25 September 2008

The Jewish Problem

The Holocaust or mass slaughter of Jewish people by the Nazis is a subject that cannot be ignored when we think of WW2 and its aftermath. At least from the European experience – i.e. keeping Asia and the Pacific aside. Although no one seems to know the facts exactly, historical records suggest that Adolf Hitler had given the order to annihilate the Jews himself, sometime towards the end of 1941. Perhaps a few months earlier.

Historical records also suggest that Hitler was working on an ideology of a pure race – a Nordic race, a master race of Scandanavians and Germans who were believed to be the fittest and most capable of leadership. Hence, it is believed, he ‘had it in’ for the Jews, the Gypsies, the Slavs, the homosexuals and a few other minor ethnic groups. The reason stated for the Holocaust was ethnic cleansing. In other words, it was a racial issue.

However, when we read about Germany during Hitler’s time, we learn that the country – and most of Europe – was in an economic recession. The context of films such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun (see my previous post) or more recent ones from Hollywood such as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Steven Soderberg’s The Good German are, by no means, untrue. And worth noting, if we wish to understand what may (also) have led to the Holocaust.

During the recession, when much of Europe was recovering after WW1, a polarisation had taken place dividing the rich and the poor, and the German people ‘believed’ that the Jews had cornered all the money in their country. The entire commerce of Germany was in the hands of the Jews and, therefore, the Jews were responsible for their poor economic state and well-being. These sentiments were so strong that, when Hitler and the Nazis had proposed getting rid of the Jews, very few Germans had protested.

While surfing the internet recently, I found a document titled The Jewish Problem from Calvin College in Michigan, USA, which gives a pretty clear picture of the Jewish Problem in pre-Nazi Germany through the words of one Max Eichler from the German Propaganda Archive. Here are some excerpts:

“Background: The book from which this section is taken was intended to provide a citizen's handbook to the Third Reich, with many pictures illustrating the way Nazi Germany worked. This section presents the "Jewish Question" from a Nazi viewpoint. Citizens are told that Nazis measures against the Jews are reasonable and defensive — but there are also hints of what was to come.

The source: Max Eichler, Du bist sofort im Bilde (Erfurt: J. G. Cramer's Verlag, 1939) pp. 139-142…

…Yet after six years of a National Socialist government, the 700,000 Jews in Germany were worth 8 billion marks, while the nearly 80 million German citizens were worth only 200 billion marks. Each Jew on average had 4.57, or four-and-a-half times, as much as the average German. Jewish net worth, which had been 4 billion marks in 1918, had doubled, at the expense of the German people. Jews also owned substantial property (for example, more than half — about 60% — of Berlin belonged to the Jews, although they were only 3.8% of the population). That proves the extent to which Jewish parasites had exploited the German people.”

These facts could be true. For, not too long ago, I had heard similar sentiments expressed by an elderly Parsi lady I had met in Mumbai who (passed away several years ago but) had grown up in Germany prior to WW2. She was categorical in stating that the Jews had controlled all the businesses, had made huge sums of money charging astronomical amounts for the products and services they delivered (even the basic necessities), and had made the lives of ordinary German people (including her) miserable.

In her view – and, so it seems, in the views of millions of Germans ‘suffering’ at that time – Adolf Hitler may have come as their saviour.

[Citation: The Jewish Problem, a document from the German Propaganda Archive, Calvin College, Michigan, USA. And, in remembrance of TS – may her soul rest in peace.]

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