Essays and Theories

The American and German Holocausts:
Common Behavioral Threads as seen from the Evolutionary Perspective.
William A. Spriggs
May, 2000

In every period of modern social interaction between various groups there have occurred behaviors that we "civilized" humans would collectively consider repulsive in their depravity. I have no doubts that these behaviors have an evolutionary primate origin but only our human species, with its highly evolved "intellect," could defend such mechanisms as justifiable. Lynchings, tortures, maiming, bullying, public derogation, whippings, water submergence, executions, and systematic mass extinction; no other mammal on the planet could match our species depravity in inflicting harm to our fellow humans. I am not writing about behaviors left in the wake of wartime battlefield fronts where passions run fast and furious and where depravity is done for revenge. But rather, I am writing about those "non-civilized" acts done by ordinary citizens to other humans for doing, what they consider, the right thing to do. I am attempting to focus on the why of such behavior. And to do that, one must attempt to find the common behaviors that all human societies and individuals share.

In this short essay I will mainly focus on America's period of lynching of African-Americans after the Civil War up till the 1960s; what Congressman John Lewis has called the American Holocaust. Most of this activity was know within the region that it occurred, but not widely disseminated nationally in the various media outlets until television and the civil rights movement placed racial discrimination of the America's South into everyone's living rooms. But America's South was not the only region that practiced repulsive group behaviors in one form or the other. In almost every society studied, evidence confirms some form of brutal group action done against others though recorded history; however, none even approaches the enormity and bestiality of the German's persecution of the Jew's which I will also muse upon in looking for common threads.

In evolutionary psychology today there exists a debate whether "group selection" is a viable entity; it is the primary reason for my taking pen in hand to write this essay and to further weigh in with evidence that such behavior does, in fact, exist and should be included when considering individual human behaviors. There can be no doubts that lynch mobs did exist in America's south, and that the horror of the German holocaust was real despite almost constant attempts by some groups to insinuate that the horror of the German concentration camps never occurred.

I suggest that group selection is a weeding out process; the culling of small groups done to others through various exclusionary mechanisms. I do believe strongly that all forms of exclusionary behavior were originally born from a defensive mechanism, which itself was born from innate modules to identify family members through sight, smell, body and facial recognition (as opposed to non-clan members who might pose a threat). The sight and smell modules could also be connected to innate kin sexual aversion modules which have been suggested exist to avoid debilitating in-breeding. (For the latest on this, see Mark A. Schneider and Lewellyn Hendrix's paper on "Olfactory Sexual Inhibition and the Westermarck Effect," journal of Human Nature, Vol., 11, No. 1, 2000). It has been suggested that as hunter-gatherer groups grew in size, mechanisms evolved to meet the necessary demand to divide kin from non-kin, and that these mechanisms were attached or evolved from deep lower violent behaviors designed for fight or flight. It is also my argument that as hunter-gatherer groups evolved from generation to generation, events occurred that required coordinated group defensive action (like what to do if a tiger attacked the group). Group safety became attached and flowed from group identification creating the concept of "us" or "them" as a protective mechanism.

But as farming, trade, and commerce began to substitute and assist in survival versus the deep primal abilities to hunt and gather perishable resources for survival, selfish primal interests of collecting, accumulating and protecting resources still remained as a constant in the human mind. (In other words, greed was most likely an early form of keeping resources to oneself as a survival mechanism). As the concept of "them" evolved from the possibilities of these early humans taking away from "us," I believe that mechanisms widened to include non-violent actions of preservation of resources, i.e., hiding, lying about locations, if one was lower in the hierarchy, and if one was higher in the hierarchy, the denial of access to one's resources more likely evolved along similar lines as well. -- "Sorry shorty, this food is all mine," etc. When strength and endurance was prevalent with one group in comparison with other groups, behavior could have evolved into the forceful taking of resources from another group. But violent overthrow is highly risky business due to the violent nature of the mechanism, and the possibility of one's genes getting eliminated from the gene pool is greatly heightened; once again, we see that non-violent behavior is more advantageous than violent behavior, and with this non-violent behavior the higher elites found it much easier to use outright denial (discrimination) of resources to others. (hence, the term, group selection if your one the winning side, and group rejection if you're on the losing side). Ultimately, its about the resources, people.

As established communities grew along in our early histories, the previous migratory practice of moving all one's belongings and then following roving herd of animals or seeking grasslands became minimal. The minimization of such activity, I surmise, then gave rise to increased emphasis on mechanisms for keeping, accumulating, and defending resources and increased the already importance of "territorial" areas that belong to the particular clans, villages, and areas within city-states. Today, we would call this territorial area as "turfs" or "neighborhoods." This mechanism of territorial identification most likely arose with our deep primal ancestors guarding a particular territory lush with fruit, nuts, and roots. It remained in place on the emigration out of Africa, and resurfaced with the domestication of plants and animals some 10,000 years ago. This increased the importance of "conceptual value" connected not only to one's own resources, but to  that of "our" resources of the group's identity, which would include the group's "turf." 

Along with this newly evolved concept of "value" of owned resources came the evolution of newer and more effective methods to defend and find mechanisms to protect those resources. Primate defense was simply violence, or the threat of violence. (Modern methods would include bugler alarms, motion detection devices, and surveillance cameras -- less modern, but perceived effective [especially by conservatives], armed weapons to defend against all who dare to enter one's dwelling). Heck, why use guns -- if your in control of your territory you just need to pass laws that exclude others that may threaten your resources and then hire beta males to enforce those laws. Here's a perfect example: The second highest court in Connecticut overturned a Greenwich Township ban on outsiders from using its parks and beaches unless they were accompanied by a resident and must pay a $6 guest fee. The court ruled that barring outsiders violated a public-trust on behalf of all citizens -- yet the law stood for more than twenty years before someone challenged the law in court. (Associated Press, 5-11-00) This simple exclusionary law was done to tip the genetic scales in favor of the culture that dominated a particular territory or "turf" and to pass that advantages to one's offspring. (banning "undesirables" would add to real estate values [so the local belief system thought].

# # #

As for the American and German holocausts, there were just two main sources that I drew from; one, the recently published book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, by James Allen, Hilton Als, Congressman John Lewis, and Leon F. Litwack, Twin Palms Publishers, 2000; Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Vintage Books, New York, 1997. I feel that due to the harshness of the behaviors some will find it difficult to look truthfully and honestly at these behaviors and also have difficulty in believing that they were done by ordinary citizens  If we wish to know the correct architecture of the brain and the cultural influences at local geographic locations that strongly influence our human behavior, we must walk straight into the darkness, not avoid it.

The first bit of evidence is the most disturbing, perhaps, because of its newness. As I write these words, it is the spring of 2000 and the book Without Sanctuary, which has just been published, is causing quite a stir. I noticed several articles in major magazines about the book, but my interest was really tweaked by listening to one of the authors explaining the book on National Public Radio. When I received the book from I was shocked and then haunted by the images I saw on the pages. The photograph that one is greeted with on the front cover is a narrow photograph with a black man hanging from a tree. Below the lynched man is a crowd of whites males with smug and self-righteous expressions; included in the photograph are two white children, one grinning from ear-to-ear.

In the overleaf, a panoramic photo is taken from atop a building looking down on the scene of one black male being burned alive while several hundred whites gather around the point of action. Although the book also shows and tells us that whites were also lynched, there can be no doubts that the overwhelming majority of these brutal acts of capital punishment were aimed at African-Americans. The authors of the book tabulated an estimate that between 1882 and 1968, 4,742 blacks were hanged in public executions. The authors strongly suggest that many more may have lost their lives in deep rural areas, the victims of "nigger hunts," far from the scrutiny of press and eye witnesses.

As the 100 or so photographs that parade before our eyes, one looks past the lifeless bodies and sees the faces of the individuals involved in perpetrating the acts. These are ordinary people; people of all ages, young and old, and both genders stood as witnesses to the acts. These were not white-robed night riders, juiced up on corn alcohol and looking for excitement on a boring summer's night. Some of the events were billed weeks in advance of the actual act, and we are told, by way of narrative, that on several occasions, special excursion train runs were instigated to allow extra passengers to partake in the lynchings; one is stuck by several of the photographs that included crowds that easily reached several thousand in size. All these events cumulated into creating, in some lynchings, a carnival-like atmosphere with the expectant crowds waiting for this one single event. To quote Leon F. Litwack:

"The photographs stretch our credulity, even numb our minds and senses to the full extent of the horror, but they must be examined if we are to understand how normal men and women could live with, participate in, and defend such atrocities, even reinterpret them so they would not see themselves or be perceived as less than civilized...What is most disturbing about these scenes is the discovery that the perpetrators of the crimes were ordinary people, not so different from ourselves - merchants, farmers, laborers, machine operators, teachers, doctors, lawyers, policemen, students; they were family men and women, good, decent churchgoing folk who came to believe that keeping black people in their place was nothing less than pest control, a way of combating an epidemic or virus that if not checked would be detrimental to the health and security of the community." p.34

We must remember that slavery did not originate in America's South, but in the deep reaches of Africa by one or several tribes subjugating others. In particular, black slaves were put to work in gold mines owned by black kings that held control in the western parts of Africa. It was not until 1445 when Pope Nicholas V issued a document that legalized the enslavement of heathens and atheists that the die was cast to allow European countries to begin trading in slaves. In 1482, on Africa's west coast, a fort rose that was first build by the Portuguese that would facilitate slave trading and over the course of the slave trade, the fort would be owned by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, almost 200,000 black slaves had been taken to places like Europe, and the Atlantic islands. [Africans in America, Harcourt Brace, 1998].

Good ol' fashioned unregulated, predatory capitalism created the competitive nature and advantages inherent in human bondage. The new enterprises found a willing market in the emerging economies of European countries, which in turn, established a flourishing slave market between the African West coast and European capitals. At first embracing the advantages of slave labor, Europeans eventually banned the markets in human slave trading but that did not stop stealth entrepreneurs from starting a lucrative slave trade with the new American Colonies. In fact, slave trading accelerated in America's south along with the rise of labor-intensive crops of sugar, rice, cotton, and tobacco as the products dependent on slave labor became most desirable in the established European markets and the industrial American North.

Thusly, the American South prospered from the 1700s to the mid 1850s because of the demand for their cheap products; the South became an economic powerhouse that was reached mainly on the backs of African-American slaves. But credit was not given to the black slave. Whites took their superior position as a way of life and culturally normal; the rise of wealthy plantation families helped to cement the argument of their biological superiority in their human enterprises. This then resulted in the South becoming dependent on the prosperity that slave labor gave to them, and to maintain its position in the social hierarchy of the young country, any attempts by moralists and religious leaders to end slavery was met with violent refusal, excuses of why the practice existed, and complete denial of the practice. Living the good life is hard to give up and may be just one of many behavioral modules attached to resource comparisons, attainment, accumulation, and retention in the human mind that those in evolutionary psychology argue exist.

It is my speculation that slavery may have evolved first as a form of territorial recognition and defense modules in our ancestral past, which then evolved into higher conscious modules of our ancestors to judge and to manipulate other humans for one's own gain. One possibility, is that economic opportunities were created by realizing that wealth gathered by others forced into bondage against their will was more advantageous then outright revenge killing of the enemy.

But we are not only discussing individual behaviors of dominating people, but an entire region encompassing the American south. Since the South was doing just nicely in terms of prosperity, they was no need to depend on the new machinery that followed in the wake of the Industrial Revolution with the North embraced. This was a fatal mistake, but is not hard to understand. Why change? If it ain't broke, why fix it? Why buy expensive equipment when cheap labor is available in abundance in the region. As the North began to use machinery and overtook the South in productivity with new products such as steel and railroads, they then became the dominate territory of the young America in terms of wealth. It was only a matter of time that the region with the most resources available would eventually dominate the cultural flow of ideas; this did not include slavery as a normal way of life.

The winning of the Civil War by the North and the forceful freeing of the slaves formed the basis of resentment by the South of being forced to do something that was contrary to its beloved behavioral foundation. No one likes being subjugated into submissiveness and forced to lower oneself in the social hierarchies where they once were dominate. This is particularly true of the South, who constantly moaned that "outsiders" are the root of any civil unrest problem, and that things would return to normal if they would only leave. The very acknowledgement of group territorial "thought" is important because it forms the basis of group selection; you can not have group action without group thought. Territorial group "thought" (local environments) that emanate from individuals, combine with others to form the "social norm." These social norms, if found to benefit the dominate culture, are passed to succeeding generations in the form of culture, which in turn, forms the foundation of group thought. I believe that these cultural forms of "helpful information" are particularly strong in smaller towns, villages, and clans within those territories where the influx of outside contact is minimal.

It is from this group socialized norm of group thought in the territory of the South that the lynching of African-Americans began to take place. The social Darwinian view that strong individuals will always beat weak individuals does not really fit in this particular case because very little of the behavioral mechanism know as lynching was rarely done one-on-one. It always entailed groups of five or more, up to hundreds, usually males, usually white, that overtook and dominated the person or persons to be lynched. Hence, the very beginning of the mechanisms must be considered a group decision and group action must take place in order to qualify as group selection.

If there was a message that the South was trying to pass to the African-Americans by its actions, one could say that the message they were trying to convey was that they "had better remain in their place" or suffer the consequences. The South feared that the new black male, born after slavery was abolished, would be raised without proper knowledge of the discipline and submissiveness that prior generations of blacks knew and understood. This independence, this freedom, the South feared, could easily spread and threaten "their way of life." To me, it also seemed obvious that the whites also feared that blacks could succeed in their own endeavors, and thusly, undermine one of the stereotypical pillars that blacks were lazy and non-productive.

The list of behaviors found below are those that white southerners would use as criteria for hanging African-Americans if they transgressed them in the presence of white southerners.

  1. Using disrespectful, insulting, slanderous, boastful, threatening, or "incendiary" language.
  2. Insubordination, impertinence, or improper demeanor (a sarcastic grin, laughing at the wrong time, a prolonged silence)
  3. refusing to take off one's hat to a white person or to give the right-of-way (to step aside) when encountering a white on the sidewalk.
  4. Resisting assault by whites.
  5. "Being troublesome generally."
  6. Disorderly conduct, petty theft, or drunkenness.
  7. Writing an improper ("insulting" letter to a white person.
  8. Paying undue or improper attention to a white female.
  9. Accusing a white man of writing love letters to a black woman.
  10. Living or keeping company with a white woman.
  11. Turning or refusing to turn state's evidence.
  12. Testifying or bringing suit against a white person.
  13. Being related to person accused of a crime and already lynched.
  14. Political activities
  15. Union organizing
  16. Conjuring
  17. Discussing a lynching
  18. Gambling
  19. Operating a "house of ill fame."
  20. A personal debt.
  21. Refusing to accept an employment offer
  22. "Jumping" a labor contract
  23. Vagrancy
  24. Refusing to give up one's farm.
  25. Conspicuously displaying one's wealth or property.
  26. Trying to act like a white person.

(Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, pp. 24 & 25.).

As you can see the list is quite extensive and all-inclusive. Even the slightest show of disrespect could end in one's death by hanging, and one wonders why "breathing while black" was not among the list. Today, because of the wide presence of the media, such capital behavior would not be tolerated in our United States, but one must remember that these horrible activities only ceased less than thirty years ago, and subtle, yet effective forms of discrimination have been forged though out the remaining years, not only in the South, but in every corner of America. America went off to war in WWII to fight Nazi tyranny while maintaining segregated barracks and troops due to the prevailing pseudo-scientific belief that blacks were low in intelligence. Yet, toward the end of the war, the African-Americans proved themselves in battle, in particular the Muskiee Air Corps, whom bomber pilots were glad to see arrive as escorts because of their furious attacks on German air power. Returning from the war and rightfully believing that they at least won the right to be respected, the African-Americans could no longer stomach the segregated policies placed upon them, and as such, the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 60s was born. The Movement in the 1960s sent media images to every corner of the globe of the battle to be treated equally. Images of peaceful race marches and the violent reaction by southern whites causing riots by blacks filled the evening news during that period. News reel footage showing groups of blacks being fire hosed, beaten and cursed upon was quickly pointed out by Communistic propaganda that America's proclamation that all humans were created equal was shallow and not meant for the black person. This particular positioning was not lost on the U.S. Supreme Court when it declared in 1964 that "equal and separate" schooling was unconstitutional.

Fast forwarding to recent events, (May 3rd, 2000), Reuters tells us the story of black Secret Service agents who helped protect the president and vice president saying that they would file a class action lawsuit in federal court charging the agency with over 25 years of job discrimination. The suit accuses the agency of "maintaining a severe and pervasive atmosphere of racial harassment and intimidation toward African-Americans with the Secret Service." From a cursory inspection, the closer one gets to the seat of power, which has an enormous effect on cultural, evidence of exclusionary behavior are still being uncovered.

# # #

So much has been studied and written about the German holocaust that it seems hopeless to even scratch the surface of such horrific behavior, but we will attempt to keep the rhetoric volume very low and just focus on the anti-Semitic behavior. In 1996, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published his doctoral thesis concerning the German Holocaust. It has been his contention, and supported by his documentation, that forces us to consider that "ordinary" German citizens, not just the elite SS corps, willingly took part in the killing of the Jews during the Holocaust. It is Goldhagen's contention that WWII was so enormous with treaties, troop movements, battles, etc., that the degree of cruelty that ordinary Germans subjected Jews in everyday life prior and during WWII was not noticed by historians. Golhagen shows us a photo of a warning sign posted on the outskirts of the village of Braunschweig in 1935 "Jews not welcome." In one particular photo where thousands of German civilians were massed at a rally on August 15, 1935, in Berlin, to listen to speeches about anti-Semitism, huge banners draped on the upper balconies read: "The Jews Are Our Misfortune." and "Women and girls, The Jews Are Your Ruin," pp. 92 & 96.

Goldhagen rests his premise that ordinary German citizens must have know about the enormous activity that surrounded the holocaust because, in conjunction with the military activities, the elimination of the Jews was so wide spread ( Goldhagen estimates that the concentration, and labor camps amounted to 33% of the German economy at the peak of WWII), that one could not notice the labeling, and then the absence of the Jews disappearing in their villages and the plunder of their physical assets by other Germans. In the absence of television coverage and controlled radio propaganda, one is left with gossip at the local level driving knowledge. To quote Goldhagen: "The psychological mechanisms that permit "good" people to commit minor moral transgressions, or to turn a blind eye even to major ones committed by others, particularly if they are far away, cannot be applied to people's perpetration of genocidal killing, to their slaughter of hundreds of others before their own eyes -- without careful consideration of such mechanisms' appropriateness for elucidating such actions." p. 21.

There can be no doubts that ordinary Germans must have been faced by the presence of emaciated men, women, and children who were no threat to the German populace in general; in obvious physical and emotional upheaval, and in some cases begging for their very existence. The only possible conclusion that one can reach is that socialization norms, or "group thought" of the territorial environments offered extensive coverage for lacking any form of empathy. In other words, it was safer in a social context to show hatred toward the Jews than empathy; and that starts at the top of society's hierarchy where Hitler dwelled and filtered into the lower levels of society; culture only spreads if it is considered useful. And much of that group thought has filtered down from the time of Jesus' death through the Enlightenment, the middle ages, the industrial age, and up to our present day. There are numerous web sites today that are dedicated to the "international" conspiracy of "evil" Jews trying to control the world's banking system and other subjects. (See attached cartoon).

Already pushed into ghetto's because of the "great hatred" heaped upon them for their rejection of Jesus, the Jews adapted inward and sought strength within their own ranks. This isolation easily created an atmosphere of "us" vs. "them" in the societies in which they dwelled. With their closed-in culture, (due mainly for safety by being expunged from so many areas), and the wide misconception that Jew's willingly took part in the execution of Jesus, the Jews thus seemed to defy the moral code of most of the civilized industrial world. But, if people were isolated, how could they become a "threat" to society? I hazard to guess that most of the hatred lies with the fact that the Jews persisted, and even prospered in some cases, (like some blacks in the post civil war period -- which lead to similar results), and thus, this lead to a resource differential that was unacceptable to the dominate populations and those that dominated the cultural movement in which they dwelled. I think that the folks at hit the nail on the head with the following:

"As European commerce grew in the late Middle Ages, some Jews became prominent in trade, banking, and money-lending, and the cultural successes tended to arouse the envy of the populace. (Resource Differential Intolerance-- my definition -- see my essay on Capitalism) these economic and cultural successes tended to arouse the envy of the populace. This economic resentment, allied with traditional religious prejudice, prompted the forced expulsion of Jews from several countries or regions, including England (1290), France (14th century), Germany (1350s), Portugal (1496), Provence (1512), and the Papal States (1569)">Holocaust>anti-Semitism. 

This is a most important juncture. For us to find and understand common behavior that threads through the American and German Holocausts, we must look to economics, and what economics represents from an evolutionary perspective. In addition, we must seek and find the resource accumulations, comparisons, and retentions as an attached and fluctuating ratio between dominates and submissives within definable territories that drives behavioral mechanisms. Economics is about the flow of money; how and why it moves though a society. On an individual basis, economics is a substitute mechanism for our evolved effort expended to acquire food, shelter, and safety. I argue that possession of monetary advantage or lack of monetary advantage by one group or just one individual, creates comparison mechanisms in both groups of dominates and submissives, which in turn, drives a desire in both groups, to retain such advantage by those that have, and a desire to attain those resources by those that do not have resources. I argue that this resource differential is what influences most of our basic behavioral actions at our own territorial environment.

People do not buy Lotto tickets or gamble to get money -- they do these activities to win the substitute that eliminates the constant perceived struggling and the angst attached (from our innate past) for daily existence. The strong belief among many poor and middle class people that winning the big jackpot will wipe away that life-long struggle and with it the angst that goes with it is a powerful driving force. They believe, that not only would it wipe away a life-time of past, present, and future struggle, but that it would end it immediately. I believe strongly along with Jane Goodall when she tells us that the ultimate goal of humankind is to live in peace and tranquility; it appears, in my humble opinion, that the problem reaching this goal lies in the not in the competition between individuals and bonded groups to attain resources, but the perceived widening gap between those that have and those that do not have. What is needed is a global evolutionary vision to leave no one behind.

As I have stated above, the Jews not only were hated for killing Christ during the past 2,000 years but their successes in banking and industry only added to the fuel of hatred during the post WWI period. Signs of success and opulence from a minority group deemed to be "evil" by the dominate majority, easily faced hatred and ridicule when encouraged by those high in the German hierarchy. This, I believe, is a tremendous influence on group selective thought; although not always the case in our present societies, numerical advantage in our deep primal history most likely was the deciding factor in group action. Based on only primitive actions of competitive strength and endurance, able primates most likely became dominate with alliances of Beta and Charlie primates. So too, with Hitler; he could not have been able to go forward with his plans for the elimination of the Jews, without alliances with his henchmen, and given the "green light" from those in the majority numbers situated in the lower hierarchies indicating that they approved of his behavior.

What created this overpowering group "green light" consensus amongst the German citizenry? That incubator was the economic depression and inflationary period arising from the ashes of WWI and the economic hardship placed upon Germany by the Allies in attempting to inflict reparations from the Germans for starting WWI. The years following the war created hardships for all, and produced a raging inflation rate so high that a wheelbarrow full of German marks was needed to purchase a loaf of bread. The ruinous lowering of the standard of living by the overproduction of money collapses hierarchies, reduces buffers between rich and poor, and I suggest, returns all to the primal state of competitive rawness. There were no answers as to where your next meal would come from, nor where your family might sleep at night if you could not pay your rent. It was in these desperate hours that Adolph Hitler harvested the climate of fear and desperation and gave the ordinary Germans what they wanted: the cessation of their angst. Hitler did this by blaming the Jews for the German's suffering, and then plundered their assets to help finance his growing military ambitions. The result was a economic transfer of wealth by possession, and the establishment of autocratic rule. For many, it was a much more satisfactory situation than the period following WWI. The German's traded their angst for the elimination of the Jews and a powerful patriarch who crushed all opposed to his rule.

Now, I want you to quickly return to the American South and realize that after the Civil War the South also lay in economic ruin with a bleak future ahead. The Union army tore through the poorly financed South, leaving destroyed infrastructures, destroyed crops, and huge plantations ravaged which the established hierarchies of the South stood upon. The freeing of the slaves was a social and economic upheaval that created angst for the all in the South, and in particular the black slaves. What were they to do? Where would they go? OK, the North freed them; but freed them to do what? They could not read nor write; such a practice was forbidden. They owned no property nor livestock, and they had no sense of family as members of their immediate families were bought and sold. The important thing for us to remember here is that even though the North did win the war, they did not overtake the territory that they had conquered and stayed to help the black slaves. What they left behind was an economic hierarchy and territory in shambles and the stage was then set for the American Holocaust and the continued "enslavement" of the African-Americans

This now leaves us standing at the doorway of another common behavioral thread that I believe existed between the American and German holocaust. That is: the expression of one's own suffering in major economic downturns and the willingness to blame someone for one's own misfortune. We as human creatures tend to minimizes our mistakes and transfer blame to someone else as a deceptive maneuver to keep our place in whatever hierarchy we find ourselves, and in time of economic angst, (post war depressions, economic recessions), it appears that this function is widened to include political leaders. This "blame," depends on the circumstances surrounding the economic upheaval, the hierarchical standing of the individuals involved, plus the social norms for appropriate behavior at that local environment or national level.

If we were to just focus on passing "blame," we might pause and ask ourselves if the German phrase, "schadenfruede" -- taking pleasure from someone's misfortune -- raises the possibility that deliberately harming our fellow humans through torture, lynching, or bullying may lead some in our species [in particular males where testosterone levels rise in retrospect to increased combative situations] to extract pleasure from someone's pain If this is so, does that mean that schadenfruede may qualify as a behavioral module? And closely near that behavior, would murder and extermination be far behind? And, in response to this behavior, does one who is abused and remembers the disrespect shown to them trigger an equal reaction to stop the humiliation (seeking revenge? going postal?). So the reaction to someone making light of your misfortune, (revenge) may also qualify as a module. Time and debate will tell.

As for the South, they blamed the "Yankees," but since the North was now the dominate territory and the South could not seek revenge, the South directed their hatred on the blacks which were in the numerical minority and whom the North had left to fend for themselves. The German's blamed the Allies for the misfortunes heaped upon them but since the Germans lost the war they could not seek revenge on the Allies. Instead, they directed this "blame" and discrimination on this numerically minor group, and one that was once expelled from past German history. But the common thread in terms of actual physical violence between the American and German holocaust is that both groups that were preyed upon were "dehumanized" or "demonized" prior to the violent acts against them. This is probably the most important of the behavioral threads that run through these two holocausts, and may also be a prevalent factor in many individual acts of hate crimes and torture as I have speculated above. As such, I believe strongly that there even be a lower mind module for quick evaluation of "others" in one's own local environment based on known characteristics formed by social norms. This dehumanizing processes also seems to evolve from a biological or pseudo-scientific findings within the dominates culture about the "inferiority" of those people. (see, Stephen Jay Gould’s -- Mismeasure of Man).

To conclude this short essay, I have listed below what I believe to be the most important points of my study of the behavioral commonalties of the American and German Holocausts. In addition, I have lumped together other minor events in our short recorded history that have produced "atrocities." So if the list can also apply to any other conflict on the planet, i.e., Bosnians and Serbs, Greeks and Cretes, Catholics and Protestants, Israelis or Palestines, Black and White, Tutsis and Hutus, the Russians and  Gypsies -- or any other competing group you can think of, then I have succeeded in my quest to further identify and classify "group selection." The list, of course, is speculative, and as such, is required to pass the test of time and debate.

Below, you will find other, discriminatory behaviors that may be common in various cultures but not found in all cases. But the behaviors still flow from the dominates to submissives:

I hope that this essay will help to bring light to the darkness of our own behaviors. Once the dark is exposed to the light of knowledge, we will be one step closer to humankind's true destiny: Hope and compassion for all and a oneness with the God we seek.

Origin: May 19, 2000

Below are listed the books that I used to research this essay.  If you enjoyed this essay and found it helpful, perhaps you should consider buying one of the books listed below.  Clicking on the links will take you to where you may purchase the books.  Each sale helps in a small way to keep Evolution's Voyage free.  Help out.

Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, James Allen (editor), Twin Palms Publications, Feb. 2000.

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel J. Goldhagen, Vintage Books, 1996

Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery, Charles Johnson, Harvest Books, Nov. 99.

Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould,  W. W. Norton & Co., June 96, Rev/Expd

copyright, William  A.  Spriggs and Evolution's Voyage, 1995 -2011