holÂ·oÂ·caust: Â Â Â (hl-kÃ´st, 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: â€œIsrael emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastropheâ€ (Emanuel Litvinoff).
3. A massive slaughter: â€œan important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaustâ€ (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. Â·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?