Why Did The Holocaust Happen

Why did the holocaust start?

Expert Answers
carolinasimon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mkcapen1 | Student

After World War I Germany had experienced defeat and was in a poor state.  Hitler came along and was intelligent enough to recognize that he needed to have a scapegoat to unify his country.  Many Germans had already resented the success of the Jews.  Despite the fact that many Jews had fought alongside the other Germans during World War I, the Germans had begun to blame them because many of the Jewish people had productive business.  The competition for resources was also high.

Adolph Hitler, while imprisoned, wrote the book “Mein KampfIn it he outlined the difference between the Aryans and Jews.  Hitler was intelligent enough to know that it was easier to unify people with hate than with love.  Therefore, he formulated the theory that the Jews were the cause of Germany's downfall and that destroying their business and applying their excess wealth towards the Germans would benefit the country and make it stronger.  As a result Jewish wealth was removed from the Jews and the money was used to restore highways, create additional highway systems, allow for nannies and vacations for the Germans.  The Germans soon loved Hitler.  Hitler having now more power embarked upon his scheme to extinguish the Jewish population and other unwanted people in Nazi controlled Germany.


monkeypants | Student

Hitler didn't agree with the Jews way of life so thought he would have to get rid of them in some way, that way being to kill them. He killed homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles and others because he wanted a perfect county/s.

q30r9m3 | Student

Because Hitler hated the Jews.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Holocaust refers to mass murder of Jews by the Nazis during the World War II. The holocaust was the result of anti Jews Policy adopted by Adolf Hitler, which may have been partly influenced by his anti-Jews prejudices. However, there can be no doubt that he used his anti Jews policies and act to gain and retain political power, by exploiting the general anti-Jews sentiments among Christians.

He fanned the fire of anti-Jews sentiments of  Christians with misleading propaganda, and convinced gullible public that elimination of Jews will result in improving the economic lot of other people.

Hitler started to systematically persecute Jews when he came to power in 1933, depriving them of many right of common citizens. However, violence against Jews including killing them on large scale in 1938. With passage of time, and as Hitler gained control territories in other European countries, the intensity as well as territorial spread of persecution increased. By the end of World War II Nazis had killed an estimated six million Jews.

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