Causes of the Holocaust 

What were the causes of the Holocaust? This is a complex question in the history of the Holocaust, but not an intractable one. It turns out there are several reasons why the German people and their helpers during World War II rose to round up and murder six million of their Jewish neighbors. But in essence, the causes for the Holocaust all revolve around antisemitism, the ancient hatred of Jews and Judaism spread by Christianity during almost two millennia.

Gabriel Wilensky

Understanding the Holocaust

The history of the Holocaust really begins almost 2,000 years ago, shortly after the death of Jesus Christ. At that time, the early Christian sect began distancing themselves from mainstream Jews and Judaism. Over time, this animosity grew into hatred, and the new replacement theology in which Jews and Judaism had lost their place in the world and ceased to be God’s chosen people became prevalent in Christianity.

“Ultimately, all these accusations were variations and derivations of the original accusation against Jews, namely, that their alleged perfidy, blindness and obstinacy prevented them to see the truth and accept Jesus as the messiah and the son of God.”

After the Enlightenment the original theological antisemitism transformed itself into a secular form, which later became pseudo-scientific and was understood in racial terms. This is the form the Nazis and their contemporaries based their hatred of Jews on.

Often people try to explain the Holocaust by looking for causes in the immediate historical context: the rise of Jews in European society, the loss of WWI, the Versailles Treaty, the collapse of the German economy, the prevalence of Jews in professional jobs, etc. In reality, attempting to find the causes for the Holocaust in these things is a misguided effort, because it fails to understand that blaming Jews for those things was no different from blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, for desecrating the host, for murdering Christian boys to extract their blood to make Passover bread, for being minions of the Devil, and a any number of other things all the common litany of accusations against Jews prevalent in Christian Europe before the Enlightenment. Ultimately, all these accusations were variations and derivations of the original accusation against Jews, namely, that their alleged perfidy, blindness and obstinacy prevented them to see the truth and accept Jesus as the messiah and the son of God.

During the Nazi period the perpetrators were not driven by theological hatred of Jews, but it was the long-standing contempt and hatred of Jews that made them susceptible and receptive to the genocidal message of the Nazis. Thus, the main cause for the Holocaust is antisemitism, a phenomenon that was common to all the perpetrators of the Holocaust, regardless of whether they had been subjected to Nazi racial propaganda or to anti-Jewish sentiments in the New Testament or Sunday sermons.

Want to stay informed about the topic?
Subscribe below.

11 + 1 =

Appeasement and Nietzsche’s Eternal Return

Sometimes it seems as if Nietzsche was right, and History does indeed return to the same things over and over again in an endless pattern. The variable may…

The Shoah

The Shoah can be a perplexing event. After all, what could have possibly motivated and driven so many people to commit such atrocious acts, and in such numbers, as those committed…

What was the Holocaust?

These days people often use the term “holocaust” to refer to any genocide, but that is incorrect. The answer to the question “What was the Holocaust?” is simple: the…

Official Church Publications: What Did the Church Have to Say?

Before the Second World War erupted the Holy See published the encyclical “With burning anxiety”, written largely by Cardinal Secretary…

Who Knew What, When? Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Defenders of the Church are fond of repeating the already debunked post-WWII myth that nobody knew of the atrocities back home, that the…

The Holocaust

The Holocaust can be a perplexing event. After all, what could have possibly motivated and driven so many people to commit such atrocious acts, and in such numbers, as those committed…

Opening the Gates of Hell

On January 27, 1945 the Red Army advancing in Poland arrived in a sleepy town called Oswiecim. Next to it, they found Hell. As they crossed the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau,…

The Blood Libel and Ritual Murder Accusation

The blood libel is the allegation that Jews ritually murdered non-Jews, especially Christians, to obtain blood to make Passover bread. It was a complex…

Membership in the Nazi Party: Is that OK, Father?

When thinking of the reason why the German Catholic Church thought it proper to lift the ban on membership in the Nazi Party in 1933 one needs to…

Open Letter to Reverend Cantalamessa

Reverend Cantalamessa, you really messed up when you compared the attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict with the persecution of the Jews. I know you…