Motivations that drove different groups of Germans to murder Jewish people.
In their essays, Christopher Browning, Omar Bartov. and Robert Jay Lifton investigate the motivations that drove different groups of Germans to murder Jewish people. How do their conclusions compare to one another – are they similar or different? Why? What do you see as the primary factor driving these perpetrators to kill?
Although a mixture of motivations was in play during the Holocaust, but the primary factor driving these perpetrators to kill the Jewish people was the Nazi antisemitism. When Germany lost the WWI, several Germans looked for scapegoats to fault. Hence the Germans accused the Jews, communists and socialist on the home front for betrayal. Therefore, this myth promoted the rise of extreme anti-communism, nationalism, and antisemitism. Nationalism was a main element in the rise in reputation of the Nazis party, and in turn the intensification of racist philosophies like eugenics and anti-Semitism. Both of these philosophies lay at the core of Nazi ideology, and ultimately enlightened their persecutory and genocidal policies. Robert Lifton explains the healing-murdering paradox to comprehend the procedure through which doctors willingly overturned the principles of their Hippocratic Oath during Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany’s eugenics and euthanasia were two primary features of Hitler’s objective to producing his impeccable racial community, the Volksgemeinschaft. German doctors became tightly incorporated into the Nazi Party and supportive of its principles. Amid the Weimar era, most German doctors became jobless and witnessed a reduction in their honor and standing.
The Nazi Party became the organization that could restore doctors with the power and stature they had lost. Therefore, the doctors formed Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Ärtzebund and incorporated the objectives of the doctors and the state. This doctor’s league started eliminating Jewish doctors for the medical profession, and a decree was ratified prohibiting Jewish doctor civil servants from practicing medicine at universities and hospitals in Germany (Niewyk, 2010). Doctors additionally medicalized Nazi philosophy by spreading the science that formed the basis of an alleged truth. By depicting or confirming Jews and other individuals as racially, mentally, or physically inept, doctors and government officials asserted to be sanitizing Germany of the hereditarily flawed and the weak. Nazi doctors became powerful and honored as they utilized their skills in treating a hypothetical racial disease that endangered to infect the Volkskörper.
Collaboration between the Nazis and healthcare providers increased robust validation. It fostered a state-run program of compulsory sterilization and killing that was difficult to implement, minus the desiring participation of the doctors. What started as purification would eventually lead to a genocide. Christopher Browning likewise supports Lifton’s arguments and reaches the same conclusion concerning perpetrator motivation. Like Lifton’s scholarship encompassing Nazi doctors, Browning seeks to interrupt the fallacy that the Jews murders were all fervent Nazis and ideological robots (Niewyk, 2010). By exhibiting the historiography in such a way, Browning, like Lifton, gives a more human face to the Holocaust perpetrators. Browning, just as Lifton, deduces the amalgamation of reasons ranging from a brutalized survival, to ideological impact, to pressure for conformism outcome in the fundamental mental shift needed in creating genocide murders out of ordinary Germans. Founded on Browning’s findings, it is said that Reserve Police Battalion 101 members, like their SS doctors colleagues, underwent a doubling to orientate the trauma of genocide. However, Omar Bartov claims that assigning guilt is the most challenging aspect of the Holocaust.
Omar questions why in a genocide situation, society becomes a bystander. Omar believes that the motivation for the Holocaust perpetrators emerges from both the functionalist and intentionalist camps being combined by several factors. The eugenics movement, German cultural anti-Semitism, political propaganda, and the procedure of mind-numbing all assumed a role in the cooperation and implementation of the genocide of the European Jews. Unlike Lifton and Browning, Omar believes that the method of othering Jews amid the Nazi regime was attained finely by the German government ethnocrats playing upon the qualms and apprehensions of a disenchanted and socio-politically broken culture.
Omar highlights that before the Nuremberg race rules implementation, Hitler himself scaled back his anti-Semitic narrative. In contrast, party officials tried to assuage violence in the roads against the Jews, all in a bid to harvest more robust support and create deeper trustworthiness for the Nazi government (Niewyk, 2010). Unlike Lifton’s analysis, Omar draws the inference that it was not anti-Semitism that created Germans Nazis, rather Nazism that created them anti-sematic. As the Nationalist Socialist movement support rose, so did its impact on German society’s daily facet of life. The indirect and systematic indoctrination process is demonstrated in pompous political speeches and archaic paramilitary rallies in popular culture and everyday life.
Niewyk, D.L. (2010). Holocaust: Problems & Perspectives of Interpretation (Problems in European Civilization Series) 4th Edition. Cengage Learning