Allen 1 Haley Allen Dr. Courtney Andree Writing 1, Research Paper Draf 4 November 2015 Social Psychology: Contributions to the Holocaust One evil man successfully manipulated thousands of ordinary men to commit murder. Millions of bystanders stood by watching these horrendous acts taking place with minimal protest. A whole nation remained silent in the face of genocide. The result of this manifested in the killings of over 11 million men, women, and children. This magnitude of death is not something that we can simply turn our heads away from or push into the shadows of history. Understanding the causes of the Holocaust is extremely complex and may never be fully comprehensible, but recent discoveries in psychology convey much about how and why this may have occurred. The hard truth is that we as a nation are not immune to genocide. It has happened subsequent to the Holocaust and will inevitably happen again if the human species doesn’t make an effort to understand the underlying motives of such atrocities. Since the beginning of civilized life, an extraordinary amount of conflict has risen solely from conflicting religious beliefs. The medieval Christians’ hatred and condemnation of the Jewish nation paved the way for Hitler to step in and subsequently exploit Jews as a race. The hatred began when Christians placed sole blame on the Jews for the death of their savior, claiming that “they are all literally the murderers of God,” (Hayes 8). Religion was of utmost
Allen 2 importance to the majority of people in this time period, causing tensions to run high and leaving Jews as an easy target for scapegoating. Because of this almost instinctive blame, “centuries of teaching of the Christian churches…portrayed Jews as the other,” ( ____ ). This created a discrete barrier between the two groups, one which strictly divided them and led to a lack of empathy and respect for one another. Children and adults alike were being taught that the Jewish religion was inferior and therefore undeserving of basic human rights. A religion that was founded upon the basis of love began to educate its followers that “Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, and thus they deserved to be punished,” (____). Religious leaders were typically very influential people in society and not likely to be challenged or questioned. Because of these biased teachings and conflicts of interest between the religions, it is easy to see how scapegoating and emotion could overwhelm logic, consequently leading to senseless violence and unwarranted hostility. The division of these two religious groups was cause for competition and fear. Their religious views were in direct conflict with one another, so the credibility of one would directly lead to the implausibility of the other. As psychoanalyst David Terman puts things, anti-Semitism is an “unconscious and psychological mechanism employed by the majority group that feels its collective ideology to be threatened,” (_____). Religion was a primary source of hope to the
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- Fall '09
- Writing, Haley Allen