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Published on: Questions & answers

Who initiated the Holocaust?

Nineteen thirty-three was a critical turning point in history and in the history of the story of the Holocaust. The Nazis came to power via democratic means,and then proceeded to use the machinery of democracy to dismantle democracy, and ultimately to pursue those whom they defined as their arch enemy and the ultimate evil – and those were the Jewish people.

At the time the Nazis came to power, there were approximately 16 to 17 million Jews in the world, of whom there were about 9 million in Europe at the time, and in Germany itself, approximately half a million or slightly more than that.

According to the Nazis’ racist biological anti-semitic view of the world, the German people, who were part of the Aryan race as they defined it, were the epitome of mankind: They were the most creative, the most cultured, the best in their spirit, they contributed the most to humanity, they were the builders of culture and society. And in that view, the Jews were the exact opposite: the inverse of humanity. They were the destroyers, they were the parasites, they were the devil incarnate,
as the Nazis viewed them.

They described them as microbes or germs that destroy the human body from within, and as such, the Jews as a not quite human creature but in human form, posed to the Nazis, in their sinister power that the Nazis imagined, the greatest threat to Germany and to the world.

Materials are published in accordance with Yad VaShem Remembrance Centre.