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601241.  Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:09 am Reply with quote

You can't deny that people knew about the concentration camps existing. However, what many people weren't aware of was that some of these camps had turned into extermination camps.

There is evidence to show that knowledge of the extermination camps reached London as early as December 1941, but they were originally considered as "Bolshevik propaganda" as it seemed such an extreme idea.

By late 1942 more information had come through and was by now considered "possibly credible" and in April 1943 the Bermuda Conference discussed the situation. The inaction of the conference, coupled with the disastrous uprising in Warsaw, even led to the suicide of Szmul Zygielbojm.

The full extent of the horros of the camps did not become fully known until early 1944, when Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler managed to escape from Auschwitz and dictated a 32 page report which was passed on to the Allies. Parts of this report were made public by the BBC and New York Times in June, and this promptde political pressure on the Hungarian Government to stop deportation of Jews, which came into effect from early July and is estimated to have saved as many as 200,000 Jews.

601251.  Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:03 pm Reply with quote

Have now found a source - the snappy sounding "Dr. Goebbels on National-Socialist Germany and Her Contribution Towards World Peace" - a speech to the representatives of the international press at Geneva on September 28th 1933. The National Archives has a copy of it - a transcript from the German League of Nations Union News Service.

I think that qualifies for some kind of Source Of The Month award, Danny.

Curious Danny
601290.  Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:30 pm Reply with quote

Thank you, Thank you but i can't take the credit. I first became aware of it on a visit to the National Archives, thank them.

601311.  Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:55 pm Reply with quote

Nazi attitudes towards Jews were not unconnected with attitudes towards Jews held throughout Europe over the last fifteen hundred years or so. I think bobwilson's point about Nazi ideology is sound though:

bobwilson wrote:
The fundamental principle of Nazism was (and is) that there is an identifiable group which is naturally superior to all other groups - and that those other groups had to be neutralised/exterminated/subjugated.

601489.  Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:22 pm Reply with quote

Thanks Jenny. But to go back to exnihilo's point. I didn't say that the Nazi attitude towards Jews had nothing to do with ideology - in fact, quite the contrary. What I said was that the disproportionate effect on Jews was due to the proximity of Jews as available targets for their ire.

The Jews were a specific target, not because they were nearby but because they were the focus of the Nazi leaders' especial animus.

Yes and no. The Jews were a specific target because they were a (not the) focus of the Nazi leaders' especial animus. The large number of Jewish victims was because of their geographical proximity.

Certainly there were other groups involved, but the Nazi propaganda machine focused on the "Jewish Problem" from the outset and specifically targeted them

Yes it did - again because from a Germanic perspective the Jews were the immediate problem. They were, after all, inside Germany - whereas the slavs (another focus of Nazi ire) were mostly not.

Nobody is suggesting it was only Jews, but the suggestion that more died because they happened to be local is offensively wrong - the Nazis expended vast effort on rounding up Jews from every country under their influence to be sure they got them all.

I can't see why it is offensive to suggest that the sheer numbers was due to the logistics of the situation. The Nazi's intended to dispose of the untermensch - the Jews (along with others) were untermensch. Yes, they did expend vast effort on rounding up Jews - they also expended vast effort on rounding up the mentally ill, and they expended enormous effort on waging total war against the slavs in Russia.

And finally -
Nobody is suggesting it was only Jews

Unfortunately, in popular imagination the Holocaust is exclusively about the extermination of Jews. It may not be overtly stated or even suggested but there is a tacit understanding that the term Holocaust applies exclusively to the attempt to eradicate European Jewry

Curious Danny
601522.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:52 am Reply with quote

There is a bit of debate on that point - many consider the Holocaust to just be the jews specifically, but the extermination of jews was the worst aspect (by sheer numbers) of a wider aim to purge Germany of all undesirables.
I also believe many Jews actually prefer the phrase "The Shoah" - which means calamity - rather than "burnt/sacrificied"

601552.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:04 am Reply with quote

Yes, Jews use Shoah, and commemorate Yom Ha'Shoah on an entirely other day to when the UN and the UK Government commemorate the Holocaust. If "people" (and I'd be interested to know which ones) use Holocaust to mean only the Jews, I can't think why: Israel and Yad Vashem don't, my school didn't teach it that way, I don't teach it that way now - and I have no reason to believe my education/experience to be wildly at variance with everyone else's. Certainly nowadays when every group is at pains to remind people of their suffering whenever Holocaust Memorial Day comes around - even those not affected at all.

601557.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:38 am Reply with quote

If "people" (and I'd be interested to know which ones) use Holocaust to mean only the Jews....

I'd be interested too.

Special bonus points for anyone who can find a document that purports to be a reputable source that makes such a claim.

601592.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:49 am Reply with quote

The Colombia guide to the holocaust. ISBN 0-231-11200-9

The Holocaust is commonly defined as the mass murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans during World War II. (my bolding)

then it talks about some 'people' not being content with this definition and including gypsies,mentally deficients etc etc.

I know the holocaust involved lots of groups, but whenever the holocaust is mentioned I immediately think of its impact on Jews. I don't know if this is caused by my upbringing or the 'atmosphere' I am in.

Last edited by soup on Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:53 am; edited 1 time in total

601595.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:51 am Reply with quote

I have to admit that I also find it a little offensive that people will contend the Jews only suffered in WW2 because fo tehir proximity.

It's easy to take certain passages from a speech here or a couple of lines written in a book there, but that doesn't give you the whole picture.

The Nazi treatment of Jews wasn't entirely Hitler's fault, he led the party and may have spoken out against the Jews, but he was merely tapping into the hatred many people had for Jews, and both he and his regime were certainly not beneath dealing with certain non Aryan groups when it came to dealing with Jews abroad.

That other groups suffered is not in question, that other groups faced extreme persecution in various areas is not in question either, but one group suffered more than others when it came to active deportation from all areas and widespread persecution, not only from Nazis, but from many other groups at the time.

I think it's far too easy for us to accept today that it could have only been extremists who had such attitudes, but you need to remember that majority of people today have gained their education after 1962 and therefore did not live with the accepted "truth" that the Vatican and others taught up till then, which was that all Jews are responsible for the death of Christ. For many Europeans in the early half of the 20th century, Jews were a much vilified group of people.

601615.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:39 am Reply with quote

Entering the mindset of the past is one of the hardest acts of historical imagination I think. For example, those of us who remember the struggle for civil rights in the USA in the sixties, or the work of the feminist movement in the 70s, are far more conscious of how hard-won those rights were than people born after that time. Similarly, those of us born in the decade after WW2 have had our minds irrevocably marked with the legacy of the Holocaust, and a far sharper awareness of the dangers of religious and racial prejudice than those who came later.

You might be interested in looking at the Beloir College Mindset List for the class of 2013 (that is people entering college now):


The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013

Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.

1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
2. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
5. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
7. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
9. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
10. Rap music has always been main stream.
11. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
12. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
13. The KGB has never officially existed.
14. Text has always been hyper.
15. They never saw the “Scud Stud” (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)
16. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
17. They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
18. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
19. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
20. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
21. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
22. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
23. The European Union has always existed.
24. McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
25. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
26. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
27. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
28. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
29. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
30. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
31. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
32. The nation’s key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
33. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
36. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
38. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
39. It's always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.
40. Madonna’s perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
44. There have always been flat screen televisions.
45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
46. Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.
48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.
49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
52. They have never been Saved by the Bell
53. Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.
58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
59. For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in doubt.
60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.
61. “Womyn” and “waitperson” have always been in the dictionary.
62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.
63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
65. Avon has always been “calling” in a catalog.
66. NATO has always been looking for a role.
67. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.
68. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.
69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.
70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
71. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.
72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
73. Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
75. There has always been blue Jell-O.

601624.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:29 am Reply with quote

It's one of the greatest obstacles I encounter in teaching history, Jenny, students that cannot seem to imagine that things in the past were other than they are now - I've banged on about it at length on here before, so I won't repeat myself.

601627.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:38 am Reply with quote

I won't repeat myself.

I thought that's what history was all about.


601690.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:06 am Reply with quote

It's scary to think that people in their 20s now, who I identify with quite readily (hanging onto my youth) cannot understand the frustration of knowing that an Apartheid Government actually exists or that despite the rhetorics of hardline leaders, many rural Arabs were very friendly and welcoming, with large thriving Jewish communities in various Middle Eastern countries - even as far as Afghanistan.

Until about 4 years ago I wasn't aware of the impact of the second Vatican and other events of the time on cultural relationships and took the view that most people in the Nazi party and beyond were simply too afraid not to follow orders, but I then read a book which contained interviews with many low ranking Nazis which were taken straight after WW2 and then 10 and 20 years later (I don't remember the name of the book, but I'll try and find out), and it was amazing to see how strong their attitudes were even 10 years later, and that 20 years later they still retained many of the same attitudes, but with a "realisation" that some of their reasons were wrong. It was interesting to see how the social culture several years after WW2 was so different that it was impacting on their attitudes, and therefore would have had even greater impact on the young generations coming up.

601915.  Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:05 pm Reply with quote

If "people" (and I'd be interested to know which ones) use Holocaust to mean only the Jews, I can't think why

Ask a random selection of people what "The Holocaust" was and I am confident that the majority response will be along the lines of "extermination of the Jews". If a follow up question is offered asking if any other group was involved there'd probably be an even split between gypsies and the mentally ill with third placed runners of various identities.

Put another way, I'm confident that Holocaust is popularly equivalent to extermination of European Jewry.

Having said that, CB27 does make the point rather better and may be correct.


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