This House Believes That On Balance The Holocaust Was Detrimental To Society!
Debate Rounds (4)
To start off, no I am not racist, or a Nazi sympathizer, I just thought this would be an interesting thing to debate. I am in no way supporting the Holocaust, and find it nothing but worthy of condemnation.
That being said I would like to debate this topic. I believe the motion is pretty clear: my opponent has to argue that the harm outweighed the good, while I will argue the opposite.
The judges for this debate are: airmax1227, debatability, Envisage, bluesteel, Subutai, bladerunner060, Mikal, Wylted, Blade-of-Truth, and thett3. I believe all these judges to be capable, and fair. Just to show there is no bias two judges are confirmed Jewish friends of mine.
There are 4 rounds, 72 hr/round, 10, 000 characters available, and Judge Voting with a Select Winner option. Judges must give a reason for decision.
My opponent should start immediately, and skip the last round with the words "no round as agreed upon" or something similar. First argumentation rounds for positive material only.
This has been sent to whiteflame on his request, let the games begin.
I wish my opponent the best of luck!
This House: In this case, "This House" refers to the judges. Our aim here is to convince the audience that the resolution is true or false, as this is a debate of fact. As the judges are expressing the voice of that audience (or rather, that of many of its more prominent members), they are effectively the "House" involved here.
On Balance: Equal burden of proof. It is just as much my burden to show that the Holocaust was detrimental to society as it is Con's to show that it was beneficial to society.
The Holocaust: "The mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941"45. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups, such as gypsies and homosexuals, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz." 
Detrimental to Society: Detrimental means tending to cause harm, society refers to a group or groups of people living within some ordered community. Hence, we are discussing both the short and long term implications of the Holocaust on human communities worldwide.
Onto the arguments.
On a basic level, Con has to overcome the harms of an absolutely massive death toll in order to win this debate.
"Between five and six million Jews
More than three million Soviet prisoners of war
More than two million Soviet civilians
More than one million Polish civilians
More than one million Yugoslav civilians
About 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps
More than 200,000 gipsies
Unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, homosexuals and deportees"
I don't think I have to explain the harms inherent to those deaths " I'll leave it to my opponent to contest that their lives were either meaningless or harmful, if he so chooses, and rebut those arguments " but loss of their future contributions to society, distress of their relatives and friends, and the general dehumanization that accompanies such a large loss of life (people are reduced to numbers due to the impossible task of cataloging their stories) are simple reasons to view this as harmful. I would argue that mass murder is never beneficial, particularly in the case of genocide.
Moreover, these weren't just simple deaths. The Jewish population wasn't just picked out by random chance, nor were the gypsies, those with mental and physical handicaps, and homosexuals. The Holocaust was fundamentally a mechanism of genocide, seeking not just to wreak death, but rather to end whole populations of people on the basis of immutable characteristics, religion, or ways of life, all on the basis of some perceived genetic deficiencies that made their continued existence sub-optimal. Numerous bodies of international and national law have all come down against genocide, often on the basic reasoning that "the most elementary principles of humanity and morality" must be affirmed in order to safeguard the continued existence of humanity and our most basic social obligations.
To treat the Holocaust as anything but a detriment to humanity as a whole would not only be utterly insensitive and ghastly (essentially telling the survivors and their families that they should embrace that terror as beneficial), but also harmful to perceptions of other genocides. We cannot begin to treat genocides as beneficial without questioning our perception of all genocides, thus condemning efforts to stop or ameliorate recent genocides such as those in Sudan-Darfur, Rwanda, and Bosnia, not to mention calling into question any and all future genocides. There should be no uncertainty on this " mass killings, especially for the purpose of wiping out subsets of the human population, should always be viewed as one of the worst transgressions against human rights.
2. Short- and long-term effects
A. Personal, social and economic
All I've discussed so far is solely deaths, but there's a larger concern regarding degradation of human life. Many of the groups involved, particularly the Jews, were treated as subhuman, often used as nothing more than lab specimens for the purpose of subjecting them to various tortures and experiments. Often compared to rats, "leeches, lice, bacteria, or vectors of contagion," their humanity was stripped away entirely as they were made out to be actual dangers to society, making their deaths and pain seem not only justified, but beneficial. Just to give some idea of what these experiments entailed:
"...deprived of oxygen to simulate high altitude parachute jumps... frozen, infested with malaria, or exposed to mustard gas... incisions in their flesh to simulate wounds, inserted pieces of broken glass or wood shavings into them, and then, tying off the blood vessels, introduced bacteria to induce gangrene... made to drink seawater, were infected with typhus and other deadly diseases, were poisoned and burned with phosphorus, and how medical personnel conscientiously recorded their agonized screams and violent convulsions."
Estimates of the number of displaced persons following the end of WWII run between 11 and 20 million people, with a significant proportion of those coming from concentration camps. Many of them had had to watch their families die away to nothing; they were homeless, their property stolen from them before they were imprisoned, much of which was never returned. They were forced to live in refugee camps, often for years, where they were vulnerable to any number of hardships from abuse and murder to illness and malnutrition.
Taken together, the social effect of this is mass quality of life reductions, and tremendous dehumanization, as these people became part of an ever growing mass of humans degraded to mere numbers both during the Holocaust and in its aftermath. The willingness to subject a human being to egregious torture in the name of scientific advancement is regarded as an egregious breach of human rights, and the realities involved with handling the living victims of the Holocaust furthered their spiral into anonymity and despair.
The effects of their deaths and displacements aren't limited to the individuals and their families. Locations where many were directly affected by the Holocaust also suffered from reduced economic growth.
"The Holocaust wiped out many of the most educated and productive people in western Russia. It was a major shock to the social structure of the invaded regions, dramatically reducing the size of the Russian middle class."
This shows that the effects of the Holocaust weren't solely perceptual, but rather included deep and lasting impacts on local economies.
B. Physical and Psychological
To compound this, the survivors of the Holocaust and their children are haunted by both their physical and psychological traumas.
The physical aspects are straightforward, including signs of premature aging, numerous digestive tract problems including peptic ulcers and chronic diarrhea, rampant heart disease, respiratory tract infections, and bone density concerns.
The psychological issues are much broader.
Among the psychological traumas faced by survivors, the most common are "(1) Massive repression, numbing of responsiveness, amnesia, alexithymia; (2) Intrusive memories, Holocaust-related associations, "shattered assumptions"; (3) Anhedonia, suicidal ideation, depression, chronic state of mourning; (4) Survivor guilt; (5) Sleep disturbances and nightmares; (6) Problems with anger regulation and in dealing with interpersonal conflicts; (7) Excessive worries, anxieties, catastrophic expectancy, fear of renewed persecution; (8) Suspiciousness, paranoia, isolation from the community, lack of trust, loneliness; (9) Utilization of survival strategies "from there"; and (10) Low threshold for stress in difficult situations."
Common among Holocaust survivors is also habitual panic (which has a broad array of triggers commonly seen in much of life) leading to violent emotional responses, and grief reactions to happy occasions. This has a very long term effect that actually gets worse with time.
"The indelible emotional scars created by the impossible choices of life and death during the Holocaust gradually or suddenly burst open and a mixture of survival guilt and repressed aggression start to torment them again late in life... all survivors seem to be "at risk" of mental disturbances, especially at times of renewed stress and traumatization. At these points in life, the most suitable diagnostic label seems to be "Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD) with depression as a frequent associated feature."
While the effects are more muted on the next generation, they are still apparent, as high anxiety, low self-esteem, inhibited aggression and relational ambivalence plague their children as well.
These mental concerns are obviously harmful to the quality of life of the survivors, as well as their families and friends. Moreover, it's incredibly damaging to societies at large, making these individuals unstable and reducing their beneficial contributions to those around them as a result. These people become a burden on their families, engendering large health and mental care costs and remaining distant as a result of their continued distress. Moreover, their lives are once again placed outside of their control, cyclically engendering much of the same fears, depressions and anxieties that they felt during their captivity.
I thank whiteflame for this round. As per the rules my first round will feature positive material only. If any positive material seems a rebuttal of Marc's round then it is purely coincidental. I should like to add one thing once more, I realize this was a horrible tragedy, reading about the tortures is truly saddening, I hope to only experiment with this view. Thank you for reading without bias.
To start with I'd like to discuss the onus. While the resolution uses the words "on balance" Marc has the greater burden. I only need to show that in certain cases the Holocaust could be considered not detrimental, while he needs to show that the Holocaust was detrimental in all cases. To be clear he needs to show necessarily X, while I need only show not necessarily X which is the same as possibly not X. In Logic it is X, while I need to show ~X which is <>~X.
Next lets get some fundamental facts clear. Often you will hear people come up with fantastically exaggerated numbers. To quote Mr. Raul Hilberg (who I invite you to look up) the foremost research scholar on the Holocaust, the death toll was not more than 2.8 million. While Hilberg originally gave a larger number in 1996 he revised the number based on new evidence, and throughout his articles, and essays gives evidence. I invite my opponent to inform us where the other 4 million deaths occured, since there is no evidence on them. In fact scholar Yehuda Bauer another researcher has also concluded that the death toll could not be more than 3.4 million, and that is pushing it. He believes that the true toll is near 3 million, as there is no evidence to show otherwise.  This is not to say this is not a large number but when we get into calculus of benefit, it would be better to see why the Holocaust did have benefits in the larger picture, comparing to the harm of the death of 3 million persons. I'll talk about how these decrease further when we consider the world wars in my negative case in my next rounds. In summation however when the Third Reich came under attack, two million civilians were murdered. There is evidence to suggest that many of those who died in these ethnic cleansing died may have died anyways. So it cant all be blamed all on the Holocaust.
'Holocaust' by Raul Hilberg; Microsoft 'Encarta' 1998
Holocaust: A History by Yehuda Bauer
Let's start with BoP.
To start, just note that Con has not actually contested any of the definitions I provided in R1. Those still stand, meaning that he'll have to do more than just provide an alternative view. He's going to need to compare his interpretation to mine.
My interpretation is that it's only necessary for me to show that, overall, the Holocaust was detrimental to society, whereas it is Con's burden to show that the Holocaust was net beneficial to society at large. That seems pretty firmly in keeping with the resolution.
What Con seems to be arguing here is that I must prove that, for all societies everywhere across the planet, in every way shape and form, the Holocaust caused a net detriment. This isn't a reasonable interpretation. This ignores the fact that the word "society" is not plural, implying a broad community of people instead of individual groups. This ignores the "on balance" facet, instead arguing that he essentially carries no burden but to disprove my case, which is inherently unbalanced.
Even assuming he's right in his definition, though, he's not yet winning this debate.
Onto the opening argument.
Whatever its brevity may have been caused by, Con's opening round is really insufficient to get his argument off the ground. He essentially just argues that the facts of how many people died in the Holocaust are off. Multiple responses.
1. The sources he uses to support this are basically unverifiable since I can't check the sources directly. The best I can do is find other webpages that source them.
There is a page that sources the 1998 Microsoft Encarta estimate from Hilberg . The book Hilberg had published in 1961, "The Destruction of the European Jews," actually agrees with that estimate, saying that "up to 2,900,000" died in death camps. Trouble is, that link with the Encarta information takes that as the sole conclusion from Hilberg's work. It assumes that adding the numbers killed at each of these death camps suffices, ignoring the numerous deaths due to disease and malnutrition, other camp shootings, and mobile killing units (the Einsatzgruppen) moving through the USSR Hilberg estimated that "over 800,000" died as a result of "Ghettoization and general privation," and 1,400,000 from "Open-air shootings." Add those up and... oh, look at that, 5.1 million, not far shy of mine.
Con's book citation for Yehuda Bauer doesn't exist . What he appears to be sourcing this from may be "A History of the Holocaust," where he did determine many of these numbers. Unfortunately for Con, he made the same mistake here. Bauer does estimate that the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz is around 1.35 million instead of the more common 2.5 million, so much like Hilberg, his estimate is lower than 6 million. Not much lower, though. Once again, Con has equated the number of projected deaths in death camps with the estimated total number of Jewish victims. That estimate runs from 5.7-5.86 million, rather akin to mine.
This means that even if we buy Con's sources, using what we can find on the Internet of their numbers, he's massively underestimating the death tolls they ascribe to the Holocaust (by 2.3 million and 2.4 million, respectively), which are actually closer to the 6 million that my source provided. Con doesn't even provide the third source, though I have no clue how the Third Reich coming under attack has any place in this debate.
2. However, Con asks for counter sources that shore up that 6 million figure. I'm happy to oblige. The figure, admittedly, has been the source of some of debate actually comes from a variety of sources. According to the website for Yad Vashem, the chief research center on the Holocaust in Israel, "both early and more recent estimates by a variety of different scholars have fallen between five and six million." And the estimates shore this up pretty well, as both Nazis and numerous historians (Lucy Dawidowicz, Wolfgang Benz, Martin Gilbert, Yisrael Gutman and Robert Rozett) established numbers that are normally on the higher end of that spectrum.
Some even range much further, as is the case with Rudolf Vrba. A Jewish prisoner of Auschwitz who survived that camp, his job was to count the number of people who arrived each day. His eyewitness estimates set the number at around 2.5 million at Auschwitz alone (far higher than either Hilberg or Bauer suggest), bringing the total to 7.5 million, well above the other estimates.
Admittedly, there are still rather large sources of uncertainty, but that uncertainty actually favors a higher number, not a lower one. A lack of record-keeping on the part of the Soviets and Germans alike resulted in highly uncertain numbers of people killed by the Einsatzgruppen, or mobile killing units, meaning that the estimated numbers could be far shy of the reality.
And this uncertainty doesn't just apply to Jews. "...the Roma, or Gypsies, with estimates of the number killed ranging from 90,000 to 1.5 million. (One reason estimates vary so widely is attributed to a traditional secrecy and silence among the Roma regarding what they endured.)" Con has failed to contest any of the numbers I provided aside from that for the Jews, and the numbers for the Gypsies are particularly relevant, as "Proportionally, these numbers are as high or higher than the fraction of Jews who were killed." That means that, from a genocidal perspective, this was just as bad, if not worse, than the effort to eliminate the Jews, despite the disparity in numbers.
3. Even if Con is entirely correct that these are the right numbers, little changes. I'm not sure what Con's trying to garner from this argument, but he appears to be trying to mitigate away the detriments of the death toll. I'm not sure where Con is setting his arbitrary threshold at which the number of lives becomes negligibly important, but I'm pretty sure that line doesn't exist between 6 and 2.8 million Jews. That's not to mention that Con hasn't contested any of the deaths of non-Jews during the Holocaust, which I also cited in the previous round (adding up to at least 6-7 million more people. All of the traumas I cited in R1 and the broader societal effects of the Holocaust still stand just as strongly. These remain incredibly important to the debate, as they extend far beyond the simple loss of life, affecting magnitudes more people in broader societies worldwide.
4. Con talks about the "calculus of benefit," but never provides any actual benefits of the Holocaust to clash with my harms. He's failed to meet even his interpretation of the burden of proof by leaving this untouched. Con is going to need to present either a certain and very substantial harm that was prevented by the Holocaust or a similar benefit that resulted from it. Either way, it will have to have resulted in outcomes that outstrip millions of lives he himself acknowledges were taken during the Holocaust, and the broader effects I've discussed.
Ajabi forfeited this round.
Once more my deepest regrets. Marc, you'll need to send me the money for the rehab again.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: Con gracefully conceded the debate. For this, Pro wins.
Vote Placed by airmax1227 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: This had the potential to be an interesting debate, so it's a shame that Con conceded. If Con had continued, I'd say he had an uphill battle either way, since Pro was leading at that point.
Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: Con's only argument was for mitigation (less people died), he never got around to rebuttal Pro's positive arguments for the resolution. Even assuming a (much) lower number, Pro's arguments stand
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