Germany/Germany

Advertisement


Question
I've been studying about Germany in World War 2
Do you know some of the facts of the Holocaust?
      Some of the facts are hard to believe.  I know German
people and find them to be kind, humanistic, etc.
   Were they different in 1940?   Final solution?
Wannsee conference?  Adolph Hitler?  Reinhard Heydrich?
   Solution to what?  What needed a solution?
         Do you know what needed a solution?

  Can you shed any light on this?

        Thanks          Dick

Answer
Hello Dick,

and thank you for your question.

I hope that I will be able to give you a helpful answer to your question, as it is very profound and still a topic which expert historians discuss.

As hard as the facts about the Holocaust might seem to believe, I am sure that the numbers and facts you found were correct. The Nazis killed about 6 million people with barbaric methods.
I am German myself and find it hard to understand and believe how the Germans of 1940 (my ancestors) could let that happen. Whenever I watch history documentations and see Hitler hold a speech in his high pitched screaming voice and all those people cheering at him I really don't get it. So, people must have been different in a way.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things happening today or in the near past, that also make me wonder how people can do that. All those conflicts in Africa between different tribes and peoples where people kill each other every day (Hutu and Tutsi in the 1990s). Or the massacre in Srebrenica, Serbia, where the Serbian army killed 8000 men and boys because they were Bosniaks, and Dutch UN peacekeepers letting it happen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srebrenica_massacre).
These massacres don't have the same number of victims as the Holocaust, but the Holocaust lasted several years, and the Nazis were given the chance to build up a systematic killing machinery, as noone stopped them.
There are examples of things like this happening all over history in every part of the world.
So, this just shows that human beings are able to do horrible things to other human beings, and that mostly other people rather decide to look away and ignore it, living on their every day life, probably hoping that they won't be bothered with it too much.

As for why the Nazis were killing Jews, and wanted to eliminate them completely (what they called the "Final solution") this question is as hard to answer as why there are people who hate black people, or Muslims, or so called "infidels". It is true that persecutions of Jews go as far back as the Middle Ages in Europe. I also think that it is just easier to blame minorities for problems than to really look for the source of it. "The Jews control all the money and made economy collaps" for example. Hitler seized power in a time with a very high rate of unemployment and economical problems. Many people were willing to believe the solutions he offered. Many also didn't believe him and many others just didn't care about politics and didn't bother about things that didn't concern them. When economy got better some time later, many people thought that Hitler must be doing something right.

Hitler also started a heavy military build-up after he seized power, which created many industrial jobs. He also protested against the heavy restrictions that had been put upon Germany after it had lost World War I. People in those days strongly felt that the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles) as a big humiliation and Hitler knew how to use that to become popular. Here also he blamed Jews and socialists and said they had sold Germany to the enemies.

It wasn't easy to fight Hitler and the Nazis if you didn't believe them. Hitler made sure to control society completely, and people who didn't join the NSDAP party had troubles at work (no career chances) and also with administration (buying property, building a house, starting a business). If their children didn't join the Nazi youth organisations BDM or Hitlerjugend they were bullied by teachers in school or didn't have a chance for higher education. There were no alternatives, as all other organisations had been closed down by the Nazis or were incoporated in the Nazi organisations. The Nazis also persecuted church members if they stood up against them, or members of socialist or communist parties. In the Nazi organisations the children learned to obey orders and actually received a kind of military training, they were also told to contradict their parents and defend the "New Germanic way of living" the Nazis wanted to introduce (you can say the children were brainwashed in a way). Later, many of these children then were part of the Wehrmacht and just did what they had learned to do - fulfilling orders.

There were many people who tried and hid Jews in their homes or helped them otherwise, but they did so at a very high risk. They risked the lifes of their families and every person who knew about them hiding people.
There also were several attemts to kill Hitler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_attempts_on_Adolf_Hitler) but he survived them all, mostly by sheer luck. The best known attempt is probably Operation Valkyrie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Valkyrie).
There also were many resistance organisations against Nazism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Resistance_to_Nazism), but none of them managed to bring the system down.

I hope I could answer some of your questions with this.

Kind regards
Janina

Germany

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Janina

Expertise

I live in Germany, so I am really at the source of politics and culture. You can ask me about entertainment, pop culture, politics of the day, general culture. I am also interested in German history, especially the time after 1945, i.e. the evolution of modern Germany, the division in Western and Eastern Germany, the fall of the Berlin wall. If you're wondering why some things are the way they are in Germany, don't hesitate to ask me, and I will try to give you a helpful answer.

Experience

I was born and spent most of my life in Germany. Right now I am living in Northwestern Germany. I am generally interested in politics and culture. Thus, I feel I should be able to help people from other countries understand Germany and German culture a little better.

Education/Credentials
I studied translation from English and French into German. I've been working as a freelance translator for 5 years now. So, I am able to understand and use the English language.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.