Russia isn’t the Holocaust, but it might be Germany circa 1933




AMERICAblog reader BeccaM posted a great comment yesterday in response to my article about Holocaust-phobes (people who fear any invocation of the Holocaust).

What Russia is doing to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans folk isn’t the Holocaust. I don’t have a problem with that particular word being associated solely with the German campaign of genocide and extermination — especially if it is remembered that while the overwhelming majority of those murdered were Jews, the Germans and their allies also killed gays, Romani, and the learning/cognitively disabled.

Moreover, while there’s all this focus on what the Germans did, let’s also not forget what Japan was doing in its own conquered territories. The Rape of Nanking comes to mind, as does the systematic enslavement of people, including young women having to serve as compelled prostitutes for Japanese soldiers.

The point is to recognize the parallels, the social movement towards oppression and violence and recognize when it has happened before, in the same ways. Russia’s new anti-gay laws are startlingly similar to the anti-Jewish laws passed by Germany in the years leading up to the actual Holocaust.

And you’re right, John, the Holocaust wasn’t an anomaly. If nothing like it could ever happen again, what’s the point in ‘remembering it always’?

An actual pink triangle worn by a man accused of being gay by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The Nazis required gays to wear the marking, in the same way Jews were required to wear a Star of David.

An actual pink triangle worn by a man accused of being gay by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The Nazis required gays to wear the marking, in the same way Jews were required to wear a Star of David.

Besides, there were (and are) plenty of other human-enacted evil acts that could qualify for comparison. Let’s also not forget what Pol Pot did. Or the Spanish Inquisition. Or the Crusades. Or the ‘Trail of Tears’ and systematic dispossession of America’s indigenous peoples. And the United States dreadful history of being founded on slavery.

Think about that: The United States of America’s primary founding document, the one our elected leaders vow to uphold, protect, and defend, includes entire sections laying out the rules for legal slavery and the reduction of an entire group of human beings to 60% — with zero voice in society or in government. Sure, it was superseded by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, but for three quarters of a century, our American nation was founded on the principle that it was okay for one human being to own another.

The lists of atrocities we’ve done to each other, in ways small and large, are endless.

If we’re to learn anything from history, including events like the Holocaust, we have to be willing to recognize when the same events are happening, when we see the same warning signs.

Gays in Nazi Germany were considered a threat to German purity. The Nazis arrested 100,000 men, with 10,000 to 15,000 sent to concentration camps to die.

Gays in Nazi Germany were considered a threat to German purity. The Nazis arrested 100,000 men, with 10,000 to 15,000 sent to concentration camps to die.

What’s happening to LGBTs in Russia now is very similar to what began happening to Jews in Germany in the early 30s. Oppressive laws targeting a minority, systematically shutting them out of society, spreading lies and scapegoating them, and the enabling of vigilante thugs to raise the level of violence and fear.

‘Similar’ doesn’t have to equal ‘identical’ — although it’s damned close.

The Germans claimed Jews were conspiring to damage the German economy and harm the nation, corrupt their young, and harm the German-Aryan race with their flawed genes and perverse practices. The Russians are claiming gays are conspiring to damage Russian society, culture and the nation, corrupt their young, and damage the Russian genetic heritage with gay genes and perverse practices.

So the Germans tried to make the Jewish people out to be criminal financiers and conspirators; the Russians are trying to make LGBTs out to be pedophiles. Both are stereotyped slurs intended to dehumanize, so that down the road, when they begin (or began) the executions, those pulling the levers or turning the poison gas wheels actually do not believe they are killing human beings.

Making the comparison is in no way disrespecting the memory of all the Jews, Romani, gays, and mentally disabled the Germans slaughtered. Comparing and recognizing is the only way to ensure that “never again” is respected and protected.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

© 2021 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS