People have faced different disasters and calamities all over the world recently. Some disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, famine, and diseases had far reaching consequences and caused numerous deaths. The nature of such calamities has been changed over time from natural to human. It is evident from the events what occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which is now referred to as the American slavery and the Holocaust. The Holocaust, caused by Adolf Hitler, led to one of the world’s biggest genocide of the Jews. American slavery, on the other hand, led to the imprisonment of black people against their will, who were made to work hard. These two catastrophic events occurred in different times. The current essay compares and contrasts both incidences with some examples, gives an analysis of each atrocity, and finally provides a conclusive closure.
Slavery and the Holocaust were two radically different events. Nevertheless, both of them can be characterized by extreme cruelty and evil nature of people leading to their occurrence. Moreover, in both cases, it can be deduced that the events were conducted with the use of force as no single Jew would willingly decide to die due to the fact that he/she were ignorant, or irredeemably evil. Snyder (2015) explains that although some Jews shared the notion that the killings were due to a kind of judgment meted on them by God, the days of eliminating a whole race or generation by a certain calamity ended long time ago and God Himself had made a covenant to that effect. Some people even tended to consider the killings as their own struggle out of bondage, which alludes to the Israelites’ journey from Egypt through the desert. Bazyler and Tuerkheimer (2014) affirm that, at the same time, the Nazis had enacted laws that directly or indirectly sentenced the Jews to death. The killing of the Jews was the reason behind the Holocaust, and it was determined to succeed irrespective of the Jews’ positions in regard to it. The Nazis were so firmly inclined to their success, that they made every effort towards reaching complacence from their victims, even if it meant breaking their spirits and wills to reach subjugation and finally death.
American slavery was undeniably coupled with force and coercion. However, it should be noted that slavery calls for subordination as the slaves were made to do everything according to the will of their masters. It led to the development of cooperation and a sense of trust between the two parties. Eventually, there were other emotions along with hatred, such as affection, loyalty, and willingness among the blacks and whites. Sublette and Sublette (2015) opine that, at this point, slaves understood that they had a choice to make things better or worse for them. They knew when they were treated well and when not. Moreover, they could also differentiate between good and bad without being directed by their masters. Nevertheless, at times, they felt as if they deserved punishment for duties they executed wrongly. The developed emotions and feelings only improved, if both the blacks and whites viewed slavery from a common standpoint. Slaves had to be willing to perform duties diligently as opposed to use of brutal force to do the same. The work of a slave nanny can be an instance of such situation. The nanny has a duty and an obligation towards the child being taken care of. She had to provide the kind of care that would satisfy and benefit the child’s well-being, and ensure that the child receives all that he/she deserved. Such duties, however, could not be done through coercion as it was difficult to predict what could occur in such case, especially without strict monitoring. The masters wanted their children to be looked after with affection and keen observation for the well-being of the children. The same feelings and emotions were expected to be shown by the masters and slaveholders, though, it was not always possible. A similar scenario to the nannies’ case was a work of slave cooks. The masters had to trust them in order not to make them wake up on a particular day and decide to poison them all. Bazyler and Tuerkheimer (2014) assert that the Holocaust had nothing similar to the nanny’s or cook’s case. On the contrary, Jews did not play an intimate role in the lives of the Nazis and they could not yield to the ways in which the Holocaust was done.
The difference between American slavery and the Holocaust is deeply rooted in the alienation from family, cultural, and historical backgrounds. The concept of alienation explains why slaves resigned to slavery, while the Jews did not do the same to the Holocaust. The slaves were taken away from their communities where they culturally and historically belonged. In addition, the factor of time played a significant role, as well. Williams (2014) notes that the people of the first generation were aware of their cultural traditions as they had individually practiced them before starting subjugating to others. They had first-hand information concerning their cultural practices and traditions. The people of next generation, who were born in slavery, were only told about the culture and practices of their people. They had no chance to practice their traditions. The subsequent generations, thus, had less or no connection at all with their real culture. Consequently, it led to the diminishing effect, and in a short period of time they completely lost their cultural and historical belonging. According to Sublette and Sublette (2015), by the year 1860, the slaves who had been born in the United States were completely alienated from their historical backgrounds. At the same time, the essence of the Holocaust was the wanton killing of the Jews in an effort to eliminate them as a nation, while the core of slavery was making slaves out of the blacks. In its turn, the Holocaust was not meant to alienate anyone from their historical or cultural setting, but it does not render it as less evil. In addition to this, the given event occurred within one generation, which means that it can be considered as natal alienation. The time span was limited and, therefore, there were no cultural practices that defined the Jews that were lost.
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Another concept that further explains the difference is the victims. A consideration of the victims in both cases reveals that they were both perceived to be morally inferior, though in varied ways. Within the Holocaust, there was no such notion as a good Jew. Every representative of the given nation had to be killed and was not compared to a human at all. Snyder (2015) explains that every living Jew was considered ignorant and evil. The best way to deal with such creature was to eliminate it. In regard to the American slavery, to be considered good black, he/she had to be submissive and respectful, as well as follow the instructions and allocate his/her duties properly. The Nazis looked at the Jewish infants with the same scorn and hatred as compared to the adult Jews. Jewish children could not even come close to the Germans. On contrary, the children of the slave-owners were freely playing with the children of the slaves. It was also noted that for American slaves, children below a certain age were not treated to forced labor, in contrast to the rest of the slaves. On the other hand, during the Holocaust, no child was spared from the ultimate death irrespective of gender or age.
The Jews were deemed as evil, which was the reason they were exterminated. Therefore, there was no way, in which such people could have been shown mercy and compassion. It was the norm that the Nazis believed in. In the American slavery, the script was different. There were traces of benevolence in some individual households of slave owners, while alongside with the ruthless slave-owners, there were kind and responsible ones, as well. Consequently, the kind masters were adequately awarded with loyalty and good service delivery. According to Bazyler and Tuerkheimer (2014), reference here can be made to Doctor Ernst B., a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, for his completely different and humane character compared to other representatives of the party. He saw and treated Jews in the concentration camps like fellow human beings. He always greeted his patients jovially and engaged them in talk. They were so fond of each other that the patients’ testimony on the doctor’s behalf after the war helped in his acquittal.
Nazi doctors had a duty of selecting Jews for the gas chambers and other means of execution. In their ideology, there was no case in which a Jew could be shown mercy. Therefore, it was a type of obligation to do it without questions or objection. The inability to perform such duties usually had a psychological reason. While slave masters attributed their kindness to the slaves to virtues within them, Nazi doctors could not reveal their inner self and express their own views due to the fact that every action they made had to be met with public approval (Sublette & Sublette, 2015).
Sexual attitudes among the American slaves and their Jew counterparts show great differences between the two. For example, raping of women was witnessed in both situations. However, sexual relations between the Jews and Nazis were forbidden. The reason was that the Jews had no value, they were low-lives and evil and such association would be seen as mere contamination. On the other hand, Williams (2014) asserts that sexual associations between the blacks and slave-owners were common, even if they were never warranted for marriage. It led to the bearing of people who were neither black nor white. They were ultimately referred to as the ‘mixed blood’. The appearance of the “mixed blood” was encountered at all places inhabited by the blacks and subsequently led to the development of institutions to be attended exclusively by them. The general statement in regard to the given situation was that the blacks were considered as not deserving justice just the way an animal cannot expect justice. They were seen as lacking in regard to the required moral stature. Similarly, the Jews were also seen as not deserving any justice as they were morally deprived and evil.
The final and most coherent difference between the Holocaust and the American slavery is the facts that the Jews were considered evil and not deserving redemption, while the black people under slavery were not. The black people were not viewed as evil but as creatures without any ability to portray a considerable high magnitude of intellectual virtues. Williams (2014) points out that they were people with unqualified morals, which made them look like lesser beings. It is evident in the way they were treated. They encountered hard labor without rest, experienced extremely hard living conditions, the black women were raped, and they generally lived in marginalization coupled with harsh and fatal disciplinary system. Despite the fact that it may not have been true for every slave-owner or master, it was the general consensus held towards the black slaves. At the same time, the Jews were seen as plain evil and were being terminated for this reason. A pro-Nazi doctor was once quoted saying he would gladly end the lives of Jews and even compared them to an infected appendix, which is an organ that has to be removed from the body by any means to avoid the spreading of the infection to other parts of the body.
At the same time, the black people faced alienation from their cultural and historical settings, compared to Jews. They had to feel the pain of forcefully abandoning their families, loved ones, and responsibilities. As a result of it, they lost connection with what was originally their culture, as well as with definition who they really were. Bazyler and Tuerkheimer (2014) are of the view that the Jews did not go through any cultural or historic transformations during the Holocaust in comparison to the black people. They faced torture, gas chambers, mass shooting, and painful deaths in the concentration camps or any other places they were traced and identified in.
In conclusion, both the Holocaust and the American slavery were systems of great injustice to the afflicted victims. During the Holocaust, more than six million Jews lost their lives, while approximately twenty million black people died due to slavery. Each system can be characterized by its own peculiarities and varied schools of thought should be applied to study both scenarios in more details. There is an issue of alienation, on the one hand, and genocide, on the other hand. Both events are radically different and should be studies correspondingly as none of them is the direct predecessor of the other. However, considering the figures involved, it should be noted that lives were lost in excessive measures during the American slavery. In addition, the lifelong painful afflictions of the black people were unbearable. Despite the fact that nothing can be changed now in regard to the past, it is the task of modern humanity to transcend the borders and work together for creation a better world where no lives are lost due to the differences between people.
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