Life Unworthy of Life: Racial Phobia and Mass Murder in Hitler's Germany

By James M. Glass | Go to book overview

TWO
THE INDIFFERENCE THESIS AND SCIENCE AS POWER

In its effort to diminish the role of ideology, indifference research focuses on the party, on public opinion, on the lack of overt expression of anti-Semitism in Germany, on party membership and its exclusivity, and on the primacy of the SS in the organization and administration of the death camps.1 But perhaps these are not necessarily the only indices for understanding the Holocaust. Ideology can be absorbed into social value, into cultural percepts governing the sense of the group body, its integrity, and its boundaries, the demarcation lines between clean and dirty, pure and impure. In this respect, a more fitting index for understanding lies in the fact that only Jews and gypsies were singled out from all over Europe to be transported to death camps. Only Jewish and gypsy children were singled out to be destroyed so as to prevent retribution from future generations.

Millions, including Russians, gypsies, and Poles, died as a consequence of Nazi barbarism. It is essential not to understate the suffering experienced by many groups at the hands of Germans and their collaborators during World War II. But it was only Jews who in the racist policies of the Third Reich were designated to be wiped from the face of the earth--every last man, woman, child, and infant. While the German armies were razing the Warsaw Ghetto, a few kilometers away Polish citizens led relatively normal lives, patronizing cafes, shopping, riding streetcars. Diarists of the Lodz Ghetto

-23-

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