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Research Paper

The Holocaust

Taylor Rivera

College English

Mr. Neuburger

February 19, 2009


There is no easy answer to why the Holocaust happened. No one reason alone paved the

way for the Holocaust to occur. The kind of cultural hatred that brought about the Holocaust is

quite common. Racism and hate led to the elimination of eleven million people’s lives. The idea

that the Holocaust represents 11 million lives that suddenly ended is a difficult concept. People

were killed not for who they were but for what they were. Millions of people died in the

Holocaust all because of one man.

According to Matt Brundage, many would define Adolf Hitler as a failed artist, one of the

leading members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazis), and one of the

most evil people in history. Born in Austria just across the border from German Bavaria, Hitler

became familiar to racism at an early age. He read his father’s history books describing the

slaughter of Native Americans along with reading about battles between the Germans and

Russians. His father wanted him to get into politics when he clearly had a passion for art.

Furthermore, he still got into art and the reason he started to hate the Jews is because he could

not sell his artwork but the Jews did. To understand how Hitler felt about the Jews he stated,

“The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.”

(pg 2) Hitler caused World War II and the Holocaust. Being an unknown, bitter corporal fifteen

years prior, many people had no idea that his racist plans would soon become a reality (pg 1).

Dennis Barton states, “By the summer of 1923, the Nazi party had grown to 150,000

members. On November 11, 1923, Hitler and his 3,000 men marched to Berlin and attempted to

take it over. Shooting broke out between German police and the Nazis. Sixteen Nazis and three

policemen died. Hitler went to prison for five years on account of high treason.” (para 2) While

in prison, he wrote Mein Kampf. Mein Kampf is a book that stated all of Hitler’s beliefs and his

plan for Germany in the future. According to Barton, Hitler talked about superiority of Germans
and blamed the Jews for corrupting everything of ethical and national value. After serving his

sentence, he discovered a way to please the people of Germany and found a way back into the

race for the dictatorship of Germany (pg 1).

According to historians at the Majdanek State Museum (MSM), the Holocaust officially

began in 1933, when Hitler and the Nazis came to political power in Germany, and it lasted until

1945, when Germany accepted military defeat at the hands of the Allies. During that time, the

Nazis committed slaughters unique in the history of the world. The conditions for the prisoners

in the Nazi concentration camps were terrible. Packed in cattle cars, freight cars, and passenger

trains that only thirty or forty people could comfortably fit into, prisoners were scared for their

lives. In response to the way they transported the prisoners, Hitler stated, “To be a leader means

to be able to move masses.” (pg 1) No standing room and no restrooms forced people to urinate

and defecate on themselves. Upon their arrival at the camps, groups according to gender and

strength split most families apart. They were then assigned to barracks. For the prisoners, the day

began between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Breakfast consisted of a slice of bread and a cup of

coffee made of ground up acorns and water. Soup made of potato peels and beets made up the

midday meal. Dinner consisted of another slice of bread. Some prisoners were not even aware

that they were at an extermination camp. Furthermore, the MSM explains how the Germans

painted the Red Cross symbol on their vehicles to camouflage the fact that they were

transporting poisonous gas to kill prisoners. The guards were very cruel. Beatings were frequent,

and the guards would often amuse themselves by threatening the prisoners. Millions of people

died in the concentration camps because of starvation, overcrowding, disease, exposure to cold,

and the brutality of the Germans. People died by the thousands in the gas chambers and mass
execution by a firing squad. Dead bodies were stacked like firewood. The bodies were buried in

the crematorium or enormous mass graves (pg 2).

Marshall Dill Jr explains how the Final Solution started in the summer of 1941. Hitler

first explained and thought about his “solution” since 1919. He believed his race was pure. At

first, he tried to force Jewish immigration. But, some countries did not accept them, sending

almost all of them back to Germany. Hitler then decided that he had to reason with the Jews one

way or another. Since no country would accept the Jews, he decided to make his idea of the

“Final Solution” a reality. He had SS (Schutzstaffe) units search town to town throughout Europe

to track down all the Jews. Some were killed right there on the spot. Most of them were sent to

death camps. At first, the Germans used simple methods to kill the Jews. They shot them and put

them in pits. They soon realized that this was too time consuming and it killed very few. By fall

1941, techniques were developed. The number of Jews being murdered increased (pg 1).

According to A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust, resistance against the Nazis took many

forms throughout WWII and the Holocaust. For many people, the resistance caused a huge

struggle for physical existence. Some escaped through legal or illegal immigration. Those who

remained struggled to obtain life’s essentials by stealing the food, clothing, and medicine

necessary to survive. Furthermore, a great risk of immediate retaliation by the Nazis to the large

population occurred after a rebellion. Their resistance intensified as the war continued. With a

growing awareness of the “Final Solution,” resistance turned to forms of mini wars. The ones

who rebelled clearly did not have a real chance to stop the Nazis, but their efforts confirmed the

determination to dominate. Spiritual resistance also helped with the sense of dignity and heritage

for Jews in the camps (pg 1).


The Tragic Legacy Timeline tells how the Third Reich collapsed in May 1945. SS guards

fled and the camps ceased to function as killing centers, labor sites, or concentration camps. As a

vast empire of murder, pillage, and exploitation, the Nazi legacy affected every country in

occupied Europe. The number of people who were killed is enormous. The pre-war Jewish

population came in as 9,793,700. Approximately 5,709,329 Jews were murdered. That’s only the

Jewish population. The Timeline goes on to say there were a lot of other non-Jewish people who

were murdered. Hitler once stated, “All poles will disappear from the world…. It is essential that

the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles.” Poland never

had a chance (pg 1).

The Princeton University Press states, “Life after the Holocaust seemed to be extremely

hard at first. Hundreds of thousands of people were homeless and seeking a new life.” (para 2) At

the time, these people were known as “displaced persons.” Seven to nine million people were

displaced by the end of the war. Among them were several Jews who had either survived the

concentration camps or escaped the Nazis together. Furthermore, it took a long time for the

survivors to resettle. Jews did not want to return to their homes, fearing economic and social

consequences, or even total destruction. Some were murdered by mobs when they tried to return

to Poland. Many countries refused to let the survivors enter which made things very complicated.

A large number of Jewish survivors wanted to go to Palestine. The British allowed fewer than

100,000 Jews to enter before Israel declared its independence in May 1948 (pg 1).

According to Ner LeElef, another issue concerned certain officials in the United States

that did not want Jews to immigrate there despite the policy of the government. Looking for new

homes approximately 137,000 Jews came to the United States. Other countries where Jews found

new homes were France, Canada, Great Britain, and Israel. The United States and Israel were the
two countries who received the largest number of immigrants. It became clear that the problem

of approximately one million displaced people, about 80% Christian and 20% Jewish, would not

be resolved easily. In 1947, the U.S. Congress introduced a series of bills to unwind immigration

quotas, but none of them passed (pg 1).

The Tragic Legacy Timeline goes on to say that, the quest to track down and bring to

justice Nazi war criminals who escaped will continue to be an on-going aspect of the aftermath

of the Holocaust. The capture of war criminal Adolf Eichmann went down as a huge historic

event. In May 1960, Israeli agents in Argentina kidnapped Eichmann. Furthermore, they brought

him to Israel, where Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced in the Israeli Parliament,

“Adolf Eichmann is under arrest in Israel and will shortly be put on trial.” (pg 1) Charges with

crimes against Jews, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, and others, including their arrest and imprisonment,

deportation to extermination camps, theft of property, mass expulsions, and murder led to Adolf

Eichmann’s sentence to death and execution at midnight May 31, 1962.

More than fifty years after the end of World War II, a new chapter of the Holocaust

began. There are many stories which recount the widespread injustices of the Holocaust. The

generation of Holocaust survivors is aging and passing away. With a growing sense of urgency,

the world continues its search for answers.


Works Cited

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<http://www.churchinhistory.org/pages/booklets/rise(n)-2.htm>.

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