|Syrisk demonstration i Birmingham. Foto: Astrid Nydahl|
When mass killing is on the way, it won’t announce itself in the language we are familiar with. The Nazi scenario of 1941 will not reappear in precisely the same form, but several of its causal elements have already begun to assemble.
Before he fired the shot, the Einsatzgruppe commander lifted the Jewish child in the air and said, “You must die so that we can live.” As the killing proceeded, other Germans rationalized the murder of Jewish children in the same way: them or us.
Today we think of the Nazi Final Solution as some dark apex of high technology. It was in fact the killing of human beings at close range during a war for resources. The war that brought Jews under German control was fought because Hitler believed that Germany needed more land and food to survive and maintain its standard of living — and that Jews, and their ideas, posed a threat to his violent expansionist program.
The Holocaust may seem a distant horror whose lessons have already been learned. But sadly, the anxieties of our own era could once again give rise to scapegoats and imagined enemies, while contemporary environmental stresses could encourage new variations on Hitler’s ideas, especially in countries anxious about feeding their growing populations or maintaining a rising standard of living.