click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Was the Holocaust a Uniquely Jewish Tragedy?

Was the Holocaust a Uniquely Jewish Tragedy?

The extermination of the Jews was not a means to any end; it was an end in itself.


You just can’t, as they say, make this stuff up.

B.o.B., a rap performer, recently made news by implying that 1) Holocaust denier David Irving deserves reconsideration, and 2) that the earth is flat.

The entertainer didn’t offer those two wise thoughts as part of a comedy routine, but in a serious, assertive manner, using the medium of rap.

“Stalin was way worse than Hitler,” the fellow also declared. “That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a kippah.” POTUS, of course, in secret service-speak, means “president of the United States” and kippah means… well, you know. If you’re looking for logic, even of the paranoid variety, you might wish to look elsewhere.

Someone else also recently made news about his own Holocaust views. That would be Professor Yair Auron, an Israeli historian several million light years removed, culturally, from the flat-earth rapper. In a way, though, Mr. Auron is the more hazardous of the two.

The professor is upset at the Israeli educational system for teaching that the Nazis’ determination to destroy every vestige of the Jewish people is something uniquely Jewish.

He accuses Holocaust educators of repressing or minimizing the suffering of others targeted by the Nazis, and is upset that other mass murders are not placed on a plane with the Nazis’ attempted destruction of Klal Yisrael.

“It must be asked,” he said recently, “if, in Israel in 2016, instead of also shaping Holocaust commemoration through humanist and democratic values… [is] fostering racism and xenophobia… Ignoring the non-Jewish victims is perhaps the most concrete manifestation of this trend.”

No one, of course, denies that the Nazis killed thousands of Communists, mentally disabled, Gypsies, criminals and others. Nor that mass slaughters of human beings were committed by Stalin in the Soviet Union, by Pol Pot in Cambodia, by the Turks against the Armenians and by the Hutu tribe against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. And those outrages all deserve to be remembered.

Determination to create a world that would be Judenrein – free of Jews – was the Nazis’ first and foremost goal.

But to contend that it’s somehow wrong to stress the singular hatred Hitler had for Jews, and his determination to destroy our people in toto is to reveal the deepest of delusions. And fostering that delusion is a Holocaust revision of its own.

Determination to create a world that would be Judenrein – free of Jews – was the Nazis’ first and foremost goal. They may have had no compunctions about killing others they felt were detrimental to the Third Reich – political opponents, the non-productive, those they deemed “asocial.” But they didn’t seek a Gypsyrein world or a disabledrein one. The Nazi quest was to clear the world, not just Germany, of Jews; and it was a deep and abiding obsession, a psychopathy clothed in philosophical/theological garb.

Hitler revealed as much in Mein Kampf, where he wrote: “If… the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men…”

Even as he and his companion were about to commit suicide, on April 29, 1945, at 4 a.m. the fading führer issued a statement declaring “Above all, I charge the leadership of the nation and their followers with… merciless resistance against the universal poisoners of all peoples, international Jewry.”

Scholar Steven I. Katz put it succinctly: “The Holocaust is phenomenologically unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific group.”

Or, as the philosopher Emil Fackenheim wrote, “The extermination of the Jews had no political or economic justification. It was not a means to any end; it was an end in itself.”

And there’s something more, too, a context that makes the Nazis’ Jew-hatred singularly significant. Here, perhaps, a non-historian may have said it best, and only last week.

Awarding a posthumous honor to Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, an American serviceman who protected Jewish captives in a German POW camp, the aforementioned POTUS recalled Mr. Edmonds’ words to the camp’s commander, who had ordered Jewish prisoners to come forward: “We are all Jews.”

“We are all Jews,” explained Mr. Obama, “because anti-Semitism is a distillation, an expression of an evil that runs through so much of human history, and if we do not answer that, we do not answer any other form of evil.”

Gut gezokt. Hear it well, Professor Auron.

This article originally appeared in Hamodia.

February 6, 2016

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 11

(4) Devorah, March 14, 2016 11:41 PM

Historian Auron

through out History, it has been noted, that those who are ignorant and or stupid, who make outrageous nonsensical comments like the rapper that you brought our attention to, are laughable because it makes no sense. I am not familiar at all with the works of the Historian, Auron, but I am completely and intimately connected with the Holocaust. About 1848, I found a Jewish writer, in Germany, who argued that "Jews refuse to mingle within the German Communities. They, in essence, speak Yiddish, keep to themselves, and are hostile invaders that take complete advantage of their host Nation, Germany. They simply refuse to fit in." This particular writer lived during the time of Heinrich Heine. Two things began to happen while Hitler came to power. The lie, made famous by this Jewish writer was repetitiously repeated, and Heine was one of the first Authors whose books were burned. Many of the religious Jews in that time in Germany migrated from Eastern Europe. They knew pograms. They knew terror. These "Jews" would hire outside of their religion, Germans and others who also knew persecution. They were famously known for it. Many Jews, regardless of Nation, continue the heritage of hiring the poor, the disnfranchised. I agree, such people like Auron are most dangerous because their writings are full of half truths that, to the ignorant and uneducated, make "sense" though they are blatant lies. A lie no matter now big is always believed as in the lies told by Governments as to "rights" the multitudes have which they don't. It is the lie they hear, if often enough, that is best known for causing the most damage. Israel is a Jewish Nation. Thank God they teach our children the truth. Good article Rabbi.

(3) JR, February 8, 2016 7:12 PM

Nazis did want to kill all Gypsies

The Jews were uniquely singled out as the Number One Enemy of the Third Reich. But at the same time, in Nazi Germany and the Third Reich, only two populations were singled out for total extermination on racial grounds - the Jewish People, and the Romani People. Yes, indeed, the Nazis did plan to exterminate the entire Romani People (the ethnic group commonly referred to as "Gypsies"), much like they planned to exterminate the entire Jewish People. Some early suggestions about deportation or allowing some of the Romani to survive in a racial zoo were soon abandoned, and Nazi leaders called for what they called the "Final Solution to the Gypsy Problem." Every Romani ("Gypsy") man, woman and child was to be exterminated on racial grounds, regardless of citizenship, lifestyle, legal standing, religion, etc. Note that Nazi persecution of Communists , homosexuals and criminals did not systematically target their children, and call for any "Final Solution" or total extermination. For Jews and Gypsies, however, it was different: Their families were rounded up in ghettos, worked to death in labor camps, and gassed with their families in the gas chambers. Many, many more were murdered and dumped in mass-graves wherever SS and the Nazi German soldiers found them. The Jews, however, were regarded as a more dangerous enemy than the largely uneducated, widely scattered and often semi-nomadic Romani population. For this, the Jews were collectively singled out as the Number One Enemy of the Third Reich. But make no mistake about it: Nazi hatred of all the Romani (Gypsies) was deep and deadly. This hatred against Gypsies remains strong in many countries and communities today, and it is growing, just like antisemitism.

Anonymous, February 9, 2016 4:35 PM

Gipsies and Jews

When I lived in Europe, Gypsies (we called them CIGANI), were coming to my small town in their wagons and park them outside the city for a few days, while they do business in the town...they would fix pots and pans (that leaked), broken umbrellas or any stuff you needed fixed...we always watched for our chicken and locked our homes during this visits, as thngs would disappear if you did not watch.

In my mid-west American city, there are apparently groups of "Roma" (it is politically incorrect to call them Gypsies) visit once/year, and specialize in doing black tops and driveways... somebody who used their services was not very pleased with the result..

Unlike Jews who in eastern Europe manage to make a meager living in stetls and with small shops (rarely achieving riches as a few assimilated Jews reached in Western banking and industry), the current invasion of Europe seams to be motivated by welfare benefits and desire to form a Caliphate...not just to fit in and be like anybody else making a live and desire to LIVE AND LET LIVE.

My late friend, a Holocaust survivor of many camps told me already in 1992 that the situation in Europe reminded her about late 1920ies when Nazis were on teh rise in her small town with lots of Germans living in Chechoslovakia. Currently the Hitler delusional Jew hatred is replacece by the Muslims delusional Jew hatred, and the life in Europe is becoming unsafe for the Jews again.

Thant God we still have Israel, although with B.Hussein Obama giving ayatollahs nuclear capabilities may change this.

JR, February 9, 2016 10:43 PM

Your people call it "lashon hara". My people call it "xoxalo mui".

I also thank God for Israel, and pray that the Jewish homeland always will be safe and strong.

I am what you call a "Gypsy." In our own language, we always called ourselves Romani. You may call me whatever you like, but please, let us speak truth about others, and do not label an entire people for the crimes committed by a few.

As a whole, my people were never thieves or con-men, as you seem to imply. There are rotten apples in every basket, and bad individuals in every community: There are Romani (Gypsies) that succumb to crime, and there are Jews, Frenchmen, and Zulus etc., that do the same. As for my family and the Romani (Gypsies) that I know and love, they are honest, hard-working and very loving, generous people that love God, good food, and good music. How sad that we all should be accused, labelled and even persecuted for the crimes committed by a few. Such generalization is dangerous, deadly and unethical. It has killed many of our relatives. Shame on us all, if we follow in the footsteps of Hitler, Haman, Hamas and Jobbik by committing such sins.

You mention "the current invasion of Europe" and a "desire to form a Caliphate." Very few Gypsies are Muslims (with exceptions of families that were forced into Islam in the Ottoman Empire), and I never heard of political radicals or "invaders" among them, so this does not make sense.

Also, you speak of "Roma," but all Gypsies are not Roma. The Romani (or Gypsy) People is divided into several tribes: The "Roma" from Eastern Europe are very different from the "Sinti" of Western Europe (kind of like the difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.) Also, most people that show up on TV and claim to be "Gypsy" are, in fact, not Gypsy at all and have nothing in common with the real Romani People.

Regarding the term "Cigani": It's not political correctness to avoid words that insult and hurt others. It is old-fashioned courtesy. Like you said, let us live and let live!

miller, February 14, 2016 2:54 AM

Thanks JR

I have been looking for information on the Romani people and wonder if you know the percentage of your people the perished in Hitler's butchery. I think I remember 60%. Please let me know.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment