According to the Universal Oxford Dictionary, terror is defined as “the state of being terrified or greatly frightened; intense fear, fright or dread. The action or quality of causing dread…, ” while violence is “the exercise of physical force so as to inflict injury on or damage to persons or property….” How are these definitions applicable to Nazi Germany in its treatment of conquered countries and populations, and particularly of the Jews? In one sense, the Jews were a part of the overall German plan of world conquest and destruction. Nevertheless, the specific manner and method which the Germans devised for the annihilation of the Jews, physically and spiritually, merit special attention, as do the factors which motivated the Nazi government.
It is not necessary to engage in a historical review of the German nation from the date of its appearance on the world scene. Neither should we compare, in historical terms, the terror and violence of Spartacus in Rome, the Sicarii in ancient Judea, the Jacobins in France, or the Social Revolutionaries in tsarist Russia, no matter how one views these phenomena, with the terror and violence of Nazi Germany.
Mention should be made, however, of the myth of Germanic racial superiority which evolved in the nineteenth century. The Germans believed that they were the bearers of true culture, and that what the other peoples (“races” in German terminology) had to offer was either inferior or injurious. For example, since Slavic culture was viewed as inferior, the Slavs were to be slaves. The Jews, however, were not only inferior, they were harmful to the pure race. Therefore, they had to be eliminated.
This was the German concept of racial anti-Semitism, a case of all-out warfare against logic and against all spiritual values. In addition, there was the attitude of the Church toward the Jews. Attention should be called particularly to the following two essays: “The Silence of Pope Pius XII and the Beginning of the 'Jewish Document, '” by Aryeh L. Kubovy, and “Vatican Policy and the 'Jewish Problem' in 'Independent Slovakia'” (1939-1945), by Livia Rothkirchen. Both were published in Yad Vashem Studies, volume VI, Jerusalem 1967 pp. 7-26 and pp. 27-53. A document on the Church's attitude toward the Holocaust is found in The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth.