TROY hosts traveling exhibit ‘Americans and the Holocaust’

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — When people think of the Holocaust, some may think about the horrors that happened behind concentration camp walls, but experts say the Holocaust was more complicated than that.

Jonathan Wiesen, a history professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and writer, studied Nazi Germany for 25 years and even lived in Germany for a time.

“I think it’s important to point out this angle because a lot of times we sort of think of Nazi Germany as alone in terms of racial persecution and anti-Jewish acts but the more you look, the more you realize that a lot of countries were, did not necessarily similar things with respect to mass murder, but anti-Jewish laws.”

According to Wiesen, laws in the United States alone bar Jewish people from attending universities and even going to certain public spaces such as beaches.

“A lot of countries, including our own, had this sort of tradition of turning against minorities at least trying to regulate where they could go,” Wiesen explained. “Of course the prime example is anti-black racism in the U.S, which the Nazis studied and looked at very carefully.”

Weisen said harmful stereotypes were often the cause of such discrimination.

“A lot of countries were, especially as they were recovering from the Great Depression, they had this sense that if Jews came over, they would take all the jobs that Jewish dominance as lawyers, business people, some of the old stereotypes about Jews and money that that would corrupt society,” Wiesen told TrojanVision.

Weisen told the audience that despite many individuals undermining Nazi law, it was not enough to prevent the Holocaust since anti-Semitism was widely accepted.