There is no way to understand the thinking behind the Holocaust. Trying to pry open such madness is a waste of time, in my opinion, because it isn’t amenable to normal, rational human inquiry. This is pure evil, and therefore it doesn’t match the boundaries we have set for ourselves as decent human beings.
If savages had murdered eleven million people, we’d find a way to rationalise it, since that’s what savages do. They murder people. But it wasn’t savages who committed this crime, or at least, not by our definition of a savage. It was people from the heart of European civilisation.
It was Germans.
We tiptoe around it now, but the truth is that the appalling crime of the Holocaust was conceived and executed by Germans, and in fairness to them, they have embraced their own crime, unlike the Austrians, the Hungarians, the Romanians and the Ukrainians, who ran the death camps. And of course the Croats who ran the most savage of Fascist regimes. But at the same time, the worst abomination Europe has ever experienced was inflicted on humanity by Germany and we’d do well to remember that.
Why a reasonable, rational people would do this thing remains a mystery. If Germans could be induced to create the Holocaust then it must be possible to create these obscenities anywhere.
The only way such behaviour becomes possible is when the oppressors cease to think of the oppressed as people. We’re seeing the same dehumanisation today with Islamic State maniacs depicting their enemies as vermin. With Islamist madmen murdering people solely for drawing pictures. With marches in Germany against Muslims, and with the Israeli authorities characterising Palestinian people as cockroaches.
Have we learned nothing?