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The standard narrative of World War II and the Shoah depicts Western leaders as they were publicly represented: as enemies of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis. That is why the Western policies of the 1930s-which gave Hitler basically everything he wanted and immensely improved his strategic position-have been called ‘appeasement’ rather than ‘sponsorship.’ However, much evidence supports the hypothesis that Western leaders shared Hitler’s ideology and goals. This course considers this evidence and asks whether the standard interpretation of World War II and Shoah should be revised.
George Orwell is famous for his novel systemic analysis of the functional structure of ideology and totalitarian organization:
He is considered a rare genius, celebrated for his analysis of how language is transformed under totalitarianism to regiment and control thought. It is well deserved. But, without taking anything away from George Orwell, long before he appeared, there was Maurice Joly, who, in the 19th century, wrote a no less profound novel systemic analysis of totalitarianism: Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Except that Joly was explaining how an apparent democracy could become a covert totalitarian system, managed through simulations of reality.
Relations between Jews and the Church were strained in the aftermath of the Shoah, as the perception has dominated that the Church ‘did not do enough’ to fulfill its moral obligation to defend innocent Jews from Hitler’s machinery of death. It is widely believed that the Church apologized for this in the document.
produced under the papacy of John Paul II. This suggests that the majority of people have not read
which in no way apologizes. On the contrary, that document blames ordinary Christians, not the Church as an institution, for the Shoah. It is difficult to defend that the Church as such was innocent, since the official propaganda of the Church during the 19th century was the inspiration for Tsarist and then Nazi propaganda: the content is almost identical. And the Church was heavily involved with anti-Semitic political movements in Europe. Most damning is that the very idea of an extermination camp originated in Croatia with the blessing of the Croatian Catholic Church. And many Nazi war criminals escaped justice after the war with the help of the Catholic Church.
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