The Holocaust refers to the mass murder of an approximated number of six million Jews during the World War II. Notably, the Holocaust entailed the systematic planning and the sponsoring of murder by Nazi Germany under the auspices of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in the vast German Reich and German-occupied territories. Significant ethical issues surround the Holocaust as it claimed innocent lives of the Jews. These issues include abuse of power, medical misconduct, institutional collaboration in crimes against humanity, impunity among perpetrators, slavery, unfair incarceration of Jews, forcible deportation of populations, intentional and brutal killings of innocent populations, religious extremism, and the willing participation of German citizens in the crimes against humanity. One of the most notable brutalities committed during the Holocaust was the confinement of Jews in overcrowded ghettos before transferring them to extermination chambers where they were killed systematically in gas chambers. Again, most German citizens found themselves easily involved in the crimes as they highly bowed to the influences encouraging them to murder Jews based on the belief that they were an unwanted race in the country. False ideologies relating to the Jewish conspiracy of taking control of the world was the key motivation leading to their deaths. Surprisingly, many institutions, such as churches and ministries played a direct role in facilitating the crimes against the Jewish population. It proves the view that Jews were helpless as no German institution was willing to come to their defense at any time.
Current essay explicates the notable ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust
Gross abuse of power is one of the key ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust. The authoritarian government led by Adolf Hitler and its active participation in the killing of Jews represent gross abuse of power. It is worth noting that Hitler was solely in charge of ensuring that many Jews were killed under his leadership and he used his power to the fullest to ensure that his plan was executed in the most excellent manner possible. Using the Nazi party and the loyal soldiers, Hitler segregated the population hence increasing the levels of animosity among German citizens and Jews (Saxton 56). The use of false ideologies about the Jews by the Nazis illustrates continuous abuse of power. It would have been more prudent to ensure that the diverse population in Germany made up of different religions and ethnic groups remained united instead of spreading false ideologies against one of them. The totalitarian nature of Hitler’s leadership gave him the power to his position in the manner he deemed fit for him and his selfish interests. He took advantage of his authoritarian powers to issue commands to his willing followers to kill innocent Jews based on the false ideology that Jews were conspiring to take control of the world. Therefore, this is a gross abuse of power that is extremely unethical.
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Medical misconduct represents another ethical issue surrounding the Holocaust. Medical misconduct during the Holocaust is manifested in the extensive use of human subjects in medical experiments by medical practitioners. During the Holocaust, most German doctors held extreme Nazi ideologies and were ready to conduct undesirable experiments on Jews who had been degraded by Hitler’s authoritarian government. Medical experiments were conducted at Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Natzweiler, and Ravensbruck concentration camps. The brutal medical experiments entailed the placement of Jews in pressure chambers, freezing them, testing drugs on them, performing amputations and surgeries, and the injection of chemicals to change the color of eyes among helpless Jewish population. All these experiments represent a medical misconduct and lack of care for human life. Again, such experiments were mainly aimed at continuing with the repression against Jews whose lives had been surrounded by false ideologies perpetrated by the government. Many innocent Jews lost their lives in such inhumane experiments that aimed at no good rather than the destruction of lives. In some instances, euthanasia had to be undertaken to reduce the level of suffering for individuals who underwent such painful experiments. The experiments targeted all individuals ranging from men, women, and children and were done with the intention of enhancing Jewish deaths. In the normal setting, doctors and other medical practitioners are supposed to act in an independent manner and safeguard human life at all instances. That was not the case during the Holocaust as Nazi ideologies influenced doctors making them engage in a series of unethical issues leading to medical misconduct. Doctors violated their required conduct on the delivery of medical care to the delivery of medical suffering among their victims.
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The rampant institutional collaboration in crimes against humanity is also a crucial ethical issue noticeable from the Holocaust. Societal institutions, such as churches, ministries, and companies are always expected to act ethically by promoting effective living and harmony in the entire society. However, this was not the case during the Holocaust as each of these institutions was directly involved in the killing of Jews. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry in German played an active role in supplying birth records, which clearly segregated the Jewish population from the rest of the population. It made it easier for the killers to identify Jews and subsequently kill them. More so, the Post Office in Germany participated in the unethical delivery of deportation and denaturalization of Jews (Brown 66). It would have been more ethical for the Post Office to facilitate the protection of such institutions in the country. The most painful occurrence was the Finance Ministry confiscating the property belonging to Jews and Jewish firms fired all their Jewish employees hence disenfranchising them. These institutions collaborated in promoting the killings of Jews in a country where they had lived and made investments. It indicates the uncaring nature of national institutions that were supposed to serve all members of the public without any favor. All these examples highlight a high sense of unethical conduct among national institutions that are supposed to ensure the well-being of all members of the populations instead of disenfranchising them and exposing them to murder.
Unfair incarceration of Jewish population in overcrowded ghettos represents another ethical issue during the Holocaust. It is important to understand that the killings of innocent Jews were conducted systematically through various stages that would inflict extreme pain on the individuals. One of the stages was the compulsory incarceration of Jewish population in ghettos that were extremely overcrowded and unsuitable for human living. The subjection of individuals to forcible confinement is in contravention of the ethical standards that require each person to be granted a sense of liberty. In the course of being held forcibly in overcrowded ghettos, a list of all these individuals was compiled for identification purposes and the subsequent killings. It is also important to note the fact that the ghettos were established and closed to the rest of the world as they mainly dealt with the unfair incarceration of innocent Jews. Nazism continued with its unfair treatment of the Jewish population in the ghettos as they did not receive a chance to have meals and enjoy the freedom that other Germans were enjoying. They had to endure the inhuman nature of ghettos. Nevertheless, some of them died even before their actual time because of the unbearable living conditions they experienced in the camps. It is ethically inappropriate to incarcerate individuals against their own will and without any form of criminal responsibility. Thus, the unfair incarceration of Jewish populations in overcrowded ghettos is a notable ethical issue arising from the Holocaust. Individuals must always be granted their liberty at all times.
Another important ethical issue emanating from the Holocaust is impunity among perpetrators. Impunity is unethical and it mainly refers to a situation where individuals commit crimes and escape punishment. Most of the perpetrators of the Holocaust are believed to have escaped prosecution for the crimes committed against Jewish populations. Many of these perpetrators escaped prosecution and went back to their pre-war lives as other Nazi leaders escaped to countries outside Europe so that to avoid prosecution. The escape of these individuals from the force of law implies a denial of justice to the victims of the war and the families that may have been affected during the war. The Nazi perpetrators took advantage of their wealth and controlling interests in the territory to evade justice. Most of them remained at large even as justice for the victims who suffered and died in the genocide continued to experience enormous sufferings. However, some survivors such as Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005) took the active role of conducting public awareness programs and lobbying western governments to track down all the Nazi criminals who had facilitated the death of innocent Jews (Glowacka 101). Most of these criminals were still not brought to book hence getting away with impunity, which is unethical. The location, arrest, and the subsequent prosecution of these individuals would have played an assistive role in alleviating the pain and trauma that the survivors of the Holocaust had suffered. Getting away with crimes against impunity is not the way to go in the world as most other powerful individuals will continue taking advantage of innocent and helpless populations. Effective prosecution mechanisms traps for such criminals of crime against humanity would have assisted in the arrest and prosecution of all the perpetrators. Most of them got away with the crimes they had committed hence enhancing the sense of impunity that is undesirable in the world.
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The intentional and brutal killing of innocent people is a crucial ethical issue highlighted in the Holocaust. The killings of the Jewish population were strategically planned and effected by the German Nazi under the leadership of Hitler. Effective ethical standards demand for the respect of the lives of all individuals. It is also enshrined in the constitutions of all countries around the globe. The Holocaust was dominated by the killings of innocent Jewish population without any accountable basis for such murders. The killings entailed the use of unique killing strategies, such as the use of extermination camps. Extermination camps were equipped with gas chambers that were mainly utilized for the mass extermination of people. That was a brutal and a more harmful strategy of killing Jews in masses as it had never been used before. Others were subjected to brutal deaths through the unethical surgeries that were committed by doctors who had been influenced by Nazi ideologies against Jews. Killers did not care about the populations as they treated children, men, and women in a similar manner during such killings. Another form of crucial killing was through the subjection of these populations to hunger and poor living conditions in the ghettos. Most of the members of the Jewish population became weaker everyday and succumbed to the extreme levels of hunger while in the camps. There was no shred of tenderness for the victims who were subjected to death through amputations even as they suffered before dying. This emphasizes a high sense of unethical conduct for the Nazi killers as they lacked a heart for their victims. Intentional and brutal killings against any population are unethical and must be dealt with appropriately. In the case of the Holocaust, it all happened without any form of care on the part of the killers. The aim here was to kill without any sense of care on the pain inflicted upon them.
The gullibility of German citizens to follow the government’s command to participate in the killing of Jewish population represents another form of ethical issue during the Holocaust. As noted earlier, the authoritarian rule under the leadership of Hitler ordered its citizens to support the killing of Jews. Most German citizens did not hesitate in the influence coming from their government. This meant that they also supported the decision to kill their Jewish neighbors whom they had lived with for a long time. German citizens did not have a mind for their suffering Jewish neighbors as they also played an instrumental role in identifying them and subjecting them to the killings that were taking place. Most neighbors informed on each other hence revealing the identities of the Jews who were to be murdered immediately. Ethics demands that citizens support only the best practices of their government and reject any form of undesirable policies addressed by the government. Such enormous lack of ethics on the part of German citizens led to the commission of crimes against their own neighbors hence against humanity. Even those who did not participate in the direct killings of Jews played a crucial role in exposing them. It could have been wiser if these citizens teamed up to rise against the oppression that had been planned by the government (Dietrich 79). Citizens are fundamentally required to support each other instead of exposing them to suffering. Therefore, the acceptance of German citizens to the government orders to participate in the killings is an ethical issue highlighting the manner in which citizens are supposed to relate and protect each other instead of killing each other.
Exposing individuals to slavery is an ethical issue that enormously surrounded the Holocaust. The Nazi administration set up labor camps that were significantly dedicated to acquisition of slave labor from the incarcerated Jews. Ethical standards reject the use of human beings as slave laborers because of the recognition of the dignity of all individuals. They were made to perform demeaning duties while in the labor camps hence leading to their immediate deaths. Apart from being subjected to slave labor, the Jewish individuals suffered enormous beatings and subjection to hunger as they were forced to perform difficult tasks. The failure to perform the forced tasks guaranteed a direct ticket to death among these individuals. The use of Jews as slave laborers came in light of their dismissal from their places of work and the confiscation of their property. Students were also dismissed from their universities and colleges and taken to the labor camps where they were required to perform humiliating and difficult tasks at the command of the Nazi officials. This form of slavery was extremely inhumane as it degraded Jews totally exposing them to more difficult conditions of living at the camps. None of the Jews including children survived slave labor hence exposing the unethical nature of the overall Nazi officials and their mission in the killing of innocent Jews. It can be underscored that the use of Jews as slaves is unethical in the sense that it demeans human beings and exposes them to gross suffering.
The forcible deportation of Jewish population to different extermination camps represented an important ethical issue surrounding the Holocaust. Germans established about 15,000 camps and sub-camps in the occupied territories, especially in Eastern Europe. Jewish population was mainly transported under horrifying conditions entailing the use of freight rail cars that led to the death of many prisoners before the arrival at their destinations. The prisoners were transferred to the different camps against their will and excessive force was used in handling them in the course of being transported to the different camps. They were excessively beaten up during the process of transportation to the camps, and this brings out the ethical issue of forcible transfer of populations in a clear manner. The required standards of operation are against the forcible movement and mistreatment of people from one place to another. However, this was excessively dominant in the operations of Nazis as they moved their victims to different camps in Eastern Europe. This form of malicious transportation was planned to ensure that Jews died faster hence paving space for easier killings on the remaining population.
Religious extremism is another ethical issue that is clearly noticeable from the Holocaust. Religious extremism was highly dominant as most churches declared that the Jews who had made a step to be converted should be treated as part of the flock and left out of the killings. The Nazis embraced the use of the phrase “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” hence highlighting the religious hatred that had been developed toward them (Jones 68). The lack of religious tolerance in Germany during the Holocaust raises ethical questions concerning the respect for one another and the appreciation of diversity within the society. The virtue of one being a Jew provided a direct permit for one to be persecuted and killed mercilessly. It also highlights the view that some individuals perceived their religions to be stronger and more acceptable in comparison to to the Jewish religion. That is also appears to be a sense of blackmail for Jews Germany as they were implied forced to join other religions for them to be spared during the war. Religious intolerance and the use of religion to justify the killings emphasize the height of unethical conduct during the Holocaust. It is always important to respect and appreciate diversity in any setting according to the required ethical standards.
In conclusion, the Holocaust represents a period when the Nazi administration led by Adolf Hitler brutally killed over six million Jews. The killings were conducted on the basis of false ideologies about the Jewish control of the world in the coming years. Significant ethical issues surrounded the Holocaust as was not inclined to any good deed for the country. Some of the most important ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust include abuse of power by the dictatorial regime of Hitler and medical misconduct among doctors who used Jewish populations for inhumane medical experiments hence killing them. Another issue is the institutional collaboration in crimes against humanity where different institutions, such as ministries, churches and universities participated directly in the promotion of the killings. Impunity among perpetrators represents another ethical issue as most of them went unpunished for the crimes they had committed. Slavery and the subjection of Jews to difficult and demeaning tasks is another ethical issue surrounding the genocide against Jews. Other most important ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust are unfair incarceration of Jews, forcible deportation of populations, intentional and brutal killings of innocent populations, religious extremism among German institutions, and the willing participation of German citizens in the crimes against humanity. The discussed issues represent the view that the Holocaust was extremely destructive to human life and was an undesirable occurrence. Adherence to generally accepted ethical standards can play an instrumental role in the prevention of such happenings in the future.