Most people don’t ever think about the idea of a “witch-hunt,” or about their justification. A witch-hunt doesn’t always have to do with hunting witches either. It is simply the attempt to find all the people in a particular group in order to punish them, or treat them unfairly (“Witch hunt”). Though it may be surprising, witch-hunts are more common than one would think. They have been cast all throughout the history of man, all for their own reasons.
A major event that followed this scenario was the Holocaust. This event devastated the lives of many, just as the witch trials in Salem did. Neither act was ever truly justified. According to the definition of “witch-hunt”, the Holocaust would be a great example of an unjustified witch-hunt. The Holocaust was the killing of people and races that Hitler and the Nazis found to be inferior. The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of approximately 11 million people, 6 million of which were Jewish.
The other majority was filled with people from groups such as: Polish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, homosexuals, Gypsies, and the handicapped. These people were persecuted by the Nazis because of their political/religious beliefs, physical “defects”, or the failure to fall into their idea of a perfect race. After World War II began in September 1939, Around 3 million Polish Jews were subject to murder and rape. Soon after, a man named Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking German Nazi official, issued a ghetto decree that fenced off Jews from the rest of the population (Grolier 274).
All this hatred centered around the Jews is there because Hitler basically blamed them for all the problems they have had since World War I. He had even blamed the Jews for making Germany lose the war. Others things like how they were inferior and less productive were also thrown around. Hitler often spoke poorly of the Jews, which in turn gave that certain hatred the Nazis had. In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain these people that were inferior (“Introduction to the Holocaust”). If somebody was to actually think about the witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, and the events of the Holocaust, they would realize how similar they really are. A lot of people in the town of Salem were accused of being witches for being suspicious, or just for simple things like land. Evidence was not very solid, and was usually taken no matter how small of “evidence” it was. For example, a woman was accused of witchcraft because she sold a man a pig that died, along with all the other pigs that he has ever owned. They died simply because he didn’t take care of them, and feed them correctly. Many accused also died simply for not lying. If the “witch” did not admit to being a witch, they would hang. If they did confess to it, they would walk away clean. This event is expressed in the play when a Reverend is starting to question whether or not witchcraft is a real thing. Reverend Hale states on page 1130 that he has examined many that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. He is then questioned by a man named John Proctor and asked “And why not if they must hang for denying it” (Miller 1130). A lot of the judicial processes were not thought out too thoroughly.
The Deputy Governor also mentioned how he could not pardon the imprisoned people, simply because twelve twelve others were hanged for the same crime (Miller 1158). The concept of justification can always have some controversy among it. Some people will take a simple answer and just go with it. Others will argue the cause and find every loophole they can. Take the Holocaust for example. Hitler came out and just blamed the Jews for Germany’s financial and war issues. That was his justification. He had a large group of people that supported him and accepted this vague piece of info. The Crucible is also another great example to look at. In the book, they introduced the concept of witchcraft and many people abused the judicial system. They accused people without a clear and accurate set of evidence. The whole thing ended up being a complete fraud, but so many were hanged anyway. The main question here is: are witch-hunts ever necessary? The answer is simply no. There is no need to ever take a group of people and single them out for punishment, or to treat them unfairly. If you look at the Holocaust, you can see that Germany was in a tight financial situation, but they didn’t have to go and blame one group for it. The Crucible had a similar theme. The people of Salem were doing fine before the witch-trails ever began. The unjustified trials of Salem actually devastated the town, leaving orphaned cows and children to roam the streets. Will the “witch-hunts” ever end?