Saving the Jews – An Act of Humanism

Posted by Marissa Langseth | Posted on September 24, 2021

By Edgar Louis Garcia
HAPI Scholar

Back in 1940, a leader came into power in Germany – a veteran of the First World War, and a powerful political figure, Adolf Hitler. Germany’s defeat in WW1 severely crippled the German economy and gave rise to a revolution that overthrew the monarchy, later establishing the Weimar Republic. Due to a post-war treaty, Germany was forced to accept all blame for the war. The said treaty imposed costly war reparations that destroyed the new Weimar Republic and further destabilized the German economy. The treaty, therefore, ushered in the rise radical politics and gave power to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Hitler and his party led their people to believe that the Lebensraum (“living space”) strategy would enable Germans to become economically self-sufficient and militarily secure.

Ashkenazi Jews of late-19th-century Eastern Europe portrayed in Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur (1878), by Maurycy Gottlieb.

It was not clear what led to Hitler’s antisemitism but one thing’s for sure: in his eyes he did not see the Jews as fully-fledged German citizens and wanted to either push them to other nations or to exterminate them. He chose the latter. In 1939 many Jews fled the country because of the growing discrimination against them, following Adolf Eichmann’s program to force Jews to emigrate. Those that did not escape weren’t so lucky. In 1941, the Holocaust began. From that year, every single Jew was either shot right on the spot or was subjected to the harshest treatments that the Nazi government had to offer. That included human experimentation, mass killings, mass starvation and many more.

Many western countries abandoned the Jews to the clutches of the Nazi Party, but a few countries opened their arms to the Jews. Surprisingly, it was the Philippines. In the late 1930s, President Manuel L. Quezon welcomed over 1,200 Jews from Germany and Austria with his Open Doors Policy, even when nations closed their borders to Jewish Refugees. These Jews escaped the Nazi Party’s growing menace. Had it not been for US interference, Quezon could’ve brought more than 10,000 Jews. Pressure from the US, however, only allowed the Philippines to bring in 1,000 Jews a year over 10 years.

This shows how important it is to love and embrace humanity no matter who they are or where they came from. President Quezon was a great leader and a great role model. Similar to humanism, one should give more importance to human reason, secular ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, and superstition as a basis for morality and decision making. One’s action should not be dictated by our religious beliefs but rather what we can do to help.

“The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race. ”

– E. M. Forster

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About The Author

Edgar Louis de Gracia

Edgar is the newest HAPI scholar, only 17 years young.

He is from HAPI-Cebu

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