How was it possible for the Final Solution to be conceived and so nearly to succeed?
When the majority of people see, hear or read about the atrocities committed in the time of the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’ they wonder how and why the implementation and even the build up to the holocaust ever occurred. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question, as is indeed the case with the majority of other questions surrounding the subject. The implementation of the Nazi Holocaust cannot be pinpointed to one man, or for that matter a small group of men; it was an act brought into fruition by a multitude of factors. Issues include the involvement of European industry, the German soldiers involved in the war itself, and those simply there for extermination, the men and women high up in the complicated hierarchy of the Nazi Party, the involvement of Hitler himself, and even the cooperation of the individual citizens in Germany, and indeed many surrounding countries. And then there is the history of anti-Semitism in Germany and throughout Europe, including England, and the humiliation and degradation that Germany suffered after the end of the First World War. In this essay, rather than proclaim to be able to answer the above question, I will attempt to highlight the major contributing factors to the implementation of the Final Solution, and will conclude with an impartial view of the issue, while leaving certain elements of the question still open for discussion. I will firstly outline the brief historical background of the Jewish Holocaust.
Almost immediately after the dictatorial establishment of Hitler, the Nazis began to put into practice their racial ideology. Echoing ideas historically popular in Germany as well as the majority of other western nations, including England well before the 1930s, the Nazis believed that the Germans were racially superior and that there was a struggle for survival between them and "inferior races." They saw the likes of gypsies, the homosexual and the handicapped as a serious biological threat to the purity of the perfect German, ‘Aryan’ race, but most of their efforts were concentrated on the popular anti-Semitist ideologies of the time, and for the European Jews, the tyrannical destruction of their communities, livelihoods and religions was about to begin. Over the next few months and years, the Jewish communities, which had been established in Germany for over 1,600 years (Gilbert 1978:2), were to be brutally shunned from public existence, their homes repopulated by German citizens, their shops covered in graffiti and broken into, and their families split and destroyed. Very soon, the first ghettos were being built to house the majority of German Jews in particular towns, with very little food, hard labour and no livelihoods - some ghettos such as Krakow, in Poland were completely walled-in so to prevent any means of escape. The idea of such places was to starve these people to death whilst still utilising their usefulness in unpaid labour and trade.
With the beginning of the Second World War on September 2nd 1939 and the invasion of Poland by Germany, the Nazis began their mass extermination of all ‘sub human’ citizens, the majority of efforts being aimed towards the Jews in particular. There were the ‘Einsatzgruppen,’ organized ‘killing squads’, normally inhabited by the SS, which ritually killed hundreds of people a day with the aid of guns and large pits dug by the ‘sub humans’ themselves. After public protests in 1941, however, the Nazi leadership continued this euphemistically termed ‘euthanasia’ program in secret. Methods of exterminating the ‘sub human’ communities in Europe evolved to meet greater deadlines and targets. The methods of mass extermination evolved from killing squads, to makeshift gas chambers made from things such as commercial Lorries, with exhaust fumes connected to the main bodies of the vehicles, and then to the Final Solution, otherwise known as the death camps that exterminated most of the Jewish population from the world in a matter of a few years. On arrival, men were separated from women and children. Prisoners were forced to undress and hand over all valuables. They were then either transported or walked naked into the gas chambers, which were disguised as shower rooms, and either carbon monoxide or Zyklon B was used to asphyxiate them. A minority were selected for forced labor and, after initial quarantine, vulnerable to malnutrition, exposure, epidemics, medical experiments, and brutality, many perished as a result. After the deaths of the ‘sub humans’ their bodies were either burnt or buried in huge graves, and all of the carcasses were stripped of things of commercial value, such as hair and gold teeth.
Much of the evidence of the human capabilities to do what is considered by most to be wholly inhuman is still heavily to do with the psychology of the Nazis, rather than what is obviously there to see - the events that happened and the thousands of accounts of brutality that have since surfaced after the end of the war. To construct an answer as close to the truth as possible, one must try to focus on the circumstances that drove the Nazis and the German citizens to let the Jewish Holocaust occur, and distinguish the difference between the perpetrators, the impartial people, and the victims involved in the Final Solution. To understand the nature of the holocaust and how it occurred, one must begin by looking at how the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler came into power in the first place.