To What Extent Did Nazi Anti Semitism Stem From Historical European Anti Semitism

3552 words - 14 pages

Beginning in 1920 in the form of propaganda on the side of typical consumer items and lasting all the way until mid-1945, Nazi anti-Semitism had been a prominent characteristic of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). Nazi anti-Semitism has often been considered an anomaly from the anti-Semitism that Europe had traditionally practiced, because of its deliberate execution of the Jewish Question and the horrific cruelty that took place during the Holocaust. It is no question that Nazi anti-Semitism was remembered for its unmatched hatred of the Jews; however, the influence from European anti-Semitism in the medieval times was heavy. The Nazis’ adoption of the “Jew badge” and psychological and racial grounds for justification of anti-Semitism are only a small percentage of the techniques employed by Nazis’ that were inspired by the traditional European actions against Jews. This essay will discuss whether the Nazis simply continued the strands of European anti-Semitism that were already in place or whether they initiated a revolutionary materialization of a sinister phenomenon.
Racial Roots
1860 was the earliest recorded time in history that the term “anti-Semitism” came into the general vocabulary; it was first introduced by a scholar from Austria by the name of Moritz Steinschneider and was intended to clarify the class distance between Aryans and Semites. It was originally formed to bring about harsh and unreasonable Jewish discrimination on the basis of scientifically proven facts. Over time, the phrase “anti-Semitism” grew to become a blanket term for anyone who expressed and followed Judaic beliefs. Use of the words Übermensch and Aryan became more frequent during that time period as well, but likewise to anti-Semitism, were not used to imply racial superiority. “Aryan” was merely a description of one the higher class races in Europe: the Indo-Europeans. The book Thus Spoke Zarathrustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is responsible for the coining of the word Übermensch to represent an “overseer” figure. His principles were based on the idea that the Übermensch symbolized the phase of humanity in which one person achieves immortal characteristics. It has been proposed that Nietzsche’s ideology parallels the interests of the Enlightenment through its emphasis on individualism. What made his ideas stand out was his denial of the necessity of a God. He took the stance that the Übermensch’s “superior above all” mentality would see no room to benefit from a deity and therefore enforce his own regulations upon the population. The nineteenth century saw the rise of the concept of race and pseudoscience. Until the Industrial Revolution and the boom of technological developments, people had been judged by their ethnic ancestries and their financial conditions alone. The public’s popular opinion at the time was the idea of a strong correlation between one’s race and his of her...

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