Why did the Holocaust start? 

Quite often people ask: why did the Holocaust start? There are many reasons for the Holocaust, just like there are usually several reasons for any genocide. The Holocaust started because of ingrained antisemitism both in Germany and the countries it conquered, compounded by propaganda and the resources of a powerful state, and the encouragement and leadership of political leaders. It also started because the passive and active perpetrators held deep feelings of animosity toward Jews—ingrained by almost 2000 years of antisemitism in Christian teachings‚ which made them receptive to the message of the Nazis, and which made the idea of eliminating Jews, even through extermination, reasonable and indeed desirable.

Gabriel Wilensky

The Reasons for the Holocaust

Why did the Holocaust start? Why didn’t the Germans simply force all the Jews out of Germany? Why did the feel they had to exterminate them?

“The Germans, like the Poles, Austrians, French, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, were all taught, almost from the moment they could understand language, that Jews were evil.”

The Germans, like the Poles, Austrians, French, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, were all taught, almost from the moment they could understand language, that Jews were evil, that they worked together with the Devil (indeed were minions of the Devil), that they were bent on defiling the Christian mind, taking over the economies of the world to enslave Christians, that they abducted and murdered little Christian boys to extract their blood to make Passover bread, that they desecrated the host, that they rejected Christian revelation and in fact murdered Jesus Christ.

After the Enlightenment, the old Christian anti-Jewish theology began to be replaced by an updated, modern and secular antisemitism. In an attempt to reconcile the hatred with modern ideas and science, antisemitism because racial, which at that time gave it a certain scientific allure. Of course from a strict scientific point of view all this is nonsense, but for people already prejudiced against Jews reason and truth were not compulsory requirements. Thus, long before the time when the Nazis came to power in 1933, the various peoples of Europe already viscerally hated Jews. Many times this feeling was fueled by noxious Christian beliefs about Jews spewed from the pulpits, and was reinforced by the antisemitism in the New Testament.

Throughout history Jews were expelled from many countries, sometimes more than once. In the fantastical platform of the Nazis, the desire to eliminate the Jews became a need, and they felt it was not enough to expel them. The Nazis felt they had to find a permanent solution to what they called the “Jewish Problem”, and that solution was extermination. Thus, when the circumstances were ripe to make effective “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question”, as the Nazis euphemistically called the Holocaust, they acted according to the plan Hitler had laid out years before. They began the systematic extermination, which they managed to do thanks to the acquiescence and often eager help of the local populations.

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