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Post Why Does WAIS Say "German Holocaust"?
Created by John Eipper on 03/10/17 3:52 AM

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Why Does WAIS Say "German Holocaust"? (Edward Jajko, USA, 03/10/17 3:52 am)

I have trouble with the semantics of the WAIS subject heading "German Holocaust."

The Holocaust of WWII is the holocaust beyond description or exception, and has had no need of descriptive modifiers. To some it is the Jewish Holocaust, but that title ignores the many other victims who were specifically targeted; although Jews were the preponderance of those who were murdered.

In any event, while the guilt falls on the Germans, to say "German Holocaust" implies that it was the Germans who suffered, not the Jews of various nationalities, the Poles, the Gypsies, and others.

After all, people don't refer to the "Turkish Genocide"(well, Turks do), but to the Armenian Genocide. It is the object of the action, not its author, that should modify this sort of noun. And with the Holocaust, the Sho'ah, no descriptive modifier is needed. Certainly not "German."

JE comments: The WAIS subject menu is fixed and predates my time in the editor's chair. Still, Ed Jajko's point is well taken. We'll make the change to "Holocaust/Shoah."

The victim/executioner semantics of Holocausts is not that simple, however.  "Nazi Holocaust" is a commonly used term; put in quotation marks and you get 389,000 Google hits.  No one would suggest that it's referring to Nazi victims.

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