Describing the Holocaust: Its Historical Uniqueness
Is there anything unique about the Holocaust when placed against the century's other mass murders? The Holocaust stands out against the twisted landscape of death in the twentieth century as the one mass murder utterly devoid of instrumental purpose: there is no comprehensible reason for it. Certainly obsessive antagonism towards the Jews was a functional bedrock of Nazism, first uniting the movement, then later providing enormous material benefits to tens of thousands during the dispossessions? But all this was secondary, if not unintended: the Nazi passion against the Jews was just that, a passion. Jews were exterminated not because they stood in the way of Nazi goals – for example either by occupying contested space or offering resistance. Rather, their extermination was the goal. All other mass killings of this century have at least a clear, if
tenuous, connection with significant political purposes. And in most cases the murders have ended with the conflict which produced them. The Germans, on the contrary, rounded up Jews and shipped them off to be gassed after they became masters of a certain area, not in order to master it. Extermination of the Jews was an end in itself.
Final Solution indeed weakened the Germans' ability to fight.10
Nearly the entire Hungarian Jewish community was shipped to Auschwitz in May
and June 1944, and gassed there while the Soviets were pushing the Germans out
of Eastern Europe and the British and Americans were invading Normandy! Were not the troops and supplies more needed in the battles
to keep the Soviets out of eastern