- Put to death, execute
- Liquidation number
- Liquidation of Jewry
- Finished (off)
- Special actions
- Special treatment
- Specially treated
- Subject to special treatment
- Major cleaning actions
- Execution activity
- Executive measure
- Treated appropriately
- Conveyed to special measure
- Security police measure
- Worked over in Security Police manner
- Solution of the Jewish question
- Cleaning up of the Jewish question
- Judenfrei gemacht : (area) made free of Jews
Psychological manipulations were a hallmark of the Nazi regime. It was not so easy to have “civilized Germans” murder six million Jews. To help, the Germans employed repression, rationalization and justification. Words such as “killing”, “murder” or “genocide” were not uttered. The words listed above were used to carry out the dirty business.
Heinrich Himmler, master of the mind-bend, repeated over and over that what they were doing was a good thing – the Jew had to be destroyed.
- The Jews are a danger to Germany and the world
- The Jews are evil
- The Jews are criminals
- The Jews are vermin
The mantra – “Jews are a danger” and they had a plot to conquer the German people penetrated all Nazi offices and activities. The idea became a cornerstone of German foreign policy. “Thus,” states Raul Hilberg in Destruction of the European Jews, “the conviction grew that foreign statesmen who were not very friendly toward Germany were Jews, part-Jews, married to Jews, or somehow dominated by Jews (Hilberg at 284).
On February 5, 1943, the following instructions were issued:
“Stress: If we lose this war, we do not fall into the hands of some other states but will all be annihilated by world Jewry. Jewry firmly decided to exterminate the Germans. International law and international custom will be no protection against the Jewish will for total annihilation” (Id. at 285).
In 1943 Himmler stated: “We [have] the moral right vis-a-vis our people to annihilate this people which wanted to annihilate us” (Id. at 275).
The criminality of the Jew was often highlighted in the press. This press instruction was issued:
“Stress: In the case of the Jews there are not merely a few criminals (as in every other people), but all of Jewry rose from criminal roots, and in its very nature it is criminal. The Jews are not people like other people, but a pseudo-people welded together by hereditary criminality” (Id. at 286).
Further, when referring to the confiscated property of the Jews, the Germans emphasized that it was the: ‘utilization of the property of the Jewish thieves’ (Id.).
In order to bolster the idea of the Jew as a criminal who wants to kill children, a collection of stories about alleged Jewish torture of Christian children was published. This book, The Jewish Ritual Murders, was distributed to hundreds of members of the Einsatzgruppen – the mobile killing units (Id.).
It was not sufficient to label Jews as criminals. Jews had to be reduced to something other than human beings. You may be a criminal – but you are still a person. Vermin, on the other hand, are easy to kill. You want to kill them – get rid of them. “Jews and lice” were often said in one breath, as if they are one in the same. The extermination of Jews and the need for “cleansing actions” made the killing seem more like swatting flies that killing humans. In fact, the term “Judenrein,” usually translated as “free of Jews,” actually means “clean of Jews.” (Id. at 287).
If even after this propaganda offensive, there was a shred of doubt that killing Jews was a praiseworthy act, it was made clear that orders were to be obeyed. Once obeyed, the soldier was absolved. Himmler spoke to a killing party in Minsk. He told his soldiers that “they need not worry. Their conscience was in no way impaired, for they were soldiers who had to cary out every order unconditionally” (Id. at 288). This was surely comforting.
If that was still insufficient to allow for a clear conscious, Himmler continued to explain to his killing units that they must look at nature. There was killing everywhere – animals, even plants. “Whoever tired of the fight went under” (Id. at 293). This articulated the ultimate rationalization – kill or be killed.
Humans are capable of great good, but we are also capable of great evil. The 1984-Newspeak utilized in Nazi Germany infiltrates daily life. During the cold war – there was a desperate struggle between “free people” and the Communist “aggressors.” The world was split into “light” and “dark” lands. The Vietnam era saw the Vietnamese people labeled as “gooks.” Reagan declared that there was an “evil empire.” Now Trump has decided that all Mexicans are criminals and Muslims are terrorists.
Newspeak does not cease to plague our world. We must be ever vigilant.
Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Teaneck, NJ. Holmes & Meier. 1985.