The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust

The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust

Recently I wrote the sentence, “There was a vigorous anti-war movement that turned the [German] public against [World War I], and finally Germany was forced to capitulate — not because they were defeated on the battlefield, but because they were defeated politically at home by their anti-war movement.” Several readers objected to this sentence, pointing out that Germany was being defeated on the battlefield by the Allied forces and would have lost the war.

I completely agree that the Germans were losing the war, but would they have lost the war if they had fought on? Winston Churchill apparently didn’t think so. When Germany capitulated on November 11, 1918, German troops were still deep within Belgian and French territory. Writing in 1931, Winston Churchill said that if Germany had continued to fight, they would have been capable of inflicting two million more casualties upon the enemy. Churchill added that the Allies would not have put Germany to the test: simply by fighting on a little longer, the Allies would have negotiated a peace with no reparations, on terms far more favorable to Germany than actually occurred in the peace dictated by the Allies. So, according to Churchill, Germany would not have been defeated if they’d fought on.

The point I was trying to make was to compare Germany in WW I to America in the Vietnam War — losing in both cases because of anti-war movements at home — and make a contrast with World War II, where Germany and Japan fought to the bitter, explosive end. From the point of view of generational theory, this is one of the many differences between a generational crisis war and a non-crisis war.

Jewish persecution and insularity

The above line appeared in my recent article, “Proposed explanation for repeated Jewish persecution throughout history.” In that article, I compared the actions of Germany’s “Lost Generation” in perpetrating the Holocaust to the actions of today’s Generation-Xers in creating tens of trillions of dollar of toxic synthetic securities to cause the financial crisis. I extended this to a proposed generational explanation for the persecution of Jews throughout history.

One of the web site readers gave a lengthy history of the insularity of Jews, and blamed the frequent persecution of the Jews on that insularity. This is an appealing argument, and one that I’ve used myself in the past.

However, there’s no historical evidence that I’m aware of that “insularity” is correlated to “genocide.” There have been many insular groups that haven’t been genocide targets, and there have been many genocides where insularity wasn’t involved. Blaming Jewish persecution on insularity is like blaming hurricanes on the gods or the rain. It may be emotionally satisfying, but there’s no evidence to support the claim.

Every hurricane might appear to be unique to the people whose lives and property are destroyed, but the science of meteorology provides a theory that unifies our understanding of all hurricanes, making non-intuitive comparisons to things like “El Niño.”

A unified theory of genocides

Similarly, Generational Dynamics provides a theory that unifies our understanding of all genocides, sometimes in non-intuitive ways. To the people involved, each of the following examples appears to be unique, and each can be explained by reasons unique to that event. But generational theory provides a unifying explanation for all of them:

  • The Reign of Terror that followed the bankruptcy of the French Monarchy in 1789, leading to the French Revolution. Any person who was an Aristocrat, a relative of an Aristocrat, a friend of an Aristocrat, a servant of an Aristocrat, or even had a resemblance to an Aristocrat, would be tried and quickly convicted and sentenced to the guillotine. This was a generational crisis era, with an aging Prophet generation (like our Boomers), and a younger Nomad generation (like our Gen-Xers). The generational hatred morphed into political hatred, with the Aristocrats representing the Prophet generation, and the killing was completely irrational. The financial crisis that triggered the Reign of Terror is very similar to the Nasdaq crash in 2000.
  • The “Killing Fields” of Cambodia, 1975-79, killing some 8 million people. This was a generational crisis war. Norodom Sihanouk was viewed as leading the pro-American élite Khmer, while left-wing Pol Pot lead the insurgent Khmer Rouge. The generational split morphed into a political split along the Khmer vs Khmer Rouge lines. It also became a geographical split, with the Khmer Rouge controlling the countryside. In the genocide, The Khmer Rouge forced evacuation of the cities, moving the population to the countryside.
  • In 1994, there were two ethnic groups in Rwanda — the Hutus and the Tutsis. They had lived together for decades, had intermarried, had their kids play games with each other and so forth. Then one day, a Hutu leader announced over the radio, “Cut down the tall trees.” The radio announcement, which was heard all over the country was some sort of visceral signal. On cue, each Hutu did something like the following: Picked up a machete, went to the Tutsi home next door, or down the street, murdered and dismembered the man and children, raped the wife and then murdered and dismembered her. Close to a million Tutsis were tortured, raped and murdered in a three month period. This was a generational crisis era, and we can assume that the generational split morphed into a political split between Hutus (the Nomads, like our Gen-Xers) and the Tutsis (the Prophets, like our Boomers).
  • The Bosnian war was similar to the Rwanda war. Here’s how author Amy Chua describes the Bosnian war: “In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed.”
  • I remember distinctly how shocked I was at what I’d heard after the Enron scandal in the fall of 2000. People were saying that ALL corporate CEOs should be put into jail, irrespective of whether they had committed fraud or not. What shocked me was the enormous fury I heard, directed at ALL CEOs, even perfectly honest ones. I remember thinking at the time that people were going crazy. If there had been a guillotine available, all CEOs would have been beheaded. This was completely irrational hatred that I now understand to be Gen-Xers, having lost their savings in the Nasdaq crash, were hungry for revenge against the Boomers, with whom they identified the CEOs, the “Aristocrats” of the current crisis. Of course, the Gen-Xers got their revenge a different way — by knowingly creating trillions of dollars of fraudulent synthethic, highly complex securities, lying to their Boomer CEO bosses about them, and then selling them to the “Boomer investors,” in order to get revenge.
  • The 1930s Holocaust in Nazi Germany is completely consistent with all of the above examples. The Jews were the Aristocrats, and the gas chambers performed exactly the same function as the guillotine. Both the gas chambers and the guillotine were the “high tech” items of the day.

Each of the above examples is unique, each can be explained by unique reasons, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics theory, they’re all very similar. The Nomad generation grows up in the shadow of the Prophet generation and develops enormous generational hatred. People in all generations are forced to pick sides in the generational dispute, and so the (horizontal) generational dispute morphs into a (vertical) political dispute along some demographic, religious or political fault line. The entire society becomes lawless, as the Nomads exact revenge against the Prophets through murder, mayhem, fraud, or genocide.

So being “insular” has not been the direct cause of persecution of Jews, but it’s still one several reasons why Jews are identified with the Prophet generation (like the Boomers) during generational crisis eras. Words like “insular,” “élite,” “Aristocrat,” and “money changer” are rhetorical tools that the Nomad generation uses to justify the mayhem directed at the Prophet generation.

The Holocaust and insularity

Let’s dwell a little longer on the Nazi Holocaust.

According to Martin Gilbert, in his 2006 book “Kristallnacht, Prelude to Destruction,” there was little or no insularity of the Jews in Germany:

“Jewish communities in Germany dated back a thousand years. For the fifty years before Hitler came to power, German Jews had integrated fully into German life and culture. They were proud Germans, bewildered to be singled out as an evil influence, and trusting that the excesses of Nazism must, in the normal evolution of things, moderate and decline.”

Things changed very rapidly when Hitler came to power:

“From the first days of Hitler’s regime in Germany, anti-Jewish measures followed with disturbing frequency. The half million Jews of Germany, who constituted a mere 0.76 percent of the country’s population, were singled out by the Nazi propaganda machine as the enemy within, the cause of Germany’s defeat in 1918 and of her subsequent economic difficulties. As a scapegoat, the Jews were vulnerable. Their prominence in many aspects of Germany scientific and professional life made them, despite their small numbers, the objects of a jealousy that the Nazis skilfully and explosively inflamed. Despite the intense patriotism of the German Jews during the First World War — when 12,000 were killed in action — they were presented in the Nazi ideology as disloyal shirkers, and parasites on the German body politic.”

Not only were the Jews blamed for being shirkers during the war, they were blamed for causing the war, they were blamed for benefiting from the settlement that humiliated the rest of Germany.

However, I would point out that the sudden anti-Semitic change came about 3-4 years after the 1929 stock market crash — something that was disastrous for Germany’s economy. France’s Reign of Terror began about 3-4 years after the bankruptcy of the French Monarchy, and Gen-Xers started creating fraudulent securities in earnest 3-4 years after they lost their savings in the Nasdaq crash. The American Civil War began 3-4 years after the disastrous Panic of 1857.

This seems to be a pattern in all these genocides. The Nomad generation grows up hating the Prophet generation, but the hatred doesn’t turn into genocide until there’s a devastating financial crisis.

Gilbert tells another interesting anecdote:

“The pressure against the Jews of Germany was continuous. During 1934 the German government enacted a further nineteen discriminatory laws. In protest, several Jewish and non-Jewish groups outside Germany instituted an economic boycott on German goods. That may, Goebbels accused the Jews of Germany of responsibility for the boycott.”

This corresponds to the experience with Gen-Xers. They purposely created tens of trillions of dollars in toxic securities, lied to their Boomer bosses about them, and sold them, creating the ongoing fiscal crisis. But they simply blame their own criminal acts on their Boomer bosses. Even worse, the Obama Justice Department and Gen-X prosecutors refused to investigate the financial crisis, because they refuse to investigate and prosecute their Gen-X pals.

The generational hatred continued to increase. When the Kristallnacht finally occurred in 1938, and Nazi gangs destroyed Jewish property across the country in revenge for benefiting from the Great Depression, Gilbert quotes the Daily Telegraph Berlin correspondent of the time as follows (p. 47):

“Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete control of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun.'”

This kind of widespread hysteria cannot be explained any way except generationally. There’s been lots of “fun” in today’s financial crisis for the same reason.