Typically, discussion of the Holocaust characterizes Nazi annihilationist policies as uniquely barbaric. But how unique were they? To what extent should we see the Holocaust as a culmination of Europe’s history of violence — think of the legacy of European colonialism as well as the experience of mass death and ethnic cleansing during and after WWI — rather than a break from Europe’s democratic and legal traditions?
Read this selection to learn about the Jews and the Nazi regime, social science and the Holocaust, and the explanations of the Holocaust.
The Effects of the Second World War:
The aftereffects of World War II included the creation of the United Nations and new economic organizations, the Nuremberg trials, and the remembrance of the Holocaust.
The Effects of the Second World War –
Read this selection that describes the Nremburg trials and analyzes their effects.
The modern history of the state of Israel is discussed here in this excerpt from Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right: Volume 1:The Left and Volume 2:The Right.
Holocaust a Culmination of Europe’s History of Violence
The holocaust began in the year 1933 and ended in 1945. It was amongst the most vicious episodes in the history of the world. It was the assault of the Nazis against the Jews. Even so, other racial groups were also killed, including Asiatics, Slavs, and Gypsies. Germans of African decent were sterilized by force (Lipstadt, 2016). This paper discusses the extent to which the holocaust should be considered as a culmination of Europe’s history of violence.
Europe’s history of violence can be seen to have occurred from the 16th century through to the ending of World War 2 in the 20th century. It started with the European colonization in the 1500s as European countries began worldwide colonial expansion. Countries including France, Holland, Portugal, Britain, Russia, and Spain established colonial spheres of influence, chiefly in the Americas, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. European colonialists used harsh measures to maintain control in these regions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and part of the 20th century (Ziltener, Kunzler & Walter, 2017). In Africa for instance, they utilized coercive measures, which included violence and forced labor that eventually crippled entire Africa. Violence was considered necessary for creating submissive labourers (Ziltener, Kunzler & Walter, 2017).
Europe’s history of violence then continued with mass death, genocide and ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing is understood as the attempt to remove through mass killing, displacement or deportation, people of an unwanted ethnicity with the aim of establishing an ethnically homogenous geographic region (Lipstadt, 2016). Although cleansing campaigns for religious or ethnic reasons have taken place throughout history in Europe, the emergence of extreme nationalist movements at the start of the twentieth century resulted in a record level of ethnically motivated violence in the continent. An example is the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians in the First World War. In 1915, the Young Turk regime in Turkey called the mass murder of Armenians as the annihilation of dangerous bacteria (Tunc, 2016).
Another incidence of violence in Europe took place in 1932 and 1933 in the Soviet Union when its brutal tyrant Joseph Stalin created a human-made famine in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine that led to the death of about 7 – 10 million ethnic Ukrainians. It was death by starvation after Stalin carefully thought about how to deport the whole Ukrainian nation since he considered ethnic Ukrainians as being troublesome. However, twenty million Ukrainians were simply very many for him to move. Therefore, rather than deport them, he found a different solution, namely starvation. Secret law enforcement officers and Soviet troops attacked the villages of ethnic Ukrainians, looted their harvests plus all the food inside their homes (Patrikarakos, 2017).
The holocaust is certainly the most well known case in point of extremist nationalism-fuelled ethnic cleansing wherein the Nazis carried out an extensive campaign against Jews from 1933 to 1945 in the German-controlled territory (Lipstadt, 2016). The campaign started with cleansing through deporting the Jews and concluded with the horrendous Final Solution in which an estimated 250,000 homosexuals, 250,000 Gypsies, and 6 million Jews were annihilated in mass killing centres and concentration camps (Marrus, 2015). Following the defeat of Germany in 1945, the ending of the Second World War, and the creation of the United Nations, there has never been another major incident of violence in Europe. As such, the holocaust can be considered to have effectively culminated the violence in Europe in 1945.
In sum, the holocaust was indeed a culmination of Europe’s violence history. The continent’s history of violence dates back to the 1500s with the commencement of European colonialism, which continued until the 20th century. During this time, European colonialists in different parts of the world considered violence and brutality as necessary to ensure submission of the locals. Ethnic cleansing and mass murder campaigns began in the first quarter of the 20th century with the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians in the First World War. The 1933-1945 holocaust was by far the most brutal incident of European violence as over six million ethnic Jews were massacred. Given that a major incidence of violence had never happened in Europe again since 1945 when the holocaust ended, the holocaust can be seen as the culmination of the continent’s history of violence.
Lipstadt, D. E. (2016). Holocaust: An American Understanding. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Marrus, M. R. (2015). Lessons of the Holocaust. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division.
Patrikarakos, D. (2017). Why Stalin starved Ukraine. New Republic Daily, 34(4): 1-8.
Tunc, A. (2016). Geopolitics of denial: Turkish State’s ‘Armenian Problem.’ Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 18(2): 6-18.
Ziltener, P., Kunzler, D., & Walter, A. (2017). Measuring the impacts of colonialism: A new data set for the countries of Africa and Asia. JWSR, 23(1): 43-58