Updated date:

What Made the Holocaust Possible?

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

The Heart of the Holocaust

Take suspicion and toss in arrogance and you have the perfect recipe for the Holocaust and all the steps that led to it. It was the arrogance of the Romans, who saw themselves as better than all other civilizations, which allowed them to kill without any other emotion but pleasure. Pride and greed led the Crusaders to kill all who they considered the opposition in taking Jerusalem into the hands of the Christians. Arrogance helped support the Inquisition and the harsh treatment of the Native Americans.

It was pride and arrogance that resulted in the death of Huguenots, Catholics, Protestants, and aristocrats. All examples of mass murders by leaders can be attributed to arrogance to some degree.

Darwin's Contribution

Charles Darwin gave arrogance more support by his theories laid out in Origin of Species. This revolutionary book gave the world the theory of evolution which “argues that all living things are altered over time, as a result of inherited traits.” One group of people obviously was better than all the others if they had survival traits. Those that set the stage for the Holocaust might not have known about Darwin’s theory, but they practiced it extremely well.


WWI's Contribution

The Holocaust could also thank the first World War for opening the door. Germany had never recovered economically from losing to the Allies. It was also a time when the Germans were looking for an identity to be proud of. The best way to rise up is to step on somebody as they fall down. The Germans found a common enemy in the Jews and the many others that perished in the Holocaust. Blame was placed on the Jews for everything that went bad. Finding someone that was the cause of Germany’s misfortunes gave the masses a focus and a purpose.

The World's Part

Another reason the Holocaust was possible centered around the ignorance and denial of the world. Many denied that such atrocities could happen again. Mankind could not inflict anything like this on their own kind. Not believing the various reports allowed the Nazis to continue their murderous journey. If they had been stopped as the first reports reached outside all German occupied territories, the Holocaust would have been another minor mention in the annals of history and the path for another and even greater even would have another stepping stone.



This type of atrocity is called genocide which can be defined as “extermination of a racial, religious, or ethnic group.” Murder that a serial killer perpetrates cannot be defined as such. One individual cannot commit genocide. It has to be a large effort to eliminate a group of people from the world.

Large numbers of people with the same purpose and the same focus can lead to genocide. A common hate is all that is needed. History has shown exactly how that is possible.

Culmination of Events

Too many shake their heads and wonder how and why there was a Holocaust. No one event or group of people can wear the blame on this. It was a culmination of events that allowed Hitler and his fellow Nazis to kill millions with an almost sense of indifference. Only those that had no emotion or soul could throw small children into the flames and not question the murder they had committed. They learned that killing can be pleasurable from the Romans. They learned that killing is acceptable to improve the empire from the Greeks. The Inquisition showed the Nazis that all enemies should be removed. The ghettos established by the Catholic Church reinforced how different the Jews were and how they should be feared. The French Revolution showed the Nazis how mass murder could be acceptable under the right conditions. The silence of the world showed them that it could be done to a large scale.


“Armenians in Turkey 1915-1918.” The History Place. 2000. http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/armenians.htm, (accessed January 15, 2011).

Cantor, Norman F. The Civilization of the Middle Ages: A Completely Revised and Expanded Edition of Medieval History. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.

Cody, David. “French Revolution”, The Victorian Web, http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist7.html, (accessed February 18, 2011).

Hale, J.R. Renaissance Europe 1480-1520. Malden: Blackwell, 2000.

Hopkins, Keith. “The Colosseum: Emblem of Rome.” BBC History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ history/ancient/romans/colosseum_01.shtml, (accessed February 12, 2011).

McAlister, Lyle N. Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-1700. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984.

Newman, Leonard S. and Ralph Erber, ed. Understanding the Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust. Cary: Oxford, 2002.

Pomeroy, Sarah B., Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. New York: Oxford, 2008.

Robinson, B. A. “The Reconciliation Walk.” Religious Tolerance. Org, http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_cru1.htm, (accessed February 10, 2011).

Schleunes, Karl A.The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews 1933-1939. Chicago: University of Illinois, 1990.

Supple, Carrie. From Prejudice to Genocide: Learning About the Holocaust. Staffordshire: Trentham, 2009.

“The Inquisition”, Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ jsource/History/Inquisition.html, (accessed February 18, 2011).

“The Rape of Nanking 1937-1938”. The History Place. 2000. http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/nanking.htm, (accessed January 15, 2011).

Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006

Related Articles