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Hungary and Japan were Nazi Germany's allies during WWII, yet it could not possibly be argued that the Japanese belong to the "Aryan race", and Hungarians speak a non-Indo-European language, which probably disqualifies them as Aryans too. Did the German propaganda try to account for that? Were there any statements from the Nazi officials or scholars regarding the racial status of the Hungarian and Japanese people?
Additionally, considering that the Nazi leaders planned enslavement and subsequent extermination of Poles on racial grounds, were any analogous statements made about Russians during the time the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact held? What about other Axis or pro-Axis Slavic nations such as Slovaks or Bulgarians?
The German government considered the Japanese people as "honorary Aryans". According to Hitler, the Japanese and the Chinese, like the Germans, belonged to ancient civilizations. Wikipedia also discusses this.
There was no consistent racial theory that the Nazis endorsed as somehow "official". All decisions were made on case-by-case basis depending on current situation and Hitler's personal preferences.
The Hitler's personal preferences were that he hated Jews, Poles and Russians. He was quite neutral regarding some other nations, including Slavic. He regarded Ukrainians better than both Poles and Russians.
He regarded Turkmens (who are Mongoloid, spoke Turkic language and Muslims) better than Lithuanians and Latvians, who are white, Christian and spoke languages which retain the most features of the ancient Indo-Europen.
He preferred Tatars to both Russians and Ukrainians.
This all was completely arbitrary.
It should be noted that along the so-called "Aryanism" ideology there were competing ideologies of Nordicism and Germanism and racial purity theory, as well as others. Of the first three it seems that Hitler liked Germanism the most while Nordicism the least.
All these were cited in different contexts depending on situation. For example, Aryanism was used to exclude Jews, Germanism - to exclude Slavs and Nordicism and racial purity - to attack the French and Italians, as well as Gypsies.
Another theory was that "heroic" nations, i.e. nations that conquered and enslaved their neighbors should be preferred to merchant nations that expanded by trade and the both should be preferred to the nations that were sometime in their history enslaved themselves.
From this point of view Jews were excluded as both merchant and enslaved nation (enslaved as long ago as Biblical times). Russians were seen as being "natural slaves" because they invited the Scandinavian Varangians to rule them, because the majority of pre-revolutionary Russian nobility and the Tsar himself were of German descent (while the serfs were Slavs) and because the Nazis believed that the very word "Slave" was derived from 'Slav" (in German the both words coincide). On the similar grounds Arabs (as "heroic") were preferred to the British (as "merchant") and African blacks were preferred to American blacks (the descendants of the slaves), warlike Caucasus dwellers, Chechens and Cossacks were preferred to "peaceful" Russians etc.
EDIT: Wow, I did not see this was from 2012. It appeared at the top of the questions page, so I answered it. That's strange… I wonder why it was at the top of the "newest" section. I wouldn't have responded if I had seen the date.
I studied this in college (History was my major).
The short answer:
Hitler wanted to conquer the world as quickly as possible. His initial plan was to align with a few strategic groups and later conquer them as well. An example of this gone wrong is how Hitler aligned with Russia and then tried to take over the country after getting what he wanted from them.
Hitler obviously had no way of making a move in the Pacific as Germany is nowhere near that region, so he told the Japanese to do whatever they wanted and he'd back them up. His plan was to let them do the dirty work and then he'd take them over, too, when the Euro region was controlled. Russia again messed this up because hitler planned on utilizing the Trans-Siberian Railway to send troops and supplies from Moscow to Vladivostok to conquer China, Korea, and Japan, but when his Russian campaign failed, he really let Japan have free reign… because he had no choice at this point.
As for Hungary, Hitler aligned with them because he wanted to conquer the Middle-East and The Balkans, but had no initial means to carry this out. Hungary became his go-to country because it is positioned strategically between Germany, The Balkans/Middle-East, Poland, and the Ukraine. Hungary was his key to the near East. His plans began to fail when the Hungarian Resistance became more brazen and continued to disrupt his affairs in Hungary.
From the beginning, Hitler's goal was to enslave everyone but Germans with purely German ancestry that was documented for multiple generations. Everyone outside of that group was initially told otherwise, so that he could use them and defeat them. This concept applied to Vichy France, as well. In his Mein Kampf book, he wrote all of this out. The sad part is, before he became known, everyone thought he was a loony and didn't bother to read his book. He nearly followed his book's plans to a T, so it has been academically debated that the war could have been prevented, or at least foreseen if officials had looked into his book, which was actually widely published at the time. Remember, most nations aligned with him out of fear. The Nazis had the most advanced weaponry and tactics at the time and countries were literally falling within hours to days of his attacks. When Poland fell and Hitler kept bulldozing through countries, the ones that were offered alignment, did so to protect their people, culture, and history because remember, Hitler was also actively destroying the histories and cultures of countries so that no one could ever know anything other than Nazism once he took full control.
My source is my university education and research background.
Hope this helps!
Nazi Racism: An Overview
Racism fueled Nazi ideology and policies. The Nazis viewed the world as being divided up into competing inferior and superior races, each struggling for survival and dominance. They believed the Jews were not a religious denomination, but a dangerous non-European “race.” Nazi racism would produce murder on an unprecedented scale.
Racists believe that innate, inherited characteristics biologically determine human behavior. In the early twentieth-century, such views on race were widely accepted in many parts of the world. In fact, race is not biologically based, it is a cultural classification of groups.
According to Nazi theories of race, Germans and other Europeans had perceived superior physical and mental traits. They considered European peoples to be “Aryans,” descended from the ancient Indo-Europeans who settled throughout the European continent as well as in Iran and India.
Racial antisemitism is the prejudice against or hatred of Jews based on false scientific theories. This aspect of racism was always an integral part of Nazism.
This content is available in the following languages
Racists are people who believe that innate, inherited characteristics biologically determine human behavior.
The doctrine of racism asserts that blood determines national-ethnic identity. Within a racist framework, the value of a human being is not determined by his or her individuality, but instead by membership in a so-called "racial collective nation." Many intellectuals, including scientists, have lent pseudoscientific support to racist thinking. Nineteenth century racist thinkers, such as Houston Stewart Chamberlain, exerted a significant influence on many in Adolf Hitler's generation.
Racism, including racial antisemitism (prejudice against or hatred of Jews based on false biological theories), was always an integral part of German National Socialism (Nazism).
The Nazis perceived all of human history as the history of a biologically determined struggle among people of different races. The Nazis held that political movements such as Marxism, communism, pacifism, and internationalism were anti-nationalist and reflected a dangerous, racially based Jewish intellectualism.
In 1931, the SS (Schutzstaffel the elite guard of the Nazi state) established a Race and Settlement Office to conduct race "research" and to determine the suitability of potential spouses for members of the SS. After the Nazis came to power, they passed the Nuremberg Race Laws in 1935, which codified a supposedly biological definition of Jewishness.
Nazi racists viewed the mentally and physically ill as blemishes upon the genetic landscape of the so-called master race and, when they reproduced, as a biological danger to the purity of the Aryan race. After careful planning and data collection during the last six months of 1939, German physicians began to murder disabled residents of institutions throughout Germany in an operation that they euphemistically called "euthanasia".
According to Nazi theories of race, Germans and other northern Europeans were "Aryans," a superior race. During World War II, Nazi physicians conducted bogus medical experiments seeking to identify physical evidence of Aryan superiority and non-Aryan inferiority. Despite killing countless non-Aryan prisoners in the course of these experiments, the Nazis could not find any evidence for their theories of biological racial differences among human beings.
Once in power, the Nazis implemented racial laws and policies that deprived Jews, Black people, and Roma (Gypsies) of their rights. During World War II, the Nazi leadership set about what they referred to as an "ethnic housecleaning" in the occupied Eastern territories of Poland and the Soviet Union. This policy included the murder and annihilation of so-called enemy "races," including the genocide of European Jews and the destruction of the leadership of the Slavic peoples.
The Nazi Party Program
In February 1920, Hitler presented a 25-point Program (the Nazi Party Platform) to a Nazi Party meeting.
In the 25-point program, Nazi Party members publicly declared their intention to segregate Jews from "Aryan" society and to revoke Jews' political, legal, and civil rights. Point 4 of the program, for example, stated that
"Only a national comrade can be a citizen. Only someone of German blood, regardless of faith, can be a citizen. Therefore, no Jew can be a citizen."
The 25 points remained the party's official statement of goals, though in later years many points were ignored.
Hitler saw China and Japan as equals to Germany and even wrote admiringly: “I admit freely that their history is superior to our own”
Following the Nazi rise to power, Adolf Hitler made it clear that he considered the Treaty of Versailles as unjust towards Germany and that it had to be revised.
Signed on 28th June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles had five main points:
- Germany had to accept the blame for starting the war.
- The German army was limited to 100,000 men, and they were not allowed to have submarines or an air force.
- Germany had to pay reparations for the damage done.
- Germany lost 13% of its territories, and its colonies were given to France or Britain.
- Germany was not allowed to join the League of Nations.
Demonstration against the Treaty in front of the Reichstag
American contemporary view of German World War I reparations. Political cartoon, 1921
Hitler felt that the Treaty was unfair and many Germans shared his opinion, so his primary goal was to destroy it and to make Germany a strong, hegemonic power in Europe again. He said that the German nation needed more Lebensraum (‘living space’) and the only way to provide it was to expand towards Poland, Austra, Czechoslovakia.
After the Treaty, many Germans were living in foreign countries, so he was determined to unite all German-speaking people together in one country. He also blamed communism for Germany’s defeat in World War I, so his plan included defeating the Soviet Union and destroying the communism.
The Nazi establishment of German Lebensraum required the expulsion of the Poles from Poland, such as their expulsion from the Reichsgau Wartheland in 1939 Photo Credit
The Greater Germanic Reich, to be realized with the policies of Lebensraum, had boundaries derived from the plans of the Generalplan Ost, the state administration, and the Schutzstaffel (SS) Photo Credit
Hitler began Germany’s foreign policy very cautiously by withdrawing from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. He claimed that Germany wanted only peace and would disarm if other states agreed to do the same.
Signing a ten-year non-aggression pact with Poland in 1934 made him look harmless in the eyes of the other European countries that were concerned about the new government in Germany and its policies. The same year, Austrian and German Nazis together attempted a coup but were unsuccessful thanks to Mussolini, who warned the Germans off.
Occupation of the Rhineland after the War, the dotted line indicates the extent of the demilitarized zone Photo Credit
His foreign policy brought him popularity among the German people, so encouraged by his success, Hitler decided to gamble by sending troops into the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland. 30,000 lightly armed German soldiers occupied the Rhineland, and no one dared to stop them.
Hitler knew that he risked everything by sending his 30,000 troops in the Rhineland and he said: “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw with our tail between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance.”
Goebbels, Hitler, and von Blomberg Photo Credit
The alliance, known as the Rome-Berlin Axis signed by Mussolini and Hitler in 1936, consolidated Germany’s position. Nazi Germany foreign policy went one step further when in 1937 Germany and Italy in Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, and Hitler strengthened his position even more.
Hitler was obsessed with ‘racial purity, history’ and he even shaped the German foreign policy by the Nazi racial ideology.
He believed that the German “Aryan” race was threatened by the inherently inferior races: Jews, Roma, Africans, and Slavs.
Germany’s Führer Adolf Hitler (right) beside Italy’s Duce Benito Mussolini (left) Photo Credit
One of the most interesting aspects of the German foreign policy was the economic and military relationship with China and Japan. Hitler saw China and Japan as equals to Germany and established strong economic links with these countries, particularly with China. Chinese and Japanese were seen as “honorary Aryans” and in The Political Testament of Adolf Hitler, he wrote:
H. H. Kung and Adolf Hitler in Berlin
“Pride in one’s race – and that does not imply contempt for other races – is also a normal and healthy sentiment. I have never regarded the Chinese or the Japanese as being inferior to ourselves. They belong to ancient civilizations, and I admit freely that their history is superior to our own.
They have the right to be proud of their past, just as we have the right to be proud of the civilization to which we belong. Indeed, I believe the more steadfast the Chinese and the Japanese remain in their pride of race, the easier I shall find it to get on with them.”
A delegation of the Hitlerjugend visits the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo during a several-month-long friendship tour in 1938
“Good friends in three countries”: Japanese propaganda poster from 1938 promoting the cooperation between Japan, Germany, and Italy
Eventually, Hitler’s two favorite partners in the Far East had to go separate ways and the Fuhrer was forced to pick a side.
It must have been a hard decision since Germany had a deeper economic and military relationship with China, but on the other hand, the Japanese were military superior. He made a decision and chose Japan.
The Japanese embassy in Berlin, clad in the banners of the three signatories of the Tripartite Pact in September 1940 Photo Credit
However, his greatest political and military success to date was the Anschluss with Austria in 1938. This event revealed the weakness of Britain and France who were just spectators and did nothing more than protest.
“In Austria 1938” Hitler crosses the border into Austria in March 1938 Photo Credit
Hitler announces the Anschluss on the Heldenplatz, Vienna, 15th March 1938 Photo Credit
Encouraged by his success in Austria, Hitler focused on German-speaking Sudetenland and in 1938 he signed the Munich Agreement and Sudetenland became part of the Third Reich.
He broke the agreement in 1939 and invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia.
After the summit, the British prime minister Chamberlain returned to the UK where he declared that the Munich agreement meant “peace for our time”
One of his greatest successes in the field of foreign policy was the Non-Agression Pact with USSR signed in 1939.
They agreed not to attack each other, nor to join any alliances against the other. After signing the Non-Agression Pact Hitler was even more encouraged to attack Poland and on September 1st, 1939, the German troops entered in Poland. Two days later the World War II started.
Nazi Racial Hierarchy
The Nazi Racial Hierarchy was imposed by the Nazi Germany which abides by some set of rules and principles. Many Nazism theories were established by the Nazis in order to form a Hierarchy which divides the people in different communities and are treated according to their community status. The scientific legitimacy forms the basis of the Nazi Racial Hierarchy. Some necessary sterilization was used in order to ensure the racial cleanliness and hygiene.
According to the Nazi Hierarchy the human race was distributed among numerous sectors which were based on the Aryan race. Reportedly, the master race was the superior race and was followed by the Nordic race and the Hierarchy continues with other remaining Aryan races. A set of course with particular policies were designed by them which were targeted on people with low position in the racial Hierarchy. These include Jews, Gypsies and handicapped mass.
The master race was known as Herrelvolk and was considered as the top most social people of the Nazi Racial Hierarchy while Jews were considered as the people at the lowest level of the Hierarchy. There were some intermediate races like Volksgemeinschaft, Russians, Romani and persons of color.
The race was distinguished by typical Aryans and non-Aryans. The Aryan master race includes the mass like Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, French and the English while the non-Aryan race includes Croats, Czechs, Russians, Poles, Serbs and Ukrainians. They were called Slavs considered as corrupt people. The ideology of Nazis changed towards the Slavs when they were in need of military forces and somehow they had only option left for the selection and that was appointing Slavs in their army troops. They also used to characterize people by their white or black color. All white people except those having Jewish ancestors, lied under the category of Aryans while all others were considered as Slavs.
The modes used by the Nazis in order to eliminate the Ancient Jewish people were very brutal such as sterilization, persecution, incarceration, medical experimentation, and brutality.
A Nordic theory was introduced which was popularly exercised and became a strategy in order to rule the Germany. However, the ideologies of Nazis were changing with time with the introduction of new members in the Nazi party who were determined and set the policies for the benefit of the Nazis along with other people which were not treated in a proper way and hence gaining the higher authority positions in the party.
The Germans from Germany known as Nordic Germans hold the top most position in the Nazi Racial Hierarchy whereas the typical Aryans and Germans from outside known as active ethnic Racial Germans belonged to Category 1 and Category 2. The passive Germans, that is, those people who are not from Germany, handicapped and rowdy criminals were distinguished by category 3 and category 4. Others who were associated deeply with Germans and Italians and Spaniards were also the part of Category 1 and Category 2. Due to this categorization many low level people according to the Hierarchy were caught as the victims of Nazis.
Dr. Seuss Draws Anti-Japanese Cartoons During WWII, Then Atones with Horton Hears a Who!
Before Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss convinced generations of children that a wocket might just be in their pocket, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM from 1940 to 1948. During his tenure he cranked out some 400 cartoons that, among other things, praised FDR’s policies, chided isolationists like Charles Lindbergh and supported civil rights for blacks and Jews. He also staunchly supported America’s war effort.
To that end, Dr. Seuss drew many cartoons that, to today’s eyes, are breathtakingly racist. Check out the cartoon above. It shows an arrogant-looking Hitler next to a pig-nosed, slanted-eye caricature of a Japanese guy. The picture isn’t really a likeness of either of the men responsible for the Japanese war effort – Emperor Hirohito and General Tojo. Instead, it’s just an ugly representation of a people.
In the battle for homeland morale, American propaganda makers depicted Germany in a very different light than Japan. Germany was seen as a great nation gone mad. The Nazis might have been evil but there was still room for the “Good German.” Japan, on the other hand, was depicted entirely as a brutal monolith Hirohito and the guy on the street were uniformly evil. Such thinking paved the way for the U.S. Air Force firebombing of Tokyo, where over 100,000 civilians died, and for its nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And it definitely laid the groundwork for one of the sorriest chapters of American 20th century history, the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese-Americans.
Geisel himself was vocally anti-Japanese during the war and had no trouble with rounding up an entire population of U.S. citizens and putting them in camps.
But right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: “Brothers!” It is a rather flabby battle cry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs, whether it depresses John Haynes Holmes or not. We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.
Geisel was hardly alone in such beliefs but it’s still disconcerting to see ugly cartoons like these drawn in the same hand that did The Cat in the Hat.
In 1953, Geisel visited Japan where he met and talked with its people and witnessed the horrific aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. He soon started to rethink his anti-Japanese vehemence. So he issued an apology in the only way that Dr. Seuss could.
He wrote a children’s book.
Horton Hears a Who!, published in 1954, is about an elephant that has to protect a speck of dust populated by little tiny people. The book’s hopeful, inclusive refrain – “A person is a person no matter how small” — is about as far away as you can get from his ignoble words about the Japanese a decade earlier. He even dedicated the book to “My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan.”
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new drawing of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily.
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Walt Disney too! Bad, bad men for demonizing the people who only wanted to slaughter other people, and did! This article was in poor taste and the author and editors exhibit teenage understanding of WWII and how the world works. Next: How Bugs Bunny in drag helped shaped the homophobia of a generation.
The fact that Japan was trying to rape and pillage America does not give us the right to imprison our own citizens of Japanese descent. As for Disney, he was a great cartoonist and had many good qualities as a human being, but he was also a racist SOB. he is on record as being very anti-Semitic and to the best of my knowledge they have never tried to bomb us
Non sequitur fallacy but I’ll let it go. Ford was a Nazi sympathizer, Sr. Bush and Kennedy too. LBJ was as racist as they get, “the nigg**s will be voting Democrat for the next 200 years” and FDR’s decision to intern the Japanese in during WWII was the correct call. nThis is the real f’ing world my boy. Your daddy didn’t know either so I guess you get a pass but you’re going to find out in spades if you’re under 30. If you’re an American (maybe) you’d better get your shit together really soon and stop all this childish touchy feely nonsense.
I am 47 my boy and I know very well how the world works. The Japanese were interned so that their greedy neighbors could get the prime property they owned. I am really unsure how to respond to the rest of your vague, meaningless babble, so I will leave it at that.
Yes, that’s pretty old to be hanging on to the beat up old canards of the Left and lies of the race baiters. You missed the rest because you wanted to. I assume you’re smart enough to recognize your own foolishness thrown back at you. I’ll bet LBJ was your hero. Sorry about that.
seriously? LBJ did some decent things almost despite himself, but he is definitely not my hero. If you are calling me a leftist, that must mean everyone to the right of Reagan but to the left of Lyndon Larouche. You must be fun at the clan rallysn
Walt Disney too! Bad, bad men for demonizing the people who only wanted to slaughter other people, and did! This article was in poor taste and the author and editors exhibit teenage understanding of WWII and how the world works. Next: How Bugs Bunny in drag helped shaped the homophobia of a generation.
Ogden Nashn nnThe Japanese (1938)n nnHow courteous is the Japanesenn He always says, u201cExcuse it, please.u201dnn He climbs into his neighboru2019s garden,nn And smiles, and says, u201cI beg your pardonu201dnn He bows and grins a friendly grin,nn And calls his hungry family innn He grins, and bows a friendly bownn u201cSo sorry, this my garden now.u201d
It’s human behavior to demonize the enemy in times of war. Were the characterizations of the Japanese accurate or fair? Of course not, but Americans were fighting a people who had decided to try to rule a large portion of the world and the emotional response led to these kinds of images.
We only (pretend) to take offense at this because we won the war.
Well done to Dr Seuss for being open to a new understanding and making amends.
“The picture isnu2019t really a likeness of either of the men responsible for the Japanese war effort u2013 Emperor Hirohito and General Tojo. Instead, itu2019s just an ugly representation of a people.” Well, wrong on both counts it really does look a lot like Hitler and Tojo [for some reason the author added in Hirohito although he’s not in the cartoon, and Hitler (as he mentioned in the previous sentence, is–but hey, why edit?)] and are anything BUT generic. Just because you’re trying to push a point doesn’t make it OK to change reality to your preference.
So amusing to read the moral outrage of journalists separated from the horrors of WWII by 70 years. Perhaps you should poll the WWII vets who went through the Bataan Death March, were POWs of the Japanese, the Chinese and Filipinos who suffered under the Japanese occupations as much as the Jews did under the Nazis…perhaps you should ask them how “offensive” these characterizations are.
I have Steve and you are VERY right. Also the Japanese during WWII were MUCH more racist than we ever were!
I remember selling war bonds in the first grade 1946..the world had just closed a chapter that would forever be known as WWII..I had recently accompanied my family to Union Station in Indianapolis where we awaited the train that carried my uncle home… I remember first hearing the shrieking of my mom,aunts and grandparents who spotted him coming before I could see above the adults. He had been stationed on an aircraft repair carrier in the pacific. He told us of a shipmate who was on a deck gun…who was killed when a Japanese plane crashed near the deck of the ship..I new little about the reasons for the war and less about the people who were behind the reasons. I learned to read early and after a few years, my family had purchased a series of books that were about the war…published, I think, by Collier’s …The books had many photos that war correspondents and others had taken…One photo was indelibly etched in my mind…a chubby baby, face wet with tears, mouth wide, crying. Alone, the baby sat in the midst of rubble and nothingness that was the aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima …a nuclear bomb that my country had dropped on thousands of civilians…men, women and children. The devastation was palpable. As years have passed and I have witnessed the incredible destruction and killing that men all over the world are able to rain upon their fellow human human beings… I know that religion plays a very large part in how actively a culture accepts being the aggressor towards their neighbors. What is clear is there are three currently that justify any violence that their followers choose to initiate. The irony is, that the three are actually one snake with three heads…Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Currently, Islam is seen as the most violent..but it really is just the most raw. The other two are more able to ‘sanitize’ their actions, making them appear less ‘barbaric’… Grandmothers spun the chicken by it’s head, twisting the neck before plucking it clean of feathers …and moving it through the process that put it on the table for consumption. We are “civilized” now …we let the process be done in an even less humane way (grandmother’s chickens had a relatively good life prior to the fateful moment). Today’s process, sanitized for our sensibilities, is horrific and brutal..and the life of the chickens are worse than the death that awaits them. We, who select the well packaged, clean and ready for pot offering in the meat department of the supermarket ..convince ourselves that we are not barbaric..that we are more civilized. War is like that. We have learned how to do our killing away from our backyards…out of sight…so that we do not lose a beat in our daily lives. We are disturbed when we are reminded by a legless young man in a wheelchair…or one who has just taken their own life out of total desperation.. We do no good or provide no hope for the future by living in denial and claiming that we are the ‘good’ guys and the other people are the ‘bad’ ones. The three Abrahamic beliefs are constructs of men..and are easily manipulated to fit whatever is desired to be qualified and validated as ‘acceptable’… There is no ‘good’ belief.. There are humans who are humane and compassionate and do not rely on the adage, ‘well they did it’, or, ‘they are worse’… rather they rely on their own inner compass that seeks to find the good apples in the barrel …and even when there is a bad one, do not throw the others out with it. We will only survive on this planet if we can contain and manage our primal instincts…as hairless apes..chimpanzees who are warlike by nature …Religions are double edged swords …Kali…”goddess” who is at one…the good and the bad..destroyer…restorer.. If we need myths, we should choose the ones that are more honest about their worth…and not the ones that give total control over all…with a disclaimer in the fine print.. (can do these things under certain circumstances ..no refunds given)
Well, how many US citizens didn’t hold racist views of the Japanese at the time? Just watch cartoons from the era: they contain some of the nastiest depictions of the Japanese (and they weren’t much better when it came to other non-white ethnicities).
Dr. Seuss deserves credit for having a change of heart later on. It’s too bad that the US went on to have politicians like Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Jan Brewer, Dov Hikind, not to mention entertainers like Mel “the Jews started all the wars” Gibson.
The racial venom in the cartoons is inexcusable, regardless of the war context. Same things goes for the cartoons he drew mocking Africans and black Americans. Mr. Geisel/Seuss deserves his kudos for his children’s books, but these early works cannot be simply erased, and they are not above critique just because he is a “beloved” children’s book author.
His earlier work is deplorable. But he turned it around and isn’t that what we want from people who espouse racist views? We want them to change? And instead of applauding that, I’m reading comments making excuses for the earlier work and saying “Well, THEY were more racist than US, so there!” It’s just silly. The point of the article was to show people can change, and Dr. Seuss did, for the better, for which I am grateful. We as a society should be able to forgive someone who made amends.
I’ve kept this tab open for hours just to keep coming back to this excellent comment. Well-stated.
I totally agreeAmerica is not honoring it mantra its doing the exact oppisite. How dare we tell the world such a bold face lie. Look how MEAN we are to each other…. The World is watching The youths are saying you guy’s are effed up!
Blah blah blah. The Japanese Internment was spearheaded by racism and hysteria brought on by the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a shameful chapter of American history in blatant violation of the laws that govern the United States. To say otherwise at this late date with decades of hindsight to examine the situation is the pathetic delusions of a racist hiding in their own little warped version of history. If I-Right-I insists on living with that view, that’s his (or her) decision. But it isn’t the writers or editors demonstrating a foolish understanding of WW2 or how the real world works.
You are absolutely right Steve. It is disturbing how our Country shoves the crimes of the Japanese against humanity under the carpet to fund our own Agenda against China and Russia by using the Japanese and South Koreans as a pawn.
THREE WORDS, The Niihau Incident.
I just explained the whole incident, but the page didn’t save it, I don’t think, so type “Niihau Incident” in your search engine. You’ll only have to read a small amount of it to understand why there was fear for a “Fifth Column.”
This event, in my opinion, not only makes the drawing of the “Honorable Fifth Column” painting very appropriate, but accurate as well.
War had not even been declared yet, it was the attack on Pearl Harbor when an Imperial Japanese Pilot crashed on Niihau Island in Hawaii, where is was held by Native Hawaiians. Only 3 Japanese-American people lived on the island. One born in Japan, Ishimatsu Shintani, and two who were Hawaiian born Japanese Americans, Yoshio and Irene Harada. All 3 immediately started to help him escape. Shintani tried via bribery, when that failed Yoshio resorted to violence, even shooting his neighbor of years, 3 times then killing himself when the pilot was killed attempting to shoot his way out.
The rapid decision to help Japan despite no sign of being loyalty to them, was a major factor in the decision for internment camps, if it wasn’t the main one. 2 even being born citizens.
The greatest generation? What a pile of garbage.
Only people with COMPLETE IGNORANCE of Japan in the late 20’s til The Bombs could masked the statement Suess was racist.
Japanese committed MULTIPLE genocides of complete cultures…
Tortured, raped and annihilated the human race all across Asia committing attrocitirs they were PROUD of. YouTube Rape of Nanking if google hasn’t already wiped out their own records of their crimes against the world.
If you aren’t familiar with the Hawaiian website site that catalogs genocide, you need to look for it.
Estimates range from 8-12 MILLION people wiped off the face of the earth by the Japanese.
It wasn’t about oil or the islands physical needs. Murdering possibly 12 million people, doing unspeakable acts before killing them was an ideology of one of the most xenophobic people on earth.
NEVER HAS ANYONE CRITICIZED A CHARICATURE OF HITLER.
The Japanese raped, mutilated, tortured and killed ALMOST TWICE the number of human beings for racist reasons than Hitler did.
Context is so important in this debate. No one in any of the Allied countries who lived through WWII would point a finger of shame at the anti-Axis propaganda cartoons of the time. Those who were not “there” should be careful how they weigh in with their sanctimonious opinions.
During WWII, the Japanese Army occupied Guam & Saipan Islands with brutality that would make ISIS of today proud.
I lived on Guam in 1970’s. A native Chamorro woman who survived the WWII horror described one event:
“I the Japanese took several women from our village, and a few young girls including me. We were marched into a cave, and told to wait.
A grenade was thrown into the cave and blew up. Some were hit, the women shielded us girls. Then bullets came in, and more grenades.
The bodies fell on top of me. Japanese came into the cave, stabbing the bodies, missing me on the bottom of the pile.
I waited for them to leave, then pulled myself free from the bodies. I went back to my village to report the deaths of the others. I was 6 years old.” (Mrs. Rosa Garrido)
Guam Liberation Day (1941) is still celebrated, though most of that generation has now passed.
Google Japanese Hell Ships also.
The two Atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were effective to stop the fanatic madness of the Japanese war machine, we cannot be sorry for that, they just would not give up, ever.
What a shame, the Japanese farmers in California had made great strides in “truck crops” and were respected. After WWII, many families did lose valuable farm land.
No-one is born racist– “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,” as the song from “South Pacific” says. Look at nearly any culture in history and you’ll find evidence of racism, bigotry, even genocide, because people are people and sometimes our fears of ‘the other’ are irrational and we can find all kinds of reasons for justifying treating them badly.
We can unlearn our hatreds and fears but we have first of all to recognize how irrational they are. We have to stop dehumanizing people whose cultures we don’t understand and teach children what Dr. Seuss taught: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
Public domain Ford assembly line workers in Highland Park, Michigan. 1913.
A lawsuit brought by San Francisco Lawyer and farm organizer Aaron Sapiro led Ford to close The Dearborn Independent in December 1927.
Ford wrote a letter to the Anti-Defamation League on January 7, 1942, attempting to clarify his earlier remarks and writings. He concluded the message with “My sincere hope that now in this country and throughout the world when the war is finished, hatred of the Jews and hatred against any other racial or religious groups shall cease for all time.”
Privately, though, Ford’s anti-semitic views remained intact.
Henry Ford died at home in 1947. His son, Edsel died in 1943 from gastric cancer. As a result, the Ford Motor Corporation was passed to Henry Ford II, who did his best to repair its reputation throughout the 1950s.
Unquestionably, Henry Ford was a great industrialist and a revolutionary businessman. However, those attributes remain overshadowed by the depth of his bigotry, a sad footnote in the annals of American history.
After this look at Henry Ford and his ties to anti-semitism and Nazism, check out this article about Hermann Göring, the second-most powerful man in Nazi Germany. Then, take a look at the story of the Nuremberg Trials, when the world tried to bring the Nazis to justice – and failed.
Women in the Resistance
Women played an important role in various resistance activities. This was especially the case for women who were involved in Socialist, Communist, or Zionist youth movements. In Poland, women served as couriers who brought information to the ghettos. Many women escaped to the forests of eastern Poland and the Soviet Union and served in armed partisan units. Women played an important role in the French (and French-Jewish) resistance. Sophie Scholl, a student at the University of Munich and a member of the White Rose resistance group, was arrested and executed in February 1943 for handing out anti-Nazi leaflets.
Some women were leaders or members of ghetto resistance organizations. Among them was Haika Grosman in Bialystok. Others engaged in resistance inside the concentration camps. In Auschwitz I, five Jewish women deployed at the Vistula-Union-Metal Works detachment—Ala Gertner, Regina Safirsztajn (aka Safir), Ester Wajcblum, Roza Robota, and one unidentified woman, possibly Fejga Segal—had supplied the gunpowder that members of the Jewish Sonderkommando (Special Detachment) at Auschwitz-Birkenau used to blow up a gas chamber and kill several SS men during the uprising in October 1944.
Other women were active in the aid and rescue operations of the Jews in German-occupied Europe. Among them were Jewish parachutist Hannah Szenes and Zionist activist Gisi Fleischmann. Szenes parachuted into Hungary in 1944. Fleischmann, the leader of the Working Group (Pracovna Skupina) operating within the framework of the Jewish council in Bratislava, attempted to halt the deportations of Jews from Slovakia.
The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics
But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.
Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.
California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the Twentieth Century's first decades, California's eugenicists included potent but little known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate and Polytechnic benefactor Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles M. Goethe, as well as members of the California State Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.
Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America's most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Stamford, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.
Stanford president David Starr Jordan originated the notion of "race and blood" in his 1902 racial epistle "Blood of a Nation," in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.
In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation's social service agencies and associations.
The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, trumped up confinement or forced sterilization.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California's quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as the Pasadena-based Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations--which functioned as part of a closely-knit network--published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.
Eugenics was born as a scientific curiosity in the Victorian age. In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people only married other talented people, the result would be measurably better offspring. At the turn of the last century, Galton's ideas were imported into the United States just as Gregor Mendel's principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenic advocates believed with religious fervor that the same Mendelian concepts determining the color and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.
In an America demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early twentieth century. Elitists, utopians and so-called "progressives" fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world. They reinvented Galton's eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: populate the earth with vastly more of their own socio-economic and biological kind--and less or none of everyone else.
The superior species the eugenics movement sought was populated not merely by tall, strong, talented people. Eugenicists craved blond, blue-eyed Nordic types. This group alone, they believed, was fit to inherit the earth. In the process, the movement intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, Jews, dark-haired hill folk, poor people, the infirm and really anyone classified outside the gentrified genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists.
How? By identifying so-called "defective" family trees and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs to kill their bloodlines. The grand plan was to literally wipe away the reproductive capability of those deemed weak and inferior--the so-called "unfit." The eugenicists hoped to neutralize the viability of 10 percent of the population at a sweep, until none were left except themselves.
Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 "Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder's Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population." Point eight was euthanasia.
The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a "lethal chamber" or public locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, Applied Eugenics, which argued, "From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution… Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." Applied Eugenics also devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency."
Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk from tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune. Thirty to forty percent annual death rates resulted at Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.
Nonetheless, with eugenicide marginalized, the main solution for eugenicists was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as more marriage restrictions. California led the nation, performing nearly all sterilization procedures with little or no due process. In its first twenty-five years of eugenic legislation, California sterilized 9,782 individuals, mostly women. Many were classified as "bad girls," diagnosed as "passionate," "oversexed" or "sexually wayward." At Sonoma, some women were sterilized because of what was deemed an abnormally large clitoris or labia.
In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations were performed, 700 of which were on women. The state's two leading sterilization mills in 1933 were Sonoma State Home with 388 operations and Patton State Hospital with 363 operations. Other sterilization centers included Agnews, Mendocino, Napa, Norwalk, Stockton and Pacific Colony state hospitals.
Even the United States Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes's words in their own defense.
Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United States was the campaign transplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and circulated them to German officials and scientists.
Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to legitimize his anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. While Hitler's race hatred sprung from his own mind, the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.
During the '20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany's fascist eugenicists. In Mein Kampf, published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American eugenics. "There is today one state," wrote Hitler, "in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States."
Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."
Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."
Hitler's struggle for a superior race would be a mad crusade for a Master Race. Now, the American term "Nordic" was freely exchanged with "Germanic" or "Aryan." Race science, racial purity and racial dominance became the driving force behind Hitler's Nazism. Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted in a Reich-dominated Europe, how people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.
During the Reich's early years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. California eugenicists republished Nazi propaganda for American consumption. They also arranged for Nazi scientific exhibits, such as an August 1934 display at the L.A. County Museum, for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.
In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating beyond 5,000 per month, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe upon returning from Germany ebulliently bragged to a key colleague, "You will be interested to know, that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought.…I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people."
That same year, ten years after Virginia passed its sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, observed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Germans are beating us at our own game."
More than just providing the scientific roadmap, America funded Germany's eugenic institutions. By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in 21st-Century money -- to hundreds of German researchers. In May 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 to the German Psychiatric Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, later to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression.
Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's eugenic complex of institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a single room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the Institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. The Institute received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the Institute, once again, was Hitler's medical henchman Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin's organization became a prime director and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.
Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.
Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society declared of Nazism, "While we were pussy-footing around…the Germans were calling a spade a spade."
A special recipient of Rockefeller funding was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. For decades, American eugenicists had craved twins to advance their research into heredity. The Institute was now prepared to undertake such research on an unprecedented level. On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office: JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THREE YEAR PERIOD TO KWG INSTITUTE ANTHROPOLOGY FOR RESEARCH ON TWINS AND EFFECTS ON LATER GENERATIONS OF SUBSTANCES TOXIC FOR GERM PLASM.
At the time of Rockefeller's endowment, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a hero in American eugenics circles, functioned as a head of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Rockefeller funding of that Institute continued both directly and through other research conduits during Verschuer's early tenure. In 1935, Verschuer left the Institute to form a rival eugenics facility in Frankfurt that was much heralded in the American eugenic press. Research on twins in the Third Reich exploded, backed up by government decrees. Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt, a eugenic doctor's journal he edited, that Germany's war would yield a "total solution to the Jewish problem."
Verschuer had a long-time assistant. His name was Josef Mengele. On May 30, 1943, Mengele arrived at Auschwitz. Verschuer notified the German Research Society, "My assistant, Dr. Josef Mengele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me in this branch of research. He is presently employed as Hauptsturmführer [captain] and camp physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial groups in this concentration camp is being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsführer [Himmler]."
Mengele began searching the boxcar arrivals for twins. When he found them, he performed beastly experiments, scrupulously wrote up the reports and sent the paperwork back to Verschuer's institute for evaluation. Often, cadavers, eyes and other body parts were also dispatched to Berlin's eugenic institutes.
Rockefeller executives never knew of Mengele. With few exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenic studies in Nazi-occupied Europe before the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller and Carnegie financed, the institutions they helped found, and the science it helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own.
After the war, eugenics was declared a crime against humanity--an act of genocide. Germans were tried and they cited the California statutes in their defense. To no avail. They were found guilty.
However, Mengele's boss Verschuer escaped prosecution. Verschuer re-established his connections with California eugenicists who had gone underground and renamed their crusade "human genetics." Typical was an exchange July 25, 1946 when Popenoe wrote Verschuer, "It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. I have been very anxious about my colleagues in Germany…. I suppose sterilization has been discontinued in Germany?" Popenoe offered tidbits about various American eugenic luminaries and then sent various eugenic publications. In a separate package, Popenoe sent some cocoa, coffee and other goodies.
Verschuer wrote back, "Your very friendly letter of 7/25 gave me a great deal of pleasure and you have my heartfelt thanks for it. The letter builds another bridge between your and my scientific work I hope that this bridge will never again collapse but rather make possible valuable mutual enrichment and stimulation."
Soon, Verschuer once again became a respected scientist in Germany and around the world. In 1949, he became a corresponding member of the newly formed American Society of Human Genetics, organized by American eugenicists and geneticists.
In the fall of 1950, the University of Münster offered Verschuer a position at its new Institute of Human Genetics, where he later became a dean. In the early and mid-1950s, Verschuer became an honorary member of numerous prestigious societies, including the Italian Society of Genetics, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and the Japanese Society for Human Genetics.
Human genetics' genocidal roots in eugenics were ignored by a victorious generation that refused to link itself to the crimes of Nazism and by succeeding generations that never knew the truth of the years leading up to war. Now governors of five states, including California have issued public apologies to their citizens, past and present, for sterilization and other abuses spawned by the eugenics movement.
Human genetics became an enlightened endeavor in the late twentieth century. Hard-working, devoted scientists finally cracked the human code through the Human Genome Project. Now, every individual can be biologically identified and classified by trait and ancestry. Yet even now, some leading voices in the genetic world are calling for a cleansing of the unwanted among us, and even a master human species.
There is understandable wariness about more ordinary forms of abuse, for example, in denying insurance or employment based on genetic tests. On October 14, America's first genetic anti-discrimination legislation passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Yet because genetics research is global, no single nation's law can stop the threats.
This article was first published in the San Francisco Chronicle and is reprinted with permission of the author.
Historical Background: The Jews of Hungary During the Holocaust
After Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, the Hungarian government became interested in making an alliance with Nazi Germany. The Hungarian Government felt that such an alliance would be good for them, in that the two governments maintained similar authoritarian ideologies, and the Nazis could assist Hungary in retrieving land it had lost in World War I. Over the next five years, Hungary moved closer to Germany.
A Hungarian gendarme checks a woman entering the Munkács ghetto
German soldiers supervising the deportation of Jews, Hungary, 1944
The Munich Conference of September 1938 allowed Germany to annex the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia. In November, Germany carved a piece of Czechoslovakia &mdash territory that had formerly belonged to Hungary &mdash and handed it back to Hungary in order to cement the relations between the two nations. In August 1940, Germany gave Hungary possession of northern Transylvania. In October 1940, Hungary joined Germany, Italy, and Japan in the Axis alliance.
Hungary was awarded more land in March 1941 when, despite its alliance with the Yugoslav government, Hungary joined its new ally, Germany, in invading and splitting up Yugoslavia. By that time, with all its new territories, the Jewish population in Greater Hungary had reached 725,007, not including about 100,000 Jews who had converted to Christianity but were still racially considered to be &ldquoJews.&rdquo Approximately half of Hungary's Jewish population lived in Budapest, where they were very acculturated and a part of the middle class.
Deportation of the Budapest Jews to the Ghetto
Deportation of Jews from Dunaszerdahely, Hungary, to Auschwitz, June 15, 1944
Hungary commenced issuing anti-Jewish legislation soon after the Anschluss in March 1938. Hungary passed a law whereby Jewish participation in the economy and the professions was cut by 80 percent. In May 1939, the Hungarian Government further limited the Jews in the economic realm and distinguished Jews as a "racial," rather than religious group. In 1939 Hungary created a new type of labor service draft, which Jewish men of military age were forced to join (see also Hungarian Labor Service System). Later, many Jewish men would die within the framework of the forced labor they performed pursuant to this draft. In 1941 the Hungarian Government passed a racial law, similar to the Nuremberg Laws, which officially defined who was to be considered Jewish.
Budapest, Hungary, A homeless Jewish man in the ghetto
Soltvadkert, Hungary, Jewish deportees before boarding the deportation train, June 1944
Although these anti-Jewish laws caused many hardships, most of the Jews of Hungary lived in relative safety for much of the war. Despite this relative safety, however, tragedy struck in the summer of 1941. Some 18,000 Jews randomly designated by the Hungarian authorities as "Jewish foreign nationals" were kicked out of their homes and deported to Kamenets-Podolsk in the Ukraine, where most were murdered. In early 1942, another 1,000 Jews in the section of Hungary newly acquired from Yugoslavia were murdered by Hungarian soldiers and police in their "pursuit of Partisans.&rdquo
As the war progressed, the Hungarian authorities became more and more entrenched in their alliance with Germany. In June 1941, Hungary decided to join Germany in its war against the Soviet Union. Finally, in December 1941, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in declaring war against the United States, completely cutting itself off from any relationship with the West.
However, after Germany's defeat at Stalingrad and other battles in which Hungary lost tens of thousands of its soldiers, the Regent of Hungary, Miklos Horthy, began trying to back out of the alliance with Germany. This, of course, was not acceptable to Hitler. In March, 1944, German troops invaded Hungary, in order to keep the country loyal by force. Hitler immediately set up a new government that he thought would be faithful, with Dome Sztojay, Hungary's former ambassador to Germany, as Prime Minister.
Jews saved from deportation at the last minute in Budapest, Hungary, November 1944
Jews accompanied by Hungarian gendarmes before boarding the transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Soltvadkert, Hungary, June 1944
Accompanying the German occupation forces was a Sonderkommando unit headed by Adolf Eichmann, whose job was to begin implementing the &ldquoFinal Solution&rdquo within Hungary. Additional anti-Jewish decrees were passed in great haste. Judenräte were established throughout Hungary, with a central Judenrat called the Zsido Tanacs established in Budapest under Samu Stern. The Nazis isolated the Jewish population from the outside world by restricting their movement and confiscating their telephones and radios. Jewish communities were forced to wear the Yellow Star. Jewish property and businesses were seized, and from mid to late April the Jews of Hungary were forced into ghettos. These ghettos were short-lived. After two to six weeks the Jews of each ghetto were put on trains and deported. Between May 15th and July 9th, about 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, where most were gassed on arrival. In early July, Horthy halted the deportations, still intent on cutting Hungary's ties with Germany. By that time, all of Hungary was "Jew-free," except for the capital, Budapest. Throughout the spring of 1944 Israel Kasztner, Joel Brand, and other members of the Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest began negotiating with the SS to save lives. These negotiations are discussed in greater depth below. Many Jews (perhaps up to 8,000) fled from Hungary, mostly to Romania, many with the help of Zionist youth movement members.
The Munkács brick factory where the Jews of the town were brought before their deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Deportation of Jews from the town Koszeg, Hungary, 1944
From July to October, 1944, the Jews of Budapest still lived in relative safety. However, on October 15 Horthy announced publicly that he was done with Hungary's alliance with Germany, and was going to make peace with the Allies. The Germans blocked this move, and simply toppled Horthy's Government, giving power to Ferenc Szalasi and his fascist, violently antisemitic Arrow Cross Party. The Arrow Cross immediately introduced a reign of terror in Budapest. Nearly 80,000 Jews were killed in Budapest itself, shot on the banks of the Danube River and then thrown into the river. Thousands of others were forced on death marches to the Austrian border. In December, during the Soviet siege of the city, 70,000 Jews were forced into a ghetto. Thousands died of cold, disease, and starvation.
During the Arrow Cross's reign of terror, tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest were saved by members of the Relief and Rescue Committee and by other Jewish activists, especially Zionist youth movement members, who forged identity documents and provided them with food. These Jews worked together with foreign diplomats such as the Swedish Raoul Wallenberg, the Swiss Carl Lutz, and others who provided many Jews with international protection.
Hungary was liberated by the Soviet army by April 1945. Up to 568,000 Hungarian Jews had perished during the Holocaust.
The Kasztner Controversy
Dr. Israel (also known as Rudolf or Rezso) Kasztner was a Hungarian Zionist leader in his native Transylvania and then in Budapest after Transylvania was annexed by Hungary in 1940. In late 1944 he helped found the Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest. Until spring 1944, the committee successfully smuggled refugees from Poland and Slovakia into Hungary.
Once Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, Kasztner came to believe that the best way to save Hungarian Jewry &ndash the last Jewish community in Europe &ndash was to negotiate with the German authorities. Thus, the Rescue Committee contacted the SS officers in charge of implementing the "Final Solution" in Hungary. Soon thereafter, Adolf Eichmann made his offer to exchange "Blood for Goods," whereby a certain number of Jews would be spared in exchange for large amounts of goods, including trucks. Kasztner negotiated directly with Eichmann and later with Kurt Becher, a Nazi official.
Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia undergoing selection on the ramp at Birkenau.
In late June 1944, Kasztner convinced Eichmann to release some 1,700 Jews. Kasztner and other Jewish leaders drew up a list of Jews to be released, including leading wealthy Jews, Zionists, rabbis, Jews from different religious communities, and Kasztner's own family and friends. They were transported out of Hungary on what came to be known as the "Kasztner Train." After being detained in Bergen-Belsen, the members of the "Kasztner Train" eventually reached safety in Switzerland.
Kasztner and Becher continued negotiating for an end to the murder and later for the surrender of various Nazi camps to the Allies. These negotiations may have led to the order to stop the murder in Auschwitz and to stop the deportations from Budapest in fall 1944.
After the war, Kasztner moved to Palestine and became a civil servant working in the Israeli government. He was accused of collaborating with the Nazis by a journalist named Malkiel Grunwald. The Israeli government sued Grunwald on Kasztner's behalf in order to clear Kasztner's name, but Grunwald's lawyer turned the trial into an indictment of Kasztner. The judge summed up the trial by saying that Kasztner had "sold his soul to the devil" &ndash by negotiating with the Nazis, by favoring his friends and relatives on the Kasztner Train, and by not doing enough to warn Hungarian Jews about their fate.
Kasztner appealed this verdict and, ultimately, the Israeli Supreme Court cleared Kasztner of all wrongdoing. However, before the new decision could be announced, Kasztner was assassinated by extreme right-wing nationalists.