In the late 1800s, Joseph Merrick (aka: The Elephant Man) lived in England. Like other people born with physical deformities in that period, he had trouble finding work. As a result, he was relegated to being a sideshow "freak", to be gawked at like some kind of weird animal. There have been others with congenital physical abnormalities, but he was the most famous. While he may not have actually uttered the exact phrase, the title of this blog is taken from the most famous line from the stage play written about his life
In early Nazi Germany, Hitler had a vision of a "master race", which required eliminating all those who he felt were polluting the gene pool. That would come to include gypsies, gays, non-whites, and - most famously - Jews. Rather than expel them, he chose to exterminate them
. Getting the German people to accept this "Final Solution" did not happen overnight. First he and his propaganda ministry had to dehumanize them to the point where the citizens and soldiers saw them as animals. Once they were seen as animals, they could be treated as such. This is also how soldiers can be trained to overcome their societal-ingrained aversion to killing fellow humans - dehumanize the enemy..