Does anyone know the first credited usage of “Holocaust” with respect to Hitler’s attempted extirpation of Jews in WWII? I first heard of it in QB VII.

In March of 1942, the World Jewish Congress issued a bulletin stating, in part, “…the holocaust took on a formal design, under an explicit policy…”

That’s the first reference to it I could find.

As an aside, I heard before from a Jewish friend that many Jews did not like the term Holocaust (besides for the obvious reasons) because the term originally meant a sacrifice offered up to God and destroyed by fire. Needless to say, using the same term to describe the killing of millions of Jews and burning them is rather insulting. She said the preferred term is Shoah which refers simply to obliviation. I believe her, but I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable using the term around Jewish people. Seems about as “watch me mangle your culture” as ‘Happy Channukah!’

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Is “obliviation” the same as “oblivion”?

Could they mean obliteration?

they mean dead! my grandfather helped liberate one of the camps. he made sure that his g-kids knew the truth.
already, there are swine who are saying it didn’t happen.
All true S.Dopers----spread the truth. don’t let the lies win!!!1

Actually, I think it started as Oblivion, and sort of turned into Obliteration. This is what happens when you type while trying to eat a turkey sandwich.

I stand humbled and corrected. then again, you guys get the idea.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

What about those who feel the Holocaust is not unimportant, but no more important than other state-sponsored, institutionalized genocidal acts ? Quite a few, versus Armenians, Greeks, Hutus, Albanians, Tibetans, Timorese, Aussie aborigines, Native Americans, etc… Depending how you define a “holocaust”, even Menachem Begin rolling flaming 55 gallon drums into Palestinian camps of women and children in 1947 might arguably be included.

Elie Wiesel’s comment in a recent Newsweek editorial “…but it’s no Holocaust…” seems rather disingenuous.

There is a conservative group in Washington called the Liberty Lobby. Do you know why the group was formed?
They started in the early '50’s with the intention of proving the Holocaust never occurred. They have since branched out.
But if you ever run across their newspaper “The Spotlight” and get the feeling that there’s a really anti-Semitic agenda to it…well, how 'bout that?
I have a feeling if this thread goes much further it may end up in Great Debates.

They were not “flaming 55 gallon drums”, they were 55 gallon drums filled with explosives and shrapnel, and they were not rolled into Palestinian camps, but rather into crowds of Arabs waiting for the bus in Jerusalem.
Sheesh, you give the guy a bad rap!

One thing I will never understand is, why did the majority of the Jews NOT stand up for themselves? I would have fought them to the death!

I maybe wrong, but isn’t it true that the majority of the Jews did absolutely nothing to stop the SS from taking them away?

Confusious Say:
-Man who stand on toilet,
Is high on pot-

That’s easy for you to say, Brother H. I’d like to see what you’d do when the Gestapo, armed to the teeth and in the middle of a crowd of cheering supporters rounded you and your family up and shipped you off to a death camp.

This kind of statement betrays a nauseating ignorance of the conditions under which the holocaust was organized and carried out.

Sure, it was a fight to the death -
a fight seven million people lost.

It is essential to understand one important thing when discussing the matter: no one at the time had any idea what was going to happen. There had been pogroms in Europe before, but never at the scale of Hitler’s Germany. No one could conceive of what Hitler was doing; the Jews went along because they didn’t know they were going to die. (They most likely expected being treated like those in the Japanese internment in the U.S. – bad conditions, but no organized attempt to murder them all. Note, too, that the Japanese internees went without challenging the authorities.)

This is the primary reason they went along. Why get yourself killed when you could spend a few years in prison until Hitler was overthrown? German Jews expected Germany to come to its senses. Jews in other countries hoped the war would end, and prefered the slim chance of survival to the sure suicide of challenging the Nazis.

Other factors included the excruciatingly slow, systematic, and methodical way in which the Nazis tightened the screws – a small sanction here, a minor insult there. Each sanction was a small increment over the previous one, and people were lulled into thinking that the persecution might end there (and, without knowing the future, had no way of knowing it wouldn’t). The Nazis also would reverse sanctions or make a humane gesture (temporarily – though no one knew that) that made people think that they were coming to their senses.

Nazis also worked hard to fragment the community, creating a false sense of security when your subgroup was temporarily passed over. That famous statement – “they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew” – was a glimpse at the system, which divided the community into small subgroups. Each subgroup was sent off and people outside the group felt relieved and hoped that would be it (again, without knowing the future, and based on their knowledge of past pogroms, they had no reason to think things would end up the way they were).

The evil of the Nazis was literally inconceivable by the people of Europe.


“The evil of the Nazis was literally inconceivable by the people of Europe.”

And now we’re back to the “we didn’t know” and “we couldn’t have known” excuses. Not only was the evil of the Nazis conceivable, it was aided and abetted by many of the peoples of Europe, most notably the Germans themselves. The initial pogroms of the holocaust were indeed incited by the Nazis, but the majority of the destruction was carried out by the hoi pilloi, willingly and with malice aforethought.

Certainly the Jews and others later rounded up for internment were lead to believe they were going to “work camps,” but the people executed by the Nazi death squads that operated during 1939 and 40 were under no such illusion; they were taken out, shot to death and unceremoniously dumped in a pit.
(This practice was deemed both too inefficient and psychologically damaging - to the SS men who had to carry out the atrocities - and was abandoned in favor of the mass extermination practices of Auschwitz et al). The locals certainly knew what was going on.

A careful reading of The Diary of Anne Frank and relatively recent additions to works examining the Frank’s plight and flight to The Netherlands from Germany gives a very good account of the types of misinformation the Nazis were spreading regarding the internment camps, but they also portray quite vividly the reality of the “rumors” the Franks were aware of - they knew nobody ever came back from the work camps. They also knew they had to hide from their neighbors - the ones who could not conceive of the evils of the Nazis.

Perhaps you meant they couldn’t conceive of the magnitude and efficiency of the Nazi death machinery.

Exactly. They knew the Nazis were murdering people, but couldn’t conceive of the scale. And the nature of the Nazi method was to constantly give those who were left behind the false hope that they would be spared. Most people, not knowing the future, thought that eventually the Nazis would realize they were making a mistake (and didn’t believe they could do such an efficient job of murder).

It is also ignored that the Jews had no good options. They were outnumbered and outgunned by the Nazis and, after 1940, had nowhere to hide. So the choice was 1) be killed by the Nazis immediately by resisting or 2) be killed by the Nazis later by cooperating with them. Once was absolutely certain death. The other was death – but not absolutly certain (some people did, after all, survive the camps).

It’s all fine to give advice 50 years after the fact, but the Jews of Europe didn’t have that luxury, and could only make decisions on what they knew at the time. Rumors of the truth certainly been known, but not everyone believes every rumor they hear, and the cruelty of it was all too often discounted as mere exaggeration.

These aren’t “excuses”; they’re the way people thought. You have to look at the situation from the point of view of 1940, not 1999. One expert on the Holocaust (quoted in a recent American Heritage) makes exactly the same point: that modern analysts can’t understand that people looked at things in a different light back then. The evidence you cite did not bring out the same reactions in people in 1940 as it does to you, primarily because you know how everything worked out.

It’s a common fallacy of historical analysts to assume that people in the past 1) knew the future and 2) reacted to events the same way we would. To get to the truth, you have to drop these assumptions.


Nickrz and RealityChuck: I want to thank you both for opening my eyes to the events surrounding the Holocaust. I, of course, new about the travesties that Hitler and his army savagely bestowed upon their victims. What I didn’t know was, why they went along with it.

Both of you have given me, undeniably, the facts that made it all possible. I now see how it all took place and why. I now have the truth of the makings, and your responses will always be with me; in case the subject comes up again.

To Nickrz: In no way was I implying that the Jews were weak in anyway. I just didn’t understand. And the fact that, we can look back on the sad destruction :frowning: of so many people and say what they should’ve done, admittedly, did factor in my question. My post was not meant in jest.

I, of sound mind, would not have went along peacefully. I would’ve been one of the ones that fought back, and died of doing so. And, most definitely, I would’ve taken a few of those sons-of-bitches with me. Freedom means more to me than filling someone elses plan. I do admit that things might have been different for me in those times.

I meant no disrespect. But thanks for jumping my case anyways.

=Brother Haus has learned a valuable lesson: Think before you ask.=

I remember reading about Justice Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court being told about the rumours of the systematic extermination of the Jews by the Nazis, in the early years of the war. His reaction: “It’s not that I don’t believe you - it’s that I can’t believe you.” He simply could not expand his world-view to include such planned atrocities. And he was a very smart man, and Jewish. After I read that, I had a better understanding of why people were sceptical of the stories coming out of occupied Europe.

The odd part is, as was mentioned earlier, many people are outraged at the killing of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi’s but many people either don’t notice or don’t take a stand on other genocidal items. How about the rule of Pol Pot?
Or even the “RTape of Nanking” which occured during WWII before the creation of Nazi death camps and lead to the death of 300,000 Chinese in the first 11 days?

I think most of the public have selective memories of atrocities and only become outraged when these atrocities are a popular cause.

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

Not to attmpt to rationalize public perceptions of mass-murder or genocide, but perhaps the manner and climate of the Nazi atrocities, along with the truly disturbing minutae of the actual procedure, are the reasons that the Holocaust stand out in the public eye.

While not intending any slight on the Asiatic cultures mentioned in the previous posting, Germany had long been an icon in Western culture - a giant in the arts and sciences. For them to produce a regime that instituted genocide as bureaucratic policy is probably what distinguishes the holocaust from other similar events.

Not only were the Jews systematicallt slaughtered, the Nazis sought to erase them from the national consciousness. First removing their rights as persons, then their homes and possessions, down to redistributing their clothes to German families, their hair for U-Boat crews, the very fillings from their teeth. The Jews were systematically consumed by German society - not disposed of - they were utilized as a resource.

“They don’t have a future. That’s not just good, old-fashioned Jew-hating talk; it’s policy now.”