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What Extent Can It Be Argued That Anti Semitism Was Deep Rooted And Widespread In Germany? Sixth Form, History Essay

4028 words - 17 pages

Grace Navin
In the context of the period 1825-1945 to what extent can it be argued that anti-Semitism was deep-rooted and widespread in Germany?
Between 1825 and 1945, the German people faced many changes which challenged their view on the outer world and how they perceived the people within their own country. The Jewish have been persecuted and discriminated against all throughout history spurred on by the belief that the Jewish people were the ones to put Jesus to death, a fact which led to anti-Semitism throughout the world. Anti-Semitism throughout Eastern Europe could be said to have influenced the German people in their apparent vendetta against the Jewish. Daniel Goldhagen would argue that the anti-Semitic culture stems from politics and that deep-rooted genocidal tendency alone with an eliminationist culture led ordinary German people to willingly execute the innocent during the Holocaust and surrounding years.1 Goldhagen sticks to the ideology that the German people willingly killed the Jewish people, and were particularly cruel due to anti-Semitic tendencies; that the German people were never coerced into killing, and were never punished for their refusal to kill Jewish innocents.2 Goldhagen ignores the complexity of the issue that was anti-Semitism within Germany, meaning that I will therefore be arguing against Goldhagen. Christopher Browning refutes Goldhagen's belief, and strongly suggests that the German people were manipulated by a 'popular, ideologically driven, dictoral regime' and its followers with the intent to 'harness' the rest of society.3 Although Browning disagrees with Goldhagen, that the anti-Semitic ways of the German people are what led to such genocidal outcomes, he does agree that anti-Semitism was present within German culture, however, argues that it is not the sufficient singular cause to explain why ordinary German people became killers and that the issue is more complex.
Daniel Goldhagen argues that the moment that the German people participated in the genocidal killing of Jews, it marked their departure for 'the community of "civilised peoples"' and that the partaking of the Holocaust defies explanation.4 Goldhagen generalises the Nazis, SS and German public to all have the 'common denominator' of all being Germans, pursuing the 'German national goal' of the genocidal killing of Jews.5 He stresses that the German people were the biggest perpetrators of the genocide, more so over the SS or the police. Yehuda Bauer is but one of many historians to dispute Goldhagen, stating that Goldhagen is not fully aware of some aspects of German society within the nineteenth century, and does not acknowledge that anti-Semitism comes in many different forms, other than just genocidal murder.6 Bauer states that German people could not be so deep-rooted anti-Semitic as the Social Democrat party, who had an explicit anti-anti-Semitism program, were the largest party in the German Reichstag by 1912, a mere nineteen years prior...

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