The Final Solution Was about Something More Than Racism

April 23 2018

Racism—not occasional prejudice but a worldview that posits the “biological” inferiority and superiority of different groups of humans—constituted a crucial component of Nazism. Yet while the Third Reich applied this set of ideas to the Jews—not to mention Africans, Slavs, Gypsies, and others—racial thinking alone does not explain what motivated the Holocaust, as Jeffrey Herf writes:

[R]acial anti-Semitism, with its elements of physical revulsion, sexual panic, and assumption of clear, easily recognizable physical differences, had obvious parallels with European and American racism toward Africans and, later, African-Americans. Like other forms of racism, including that of the slaveholding American South, this anti-Semitism associated [deficiencies] of inward character with specific physiological attributes. . . .

The core, [however], of the radical anti-Semitism that justified and accompanied the Holocaust was a conspiracy theory that ascribed not inferiority but [instead] enormous power to what it alleged was an international Jewish conspiracy that sought the destruction of the Nazi regime and the extermination of the German population. Its key component was prefigured in the infamous forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. . . .

The evidence of Nazi wartime propaganda indicates that the legend of a murderous international Jewish conspiracy—more than the biological obsessions about blood, race, and sex of the Nuremberg race laws [which imposed legal discrimination against German Jews in the 1930s]—lurked at the core of Nazi propaganda, and indeed constituted the distinctively genocidal component of Nazi ideology. The Nazis claimed that because “international Jewry” was waging a war of extermination against Germany, the Nazi regime had an obligation to “exterminate” and “annihilate” Europe’s Jews in self-defense. . . .

From the perspective of the Nazi leadership, “the war against the Jews” was not only the Holocaust. It was also the war against Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, and their allies. . . . These were two components of a single battle-to-the-death between Germany and international Jewry. .

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at National Interest

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Nazism, Racism

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey