Holocaust Memorials REL 4193
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Christop Hahn on Monday October 12, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to REL 4193 at Florida International University taught by Oren Stier in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 54 views. For similar materials see /class/221758/rel-4193-florida-international-university in Religion at Florida International University.
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Date Created: 10/12/15
Notes on Robert Wistrich Hitler and the Holocaust NY Modern Library 2003 For IDS4920U04REL41935619 Holocaust MemoryHolocaust Representations Dr Oren Stier Introduction At the heart of Nazism was a millenarian ideology an apocalyptic ideology of anti Semitism XiiXiii what does millenarian mean A nal con ict between good and evil belief in the coming of a utopian age belief in the end of the world Redemption Erl sung of the Aryan people depended on the Final Solution Endl sung to the Jewish Question While anti Semitism was not a vote catcher for the Nazi movement once in power Hitler and his henchmen applied it brutally converting classic Christian antiJudaism to modern racist anti Semitism I m not convinced there is much of a difference OS Note that the Holocaust was a panEuropean event The Nazi myth of the Jews as a wellorganized international power with clearly defined goals and common racial interests could not therefore have been further removed from reality The Jews were in fact disorganized relatively powerless lacking in solidarity or any agreed political agenda Before and during the Holocaust they did not have a State an army a common territory or ag let alone a coherent organizational center Hitler s war found the Jews trapped and virtually defenseless against a ruthless enemy bent on their total destruction in a world largely indifferent to their fate xvii I AntiSemitism and the Jews While the Holocaust was neither the first nor the last attempted genocide of the 20Lh century it was unprecedented largely because the Jews were seen to be engaged in a universal conspiracy against the Aryan peoples and thus required their total annihilation The intense demonization of Jews leads us to wonder if Nazism isn t a radical inversion of a fundamentally Jewish worldview making Nazism a blasphemous gloss on or a grotesque parody of Jewish chosenness To put it bluntly there could not be two chosen peoples 8 The story of the rise of Christianity is complex but we can certainly acknowledge the negative picture of Jews developed first in passages in the New Testament children of your father the Devil the synagogue of Satan in the enduring image of Judas as a symbol of Jewish treachery and cowardice in the writings of the Church Fathers in various and multitude harsh portrayals Through the ages all of this served to delegitimize the Judaic parent religion from which Christianity itself had sprung 11 Note that in recent years much has improved in this regard Perhaps most importantly centuries of Christian antiJudaism bequeathed to the Nazis a powerful arsenal of antiJewish myths images and fantasies 13 With the era of European emancipation a new aspect of antiJudaism added itself to the Christian imagery the notion of the Jew with dual and thus suspect national loyalties II From Weimar to Hitler Rise of V llq39scb racist antiSemitic groups in postWWI German society most militant of which was the German National Socialist Workers Party NSDAP or Nazi Party founded in Munich in 1919 After the failed coup of 1923 its leader Adolf Hitler was jailed for only 9 months of a light 5year sentence during which he wrote M6111 Kampf which became the Nazi Bible The book is permeated by obsessions with racial purity as well as by the social Darwinist principle of a relentless battle of each nation Volk for its own selfpreservation and a need for more living space lebensraum in the east 3 8 All this was infused with a crude REL4193 Wism39ch notes 2 Christian religious sensibility of a Holy War with divine sanction against the Jews seen as a counterrace and understood in dehumanized zoological and or microbial language as a people intent on infecting the German V01kwith impurity The Nazi Party s peak performance under strictly democratic conditions garnered 373 of the vote in July 1932 the percentage fell a bit in Nov 1932 with a starkly nationalist platform that pushed antiSemitism to the background Hitler became Chancellor in a coalition deal with the rightwing nationalists who desperately wanted to crush the leftwing politicians and needed the Nazi numbers to do so they thought they could control Hitler Immediately however Nazi antiSemitic legislation was enacted along with book burnings and boycotts While new laws encouraged as many Jews to emigrate as other nations would allow some Jews who stayed saw such increasingly legalized racial separation as possibly stabilizing their position in Germany and not posing such a great threat Soon enough neither was a tenable position for German Jewry III Persecution and Resistance Kn39stallnacbt 9 Nov 1938 was mainly orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels and was a turning point on the road to the Holocaust as it marked a return to an apocalyptic antiSemitism See p 67 for an excerpt from the infamous Reichstag speech of 13039 At least until November 1938 there was a degree of public German consensus on the Jewish Question Thereafter was developed a more radical policy of expelling Jews entirely from Germany s social and political space 70 a policy that itself was complicated by the addition of over one million Jews to the German sphere of in uence with the invasion of Poland in Sept 39 One way the Nazis implemented their agenda regarding European Jewry was through the Judenra39te the Councils of Jewish Elders that were appointed to administer each Jewish community in the newly conquered eastern areas particularly in the newly created Jewish ghettos which served to turn Jews into the stereotypes imagined by antiSemites In this way Nazis implicated the Jewish leadership in the bureaucratic process of their own destruction this raises the complicated issue of collaboration see p 74 And yet there were various forms of resistance in the ghettos testament to the resilience of Jewry and in retrospect crucial aspects to a heroic master narrative including the most wellknown armed resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto 4 19 51543 and other locations IV The Final Solution From 193941 the Nazis still had not worked out a clear policy re Jews or Poles for that matter though that period did prove to be a testing phase for Nazi racial ambitions Only with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 did a plan for the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question emerge as it provided a precondition for the Final Solution and brought out once more Hitler s apocalyptic thinking It was first put into practice by the Eznsatzgruppen battalions mobile killing units working along with many collaborators behind the front lines on the vast Russian front and murdering over one million Jews in the first 18 months of the Soviet campaign But the methods of the Einsatzgruppen were cumbersome and put a great burden on the perpetrators new more humane methods had to be developed Gas vans were instituted first mobile then stationary beginning with the Chelmno death camp in 1241 Belzec in eastern Poland the first camp with permanent gas chambers was established in 342 with AuschwitzBirkenau the largest of the camp complexes gassing Jews shortly thereafter By the time of the Wannsee Conference of 120 42 whose main purpose was REL4193 Wistrich notes 3 to coordinate a comprehensive plan for the elimination of European Jewry many of the aspects of the Final Solution had already been implemented From then on even the language Nazi officials used to speak of Jews was increasingly racial hygienic and radical among other things blaming the war Germany had embarked upon as having been started by the Jews above all a sacred mission see pp 116 17 As Wistrich suggests these views are the first acts of Holocaust denial V Between the Cross and the Swastika Hitler borrowed heavily from Christian language and imagery to describe his war with the Jews adopting a picture of a militantly antiSemitic Jesus Hitler made much of the slogan of a positive Christianity as a nationalist version of Christianity that would be compatible with Nazism and many Protestants went along especially the German Christians Catholics were more resistant but restricted themselves in accordance with a Concordat signed by the Vatican to nonpolitical roles with its only real criticism of Nazi policies expressed in the papal encyclical Mt Brennende Sarge With Deep Anxiety issued by Poe Pius XI in 1937 Most Christian leaders and lay members with a few notable exceptions remained silent during the period of Nazi atrocities and even those few protests were primarily against the euthanasia program not against treatment of Jews This is surprising considering how antiChristian the Nazi movement really was They no longer made any secret of their contempt for Christian ideals of charity meekness and humility inimical as they were to the Germanic warrior ethos 135 In sum The Churches both Catholic and Protestant were unable to shake off the ageold teaching of contempt towards the Jews though they neither conceived collaborated in nor approved of the Holocaust 147 VI Collaboration across Europe Remember that the Holocaust really began in the Soviet Union in a remarkably public way with the help of many collaborators especially local police for whose service there was never a shortage of volunteers Areas such as Ukraine Lithuania Romania Hungary and Croatia were especially nasty On the other hand in certain countries the Nazi agenda was thwarted such as Bulgaria and Denmark the only country where the entire Jewish community was saved as a result of popular opposition to the Nazis During High Holiday services there in October 1943 rabbis communicated the deportation plan to their congregants giving them enough time to hide or ee across the water to neutral Sweden Another example of a nation sabotaging Nazi antiSemitic policies is Italy where about 15 of the Jewish population was murdered a number that would have been much higher without humanitarian resistance from many Italians VII Britain America and the Holocaust There are three main components to the indictment that America and Britain were indifferent to the fate of European Jewry America s highly restrictive immigration policies refusal or obstruction of German offers to negotiate for Jews safety and the unwillingness of the Air Force to bomb Auschwitz or its railway lines The US was indeed xenophobic and anti Semitic in the prewar years and the State Department especially so American Jewry itself felt powerless to act in the face of these difficulties and their own precarious position and of course Jews of the stbuvin Palestine could do little Worse still was Britain s steadfast refusal to allow Jews entry to Palestine See pp 209210 REL4193 Wism39ch notes 4 VIII Modernity and the Nazi Genocide Scholars have increasingly seen the Nazi era as a direct product of modernity for example as a result of technological rationalization But the Holocaust also displays many archaic attributes as evidenced in the Einsatzgruppen killings along the eastern front and other modes of killing up to 40 of Holocaust victims And one cannot discount Nazi greed for expropriation of Jewish property One must be careful not to discount Nazi racism and genocidal impulses and normalize Nazi policies as merely modernist deviance A similar risk of normalization is inherent in the view of the functionalists who suggest that Nazism was not the product of any grand design and imply that its leaders stumbled into the most extreme criminal behavior ZZZ3 Thus ideology remains central to understanding Nazism What was truly modern about Nazism was its killing methods and especially their organization What was truly depraved about Nazi methods was the designating of much of the dirty work to the Jews themselves See pp 23940 for summation The reason for the continuing power of the Holocaust is surely linked to the big question iwhy did it happen 239 Without an answer we may indeed be condemned to repeat this catastrophic past from the UK edition p 244
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