Donald L. Niewyk’s fifth and sixth chapters both deal more with outside perspectives and outside reactions than it does with those who were persecuted. The fifth chapter, “Bystander Reactions,” offers four different arguments as to why bystanders acted they way they did during the Holocaust. The sixth chapter, “Possibilities of Rescue,” discusses three different viewpoints on what foreign governments could have done to prevent the Holocaust.
These two chapters conclude Niewyk’s book The Holocaust and wrap up the final sequence of events surrounding the Holocaust and the camps. The fifth chapter, Bystander Reactions,” compiles different perspectives from six different scholars on the role played by bystanders. Yisrael Gutman and Schmuel Krakowski focused mainly on the relationship between the Polish people and the Jewish people, and they make the claim that while some Polish people tried to help the Jewish armed resistance, many “tended. o regard the catastrophe of the Jews and Jewish appeals for assistance as something remote from their immediate concerns. ” Gutman and Krakowski compiled a list of notes and files that documented raids on the Jewish people in 172 different ocations, and they found that anti-Semitism was widespread in Poland. Many Polish people chose not to defend the Jewish people being persecuted, as well as refused to assist the Jewish armed resistance or the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
They did allow some Polish people to have the credit they deserve in helping the Jewish people, but Gutman and Krakowski conclude their argument by describing the struggle the Jewish people went through during the Holocaust and how some Jewish people decided to turn themselves in to the Germany police rather than try to “obtain shelter or any other help from the Poles. Richard C. Lukas, on the other hand, disagreed with Gutman and Krakowski; instead, he argued the Poles were just as persecuted as the Jewish people.
He addressed how the relationship between Polish people and Jewish people “is badly flawed” due to generalizations made by historians on both sides. He broke his argument down into several sections: first, he discussed what factors led to the anti-Semitism in Poland (where he argued that anti-Semitism did, in part, result from the Jewish people themselves), then he focused on the strict German occupation of Poland, and he concluded his argument by ttacking the use of biased perspectives when discussing the Holocaust.
Lukas’s number one point was the Polish people were targeted and attacked by the Germans just like the Jewish people were, and to pin the two against each other is to perpetuate a biased and flawed historical perspective. In the end, he believed no one but the Germans should be blamed for what happened to the Jewish people. Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton’s perspective revolved around Nazi policies in Western Europe, which they broke down into three phases.
They then discussed the importance of foreign governments in ssisting Nazi Germany with their anti-Semitic policies, using Norway, Belgium, and France as examples; however, Marrus and Paxton addressed the “signs of reluctance” that occurred by 1943. They went on to give a general survey of Nazi German occupation within Western Europe, as well as their assessment of the Holocaust within Western Europe.
They concluded their argument by discussing the dangers of generalizing in history, as well as proving how “the German policy, and also the ability of the Nazi to supply their power” were what solidified how far their plans would go before liberation. The end of the Reich brought about the end of the Holocaust. Nechama Tec completely contrasted Gutman and Krakowski’s argument because Tec discussed the Polish people who did help save the Jewish people. She presented several different cases of people who hid and saved Jewish people from persecution, such as Janka, Maria Baluszko, and Ada Celka, to name only a few.
Tec broke down each story and elaborated on the symbolism and meaning that came with the story, such as how “we tend take our repetitive actions for granted,” detailing how pressure and familiarity doesn’t necessarily equal understanding. She oncludes by discussing “the compelling moral force behind the rescuing of Jews,” and she compiled a list of ideas that described “a more casual view” of why the rescuers did what they did for the Jewish people. Nechama Tec’s perspective was the most persuasive.
While I understand and respect where the other arguments are coming from, she provided a perspective that fought against the bleak helplessness that typically surrounds the Holocaust. She provided examples and interviews of people who put their lives on the line to save Jewish people from being killed or shipped to ghettos, and she also proved how not all Polish people were anti-Semitic or were too afraid to fight against Nazi German’s anti-Semitic policies. The final chapter, “Possibilities of Rescue,” compiled three perspectives on why foreign governments and institutions acted the way they did during the Holocaust.
William D. Rubinstein began by bluntly stating that there was little more that could have been done by the Allies to save those persecuted by Nazi Germany. He stated that it is unfair for historians to judge actions taken at the time because they are looking back on history, not living through it; t’s easy for individuals now to “coolly.. reflect on the events of the Holocaust” because we have extra information readily available now that wasn’t available then. Rubinstein then targeted David S.
Wyman and his book The Abandonment of the Jews by attempting to refute all twelve points Wyman made on how America could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. He concluded his argument by firmly placing blame on Hitler and his regime. Rubinstein’s final and most important point revolved around how he believed nobody but those who led Nazi Germany should be blamed for what occurred during the Holocaust-“it is important that we not assign guilt to those who were innocent. ” Michael Phayer discussed Pope Pius XII, or Eugenio Pacelli: the pope who “led the Roman Catholic Church during World War II.
Phayer reasoned that Pope Pius XII wasn’t “Hitler’s Pope;” he actually disagreed, and even despised, the Nazis. Instead, Pope Pius XII was afraid of conflict and Soviet communism. Phayer detailed the reasons behind Pope Pius XII’s actions, claiming that he wasn’t acting on Hitler’s best interest, but instead he believed he was acting in the best interest of the Jewish people. Pope Pius XII made active efforts to save Italian Jewish citizens by hiding them within the Vatican, and he also attempted to save Hungarian Jewish people from being deported to Auschwitz.
Phayer’s main goal was to clear Pope Pius XII’s name, and he did so by detailing Pope Pius XII’s efforts in saving the Jewish people in Italy and Hungary, even though he also placed the dangers of communism “over justice for Holocaust war criminals. ” Walter Laquer took on more of a psychological approach. He brought into question people’s ability to fully understand and register what happened during he Holocaust. He acknowledged how even eyewitnesses and victims who survived the Holocaust denied being part of it because they couldn’t comprehend what they experienced psychologically.
He began by addressing the role propaganda played in World War I, and how it shaped so many people’s thinking when it came to the news and daily occurrences. When the news leaked that 700,000 Jewish people had been killed, many thought “these reports had either been invented… or grossly exaggerated. ” Laquer discussed how news was blown off because the general public thought it was all fabricated. He then compiled nine reasons as to why so many people refused to believe the Holocaust happened.
He finally concluded his argument by claiming that hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved, if only society could have seen the signs in front of them. Walter Laquer’s argument is the one I agree with the most. I don’t agree with the other two perspectives as much because there was absolutely more that could have been done to save the lives of all those who were killed in the Holocaust, and while I don’t see Pope Pius XII as Hitler’s priest, I do believe e should have done more-as a figure of God and as someone who represented peace and justness, he should have done more.
Laquer’s perspective was the best for me because he breaks it all down psychologically; he acknowledged how things could have been done better, he discussed the horrific chain of events that came from the propaganda, and he wrapped it all up by discussing the reactions that came from individuals all around the world. His argument makes the most sense to me, and I believe it is the most accurate and the clearest perspective out of the three presented.