If you ever talk with US citizens on the problems with their country, there is all too often someone who comes up with this old chestnut – “At least I’m not a subject”.
Which is false and even if it were true, it wouldn’t be quite what it appears.
For a start we haven’t been “subjects” since the Nationality Act of 1948, except for a tiny number of special category subjects because for special circumstances they don’t qualify for citizenship – mostly pre-1949 immigrants from the Republic of Ireland, or India.
And if we were subjects, we would be subjects of parliament not an inherited monarchy. Yes we have a monarchy, but the power of the monarch is wielded by parliament under a doctrine known as the “Queen-in-parliament“.
Which is a weird kind of solution to the problem of letting a monarch keep their crown, but keeping real power in the hands of parliament. Once you’ve ‘demoted’ a monarch with an axe and the world hasn’t come to a standstill, you’re no longer “subjects” in the sense of being the property of an absolute monarch.
Let us emphasise that last bit – we let the monarchs keep their throne, and they serve at our pleasure. To give a real world example of how that works is the story of Edward VIII who was the present queen’s uncle. To sum up, he wanted to marry a previously married woman and “the establishment” (various prime ministers and the archbishop of Canterbury) was opposed; in the end it was Edward who abdicated and “the establishment” got their way.
Now the reasons were ridiculous (although the outcome may have been unintentionally fortuitous given Edwards VIII and Mrs Simpson’s sympathy for the Nazis), but the balance of power is clear to see.
I dare say those who loudly proclaim “At least I’m not a subject” will ignore this.
So that is a graph of average house prices divided by the median salary (average but not allowing extreme salaries to distort the value), or in other words how many average salaries you would need to buy a house.
The graph is a little small, but it shows that in 1977, the multiple was roughly 0.9 increasing to nearly 7 by 2019.
Now there’s all sorts of factors involved but fundamentally that is a huge increase in housing costs as proportion of our salaries.
All figures within this blog posting are based on the relevant Wikipedia articles. These are not 100% accurate because no figures are – there are academics who spend their whole career improving estimates of how many were killed.
I have a bit of a bee in the bonnet about this – and it has come up recently because :-
I’d encountered a Jew who questioned that the overall total was over double the 6 million Jews killed.
In association with a Twitter thread about the comparison between the ICE forced sterilisation of immigrants and the Nazis, I made a comment mentioning the other victims of the Nazis and neglected to include the Poles.
On another Twitter thread, there was a discussion on US children not being aware that six million Jews had been killed in the holocaust; I don’t see not knowing the exact number (although six million isn’t the exact number either) as being that much of the problem (“millions” is close enough) but denying that Jews were killed in the millions is definitely problematic. But interestingly no mention was made of the other Nazi victims!
But let us get one thing out of the way first. This is not intended to devalue the murder of 6 million Jews – if they were the only victims of the Nazis, it would still be well worth going to war to scrub the Nazi stain from the Earth. And I’m not in general in favour of war.
But the same applies to the other categories of Nazi victims, and it seems they are often forgotten – people make a big deal about how the Nazis killed six million Jews (and it is a big deal) but totally neglect to mention the others.
The first concentration camps were created in 1933 during the Nazis rise to power as a means of controlling political opponents. As the Nazi grip on power solidified, the advantages of a means of holding inconvenient people outside the control of the German judicial system became apparent and the slow decline of the concentration camps was reversed and the number of inmates began to rise again.
The number of political opponents who were killed by the Nazis during this period is not known, but a very rough estimate could be 25,000. Although other religious opponents can be included in that 25,000, Jehovah Witnesses deserve a special mention because almost unanimously they opposed Nazi mandates (including refusing to serve in the military). Approximately 1,400 were killed.
In addition to political opponents, Nazis incarcerated (and frequently killed) criminals and “asocials” (the homeless, alcoholics, unemployed, lesbians, …). At least 70,000 were killed.
Homosexuals (gay men) were also violently repressed and many ended up in the concentration camps. The number killed is unknown – Wikipedia claims “hundreds” but another estimate claims that up to 60% of the 5,000-15,000 sent to concentration camps were killed (for the purposes of the pie chart, I’m going to estimate 6,000). Many of those who survived the camps were re-imprisoned at the end of the war – being gay was still a ‘crime’.
Whilst lesbians were sometimes categorized as “asocials” and could end up in the camps for that reason, but they were not repressed quite as much as gay men.
The Jews and The Shoah
Although this blog article is about the other victims of the Nazis, it is unconscionable to talk about the holocaust without mentioning the Jewish victims. The Wikipedia figure for Jewish deaths is unusually precise – 5,896,577 or a touch under 6 million.
A bit of a distraction from the main topic – the word “holocaust” is Greek in origin and was used before World War II; usually in reference to the genocide of Armenians. “The Holocaust” is of course only used in reference to the Nazi programme of exterminating “sub-humans” which all too commonly is assumed to be only the Jews.
The specific word for the programme of exterminating the Jews is “The Shoah”.
I believe it is helpful to have two distinct (actually more – other groups also have terms) terms to distinguish between the Jews specifically (The Shoah) and the killing of everyone the Nazis considered “sub-human” (The Holocaust). There are those who object to this but given that at least one Jewish camp survivor (Elie Weisel) was of the same opinion it can hardly be legitimately called disrespectful.
Another reason for distinguishing the Jews from the pre-war category is that whilst Jews were harrassed mercilessly, ghettoised, and yes murdered before the war, the systematic killings did not begin until after the war began.
This is also the place to go into some of the issues relating to counting and categorising the victims. Was a Jewish Socialist killed because she was a Jew or because she was a Socialist? If she was picked up in 1934, it seems likely to be the later; if she was picked up in 1942 it would have been the former. And was she counted in both categories?
Do we count those killed outside the extermination camps as victims of the holocaust? If (for example) we exclude the handicapped because they weren’t in the camps, then we must also exclude up to a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen.
During The War
The Roma (or Gypsies although the later is regarded as an insulting term by many) come first because they are the closest to the Jews in terms of the level of hatred shown by the Nazis. Hated just because of whom they are rather than what they did.
Determining just how many Roma were killed is particularly difficult for a wide variety of reasons. The Wikipedia estimate of 220,000 killed is almost certainly a massive under-estimate – modern researchers have consistently increased the estimate up to a high of 1.5 million (75% of the total pre-war Roma population). I’ll go with an estimate of 1 million.
The Slavs (Poles in particular)
The third main racial group that the Nazis categorised as “subhuman” were the Slavs of Eastern Europe – Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs, etc. The Nazi attitude to the Slavs various widely – from expressing the desire to exterminate the entire race, to ‘accepting’ (with caveats) those Slavs who collaborated, and the wish to use Slavs as slave labour.
I suspect in the long term – if the Nazis had won – the Slavs would have followed the Jews into the ovens.
The Slavs will get sub-divided for various reasons – including to keep the Jews as the single largest group, but they could be categorized as one.
The first sub-group are the Poles. It is clear from the words and actions of the Nazis during the invasion that they intended to exterminate nearly all of the Poles – both Jews and non-Jews.
There is a myth that the Poles enthusiastically welcomed the extermination of the Jews – whilst there were undoubtedly some Poles who hated the Jews, it is also true that Poles represent the single largest group honoured as Righteous Amongst The Nations; yet it is believed that the nearly 7,000 Poles listed is a vast under-estimate of the total who could be listed – the true figure could be 50 times higher.
And many thousands of the 1.8 million Poles killed by the Nazis were killed for helping Jews.
Now we move onto the category of the Soviet Slavs – which comprises many different nationalities which I would be happy to individually identify but accurate figures for each are difficult to find.
First we find that Soviet prisoners of war – 2.95 million were killed (I’ve subtracted the figure of 50,000 Jewish soldiers because they were probably included in the Jewish total and to make this figure consistent with the other non-Jewish casualty figures).
Added to that we have 5.7 million Soviet civilians killed.
To this we should add 300,000 Serbs killed; not by the Nazis themselves but by a client state.
And the handicapped. They were not typically thrown into concentration camps, but “involuntarily euthanized” in or near their care facility. Up to 250,000 were killed.
The pie chart above visually represents the total of each group killed; from this we can see in purely numerical terms that there were many other groups included in The Holocaust. Any one of which would be a crime against humanity.
For those that doubt the figures … and especially that the “others” added up to more than the Jews, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states “… murdered during the Holocaust at 17 million: 6 million Jews and 11 million others.”
There is currently an issue regarding the education of the young about the Holocaust with surveys reporting that some haven’t heard of it and many others do not know how many Jews were killed.
Not knowing the exact figure is forgivable – as we have seen the usually quoted figure of 6 million isn’t itself accurate – “many millions” is accurate enough for casual knowledge. And I’m a devotee of accurate figures, but when you come down to it, that’s what computers are for.
Not knowing about it at all is not just disrespectful to victims, but dangerous because we see warning signs of something similar happening today. But we need to remember that most teenagers have very little interest in the dry bones of history, and perhaps we need to make it an interesting horror story.
I’m not a Tory; I don’t agree with their economic policies, social policies; hell I’d be hard pushed to find anything that I’d agree with them on. But in the past the occasional Tory government did at least have some basic level of competency – it was not just an endless serious of shambolic decisions and U-turns.
Just take a look at this (which is just one week).
Now I’m not opposed to U-turns – if you make a mistake, staying with that mistake because to make a U-turn makes you look bad, is the worst thing you can do. But too many U-turns is a sign of something far more serious – too many mistakes.
Yes I know it’s all too easy to blame everything on Brexit, but sometimes it might just be true. I have a sneaking suspicion that any Tory with half a brain is in hiding until the chaos is over – whatever you think of their policies it is usual for at least some of the government to be smart, but the current government seems completely devoid of any clue.
It makes sense from their point of view – it would be better to have driven a stake through the heart of the Brexit concept, but without that option it is best to stay out of the limelight and look to picking up the pieces afterwards.
“All it takes it hard work” they say, and point to someone like Jeff Bezos as an example.
Which is an interesting example of how to lie by telling the truth.
It isn’t always an intentional lie, although you do have to wonder how daft someone has to be to miss the obvious problems with the idea. There are three big problems with the idea that anyone can succeed if they try hard enough.
The first is that nobody starts a business with nothing. In many cases, a loan is involved – in the case of Jeff Bezos, the load started with a $300,000 loan from his parents (and there were a lot of other loans as Amazon didn’t start making a real profit for a long time). There are also bank loans that start some businesses.
But even without a loan, businesses are still not started with nothing – someone worked and saved to build enough savings to keep the business running initially. Saved? How when you’re on a minimum wage job and can’t make ends meet.
Glossing over that, how about having had enough education to start a business? Or living in a free society with a modicum of law and order? Or roads to take your business’ goods to markets? Or the markets to sell your goods in? This list could go on for quite a while, but the key point is that nobody succeeds on their own – there are a whole bunch of things helping them.
The next problem is that we ignore all of the others who tried and failed to become the “next Jeff Bezos”. Some succeed partially and end up with a comfortable life having either established a small business or having sold out. Others end up with nothing and have to start again. But theoverwhelming majority don’t become the next Jeff Bezos.
Lastly, we hear how because these self-made people have made it on their own, we hear that it isn’t fair to tax them on their earnings. Apart from the fact that we have already seen that they have not made it on their own, we overlook that most people who are classified as billionaires haven’t made it on their own.
They inherited their wealth. Is that wrong? That is a different argument although I would lean in favour of saying no it’s not wrong. But the increasing concentration of wealth in a relatively small number of plutocrats across multiple generations is wrong.