When we think about the Holocaust, most people think of the atrocities and wickedness of the Nazi regime perpetrated against those deemed inferior. Naturally people want to believe that they would never stoop to participate in in such vile actions, but at the end of the day it was the German masses and their supporters that followed Hitler’s lead and participated in the Holocaust. One of the main reasons the Holocaust was so successful was Hitler’s use of propaganda, and the charisma he had when giving speeches. Inspiring the German masses to blame the failure of Germany in World War I and the repercussions brought down upon them by the Versailles Treaty on the Jews and other minority groups deemed racially inferior. By offering the German people a scapegoat to release the disdain they had for the depression brought about by the Versailles Treaty, Hitler was able to inspire patriotism and unity of the German people under his rule. Once Hitler had won the hearts of the German people, it was easy for him to plant the seeds of anti-Semitism, and turned the average German into a tool for the enactment of his “final solution” to the Jewish problem.
Naturally, a select few people could see through the anti-Semitic and nationalistic rhetoric put on by the Third Reich, and some even opposed the Nazi regime. Being of Jewish descent, honoring the bravery of those who, under the threat of death, opposed the Nazis and saved the lives of those who were targeted for Hitler’s Holocaust. Remembering those who put the value of human life above the bigotry of the Nazi party, serves to inspire others to do the same should similar circumstances ever arise somewhere else. Remembering those who resisted the intolerance and hate in the world that surrounded them, display that even in the most turbulent times, kindness and love can still prevail. While the stories of the atrocities of those who took part in the holocaust, along with those who resisted, is by no means the answer to ending genocide, these stories inspire the future generations to be more open-minded and willing to help the downtrodden.
Hitler’s Holocaust was not the first or the last genocide to occur in history. In the 20thcentury alone, anywhere between 11,407,493 and 39,321,983 people died as victims of genocide. With major advancements in technology it has become much easier to spread ideas, sway public opinion, and conduct the actual the actual means of genocide. Even today in the Rohingya persecution in Myanmar continues today where the Myanmar government and Buddhist extremists are targeting a small Muslim population. With the access to the knowledge of the world at our fingertips, actions are being taken to bring an end to this ethnic cleansing and to help resettle the Rohingya refugees. This is shocking due to the peaceful and non-violent teaching of Buddhism, but serves as an example that those who would be least expected to commit heinous acts are very much capable of being active members of genocide.
My name is Andrew Yaunches. I am an American Jew who is studying history. I am deeply connected to my heritage and I seek to understand and uncover the truths of the darkest days in not only Jewish history, but the history of us as humanity as a whole.