So, basically, today in history, we were going over the holocaust, and we watched some WWII shows, one of which was a show called Band of Brothers. It was the episode when the unit discovers the death camp. Now, I already read up about the war and the camps, so, knew something about it, but, I still wound up feeling depressed. I mentioned it to my mom later on, about how it was the only time in history that a country devoted itself to extermination, with architects, engineers, scientists, politicians, and military leaders alike all coming together with the intention of mass murder. Then we kinda argued over other genocides. Getting annoyed, I asked her if she'd have mentioned other slave trades if I was talking about the Atlantic Slave Trade (we're black) and she mentioned how some of the practices were worse (some were but the ones she mentioned really weren't that unique). Finally we ended up arguing over the Rwandan Genocide, which I agreed was equally evil but still played out more like a war, with soldiers killing, raping, and pillaging, although I acknowledge it as a genocide, it wasn't all of society going out of their way to commit it (not that all or even most Germans participated in the Holocaust). Anyway, mom eventually said that the war started when the world said it was enough, and that that never happened for Rwanda. Then I pointed out that the European War started over the invasion of Poland, and that the camps weren't even discovered by the Allies until 1945 (sure there were reports and suspicions, but nothing considered to be confirmation). My mom denied it and said the camps were discovered earlier in the war and an effort was made to destroy them, to which I stated that they weren't even discovered until around the end of the war (I know the Russians discovered them first, but, they weren't believed, apparently).
Most Helpful Girl
"Anyway, mom eventually said that the war started when the world said it was enough, and that that never happened for Rwanda. Then I pointed out that the European War started over the invasion of Poland, and that the camps weren't even discovered by the Allies until 1945 (sure there were reports and suspicions, but nothing considered to be confirmation). "
You are correct as far as I know. Actually though, the Allies did know of..."lesser" things like the ghettos and poor treatment etc. My grandfather was in a play in high school - in 1938 I think - in which they talked about some of those things, I think including work camps (later death camps). So I don't know who knew what if it was so commonly known that it appeared in a U. S. high school play (I kid you not. I can look up the title.) But you're right that WWII started over the invasion of Poland, and we got into it because Japan attacked us. Also, we did things like turn a boatload of Jews back to Nazi-occupied Europe because of anti-Semitism (it's true, look it up). And the U. S. was where Hitler got some of his eugenics ideas, horribly enough.
Re: Rwanda, we didn't bother with the Soviet camps (gulag), nor did we bother with the deaths of 20 million Africans under Leopold of Belgium's colonization of the Congo (read Heart of Darkness), or, as you mentioned, the slave trade that we perpetuated. And yes, the Nazis did terrible things but they weren't (sadly) unique. I can share some but I'd rather not scar people.
Basically - the Holocaust was not unique. It's just most recent and appears most in our media.1
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Most Helpful Guy
There have been other genocides. I think one aspect of the nazi regime that's horrifying is how advanced - logistically, organizationally, technologically- it was. Some other genocides have sort of seemed like a descent to tribal warfare. The nazi holocaust shows that advancing civilization alone is no guarantee against horrifying violence.
Stopping the camps was fairly clearly not the major motivation for the allies fighting in ww2. It's brought up after as evidence that we were the good guys.1