Why Did the Holocaust Happen? This is a question that historians and other academics have pondered for decades. It is known that the higher ups in the Nazi party had an active hatred of the Jewish people and actively promoted their demise. What is less clear however, is how a generally well educated population of people, the Germans, could actively facilitate or allow the slaughter of millions of people to take place in their own country. There is probably not one simple answer as to why the holocaust happened. Likely it was a confluence of coinciding political and societal factors that allowed this great tragedy to occur.
The first thing to point out when examining the reasoning for why the holocaust happened is that Germany in the 1920's and 1930's was in a state of economic disrepair. This allowed a charismatic leader – Adolf Hitler – to rise to power and impose his will upon the German populace. Several years of active propaganda against Jews likely had a dramatic impact on the average German's opinion of the Jewish people. If not active hatred, Nazi propaganda most likely instilled in the average German a general distrust of the Jewish people. This provided a firm basis upon which Nazis could begin their campaign against the Jews, either with the average German's blessing or indifference.
Another thing to consider about how the holocaust was allowed to happen is that the Nazi party was not actively advertising what it was actually doing to the Jews. Many people thought the Jews were being deported or taken away to work. Not everyone in Germany was fully aware that the Jews were in fact being slaughtered by the millions in Nazi concentration camps. However that is not to say one was aware of it. It just wasn't being advertised to the average German civilian.
One final thing to consider about why the holocaust was allowed to take place is a sad fact of human nature. The Nazis had been denigrating and dehumanizing the Jews of Germany for nearly a decade before the holocaust began in earnest. This period of dehumanization likely had a dramatic effect on what people actually thought of the Jews. Many Germans considered the Jews to be a sub-race of humans, or barely human at all. This allowed them to feel little to no guilt when forcing them into labor camps and marching them to their deaths.
Propaganda, ignorance, dehumanization, and the willingness to blindly follow a charismatic leader are all strong factors for why the Holocaust took place. This is not an exclusive list of factors, however it is a good starting point for understanding why this tragic historic event was allowed to happen.
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