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Foundations for the Holocaust

Guest Author - Rebecca Graf

How the Holocaust could happen is something that has been pondered for decades by many throughout the world. Blame has been placed on the Nazis, Christians, and all non-Jews. The reason the Holocaust was possible arises from the depths of man’s thirst for blood and the need for superiority. The foundation for the Holocaust was laid during the time of ancient civilizations through arrogance, fear, and the desire to be on top.

War, and death that inevitably originated from war, is something that has been around since man first walked this earth. Many of the wars during man’s early years centered around the need for survival. As civilizations grew, the need to see bloodshed left the battlefields. Man created their own arenas for blood for pleasure and for ‘practicality’.

The Romans were notorious for their thirst for blood and willingness to kill. How the Holocaust was possible can be seen in the Roman Colosseum at its height. Thousands died just for the sheer pleasure of the Romans who cheered for the fighting and the flow of blood. This spectator sport became more horrendous when Christians and others who came under the suspicion of the Roman emperor were placed into the spotlight. After the Colosseum opened in A.D. 80, as many as 5,000 died each day in this amazing structure, from gladiators to slaves. This figure only numbers the humans, as many more animals were slaughtered just for pure pleasure. Ironically, it was the built completely by slave labor that was comprised of Jews that were conquered in the final fall of Jerusalem. Waves of particular groups might die, but there was no intent to wipe out particular groups completely. Just times of intense persecutions and death existed. As long as someone died, the Romans were happy.

This was just the beginning for the European civilizations that were rising up. As the Christian faith began to grow and expand beyond the spiritual realm into the political, desire to ‘reclaim’ the Holy Lands for Jesus and His followers spread quickly. Nine different crusades rose up and marched to the Middle East. Each group was headed by different leaders for different reasons. The entire period of the crusades (1096-1292 ) was of “tremendous expenditure of human material resources” and was “a story of failure and incompetence.” As the Christian European forces swept the Middle East, thousands died from all sides. Though the Crusades were to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims, others including Jews lost their lives. In fact, when “the army reached Jerusalem and broke through the city walls, they slaughtered all the inhabitants that they could find (men, women, children, newborns). After locating about 6,000 Jews holed up in the synagogue, they set the building on fire; the Jews were burned alive.” The mobs did not set out to murder just Jews. They were wanting to eliminate all who was between them and Jerusalem.

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Cantor, Norman F. The Civilization of the Middle Ages: A Completely Revised and Expanded Edition of Medieval History. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.

Cody, David. “French Revolution”, The Victorian Web, http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist7.html, (accessed February 18, 2011).

Hale, J.R. Renaissance Europe 1480-1520. Malden: Blackwell, 2000.

Hopkins, Keith. “The Colosseum: Emblem of Rome.” BBC History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ history/ancient/romans/colosseum_01.shtml, (accessed February 12, 2011).

McAlister, Lyle N. Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-1700. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984.

Newman, Leonard S. and Ralph Erber, ed. Understanding the Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust. Cary: Oxford, 2002.

Pomeroy, Sarah B., Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. New York: Oxford, 2008.

Robinson, B. A. “The Reconciliation Walk.” Religious Tolerance. Org, http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_cru1.htm, (accessed February 10, 2011).

Schleunes, Karl A.The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews 1933-1939. Chicago: University of Illinois, 1990.

Supple, Carrie. From Prejudice to Genocide: Learning About the Holocaust. Staffordshire: Trentham, 2009.

“The Inquisition”, Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ jsource/History/Inquisition.html, (accessed February 18, 2011).

“The Rape of Nanking 1937-1938”. The History Place. 2000. http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/nanking.htm, (accessed January 15, 2011).

Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.
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