20th Century Witch Hunts

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Following the roughly three hundred year long witch craze spanning from the fifteenth to eighteenth century, the concept of witch-hunting transformed from the literal extermination of witches (devil worshippers) into having a new meaning that arose from events experienced throughout the twentieth century. This meaning encompasses acts of accusation, mass hysteria and even extermination of a particular group of people who are presumed to pose a threat against the accuser(s) or a particular group of people. Additionally, many instances of modern witch-hunts escalated from accusations into complete genocide often due to political reformation, utopian ideals and ethnic cleansing, such as in the widely known case of the Holocaust in the early nineteen forties. The Nazi regime pursued the extermination of the Jewish people, gypsies, ‘inferior’ races and those deemed as ‘defective’. The causes of Nazi Germany’s witch hunt arguably stemmed from a deep seeded desire for racial superiority and cleansing, political gain, as well as scapegoating. To begin, prior to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism was not new to modern Germany. This anti-Semitism drew part of its strength from Christian anti-Semitism combined with German nationalism, which resulted from German defeat during the Napoleonic wars (Dawidowicz 1975, 23-24). Essentially, following this defeat, Germany had lost its economic vitality, military power, land, political definition and sense of self, which fuelled a desire in the German people to seek identity, pride, culture in old ideas. In being of a conservative and Christian nature, Germany was opposed to the ideas of the Enlightenment period and the type of political and social ideas that spread across Europe following France’s succ... ... middle of paper ... ...ions for a witch-hunt. Works Cited Browning , C. R. (2000). Nazi policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers. United States: Cambridge University Press. Dawidowicz, L. (1975). The War Against the Jews 1933-1947. United States: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Weitz, E. (2003). A Century of Genocide - Utopias of Race and Nation. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Valentino, B. (2004). Final solutions: Mass killing and genocide in the 20th century. United States: Cornell University Press. Mazian, F. (1990). Why genocide? The Armenian and Jewish experiences in perspective. United States: Iowa State University Press. Deutschemann, L. (2007). Deviance and Social Control. (fourth ed.). Canada: Nelson - Thomson Canada Limited. Peace Pledge Union Information. (n.d.). Talking About Genocide - the Holocaust. Retrieved from http://www.ppu.org.uk/genocide/g_holocaust.html

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