Auschwitz

seuss

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what's interesting is that the true horror of the nazi regime is generally always worse than you think.

picking an area - at random - of social policy in the third reich demonstrates just how incredibly overriding the racial determinism of the nazi regime was.

for example; the nazis continued hanging children until february 1945. some of these children were merely classed as politically undesirable due to their upbringing in 'ideologically contaminated' households. i've seen pictures of clearings in forests where fifty children under ten swing from makeshift one-stop gallows. when you consider that these were predominantly German children; children with mentall illness, or communist parents; then you begin to appreciate the full scale of the horror.

it really was almost arbitrary. the nazi's determination to create a people's community - the much-vaunted volksgemeinschaft - was a binary division that naturally proposed the 'community aliens' - people who lived outside that community, and would have to be treated accordingly.

everyone knows that jews, gypsies and homosexuals were sent to camps; but the very first nazi concentration camp was in the crowded city centre, a small affair packed with mostly the homeless. among those who were later dispatched to the far more destructive and barbaric eastern camps:

-jews
-gypsies (roma were divided into 'ethnic' & 'social' groupings)
-the homeless
-the 'work-shy'
-alcoholics
-the 'genetically inferior' (this meant, in practice, anyone with hereditary illness - or even a history of such illness)
-the 'racially impure'
-communists
-socialists
-political activists
-common or petty criminals
-those who had 'endangered the wellbeing of the german people'.

most people - i wouldn't entirely believe the metro's poll - who think of the holocaust think of auschwitz.

in a way, it makes sense; simply because of the scale of the killing there, the size of the place, the resonance that pictures from auschwitz still emit.

to me, however, auschwitz is not the most sinister aspect of the nazi regime. auschwitz was not intended to be a death camp; it was a KZ, a concentration camp - an invention of the british - and later a labour camp.

what's most disturbing for me are the Aktion Reinhard camps. these were literally factories of death; built for one reason, and one alone: the extermination of entire subsections of humanity.

treblinka, sobibor, belzec, chelmno - these were the places which were hastily constructed and just as hastily taken apart once they'd fulfilled their regional purposes. there's something just so intrinsically evil about it; a facility, built in the forests, which operates for a few months - during which it serves merely to exterminate people. it's just so creepy.

another example of the sheer fucking atrocity was found by a young albert speer jr. (son of 'hitler's architect'). he was taken to Himmler's mistress's house; upstairs there was a 'special room' which she showed the children - who were 4 & 10 at the time.

inside this room were some strange objects; a large, pale-bound copy of mein kampf, a funny looking three-legged table, a chair that seemed odd. then it dawned on him that everything in the room was made out of people.

the book was bound with what himmler called the best skin of a person, from the back; the chair had human legs, the backrest was made of arms... i just cannot imagine the horror that this represented, in a civilised nation.

i lost family in the holocaust; both on my grandfather's side (fighting as partisans in the tatra mountains) and my grandmother's (wealthy society jews in budapest).
 

JPsychodelicacy

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Dezi said:
Part of my GCSE history course was a week in Berlin, where we visited the SS headquarters in Berlin, not a nice place, and then Sachsenhausen extermination camp. A lot of german people work very hard to keep these places open, so that german kids dont grow up forgetting what their grandparents were up to 60 years ago, which I think is amazing.
I think it's important to remember though that it was us (as in the British, French and US) who effectively brought the Nazis to prominence by forcing the Treaty Of Versailles on an already defeated Germany in 1918. Hope they included that on your syllabus. :Smile3:

J.
 

seuss

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and it's important to remember that us - pretty much every western nation - decided to enforce quotas for Jewish immigration before the War.

particularly interesting reading are articles from contemporary papers - say, the Daily Mail - talking about how the Jewish immigration menace needs to be reversed.

they sing the same old fucking tune of intolerance today... assholes.

JPsychodelicacy,

versailles did have a lot to do with the Nazi's rise. but it's certainly not the main factor, imho...
 

Lyra

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50% of Norway's population of Jews were sent to predominantly Auschwitz during the war, with most of the "Arian Norwegian" population supporting this. I consider this a very dark chapter of Norwegian history, yet very few Norwegians know about it. Compared to Denmark, where the government helped the Jewish population to escape, and Sweden, where lots of Jews escaped to (although there are dark chapters there as well), Norway did little if nothing at all. :Sad:
 

JPsychodelicacy

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seuss said:
JPsychodelicacy,

versailles did have a lot to do with the Nazi's rise. but it's certainly not the main factor, imho...
What, as in the fact that we were taking millions off the German government in reparations even during The Great Depression era? This caused hyperinflation, created crushing poverty and made the German people very resentful of those who enforced it on them. Hitler got a modicum of public support (not widespread, most thought he was too extreme) by being the *only* politician to promise to stop paying the reparations and stick two fingers up at Versailles, spending the money saved on 'improvement projects' in Germany itself.

No Versailles = no reparations.

No reparations = no rise of Nazism. QED.

J.
 

SkizZ

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well thats a gross simplification if ever I saw one....
yeah the economical climate helped create unhappiness and also a leaning to perhaps blame a section of society for taking jobs wotever
but what about the burning of the Reichstag allowing hitler to get a small part of the new govt. he wasn't voted in with even a remote majority or owt...
If kaiser wilhelm hadn't had such imperial leanings helping cause WWI they wouldn't have to have been de-militarised and pay reperations - I think it's a bit much to blame high unemployment for the emergence of the nsdap...
 

icy_fire_

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I think people have summed up pretty much everything i was thinking about how it needs to be remembered. I also think it is important to remember the suffering of the people there as it keeps stuff in perspective and teaches us to be grateful for the lives we have even when stuff isnt going too well.
 

seuss

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JPsychodelicacy said:
What, as in the fact that we were taking millions off the German government in reparations even during The Great Depression era? This caused hyperinflation, created crushing poverty and made the German people very resentful of those who enforced it on them. Hitler got a modicum of public support (not widespread, most thought he was too extreme) by being the *only* politician to promise to stop paying the reparations and stick two fingers up at Versailles, spending the money saved on 'improvement projects' in Germany itself.
No Versailles = no reparations.
No reparations = no rise of Nazism. QED.
J.
not quite. even if the terms agreed by the western powers were entirely agreeable, there remains one singular problem for german nationalist/militarists: they lost the war.

the doltschlosslegende, the 'stab in the back myth', was around in proto-amoebic form before pen was ever put to versailles manuscript. now, i'm not doubting the importance of versailles' effect; not only in terms of reparations, but also in terms of the redistribution of land etc - but i really don't think you can place nazism under the category of 'things we created thru bad policy'.

i think the key is that those Germans who were prone to feeling resentful about the loss - i.e. primarily former military or military-age men - would have felt the same regardless of the details of the reparations scheme; the financial shit was merely insult to injury.

the origins of national socialism are deeper than a mere reaction to the terms imposed on Weimar Germany, far deeper.

hitler wasn't the only politician to promise an end to reparations. one of the consequences of a weak and illegitimate (in the eyes of the people) government is a proliferation of extremist parties, and a polarisation of public opinion - some historians have dubbed this process the 'extremism of the centre'.

both hard left and hard right parties were extant in Weimar, and both claimed similar - and similarly low - levels of support. some of these parties - the Deutschantisemitische Buergerpartei, or the Christian Social Party, for example - also promised an end to reparations and a program of rearmament. hitler's rhetoric and its characteristic fundamentals (racialism, anti-semitism, expansionism, militarism) were almost common amongst the mass of smallminded political smallholders.

the origins of national socialism lie with some ideological precursors: we can divide these into three broad sections.

firstly, the 'fascist negations'.

anti-semitism, anti-slavism, anti-communism, anti-liberalism, anti-socialism, anti-conservatism. these negations - even apparently contradictory ones - defined national socialism.

each of them has, as it were, a proud tradition amongst european political thought. and if we were to blame france for versailles, i'm afraid even more blame must go to the french proto-fascists: Sorel, Gobineau, et. al.

racial antisemitism was nothing new in European politics. almost all countries had anti-semitic parties. where nazism was groundbreaking was in its application of new, pseudo-scientific racial determinism: similar to what we would later see in apartheid south africa.

secondly, the traditional rightist strongholds:

nationalism, militarism, the cult of the leader / masculinity, traditionalism, expansionism, Volkisch.

these are pretty much stock-in-trade for many extreme right - and left - interwar parties. to be sure, the fuhrerprinzip could really only be developed properly under a dictatorship, but any of these other factors can be seen in german - and European - politics and philosophy for a hundred years before versailles.

Herder, Fichte, Gobineau, Haeckel; the German Monist League, the Army and Navy League, the student societies; these are thinkers and institutions, spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, which point towards the kind of communalist nationalism - national socialism, if you will - which would eventually come to prominence as nazism. we're talking about ideas and currents which ran strong in germany; thanks to the Prussian historiographical tradition, the Bismarckian remnants, the Wilhelmine legacy, etc.

finally, the new:

racial determinism, dynamism, propaganda, palingenesis, irrationalism, environmentalism.

these are the elements which national socialism so successfully blended with older ideological traditions. the bullshit racial science which affected most every aspect of nazi policy; the emphasis on youth and their transformational vigour; the utilisation of mass propaganda and social architechture; and - most crucially - the emphasis on the the creation of a Sorelian irrational myth with which to lead the people into subservience; these are the hallmarks of the 'new' elements of nazism.

the final point is the most important. the nazis realised - like bush, and thanks to Georges Sorel, the french theorist - that people are motivated not by 'isms' or ideology: they are motivated by irrational myths, and in the construction of those myths lies the ultimate political manipulative truth.

there are already Volkisch parties in Germany and Austria before the war. there was already racial determinism and anti-semitism. there was already economic deprivation. by the end of the war there was already war-guilt and further hardships. there already existed a weakened centralist government. all of the conditions were there; regardless of the conditions of versailles. yes; economic difficulty always allows extreme rightist movements to prevail. but why then did it take so long for the nazis to take hold, and why with such a slim minority of votes? why did fascism fail to take hold in eastern europe? why not in britain or france or america, all of which also suffered during the Depression?

the answer, for me, is that the precursors were all there in Germany; combined with some political opportunism and the unique circumstances that Weimar found itself with, the rise of extremism was inevitable; that the rise should produce a political party with enough dynamism, disregard for civil process, and energy is the true political catastrophe of the interwar period.

or, if i were argumentative:

no volkisch national sentiment = no historical legacy of cultural superiority = no desire to identify a polluting cultural contaminant = no radical racial determinism = no identification with militarist strong-arm tactics = no determination to seize power without the constraints of legality = no Nazis.

Q. E. D.

:Wink3:
 

Goz

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Sturdy Pete said:
And too think they still train soldiers to obey orders without thinking.. obviously not on anything like the same scale, but the allegated tortures occuring in iraq are the first steps down a very nasty slope.. and as usual the defence is "i was obeying orders".. :no:
This whole thing is a bit of a joke actually. 'Cos soldiers are told that they should question if an order is "legal". And refuse to carry out an illegal order. But then what happens to a soldier that refuses to carry out any order? In a serious battle situation they can hardly place the soldier under arrest can they? So the soldier has no choice but to follow the illegal order ... At which point they get f**ked over because they should have questioned the order that they'd probably get f**ked over for questioning.

Damned if they do .. damned if they don't ...
 

JPsychodelicacy

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seuss said:
the answer, for me, is that the precursors were all there in Germany; combined with some political opportunism and the unique circumstances that Weimar found itself with, the rise of extremism was inevitable; that the rise should produce a political party with enough dynamism, disregard for civil process, and energy is the true political catastrophe of the interwar period.

or, if i were argumentative:

no volkisch national sentiment = no historical legacy of cultural superiority = no desire to identify a polluting cultural contaminant = no radical racial determinism = no identification with militarist strong-arm tactics = no determination to seize power without the constraints of legality = no Nazis.

Q. E. D.

:Wink3:
Impeccably researched - you'll have to copy me in on your reading list, sounds fascinating.

I don't think it harms my original point which is that the anti-semitism, anti-slavism, anti-communism et al that were endemic to the rise of Nazism were qualities that were far from unique to Germany or the German people. Indeed, Winston Churchill himself was one of the staunchest believers in European (and privately, British) racial superiority.

I still contend that the reparations demanded by the terms of Versailles, on top of the fallout from the Great Depression were the straw that broke the camel's back and made a disparate group of pan-European phenomena into the specific phenomenon of Nazism, focussed on Germany.

It was our (US, UK, France's) fault as much as anyone's.

J.

P.S. SkizZ - Kaiser Wilhelm II (our own dear Queen Victoria's favourite grandson, don't forget) was only desiring of the imperial stature of others in his family - especially his cousin - aka King George V.
 

grokit23

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IMO the scary thing about those days was that almost all of the European countries and the USA too, weren't particularly opposed to the rise of the Nazi party and their ideals at all. There were strong sympathy movements in all of our countries at all levels, we were only a few short steps away from taking similar routes ourselves. If Hitler had played it a bit differently with regards to invading his neighbours it's not hard to see how we might have taken a very similar route ourselves.

It wasn't the demonising of the immigrant and gay communities, nor the early stages of the moves against the Jewish that really caused huge public outcries. Some noticed these things happening, but most happily ignored them until the invasion of France, which became the straw that broke the camels back. We just sat there and watched (later we wagged our fingers and rebuked them) as Poland fell, Austria was claimed and the Czechs were annexed... and we knew that they were treating people as less than animals.

It took us until they were pretty much knocking at our doors till we actually said enough is enough. In the meantime our politicians/papers/unions/churches were still divided as to whether Mr Hitler and his party were really bad men. We were quite happy to ignore the atrocities when they were happening to others.

Don't forget to look at what was happening in Italy and had gone on in Spain either before you think that it was a mostly German phenomena.
 

JPsychodelicacy

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grokit23 said:
Don't forget to look at what was happening in Italy and had gone on in Spain either before you think that it was a mostly German phenomena.
True, but it's apples and oranges comparisons. Mussolini's version of Fascism was really just gangsterism writ large - while he had bullyboys running round as 'enforcers', and there were political killings, there were no specific racial policies in place, and in fact there remained none until WWII had already started, and Hitler started to apply pressure to his Italian precursor. Franco's dictatorship was a purely military in origin, hence his neutrality in the war.

J.
 

grokit23

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Correct, but all I wanted to point out with that statement was that Germany wasn't the only fascist state in Europe. What was more important to me was stated earlier in my post, to wit we were very close to going down the same route and most countries just politely ignored what was being done even when they knew that unspeakeable things were being done.

I actually delayed submitting that post for a while because i couldn't decide whether to put that final bit in or not, seems really that I shouldn't have or maybe I should have worded it better.
 

Fushion Julz

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@ Grokit: Actually, the final catalyst for the declaration of war by the British and French on Germany and her allies was the invasion of Poland....

The British had guaranteed the Poles aid should Germany act on their threat to seize land to amalagamate Prussia into Germanys' borders....Hitler ignored Chamberlain, invaded Poland and, despite international pleas to halt the advance, pushed on to Warsaw....Britain and France could see they were next in line (along with Belgium and Holland) so declared war on Germany.

TBH, it was a policy that was incredibly one-sided with the Poles as beneficiaries....(they had agreed to assist if the west was targetted first)....as the Polish army was still fighting principally on horseback, against the German panzer battalions, and the air force was equipped with 1920s vintage biplanes with puny armament against the Germans modern Stukas and Messerschmits.

Even the Polish navy had no chance as they were blockaded in the Baltic long before Germany decided to invade!
 

grokit23

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We talked about helping the poles and then did bugger all, when it came down to it, the German invasion was over and done with while we were still saying bad Mr Hitler.

Ok, we did drop supplies for a while to try and relieve the situation in the siege of Warsaw, but we effectively did nowt. A declaration of war, followed by sitting there telling them off and waiting wasn't much help.

My original point still stands IMO, we weren't that far off taking a similar route...
 

seuss

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JPsychodelicacy said:
Impeccably researched - you'll have to copy me in on your reading list, sounds fascinating.

I don't think it harms my original point which is that the anti-semitism, anti-slavism, anti-communism et al that were endemic to the rise of Nazism were qualities that were far from unique to Germany or the German people. Indeed, Winston Churchill himself was one of the staunchest believers in European (and privately, British) racial superiority.

I still contend that the reparations demanded by the terms of Versailles, on top of the fallout from the Great Depression were the straw that broke the camel's back and made a disparate group of pan-European phenomena into the specific phenomenon of Nazism, focussed on Germany.

It was our (US, UK, France's) fault as much as anyone's.
not researched at all i'm afraid :Smile3: just an area of interest since i was young. if you really want i can PM you lists of interesting historians.

i suppose when trying to discover which factor tipped the scales, personal interpretation is the most important element :Wink3: no doubt anti-semitic, anti-slavic, anti-communist feelings were present almost everywhere.

if pushed, i think i'd look to the enfeeblement of Weimar by traditional authoritarians, and the specific political opportunism of early nazism: its willingness to force others to compromise.

apologies for veering off topic. i guess it can be sustained because any attempt to learn more about nazism is an attempt to understand our inhumanity to each other :Sad:
 
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