Genocide is one of the most horrific problems spread all over the world. Nowadays, we notice signs of increasing anti-Semitism, such as hate speech, violence of Jewish institutions and Jews, denial of the Holocaust. There is no easy or simple answer how to fix this problem but we can learn from mistakes committed in the past to help us shape the future. This paper seeks to analyze World War II and find out why the genocide kept recurring.
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as any act such as killing, causing serious mental and body harm or deliberately inflicting pain, committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, June 2008). Genocide has become one of the major concerns in international relations, spurred by political instabilities in various countries. Some of the major genocides documented include the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that left millions dead, thousands displaced, tortured and psychologically affected due to family separations and rape among women and children. These are major ethical issues that are associated with any genocide that takes place. The Jewish holocaust is one of the most significant genocides at the international level.
The Jewish Holocaust kept occurring because the Allies and German civilians chose to ignore it. It took place between 1941-1945 during World War II and saw the killing of six million people, making it the most famous of the world's genocide events popularly referred to in history. This holocaust took place at a time when Germany had lost the battle during the First World War and was undergoing a depression period, having lost its colonies overseas to other European super powers. Germany then, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, who was the leader of the Nazi party, started working towards regaining its lost glory and formed very stringent political policies. Among them was the intolerance for the Jews who were highly regarded as outsiders in Germany and considered unfit/unsuitable to live in the country as they were enemies. Hitler then began the mission to persecute the Jews in order to annihilate them from Germany completely.
Hitler's decision was not made overnight but came as a fulfillment of the Nazi's long term desire to always destroy the Jews. The Nazi's had hidden motives to destroy the Jews from the onset of their regime. The Jewish Holocaust has been defined as an intentional, calculated attack based on anti-Semitic ideologies, aimed at the Jews who are regarded as the Nazi enemies (Nazy ideology, 2007). The most important figure in the Nazi era was Adolf Hitler. As an individual, Hitler had motives to do away with what he perceived as 'cancer' in the German system. In fact, it has been documented that while addressing journalists at a news conference way back in 1922, even before he rose to power, he pledged that his first uphill task once he got into power would be to eliminate the Jewish people(Nazy ideology, 2007). Such a strong premonition of the brain behind the Nazi rule is a clear indication that the Nazi's had planned to destroy the Jews long before their regime. That Hitler made such a statement way before getting into power and later fulfilled it without anyone questioning his motives is a sign of ignorance. Hitler ought to have been evaluated as he took power and scrutinized regarding his intention of eradication the entire Jewish race in Germany. Such hate speech being treated with impunity ignorance at its best.
Another evidence is that the Nazis spent the period between 1939-1941putting in place measures to suppress and oppress the Jews. They forced them to live in concentrated camps with frequent disease outbreaks that eventually decreased their population. This acted as a precipitate to the World War II that simply provided a platform for the Nazi's to fully exploit the Jews. The Nazis developed measures against the Jews way before like the ghetto policy, which targeted the Jews who resided in the East. Historical scholars have since argued that with the ghettoization came genocidal intent: “The Nazis sought to create inhuman conditions in the ghettos, where a combination of obscene overcrowding, deliberate starvation . . . and outbreaks of typhus and cholera would reduce Jewish numbers through ‘natural wastage."(The Jewish Holocaust). It is interesting how such measures were being put in place and gaining momentum without anyone taking note of the things to come. The building of concentrated camps, starvation and inhuman living conditions was a sign of ignorance among the Germans and the civilians that made the genocide incident keep recurring.
Survivors and witnesses who had been exposed to torture in these death camps were bold enough to share their experiences with the outside world. Some were detained without trial, locked up in secluded prisons at the death camps, persecuted and later even murdered. Despite their testimonials, the Germans, the civilians and the international allies were not keen on the turn of events in these places as described by witnesses. This is a portray of ignorance at the face of reality. This made the holocaust continued to a full blast phase during the second world war.
Hitler's administration succeeded in torturing the Jews, driven by his key motives of wanting to create more space for the Germans. He worked on implementing a manuscript he developed while in prison regarding Darwin's theory of natural selection as the best form of leadership. He believed that a person’s characteristics, attitudes, abilities, and behavior were determined by his or her so-called racial makeup. In Hitler’s view, all groups, races, or peoples carried within them traits that were immutably transmitted from one generation to the next. Ignorance is evident as Hitler's policy on Darwin's Natural selection theory is endorsed without question while the impacts are somewhat evident. Other enemies included in this bracket were the Jehovah Witness believers, who were accused of honoring God more than the allegiance given to Hitler. Hitler hence implied the use of hate speech and incitement to influence the German's perception of the Jews. He warned that they would multiply and take up all available resources thus make German fall again like it did in the first World War.
The ordinary Germans, aware of the ongoing Jewish holocaust, were in full support of Hitler's regime. They found assurance in Hitler's commitment to rebuild Germany back to its lost glory. They also wanted him to do away with the unfit classes of people who were a threat in the Germany's economy. No one dared to question Hitler's incitements and allegations thus this was a sign of ignorance. The political regime therefore worked towards suppressing the common enemy, in this case the Jews, through terrorizing them, oppression and forcefully deploying them in to the death camps. This was done by Nazi military men. The Germans and civilians watched the Nazi group implement these inhuman policies without much concern. This is a sign of ignorance that made the genocide a recurrence until World War II.
Nothing was done to save the Jews from the Nazi's attack at this time. This is partly because there was no sufficient evidence of a holocaust taking place in Germany. The persecutions were being conducted secretly before the World War II. Germany was also equally powerful and had its rules, laws and regulations that governed its operations thus no allies wanted to interfere. Tony Rennell, a writer of Mail One is quick to note that during that time, saving the Jews from genocide was not made an official allied war aim. She observes that a moment in history when something just might have been done to halt or at least slow a massive crime against humanity came and went (Rennell, 2011).
Some historical scholars have given a strong verdict in this regard that the Jewish Holocaust could have been averted if proper measures were put in place on time. They argue that the initial plans by the to attack and wipe out the Jews were known to the allies and thus these allies would be better placed to save the Jews or act swiftly to reduce the numbers of those who were killed(The Jewish Holocaust). The allies could have used the radio, a popular medium and channel of communication at that time to warn the Jews of the impending danger through what the Nazi's were planning to do. Such a move could have had the Jews either prepared to fight back or to flee for their lives. The international allies were therefore ignorance of the situation in German despite having the information beforehand.
During the deportations to the death camps, which were mostly done through railway transportation, the Jews pleaded with the allied governments to act by disrupting the rail transportation through airstrikes to prevent them from being transported, but allies like the USA remained reluctant, buying into the Nazi's idea of simply relocating the Jews rather than deporting them to death camps. The decision by these allies to accept the Nazi's claim as the truth is a sign of ignorance. The Germans and civilians also pretended to be blind to the existing death concentration camps. It is a mystery that the death camps could not be located easily in a country with civilians and also among international allies who had powerful security surveillance equipment that could easily detect the dens of death. This is ignorance.
The allies could have used their diplomatic authorities to pressure the Nazi rule to stop the persecutions but instead, showed little will to help the Jews. The church in Germany at that time was also blamed for doing nothing to salvage the situation. Both the Pope and the Bishops watched helplessly as the atrocities were being conducted. The church is alleged to have responded that they were praying more for the Jews. Such a response at a time when people were dying is total ignorance of the events that were happening in the environment, thus propelled the genocide to recur until World War II.
The Jewish oppression move by Hitler was however opposed by some Germany's who perceived it as inhuman. The included the socialists, communists and union leaders. A group of communists and social democrats led by Marinus van der Lubbe protested against the persecution of the minority by the Nazi regime. Hitler did not however provide room for negotiations. Instead, he mobilized his team that convinced the then President von Hindenburg to sign a declaration depriving citizens of their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The communist representatives who tried opposing the Nazi were arrested and detained without charges.
The Jews themselves, just like any other group facing oppression, did not take in the torture while lying helpless. They devised various strategies and methods that helped them resist against the Nazis. Some went into forests for hiding and to continue practicing their Jewish Christian cultures like commemorating Jewish holidays and being taught by the rabbis, others initiated armed uprisings such as the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943 that saw the Jews fight back the Germans using smuggled guns and other war weapons, while others conducted secret mass exodus and escapes from the concentrated death camps.
For instance, there was a mass escape dubbed the escape from Sobibor that took place in October 1943. The Jews would attack German soldiers, take away their guns and other weapons including uniforms that they wore to disguise themselves and hence attacked the Nazis.
These death camps attracted the attention of allied forces like the USA that were provoked to initiate rescue missions. These allied forces began moving across Europe with an aim of setting free the camp prisoners detained in death camps. The allies also launched an initiative to liberate the camp prisoners through forced matches that were done from one camp to the other, an exercise that continued until May 1945, when the Germans voluntarily threw in their towels to the allies who had overpowered them. Those displaced found new shelters in the Internally Displaced Camps built by the allies, which served as temporary shelter structures as the surviving Jewish population started migrating to other countries like Israel and the USA, hence led to the closure of the IDP camps that were initially constructed.
In conclusion, it is evident that nothing is worse than active ignorance. Active ignorance magnifies the challenges the societies face today that could otherwise be solved to avert further consequences. Holocaust is not a myth but a reality in the modern world. Countries like Syria, Yugoslavia, Sudan and other Middle East regions have continuously faced wars that have caused the deaths of innocent civilians, rape among women, displacement and separation of families yet the international organs have turned a blind eye to these countries. Some help with vested personal interests thus fail to achieve intended goals of restoring peace. The situation can however change if ignorance is shunned. We should be swift to action as prevention is better than cure once the red lights have flicked to indicate danger.