Given that the movie Night and Fog was released in 1955 barely a decade after the Holocaust happened, it becomes easy to link it with the events of this mass execution of Jews in Germany. Therefore, the various reasons that led to the Holocaust are the key pointers of the general motives or causes of the events that occur in the movie.
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Anti-Semitism was the key motive behind the Holocaust. Across Europe, Jews were being tagged as ‘intruders’ and thus the best way to deal with them was extermination. In Germany specifically, the political leadership was growing impatient right from the 17th century. In 1895, Hermann Ahlwardt, a German political leader at the time, openly admitted that Jews were “cholera bacilli…sure candidates for extermination” (Gramel 86).
Germans became more and more prejudiced as days passed and Hitler was simply a product of his environment. In 1922, a journalist, Major Joseph Hell, was quoted saying, “Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews” (Fleming 93). This widespread hatred had infiltrated the entire Germany society from politicians through the working class to the ordinary citizens.
Therefore, Hitler simply saw an opportunity and exploited it, and thus he ended up realizing the dream of most Germans and Europeans at the time. Such kind of unexplained baseless hatred led to the Holocaust. In the movie, given that it draws heavily from the Holocaust, hatred and prejudice can explain the events that transpire in the short 32-minutes of horror.
Another possible reason why such an incidence might happen is the quest to instill fear on one’s enemies. When the Holocaust started, Germany was in a war, which it had started by invading Poland. After the Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and the United States joined forces against German, Hitler perhaps sensed defeat and decided to demonstrate to his enemies what he would do to them by killing people within his jurisdiction.
For a long time, the United States had been a sympathizer of the Jews given that the US natives were Jews. Therefore, Hitler might have thought that by hurting the American darlings he would be hurting the United States. Likewise, in the movie, the occurrences might have been fuelled by a miscalculated move to hurt one’s enemy indirectly.
The last possible cause of the events in the movie might be ethnic cleansing. As aforementioned, the presence of Jews in Europe was a thorn in the flesh of the Europeans. For instance, Germans thought that Jews were the cause of their many problems. Therefore, ethnic cleansing would be the best way out. In the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which also qualifies as a holocaust, ethnic cleansing was at the center of the killings.
The majority Hutus executed the minority Tutsis in an ethnic cleansing move where close to over 1 million people lost their lives (Gourevitch 71).
The most recent case is the Southern Sudan conflict where militias are executing individuals associated with the Dinka community where the ruling president hails. Similarly, in the movie, the need to cleanse a certain ethnic group might be the force behind the massacre. In most cases, such moves end up in civil wars, which might degenerate to a genocide and further evolve to a holocaust involving the mass murder of innocent lives as shown in the film.
Fleming, Gerald. Hitler and the Final Solution, Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1987. Print.
Gourevitch, Phili. We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, London; New York, N.Y.: Picador, 2000. Print.
Gramel, Hermann. Antisemitism in the Third Reich, London: Blackwell, 1992. Print.