“Those who get to superimpose a meaning on events control the future.
Since so much of our cognitive capacity is achieved via language, control of language is power.
The determination of what words mean — who can use what forms and to what effects — is power
To define is to create a large part of our reality.”
~~ Paraphrasing of Robin Lakoff from ‘The Language War’ (2000), p.42.
[Use of 'holocaust' referring to something other than the Jewish WW2 experience]
[The word] holocaust during 1945 to 1962, was [mainly but] not only a referent to the feared nuclear catastrophe and the [allegation of] Nazi mass murders. As in the 1930s and during World War II, the word was an occasional appellation for a diverse range of massacres and disasters, though increasingly the word was applied only to massive destruction.
The JSTORE data base (texts on line of over one hundred scholarly journals) yields ten 1950 holocausts. Four are references to World War II or a future world war, two are references to the climatic death scene in Hamlet, one is a reference to the American Civil War, and the remaining three are references to obscure events.
For 1959 the same data base yields eleven holocausts. Three are references to nuclear disaster, two refer to World War I, two to the American Civil War, one to events in twelfth century Flanders, and two employ the words "Hitler's holocaust/the Hitler holocaust" and are referents to the Jewish catastrophe.
Five examples of 1945-1963 employment of holocaust and one 1957 definition: a photograph in Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1948 Crusade in Europe is captioned "BOMBER'S HOLOCAUST."
A historian in the 1953 Journal of Negro History described a North Carolina 1898 race riot as "a holocaust of death and destruction in which scores of Negroes were beaten and killed."
A 1955 translation of Augustine's Confessions referred to "the wooden horse ... and the holocaust of Troy."
In 1956 Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal "Arrived in Paris early Saturday evening exhausted from sleepless holocaust night with Ted [Hughes] in London ... wild destructive London night ."
And in 1961, Bernard Lewis wrote of "... the terrible holocaust of 1916 (sic) when a million and [a] half Armenians perished."
And in 1963 "Dr. [Martin] King warned President Kennedy that "the worst racial holocaust the nation has ever seen" might break out in Alabama ..."
Finally, per the Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage of [highlight=]1957[/highlight]:
In May 1960, Eichmann was captured, and in the fall of 1961 put on trial in Jerusalem. The trial was covered in newspapers and on TV and, as intended, significantly increased awareness of the Nazi genocide of Jews."Holocaust is often used as a synonym for disaster... Disaster (which means, literally, a bad configuration of stars)... designates any unfortunate event, especially a sudden and great misfortune... A holocaust may be accidental..."
As mentioned earlier, The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature has eight entries [of 'holocaust'] under "World War 1939 - 1945: Jews" in its volume covering the two-year period ending February 1961.
The next volume, ending February 1963, has twenty-nine entries [of 'holocaust'], eleven with "Eichmann" in their titles.
1965 to circa 1979, American employment of "h/Holocaust" to denote the [alleged] Nazi Judeocide
American employment of "H/holocaust" from the mid 1960s until today has been primarily driven by an extraordinary increase in interest and writing on the [alleged] Nazi orchestrated Judeocide and a decline in concern and writing on nuclear war.
From the mid-1960s, books on the Jewish catastrophe began to find a ready market in the United States. Six books on the subject and with "Holocaust" in their titles were published before 1970.
In September 1968, the Library of Congress created a new category, "Holocaust, Jewish (1939 - 1945)," for material that earlier would have been categorised under such headings as "World War, 1939-1945--Jews."
But an unmodified "holocaust" was not yet likely to evoke "Jewish catastrophe" outside of Jewish circles. A search of 1969 JSTOR journals yields twenty-one "holocausts," seven nuclear, four references to one of the World Wars or an aspect of those wars, three references to the Vietnam War, and two are references to the Jewish catastrophe. (The remainder are references to the American Civil War, to the French Revolution or are pre 1910 "holocausts" within citations of works by Zola, Hawthorne, and Stephen Crane.)
In the 1970s the [alleged] Judeocide started to become of real interest within the academy. The first PhD. thesis with the word "Holocaust" in its title was completed in 1972; sixteen more PhD. theses with the word "Holocaust" in their titles appeared before 1980. (By way of contrast, in the 1950s a graduate student exploring the possibilities of working on the Nazi period was advised by a distinguished Jewish American historian to find another topic: "No one is interested in Hitler.")
By the mid 1970s, within scholarly circles, the most frequently encountered referent of H/holocaust was the Jewish catastrophe, and increasingly the word, employed in this sense, was capitalised. A word search of JSTORE's 1977 journal texts yields sixty-four H/holocausts. Thirty-one refer to the Jewish catastrophe; of the thirty-one, twenty-two are an unmodified — except by context — Holocaust, five an unmodified — except by context — holocaust, and the remainder a Nazi, German, or Jewish H/holocaust. Of the thirty-three non-Nazi holocausts, nine are references to nuclear destruction.
In the spring of 1978 over one hundred million Americans viewed some part of NBC's mini-series titled The Holocaust — the screening was a major cultural event. As an immediate consequence, the capitalized and unmodified "Holocaust" became the recognised referent to Hitler's [alleged] Judeocide in an American society newly sensitised to that tragedy.
In JSTORE journals, January - June 1979, "H/holocaust" is employed thirty-seven times. Twenty-eight of the references are to the Jewish catastrophe, and twenty-seven of the twenty-eight are an unmodified "the Holocaust".
In the early 1980s the New York Times annual indexes abandoned "Nazi holocaust" and "Nazi Holocaust" in favour of "the Holocaust".
A search using ProQuest's of The New York Times found:
thirty articles that contained both words "Jews" and "h/Holocaust" written beween 1899 and 1945,
forty more between 1945 and May 1961,
another eighty between May 1961 and March 1969,
three hundred more between March 1969 and April 1978,
twenty between 1970 and 1976,
thirty between 1976 and 1979,
thirty more between 1979 and 1982,
and sixty between 1982 and 1987
and one thousand five hundred or so written between April 1978 and October 1990.
(The same search employing 'holocaust' and "atomic" and/or "nuclear" found five hundred New York Times employments before May 1964 — as against less than a hundred "holocaust" and "Jews.")
"The Holocaust" denoting the mass murder of Jews and (sometimes) "others" post 1979
A few weeks after the screening of The Holocaust, partly as a gesture to the American Jewish community unhappy with the intended sale of American fighter planes to Saudi Arabia, President Carter announced the American government's intention to create a memorial "to the six million who were killed in the Holocaust."
Following protests by Polish-Americans and Ukrainian-Americans, who demanded that the millions of their own killed by the Nazis be recognized in any American taxpayer supported memorial, and perhaps reflecting his own ecumenical humanism, Carter in his 1979 Executive Order creating the United States Holocaust Memorial Council adopted a version of Simon Wiesenthal's formulation and defined "the Holocaust" as the "... extermination of six million Jews and some five million other peoples..."
[Wiesenthal, in the late 1970s a well known hunter of Nazi criminals, had, since the late 1940s, spoken and written of "eleven million civilian dead, amongst them six million Jews."
The "five million" number corresponds to no historical reality. The number was picked out of the air by Wiesenthal probably because it is less, but not much less, than six million.
This important Presidential definition of "the Holocaust" was unwelcome to some who feared that the [claimed] extreme virulence of the Nazis' [alleged] Jewish annihilation campaign and the resulting catastrophic biological destruction of the Jewish people in Europe could easily be obscured if "the Holocaust" was used to refer to both non-Jewish and Jewish death of the Hitler years.
An eminent Israeli Holocaust scholar's 1980 reaction :
.. .. .. .. .. ..Yehuda Bauer wrote:"The Wiesenthal-Carter definition appears to reflect a certain paradoxical 'envy' on the part of non-Jewish groups directed at the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. [ ]
This itself would appear to be an unconscious reflection of anti-Semitic attitudes...
Jews were [allegedly] murdered without much effective action on the part of the free world... Today they stand in danger of having their specific martyrdom as Jews obliterated by their friends."
The above is taken from here.