Nazism worser than Stalinism?

Dec 2011
1,369
Belgium
In the time I contributed to a discussion about the German "Historikerstreit". I have the impression that the last time on the European board, there are more threads about Nazism in comparison with Stalinism/Communism. As I see it the questions of the "Historikerstreit" seems still to cause discussions.
First about the Historikerstreit

"The Historikerstreit (German: [hɪsˈtoːʁɪkɐˌʃtʁaɪt], "historians' quarrel")[1][2] was an intellectual and political controversy in the late 1980s in West Germany about how best to remember Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.[3] The Historikerstreit spanned the years 1986–89, and pitted right-wing against left-wing intellectuals.
The position taken by the right-wing intellectuals led by Ernst Nolte was that the Holocaust was not unique and therefore the Germans should not bear any special burden of guilt for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question".[4][5] Nolte argued that because there was no moral difference between the crimes of the Soviet Union and those of Nazi Germany—and even more controversially that because the Holocaust was something that the Germans were allegedly forced to do out of a fear of what the Soviet Union might do to them—that Germans should not feel any guilt over the Holocaust and should essentially forget about it.[6] Likewise, the conservative historian Andreas Hillgruber asserted that there was no moral difference between Allied policies towards Germany in 1944–1945 and the genocide waged against the Jews.[6] However, others argued that the memory of the Nazi era could not be "normalized" and be a source of national pride.[7]
The debate attracted much media attention in West Germany, with its participants frequently giving television interviews and writing op-ed pieces in newspapers. It flared up again briefly in 2000 when one of its leading figures, Ernst Nolte, was awarded the Konrad Adenauer Prize for science.[8]

The main characters of the dispute were
Ernst Nolte

and Jürgen Habermas

My first remarks:

Nolte speaks only about the Holocaust or Final solution of the Jewish Question, but as I understand it Hitler and Nazism wanted to murder nearly everybody, who didn't fit in their racist theories? As there were the Gypsies, Homosexuals and others who were deviant of their racist "Aryan" model?

It is only an opinion, or perhaps better said: a value judgement, but even reknowed historians seems to have a value judgement, although in my opinion an historian can't make value judgements as he/she has only to give the results of his/her studies and has not to decide what is "good" or "bad"?

My value judgement as a non-historian is that the Nazis were "special" (or perhaps "unique") with their notions of "race" as if all humans on this earth were not the same and only some of a particular race have the right to prosper and dominate the others. And those indesirables, who didn't fit in that theory had to be exterminated.
In that view (and I have it already expressed in some threads on this forum) the Stalin murders were only, although quite horrible and perhaps with more deaths, a "normal" process from a murderous dictatorship, which tried to protect the dictator against removal.

What is the opinion of other contributors?
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,211
Kansas
In that view (and I have it already expressed in some threads on this forum) the Stalin murders were only, although quite horrible and perhaps with more deaths, a "normal" process from a murderous dictatorship, which tried to protect the dictator against removal.

What is the opinion of other contributors?
Thats pretty much where I come from. Example, under Stalin, you had a reasonable chance to survive by keeping your head down and not being a target. With the Nazis you could die because your grand mother had the wrong last name.
 
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Mar 2018
896
UK
My own two cents:

Firstly, I don't think the Nazi atrocities are absolutely unique in type, but they are definitely on the extreme side of the historical spectrum. The magnitude of the Holocaust leave it few (but not no) rivals. The other aspect is that most genocides were done for some political aim: to remove rivals, to quench rebellions, etc... The Nazis did their's principally out of the belief that killing Jews was good, in and of itself. That makes it somehow more evil. For these two reasons, the Holocaust stands out far-and-beyond almost all other atrocities. To take the example given in the OP, the Allied bombing of Germany is very different in both those ways.

Secondly, even if it isn't unique or the very worst thing that's ever happened, it should still be remembered. I don't think it would be an improvement to make the Germans feel about the Holocausts the way Russians feel the Holodomor (to take another example of the OP). It would be far better to make the Russians view the Holodomor the way Germans view the Holocausts. By the way, I don't think that viewing past events that happened before your birth, or even your parents birth, with personal guilt is either beneficial or rational. Perhaps there should be some guilt in the national consciousness, but I'm not sure such a thing really exists. There are plenty of emotions modern day people feel about the holocausts, if Germans ought to feel any additional ones, I suggest that disgust is a good choice. Disgust that such a thing was done in the name of a country that they are a part of, and potentially love/are proud of.
 
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MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,211
Kansas
. There are plenty of emotions modern day people feel about the holocausts, if Germans ought to feel any additional ones, I suggest that disgust is a good choice. Disgust that such a thing was done in the name of a country that they are a part of, and potentially love/are proud of.
I think that is a pretty good point. Perhaps we should take our lead from the various groups of soldiers from former combatant nations that get together for reunions.
 
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Jan 2016
332
Boland
My own two cents:

Firstly, I don't think the Nazi atrocities are absolutely unique in type, but they are definitely on the extreme side of the historical spectrum. The magnitude of the Holocaust leave it few (but not no) rivals. The other aspect is that most genocides were done for some political aim: to remove rivals, to quench rebellions, etc... The Nazis did their's principally out of the belief that killing Jews was good, in and of itself. That makes it somehow more evil. For these two reasons, the Holocaust stands out far-and-beyond almost all other atrocities. To take the example given in the OP, the Allied bombing of Germany is very different in both those ways.

Secondly, even if it isn't unique or the very worst thing that's ever happened, it should still be remembered. I don't think it would be an improvement to make the Germans feel about the Holocausts the way Russians feel the Holodomor (to take another example of the OP). It would be far better to make the Russians view the Holodomor the way Germans view the Holocausts. By the way, I don't think that viewing past events that happened before your birth, or even your parents birth, with personal guilt is either beneficial or rational. Perhaps there should be some guilt in the national consciousness, but I'm not sure such a thing really exists. There are plenty of emotions modern day people feel about the holocausts, if Germans ought to feel any additional ones, I suggest that disgust is a good choice. Disgust that such a thing was done in the name of a country that they are a part of, and potentially love/are proud of.
Holodomor should never be compared to the Holocaust.

 
Mar 2018
896
UK
Holodomor should never be compared to the Holocaust.

The link says that the holodomor never happened, and calls everyone Nazis. I don't have time to argue with Stalin apologists who ignore basic facts. I'll treat you with the same disdain I have for holocaust deniers, and ignore you.
 
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macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,198
Slovenia, EU
My value judgement as a non-historian is that the Nazis were "special" (or perhaps "unique") with their notions of "race" as if all humans on this earth were not the same and only some of a particular race have the right to prosper and dominate the others. And those indesirables, who didn't fit in that theory had to be exterminated.
In that view (and I have it already expressed in some threads on this forum) the Stalin murders were only, although quite horrible and perhaps with more deaths, a "normal" process from a murderous dictatorship, which tried to protect the dictator against removal.

What is the opinion of other contributors?
There is a difference of intention and especially of a theory behind it. Every dictator removes opposition but nazis and communists were having "scientific" theories behind their mass attrocities. Marxist one was much preciser than nazi one and it predicted removal of whole classes of society which are by their nature "conservative" and opposing "progressive" communism. Classes or nations, focus was always against "enemies" of a state.

What bothers people mostly with holocaust is an industrial nature of mass executions in camps with precise accounting records while in a fact big parts of holocaust was executed in mass shootings as NKVD was doing in their conquered lands and in their home country. While gulags were not so systematicaly industrial in their daily execution quotas and accounting of "showers" capacities and pulled gold teeth, communists left industrial part to nature (extreme cold of north) and final result was nearly the same: a majority of inmates have died.

Then most of people have in their minds a wrong impression of western states back then. Those imperialist states were not democracies of today's human standards. Blacks in USA got their basic rights in sixties which was a laughing matter in all socialist block. Not allowing people to sit in a bar or on a bus was unimaginable to all socialists. Also treatment of women in public sphere in many so called democratic countries. Colonial attrocities and mass executions in third world colonies of French, British and others.
 
Dec 2011
1,369
Belgium
My own two cents:

Firstly, I don't think the Nazi atrocities are absolutely unique in type, but they are definitely on the extreme side of the historical spectrum. The magnitude of the Holocaust leave it few (but not no) rivals. The other aspect is that most genocides were done for some political aim: to remove rivals, to quench rebellions, etc... The Nazis did their's principally out of the belief that killing Jews was good, in and of itself. That makes it somehow more evil. For these two reasons, the Holocaust stands out far-and-beyond almost all other atrocities. To take the example given in the OP, the Allied bombing of Germany is very different in both those ways.

Secondly, even if it isn't unique or the very worst thing that's ever happened, it should still be remembered. I don't think it would be an improvement to make the Germans feel about the Holocausts the way Russians feel the Holodomor (to take another example of the OP). It would be far better to make the Russians view the Holodomor the way Germans view the Holocausts. By the way, I don't think that viewing past events that happened before your birth, or even your parents birth, with personal guilt is either beneficial or rational. Perhaps there should be some guilt in the national consciousness, but I'm not sure such a thing really exists. There are plenty of emotions modern day people feel about the holocausts, if Germans ought to feel any additional ones, I suggest that disgust is a good choice. Disgust that such a thing was done in the name of a country that they are a part of, and potentially love/are proud of.
Olleus,

you said:
"Firstly, I don't think the Nazi atrocities are absolutely unique in type"

I beg to disagree. And Mg1962a summarizes it in its essence in my opinion by saying:
"Thats pretty much where I come from. Example, under Stalin, you had a reasonable chance to survive by keeping your head down and not being a target. With the Nazis you could die because your grand mother had the wrong last name. "
They are "unique" in the sense that they separate from the human race, some people because of their otherness of the by them defined correct human profile. And if it was only that, but worser, they had to die because they had that otherness. Even bloodlines (the equivalent of genetics avant la lettre) were established for the otherness as the "Mischling" codes. One had even "halb Jude" and "viertel Jude"

And "homosexuals", when considered as such by their environment, could also being sorted out for their otherness and end in murderous circumstances as disabled ones, who could weaken the "German Race"

you said:
"secondly...By the way, I don't think that viewing past events that happened before your birth, or even your parents birth, with personal guilt is either beneficial or rational."

The same for me, Olleus. No personal guilt for things passed before you, but being aware that it happened and trying to understand what happened as a lesson for humanity and for any individual as a warning from history. And btw. I am not sure that it couldn't happen in certain specific circumstances to every dictatorial nation that evolved in the same sense.

Kind regards, Paul.
 
Dec 2011
1,369
Belgium
There is a difference of intention and especially of a theory behind it. Every dictator removes opposition but nazis and communists were having "scientific" theories behind their mass attrocities. Marxist one was much preciser than nazi one and it predicted removal of whole classes of society which are by their nature "conservative" and opposing "progressive" communism. Classes or nations, focus was always against "enemies" of a state.

What bothers people mostly with holocaust is an industrial nature of mass executions in camps with precise accounting records while in a fact big parts of holocaust was executed in mass shootings as NKVD was doing in their conquered lands and in their home country. While gulags were not so systematicaly industrial in their daily execution quotas and accounting of "showers" capacities and pulled gold teeth, communists left industrial part to nature (extreme cold of north) and final result was nearly the same: a majority of inmates have died.

Then most of people have in their minds a wrong impression of western states back then. Those imperialist states were not democracies of today's human standards. Blacks in USA got their basic rights in sixties which was a laughing matter in all socialist block. Not allowing people to sit in a bar or on a bus was unimaginable to all socialists. Also treatment of women in public sphere in many so called democratic countries. Colonial attrocities and mass executions in third world colonies of French, British and others.
macon,

you said:
"There is a difference of intention and especially of a theory behind it. Every dictator removes opposition but nazis and communists were having "scientific" theories behind their mass attrocities. Marxist one was much preciser than nazi one and it predicted removal of whole classes of society which are by their nature "conservative" and opposing "progressive" communism. Classes or nations, focus was always against "enemies" of a state.
What bothers people mostly with holocaust is an industrial nature of mass executions in camps with precise accounting records while in a fact big parts of holocaust was executed in mass shootings as NKVD was doing in their conquered lands and in their home country. While gulags were not so systematicaly industrial in their daily execution quotas and accounting of "showers" capacities and pulled gold teeth, communists left industrial part to nature (extreme cold of north) and final result was nearly the same: a majority of inmates have died."

I agree that you have a point with Marxism that wanted the removal of the "conservative" classes by intent, but in the practice the theory wasn't always followed and even "conservative" people could convert as former imperial officers turning to communism. Convert was able because individuals were not accounted on their genetical anchestry (race in the Nazi connotation) but only on the fact of their capacities, worth and indeed conversion to the "communist" camp. And above that most atrocities, were not that much in the name of the Communist ideology but more by Stalin in the light of purges of personal ennemies of the dictator to stabilize in his eyes his dictatorship. And in my humble opinion that is more a "normal" atrocity, how horrendous it may be in persons and quantities in comparison with the "exclusive" racial laws and restrictions to other "undesirables", which led to the same atrocities.
In other words the difference of intent, is indeed, in my humble opinion, what is important.

Kind regards, Paul.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2018
896
UK
Perhaps there's too much fixation with Stalinist atrocities here. If you want to argue that the Holocaust is one of a kind, you have to compare it to all other atrocities. So what about the Khmer Rouge, who butchered people just for not being peasants. Is killing someone because they can speak French really that different from killing someone because they have a Jewish grandparent? Or what about killing someone because they are Armenian or Tutsi?

You can argue that one genocide is worse than another, but the fact that this is even a point that can be argued shows that they are all comparable, which in turn means that none is far far worse than the others. To make an analogy: it's easy to say that murder is definitely a worse crime than stealing a bike. But is killing someone with a knife better or worse then killing someone with a gun? Does it even matter? It's useful and natural for society society to treat murder and bike theft differently, with different punishments and effort to catch the culprit. But what's the point of saying knife murder is better/worse than gun murder?

So why does it matter if the Holocaust is the very worst or only the 5th worst atrocity in history? It was terrible, and it is important to remember it and learn its lessons (perhaps most of all for the Germans).