This week's topic:
The Holocaust - why did it happen and can it or something similar happen again?
The Holocaust (Wikipedia)
If you have the time, this presentation by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale university and author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, gives a coherent if somewhat bold view on why the Holocaust happened and what might make something similar happen again:
Here is a summary as best I could from what Timothy Snyder says in that lecture:
Summary of Timothy Snyder's lecture
Hitler wrote a book after Mein Kampf that is nowadays called the "Second Book", that was never edited and published (due to poor sales of Mein Kampf). It contains a lot of interesting information.
Two countries inspired Hitler, USA and Serbia. USA because of its "Manifest destiny", that is expansion to the west which made the country self sufficient, subjugation of the American Indians. Serbia (and Macedonia) because fiercely nationalist and intent on conquering territory, domestic politics/state activity kept to a minimum.
Hitler wanted an expansion to the east like the US expansion to the west in order to safeguard food supplies and get prosperity comparable to the U.S..
Nature is best according to Hitler. And according to Hitler nature is the struggle between races. States are not needed for this and are not desired since with states come obligations and rules that suppress the raw struggle for power. The Jews try to short circuit the struggle between races through the introduction of ideologies such as communism and capitalism, where ostensibly we all have to work together and help each other.
When Hitler comes to power in the state of Germany, he is not interested in incorporating SA and SS (para-military nazi organisations) into the state. The German state is temporary anyway in his eyes. The SS is in fact an instrument for state destruction, and is used in that way in the war.
State destruction is the elimination of anyone who is anybody in the conquered areas so that a state cannot emerge there again (a technique perfected by the Soviets actually). It is first with the destruction of the state that the real cruelty may begin. The Kristallnacht was the maximum cruelty that could be unleashed within a functioning state, and was nowhere enough for Hitler's intentions.
In Poland it is a question of eliminating the intellectuals and leaders, politicians, in the Soviet areas it is the elimination of Jews, since in Hitler's world view Soviet is controlled by Jews since Slavs cannot create a state on their own, their natural state is to be governed by Germanics, the Jews having temporarily usurped this order of things.
If you were a German Jew or a Jew in any of the German occupied areas that retained a functioning state (Denmark, France, Italy etcetera), your average likelihood of surviving the war would be 50%. If you were a Jew in any of the conquered stateless areas (east), that likelihood shrunk to 5%.
As an example, the main victims of the French Holocaust were Polish Jews, not French Jews (they came as number 2).
Compare Estonia and Denmark: Neither country was very anti-Semitic before the war, Denmark probably worse than Estonia. 99% of the Danish Jews survived the war, while 99% of the Estonian Jews were murdered. The reason for this difference according to Snyder, is that the Danish state was kept intact while Estonia's state had been doubly destroyed, first by the Soviets and then once again by the Germans. When the state disappears, cruelty may commence on a massive scale.
Hitler's original idea is to move all Jews to Madagascar. This idea was popular in those times and pre-war the Polish government was negotiating with the French government about sending Polish Jews to Madagascar (the Poles’ secret plan was to make Madagascar a start of a colonial empire). The Germans could however never deport Jews there (or eastwards beyond the Volga mountains) since they were opposed by the British Fleet and the Soviet troops respectively. There was however a “black hole” of statelessness and humiliation east of Germany where it was discovered a mass murder project could be realised.
-End summary of Timothy Snyder's lecture-
I will also try to give a summary of that lecture with more details at the beginning of the debate, for those who do not have the time to see it. But you should really see it if you have the time.
Directions to the place
Inside the café:
Go into the far (deepest) corner in the café. Go right into the wall there. Not kidding, go right into the wall. On your left there is then a staircase leading down. Some people are still unable to find the staircase, if you are one of them, just ask the staff to show you where the basement is. We are downstairs.
By metro + bus:
Take a bus from Slussen. 3 (towards Södersjukhuset) or 76 (towards Norra Hammarbyhamnen), get off at the second stop after Slussen (Åsögatan), turn right and walk 1 minute down Bondegatan. You'll see the café in front of you, at the end of the block.
By metro + walking:
Closest Metro station is "Medborgarplatsen", and the address of the café is Nytorgsgatan 38. If you look near the top of this page you will see this address, and if you click the name of the Café, a map should appear.
On that map, locate the big street "Folkungagatan" north of the Café, and trace it to the west until you see a "T" in a circle. That is the metro station "Medborgarplatsen".
From the main railway station:
For if you arrive with a suburban train (pendeltåg) or a long distance train. Grab bus 59 from outside of World trade center at the top level of the station (Klarabergsviadukten) and get off the bus at the Bondegatan stop.
The English Debate Club:
Challenge and improve your English skills with lively discussions and debates! Sometimes we stick to debate format, other times it evolves into a general discussion.
Participants are welcome to prepare beforehand or wing it - but everyone will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion.
Focus will be on crafting arguments in English, phrasing for emphasis and expanding vocabulary at an advanced level. Native English speakers who would like to brush up on their debating skills very welcome also!
It's okay to interject and to reply directly as long as it does not get out of hand (in which case a speaker's list will be more strictly enforced). People who have not spoken much get precedence.
If you just like to sit and listen that is fine too. For the few who really like to talk at length: You may be interrupted and asked for clarification, or it may be pointed out that you're repeating yourself.
First hour is usually a bit more free form, looking at the subject from different angles, and then we may home in on specifics more during the second hour