Debit/Credit Payment

Credit/Debit/Bank Transfer

Searching for Meaning in the Holocaust

March 18, 2007
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It is estimated that 9 to 11 million people were slaughtered in the Holocaust, including many races and people groups besides the Jewish people, in Hitler’s effort to create a master race. However, the Jewish people were the most numerous of his victims. While we honor the millions of non-Jewish victims, this article provides a Jewish perspective. It was written in answer to this question: What lesson should the Jewish people in the world learn from the Holocaust? We think Jeremy and Ari’s answer gives us a better understanding of how significant this day is for the Jewish people.

Many well-intentioned people attempt to categorize the Holocaust as the genocide of another oppressed minority and relegate the lesson to one of tolerance and mutual understanding. Museums, memorials, and foundations have all been dedicated to this concept of “tolerance,” thereby blurring the fundamental differences between anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. The Holocaust was not just another genocide. There is no argument that our world is in dire need of more tolerance; however, labeling the Holocaust as the mere product of bigotry is a manifestation of moral ambiguity and a lack of understanding of the essence of the Jewish Nation.

All other genocides throughout history were the consequence of the acquisition and consolidation of power. This power sought may have been territorial, economic, religious, or political—but the goal was to obtain that power. From Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia to Idi Amin’s in Uganda to Stalin’s in the Soviet Union, these tyrannical despots crushed dissension, instilled fear, and secured power.

The Holocaust, however, is a mysterious historical anomaly. The Jews were arguably the most patriotic demographic in pre-Holocaust Germany. Moses Mendelson, one of the leaders of the German Jewish Reform Movement, accurately represented his fellow Jews by declaring that “Berlin is our Jerusalem, and Germany is our Zion.” German Jews went to great lengths to shed their differences, assimilate into their surroundings, and disappear into German society. Until then, German Jewry was the most assimilated Jewish community in history with a 42% intermarriage rate that was rapidly increasing. German Jews were involved in every aspect of German society, holding positions that Jews in America had yet to acquire.

Germany was the cradle of Western civilization. A science, according to every definition of the word, was created to identify every Jew. Extensive genealogical records were researched by Europe’s most sophisticated military, which proceeded to hunt down any person who had even one Jewish grandparent, ensuring the most comprehensive of exterminations. Executing systematic genocide by day and listening to Wagner classics by night, over 40% of the concentration camp officers had either MDs or PhDs. Not the “intolerant animals” one would expect.

This irrational hatred is best illustrated by Hitler’s fateful decision to allocate his remaining resources to the complete extermination of the Jews at the expense of emerging victorious against the Allies. His hatred of the Jews, deeply encoded in his soul, overcame the rational strategic decision to defeat the Allied forces. Many say that decision is what cost him the war.

To the intellectually honest student of history, hatred of the Jews is unique in that it transcends time and circumstance. When poor, Jews are hated for being lazy parasites, and when rich, for conspiring to dominate the economy and take over the world. In the same breath as being blamed for communism and socialism, Jews are hated for the exploitation and selfishness of capitalism. At the very heart of the matter, Jews are hated for one thing—being Jews. Why?

Who better to ask than the most successful anti-Semite in history, Adolph Hitler, who taught, “The Jews have inflicted two wounds on humanity: circumcision on the body, and conscience on the soul.” A war on the Jewish people is a war on G-d.* A war on the Jews is a war on the absolutes of “good” and “evil,” morality, ethics, and compassion. To a Jew, what is good is beautiful. To an Aryan, what is beautiful is good. Aryan philosophy dictated that the mentally disabled and deformed should be immediately exterminated, not cared for and nurtured. The weak should be crushed and the strong, exalted. Hitler hated the Jews for inflicting G-d upon the world, exposing evil for what it is, and for being a light unto the nations—a sacred task burned into the Jewish soul. Through the depths of our suffering, the Jews exposed the purity of Hitler’s evil by being its “beneficiary” in the eyes of the world, and even in death, being that light.

Is the lesson we should learn from this tragedy that prejudice is evil, and we need more tolerance? Or is there a more powerful message we must understand?

Safeguarding the Jewish Identity
Hitler’s primary purpose was to destroy Jewry. The assertion that the Holocaust was a genocide like any other, and just another coincidental example of intolerance, does not fight the objective of Nazism, but rather succumbs to it. Classifying the Nation of Israel as a nation like all others and relegating our history and heritage to chance is the most dangerous and effective way of destroying the essence of our people and the Eternal Covenant forged between the Children of Israel and G-d.

The most important message of the Holocaust is not tolerance; it is the Jewish identity. Whether the Jews of the Crusades, the Maranos of Spain [Jews forced to convert to Christianity], or the refuseniks of the Soviet Union [Jews refused permission to emigrate to Israel], Jews have raised their cups for centuries and sung in a joyous whisper, “In every generation, there are those who seek to destroy us, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hands.” Claiming that the Jewish genocide of the Holocaust was incidental rather than its very purpose, and that tolerance is the only lesson to be learned is, in a sense, the destruction of our Jewish identity and the denial of our Jewish destiny.

Hitler did not seek to destroy the memory of the Jew; in fact, he was committed to establishing museums dedicated to an “extinct race.” The best memorial to the six million Jewish martyrs is the perpetuation of that which Hitler sought to destroy—the Jewish identity. Fighting the rampant extinction of our people at the hands of assimilation and intermarriage by integrating Jewish education and observance into the life of every Jewish child, instilling Jewish pride, and fulfilling our Jewish destiny—that is the lesson our nation must learn from our greatest tragedy.

*Orthodox Jews do not spell out the Lord’s name in order to show reverence for Him.

Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz are the founders of “Shema Israel—A Light unto the Nations,” an organization dedicated to strengthening the emotional and spiritual connection of people around the world to The Land of Israel. As a “new generation” Jewish voice in Israel, their mission is to share the beauty of Torah [Gen.–Deut.], Israel, and Judaism with all those who seek to understand the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Visit their Web site: www.thelandofIsrael.com

Photo Credit:

Latest News

Current Issue

View e-Dispatch

PDF Dispatch

Search Dispatch Articles

  • Order