The Devil’s Arithmetic- Too Many Equations to Solve

Reading through any historical fiction Holocaust novel will undoubtably incur questions about the events surrounding the literatures inspiration. Currently my class is reading The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen and one of my classes is exceptionally inquisitive: Why did Hitler hate the Jews? Why did the Nazi’s blame the Jews? Where were all the concentration camps? Why weren’t they stopped sooner? How did this start? Despite doing a background research day, students are still curious. There is a multitude of information on the topic, but how does one know where to find an answer? Let’s see what is out there.

Though he was an excellent public speaker, Adolf Hitler’s speeches were not the only thing that got people to join his crusade. World War II started because Germany invaded Poland, which in turn was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles which was what ended World War I. Germany invaded Poland because they wanted to spread their ideology with the rest of Europe and the world. The war progressed: Germany expanded, then Soviet Russia expanded, then the Allied Forces retaliated and tried to get them to stop. This cycle went on for a few years until finally Soviet Russia and the Allied Forces ended Germany and the Nazi party’s control.

There are many rumors that Hitler might have been Jewish. George Mason University, and other sources, say that the rumors stem from his grandmother having an illegitimate child (his father), but there is too much proof against the theory that Hitler’s grandmother had a child with her Jewish employer. Other sources, one being The History Channel, say that DNA tests from his living relatives show that he had Jewish and African ancestors.

The rumors of Hitler’s heritage feed into the reasons why Hitler hated the Jews, but do not support his main source of wrath. There are many, many reasons to explain why he was on a campaign to expel the Jewish population from Europe, however in summary, Hitler blamed the Jews for many malfunctions in society. The term “scapegoat” is often used in describing how the general German population came to support the Nazi political party and their newly elected leader, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was not the first one to harbor hostility and therefore racism toward the Jews, also known as Anti-Semitism. They were successful in business when others were not. They were popular as artists and others were ignored. As silly as that may sound, that is what evidence has shown in his writings and speeches.

Hitler wasn’t the first to believe in a perfect people, and he won’t be the last, but his belief that the Germans had evolved to be the top of the human race fueled his emotional and political state. Nazis are big proponents of Darwinism, believing that they have evolved to be the “fittest” in this “survival of the fittest” life. According to Hitler’s sources of research, Germans were this Aryan race which held all the esteemed traits for an ideal human, both mentally and physically. If you were not of this ideal human race, then you were otherwise considered against this belief and therefore not a valuable in this life.

A few paragraphs can’t cover all that went on within the years 1939 to 1945 of WWII, nor the events surrounding the most significant crime against humanity. However, some answers to some questions will ideally fill some holes as you may be reading a Holocaust novel, like my class. Or perhaps encourage you to follow the links in red and find out more information. For there are too many questions and sometimes not enough answers. Unfortunately, not all “reasons” why a person is motivated, why a person acts, why events begin, or why tragedies happen make sense.

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