argument top image

< Back to question Can the Holocaust be forgiven? Show more Show less

As a result of the Holocaust, over 6 million innocent Jews perished under Nazi rule. Beyond that, millions of innocent civilians were also murdered under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Examining this massacre's atrocities and lasting trauma begs a tough question. Who, if anyone, should be forgiven of their involvement in the Holocaust?

The Holocaust can be forgiven Show more Show less

In an extremely oppressive regime, Nazi soldiers, the Jewish council, and Hitler Youth were forced to comply out of fear or indoctrination. If they did not comply, their families and their own lives would be at risk.
< (2 of 2)

Normal people were simply following orders during the Holocaust

When faced with the option of kill or be killed, Nazi soldiers had no choice but to follow the orders given to them.
< (1 of 3) Next argument >

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more before voting ↓

Proponents


The Argument

The Nazi regime forced German citizens into joining the Nazi military. When soldiers joined the Nazi regime, they had to vow a loyalty of unconditional obedience. They had no choice but to obey the commands given without question. If a guard or soldier wavered in their loyalty, they were often executed. In the years prior to and during World War II, at least 15,000 German soldiers were executed for disobeying orders. [1]This means that the Nazis had no choice but to kill others in order to avoid getting killed themselves. Therefore, they should be forgiven for their acts against the Jews because they acted out of survival. In addition, many of the Nazi did their jobs without question. They were not directly involved in murdering the Jews, but they did participate in transporting them and liquidating the ghettos. Only a small percentage of German soldiers went on to be full-fledged Nazis. [2] This means that most soldiers were simply following the orders they were given without question. Therefore, the Holocaust should be forgiven due to the ignorance of the soldiers.

Counter arguments

Not all German soldiers were killed for insubordination. In a study of 135 German soldiers that defied orders, some were beaten and threatened, but none of them were executed. [1] Soldiers did have a choice when following orders, and being beaten is a small price to pay when compared to murdering innocent people. As soldiers, the Nazis should have defied orders when forced to torture and kill innocent adults and children. Ignorance should not be a reason for forgiveness. Nazi soldiers should have thought about the repercussions of their actions and recognized the unethical treatment of the Jews before they were even killed. Additionally, while some soldiers did not know the ultimate fate of the Jews that they sent off, they were fully aware of the discriminatory ideology driving the deportations of the Jews. [3]

Premises

[P1] The Nazis and Jewish council were simply following orders. [P2] When someone’s life is threatened, they should not be blamed for the choices they make. [P3] The Nazi soldiers and Jewish council were threatened to follow orders. [P4] Therefore, they should not be held accountable for their actions.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.history.com/news/why-german-soldiers-dont-have-to-obey-orders
  2. https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/198435
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1979/10/21/they-were-just-following-orders/34d2eb42-daf6-49b9-af28-37a9582d0688/

This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 13:33 UTC

Explore related arguments