Why isn’t Holocaust a normal genocide?

Sometimes when people learn about the Holocaust, they think it’s similar to the Armenian genocide, or to the former Jugoslavian one. Actually, they are mistaken. You can ask: „Why is it different?” Well, you should watch some photo I selected from Google images (all the photos are selected from Google Images) to show the difference.

via Google

This is a photo about the Armenian genocide. It refers to when Turkish army started to kill thousands and more of Armenian people. Usually they were killed by hunger or exhaustion  by the marches or murdered by the soldiers. It happened during the first period of 20th century, when the Turkish were allied with Germans. This genocide had some particularity, because there was some episode about scientific rationalisation of killing, but only some isolated cases.

Now, let’s look at this photo, please.

via Google

This is a photo about genocide of former Jugoslavia. It refers to when Bosnian-Serbians (and also Bosnian-Croatians, in certain occasions) killed thousands of muslim Bosnian people (and sometimes Bosnian-Croatians or Bosnian-Serbians). In that case, genocide wasn’t really a „scientific” method, because there was too much chaos, there was no organization for more complex actions.

We can consider other genocides, like the Redskin’s extermination, or Rwanda civil war, but for now we should focus on this one example.

The Holocaust is different. Why? Let’s observe this photo.

1389.9 Holocaust A
via Google

„Who’s that man? Aren’t we talking about the Holocaust?” Well, this is, for me, a photo which can represent it. Please, observe again all photos selected. I chose them not only to make the reader emotionally moved, but also because I want to send you a message, using a single photo as a rapresentation of an entire genocide. Don’t you notice some difference?

In the previous two photos, you can understand that death was an evidence for assassinated and assassins. When the ones were killed by the seconds, for assassinated and assassins there was a direct contact with the death.

In the third photo, you can see a normal man, who looks like a simple clerk. He’s Eichmann, he was a Nazi, an SS officer and he was responsible for the important part of the Holocaust, but he didn’t kill anyone with his own hands.

So, the main point is that the Holocaust had bureaucracy, a scientific method and ideological rationality to it. The victims weren’t simply excluded and killed, but they were deportated, imprisonated, tortured and killed with a scientific and economic consideration, so death became an economic instrument. For this point Holocaust isn’t a normal genocide.

Many times people think Holocaust is similar to the soviet system of deportation, where people were transfered to gulags, forced to work and often killed. They say Hitler and Stalin are the same, and what’s more they say Communism and Nazism are the same thing. People think they were allied and friends, because they confused difference between a non-aggression pact and an alliance but forgetting the WW2 and cruelty of Stalingrad, Leningrad, Oriental Prussia, Berlin. There are  even films about this theory. But, also in this case, there is an important error.

Here is a photo presenting a day in a gulag.

via Google

Millions of people died in gulags. Also in this case burocracy organized everything with a rational and scientific method. But  it isn’t the same, you can’t say there was the “soviet Holocaust”. Why? There were differences. For example, in gulag people were deportated for political reasons, because prisoners were considereted traitors or criminals. During the Nazi Holocaust, victims were killed not only for political reasons, but also and principally for their race.

An important difference is that Nazism was an ideology created by a man like Hitler, who was a crazy person and his ideas were born from his obsessions. Communism was theorized by intellectuals, it’s based on social and economic points, it isn’t created by a fullish person.

So everything varies: first of all during Holocaust victims were usually made inhuman, only then they were killed. Nazists considered them animals, not humans. In gulags it didn’t happen, because, there, humans were humans, not animals just treated in a terrible way.

So, you can’t think of the soviet system of deportation as similar to Holocaust because millions of people died. There were many other mass murders, like in Cambodia, in Timor Est or in Indonesia. Should we consider them the Holocaust? And what about redskins? What about Armenia, former Jugoslavia, Rwanda, Australia? Is everything the Holocaust? No, this would be making history too simple and stereotypical.

Don’t you think stereotypes are dangerous?

Nicolo` Cascone.



This blog 'Holocaust Why?' is a result of the work of the students from Poland, Germany and Italy who gathered together in order to learn, explore and reflect on how Holocaust influenced to the modern world and thinking. Here you will find our reflections, impressions and thoughts of our 5 days experience while completing the three-sided project. Welcome to our site.


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