high risk of execution.

After analysis of the two sources, I believe that neither is more reliable in explaining why nothing was done to help the Jews. This is because both are based on similar principles of disbelief. If high ranked Nazis refused to think about what was happening, how were governments of different countries supposed to take action. Perhaps more “could” have been done if people like Albert Speer stood out and acted against Hitler, but then again the chances of that were practically zero.

7. Source 1 does not help to support the statement as it did not directly link to the holocaust. The public (who this cartoon was aimed at) were not supposed to know about the events of the holocaust, so it is an irrelevant source when discussing why the holocaust happened. However this source did spread Hitler’s anti-Semitic views and caused racism towards the Jews. If the public had found out about the Holocaust half way through it, sources like this one would have helped to prevent much disapproval amongst the masses. Also this source suggests that hatred of the Jews could have been the sole purpose of the Holocaust, because it demonstrates how low Jews were thought of by the government and Hitler.

Source 2 has very little to do with Hitler or the holocaust but source 3 is an account written by Hitler himself. It again highlights how anti-Semitic Hitler was and shows that this solely could be responsible for the Holocaust. However, the fact that Hitler does not even mention wanting any Jews dead, let alone all of them makes me believe that at this point (1924) he does not plan for the holocaust, and other events further on down the line help to cause it. Therefore this source suggests that Hitler’s hatred for the Jews was not the only cause for the Holocaust.

Source 4 is similar to source 1 in that it is only spreading the anti-Semitic message, it does not really relate to the Holocaust, or Hitler being the cause of it. It is doubtful that Hitler even saw this book as he was neither in charge of propaganda, nor did he read children’s books, however this source reflects on what Hitler would have wanted to be in a children’s book, therefore it spreads his hatred of the Jews. Like source 1, this source suggests that Hitler hated the Jews so much, that this could have been the only reason why the holocaust happened. Having said this, the cartoon is not so vicious that it implies that Jews should be killed, so again it really is against the idea that the Holocaust happened just because of Hitler’s hatred of the Jews, but for the idea that it may have happened as a result.

Source 5 demonstrates, again the feelings of anti-Semitism in Germany at the time of Hitler’s rule. There is a sign saying Jews not wanted here across a street. Again this is deeply anti-Semitic but I doubt that the people who put up the sign would agree to have 6,000,000 Jews killed. It was more of a case of what to do with them, hence “the final solution being the name of the Holocaust. This photograph is neither for nor against the statement. It shows how far Hitler corrupted the minds of the people in Germany, but it does nothing to show that these people actively took part in anything near as bad as the holocaust in years to come.

Sources 6, 7 and 8 show the feelings of a variety of people in the time of Kristallnacht. There is an account by a non-biased American who claims that the events were led by extremist Nazis, and the general public had nothing to do with the destruction. This argument is also backed up by a German person’s account who wrote to the British Consul in order to claim forgiveness for the average German. However there is also an account by a German Jew who claims that there was “unrest amongst the masses” and believes that most people took part in the events. This is a biased account and therefore can be looked upon as slightly invalid. These sources support the statement because they suggest that normal people did not really hate the Jews to the extent that they wanted to cause them too much disruption, especially death. Therefore Hitler’s deep seated hatred of the Jews may have been the main and only cause for why the Holocaust happened.

Sources 11 and 12 go on to explain that one of the causes which let the holocaust happen, was the fact that no-body did anything to try and prevent it. As Albert Speer explains, even leading Nazis did not know fully what was happening, and the ones that did know, or could work it out refused to, in fear of Hitler. Also, British and American forces refused to do anything, partly because of doubt that the Holocaust was really happening, and partly because they were occupied with other things in the war. These sources do nothing to explain why the holocaust happened, but do explain that it continued because either people did not mind, and are now making excuses for the fact that they could do nothing.

After doing this work, I have noticed that the Holocaust would not have happened if Hitler had not hated the Jews so much, but this was not the reason why it happened. Hitler did not plan to have 6,000,000 Jew killed from the start, due to events often beyond his control the Holocaust became inevitable.

In conclusion, I think that the holocaust happened because of Hitlers anti-Semitic beliefs. However Hitler and his beliefs are not entirely to blame or are they sole reason for why the Holocaust happened. Without the general population’s anti-Semitic beliefs, Hitler would not have been able to treat the Jews so badly. I think that if people did not agree with what Hitler was doing, at least on some level, it would not and could not possibly have happened. However I also believe that these anti-Semitic beliefs would have laid dormant in peoples minds if they did not have a leader such as Hitler who made it ok to be racist, even encouraged you to be so.

Therefore, it was Hitler’s deep seated hatred of the Jews that in turn led to the Holocaust, but you can’t entirely blame Hitler. For an example, if Germany had not invaded Russia, it is unlikely that the Holocaust would have happened as there would have been less Jews under German command, therefore less of a so called “Jewish problem”. The holocaust happened for reasons Hitler caused, however some of these causes were not based on his anti-Semitic beliefs, therefore it happened due to more than his deep seated hatred of the Jews, as suggested in the question.

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