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#1 Copacetic

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

I"m reading a book at the moment called The Street Sweeper and its about, amongst other things, the Holocaust and racism in the US and its got me thinking about how these things could have happened.

How did Germany as a country decide that a whole group of people needed to be 'exterminated'?  What was wrong with them that didn't make them stand up and say hey hang on a sec... this is not right? Is it just that the voices of the rednecks that said "no you can't sit on this bus" or "no you can't go to this school" were louder? Surely someone saw the mindless murder of Indiginous Australians here and said "hang on a sec, something's very wrong here"...?

I guess I am looking at it from a point of view where I am incredibly lucky - I mean, I'm white, I live in Australia and I was born in the 70s, but then again, even now as we speak, there are dictators that want to make something happen.

I just don't understand it.

Edited by Copacetic, 22 January 2013 - 01:49 PM.


#2 Fr0g

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:35 PM

QUOTE
How did Germany as a country decide that a whole group of people needed to be 'exterminated'?


I don't fully understand it, either.  I don't think Germany didn't agree with Hitler en masse.  My understanding of history is that Hitler spent years and years rallying up support amongst a fanatical, anti-Semitic minority.  

The psychology behind charisma, persuasion and group dynamics can explain how he gained enough momentum to do what he did, and had others do what he wished.

I saw a fantastic documentary about the uprising of HItler a few weeks ago on SBS.  It showed how the country fought against Hitler for years, writing him off as a raving loony when he released Mein Kampf (sp?), and how he carved his rise to power.

ETA - I'm sure other people with a much more sophisticated understanding of history will answer much better!! Shouldn't have gone first  ... original.gif

Edited by FrogIsAFrogIsAFrog, 22 January 2013 - 01:36 PM.


#3 PrincessPeach

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:35 PM

I actually had to read a book about this for school - although I can't for the life of me think of the title.

However the story went along as a teacher starting an experiment at school because the class was learning about the hollocaust. In the end he called a meeting & explained what he was doing - it was very interesting & showed how it all happened, but I can't remember what exactly was the cause.

#4 BadCat

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:38 PM

Indoctrination of the young.  Authoritative statements from popular leaders.  Scaremongering and lies.

Certainly in the holocaust they blamed Jews for all the ills that had befallen the German people.  Economic woes?  It's because of those cunning Jews.  Illness?  The Jews are filthy subhumans who spread disease.  That sort of thing, repeated often enough, gets into the subconscious of the non-thinking class, and that's all you really need.

Same with the aboriginals in Australia and the negroes in the US.  Those in authority considered them savages, little better than animals and taught the stupid and self-entitled to see them that way too.

It's really not that hard to do.  Look at the "stop the boats" rubbish in Australia right now.   The pollies tell people it's a problem, Alan Jones and his ilk reinforce the message, and the numpty classes follow along like the sheep they are.

#5 Elippo

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:40 PM

QUOTE (PrincessPeach @ 22/01/2013, 02:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I actually had to read a book about this for school - although I can't for the life of me think of the title.

However the story went along as a teacher starting an experiment at school because the class was learning about the hollocaust. In the end he called a meeting & explained what he was doing - it was very interesting & showed how it all happened, but I can't remember what exactly was the cause.


That book is the Wave

Hilter's rise to power was complicated (obviously) and definitely a product of the times. Remember that Germany at the time was crippled by reparations that they had to make because of WWI, inflation was out of control and Hitler (who was a gifted Orator) was able to make it seem as if the Jews were to blame for a lot of the problems others were experiencing.

This is pretty simplified - I am sure some one with better knowledge in the area can give a better account

#6 raone

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:40 PM

They tried for years to not listen to him. But my understanding is as his followers grew they would force people to go along with it. I don't think alot of people supported him but think it'a case of when good people do nothing.

#7 A Tiny Hedgehog

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:43 PM

QUOTE (Copacetic @ 22/01/2013, 02:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How did Germany as a country decide that a whole group of people needed to be 'exterminated'?  What was wrong with them that didn't make them stand up and say hey hang on a sec... this is not right? Is it just that the voices of the rednecks that said "no you can't sit on this bus" or "no you can't go to this school" were louder? Surely someone saw the mindless murder of aborigines here and said "hang on a sec, something's very wrong here"...?

Nauru, Manus Island, Christmas Island.

#8 Rachaelxxx

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:44 PM

My husband and I over the years have watched docos about this very thing and POW as well and I get so angry that people could get away with such things.  What gives one man the right to take away another mans life, they were powerless and had no voice.

#9 CountryFeral

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

I remember my friend's mother who was a young woman in Germany trying to explain it to her - the Nazi's made everything so wonderful there for a while... Germany had been in a depression since they lost WW1 and the Nazis came along and made everyone proud to be German again.

She described it as "Everyday had been grey then suddenly they showed us a proud colourful country again.."


I think anyone who has sat by and watched how Australia has managed to demonise refugees in the Howard and beyond era shouldn't be overly surprised at how a well manipulated campaign of wrongly directed 'blame' can subtly change a nation's psyche.

#10 Tesseract

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

Fear. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

It's all dressed up as "for their own good" to justify it.

And as BadCat said, we're not immune.

#11 Mrs Dinosaurus

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

As humans our ultimate goal is survival. Above all else this is what we want, first for ourselves, second our family and everyone else a distant third.

We are also extraordinarily easy to manipulate.

The combination of these two things makes silence an easy option when it's happening to "them" and not "me"

Also something about collective memory that I can't remember (no pun, I actualy can't remember)

Think about how easy it is to dehumanise - we have done it with women for ... ages, women aren't men, therefore they aren't people therefore they are objects that can be bought, sold, used, abused, broken...etc. They are less than men, they are just things. We're still not recovered from that little gem.

In Australia "Boat People" as a collective noun has been used succesfully to conjure up negative images of everyone from people throwing their own kids overboard to full blown terrorist operatives with nothing better to do than sail a leaky boat from indonesia and sit on nauru for a few years. As a nation we are extremely close, if not at the point where we don't think of "boat people" as "people" but as something distant and annoying coming here to ruin our lives. That's one step short of thinking that if we kill them all our troubles will be over. And there you get a national conscience that thinks wiping out a bunch of people on the basis of some different gene, religious belief, gender...etc is OK.

I think it's alarmingly easy, it happens often, just not on the scale of Germany as they were unfortunately well organised, well supported and very succesful in their mission.

#12 julzely

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:46 PM

This is an interesting article on movies that WootFerretOfDoom posted in the Treatment of Women thread that gives you an idea of how propaganda can work. This is in particular relation to movies but it can just as easily be replaced with any other form of media.

5 Ways You Don't Realize Movies Are Controlling Your Brain

Edited by julzely, 22 January 2013 - 02:27 PM.


#13 Cat People

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:46 PM

I think there would be numerous factors.  Helplessness - what can one person do against the leader of a country? Fear would be another.  The people who did protest were killed.  But not just the fear of what would happen to you, but believing  what would happen to society if we didn't get rid of certain people, believing the lies the authorities tell you.  On a smaller scale you see it with Australia with refugees.  The politicians saying the boats must be stopped, mass hysteria over refugees coming here, shoving them in camps that by all accounts are pretty miserable; miserable enough for the people to self-harm and suicide.  It's easy to say it would never happen again, but I honestly think it could.

#14 Tesseract

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:48 PM

QUOTE (Sassy Girl @ 22/01/2013, 02:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Germany as a whole did not decided to commit genocide against the Jews. It was their leader Hitler that decided that just like it was the leader or a group of leaders in countries before and since that decided to commit genocide not the whole country.


You're right, but I think the OP was trying to think about why those leaders were not brought down when what they were doing seems so obviously atrocious. Why did people let them get away with it.

#15 Kay1

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

There are fields of study about this. Basically a group is designated as "other" and then demonised/dehumanised through propaganda which allows people to abandon compassion for them. Then they are branded the scapegoat for something and the cure to the problem is to eliminate the group. Usually in a climate of fear to take advantage of people's instinct to lay low and think "at least its not me/my family".

Its insidious and when mixed with a totalitarian regime, devastating.

And yes, don't assume it was "the germans".

#16 Peanut

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

There were many Germans who didn't agree with the persecutions, and remember, it wasn't just Jews who were persecuted and "sent away".  

Its a massive and at times convoluted subject, but it was easier for the "good" Allied countries to tar any and all Germans with the same Hitler Nazi brush.  Reality wasn't quite like that.

#17 MintyBiscuit

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:54 PM

I've been reading a bit on German history myself recently, and I think it really needs to be taken in the context of the time. There were without doubt evil men with seriously messed up ideas, but I think when it comes to the acceptance of it happening it was about context. As Countrymel mentioned, the country was in a hellish state, and suddenly things got better for ordinary Germans and they also got to blame someone. That said, I don't think ordinary Germans understood what was going on. The book I'm currently reading is full of accounts from Holocaust survivors, and even they didn't see what was coming until it was too late. The human mind can't comprehend that level of atrocity until the evidence is undeniable.

In a more general sense, I think the politics of fear have a lot to answer for, and we're seeing similar in this country at the moment with the refugee situation, and even the general anti islam sentiment. If you give people something to fear, then offer them a solution to that fear, you get votes. It's scummy politics, but it works everywhere.

#18 premmie_29weeks

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:54 PM

That book is a tour de force, it's amazing and the best thing I've read on the subject for a long while. I'm the grand daughter of two Hungarian Jewish holocaust survivors. This a big topic and there's much to consider. Hitler was one of the worlds most gifted orators, when he was made chancellor in 1933, he changed laws that excluded Jewish from public life, schooling, universities, professions...his campaign of propaganda was calculated, and those who opposed were literally removed from the political landscape.

I could go on and on about this and give a bit of a history lesson...the crux though is he removed opposition, claimed a singular monologue, censored the press, and controlled every aspect of public life using a campaign of fear. There were people who spoke out, who saved Jews from deportation etc they are now recognised in yad vashem, the holocaust museum in Jerusalem as the 'righteous amongst the nations'...

I don't think you can compare the treatment of refugees in the current day to the calculated extermination of 6 million people. We have a free press and advocacy groups that look after the interests of refugees...Germany in the 1930's had no such thing.

#19 Kay1

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

QUOTE
Same with the aboriginals in Australia and the negroes in the US. Those in authority considered them savages, little better than animals and taught the stupid and self-entitled to see them that way too.

It's really not that hard to do. Look at the "stop the boats" rubbish in Australia right now. The pollies tell people it's a problem, Alan Jones and his ilk reinforce the message, and the numpty classes follow along like the sheep they are.


I agree with all this but I wonder if we have somewhat better defences against it now with media in the hands of individuals to an extent (social media etc)? In Hitler's time information was controlled. Many germans did not know what was happening in the extermination camps.

Similarly in South Africa - information and news was very controlled. I lived there as a child and I remember one day my aunt in Australia calling to see if we were ok because of all the riots and fires etc in the townships. We lived 15 kilometres away and were blissfully unaware, swimming in our pool on a summer afternoon. I don't see that that could happen now.

#20 A Tiny Hedgehog

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:58 PM

For a more helpful answer, Germany was in the middle of an absolutely terrifying economic crisis after having lost a war. National pride at that time was a big deal, and almost right up until Armistice Day the Germans were being told that they were winning, that Germany was strong and that the Allies were on the run.

When Germany lost it was actually a surprise to many Germans. How could Germany be so strong and still lose? The conclusion a lot of Germans came to was that something had betrayed them. That their leaders, or the groups who their leaders were beholden to, had sold them out, had surrendered despite the clear supremacy of the German people. This concept was called DolchstoƟ, literally "backstab."

Fascism is born out of discontent and crisis. The rising German Right blamed the loss of WWI on as many things as they could - unpatriotic Germans, the creeping influence of Bolsheviks and socialists, and those favourite punching bags of Europe for centuries, the Jews. Anything except the ideal of Germany itself. When the Weimar Republic, the post-WWI German government, started to collapse under local pressure and the Allied reparations, the Right used its collapse as proof that the Weimar government wasn't a true German government, as evidenced by their inability to run the country.

People aren't particularly rational, and in the face of a massive economic crisis and a crumbling government, fascism inevitably rears its ugly head just like it is in Greece currently. The fascist myth convinces a country that it is strong and true, and if it divests itself of corrupting influences then it is invincible. A lot of countries at that point barely needed a reason to hate the Jews as it is, for a variety of historical reasons, and the idea that it was all the Jews fault and without the Jews they could have a strong Germany again was attractive to a lot of Germans.

It also happened to coincide with the rise of eugenics as a concept. It had only been relatively recently that the concept of breeding people as one would animals, for strength or other positive qualities and to remove negative ones, had a significant amount of academic support. The Nazi Party made it part of their platform right at the peak of its popularity.

Finally, it's very unfortunate but the Nazi Party did a lot of good for the German people (the white ones, at least) in the waning years of the Weimar government. The SA, Hitler's private army, actually contributed a lot to keeping public order in the face of an ever more cash-starved police force, and the Nazis invested in a lot of local businesses to build a support base. By the time Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 there were people in Germany who would have sworn blind that he was the Second Coming.

tl;dr a combination of national crisis, the growing acceptance of many beliefs we now know to be odious and the intense popularity of the Nazi party and the effectiveness of its PR and propaganda all played a part.

#21 Propaganda

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Propoganda about the chosen minority group. Figures greatly respecting sharing these views. Children being raised to know no better. Punishment for anyone who doesn't fall into line and agree.

It's not like people could get on google and come up with some facts. The only facts they knew were those they were told by people they had put trust in.

Standing up against the majority could mean that you, and your family, end up in great danger. It's not that everyone was racist and okay with it. It's that everyone who didn't agree was too scared for their safety to do much about it.

#22 FiveAus

Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:00 PM

Until quite recently, our government had a "White Australia Policy" which effectively prevented a very large percentage of the worlds population from being considered for immigration.

Racism on a very large scale.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Australia_policy

Edited by FiveAus, 22 January 2013 - 02:01 PM.


#23 MintyBiscuit

Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:07 PM

Sorry, I just realised my wording was saying that the refugee situation is similar to the holocaust. I don't believe that for a second. What I do think though is that part of the reason the holocaust happened was due to the way politics was working at the time in that country, and the world in a lot of ways. I tend to think the refugee situation in this country is caused by similarly f'ed up politics.

Sorry, not much sleep, articulating poorly >.<

Edit - what A Tiny Hedgehog said is basically what was in my head, except he was able to articulate it properly and make sense.

Edited by HollyOllyOxenfree, 22 January 2013 - 02:10 PM.


#24 la di dah

Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:13 PM

QUOTE (HollyOllyOxenfree @ 22/01/2013, 03:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sorry, I just realised my wording was saying that the refugee situation is similar to the holocaust. I don't believe that for a second. What I do think though is that part of the reason the holocaust happened was due to the way politics was working at the time in that country, and the world in a lot of ways. I tend to think the refugee situation in this country is caused by similarly f'ed up politics.

Sorry, not much sleep, articulating poorly >.<

There's also the similarity of nowhere-to-run. During WWII Jews were eager, understandably, to get visas to ANYWHERE. But New Zealand and to a lesser extent, Australia, weren't taking Jewish refugees. People are still dying due to similar "well that's not *our* genocide, is it? How terribly sad... over there..." policies.

#25 CallMeFeral

Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:26 PM

QUOTE (A Tiny Hedgehog @ 22/01/2013, 02:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nauru, Manus Island, Christmas Island.


Touche.

I don't think it took a race deciding to exterminate them. It just took a leader with a grudge (white Australia anyone) and a population to blame all the woes of the country on (refugees sponging off us and/or stealing our jobs?), the dehumanising of a population (those evil boat people who throw their own children in the water) and a whole lot of people who didn't disagree enough to endanger themselves to do something about it.
Plus incentives of money and power for those who went along with it, and punishment for those who didn't. You soon learn which side your bread is buttered on.

When the laws here changed to say that people could be detained infinitely without any recourse and without the ability to notify their families - how many of us even heard about it. How many who did, thought "Gee that sucks - but how can I change it". And how many of us voted on personality preferences rather than taking a stand on something so seemingly small.
And how do you unseat a dictator anyway? It's not as simple as voting. You have to actually DO something - which endangers yourself, your family, etc.

If people can be treated this badly in a country with free media and democracy, if children can be held in detention for massive portions of their childhoods... it's not that much of a stretch to see how a controlled media and dictatorship could get away with much more.




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