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Monday, June 19, 2017

New views on the Holocaust and 1980s Britain

New views on the Holocaust and 1980s Britain | Podcast | History Extra

"Destroying states creates the potential for killing Jews because it removes state protection. Because it allows the Germans to use local institutions in a way that they were never intended to do because it breaks conventional practices, creates zones of anarchy and precisely zones of experimentation. The Germans experimented beyond Germany in ways they could not experiment inside Germany.

How do states protect Jews? Well, the most obvious way, and it's really simple and we take it for granted, is citizenship. The Holocaust only happened to people who didn't have citizenship from the German point of view. It only happened to Jews whose states were destroyed from the German point of view or to Jews whose states abandoned them. The Germans and I think this is really interesting - the Germans would not actually kill Jews who had a passport of a state that the Germans recognized unless the state was willing to let it happen...

We think that bureaucracy killed Jews. I think it's actually the truth is close to the opposite. Insofar as there was a bureaucracy that meant that people were individuals whose case had to be somehow be processed. The Germans actually struggled with bureaucracy at home the entire time. When they got abroad they could destroy other people's bureaucracies, create bureaucracy free zones - and that's how they found the way actually to kill German Jews...

Roughly half the perpetrators were not Germans. Many of the Germans who killed Jews were not Nazis. And even relatively few of the Nazis I think it's fair to say actually shared the entirety of Hitler's world view. It's pretty clear for example that Himmler who was in practice the architect of the Holocaust, it's pretty clear that Himmler did not in fact accept this entire circular view of the world.

So the tragic thing for us as people is that you can be drawn into this view of the world. You don't have to accept it from the beginning. You can be drawn into it step by political step and the things that you do - joining a party, discriminating against another human being or in the end murdering someone, those acts can bring you into the world view as well. Even if you don't accept it mentally, the fact that you do something makes the world view become the only acceptable excuse for what you've done...

In terms of the people who were not Germans they very often killed Jews for motives which were not directly antisemitic. Or to put in a different way if just anti semitism killed Jews then there wouldn't have been using eastern europe to start out with because anti semitism was so widespread in eastern europe and for a very very long time...

Everybody in Eastern Europe and in fact all Germans who killed Jews, they also killed other people. There aren't cases of collaborators or in fact for that matter of Nazi perpetrators who only killed Jews. They all killed other people. So when we make an explanation we have to make sure that we're capturing the totality of what happened...

In the early 80s a lot of Britons start thinking about themselves in a more business like way. They start thinking about themselves as individual brands. They start, um they start companies in much greater numbers than before. I think people become more kind of competitive, a bit more individualistic. Probably a bit more hard nosed.

And I think you can see in the Britain, particularly the London of today where I live, it's quite marked by those years. You go to a cafe where I live in Hackney and it's full of hipsters. And in the seventies their equivalents would've all been just sitting around you know maybe smoking a bit of dope or having drifting conversations about politics.

And now hipsters in Hackney, they've all got business ideas that they're kind of pitching to each other and I think they are all quite Thatcherised in that way. Even though I'm sure if you asked them they probably all vote Labour or Green. They certainly don't vote Tory but they've been changed almost unwittingly by those years"
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