From Websters:

hol·o·caust:     (hl-kôst, hl-) n.
1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.

2. Holocaust The genocide of European Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II: “Israel emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastrophe” (Emanuel Litvinoff).

3. A massive slaughter: “an important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaust” (Rod Nordland).

4. A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.

The point? prosecutors in Germany refused to further charges against Udo Voigt, the chairman of the far-Right NPD, who likened the RAF’s raids on Dresden to the Nazis’ “final solution”. Dresden, as Muffti is sure you know, was fire bombed in 1945 on relatively flimsy military grounds. The bombing followed a plan by Bomber Harris that was designed to keep the city burning for days. While details are unclear even to this day, the most conservative estimate claim that about 25,000 people died in the raids.

Muffti supposes that meets the technical definition of a suicide. However, Websters goes on with a usage note:

Holocaust has a secure place in the language when it refers to the massive destruction of humans by other humans. Ninety-nine percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of holocaust in the phrase nuclear holocaust. Sixty percent of the Panel accepts the sentence As many as two million people may have died in the holocaust that followed the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia. But because of its associations with genocide, people may object to extended applications of holocaust. When the word is used to refer to death brought about by natural causes, the percentage of the Panel accepting drops sharply. Only 31 percent of the Panel approves the sentence In East Africa five years of drought have brought about a holocaust in which millions have died. In a 1987 survey, just 11 percent approved the use of holocaust to summarize the effects of the AIDS epidemic. This suggests that other figurative usages such as the huge losses in the Savings and Loan holocaust may be viewed as overblown or in poor taste. ·When capitalized Holocaust refers specifically to the destruction of Jews and other Europeans by the Nazis and may also encompass the Nazi persecution of Jews that preceded the outbreak of the war.

So, it turns out that when used as a proper name, ‘Holocaust’ refers to the Nazi atrocities. When used as a nominal in a quantifier phrase, it can be used generically to refer to any large scale destruction, especially by burning.

Muffti doesn’t know what to make of this case. Prosecutors were clear that only the legal, not the moral, issues were on trial. However, Paul Spiegel, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, criticised the decision:

Morally, I have no understanding of this. One can ban such remarks if you use the law consistently. It is questionable whether statements that are clearly incitement come under freedom of expression.

What do all y’all think?

Thanks to Kenny and The Telegraph.

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14 Comments

  • I think we tend to talk about the Holocaust too much, and I have
    never understood the need to spend millions on Holocaust museums.
    It is marked one day a year and this is sufficient. It makes us look as if we are trying to milk it in some way.

  • Aish, are you wacked? Maybe for you discussion on the Holocaust is cliche, but not everyone is going to have the fortune of knowing people who have lived through the Holocaust and this generation, while it’s still fresh in our minds, needs to harness that compassion we have and turn it into museums and the like for the next generation and the ones following. And why the hell would you care if someone thinks you’re “trying to milke it?” This is your history, it’s your choice what you do to preserve it (or how much of it you choose to preserve) and you shouldn’t care about what others think or be apologetic to them.

  • The money would be better spent on providing Jewish education day school, for those who send their children to public school.
    Our job is to become better people and better Jews and to prevent assimilation.

  • I do agree with Aish about too many Holocaust museums, as I’ve said before. Keep the one in DC, and Yad Vashem in Israel, and convert all the others into Jewish schools and institutions and spend the millions in current upkeep and support on providing Jewish education and programs for Jewish children, teens and young adults.

    This is a no brainer.

  • I don’t freaking believe it. I’m agreeing with T_M.

    Maybe the geulah really is near.

    The best way to commemorate the Shoah and prevent another one, either from gentile hostility or assimilation, is to teach Jews to be Jews. To feel Jewish, think Jewish, live Jewish, marry Jewish and breed Jewish. Making memorial after memorial to the fact that the goyim hate us won’t work. Only educating the next generation of Jews will.

  • That’s not Webster’s. “Webster’s” has become a generic term, but is largely used by Merriam-Webster. Your citation is from the American Heritage Dictionary.

  • At least they are using it sort of correctly I heard ppl call Rwanda a Holocasut…Cambodia a Holocaust…Sudan a Holocaust….yes these are very hot places…but come one people get ur head out of the sand!

  • I hate pulling the self-promotional expert card, but as someone who has interviewed Holocaust survivors for a book and who has visited more than her fair share of Holocaust museums, I do acknowledge that although Jewish education is undeniably important and needs more funding in order to make Jewish life stronger, it’s also important to create historical archives and documentation of what happened during the big H. Survivors are dying out, and people will forget, or at least, their memories will be dulled, and that’s not good.

    BTW, that fourth definition reminded me of the definition of one of the types of sacrifices they used to bring in the Temple. Was it a zevach shlemim? And what is it brought for? What’s the etymology of the Greek word (does it mean “wholly consumed”?)?Does any of you remember?

  • I think you are referring to an olah Esther. I’m pretty sure that the worshppers got to eat parts of the shlamim.

    All the usual disclaimers, etc.

  • I for one am all for the bombing of dresden and other fine upstanding german major population centers. I think the biggest curse of the second world war (next to german attrocities) was the marshall plan and the west’s overall savingof western germany. If there was any justice, ALL of that g-dforsaken, pagan slaughterground should have been left for the russians to do with as they pleased. Nothing like a little Stalin justice to keep a good, goosestepping people in their place.

    P.S. Hitler signed Dresdens death warrant when he chose to attack London with incindiary bombs (explode and burn). It was only a matter of time before the allies caught up and England would exact her revenge.

    P.P.S. Spare me on any positive or sensitive thoughts concerning that retched people. To pave the country into a parking lot would have been too good.

    P.P.P.S. Pardon the vulgarity but if Germany were a person, it would be one of those people who should have been…lets just say never conceived.

  • i’m a firm believer that the U.S. uses the holocaust as a gauge for genocide too much, and keeps us from reacting to things. holocaust as it isn’t capitalized can be used in a variety of ways, and i think that’s a GOOD thing. cap it and it’s a horrible thing. but damn.

  • Esther, if there were unlimited funds then fine. Also the real question is what does Never Again mean? If we allow anti-semitism to flourish in France, in other countries, then what have we learnt from the Holocaust museums. And for that matter, there are holocausts going on all over the place.

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