24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Holocaust of Jews in Europe, massacre of Chinese in Nanjing

‘Holocausts brought by mankind upon mankind has taught us that absolute power, if remain unchecked, corrupts absolutely. Holocausts serve as stark reminder of dangers of unchecked prejudice, discrimination, and hatred’

The seed of curiosity engraved deep inside human mind is nothing short of a wonder. This seed is responsible for all the developments achieved in the past. A person has experienced greater surges of advancements in wartime relative to peacetime at different periods in history. In archives of rapid industrialization and modern warfare, one such is the chapter of the World War-II (1941-45) that witnessed the birth of new techniques warfare along with the conception of complex weaponry deadlier than ever, ready to slaughter mankind. This single-most-devastating war is a collage of multiple events. With the uprising of extremists in Germany – that was responsible for instigating the antisemitic emotions within the commonplace – the derogatory actions realized by state actors were clearly visible from 1933 onwards targeting the Jewish minority.

Austrian-born German ruler Adolf Hitler and his chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels were mainly responsible for converging the hatred of the locals towards the Jews. The German citizens were fed with mala-fide reports on daily basis about how Germans were being robbed of the jobs by the Jews, how their businesses were being robbed by this minority and that the Jews were growing powerful in Germany and overseas with every passing day. The reason behind this mass propaganda was that Adolf Hitler wanted someone to take the blame of the previous defeat in the World War-I, a scapegoat and the Jews were the most probable candidates to take the fall. A commonly shared sentiment among the local people was that Jews had to go one way or the other in order to cleanse the fatherland of its weaknesses.

‘Efforts in education, awareness, and accurate historical representation remain essential in countering denial and preserving truth’
Memorial Hall of Victims in Nanjing

The final detestable ingredient that provoked different countries to indulge in yet another global war was the violation of Treaty of Versailles. Sanctions that were imposed on Germany in the aftermath of the war to weaken its economy, was the ultimate move of the allies that had crippled the German machinery responsible for orchestrating the war. Its violation ensured that Germany and later Italy along with Japan, plunged in a world war of even greater magnitude than before, against the allied forces (United Kingdom, Russia, France, and the United States of America). The persecution of Jews was the core atrocity of the World War-II. Holocaust was the systematic, first hand state-sponsored persecution and genocide of Jews along with others, including Romani and Slavic people, disabled persons, and political dissidents, orchestrated by the Adolf Hitler’s regime during the World War-II.

It is one of the darkest chapters of humankind, which uncovers unsettling ideas of blind-obedience of German people, persecution of minorities, mass executions, grotesque starving experimentation, gas chamber executions, etc. It was indeed a nightmare come true. While one tragedy gripped one part of the world, another nightmare was unraveling on the other side of the world – the great Sino-Japanese war started in 1937, resulting in besiege of China at the hands of Japanese. The casualties suffered by the Chinese people were incomparable. Japan’s imperial forces meant to crush the Chinese civilians and carried out some of the most gruesome actions against civilians as well as military personnel. The detailed accounts of this tragedy is given in The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War-II, a bestselling 1997 non-fiction book written by Iris Chang about the 1937–1938 Nanjing massacre.

‘In Pakistan, denial among some groups or individuals may stem from various factors but such views do not represent majority’

Historians confirmed that Japanese suffered from a superiority complex similar to the concept of ‘pure Aryan race’ – infused in the Germans. Just like Germans, Japanese considered themselves a superior and a developed race. Hence, the superior race could sentence whatever punishment it deemed fit and no matter how degrading it might be. They also considered that the superior race could inflict pain on the ‘inferior’ racial groups. In front of Japanese, the ‘only crime’ that Chinese had committed was that they were born Chinese. Unlike Germany, Japan didn’t have to pay reparations for its war crimes against China. Japan wasn’t tried for its crimes against China like Germany. As a result, most of the war criminals of Nanjing are roaming free even today, believing that what they did to the people of Nanjing was all part of a ‘divine war.’

We can see that a modern day Japanese and German mindsets are different, where Germans do consider Holocaust a tragedy, while a fair proportion of Japanese on the other hand justify the country’s stance back then. The war finally ended in 1945 after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing huge devastation across two major cities of Japan, whereas Germany was once again rendered bankrupt due to extreme war financing to support its forces fighting the war at various fronts. The two Holocausts brought by mankind upon mankind has taught us that the absolute power if remain unchecked, corrupts absolutely. Holocausts serve as the stark reminder of the dangers of the unchecked prejudice, discrimination, and hatred. These signify standing against bigotry, racism, totalitarianism, and intolerance in all forms.

‘Efforts in education, awareness, and accurate historical representation remain essential in preserving truth’

It is essential to remember the victims of both Holocausts in order to preserve their stories and honor their lives so that history may not repeat itself. Education about Holocausts fosters understanding and empathy. The cinematic world has depicted the horrors of Holocausts in the form of art movies such as The Pianist (2002), Schindler’s List (1993), Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (1995), Don’t Cry Nanking (1995), Life is Beautiful (1997), The Boy in Stripped Pajamas (2008), and many more. With their stories preserved in different forms of art, the lesson of a peaceful coexistence can be passed on to younger generations. Teaching their history will help prevent ignorance and foster a more inclusive society. The fate suffered by the victims of both the Holocausts must never befall any other community, for the spirit of commemoration demands of all humans to stay vigilant of the past and keep improving the present in order to develop a sustainable future for all.

In Pakistan, denial among some groups or individuals may stem from various factors, including social or ‘political’ ideologies, propaganda, misinformation, or attempts to minimize historical events for various reasons. It is important to note that such views do not represent the majority within these communities. Muslims, Hindus and Christians and other communities in Pakistan condemn the Holocaust denial, and acknowledge the historical facts surrounding the systematic genocide of Jews in Europe and massacre of Nanjing. Remembering these tragedies is crucial not only to honor the families of the victims and survivors but also prevent similar atrocities from happening in future. Efforts in education, awareness, and accurate historical representation remain essential in countering denial and preserving the truth of these events.

NOTE: On International Day of Commemoration
in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust – that falls
on January 27 every year – Jarida Daily is writing on
Holocaust in Europe, and Nanjing Massacre with all
due respect, and a deep sense of pain.