The holocaust is one of the most memorable, yet traumatic historical
events. The event affected entire populations and changed the future of
the Jewish community in the world. The holocaust was a social cleansing
action because the German Nazis believed that they were the superior
race. This is the reason why they undertook the holocaust in a bid to
‘cleanse’ the German society. The killing of Jews is the most
popular action of the holocaust. However, the Nazis also murdered people
from other societies and countries, as well as the disabled, those with
different political and ideological views (United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum, 2013). In addition to killing Jews in Germany, the
Nazis also killed Jews in other countries that they occupied across
Europe during the Second World War. Thus, it is a historical debate on
the role of the occupants of countries occupied by Germany in the
During the holocaust, the Germans moved the Jews to concentration camps
both in Germany and German- occupied territories (Davies & Lukas, 2001).
This was done with ease because the Germans used military power, and
terror from their sympathizers to execute their supposed enemies. As
they moved into new lands, the governments and the people of the
occupied territories did not try to stop them. This was meant to appease
the Germans so that they would not attack the occupiers of the new
territories (Cesarani, 2011). Thus, the people in the new lands just
watched as the Germans executed Jews as a protective measure. Based on
this, it would be accurate to say that the people in the occupied
territories were collaborators because they watched the holocaust unfold
without stopping it.
Thus, the people were guilty because they never made any effort to stop
the holocaust. In most countries, the governments and residents offered
information about Jews so as to protect themselves. This can be viewed
as collaboration because they had the option of not offering the
information. If they had put up a resistance against the Germans and
refused to cooperate in offering information, they would have halted the
holocaust before it caused all the chaos witnessed. This means that the
European communities in occupied territories may also have been willing
to exterminate Jews (Bergen, 2009). On the other hand, it would also be
accurate to say that the communities and governments of occupied
territories cooperated in a self- preservation measure. It is human
instinct to first protect oneself before protecting others.
Historical records show that the extermination of Jews was
institutionalized long before the killings began. It is noted that there
was not a single social, political, professional, or religious
institution came to the rescue of Jews (Bergen, 2003). The
institutionalized extermination of Jews was acceptable across Europe due
to the fact that all the institutions found in a civilized society never
objected to the anti- Semitism. Some Christian organizations declared
that Jews who converted to Christianity were brethrens and were thus,
exempted from the institutional alienation. However, this only lasted
for a while (Mazower, 2008).
This lack of countering forces indicates that people across Europe were
guilty as they watched the Nazi Germans implement the institutionalized
extermination of Jews. It should be noted that this institutionalized
alienation of Jews is what led to the eventual elimination through
murder (Mazower, 2008). If the social and political groups in the
European society had objected to the alienation of Jews, it would have
been hard for the Nazi Germans to carry out the holocaust. Resistance
would have made alienation of the Jews difficult and thus, prevented the
institutionalized alienation of Jews from escalating to murder
(Cesarani, 2011). It should also be noted that the holocaust would not
be possible without the support of the rest of society. Therefore, the
fact that there seems to have been no opposing forces, points to the
fact that the European society was guilty of the holocaust.
In addition to this, the Jews in Germany were given an option to convert
to other religions or get assimilated in the society. This would exempt
them from extermination because they would be considered part of the
society. However, this option was not offered to Jews in occupied
territories. Those with an option were those whose grandparents from
four generations before had been converted to other religions, or had
been assimilated (Zuccotti, 1999). This outright meant that most Jews
were to be exterminated because they were subjected to options that were
not within their control. The societies in the occupied territories were
guilty of letting the holocaust occur because they never put up a
resistance to this provision for exemption.
A very unique feature of the holocaust was the formation of
concentration camps where Jews lived. In these camps, the Jews were
tortured, and they lived in the most extreme human circumstances. These
concentration camps were spread across Europe, and across different
societies. In these societies, the people just watched as the Nazis and
their sympathizers collected Jews and put them in concentration camps.
If anything, the Jews in concentration camps were used for medical
experiments by doctors and researchers (Lifton, 2000). This shows that
the society was equally guilty of the holocaust as they never objected
to the inhuman treatment of the Jews. Alternatively, the societies did
not have an option but to accept the situation because the Nazis ruled
with terror and any Jewish sympathizers were put through the same
During the holocaust, other European countries facilitated the capture
of Jews in their countries. The Jews were arrested and shipped to
Germany where they would be put up in concentration camps. This was done
by spreading strong anti- Semitic views across Europe by the Nazis. The
societies where anti- Semitism was preached did not object to the order
to ship Jews to German concentration camps (Black, 2001). Thus, the
societies in occupied territories and other European nations were
equally guilty in the holocaust. They volunteered to arrest Jews and
ship them to Germany. This showed that the societies were helpers of the
Germans in the holocaust. The societies in occupied territories actively
participated in rounding up Jews and having them shipped to German
During the Second World War, Germany had emerged as a strong economic
giant in Europe. This made it easy for the Nazis to influence
governments in occupied lands to put Jews in concentration camps. Some
countries such as Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland, put up
resistance and only copliend with the concentration camp rule when they
were pressured to do so (Hielberg, 2003). This shows that these
countries, although guilty too of the holocaust, just watched as the
holocaust happened. Their participation was forced, and they usually
just let German Nazis to carry out thheir activities in their lands.
In conclusion, it is clear that the societies in occupied territories
did not actively participate in the holocaust. However, the fact that
they mostly just watched as the holocaust happened shows that they were
also guilty of the holocaust. Some countries, however, helped the Nazi
Germans voluntarily and thus, they were guilty of the holocaust as much
as the Nazis. Thus, the holocaust was majorly facilitated by both the
helpers and those who watched as it happened. Those who watched as the
holocaust happened were guilty because they never put up any resistance
to the holocaust. They never tried to counter the anti- Semitic wave
that was spreading across Europe. However, Germany was a powerful
country during the Second World War and thus, most countries had no
choice but to cooperate with Germany. Additionally, any Jewish
sympathizers were also killed and thus, the societies in occupied
territories had no choice but to cooperate with the Nazis.
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The holocaust is one of the most memorable, yet traumatic historical