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We live in an age in which the historical memory is becoming shorter and shorter. This is a good reason why we need the annual Holocaust Memorial Day.
Its purpose is not only to remind us that the Holocaust happened, and how it happened, but also why it happened.
The last question is one easily leads to raised tempers. It is the Holocaust something that only the German people could have perpetrated? Did the centuries of Christian anti semitism help to prepare the way? Was it aberration, or an inevitable consequence of European history? Each of those questions is highly senitive.
There is, however, one cause that is in little doubt, namely the abominable racial theories that underlay Nazism.
The rise of Nasism coincided with the rise of eugenics, which literally means 'well-born'. Eugenics in turn arose from a firm belief in the law of the survival of the fittest. Eugenicists held that the human stock could only be truly improved by letting the 'strong' breed, and preventing the 'weak' from doing so. Some of the finest minds of the time were supporters of eugenics. It seems so scientific. Even Sweden was taken in by it. It ran a eugenics programme for years.
Hitler and the Nazis took this theory to its extremes. Not only should the weak be prevented from breeding through forced sterilisation, the weakest of all should be exterminated. In Nazi ideology the very weakest were the Jews. They believed that not only were Jews weak, but that they were also a moral threat to humanity.
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