False analogies to the Nazis dishonour their victims and the truth

May 23, 2016 by Julie Nathan
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There have been numerous examples of discourse over the last few years which make analogies between the policies and practices of Nazi Germany and of contemporary Australian governments…writes Julie Nathan.Most notably, there are attempts to make an analogy between Nazi concentration camps and Australia’s current policy of incarcerating asylum seekers in offshore detention centres.

Julie Nathan

Julie Nathan

The effect of using such analogies is that it minimises the Holocaust and cleans up the Nazis. As well, it does absolutely nothing to help asylum seekers in detention. It is a cheap but dangerous analogy.

The analogy is disingenuous and inaccurate as there is no comparison between the suffering and situation of those in Nazi concentration camps and death camps, and the situation of those in Australia’s detention centres.

Regardless of whether one supports or opposes this particular Australian government policy or the situation of incarcerated asylum seekers, the analogy with Nazism only ends up being overkill. The analogy either elicits the emotional and literal response that Australia is creating the conditions to kill or murder all the detained asylum seekers, or the response that Nazi Germany ran concentration camps and death camps where the inmates were treated in ways to prolong and protect their lives until they were released. In both scenarios, nothing could be further from the truth. False analogies create false impressions.

The contrast between Nazi policy and Australian policy could not be more stark: the reasons for incarceration – being of a targeted racial group vs being caught attempting to enter Australia without authorisation; the food – starvation diet vs adequate amount and type; living conditions – designed to hasten death vs meeting basic needs; medical services – lack of vs adequate including being transferred to Australian hospitals; work – enforced vs voluntary; redress – none vs appeals to a court to be released from detention.

In a liberal democratic country, such as Australia, the most effective way of supporting or opposing a particular government policy is simply to use the truth and engage in honest discourse. Using highly inaccurate and sensationalist terminology, such as a Nazi analogy, is not only detrimental, but counter-productive, to the cause.

Making comparisons of laws, policies and conditions in democratic countries, like Australia, with the systematic and planned murder of six million Jewish men, women and children is morally repugnant, trivialises the Holocaust, minimises the crime that was the Holocaust, and is offensive to all the millions of Europeans who lived and suffered under the Nazis.

Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry



4 Responses to “False analogies to the Nazis dishonour their victims and the truth”
  1. Samuel Terry says:

    I regard myself as a generally well-read bloke, maybe, even above the general Australian average, yet curiously this article strikes me as being very odd, indeed. Making connections between our policies in Manus and Nauru with Nazis is very peculiar and un-necessary. Our policies are inhumane in their own right. Why would folk look elsewhere for motivations or exemplars? Maybe the author, Ms Julie Nathan, could provide some hot-links to sources of this very odd line of thinking?

  2. David Lee says:

    It should be noted that there are virtually no genuine asylum seekers being held in detention centres. Almost all are illegal country shoppers.

    • Eleonora Mostert says:

      Spot on Mr. David Lee. Samuel Terry go back to your books and start again, this time read all the words not just the first and the last word. The only in-humane thing that happens in these “Australian Detention Centers” are of their own making, not the way they are treated by those who work and look after these people, but the “so called refugees” themselves. Simple solution… as in Boarder Protection, unwanted or illegal people are returned to the country of origin, at the earliest available flight. These people should also be returned at the earliest available transport to country of origin and lower the deficit. I don’t believe anyone has a problem with genuine refugees such as the Arab, Syrian, Iranian, Egyptian Christians who are being slaughtered. These people have nowhere to go as they would be murdered in refugee camps within their own countries. I certainly would help house such a family.

    • Louise Bingen says:

      David Lee, what you said is incorrect. The majority have been found to be refugees, but the government has said that because of the way they came they will not be eligible to live in Australia.

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