What are two good reasons that the Holocaust happened?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When you ask for two “good” reasons that the Holocaust happened, I’ll assume you mean that you want two “likely” reasons that the Holocaust happened.

This is certainly a good question—it’s been debated since the event occurred in the 1940’s.  As is usually the case, to find a few plausible answers you have to back up in history a little bit. In fact, with this particular question you might need to back up a couple thousand years.

There has been an ongoing rift between Jews and Christians since the time of Jesus Christ. This isn’t to say that all Jews and all Christians feel animosity toward one another, that’s far from the case. But the religious differences between the two groups have fueled centuries of conflict. So there has developed a pattern of problems between the two peoples.

Now, fast forward to the early twentieth century, specifically World War I. Germany was crushed both militarily and economically by the war. Following the war, Germany was in disarray, and that enabled Adolph Hitler to rise to political prominence. He needed a way to unite the Germans and create a sense of nationalistic purpose and pride. One way to do this was to blame Germany’s World War I defeat on a betrayal by influential German Jews who, Hitler claimed, sold out Germany for their own gain.

Finally, one way to get people to work together for a common purpose is to create a common enemy to fight against. In Germany at this time Jews were generally associated with the Communist party, which was hated by most Germans (Germany has had a historically antagonistic relationship with Russia). Hitler was able to get enough German citizens to focus on the problems that he claimed the Jews represented to achieve his own ends.

It’s not completely clear that Hitler really planned on exterminating the Jewish people altogether, although there is evidence to suggest it. He definitely ordered that millions and millions of them be deprived of everything and rounded up into concentration camps. Inevitably, millions of them died in those camps, either by murder or neglect or both.

As you can see, the causes of the Holocaust aren’t that easy to pin down. It was such a horrific event that it seems impossible to believe that anyone wanted it to happen the way it did. Nevertheless, there is no doubt it was one the most, if not the most, atrocious acts in the history of humanity.

It is dangerous to think that it was an isolated event that could never be repeated. There are groups of people active today called Holocaust Revisionists who promote the idea that the Holocaust did not happen the way it has been reported. They often claim that it is part of a conspiracy of the Jewish people, with the help of many Christians, to fool people into believing in something that they claim never happened. They claim their motive is historical accuracy, but often their own words and actions betray the fact that their true intentions are generated by the old nemesis—hatred.