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Why the Holocaust?





Drawingguy
Before I begin, let me clarify some things. In no way am I insensitive to the plight of the Holocaust of WWII victims- both Jewish and non-Jewish. I believe that the Holocaust was an abominable event that should be studied, so that the mistakes and lessons learned there need not be repeated. I do however have some arguments with the current state of things.

In America, or at least in New York, the Holocaust is studied thoroughly throughout the public education system. The deaths of the 5-6 million Jews is described, and overall the students come off with a good idea as to what happened. It was terrible-they undoubtedly understand that. Why? Why was the Holocaust so reprehensible? Because it was genocide filled with disgusting practices, something generally frowned upon.

Now, the Holocaust is studied to promote the idea that genocide is wrong. Makes sense. But at the moment, one can look to Darfur, and see an ongoing genocide. Perhaps it is not as large-scale as the Holocaust, but why is history studied? Is it not so that those mistakes may be avoided, and so that better solutions can be found? Why is it that America as a whole is not so attuned to this African genocide? It's going on now. Not sixty years ago-now.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and while I don't want to sound cynical or racist, I have a question about at least part of the reason. Is it because Africa is so far away from America, and so vastly different in places? How many times have people seen images of Africa as a disaster-ridden place where diseases (with AIDS in the spotlight), starvation, and poverty run rampant? Have people desensitized themselves to African plight, with the subconscious attitude of "Oh, that's just Africa,"? Has it come to the point where Africans (who appear different from the American majority-caucasians) are removed from America's view of the civilized world? Is it okay, because it's "just Africa"?

I drew Africa as an example, but think about Vietnamese Cambodia in the 70's and 80's, where again, there was an understated genocide. Why? Don't flame me, but please give a civilized response.
Indi
A fair question deserving an answer.

i would suggest that first you have to ask yourself what the point of studying a genocide at all is. What is the educational value of it? What is a class on genocide like; is it like this: "OK class, today we're going to talk about genocide. Genocide is the deliberate extermination, attempted or successful, of an entire group of people - where group is defined by race, religion, or culture. There have been lots of genocides or genocide attempts throughout history. Here is a brief list of them, the dates and the number killed. Any questions? Ok. Next topic."

Obviously as far as a useful lesson goes, a class like that is pretty pointless. So why study a genocide?

Perhaps the ultimate goal of teaching about a genocide is in order to prevent it from ever happening again? That would certainly be a good reason to do it. Well, if that's the case, what use is there in teaching North Americans about Darfur or Rwanda or (insert any random genocide here)? "So the Hutus were trying to exterminate the Tutsis? Or... was it the other way around? How the hell can you tell them apart anyway?"

Most genocides are the result of centuries of animosity between two groups; the sources of which no one really gives a rat's ass about unless they happen to be a member of either group. Do you really care about why the Hutus wanted to exterminate the Tutsis? Does it in anyway affect your life?

The holocaust was different in a very subtle but important way. Yes, the animosities between the various groups were theoretically centuries old, but Germany was a "civilized", "modernized" Western state. Before the National Socialists took power, no one had even dreamed of herding up Roma or Jews and driving them out of town - not for like a thousand years! Germans were literate, educated, well-cultured and quite rich. The government was a democracy. Sounds pretty much like home, doesn't it?

Unlike places like Darfur where they had pretty much been killing each other for centuries and only just recently happened to get systematic about it, 1920's Germany was very much like any Western country even today. There were no racially motivated killings in Germany (at least, no more so than there are in most Western countries). So if 1920's Germany was so much like any Western country today... how in the hell did it suddenly turn into... well... freaking Nazi Germany!?!?!?

That is the real underlying question that should be the focus of teaching about the holocaust. Of course, most teachers are idiots, and think they're teaching something profound just by telling horror stories about the atrocities that happened with absolutely no attention paid to why.

But if you're an insightful student (and you probably are, and probably much smarter than the average high school teacher from what i can tell from here), you should take the opportunity to focus your attention on these questions: Exactly what were the factors that turned an affluent, civilized center of 1920's European culture into... well, freaking Nazi Germany? What were the steps taken? What were the first signs of real trouble? Could they happen again?

Even more specific questions could be asked about the ethics of the medical "studies" done, and of using the results. Or of how theoretically rational, average German citizens could have been turned into book-burning racial-purists.

At any rate, that's the answer i'd offer. There's nothing for the average Westerner to learn from studying those African genocides, or even the Asian ones. It's not because they're "just African" or "just Asian", it's because those genocides were hardly surprising seeing as they had been pretty much brewing for decades (or even centuries) and mostly just needed a spark to set them off. The holocaust was different in that respect. And the culture and structure of society in 1920's Germany is so much like any modern Western culture that the lessons are very relevant. Indeed, current and recent events in America do have a very worrisome parallel to events leading up to the holocaust in Germany - and i know many will scoff and say it could never happen in America... but that's what they said in Germany, too.

(Incidently, the holocaust wasn't even studied where i grew up. i didn't grow up in a Western country, or even a first-world country. There were large groups of native tribes where i grew up, still living the way they had for thousands of years. Because of that, we focussed on those genocides that were about native peoples being exterminated by an arriving colonizing force, like the Conquistadores: Cortz and the Aztecs, and Pizarro and the Incas. Why? Because the elements of those genocides were of relevance to that culture, with its mix of aboriginal and colonial peoples. That's why i say the facts of genocide itself are not really relevant, it's the causes of that genocide that should be of interest.)
Gagnar The Unruly
I agree completely with Indi's post, but I'd like to add that there is another reason to study genocide, which is to build on students ability to think about and feel sympathy with other cultures. I think most people, wherever they live, exist in a bit of a cultural bubble. I also believe that education can burst that bubble a bit, and get students to see the world from the perspective of a different culture. It might make them more tolerant in general, and might help them take a little more personally the crimes against humanity that are occuring elsewhere in the World.
odinstag
First you would have to determine if the Holocaust was real or war propoganda from the Communists.

I personally do not believe War propoganda from either side. It was just rhetoric to get those poor white people to kill each other. And all for the interest of the big banks and arms dealers.

The same bankers financed both sides of the war. Remember that.
Gagnar The Unruly
odinstag wrote:
First you would have to determine if the Holocaust was real or war propoganda from the Communists.


????????? The Holocaust happened.
Bikerman
odinstag wrote:
First you would have to determine if the Holocaust was real or war propoganda from the Communists.

I personally do not believe War propoganda from either side. It was just rhetoric to get those poor white people to kill each other. And all for the interest of the big banks and arms dealers.

Ermm...why would it be communist propaganda? Are you suggesting that the USSR 'invented' the holocaust? If so then why did the US and UK go along with the invention? Why would communists invent propaganda to serve the interests of big banks and arms dealers?
{name here}
Bikerman wrote:
odinstag wrote:
First you would have to determine if the Holocaust was real or war propoganda from the Communists.

I personally do not believe War propoganda from either side. It was just rhetoric to get those poor white people to kill each other. And all for the interest of the big banks and arms dealers.

Ermm...why would it be communist propaganda? Are you suggesting that the USSR 'invented' the holocaust? If so then why did the US and UK go along with the invention? Why would communists invent propaganda to serve the interests of big banks and arms dealers?

To add to that why would British troops film the atrocities at Bergen-Belson? Why would the USSR soliders take pictures of Hinriech Himmler walking through Auschwitz when they clearly weren't far enough on the front when he was visiting? There are too many holes in the theory that there was no holocaust.
Liambaby
The thing is, you can study history until your eyes bleed, but there will always be corrupt or immoral leaders. There is unfortunately little we can do to predict which influences a person we vote for will come under, whether it be money, power or simply their own mind and views. People voted for Hitler because he seemed like a good man, and one who could dramatically improve life for the German population. They couldn't have known what ideas lay dormant within his mind. In the end, of course, the genocide was stopped, as others have been since. As for Darfur, I cannot see other world governments standing by and letting it slide, I think something will be done, just maybe not immediately. Don't forget, we have only (comparatively) recently discovered the true extent of it, whereas in pre-war Germany, it had been building for almost seven years. I think we do learn from history, but in this era of instantaneous communication, the expectancy is for something to be done immediately, whilst this isn't always practically possible.
Indi
Liambaby wrote:
The thing is, you can study history until your eyes bleed, but there will always be corrupt or immoral leaders. There is unfortunately little we can do to predict which influences a person we vote for will come under, whether it be money, power or simply their own mind and views. People voted for Hitler because he seemed like a good man, and one who could dramatically improve life for the German population. They couldn't have known what ideas lay dormant within his mind. In the end, of course, the genocide was stopped, as others have been since. As for Darfur, I cannot see other world governments standing by and letting it slide, I think something will be done, just maybe not immediately. Don't forget, we have only (comparatively) recently discovered the true extent of it, whereas in pre-war Germany, it had been building for almost seven years. I think we do learn from history, but in this era of instantaneous communication, the expectancy is for something to be done immediately, whilst this isn't always practically possible.

Then you have missed the entire point of studying history.

The holocaust didn't just happen out of the blue. There were signs, and there were many mistakes made, both by the German people and other nations, that allowed it to happen - mistakes that do not need to be repeated.

Hitler split Germany by dividing it into "us" and "them", where "us" was "true Germans" and "them" was everyone else, then he pit them against each other. By created constant threats (or the appearance of threats), he was able to get the population so worked up they handed over their liberties to him, bit by bit. And eventually: complete and total authority. That can happen anywhere, anytime - watch out for leaders pointing at shadows and saying "there be dragons, but give me more power and i will make them go away." Watch out for leaders preaching moral superiority and claiming that they have the mandate of God.

If you don't know how the holocaust happened, and how it could happen again, you should. It was not an isolated incident. It's certainly the most ridiculously blatant example in recent history, but not the only one. Freedom is a fragile thing, and evil only needs the good to relax their guard before it steps in. And just because someone claims to be one of the good guys, and claims to be fighting for your freedom, doesn't necessarily mean that they are.
Yantaal
the whole thing is baloni see.

we srtudy history in history class, and it seems according to most education systems that the only histroy worth studying is hitler

its good yes let people know the mostrsities that ocured, noone should ever foget what happened, but that shouldnt be the only thing we discuss.

what about the aztecs, what about the histroy of our countries, it is daft i agree
Aiz
odinstag wrote:
First you would have to determine if the Holocaust was real or war propoganda from the Communists.

I personally do not believe War propoganda from either side. It was just rhetoric to get those poor white people to kill each other. And all for the interest of the big banks and arms dealers.

The same bankers financed both sides of the war. Remember that.


Um...Although I agree that there are a lot of political propaganda during wars and not all truths are as you see from either side. But, propaganda can only be so effective; the are only fuel to the flame, not the fire-starter.
And why the Communists? >.>; take note, Communists are not the ones cheating about it so extensively in schools. (I've been to school in China, a major Communist body right now, and they didn't as much as mention it up until the time I left for the US.)

Indi wrote:

...And just because someone claims to be one of the good guys, and claims to be fighting for your freedom, doesn't necessarily mean that they are.


I totally agree with that. As I have said, I agree that propaganda is a big part of any political movement, war related.

Since I've been watching/reading a lot of Japanese stuff about the atomic bombing at the end of the war. From what I've been taught in school, the US was so considerated, they dropped them on those very lightly populated areas of rural Japan at the end of the war. They failed to talk about the families destroyed, lives lost, and the "side-effects" left over. Then, the US's stress on the Pearl Harbor bombing, and the Japanese not mentioning that in their writings (and of course their refusal to admit what they did in China, and the corresponding stress on it in China.)

So, justice, like everything really, is only relative, and to be taken with a grain of salt.

Well, back to the holocaust. I really think, the reason as to "why" is really because of the hidden side of human nature. All the buildups and conflicts before are just what leads up to the ineviatable, if not to the Jews, it would have been some other group. It's just one of the many examples of what happens when anarchy occurs, which is exactly what wars are. To be even more radical, it's just a natural way to eliminate an overpopulated specie. I don't think that would be the last mass genocide to ever occur, as long as humans exist. History learning is an attempt of learning from past mistakes that fall deaf on the ears it needs to reach, those higher ups.

I totally didn't talk about what the topic was about eh...*runs away*
GSIS
[quote="Indi"]
Liambaby wrote:
By created constant threats (or the appearance of threats), he was able to get the population so worked up they handed over their liberties to him, bit by bit.


Does this seem familiar to anyone?

This is one point of studying history - so we learn from our mistakes, and those of others, and hopefully do not make them again.

Yet we are now handing over more and more of our freedoms to our political leaders in the interests of fighting the 'war on terror'.

Interesting.
Bikerman
[quote="GSIS"]
Indi wrote:
Liambaby wrote:
By created constant threats (or the appearance of threats), he was able to get the population so worked up they handed over their liberties to him, bit by bit.


Does this seem familiar to anyone?

This is one point of studying history - so we learn from our mistakes, and those of others, and hopefully do not make them again.

Yet we are now handing over more and more of our freedoms to our political leaders in the interests of fighting the 'war on terror'.

Interesting.


Good point well made. I could not agree more!
budiman
Genocide or not, it depends on how we look at the problems. Again we have to choose our ground. It is hard to be neutral in this topic.
Bikerman
budiman wrote:
Genocide or not, it depends on how we look at the problems. Again we have to choose our ground. It is hard to be neutral in this topic.

Try having a point...it makes it so much easier for everyone.
ThePolemistis
Liambaby wrote:
By created constant threats (or the appearance of threats), he was able to get the population so worked up they handed over their liberties to him, bit by bit.


Does this seem familiar to anyone?

This is one point of studying history - so we learn from our mistakes, and those of others, and hopefully do not make them again.

Yet we are now handing over more and more of our freedoms to our political leaders in the interests of fighting the 'war on terror'.

Interesting.[/quote]

Exactly... history always repeats cus man doesnt learn from his defeats
Soulfire
Because America is fighting a war in the middle east - and we can't spread ourselves too thin.

*cough* maybe if the rest of the world would step up to the plate, and not make America do everything *cough*

At any rate, we tried going into Africa once. It didn't work out. And besides, Africa has virtually no value or American interest - so why bother?

(I'm just assuming that that's our attitude right now).
ThePolemistis
Soulfire wrote:
Because America is fighting a war in the middle east - and we can't spread ourselves too thin.

*cough* maybe if the rest of the world would step up to the plate, and not make America do everything *cough*

At any rate, we tried going into Africa once. It didn't work out. And besides, Africa has virtually no value or American interest - so why bother?

(I'm just assuming that that's our attitude right now).


but Africa is the richest continent by natural resource... it has diamonds, it has gold, silver, and yes,,,, even OIL!!!!

Quote:
*cough* maybe if the rest of the world would step up to the plate, and not make America do everything *cough*


I dont see why the world should support an illegal war that America dragged herself into it... i.e. Iraq
Indi
ThePolemistis wrote:
Quote:
*cough* maybe if the rest of the world would step up to the plate, and not make America do everything *cough*


I dont see why the world should support an illegal war that America dragged herself into it... i.e. Iraq

Indeed, America approached the world before it went into Iraq, and presented its case for invading Iraq (ie, evidence of weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam posed a threat of some kind). i remember when Colin Powell made his presentation to the UN, and at the time, we all thought Bush was a moron, but liked Powell (which is probably the reason he was selected to make the presentation). The rest of the world did not buy it, and said they would not join or support the war (and were proven right in the end when no weapons of mass destruction were found, and that Iraq posed no threat to anyone, but that's beside the point). America went anyway. And now it's our fault they're stuck there? Give me a break.

And there's yet another parallel. Hitler asserted that surrounding nations were threats just waiting to attack, and thus Germany had to attack first. Sound familiar? In at least one famous case, Hitler used a fire allegedly set by communists to justify beefing up "homeland security" (a phrase that his people invented, by the way) and locking down things like freedom of speech, and used the incident as evidence that there were external threats to Germany's safety to distract Germans from their eroding civil rights. Sound familiar? Hitler claimed that the communists were out to get Germany and Germans should strike first before they could... eerily simliar to how Bush claimed Saddam had WMD's and was poised to strike (except the Germans were apparently smarter than Americans, because Hitler actually had to stage a fake attack by Poland before they would believe him).

Obviously George Bush is not Hitler, but this is a prime example of why studying the holocaust would benefit people today. The incidents leading up to it were not random, isolated, unexpected and/or non-reproducable. The holocaust happened because a nominally free, civilized, educated and modern democratic country was taken over bit by bit by evil crazies. It happened, and it can happen again, and even if the people doing it are not crazy and not evil, a country should not allow itself to be fooled by people pulling all the same old tricks.

It's not enough to just study history as a litany of facts and dates. You have to learn the lessons. Obviously, despite studying the holocaust for all these years, Americans have not. i blame the incompetence of the teachers - they teach the holocaust as if the purpose of teaching it is just to elicit a kneejerk emotional response and a mantra of "never again", without bothering to explain how to make sure "never again". Anne Frank's diary is interesting, sure, but not the point of studying the holocaust. In fact, it's really rather irrelevant. If you're studying the holocaust and don't know why the first camps were made and what kinds of people were imprisoned there (and, no, it wasn't the Jews), then you aren't learning the right lessons.
tijn01
I agree with you to a point.....
I am constantly shocked by how little we consider Africa, in particular, not just their wars and history, but that this stuff is still a problem in Africa and we ignore it constantly. How many times do you hear about one American soldier dying in Iraq (not that I am discounting the importance of this)? And how many times to you hear about Africans dying every day because we, the western world, refuse to give the coninent a fair go!
Do you know what fair trade is? Do you know what it means in Africa that they do not recieve fair trade?
Back to the wars..... I think the reason the Holocaust (which, to spark another debate, is not being taught in some English schools anymore out of sensitivity for muslims who are taught Holocaust denial at mosques) is talked about so much is because it was so methodical and so planned, not just shooting ten men in the head, but building gas chambers to kill them more quickly...
I am Jewish. I have also spent a large part of my adult life travelling in countries through Africa and Asia who have suffered terribly and are constantly ignored by the Western World, I sympathise for both.
For some reason Africa, in particular, is constantly forgotten! It wouldn't take much to cure the malaria that kills thousands, or to provide clean drinking water, but we ignore it! Our politicians ignore it, why? Because we don't make it clear that this is important to us, as voters!
If George Bush REALLY cared about people and attacked Iraq because of the autrocities Suddam Hussain (spelling?) created he would also attack Zimbabwe and Sudan and save the people there from their awful plight. If the world cared about such things people would know why half of Seirra Leone's population have missing limbs, tongues and ears....... Or, even better it would have been stopped before it happened!
Peace!
Soulfire
Iraq had invaded Iran earlier, then Kuwait... And while the war in Iraq was a stretch, we removed a murderous dictator willing to kill his own people to test his new arsenol.

If he was willing to invade peaceful neighboring countries, then why would he stop there?

But, right, we're supposed to wait until we're nuked and lose a few million people before we can attack ... sorry, I forgot.

Let Iran continue with her nuclear weapons program!

[I'll be waiting ... watching, and hoping to God I am not in the target zone for Iran's nuke]
Bikerman
Soulfire wrote:
Iraq had invaded Iran earlier,
With the support and aid of the US
Quote:
then Kuwait... And while the war in Iraq was a stretch, we removed a murderous dictator willing to kill his own people to test his new arsenol.
again with the support and aid of the US.
Quote:
If he was willing to invade peaceful neighboring countries, then why would he stop there?
That argument might be valid if the US had not also invaded many peaceful countries over the last few decades:
http://bikerman.info/resources/politics/USInterventions.html
HereticMonkey
[Silly work...]

Africa is basically ignored because no one knows what to do about it, and which side to pull for. Throw in that you have some weird ecological problems (the expanding Sahara and shrinking forests), and it gets really weird really quick.

From a news perspective, it's hard to do a simple story because the issues involved are usually a lot more complicated and require a lot more space to describe than there is interest (could you describe the Darfur situation in less than 100 words?).

HM
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