Antisemitism is to blame for the lack of concern among non-Jews during the up rise of the Holocaust.
It is hard to grasp the number of lives lost during the Holocaust. How someone could have so much hatred towards one group of people. Or how so many people could set back and watch something like this take place without protest. To begin to understand how a tragedy like the Holocaust could have took place without intervention we need to understand antisemitism.
Merriam-Webster OnLine defines antisemitism as "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group"(Blah, Blah, Blah). Antisemitism is a little more complex than it sounds. Two thousand years ago the Romans drove the Jews out of the land now called Israel. The Jews went all over the word trying to maintain their belief system and culture as a minority. 1
It was especially hard for the Jews to fit in to a Christian society. Jews do not share the Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Because of this belief they were viewed as outcasts in most Christian societies. Most Christians taught that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. However, we know now that Jesus was executed by the Roman government. The Romans viewed Jesus as a political thread to their rule.
Religious conflicts weren't the only problems the Jews faced. They also faced economic problems such as restrictions on jobs and owning land. But at the same time, since the early Church did not allow lending money with interest, Jews filled this necessary role of moneylenders for the Christian majority.
As times became desperate, Jews became scapegoats for many of the people's problems. One example was the "Black Death". Jews were blamed for causing this event that killed thousands of people throughout Europe during the middle ages. Around 1400, in Span, Jews were given three options: Convert to Christianity, leave the country or be executed. In the late 1800s the government in Russia and Poland helped organize or did not prevent violent attacks on Jewish neighborhoods, known as pogroms, in which mobs murdered Jews and raided their homes and stores. 2
At the same time, during the 1800s, ideas of political equality and freedom spread throughout western Europe and Jews almost became equal citizens under the law. At the same time new forms of antisemitism emerged. There were leaders in Europe that wanted to establish colonies in Africa and Asia. These leaders argued that whites were superior to other races and therefore had to spread and take over the weaker and less civilized races. A lot of writers applied this argument to Jews, mistakenly defining Jews as a race of people called Semites who shared common blood and physical features. With this type of...