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With whom does responsibility for the Holocaust ultimately lie?

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Introduction

With whom does responsibility for the Holocaust ultimately lie? The Holocaust was a shameful display of the exploitation of power to cause great pain and suffering to many. An operation of that magnitude could not have been controlled and implemented by one individual. There are many parties which were involved with Germany and need to be considered when determining where ultimate responsibility lies. Hitler did as early as 1935 make his feelings about the Jewish race clear by making his anti-Semitism public policy in the Nuremburg Race laws. But aside from in "Mein Kampf", Hitler made little indication until the last minute that he had given approval for the extermination program, ( even Mein Kampf is not that reliable, because it was written by a young man imprisoned for his beliefs, and he was bound to exaggerate to get his message across and to raise sales profits ). He seems to have kept out of the actual planning and implementation of the killing process, leaving that in the more than capable hands of the Nazi officials, including Himmler, Frank and Heydrich. ...read more.

Middle

to carry out there instructions. Himmler was able to directly comit the 800 000 strong S.S. to the tasks of operating the death camps, and so needed no other authority. Most of them believed that they were just doing their duty for Germany and could contently do their tasks without moral objections. Other leaders like Goebbels were passionately anti-semitic and outright about it, but Goebbels with all of his propaganda experience probably conveyed it tactfully. At the Nuremburg trials, many leaders tried to claim ignorance of the program however preposterous that may seem after looking at the evidence, but there is little actual proof of their actions, so there is not much firm indication to support the claims of their responsibility. The earlier T-4 ( euthanasia program ) had been in effect a development program for the search for efficient means of large and refined killings. Some officials such as Bouhler and Brack had been largely involved with T-4 and were able to pass on their extensive knowledge, and implement it in death camps like Treblinka and Belzec. T-4 also demonstrated that mass killings could be carried out by ordinary individuals without hesitation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some policies were frowned upon and met limited opposition, the Catholic church against euthanasia for example, but the actual 'Holocaust' was affected very little by public protest. The public were often made aware of what was happening to the Jews by allied radio broadcasts, leaflet drops and stories brought home by soldiers who had been on the Russian front. But to many these were just rumours and not taken seriously. Everyone involved with the holocaust was each partly to blame. Hitler was the driving force behind most Nazi policies, but not many were his own. He was blamed by the German people, to forget their own responsibility. Himmler and Heydrich came up with and implemented many plans themselves, and were valuable to Hitler to keep his regime going. There was not enough opposition to earlier programs such as T-4 to stem the violence then, and it spiralled out of control. General public opinion, and even whole national organisations opinions, were too well established in their dislike of Jews to be changed even by mass violence. If it had been changed against Hitler's regime, there would not have been sufficient power to do what the regime achieved. 1 Benedict Ashton ...read more.

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