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Reactions to the Holocaust

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The Holocaust was a period of time that is open to many interpretations due to the nature of the events that took place. Hilberg, having researched for many years with thousands of documents has come to his own conclusions of the reasoning behind events, which are mostly supported by the documents. Hilberg was right on many points but his view of the Jews is critical and his definition of resistance seems to be incorrect, based upon the readings. While Jews did comply on some occasions and certain policies, resistance did occur, as shown by the Reader documents and personal accounts.

Hilberg states that, while there was a strong history of anti-Semitism, mass murder was not a step deemed necessary in most German's eyes (Hilberg 5). The Anti-Semites' Petition of 1880 is a perfect example of a strong anti-Jewish past, shown by the four points asked for within the document, including that "Jews be excluded from all governmental (authoritative) positions and that their employment in the administration of justice...undergo an appropriate limitation" (Read 29). An item to point out from this document is the limited number of signatures that the item was able to receive. The petition was only able to obtain 250.000 signatures, which out of tens of millions within the nation, is a very low percentage of the population. The Reich Chancellor, upon receiving the petition, merely acknowledged that he had received it and to give a government response aside denying the signers their immediate goals. (Read 25). The political pressure to have a racist attitude against Jews was not present within the population. Most people wanted no part in the deprivation of rights based solely upon religion. Another example of a population that did not hate Judaism is the writing style of Hitler in Mein Kampf. Hitler, within his own writings, was forced to use a gradual process of anti-semitism to not appear as a quack. In the beginning of his book, he states (when speaking about a regular attitude toward Jews), "I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded any special emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness" (Mein 51) but later on within the chapter writes, "I had at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German" (Mein 60). He uses words such as "gradually" or "come to the conclusion" several times to give the appearance of a learned hatred based upon fact instead of an ignorant bias. Hitler is forced to write this way because he has to assume that the reader will not be anti-Semitic upon opening the book, further showing the fact that most of the population did not share a racial hatred of Jews. While these documents do not show a popular movement against Judaism, they do show the potential of violence within the population. Hilberg is proven to be correct with the belief of the Holocaust as a "final product of an earlier age" (Hilberg 5).

If the above statements are shown to be true, then how was the Nazi movement so effective during the Holocaust with so few

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