A Comparison of Life During Occupation: Nazi Essay Example

  • Category: War, World War II,
  • Words: 2040 Pages: 8
  • Published: 06 September 2020
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Most everyone who has studied history today knows about World War II and the devastation that accompanied it. It is one of the most significant events in the history of the world, yet there are many aspects of it that are constantly overlooked. The most recognizable villains in World War II are the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler. While most people know of the horrendous war crimes that the Nazis committed during the Holocaust, few people actually know how terribly poor the quality of life was under Nazi rule. 

At one point in World War II the Nazis occupied almost all of mainland Europe, leaving hundreds of millions of people exposed to the cruel and harsh rule of the Nazis. The four main aspects of Nazi culture were terrible civilian treatment, destruction of national monuments, immense violence in society, and destruction of culture. Due to these four aspects, cities and nations were ruthlessly destroyed while many civilians were systematically persecuted and killed. Overall, it is clear that the Nazi occupation was much more harsh than the Japanese occupation of China.

 While the Japanese did subject the Chinese to terrible living conditions, it was simply not on the same level as the atrocities that occurred during life under Nazi occupation. Also, the Japanese did not have such a systematic method of discriminating against the Chinese citizens. Therefore it is clear that while the Japanese committed wartime atrocities in China, the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II was the harshest military occupation in the entire war because of the terrible treatment of foreign citizens, abuse of national monuments, constant violent military operations, and destruction of national culture.

While the Japanese treated the Chinese citizens who lived in areas which they occupied very poorly, it is clear that the life of a citizen under Nazi rule was much worse. The Second Sino-Japanese War was a conflict between China and Japan that lasted from 1937 to 1945. The Japanese took control easily and imposed their military prowess on the citizens of China for extensive periods of time throughout the war. In an observation of how poor the quality of life  was in Japan, one survivor remarked that “people ate tree bark” and that “she remembered her parents buying her a corn cake, a rare treat at the time, and bursting into tears when someone ripped the cake from her hand and ran off before she had time to eat it” (Japanese Occupation Of China Before World War II). 

One of the primary Japanese tactics was to isolate China from trade with the outside world, thus leaving it to provide its own food. As seen above, this caused many Chinese citizens to become terrible victims of starvation. From that personal account, it got to the point where people would steal from one another in hopes of satisfying their hunger. This is a surefire sign that life for Chinese citizens under Japanese rule was miserable.

Although, the starvation that the Chinese suffered through does not really compare to the terrible living conditions of Nazi occupation. One survivor remarked that under Nazi rule there was “no baguette but an enormous miche of dark and hard bread which we would have to keep for a week or so and cut in very thin slices” (Dodd, Henriette). This already establishes that Nazi rule had similar conditions to Japanese rule. 

People starved and suffered in the same manner that the Chinese did. Although, what makes the Nazi rule so unique and horrible is the other atrocities that accompanied the widespread starvation. During Nazi rule, “French men were arrested without apparent reason, sent to unknown destination or shot without explanation” (Dodd, Henriette). The behavior of the Nazis as seen above is not warranted or justified in any context. This level of war crimes committed on innocent French citizens is not matched by the Japanese. 

The Nazis strategically exploited and took advantage of French citizens in hopes of lowering the morale of the country as a whole. These tactics that the Germans employed truly demonstrate that their rule was much harsher than Japanese rule over the Chinese citizens. While the people of both France and China were ruthlessly exploited, the same can also be said of the national monuments of both countries. During Nazi and Japanese rule countless cities were reduced to rubble, along with any other meaningful monuments. 

While the Japanese destroyed countless Chinese cities, the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II was the harshest military occupation of World War II because of its destruction of national monuments. In the case of the Japanese, they looted essentially all of the cities that they encountered throughout their invasion of China and Southeast Asia. In the Massacre of Nanjing, “The army looted and burned the surrounding towns and the city, destroying more than a third of the buildings” (Nanjing Massacre). These militaristic tactics that the Japanese used destroyed many of the cities that the Chinese cherished. 

Nanjing was a city that had been sacred to Chinese citizens for thousands of years, and it was swiftly destroyed by the ruthless Japanese. Although the distinct separation between the Japanese and the Nazis is that the Nazis strategically destroyed or exported national monuments in order to satisfy a master plan, which was to crush their opposition. As the Nazis invaded Europe they used blitzkriegs, which in turn reduced many cities to rubble. 

Similar to the Japanese, they had no respect for the cities that they occupied, which were typically the pride of the country that they occupied. As mentioned earlier, the Nazis strategically shipped away thousands of precious pieces of art in Europe. During their occupation of Paris, the “Louvre was emptied out in 1939, with 3,600 paintings packed off to safe houses” (Edsel 241). In a similar sentiment to the previous paragraph, the Nazis emptied out all of the paintings that were so valued by France in order to lower the morale of the citizens. 

From the beginning, the primary goal of the Nazis was to crush their enemy into submission, and they would go to any measures necessary to accomplish this task. The same cannot be said true of the Japanese. While the Japanese did use harsh military tactics, the Nazis used a variety of strategies that are completely unspeakable whether it is a time of war or not. Another example of one of these atrocious tactics is when“The Nazis stored 6,500 paintings, including works by Michelangelo, Vermeer, and Rembrandt, in a salt mine in Austria” (Edsel 247). 

The objective here by the Nazis is not only to crush their enemy into submission, but to destroy the culture of Europe as a whole and replace it with their own. Capturing all of these priceless works of art is in turn going to destroy some of the culture of Europe that had been developed over the last one thousand years. This Nazi incorporation of such savage tactics is not at all matched by the Japanese during World War II, and has only been seen a few times before in the history of the world. Both the Nazis and the Japanese abused the national monuments of the countries that they occupied, and in order for this to be possible, both had to have threats of military violence behind them. Although, it was frequently not only a threat as both countries performed countless amounts of violence on civilians.

While the Japanese typically harmed innocent civilians, the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II was the harshest military occupation in all of the war because of the frequency and intensity of its military operations. As mentioned in the paragraph above, in order for each rising empire to succeed, they needed to have immense amounts of firepower behind them. This weaponry was not only used on enemies that they were currently fighting, but it was also used to suppress uprisings within the countries they occupied.

In China, the Japanese typically used violence with the purpose of striking fear into its people. In an effort to demonstrate their superiority and silence any revolts, “Japan tried to bomb [China] into submission… thousands of civilians were killed” (Wang Ching-Wei). This method of bombing areas of increased resistance is illogical at best, because it is probable that many members of the Japanese military died along with the Chinese citizens. On top of the strategic flaws that this tactic had, it is morally reprehensible. Only in times of war can extreme violence such as this be seen. This sporadic violence seen from the Japanese is no match to the violence shown by the Nazis. 

As many people may already know, the Nazis committed one of the worst war crimes throughout history, known as the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a strategic extermination of Jews throughout Europe. In the Holocaust alone more than six million Jews were killed, and this does not even account for any of the other minorities persecuted by the Nazis (The Home of Jewish Genealogy). This type of violence integrated into society is far worse than anything the Japanese ever did, and that is purely on a statistical comparison. 

On an ethical level, the crimes committed by the Nazis are not even close to any of the violence that the Chinese citizens were subjected to by the Japanese. The Jewish civilians imprisoned by the Nazis were not even treated like humans, they were slaughtered as if they were animals. This widespread violence, such as the Holocaust, was built into society and allowed the Nazis to truly assert their dominance over their opponents. Although at its core, this incorporation of Nazi violence into society was truly the destruction of culture of the country that the Nazis were occupying.

While the Japanese typically mirrored most of the malicious tactics that the Nazis had, the Japanese never completely committed to destroying and replacing the culture of the territory that they occupied. Since the Germans did try to destroy and replace the culture of the territories that they occupied, this made their occupation of Europe the most harsh throughout World War II. The closest that the Japanese ever came to trying to strategically destroy culture is when they segregated the citizens of China. In most of the cities that they occupied in China “the Japanese enforced racial segregation between the themselves and the Chinese and between the Chinese, Koreans and Manchus” (Japanese Occupation Of China Before World War II).

This is no minor offense on any accounts, and is completely unacceptable. The Japanese strove to isolate parts of society in order to make them less capable of defending themselves. While this segregation is unacceptable, it is just simply not even a basis for comparison to the Nazis. During Nazi rule the Nazi soldiers went “into people’s homes and simply cleared them out, all the way down to the family photographs” (Edsel 189-191). In such a savage manner, the Nazis tried to destroy any previous memories of the country that existed before they took over the country. Unfortunately, this is not the most extreme measure that the Nazis went to in order to destroy culture. 

When the Nazis occupied Poland, they killed off all of the Polish elite, claiming that the slaves don’t need culture (The Home of Jewish Genealogy). Such a bold action reinforces the fact that the Nazis truly believed that they were the superior race. This belief of superiority gave them a twisted justification for trying to implant their culture into the countries they occupied. In the end, the fact that the Nazis were able to strategically destroy the culture of their growing empire proves that they were a much harsher occupation to endure than the Japanese occupation.

Of all the military occupations during World War II, the Nazi occupation of Europe should be regarded as the most brutal and harsh because it treated the citizens terribly, abused national monuments, promoted violent military operations, and destroyed national culture. The various accounts of starvation and violence in society demonstrates how the Nazis treated their citizens more terribly than the Japanese. This then led to a culture of suppression which allowed the Nazis to much more efficiently destroy national monuments. Of course, it is important to realize that no wartime atrocities would have been possible without the threat and the use of violence. 

Overall the Nazis were more prone to systemic violence, while the Japanese were more sporadic in their violence unto their developing empire. Lastly, it was important to realize that the way that the Nazis destroyed culture in Europe is completely unrivaled by any other regimes in World War II. Of course, the intricacies of World War II are not as important as the overarching messages. The most important message now is that the same suppression of human rights and violence unto citizens is happening today, and it must be stopped. Whether it is from some of the Jihad nations in the Middle East, Putin ruling Russia, or some of the African nations with unstable governments, human rights are always potentially in trouble. It is the duty of the people who study history to prevent horrible events such as the Nazi occupation of Europe or the Japanese occupation of China to ever happen again. In the end, it is everyone’s obligation to prevent the mass destruction of culture from ever happening again.



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