Attempt to Understand the Conditions that Eventually Led to the Holocaust

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Hilberg (1985) in his account has sufficiently articulated the different historical stages that preceded the Holocaust and which set the ground ready for the 20th century genocide in all respects ranging from the legal status of such acts within the German territories, and to an extent beyond it, to the fundamentalist thoughts that would accompany such acts. Hilberg’s analysis is also marked for the in-depth details regarding the functioning of the pogrom machinery. The 20th-century holocaust also makes it possible to be read, and to be interrogated and further explore, as an event which is part of our modernity and all the institutions that mark its existence including bureaucracy. It also throws definite challenges to our understandings of the modern enlightenment rationality to the extent it reserves sufficient spaces to accommodate inhuman acts and thoughts under the disguise of being rationale. Nevertheless, the fact that the massacre of Jews could not be identified separately from the historical incidents that preceded it – both with and without any direct or indirect relation to it – and that it has not been the first or even the last of such massacres in the name of religion, race, ethnicity etc., might compel any sociological analysis of the 20th century genocide to broaden its perspectives beyond the scope and limits of modernity and rationality. However the relation between the modernity and holocaust gathers much more significance since, as Eberhard Jäckel wrote, never before had a state with the authority of its responsible leader decided and announced that a specific human group, including its aged, its women and its children and infants, would be killed as quickly as possible, and then carried through this resolution using every possible means of state power (quoted in Maier 1988, p 53).