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Hitler’s holocaust: Understanding the politics and society of Hitler’s Germany

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  1. Introduction
  2. Jewish Nationalism
  3. Hitler's rise to power
  4. The uniqueness of Hitler's anti-semitic ideology
  5. Techniques for integrating their radical ideology into society
  6. Pre-existing facets of anti-semitism
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

Certainly one of the greatest tragedies of human history, much has been done to uncover the complexity of the Holocaust. While many facts remain clear within a historical context, countless others involve the intricacy of the human psyche and must be evaluated among a variety of factors. The necessary considerations for understanding this complexity involve a careful examination of the historical, ideological, sociological, psychological, and political aspects enveloping the Holocaust. This paper will seek to briefly incorporate all of these concerns in order to better understand the events that led up to the horrifying phenomenon we know as the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitism has certainly enjoyed a long and complex history that through the ages has taken many diverse forms. The earliest forms existed in Medieval Europe primarily due to the influence of the Catholic Church. Here we see the most extreme form of religious anti-Semitism with the Jews, regarded as a religious sect, being blamed for the persecution and murder of Jesus, whom the Christians regarded as their savior. The Protestant Revolution brought no relief to the Jews in terms of tolerance since many of these ?new? Christians were exposed to the writings of Martin Luther and his extreme anti-Semitic ideology. Even during the Enlightenment in Western Europe, Jews were still viewed as religious outsiders and confined to limited access within the social realm. As this anti-Semitic legacy evolved throughout Europe there came with it an increased notion of nationalism and Jews, always viewed as religious outsiders, were soon being regarded as a nation of outsiders.

[...] Philippe Burrin describes Hitler's ideology as following: ?This anti-Semitism of Hitler's combined all the three variants of modern anti-Semitism: Christian anti-Semitism through Hitler's ?Christian rhetoric' defending myself against the Jew, I fight to defend the Lord's work'); national anti-Semitism, through his presentation of a Germany under mortal threat from the foreign presence and antinational behavior of the Jews; and racist anti-Semitism, of course, for this provided the general framework. This was, in short, a particularity successful example of syncretism, capable of branching out in every direction and producing an at least superficial consensus.? Burrin argues that Hitler's anti-Semitism relied on an apocalyptic schema?a purely secular version, but no less cosmic in terms of its significance. [...]

[...] Among these are ?name calling??that is, identifying the Jews as the enemies of Germany and an ?alien nation?; ?glittering generalities,? which deals with bolstering the ego of German brotherhood and the Volk with quasi-scientific ?biological mythology,? as well as ?card stacking? which under or overemphasizes various ideas in order to gain credibility. Yourman points to a section of Mein Kampf in which Hitler states Propaganda does not have to seek objectively for the truth so far as it favors an opponent but exclusively has to serve our interests? (156) Obviously, the techniques identified here work in a variety of situations and viewed alone have been the basis for many to argue that the German people were thus tricked and had no way of knowing Hitler's ultimate goals. [...]

[...] Around this time, the pan-German movement began promoting the idea of the Volk?the folk people of all German speaking lands and colored history as the constant battle between those of Teutonic stock and Jewry. This type of anti-Semitism can be understood as a hybrid of both religious anti- Semitism, as Jews were still regarded as opponents to Christianity and its purity, as well as racial anti-Semitism, due to the significance placed on national heritage, language, and cultural identity. The foundation of Nazi anti-Semitism views the ?Aryan' race as superior by virtue of its physical characteristics and spiritual qualities and as constrained to do battle in order to overcome the destructive influences of the Jewish race. [...]

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