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Research Paper Holocaust Overview

Duston Scott

COM 105 - Section 109 Mr. Neuburger 18 November 2011

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When one thinks of the Holocaust, one can only imagine what happened. Only a small fraction of what really happened in the ghettos, labor camps, and death camps are what one hears about. There is no way one can know everything that the Jewish people were put through, even when one reads about the horrible tragedy they faced. No one has been put through what they have and hopefully no one will ever have to live through it again. The events are, in a few words, sickening, unforgiveable, and even unnecessary. It is important to understand how the Nazis were able to systematically and efficiently murder over eleven million people in a short amount of time. All this violence, bloodshed, and death began with one man. Adolf Hitler and anti-Semitism From struggling artist, to ruthless dictator, Adolf Hitler was the brains behind the mass murders that took place during this dreaded time. According to the website, World War 2 Diaries, born April 20, 1889 in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria, Adolf was the fourth child of six. Losing his parents and, his youngest brother at an early age, as well as being rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts twice, Hitler would start his military career at the beginning of World War I in 1914. In 1919, Hitler would join the Nazi Party where he would be credited as a superb public speaker. He spoke against many things including the Treaty of Versailles, Marxist, as well as the Jewish community. His natural talent would help him become Fhrer of the Nazi Party. While imprisoned for a failed attempt to overthrow the German government known as Beer Hall Putsch, he would write Mein Kampf in 1923, where his views on the Jews would become well known. (Adolf Hitler Timeline) Hitlers anti-semitic views of the Jewish people were completely irrational. Hitler, as well as the Nazi party, believed the Germans were the Aryan race, or superior to all other races, especially the Jews. He believed that the Aryan superiority was being threatened by the Jewish

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people and believed them to be the laziest of all peoples. Hitler states in his book, Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end satanically glaring at and spying on the unconscious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate." (, Extract from Mein Kamph) The Spartacus Educational tells us that he believed the Jews were the cause of all of his disgusts including pornography and modern art, although he completely ignored some of his favorite musicians and composers were in fact Jewish. He also believed the Jewish people caused World War I, and were involved with the Communists who were plotting world domination. Hitler did not want any Jews in his home so he hushed his anti-semitic ideas and began his political career that was partially funded by unsuspecting Jewish businessmen. On January 30, 1933, Hitler would become chancellor of Germany. Two years later on August 2 he would become Fhrer of Germany and supreme commander of the armed forces. Hitler began his antisemitic ways again by encouraging the German people not to support Jewish businesses, banning them from public swimming pools and public transportation. Because of this many Jews could not make a living and were forced to emigrate. As for the remaining Jewish community they would have to go through much more. ( Hitler had other plans to humiliate the Jewish community starting with the Nuremberg Laws. He along with others would develop the Nuremburg Laws that were very unfair to the Jewish community. An article on the Nuremburg Laws describes these laws. The two laws the Reich Citizen Law and The Law for the Protection of the German Blood and Honour, were to regulate two very important aspects of Jewish life within the German Reich. The Reich Citizen law made all non Aryan races, mostly the Jews, second rate citizens with no basic civil rights

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what so ever. The second law, The Law for the Protection of the German Blood and Honour, prohibited the marriage of Aryans and non-Aryans. Another aspect of the Nuremburg Laws was the distinction between Jew and Aryan which would become important in the future during the elimination of the Jews. The biggest aspect was that of blood relations. If a person had three Jewish grandparents, they would be considered Jewish themselves. With these laws in effect, the German people had now sanctioned the right to legally discriminate against the Jewish community who were not considered to be of the German peoples community. It would only be a matter of time before they would be prohibited from learning all legal practices and have a big, red J stamped on passports. ( All of this was leading up to a disaster in the making. Kristallnacht refers to the violent anti-jewish pogroms which happened November 9th and 10th in 1938. On November 7th, 1938, a youth named Herschel Grynszpan would go to the German embassy in a rage over his parents being stranded in a refugee camp after being denied entry into Poland, their native land. It is here where Kristallnacht would begin. Grynszpan would shoot a diplomatic assistant, Ernst Vom Rath, assigned to help him see his parents in response to his family being stuck where they were. Vom Rath died November 9th, 1938. The Nazi Party Leadership, who had come for the commemoration, would use this night to set in motion a night of anarchy for the Jewish community. They were told not to start any violence against the Jews but, should any other party start any demostrations, they were not to be stopped. A few calls to the offices under the Nazi Party were made, to which the violent night would begin and spread. Specific orders were given before the chaos began. The article, Kristallnact: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9-20, 1938, tells us about the events of this night. The "spontaneous" rioters were to take no measures endangering non-Jewish German life or property;

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they were not to subject foreigners (even Jewish foreigners) to violence; and they were to remove all synagogue archives prior to vandalizing synagogues and other properties of the Jewish communities, and to transfer that archival material to the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst, or SD). In addition, police officials were also ordered to arrest as many young, healthy male Jews as their cells could hold. Throughout the night, synagogues in Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland were burned down with firefighters only containing the fire that may destroy non-Jewish homes and buildings. An estimated seven thousand five hundred Jewish owned establishments had their shop windows shattered, destroyed and looted. However, the vilest of the acts were the desecration of the Jewish cemeteries. Jews in Berlin and Vienna we beaten in their own homes, and force to humiliate themselves. In the short hours of Kristallnacht, and at least 91 murders had been accounted for, with a documented high amount of rapes as well as suicides in the days after. The Jews were blamed for the act of violence they had been the victims of by the German government and were given a fine equivalent of four hundred million dollars. To make matters worse, the government took all insurance payouts to the Jewish
A Jewish business that was destroyed by the events of Kristallnacht

business owners leaving them responsible for making the cost of repair themselves. In the weeks to follow, the government

would take more from the Jews by passing laws that forced them to hand over their business for Aryan Ownership for a fraction of the value of the property. To add insult to their already diminished rights, measures would be taken to remove the Jews from public life such as having Jewish children expelled from German schools, and allowing them to drive, much less drive a car. Finally, they were even banned from going to the cinemas or concert halls. (

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This would be the start of something much worse to come, such as forced emigration, and what the Germans wanted more, a Germany free of Jews. September 1, 1939, Hitler would attack Poland and begin World War II. This would be the month when Jews would lose their freedom and be relocated to large cities, surrounded by walls that would separate them from the Polish people, a place where the Nazi secret police could keep a better eye on them. It would be here that they would be put through the most trying of times with little food and living space. The ghettos had been established. One ghetto has more complete data on it than any other that gives a more detailed view of what the Jews had to suffer through, Warsaw Ghetto. Seymour Rossel talks about Warsaw Ghetto in his article Holocaust, An End to the Innocent. In a town of already one-hundred fortyfive thousand inhabitants, another four-hundred thousand would be introduced into a town of fifteen-hundred buildings. With so many people, and not enough space for them all, one apartment would house up to fourteen people at a time, so needless to say it was impossible to have any privacy. Seymour Rossel states goes on to say that With so many people in such a small space, disease spread, particularly infectious diseases. In 1941, a typhus epidemic struck. Doctors had little or no medicine, and many Jewish lives were lost. There was one factor that threatened the Jews more than the diseases being spread, starvation. It was the Nazis responsibility to provide all food to the new citizens of Warsaw, however the Nazis didnt see it that way. They were refused the basic foods they needed to survive such as meats, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead they were given only potatoes, bread and fats to live on, and only eight hundred calories for each person which was not enough for most. Many would die from malnourishment.

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Many people were taken from their homes and sent away, and even though the Nazis told their family members they were working far in the east, it seemed too suspicious to believe. Rumors began to circulate that they had been sent to death camps and would never return, and if that were the case why did the Jews not rebel. A Polish historian named Emmanuel Ringeiblum asked this question, Why are they silent? Why do complete families die, father, mother, and children without a single protest? Why haven't we carried out the threats we made a year ago, the rebellions, the pillages, the threats that aroused the house committees and moved them to collect stores of food? (Emmanuel Ringeiblum, Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto ) The answer was simply that the Nazis would respond to a rebellion by killing without mercy. Through these tough times, the people remained hopeful and continued to study reading, writing and their religion. Books were shared among all, teachers, although forbidden to teach, continued with their lessons. The Jews had hope that someday, the tyrant Hitler, just like Napoleon in the book War and Peace, would meet his downfall, and this gave them hope. ( Unbeknownst to the hopeful people, the Nazis were plotting again. On January 20, 1942, fifteen high ranking Nazi and German government leaders would meet for a conference in the suburbs of Berlin in a villa by Wannsee Lake. The article The Wannsee Conference states, Fifteen people attended the conference including high ranking party officials and SS- officers from the "Reichssicherheitshauptamt" (RSHA, "Central Security Office of the Reich"), as well as two representatives of the "Ministry of the Occupied Regions in the East", one representative of the Ministry for the Interior, one representative of the "Commissioner of the Four-Year-Plan", one representative of the Ministry for Justice, one representative of the Office of the "General Governor of the occupied Polish Regions", and one representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It would be here that the Final Solution would be discussed. The article goes on to say,

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The purpose of the meeting was to outline the newly planned Final Solution would entail the rounding up of all Jews throughout Europe. They would be transported eastward and organized into labor gangs. Work and living conditions would be extremely harsh as to kill large numbers by natural reduction. Any survivors would be treated accordingly. Treated accordingly was euphemism for extermination. ( The plan was to kill as many Jews as possible. Some of the methods included execution by gun fire, or gassing with exhaust pipes. It would get even worse than one could imagine. When the Jews arrived at their new living quarters, some traveling for weeks in cramped trailers with forty to fifty other people, the process of selection began. The article System of Death tells about this process. Men to the left! Women to the right! In his classic Holocaust memoir, Night, Elie Wiesel recalls that an SS man barked those orders as Hungarian Jews left the railroad cattle cars that transported them to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the spring of 1944. Form fives! Wiesel heard as a selection began to determine who would go to the gas chambers. The process was rooting out those who were fit to work from the unfit. Those deemed fit, would never see their loved ones again. Young children and babies remained with their mothers, but Shortly after arriving, the unfortunate people would have to give up their valuables, clothes, hair, and even as much as having gold filling pulled from their mouths. They were then led to a gas chamber and sentenced to their death. Afterwards they were cremated and the ashes disposed of in ponds or rivers, some even being used as fertilizer. Those who were sent to out for work would literally be worked to death. They would be starved, sleep deprived, work long days, tortured, and faced further selection. Few would survive. ( After much hardship, and the cruelty they had faced, the Jews would be given hope. During the latter months of the war, in the western public, opinions were circulating that the

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Nazis had committed heinous crimes. A newsreel confirmed these acts that was discovered when the Soviets the German Majdanek and Sobibor extermination camps in eastern Poland, during summer 1944. Dr. Stephen A. Hart wrote about the liberation in his article Liberation of the Concentration Camps. As the armies liberated these camps, the noticed the trend of sick and mal-nourished people, thousands dead, not even properly buried, thrown in a pit or left where they died. But hope would not be lost as doctors would work diligently to save those still clinging to life. The first task for the liberators was to tackle this medical nightmare. Yet despite heroic efforts, there was a limit to what the British medical teams could do in the face of such a large-scale disaster. The British estimated that of the roughly 50,000 inmates still living, 20,000 were seriously or critically ill. Even with all they did, many were just too ill to survive. Dr Hart goes on to say, Another task was to dispose of the 20,000 diseased bodies, in order to contain the spread of typhus. The British forces made the surrendered German and Hungarian SS camp guards carry the corpses into mass graves that had been dug by British bulldozer teams. As punishment for their crimes, the camp guards were prevented from using protective gloves, and consequently some of them contracted typhus and died. A burial service was held for the deceased by Senior British Army Chaplin Isaac Levy. Finally Dr. Hart says, As the weeks went by the British steadily relocated the recovering inmates to local housing commandeered from German civilians. As this process unfolded, the local populace were forced to inspect the camp, to see for themselves the evils committed in their name. Finally, after all the inmates had left, the British burned down the camp to prevent the lice rampant in the installation from spreading the

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typhus epidemic further. As a result, much of Belsen's infrastructure was lost to the world as a potential memorial of man's inhumanity to man. ( The worst had past. The Jews could finally rest easy, many of them would migrate out of the country, going to America, or even the newly established State of Israel. They were free
The Jewish people celebrate their liberation

from the Nazi grip that had held them at bay for so many years. The fact that one radical group would be so cruel and try to exterminate an entire race because they felt superior shows the cruelty that man can cause. They got away with this cruelty for so long, and caused the death of millions of Jews. However, the Jews were now free. No more torture, starvation, and unfair laws. They could decide for themselves for the first time in a long time what they wanted to do.

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Works Cited Adolf Hitler Timeline." World War 2 Diaries. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. "Extracts From Mein Kampf by Hitler." N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. "Spartacus Educational." Spartacus Schoolnet. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. "The Nuremburg Laws." Holocaust Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. "Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9-10, 1938." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. Rossel, Seymour. "Holocaust, An End To The Innocent." Rossel. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. "The Wannsee Conference." Holocaust Research Project. N.p., 2007. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <> "System of Death." The Holocaust Chronicle. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>. Hart, Stephen A. "Liberation of the Concentration Camps." BBC . N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <>.

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