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The Effect Of Dehumanization And Subhumanization In Nazi Germany

1903 words - 8 pages

Dr. Spencer, with a PhD in Social Science in International Conflicts said, “Dehumanization is the psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration.” (“Dehumanization of the Enemy”). Dehumanization, or subhumanization, was a major contributor to the success of concentration camps. If people were not killed immediately upon arrival (after the collection of all possessions), they were put through various forms of mental and physical abuse that are categorized as acts of dehumanization. This lead to such deep feelings of fear and lack of self-worth/ identity, that almost always, prisoner would submit to their oppressors, with little rebellion.
At the most basic level, subhumanization is a means to turn people into groups or flocks, just like animals or vermin. It psychologically allows oppressors to see their captives as worthless groups, and strips individuals of their identities. Most believe that the Nazi’s were crazy, but this is far from true in most circumstances. Using rational, strategic thinking alongside logic, subversion of democracy, and idiology, the Nazi’s were able to gain power in a subtle way before the masses realized it (“Prisoner Numbers”). A part of this rational thinking and ideology was forcing names like “rats” or “vermin” upon its victims. Thus, allowing soldiers and enforcers to cope and act how they did because eventually that was how the masses saw the people groupings. Using subconscious ways of subhumanization, the general population saw it fit to kill rats(the minorities), because they were dangerous,disease carrying vermin. The elicit status of the oppressed being “subhuman”, allowed the Germans to rationalise and cope with the Nazi way of thinking (Smith and Livingstone).
We see how the effects of this ideology take place long before actual concentration camps. Jewish people, Gypsies, the disabled, and other “minorities” had to wear different badges (according to which group they belonged to) on their clothing. The badges “identified” them with a group forcing them to be segregated from anyone else, especially the Germans (“Prisoner Numbers”). The manner in which Nazi’s transported the prisoners was disgusting, and a replica of how they transported cattle. As the London Jewish Cultural Centre, who run the website “The Holocaust Explained”, states “Deportation and transportation to camps often took days. Individuals, families, and communities took some personal belongings and were packed into cattle trucks. They were locked into transportation for days.” Agnes, an 11 year-old girl from Czechoslovakia, wrote: “Later we were moved and driven into railway wagons – the sort that transport animals – which were part of a long train.” And Moshe, aged 17, from Hungary, explained to an interviewer: “The doors were shut, leaving us almost in darkness. The grills, too, were closed to prevent escape. Air entered only through the cracks. So we...

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