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Reasons Why The Holocaust Was 100% About Race

by Jenika Enoch 3 months ago in Humanity

Whoopi Goldberg isn't the only one who came under fire for implying race was not a factor in the Holocaust.

Credit: YAD VASHEM ARCHIVES / Reuters

The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg recently came under fire for a statement she made regarding race and history. The implication of her statements basically were that the Holocaust wasn't about race, and that it was "about a man's inhumanity to man." While anyone could argue that what she said has truth to it, she is still wrong. Not only that, but this opinion perpetuates the collective trauma of Holocaust victims - specifically Jewish people.

While Goldberg redacted her comments and was suspended from The View, the commentary resonated with what turns out to be a lot of people who think that anti-Semitism and racism are two completely different things. The misunderstanding that the genocide of millions of people is that the events unfolded weren't at the hands of those who were racially discriminating against Judaism as a whole. Contrary to modern social constructs, this was not the case in the WWII-era world.

Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Judaism is what is considered to be an ethno-religion, which is a religion that groups people together based off both religious practice and ethnic background. It also is applicable to those who are surrounded by the religion's ethnic culture. For example, I did not grow up practicing Judaism but I learned about 6 years ago that I have Ashkenazi Jewish DNA. Not only that, I have a lot of DNA relatives in Eastern Europe and Israel. Does that make me Jewish? Yes, and if I would have been alive in Europe at the time of the Holocaust, I might not have made it.

Why? Because of my race.

In Nazi racial ideology, Jewish people were a race that threatened Aryan purity and superiority. Not only that, but it was perceived to be inferior. And what made specifically white Jews so dangerous to the Nazi's is that (in their view) these Jewish people could easily "pass" as Aryan and potentially taint pure Aryan blood. They didn't want Jews mingling with their desired race because they believed these "white passing" Jews could infiltrate their society and social spaced undetected. To prevent that from happening, their ultimate goal was extinction which is where we can cue the events that led up to the genocide of over 6 million people.

It is important to remember that social constructs of race change over time. Racial ideology and even ethnic relations back in the early 20th century doesn't really apply to how we see racial ideology in 2022. Certain terms for specific races and ethnic traits have gone out of style and aren't practiced the same as they were back then, but that doesn't change history. The history of the Holocaust will never change and what the Nazi's did to the Jewish people (and other groups) doesn't change. Those who do not learn their history are doomed to repeat it, and a lot of things that led up to the Holocaust are starting to look familiar in 2022. And how did it all start? With ignorance such as Goldberg's comments as well as the millions of Millennial and Gen Z age people with little to no knowledge about the Holocaust in general.

Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

It is also important to remember that the Jews weren't the only people to suffer at the hands of the Nazi's. Concentration camps had somewhat of a class system and other "undesirables" were categorized, tortured, experimented on, and exterminated for whatever their race, religion, political beliefs, social practices, and sexuality was categorized as. These groups include, but aren't limited to, the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, the Romani, criminals, and those deemed politically inferior.

As the figure shows above, the charts around the concentration camps displayed badges on shirts and pants so the Nazi's could easily identify why someone was there. Certain groups did certain jobs or were killed on the spot after arriving - such as Jews being taken off trains and immediately sent to gas chambers.

  • Red triangles represented political prisoners, Freemasons, gentiles who assisted Jews, socialists, communists, and liberals.
  • Green triangles represented criminals.
  • Blue triangles represented foreign forced laborers, such as emigrants whose citizenship was stripped by countries invaded by the Germans.
  • Purple triangles represented Jehovah's Witnesses and other pacifist religious groups.
  • Pink triangles represented gay men, pedophiles, and sex offenders - most of whom were forced to be sterilized if they survived at all.
  • Black triangles represented lesbians, the disabled, addicts, the mentally ill, the Romani, the Sinti, prostitutes, and vagrants.
  • Uninverted red triangles represented POW's and those believed to be spies.
  • Stars of David, as most know, represented the Jews.
Credit: Shutterstock

I think for me what is so troubling about this entire debate is that it displays the continuous lack of understanding and respect in regards to the Holocaust. I don't know if it's that people legitimately don't know history and have never been educated about it, or if it's just plain human ignorance. In addition to the ignorance of what the Holocaust was even about, they believe this genocide is comparable to modern issues, such as COVID-19.

In my opinion, everyone should have to visit a Holocaust museum. Even if it's just once, I believe it is imperative that everyone should go and learn this dark piece of history. We should have to see the consequences of ideologies such as this and what utter devastation and hatred it brings. I visited the Illinois Holocaust Museum back in 2018 and it absolutely broke my heart. I cried, I mourned, and I vowed to never forget the attempted extermination of millions of people at the hands of racism and hatred. I have also listened to Holocaust survivors and even after all of that time, you can still hear the devastation and pain in their voices.

And why? Because, specifically for Jews, it was because of their perceived race.

Humanity

About the author

Jenika Enoch

I love movies, music, sci-fi, and art. I'm a certified graphic designer and create my own art. Things that fuel me include equality, respect, and anything weird.

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