It’s no secret that Europe has a dark history of antisemitism, but from our travels throughout Europe, albeit limited, we’ve seen in many countries how most Europeans today would strongly condemn antisemitism and the horrors of the Holocaust.
Europeans, especially in countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany, are happy to visit Holocaust memorials, to light memorial candles and remember and condemn the atrocities which occurred in retrospect, but what about before the war? Until very late into World War II, many Germans didn’t know the extent to which the Nazi regime was seeking to annihilate the Jewish people. It is reasonable to assume that your average Nazi party member on the street would not necessarily have known at first, or even believed, that the Jewish people was being murdered en masse.
For many Germans, especially at the beginning of WWII, the Nazi party represented the rebuilding of Germany after WWI and the achievement of economic and military unity. Yes, there was antisemitism – no one really liked Jews.
They had to wear yellow stars, they were boycotted and eventually banned from owning businesses, and it was taught by the Nazi regime that Jews were “impure” and one of the reasons Germany was in the situation it was left following WWI.
But would the whole of Germany have endorsed mass murder? According to many testimonies, no.
What sets this “well-intentioned” antisemitism apart from European antisemitism today? And why are the standards different when it comes to Israel, the only Jewish state that, had it existed then, might have prevented the Holocaust? European antisemitism has existed for millennia before the Holocaust and still exists today. Look no further than the hotel in Switzerland which recently made headlines for its “Jews must shower before entering swimming pools” signs.
When the hotel owner was contacted about her antisemitic signs, she stated nothing explicitly antisemitic and seemed to have no problem with Jews, but said she just wanted her “Jewish guests” to shower before using the pool. Just as before WWII, the problem with European antisemitism isn’t even the bigotry itself, it’s that they don’t believe it’s antisemitism. — Hen Mazzig