Why Did The Holocaust Happen

Why did the holocaust start?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Holocaust was the systematic state sanctioned detention, torture, and annhialation of the Jewish people in Europe. Other people were also affected, but the motivation for attacking Gypsies, Gays, disabled people, etc was sgnificantly different that the  reasons for attacking Jews.

Your question is one that many have asked since...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Holocaust was the systematic state sanctioned detention, torture, and annhialation of the Jewish people in Europe. Other people were also affected, but the motivation for attacking Gypsies, Gays, disabled people, etc was sgnificantly different that the  reasons for attacking Jews.

Your question is one that many have asked since evidence was presented to the world of this horrific event. No one has been able to fully answer it. Yes Anti-Semistism had been a commonplace cultural aspect of Europe since the early Middle- Ages, but why act so much more horrifically in 1933 then in the 11th century (for example).

What most Holocaust Scholars have focused on is not Why it happened, but rather how. Asking Why is seeking too emotional a connection to an inhuman act. Seeking the how it happened allows us to learn from it. We can better predict possible Nazi-like behaviors and beliefs in an attempt to prevent another Holocaust regardless of its primary victim.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Holocaust, or "Shoah" as it is referred to in Hebrew, started because of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was genocide - an attempt to exterminate six million Jews. Hitler was a fanatic. He believed the Jews were an inferior race and that intermingling with them would pollute "The Master Race" (Germans). Hitler's "final solution" was carried out in stages but soon concentration camps were set up all over Europe, not just in Nazi Germany. Camps were also set up in European countries which the Nazis invaded and conquered. Hitler also set out to exterminate other non-desirables (crippled people, mentally retarded people, homosexuals, etc.) but primarily, he focused his venom against the Jews.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a very hard question to answer.

The immediate cause of the Holocaust was the fact that Hitler and other Nazi leaders wanted to rid Germany (and the territories it conquered) of Jews.  They believed that the presence of Jews in their territories/country would drag their country down.

The more basic cause of this is anti-Semitism, which had been around for centuries in Europe.  This can be traced back to religious factors (the idea that Jews killed Jesus) or to social factors (that Jews kept to themselves and followed a different set of rules than others in their countries).

You could also talk about factors specific to Germany.  You can talk about how they felt betrayed by the way WWI ended and by the Treaty of Versailles.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team