The Extermination Of The Jews


The Extermination Of The Jews Essay, Research Paper

The first 13 of the 18 documents, collectively called The

Extermination of the Jews, were not in any way new stories to me. In

fact I came into this book with the same attitude that I usually do

when faced with Holocaust stories, that of “Yes it was horrible, but I

know all about it already. This reading isn’t going to do anything to

my attitude.” I, as I always am in thinking such a thought, was wrong.

No matter how much you know, no matter how many Holocaust survivors

speak to you, no matter how much you read about it, no matter how much

the atrocities are ingrained into you mind, you can never be immune.

You are always horrified by this extermination, and every time that

you read about any incident you are more disgusted than the last.

You are always reminded that these people that were being slaughtered

like animals were not much different than yourself or anybody that you

know. It does not matter whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or

any other religion, you have to sympathize with these people because

they are people. Despite whatever the Nazis tried to make them into,

one can easily see that is was not the Jews who were sub-human, but

the vicious, blood-thirsty Nazi murderers who were the animals.

Many of these readings reminded me of the questionWhere were

the people? Where were those who said, `NO! This is wrong!’? Why would

no one stand up to such an obvious wrong?” The ninth document shows

how the Nazis eliminated Jews’ rights. It amazes me that there weren’t

more non-Jews who would speak out against these ridiculous, arbitrary

laws. Can fear truly silence a person to the point of just accepting

the dehumanization and deaths of millions of people? I still cannot

bring myself to believe that this is human nature. No thinking human

being could accept this, yet an entire nation bowed to the insane

will of a madman. Clearly, somewhere in human nature is an innate

passivity possessed by many people. This passivity must be so powerful

that it can silence those who wish to be active, who will stand up for

what is right. Is it not reasonable then to think that ,despite all of

the good intentions and courage that people display, it could happen


Document five shows how a person can be fooled into believing

in the superiority of one group over another. Globocnik must have felt

this way or he would never be able to make boasts about burying bronze

tablets in order to commemorate his murderous work. What does it take

to make a human, the only known sentient creature, pride himself of

doing something that is below even the barest of creatures? It was

this document that was the most shocking to me. Where the others show

the suffering of those the Nazis captured and killed, this one shows

in ghastly detail how some delighted in the misery these people.

The final five documents attempt to show varying explanations

as to how this abomination known as the Holocaust could have occurred.

The first, an excerpt form Machiavelli’s The Prince shows reasons that

Hitler was able to retain such control over the population. He states

that fear enables a ruler to retain perfect control over those he

rules. Indeed this was one of Hitler’s strategies. He scared people

into not reacting by using the threats of imprisonment and death. The

statements made by Hobbes attempt to prove that man is naturally evil.

Although upon first glance at the Holocaust one may think that this is

true, it seems that a more accurate representation would be that some

people are evil, and that they when in power can influence the

primarily neutral population. Locke’s view of the rationality in man’s

nature seems an absurd optimistic opinion after reading all of the

offenses against humanity. Although there may well be people governed

by rationality they quite obviously cannot make up the bulk of those

living or such illogical random acts of cruelty and evil , such as the

Holocaust, could not occur. Ardrey makes statements that there is a

natural instinct for man to be aggressive. Indeed this may be true, as

it explains the behavior of the Nazi executioners. Without some sort

of murderous tendency it would not be possible to kill that many

defenseless people. Skinner’s opinion that the actions of a man are a

direct result of his surrounding situations effectively explains the

reasons for the Holocaust happening. The surrounding conditions of

economic depression and a general anti-Semitic attitude enabled

Germans to accept something that they would abhor under other

circumstances. Providing the hatred of the Jews was not an accepted

attitude, Hitler would not have been able to implement his “Final


In actuality it would seem that none of the philosophers that

deal with human nature are entirely correct. Instead a combination is

probably true. Maybe some people are evil by nature, but there is a

great enough population of logical, good people to normally keep the

general attitude of a neutral nature. It is when those of a warlike

nature come to power that such an evil policy as genocide may be

instituted. yet another 9-12th grade Holocaust essay:

More facts give more answers, which lead to more questions.

Unlike the first set of readings, which could have been stories that I

have heard before, most of the facts expressed here were completely

new to me. I have always been taught that the world stood idle while

the Nazis proceeded to slaughter the Jewish people. Never, however,

were the stories of those who stood up, those who did what is the

humanly right thing to do, told to me. Bravery should not have been a

factor. People should have reacted despite of their fear if they saw

the slaughter of an entire group of people for truly no reason.

Unfortunately this was not true. The goodness of those who did

something, such as Father Lichtenerg and King Christian X of Denmark,

should be acknowledged, not as acts of superhuman kindness, but as

acts of a human level when the rest of the world was acting with sub-

human passivity.

Were those who did nothing when they had the chance as guilty

as the Nazi murderers themselves? Did they just as much deserve to be

put on trial at Nuremberg? Fear is a powerful force, but is it one

that should be an excuse for the destruction of our basic, human sense

of right and wrong, to the extent where we allow the vile act of

murder to be carried out without intervention? I can never for one

instant imagine a person not so angry and disgusted by these

deplorable criminals that he or she would just say, as the man did in

the case of Catherine Genovese, “I didn’t want to get involved.”

Didn’t want to get involved? This was not some stupid squabble over

some ridiculous point. THIS WAS MURDER! Human lives were needlessly

lost because people were too absorbed in their own fears of being hurt

or of losing power. The reaction of the American Jews was inexcusable.

In fact, it seems even more horrible than that of the others that

succumbed to passivity. They let their own people die. How can anyone

find any excuse for something like that? The book states that the

world most intellectual, thinking people did nothing. If this is so

how can they claim the title of intellectual? Is the failure to react

not enough to show that they have no right to hold the title of a

thinking person?

It is sad to have read the words uttered and written by those

who were the victims of the Nazi atrocities. The section of the

book is titled Behavior Under Stress, but upon reading the outpour of

emotions conveyed by the victims one can plainly see that the word

stress, or any other, could describe the situations of these people.

The section that struck me the hardest was the one called “We Got Used

to…”. It simply amazes me that people could become accustomed to the

dreaded conditions that existed within Auschwitz. To live ones daily

life knowing that any day could be the day of your own slaughter, to

witness it happening to those around you, to have to wait for it in

the pains of hunger, disease, and beatings, is a situation which I

cannot see myself not becoming insane under, much less getting used

to. To think that these people’s disastrous fate was brought about

because people were too afraid to speak up makes me sick.

It is stated that those who served under Adolf Hitler were

proved perfectly sane by the Rorschach tests administered to them. As

Molly Harrower points out, this is much more scary than if the results

came back saying that they were the most horridly evil psychopaths

ever to walk the earth. Because the test shows that they were sane, it

provides clear evidence that human nature is such that the corruption

of the mass media can lead to the corruption of the mind in even the

most “normal” of individuals. This shows that we must actively think

about everything put before us before accepting it. If we do not we

run the risk of becoming as bad as those who served under the king of

the murderers, Adolf Hitler. Still another 9-12th grade Holocaust


As with the first reaction paper, the first grouping of

readings did not surprise me, as I have had experience dealing with

things such as those displayed. The first two excerpts from Brave New

World and 1984 were recognizable to me as I am familiar with both

works. Orwell’s book, the one with which I have had the most

experience with, had the scene which I had always deemed the most

frightening excerpted from it. O’Brian’s prophetic view of the

totalitarian state is shocking and appalling. Unfortunately the reason

for the terror felt when the description is given is because it is

shockingly real. Orwell based his description of Oceania under the

rule of the Party was actually based on the regimes of Stalin and

Hitler, and thus it is perfectly possible that it could happen in our

world, not only a dystopian science fiction novel. Huxley shows how

appealing to a people’s sense of a stable situation even if they must

surrender all that is individual about them to the state. The

Controller attempts to relate that there are truly different ranks of

people, some meant to lead and some to serve in sub-human condition.

Both of these ideas were prevalent in Hitler’s Germany, and both are

reprehensible by any who value their sense of individuality.

The readings from number 76 to 79 are even more examples that

demonstrate how not only that things comparable to the Holocaust could

happen again, but how they are a constant in history. Is it part of

human nature to look for a scapegoat? Repeated examples show that some

people are simply blind to the evil inherent in activities as vile as

the enslavement and mass killing of someone simply because of their

ethnic grouping. People think that Hitler was evil and destructive,

well thy are right, but so too were those Americans who advocated the

concepts of slavery, and the denial of rights to those of Japanese

descent during World War II. Clearly there must be some dark aspect in

human nature that causes us to behave so hatefully towards others. If

this is true how can humans hope to continue to exist as a successful


By far the reading that held my attention the most, even more

than the ones about death, destruction, and slavery, was the one

called Obedience to Authority. It seemed to answer many of my

questions concerning the servile nature of people expressed in the

previous reaction paper. It does however raise even more questions as

it provides answers. What is going through a person’s mind as he

knowingly inflicts unbearable pain on someone who has done him no harm

at all? How is the power of authority enough to override the human

conscience? The sociologist makes an excellent point when he states

,”what is the correct balance between individual initiative and

authority?” Indeed this is a question that we must ask if we are to

proceed in a workable society. We cannot have a world without

leadership, but similarly we should not surrender our individuality to

the state or we come closer to the negative utopias described in 1984

and Brave New World.

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