In recent years there has been a growing and concerning trend in regard to a word as familiar globally as any other word. That word is Nazi. The trend I speak of is in the use of the word in a descriptive, subjective form, as opposed to the literally specific form necessary to keep an understanding of the evil it represents.
A number of people who knew that I intended to write this piece have actually thanked me for doing so. Any attempt to try to change the thought pattern of an anti-Semite or other form of bigot that uses Holocaust denial as a means of forwarding a perverse agenda is a waste of time. A more worthwhile venture is to make sure those who have open minds and pure hearts are afforded the opportunity to know the truth. The truth is that improper use of the word Nazi dilutes the horrors of what took place under the Nazi-occupation in Europe.
This post is neither a political statement nor an apology for those that misuse power. This is more of a perspective check. Calling someone a Nazi because they do something damaging to other individuals, or even worse calling them one because it is your perception they are doing so, detracts from some critical facts.
Adolf Hitler’s Nazi war machine sought out and killed in staggering numbers. According to jewishvirtualibrary.org the numbers break down as follows.
Jews: up to 6 million
Soviet civilians: around 7 million (including 1.3 Soviet Jewish civilians, who are included in the 6 million figure for Jews)
Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million (including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers)
Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million (including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish elites)
Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina): 312,000
People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000
Jehovah‘s Witnesses: around 1,900
Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000
German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: undetermined
Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands (possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above).
As a son of Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivors, the Jewish number hits very close to home, as it does or has done for many others I have known or still know over the course of my lifetime. The Nazis destroyed entire worlds. They wiped out an entire Jewish civilization in a large percentage of Europe. They tortured, they raped, they conducted experiments, made people dig graves before shooting them in cold blood, and put together one of the most efficiently cruel means of mass murder by gassing to death multitudes of people. Frankly, although these facts are accurate, this does not capture the true horror of what took place. For that one needs to research the numerous pictures and accounts of the events that took place.
And yet many people today refer to anyone with ideologies opposed to their own as a Nazi. This is not a left and right issue. This is also not a justification nor a means of disregarding dangerous viewpoints or ideologies. What this is instead is a specific statement as to what separated Nazi Germany from much of what people refer to today as Nazi behavior. I’ve seen people on the right call Barack Obama a Nazi. I’ve seen people on the left call Donald Trump a Nazi. You can criticize, even despise the Iran deal or the situation on the border, but neither of these facts put either president even close to being in the same category as Adolf Hitler. Furthermore, even if one would feel strong critique for Israel’s handling of the Palestinian situation or feel a disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, invoking Nazi atrocities as a comparison to today’s Israel is nothing more than a disingenuous use of a term to promote a dangerous anti-Semitic political agenda.
None of this is to say that we should turn a blind eye to the dangers that exist both in our respective countries or abroad. But it is important to note, that if one is to learn from history it starts by doing everything necessary to study it accurately. What the Nazis did between 1933 and 1945 is perpetrate an evil unlike anything the world had ever seen. To improperly identify and remember what took place not only dishonors all those murdered, it puts us all in greater danger of seeing it take place once again.
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