Skip to content


May 15, 2007

Can you tell that I’m at work?  Here I am updating again.
During WWII, the Nazi’s killed about six million Jews, and between three and five million other people, including Soviet prisioners, gays, and Gypsies (who, incidently, probably came from India…the things Wikipedia teaches you).  Now, until some point in high school I didn’t realize that non-Jews were killed, and didn’t know how many until college, so I always assumed that the Holocaust, capital H, was the Jews.  When the numbers sank in, that as many as half of those killed were  non-Jews, I figured that Holocaust meant all those killed in that process.  I’ve found, though, that many people, especially Jews, feel that Holocaust capital H just means the Jews.  I guess I’m just curious as to anyone elses thoughts on this.  From my current understanding of how all that worked (which I admit is imperfect, hence me asking these questions), the point of all of Hitler’s plans was to get rid of anyone non-Aryan, which is why it was more than just Jews in the concentration camps.  So was the Holocaust the acts against all non-Aryans, or was it against only the Jews, with another term or terms existing for the other peoples.  (There’s one for the gypsies, who I really should be calling Roma, but I’ve forgotten it already.)  I’m also curious as to if it was just my education or is it a broader phenonemon that a third to half of the victims of this event are being forgotten.  I was talking Sara the other day and she didn’t know that anyone other than the Jews were persecuted by the Nazis, so it’s at least a broader Adrian problem.  Did you get taught in K-12 that the Nazi’s were after many groups, and at what level were you aware of the extent of the persecution?
(AHH I’m scared to post this, because it can be such a touchy issue.  I PROMISE that I’m really just curious, and don’t mean to push anyone’s buttons with this post.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2007 5:08 pm

    Most of my education on the Holocaust came at Hebrew School, and the full death tally (Jews and gentiles) was definitely part of the lesson. This was glossed over in my public schooling.
    As for Hitler’s master plan, it probably depends if you are looking at Hitler the pragmatist who was happy to have non-Aryan allies up to a point or if you are looking at Hilter the genocidal manic who gave speeches about killing off everyone except the purest of the Aryans.
    If you are interested in the word itself then lower case holocaust is Greek in origin and refers to a sacrifice completely consumed by fire. Typically the Greeks just burned part of an animal as an offering to the Gods. That form of holocaust was unusal.
    The proper noun refers to what the Nazis did. There is also growing support for calling the slave trade the African Holocaust.

  2. May 15, 2007 6:12 pm

    I went to a very large school in a wealthy suburban area. Luckily for me, my world history teacher was AWESOME. She had a 2 day bit on the holocaust and she made sure we knew that while a TON of those that the H word affected were jews, there were plenty others too. That it was more a purge of “undesirables”, of which the most well known of which was those of Jewish faith.
    I’m not sure about other teachers or courses. I know that my friend Greg knows that it wasn’t “just” the jews, as we’ve talked about this a long time ago and i just happen to remember it for some weird reason. But…beyond that, i’m not sure about everyone else.

  3. May 15, 2007 10:14 pm

    This is why a lot of people prefer the term Shoah to Holocaust. For one thing, “holocaust” has connotations that imply sacrifice to God, which of course doesn’t really jive. But if the term Shoah just refers to the Jewish deaths, I don’t know what we call the other ones.
    I developed an interest in this stuff in elementary school so I’ve known about the whole thing since then. However, I knew in independent study before I was taught in school so I’m a special case.

  4. May 15, 2007 11:15 pm

    “Shoah” just means something like “great disaster”; “Holocaust” is a word meaning “A burnt sacrifice pleasing to God.” The term Holocaust (with the capital H) was coined by Elie Wiesel (a Shoah survivor who wrote his memiors, including Night, which is probably his most famous novel), who later regretted it immensely, as he meant it as an ironic description and the term has now taken hold in popular speech. It’s a horrible term, and most Jewish people I know now refuse to use it because it implies that it is something God wished or desired that they were killed in such horrible ways.
    I generally find that people don’t really think about the others killed, period. It’s not really mentioned at all in school when you’re growing up, and people forget that as many people died as did. Generally speaking, when people think “holocaust” they think Jews. K-12 teachers don’t like to make things more complicated than they already are, and a lot of the memoirs written by members of the other persecuted groups are more violent or deal with things we still don’t like our kids to learn about (like homosexuality) or require teaching our kids about a new group of people who they don’t see much in their everyday lives (“Let’s play gypsies!!!”), so it’s easier to just teach Anne Frank and call it a day.
    When it comes to Hitler, it’s difficult to say. He definitely saw the Jews as being parasitic to the Aryan population, whereas the other persecuted groups he just saw as degenerate. Jews were seen as actively and maliciously trying to destroy the Aryans, whereas the other people were just not quite pure enough to be worthwhile. The first concentration camps (like Dachau) weren’t even set up for the Jews; they were set up for political enemies (like communists) and criminals as a way of keeping down dissent and keeping the “degenerate” peoples away from the normal population.
    Okay, sorry, I’ve read way too much on this since I was little…

  5. Anonymous permalink
    May 16, 2007 5:11 pm

    this blog makes me think of you, it’s really good I hope you think so too

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: