10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History

Peter Baxter - February 13, 2018

According to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the definition of genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. This offers a very wide scope of interpretation, and as such, the determination of what is and what is not genocide has embroiled nations and institutions since accountability was first established.

The principle of genocide is to remove from a nation, a territorial space or a social landscape one or more ethnic groups determined to be incompatible with the well-being of the greater whole. Genocide in the modern age is often synonymous with tribalism and sectarianism and very frequently associated with scarce natural resources such as land and water. In ancient times, genocide was more often associated with religious and ethnic incompatibilities, and history is littered with incidences of the powerful preying on the weak.

In recent history, wars such as those in the Balkans were fuelled by enmities and hatreds buried in the ancient past, and boiled up into acts of genocide that prove the phenomenon is very much part of our modern world. What follows are ten egregious examples of genocide taken from a lengthy list, defining examples as they affect all the major, dominant races of the earth.

Wounded Knee

We have chosen the Wounded Knee Massacre to begin with because it is symptomatic of the wider genocidal treatment of the indigenous people of the Americas. From the conquistadors to the Trail of Tears, Native Americans have suffered consistent assaults on their integrity as a race at the hands of incoming Europeans. An analysis of that entire chapter, of course, would be impossible in just a handful of paragraphs, so here is one well-known episode.

By the 1890s, a long and desperate struggle on the part of Native American tribes to stem the tide of US expansion was lost. The Plains Indians perhaps suffered the destruction of their way of life and livelihood more acutely than any other. As was true with vulnerable people all over the world, falling victim to introduced diseases, slavery and dispossession, a strong, utopian movement took root among the Plains Indians, known as the Ghost Dance. This was a movement that promised a supernatural return to a time before the arrival of the white man, manifest in specific songs and dances communicated to their profits and seers. Such spiritual accouterment as ‘Ghost Shirts’ were worn as protection against white man’s bullet’s, and a mood of defiance, perhaps even belligerence began to be expressed.

Naturally, the US authorities, receiving intelligence of this, interpreted the Ghost Dance as a war dance of some sort, and an obvious preliminary to an uprising or rebellion. It was therefore decided to nip any militant ambitions in the bud by implementing a crackdown. Initially, on December 15, 1890, an attempt was made to apprehend the famous Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, but the operation was botched, and in the subsequent violence, Sitting Bull was killed.

Sensing danger, and led by Chief Spotted Elk – known to the US authorities as Big Foot – a band of Lakota Sioux broke out and headed for the relative sanctuary of the Pine Ridge Reservation. A few days later they were intercepted by a detachment of the 7th Cavalry and escorted to Wounded Knee Creek where they made camp. Soon afterward, cavalry reinforcements under Colonel James Forsythe arrived, encircling the Indian camp, placing four rapid-fire Hotchkiss machine guns on the perimeter.

Sensing that something was afoot, the Lakota began a Ghost Dance, and nervous cavalrymen watched what they believed was a bizarre and dangerous ceremony. An attempt to disarm a young Lakota named Black Coyote provoked a scuffle and a rifle was discharged. When the dust settled less than an hour later, almost half the Lakota lay dead, including women and children. Thirty-one US troops were also killed, most of those by their own machine guns.

The Ghost Dance movement also died that day, along with up to 300 Lakota. Wounded Knee is remembered as an iconic moment in Native American resistance, and symbolic of the wider destruction of an ancient people, removed from their ancient occupation of the land.

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History
Captured Aborigines Source: youtube

Genocide against Australian Aborigines

In much the same vein, we find ourselves now in Australia. There, attacks against traditional ways of life were no less effective in destroying the cohesion of an ancient people, associated with the continent for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years.

On August 22, 1770, Captain James Cook sailed into Botany Bay, the site of future Sydney Harbor, and proclaimed on behalf of His Majesty the discovery of the continent of Australia. What transpired then is a matter of common knowledge. Australia was established as a penal colony to absorb the unwanted of England, which in turn set the tone for more systematic settlement. This, of course, laid the foundation for the British dominion of Australia.

The effect of this on the aboriginal people was multifaceted, and none of it was good. The introduction of exotic diseases, against which the Aborigines had no natural immunity, might be regarded as an unintentional consequence, but it probably accounts for most of the early reductions in Aboriginal population. The introduction and free distribution of alcohol was another.

On a more systematic level, coordinated massacres of Aborigine populations began almost immediately, the first recorded incident being the Hawkesbury River Massacre of 1794. This was conducted in phases, and it was framed as a reprisal against Aboriginal theft, in particular of livestock.

Typically, minor acts of lawlessness on the part of a people unaccustomed to the concept of possession, of land ownership and livestock, were cited as reasons to attack and annihilate them. The more objective reason, of course, was the seizure and occupation of Aboriginal land, required for colonization and settlement. Recorded incidents of similar massacres, on a greater or lesser scale, continued until the early 20th century. In some instances, in particular, under the governorship of Sir George Arthur of Tasmania, cash bounties were offered on evidence of the killing of an aborigine. This was part of a phase of Tasmanian history known as the Black War, which, in combination with introduced diseases, effectively annihilated the aboriginal population of the island.

Figures, of course, are unreliable, but of an estimated population of some 750,000 indigenous Australians at the point of European arrival, only 50,000 or so remained at the turn of the 20th century. Once the direct annihilation of Aboriginal society by war or bounty had ceased to be politically tenable, a systematic attempt was made to deculturize and Christianize of Aboriginal children. The ‘Stolen Generation’ is the modern term for the removal from the care of their families and communities of half-caste and aboriginal children, and their placement in care of Christian missions and boarding schools. Although well-meaning, this policy, pursued until as late as the late 1960s, remains a scar on the conscience of modern Australia.

To date, Australian Aborigines remain marginalized and disadvantaged people, but modern concepts of cultural autonomy are helping with the slow rehabilitation and revival of an ancient society.

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History
Zulu Warriors in full Battle Regalia Source: i.imgur.com

The Mfecane

From Australia, we move to Africa, and a slightly different take on genocide.

The last major act of defiance of a native race in southern Africa against European domination was the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. In this campaign, the mighty Zulu nation made one last, desperate effort to throw off the colonial yoke. But the Zulu race itself was not innocent of genocide. The Zulu are a military people, forged in a crucible of violence and predatory warfare, and in the early decades of the 19th century, they emerged as a martial society on an almost Spartan scale.

The story begins with a popular African tale. The dissolute prince of a minor tribe, playing fast and loose, raped and impregnated the daughter of a neighboring tribal chieftain. The young woman, whose name was Nandi, was, with ageless injustice, cast out to give birth to her illegitimate child in exile. That child, a boy, was given the name Shaka, a pejorative reference to an intestinal parasite.

The mother and child wandered in exile until taken in by a local paramount chief by the name of Dingiswayo. Dingiswayo very quickly noticed that the young Shaka possessed a particular talent for war, and took him into his army. There Shaka revealed something much more than a simple talent for war, something, in fact, akin to genius. But he also displayed a dangerous pathology, perhaps born of his reduced birth, and the suffering that his mother endured on his behalf, but also, perhaps, because of hidden homosexuality.

Upon the death of his illegitimate father, the king of the minor Zulu clan, Shaka seized the ascension, killing all rivals, after which he began to build a society forged by war and bloodshed. He introduced concepts of warfare and weaponry revolutionary in his age, and upon the death of Dingiswayo, he assumed the paramountcy of what is today known as Zululand.

The Zulu style of warfare was based on finely tuned tactics, relentless discipline and brutal, close-quarters combat. His Impis, or regiments, were relentless and unstoppable. A minor tribe or clan was attacked and utterly obliterated, with only those able to fight or breed spared, to then be assimilated into the Zulu race. The result of this was an extraordinarily cohesive and violent nation, glorifying in bloodshed, and celebrating with utter fanaticism the personality cult of their leader.

The wider effect, however, was a cascading implosion of refugees, who displaced only to attack yet weaker groups, who in turn were displaced to do the same. In this way, a chain reaction of violence and predation began that lasted from about 1815 to 1840. The result was the decimation of the interior population of South Africa, and the ruination of the social and productive landscape. The phenomenon was known as the Mfecane, or Difaqane, or the ‘Scattering’. There are no reliable figures, but the combined death toll of the Mfecane is estimated to be upwards of 2 million.

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History
Starving Herero Tribesmen Source: Wikimedia

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide

Remaining in Africa, we now shift our attention to an episode of colonial genocide that deeply scarred the legacy of the German colonization of Africa. On the western extremities of the southern African subcontinent lies the nation of Namibia, known until independence as South West Africa, and prior to that as German South West Africa.

The German Empire claimed the colony in 1884, as part of what was known as the ‘Scramble for Africa’. It was of limited practical use to them, bearing in mind that it almost entirely comprised desert, but it was essential in the cut and thrust of competition, in particular with the British, in the race for European global expansion.

The indigenous population of the territory comprised dispersed agricultural and pastoral communities belonging to the two major indigenous population groups in southern Africa. These were, and are the Bantu and the Koi-koi, or Khoisan. Just for the sake of background, the former, the Bantu people, form the vast majority of the African population and are typically described as Negroid, or Congoid, their origins being in the region of the Congo and the Niger Delta. Their spread was occasioned by a phenomenon known as the Bantu Migration, or Bantu Expansion, which began in the first millennium and concluded towards the end of the 18th century. The latter, the Khoisan, are the original, and much more ancient race displaced by the Bantu, and relegated in many instances to the arid desert reaches of the west of the sub-continent. The most famous of this race is the San, or Bushmen.

The Germans found both of these races difficult to integrate into their colonial economy, simply because they were inimical to labor and were often nomadic in lifestyle. The dynamics of genocide are rooted in the complex colonial policies of the time. In 1884, it was agreed among European powers that all expansion into Africa would be by treaty with local, indigenous authority. This implied that all colonization was by invitation, which was, of course, hardly the case. It was only by the spurious acquisition and manipulation of treaties with native kings and rulers that most European powers took the title of Africa. Most of these treaties implied imperial ‘protection’ in exchange for land rights. The land rights, of course, were freely utilized, while the ‘protection’ often simply meant bondage.

In its simplest terms, the Herero, a Bantu people, in one of many internecine conflicts, required German protection and did not get it. They subsequently rebelled, attracting a violent response from the Germans. This response quickly escalated to orchestrated genocide, and was extended beyond the Herero to the neighboring Namaqua people, who were of Khoisan origin, and the San, or Bushmen as well. Between 1904 and 1907, up to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama were killed, many in concentration camps, dying of disease and starvation.

The German government has in recent years heard demands for compensation and recognition of the victims, and the legacy of this event remains a strain on relations between the two nations.

Also Read: Most Blood-Soaked African Battles and Conflicts.

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History
Armenian Deportees in 1915 Source inserbia.info

The Armenian Genocide

Back on more familiar territory, the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, has long been the subject of furious denial by the Turkish government.

The scope of the Armenian genocide is usually defined as the physical extermination of Armenian Christians living within the geographic boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, between 1915 and 1916. Ethnic Armenian Christians, mainly living in what would today be modern Turkey, became subject to genocide as the old ruling Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire came under the more modernizing influence of the ‘Young Turks’. This movement sought not only to replace the traditional leadership of the empire with the constitutional government but also to expand and solidify Muslim Turkish control of central and eastern Anatolia. This resulted in an attempt to systematically eliminate the large Christian Armenian minority.

The Ottoman Empire allied with the Central Powers during WWI, and, of course, the German defeat in that war brought the Ottoman Empire down with it. The Allies, as a tactic of war, exploited traditional tensions within Ottoman territories to weaken the Empire. An example of this was the Arab Revolt of the same period, which was facilitated and supported by TE Lawrence, the legendary Lawrence of Arabia.

Fearing similar Allied manipulation of traditional Armenian hostility, the Turkish Armenian population found itself the subject of an extermination policy. The methods employed are by now familiar to students of genocide, and included the staples of forced labor, mass deportations, death marches, direct attack and massacre, concentration and starvation. Other unreliable ethnic groups, such as Greeks and Assyrians, were also sucked into the maelstrom, and are now subject to separate genocide classifications.

At the time, the attention of the world tended to be focused on the events of WWI. With death and destruction occurring on such a vast scale, the relatively minor plight of a fringe minority of Turkish Christians attracted very little attention. However, the US Ambassador to Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau Sr, was able to rouse the attention of the Woodrow Wilson administration, and an enormous amount of money and resource was eventually raised to help Armenian refugees affected by the crisis.

To date, Turkey remains in denial, and the word ‘genocide’ is excluded from the official description of what took place. Numerous individual countries, however, twenty-nine in total, including forty-eight states within the United States, classify what took place as genocide. Recognition is not universal, however, and a number of important countries support Turkey in this issue. It remains a livid international issue, however, and one upon which Turkey’s entry into the European Union has traditionally been hinged.

10 of the Most Heinous and Heartbreaking Genocides in History
Irish Famine Memorial, Dublin Source: diktuo.org

Great Irish Famine

The definition of genocide is fluid enough for it to be very easily claimed, and no less easily rejected. Quite as the Turkish government and people reject outright the definition of the Armenian deportation as genocide, so the British government also regard the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852. Nonetheless, in the unfathomable complexity of the Anglo-Irish relationship, there are no small number of historians who point the finger at the British government, not so much for acts of commission, but acts of omission.

During that bitter period of modern Irish history – between 1845 and 1849 – approximately 1 million people died, and a million more emigrated. The raw facts of the Irish Famine are quite simple. It was caused by the failure of the potato crop, thanks to a mold-related blight, which affected a rural population heavily dependent on potatoes as a staple food source. Numerous similar crop failures, both in Ireland and elsewhere, had occurred at various times, but without the same catastrophic effect. This particular event, however, became embroiled in other social, political and economic issues, which is where historians tend to point the finger of blame at the British and accuse them of genocide.

In the 1840s, Ireland existed as part of Great Britain and Ireland, and as such, it was ruled directly from London by the British Government. Between 1782-1783, a similar crop failure occurred in Ireland, but on that occasion, the British government responded by closing all Irish ports. This was to ensure that all food produced in Ireland remained in Ireland, guaranteeing that everyone had enough to eat, even during the leanest times. There was, of course, a great deal of mercantile resistance, but the British government held firm. It was this policy in the end that is credited with saving Ireland from the worst possible consequences of crop failure.

No such policy was implemented in 1845, and as such, the famine has been described as artificial, and attributable to a deliberate policy of punishing a stubborn and difficult constituent territory of the Kingdom.

Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, Francis A. Boyle, argues that these actions, according to sections (a), (b), and (c) of Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, constitute genocide. Other academic opinion tends to point to a typically dogmatic refusal on the part of the British government to acknowledge a failed policy.

Needless to say, there are passionate advocates on both sides of the argument; and certainly a fractious, and historically difficult relationship between Dublin and London is not improved in the slightest by the discussion. Was the Great Irish Famine genocide? Probably in the minds of a few individuals who had the power to stop it, it was, but as a systematic government policy, perhaps not.

Holodomor, or Famine-Genocide in Ukraine

Under the rule of both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, numerous document examples of unnatural mass deaths have been recorded. If one was to point the finger at the former Soviet Union for acts of genocide, then one would be able to point in many different directions. From anti-Semitic pogroms to attacks against the Cossack minority, and numerous deportations and mass imprisonments, the history of the Soviet Union is replete with genocide.

In terms of sheer numbers, it is probably the Holodomor, also known as the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-33, that racked up the greatest score. The Russians, of course, be it in WWI or WWII, always did big numbers, but this certainly was a big one. The death toll attributed to the Holodomor runs to between 7 million and 10 million, which dwarves anything we have looked at so far. These deaths were distributed across all of the most populous regions of Russia, but the greatest impact was felt in Ukraine.

The causes of the 1932-33 famine can be attributed to nothing more complicated than state interference in production. To feed the growing industrial centers of the Soviet Union, the entire grain harvest of 1933 was confiscated, leaving local peasant populations with almost nothing to feed themselves.

As usual, the argument is one of semantics. Does this action fall into the classification of genocide? Some argue that the famine came about as an unintended consequence of the Soviet Union’s rapid, perhaps too rapid industrialization, while others claim that it was a deliberate attack against Ukrainian nationalism, and as such, a textbook case of genocide.

Factors that support claims of genocide include the confiscation not just of grain crops, that were needed to feed a growing industrial army, but also the confiscation of all foodstuffs, including livestock and domestic animals. At the same time, all and any aid was prevented from entering Ukraine, which virtually ensured famine, at least on some level. In all probability, however, this was genocide, because it could not have been done without the expectation that death on a mass scale would be the result.

Until the 1980s, International academic interest in the issue was limited by Soviet censorship, so at the time that it was occurring, very few people were aware of it. Even to date, records are patchy and inconsistent, and much of what is known is through anecdotal reporting and oral history. Currently, only the governments of Australia, Argentina, Georgia, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, the USA and Hungary accept that the events of the Holodomor conform to the legal definition of genocide.

Needless to say, the matter is most keenly felt in the Ukraine, and on 13 January 2010, a Ukrainian court found Joseph Stalin, among numerous other Soviet officials of the period, posthumously guilty of genocide.

Partition of India

Genocide obviously never sits well on the national conscience of any country, and so the finer points of definition are usually argued exhaustively. The Partition of India is such a case, and while Hindu/Muslim sectarianism lies at the heart of the debate, there is also the question of whether the British washed their hands of India, and walked away knowing that genocide was inevitable.

India was, as the saying goes, the Jewel in the British Crown. In many ways, it defined the British Empire. WWII, however, reconfigured the imperial landscape, and by then, India was demanding independence, and the British were more than willing to give it to them. The problem lay in a historical predominance of Muslims within the Indian political process. As heirs to the old Mughal Empire, traditional Muslim leaders enjoyed an influence not particularly congruent with their numbers. The departure of the British would naturally bring about democratic rule, and in a society where Hindus vastly outnumbered Muslims, universal suffrage meant Muslim marginalization.

Muslim nationalists then began demanding a ‘two-state’ solution, which neither the British nor nationalists like Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi particularly wanted. Bearing in mind, however, the likely ramifications of a civil war between Hindus and Muslims in India, it seemed, in the end, the only viable solution. A boundary commission, sponsored by the British government, attempted to divide India along Hindu and Muslim lines. The result was imperfect, of course, but it created the map of the Indian sub-continent that we now recognize today. India and Pakistan would be separated, with what is today Bangladesh part of mainland Pakistan.

On Tuesday, August 14, 1947, Pakistan was proclaimed independent from Britain, and a day later, India followed suit. Almost immediately, as British officials handed over, Hindus in India began attacking and killing Muslims, and in Pakistan, vice versa. The result was a mass slaughter as Muslims trapped in India sought to flee to Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs caught in Pakistan tried to make it across the border into India. The result was death and mayhem on truly epic proportions.

In total, about 11.2 million people successfully crossed the India-West Pakistan border in different directions, mostly through the Punjab region. Some 6.5 million of those were Muslims migrating from India to Pakistan, and 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan to India. Over 14 million people were displaced along religious lines, and between 1-2 million people lost their lives.

The debate has never been so much the classification of the event as genocide, although that is, of course, debatable. The question is rather whether Muslim nationalists were to blame for demanding a two-state solution, whether Hindu nationalists were to blame for allowing it, or whether the British were to blame for leaving India knowing that genocide was inevitable.


As we approach the top of the list, the Cambodian Genocide, the infamous Killing Fields of the 1790s, ranks very highly. This is simply because it was about ideological killing on a major scale, and because it was accompanied by such cruelty and such wanton human suffering.

The name associated with this phase of South East Asian history is Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, a name that still resonates as the personification of evil. But Pol Pot was not alone in perpetuating the horrors of his rule. If he was, it might make it easier to explain. A lot less easy to explain is the national derangement that gripped one half of Cambodia, causing it to react with such violence towards the other.

The Khmer Rouge, or the Red Khmer, was a movement born out of the struggle against French colonization. This began its extreme animus towards the west, a sentiment reinforced by the overspill of the Vietnam War. In March 1970, the military in Cambodia ended the traditional rule of Prince Sihanouk. The Khmer Rouge, a communist group headed by revolutionary, Pol Pot, allied itself with Sihanouk against the coup plotters, thus creating the conditions for the bloody civil war that followed.

The military government solicited the aid of the United States, and a heavy-handed US response included a massive bombing during 1973, killing some 300,000 people. This further reinforced a popular anti-West, anti-US movement in Cambodia, on the back of which, in April 1975, Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge to victory.

What followed was an extreme Maoist, Marxist-Leninist movement in Cambodia, and an extreme, and inexplicable antipathy towards intellectuals and professionals. This ideological aversion soon extended to ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, Thais, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, and indeed anyone at all perceived in any way to be an enemy of the revolution. Cities were emptied out, and anyone conforming to this broad definition of the enemy was consigned to labor camps in the countryside. Here, conditions of physical abuse, disease, exhaustion, and starvation began to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

The ideological underpinning of all of this was simply the Maoist principle of transforming Cambodia into rural and classless society, with a population consigned to labor on collectivized farms. The name of the country was changed in 1976 to ‘Democratic Kampuchea‘, and Pol Pot, or ‘Brother Number One’, declared the day of victory ‘Year Zero’ as he set about building his Utopian republic.

The Khmer Rouge regime was characterized by extreme and indiscriminate brutality. Doctors, teachers, monks, journalists, the wealthy, artists, anyone with an education and ethnic or religious minorities were all singled out for arbitrary execution. No one was safe, not even children, for as the philosophy went, ‘to stop the weeds you must also pull up their roots’.

As the genocide progressed, survival was determined simply by an individual’s ability to do work on the collective farms. In ‘Killing Fields’ set up all over the country, confessions were solicited by torture, and execution immediately. Between 1.5 and 3 million Cambodians died, or were killed by the regime. The regime was toppled in January 1979, and Pol Pot died in April 1998, on the eve of his being handed over to international justice.

The Holocaust

No one need ever be reminded that the greatest and least disputed incidence of genocide in modern history was the systematic exterminations of Europe’s Jews by the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. However, the Holocaust, although predominately targeting Jews, was also an expression of Nazi aversion to any group or individual not conforming to a narrow definition of Aryan purity. Such groups as Slavs, blacks, Roma, various Soviets, prisoners of war of different shades, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political opponents were all treated much the same.

The mechanics of the Holocaust are now so universally understood that nothing can be added here. Perhaps, instead of asking how, the question why might be better suited to this format. The Cambodian Genocide was ideological, but it was also random and inexplicable, and in the end, its ideological basis dissolved in undiluted murder. The Nazi extermination of the Jews, on the other hand, was strictly ideological and remained so until its conclusion.

The Israeli historian and scholar Yehuda Bauer, in probably the most frequent declaration on why it happened, proclaimed that the Holocaust was ‘… rooted in an illusionary world of Nazi imagination, where an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world was opposed to a parallel Aryan quest. No genocide to date had been based so completely on myths, on hallucinations, on abstract, nonpragmatic ideology which was then executed by very rational, pragmatic means.’

In other words, a ridiculous idea with no basis in rational thought was undertaken and executed with brilliant and systematic precision. Vaguely the idea was to purify the races under German control, and create thus a race-worthy of European domination. Why the Jews were targeted in particular conforms to an age-old strategy of isolating a conspicuously wealthy subculture, and placing upon it the blame for every ailment and every woe afflicting an ethnically dominant population.

It must be remembered that the rise of Nazi Germany can be attributed to the terms of the peace imposed on imperial Germany in the aftermath of WWI. The economic suffering of the German people that followed, and the rise of nationalism that this set in motion, created ideal circumstances for a merchant and banking class to attract the attention of a disposed population. Hitler harnessed this anger and dissatisfaction and directed it at the Jews. He was thus able to interweave his own warped ideology with the mood of a nation. Needless to say, not all Germans subscribed to his vision, but enough did to render it practical, and, as the old saying goes: ‘Bad things happen when good people do nothing.


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