Week 8 holocaust response | History homework help

  All students are required to respond to other student posts each week The goal here is to ENGAGE in respectful dialogue – be supportive of each other, even as you are critical of each other’s ideas.     


1) In a single sentence IN YOUR OWN WORDS (IYOW), provide an OVERVIEW of this section.

This section focuses on defining genocide and the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

2) For each chapter (23-26), provide a THESIS sentence and THREE specific pieces of evidence to support your thesis – what is each writer’s MAIN argument, and how does each writer support said argument? (Use 2-3 sentences for EACH and feel free to number them.)

  1. UN Convention on the Crime of Genocide: Genocide is defined and condemned.
  • “The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 393). Genocide is condemned here no matter what scenario it may occur in.
  • “…genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…” (Gigliotti and Lang, 393). Genocide, in order to be condemned, must be defined and they undertake the process to do this.
  • “Persons committing genocide…. shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 394).
  1. Helen Fein: She argues that a good definition of genocide is a sustained action of physical violence done unto a collectivity and is perpetual even if that collective is surrendering or not even threatening.
  • She argues that this definition would “cover the sustained destruction of nonviolent political groups and social classes as parts of a national group but does not cover the killings of members of military and paramilitary organizations,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 413). She thinks that this is a good definition because in part it excludes the possibility of certain deaths inevitable from war being considered genocidal.
  • She gives certain propositions that make it easier to find genocide: “There was a sustained attack or continuity of attacks by the perpetrator to physically destroy group members… The perpetrator was a collective or organized actor or commander of organized actors… Victims were selected because they were members of a collectivity… The victims were defenseless or were killed regardless of whether they surrendered or resisted… The destruction of group members was undertaken with the intent to kill and murder was sanctioned by the perpetrator,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 414-15).
  • She gives certain factors that should be looked at in response to genocide and its impacts of such. “Consistency of sanctions for killing group members… Ideologies and beliefs legitimating genocide… Contexts of genocide… Bystanders’ responses… Victims’ responses… Interactions… Effects on victims… Effects on the perpetrators… Effects on the world system,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 415-16).
  1. Mark Levene: The Holocaust is unique as a genocide, but that it served as a sort of perfect model.
  • He addresses the fixation of Jews from the Nazis. The Holocaust was a unique genocide because “it was the most complete and perversely ‘perfect’ model of a genocide: one based entirely on a mental fixation so intense that it demanded a systemic, continent-wide modus operandi not attempted before or since,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 430).
  • Compared to other leaders that were brutal, Hitler was the most radical. The Holocaust was engrained into the economy. “Getting rid of the Jews seemed, moreover, to provide specific additional benefits for all participants: the removal of a particularly problematic ‘high profile’ element in the socio-economic matrix, the freeing up of expropriated capital and resources for national goals, occupational and business openings, much needed housing-in short, a window of opportunity for overall social and economic restructuring. The Holocaust is thus closely linked to the Nazi developmental agenda: forced-pace programme of social and economic transformation, more Running and radical than “anything a Mussolini, a Kemal Atatürk, even a Stalin could have envisioned,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 431).
  • “Though projection, visionary ideology, and a belief in some specially-ordained sanction to expunge the victim group are common, indeed prevalent, features of genocidal pathology, the Holocaust on all these accounts is the model par excellence. But that neither locates the Holocaust outside history nor demands that it be explained by a wholly different framework,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 436). The Holocaust is unique, but unique also as a model of genocide.
  1. A. Dirk Moses: It is counter-productive to mark the Holocaust as ‘unique’ in a historical examination. 
  • The title of uniqueness that goes to the Holocaust and other genocides seems rather to be a claim that is not historical, but rather metaphysical or religious. As a result of this, it is not useful to discuss of it like this. “This game has no winner, unless the dreary spectacle of assertion and counter-assertion can pass for innovative scholarship. It is time for historians in the field to play by other rules, namely, those of the community of scholars dedicated to presenting arguments directed to and for the world at large, rather than primarily to and for an ethnic or political group. It is necessary also for them to dispense with the vocabulary of uniqueness they have all appropriated and abused. Uniqueness is not a useful category for historical research; it is a religious or metaphysical category, and should be left to theologians and philosophers to ponder for their respective reading communities. Where historians employ it, they stand in danger of relinquishing their critical role and assuming that of the prophet or sage who offers perspectives for group solidarity and self-assertion,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 457).
  • There have been genocides that killed millions, like the American genocide of the Native Americans. To try to make the Holocaust the prototypical genocide may seem like it is undervaluing others that proceeded it, “The point, then, is to avoid one kind of mass death as prototypical,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 456).
  • “Moreover, an overarching moral consensus on the value of alterity is necessary to secure its existence, and this perforce entails appealing to standards of verification to which everyone can assent. To valorize difference implies the universalization of this particular good. But what if most readers view colonial genocide through the lenses of the Holocaust and thereby discount it, as Churchill and others complain? Counter-claiming uniqueness or primacy of indigenous genocides may have raised the profile of the latter, but it can no longer advance the scholarly or political discussion. The categories and critical tools with which historians approach the subject need to be rethought,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 457). 

3) Select ONE of the documents that you find MOST illuminating, and explain WHY in 4-5 sentences.

I found the UN Convention on the Crime of Genocide to be the most illuminating. I think it is historically illuminating as to what thoughts have raised greater debates over what genocide is. It gives a definition that can be worked with and offers punishment.

  • ideas you find MOST troubling or problematic, and why, with 3 specific pieces of evidence.

The last document is the most troubling by A. Dirk Moses. I think the Holocaust, to some extent is unique, but being stuck up on this debate of what genocide was more unique or the “model” seems useless to some extent. It seems to be a moral debate rather than a historical debate, though the former may include elements of history.

Any recent events in the world that could be considered genocide?


In a single sentence in your own words, provide an overview of this section.

This section focuses on Genocide within the holocaust and defining specific parts of that genocide as it applies to other situations and scenarios.

For each chapter, provide a thesis sentence and three specific pieces of evidence to support your thesis – what is each writer’s main argument, and how does each writer support the argument?

Genocide and the Holocaust:

Thesis: This chapter defines genocide as a whole and connects it to what happened during the holocaust along with its critiques.

  1. One quote that illustrates this well is the following, “genocide… represented a distinctive crime in which individual persons were attacked not because of anything they possessed or an act that they have committed but solely because of their identification as members of our particular group” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 389). Which is the definition of genocide as a whole.
  2. Another example includes, “the concept of genocide itself and the ensuing attempts of definition and legislation in relation to it, originated with the events of the Holocaust.” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 391). This quote breaks down some criticism of the definition as it applied to the Holocaust.
  3. Lastly, “but the view of genocide as having a history apart from the Holocaust does not deny that there are differences among the occurrence of genocide or that the Holocaust may not be distinctive among them” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 390). Essentially meaning that the writer is stating the critiques the definition of genocide was getting after connecting it to the holocaust.

United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, December 9, 1948:

Thesis: This chapter breaks down 19 different articles that go into detail about the prevention of genocide and the punishments of those who commit it.

  1. The first article that illustrates this thesis is article one, where it says, “the contracting party is confirmed that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 393).
  2. Next, we can see this theme in article three where they mentioned, “the following acts shall be punishable: (a) genocide; (b) conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) attempt to commit genocide; (e) complicity in genocide.” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 394).
  3. Lastly, article four says, “persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article three shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 394).

Defining Genocide as a Sociological Concept:

Thesis: As the name of this section implies, this chapter talks in detail about the definition of genocide as a sociological concept.

  1. The first quote that explains this well is, “for the last decade, social scientists considering genocide have devised varying definitions and typologies, often reflecting consensus on evaluation of specific cases but dissensus on the borderlines of genocide” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 398).
  2. Next, we can see this theme when the author wrote, “three problems are repeatedly noted by critics of the convention: 1) the gaps in groups covered; 2) the ambiguity of intent to destroy a group ‘as such’ and 3) the inability of non-state parties to invoke the convection and the failure to set up an independent enforcement body” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 400). Which once again the author goes on to further the definition of genocide as it refers to sociologists.
  3. Lastly, the following quote outlines this well when they said, “genocide is a form of 1 sided mass killing in which a state or other authority it tends to destroy a group, as that group and membership in it are defined by the perpetrators” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 403). Which is a direct definition of genocide by sociologists.

Is the Holocaust Simply Another Example of Genocide:

Thesis: This section outlines the idea that the Holocaust is the perfect example of a genocide although it will always be unique.

  1. The first quote that illustrates this well is the following, “yeah it is precisely within the intense pathology of the Holocaust that we can trace some of the attributes which, earlier, we noted we’re lacking it’s necessary qualification as genocide” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 419). Meaning that the author went back and revised their view on the holocaust, and it being qualified as being called genocide.
  2. Next, this quote illustrates the thesis well when they said, “yet even here, while acknowledging these facts, there may be danger in reading into them a uniqueness over and above what is obviously unique” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 433). Meaning that the author wants to acknowledge that the holocaust was a unique event but wants to make sure his readers do not place too much importance onto this uniqueness.
  3. Lastly, this quote says, “one does not have to review the obviously visionary, indeed bewildering Manichaean elements in the Holocaust, nor the long historical backdrop provided by a christologically-inspired antipathy towards Jews, to argue that it, too, is a genocide, sharing features in common with the others” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 436). This is where the author of this section concludes that the Holocaust is another example of genocide as it shares a lot of features in common with others.

Conceptual Blockages and Definitional Dilemmas in the “Racial Century”: Genocides of the Indigenous Peoples and the Holocaust:

Thesis: This chapter explains how it is not beneficial to call the Holocaust a unique event with historians in mind.

  1. One quote that shows this well is, “the point of drawing attention to their strategies, however, is not to dispute the fact that the Holocaust can be distinguished from other genocides in important respects” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 454).
  2. Next, this example illiterates the thesis well when it is said, “Bauer has developed his position over the years, now characterizing the Holocaust as ‘unprecedented’ rather than ‘unique’ and pleading for a ‘spectrum’ of genocides, would the Holocaust at one end as the most extreme example of extermination” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 454).
  3. Lastly, we can see this in the following quote, “this game has no winner, unless the dreary spectacle of assertion and counter assertion can pass for innovative scholarship. it is time for historians in the field to play by other rules, namely, those of a community of scholars dedicated to presenting arguments directed to and for the world at large, rather than primarily to and for an ethical or political group. it is necessary also for them to dispense with the vocabulary of uniqueness they have all approached and abused. uniqueness is not a useful category for historical research” (Gigliotti & Lang, 2008, p. 457).

Select one of the documents that you find most illuminating and explain why:

The document I found to be the most illuminating was the chapter entitled, “United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, December 9, 1948”. I thought this because it layed out the different parameters to punishment and definition of the crime of genocide. They did so in a way that was easy to understand and in a way that made the legal jargon simpler.

Any ideas you find most troubling or problematic, and why, with 3 specific pieces of evidence.

The last chapter, entitled, “Conceptual Blockages and Definitional Dilemmas in the “Racial Century”: Genocides of the Indigenous Peoples and the Holocaust”, was the most difficult for me to understand. I felt as if this chapter had a lot to say but did not conclude the evidence in a way that was helpful for my comprehension.=


Gigliotti, S., & Lang, B. (2008). The Holocaust: A reader. Blackwell. 


Discuss THREE numbered HOLOCAUST-focused revelations you’ve had this week:

Once again, I focused on my final project, to remind everyone, this is on the Nazi Doctor experiments.

  1. The first revelation I found this week was that these doctors killed innocent people who were deemed unworthy of life. This meant people who had mental illnesses and developmental disabilities (Wald, et. Al., 2022). This is something I had not known before doing this research, as I was under the impression that the only people who had been killed were killed via gas chamber or starvation.
  2. The second thing I found to be interesting this week included the intentional spreading of the typhus disease. One source says, “typhus was characterized by Nazis as the Jewish plague. Those who suffered from it were killed in huge numbers or isolated in unsanitary conditions, with inadequate food and medicine. In the concentration camps, typhus was allowed to flourish, and prisoners were deliberately infected with the disease to test typhus vaccines.” (Neuberger, 2005). Which shows some intent behind why these doctors went through with the experiments they did, this being that they wanted to help their society with problems (pure blooded Germans that is, and nobody else). But in the end, “The way typhus was used to kill Jews, Slavs, and gypsies epitomizes Nazi medicine’s deliberate disregard of those who took part in research, classing them as subhuman. Such thinking was wholly in accordance with Nazi ideology, but in total contradiction of medical ethics.” (Neuberger, 2005).
  3. Lastly, I found that forced labor was widely used within the concentration camps and other places during the Holocaust. One source said, “forced labor played a crucial role in the wartime Germany economy. German military, SS, and civilian authorities brutally exploited Jews, Poles, Soviet civilians, and concentration camp prisoners for the war effort. many forced laborers died as a result of the ill-treatment, disease, and starvation.” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2022).

A single open-ended question for US to ponder:

The one question I have for the class this week is, why? For what specific reasons do you think the Nazi Doctors went against ethics of medicine to help Hitler and his mission? Do you think these were just corrupt people? Or is this another mode of brainwashing (for lack of better words) by Hitler?


Neuberger, J. (2005, September 3). Nazi medicine and the Ethics of Human Research. The Lancet. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673605671991/fulltextLinks to an external site. 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2022). Forced Labor: An Overview. United States holocaust memorial museum. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/forced-labor-an-overview 

Wald, H. S., Czech, H., & Reis, S. P. (2022, January 26). Doctors were complicit in Holocaust atrocities. current and future health care workers need to know that. STAT. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.statnews.com/2022/01/27/doctors-complicit-holocaust-atrocities/ 

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