Historically, the Holocaust was the period between January 1933 and May 1945.

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Historically, the Holocaust was the period between January 1933 and May 1945. Adolf Hitler was the chancellor of Germany at the time till the war in Europe finally ended. Significantly, the holocaust is the most famous act of genocide in modern history. The Nazi Germany committed many atrocities during the World War II destroying the lives of millions of Jews in the process. It completely changed the face of Europe forever. The Jews in Europe were persecuted thus ultimately leading to the murder of six million Jews destroying the lives of over five thousand Jewish communities. About a quarter of the Jews who lost their lives were children. The only crime they committed was being Jews. They were victimized by the Germany’s deliberate and systematic attempt to flash out the entire Jewish population of Europe. Hitler called the plan the Final Solution.’ The holocaust did not only target the Jewish population but also other groups which were considered to be inferior. Other groups included the disabled and people who were of the Slavic origin.

Origin of the Holocaust

There was no singular cause of the holocaust in the history. Several reasons prompted the German people and their helpers during the World War II to gang up and round up the murder of over six million people and their neighbors. However, the leading cause of the holocaust revolved around the issue of anti-Semitism which was the ancient hatred of Jews in addition to the spread of Judaism. Anti-Semitism dates back to 1870 where the hostility towards Jews was evident, However, it can date v=back to the ancient world when the Jewish temple was destroyed thus forcing the Jews to leave Palestine. In the 17th and 18th century during the enlightenment period, religious toleration was emphasized by Napoleon and other European rulers by enacting legislation that ended the restrictions on Jews. The nature of the limitations took a racial rather than a religious outlook.

Hitler exaggerated the anti-Semitic ideologies by blaming the Jews for the defeat of Germany during the First World War. Hitler joined the National German Workers Party which was locally known as the Nazis. When he was imprisoned, he wrote a memoir where he predicted an all-out war would erupt throughout Europe that would eventually lead to the death of many Jews. He had an obsession that exemplified the idea that the German race was superior to the rest. After being released from prison, he took advantage of the weakness of his rivals to rise from obscurity to power. Hitler had two primary goals in his life. Racial purity and spatial expansion were the two main driving forces behind his policies.

Initially, the Nazis persecuted their political rivals such as the Communists and the Social Democrats. As a result, the first official concentration camp was opened at Dachau in March 1933 to counter the influence of their political rivals. They metamorphosed into killing grounds for the holocaust. By the end of that year, over twenty-seven thousand people were in protective custody where the individuals were forced into torture. Additionally, the books of the Jews were burned thus driving the message of party strength home. The Jewish population as at 1933 was over half a million which was about one percent of the entire population. Over the next six years, various activities were geared towards reducing the strengths of the Jews population. Their businesses were liquidated in addition to stripping the Jewish lawyers of their certificates and sacking all the doctors.

Designations began taking root when the Jews were grouped by their origin. Those with more than three Jewish grandparents were considered full Jews while those with two Jewish grandparents considered being half-breeds. The laws which were instituted in Nuremberg in 1935 ensured continued stigmatization and persecution took root in the lives of people. By the end of 1934, Hitler had consolidated his power by taking his campaign against the Jews into full swing. One of their ideologies was that the Jews were responsible for the culture of influence on the people. By portraying the Jews as evil and cowardly which was quite in contrast to the Germans who were considered hardworking and courageous in addition to being honest in their dealings. This contrast was key in driving social change in people and shifting their perspectives. Economically, the Nazis claimed that the Jews were responsible for weakening the finance, press and literature aspects of the German society (Freyhofer).

November 1938 formed very significant year in the history of the holocaust. As the stigmatization was growing unprecedentedly, to the ‘night of broken glass.’ The German synagogues were burned, and windows smashed. In addition to the destruction of property, many more than one hundred Jews lost their lives. Thousands more were arrested. Due to the hard state of affairs, some Jews succeeded in escaping the country before the atrocities worsened. They ran away to countries such as Belgium, England, France Czechoslovakia and Holland. However, it was very difficult to get out of Europe due to the sanctions placed on them. Immigration quotas placed on Jews ensured they remained in Germany despite obtaining the necessary documents. Those who remained lived in a constant state of uncertainty coupled with fear.

Confinement of Jews to Ghettos

In September 1939, German invaded Poland and occupied the western half of the country. Tens of thousands of Polish Jews were forced out of their homes and into the ghettos. They reaped them off their property by confiscating their properties and handing it over to ethnic Germans. These were Germans who resided out of Germany but were not Jews. The Jewish were in dilapidated conditions. For instance, they were surrounded by high walls and barbed wires. Poverty and hunger was the order of the day. The Germans were quite selective in their persecution. They did not spare Germans with mental conditions and disabilities. They were selected to be killed using the toxic gas using a program referred to as the Euthanasia program. Halting the program was necessary since many German prominent religious leaders protested to the idea.

The summer and spring of 1940 formed a monumental year for the Nazi invasion. Hitler expanded his empire throughout Europe by conquering some countries in the process. Netherland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France were some of the countries that faced the ruthless hands of Hitler. The Polish Ghettos were the final destination for the Jews from all over Europe as well as thousands of European Gypsies. To add insult to injury, they invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The situation was worsened when over half a million soviet Jews were killed mainly by shooting. A memorandum sent by Herman Goering inferred to the need for a solution to the killing of Jews. The ‘Jewish Solution’ concluded that all Jews were to be marked by a star on their skins. This would make them open targets making the killing easier than before. The Polish Ghettoes and the German-occupied territories in the USSR were the final destinations for the identified Jews. The ghettoes were initially open during the daytime, but with time, they were closed. They were not allowed to leave the ghetto under any circumstance. As a result, they were like prisoners with the only difference being that they were not in the normal prisons. The biggest ghetto was located in the city of Warsaw. Overpopulation was a big problem for the people since the number of people per square kilometer was large enough to breed harmful diseases and infections (Garwood).

Concentration and Extermination Camps

Deportations from the ghettoes were conducted by the Nazis on a daily basis. People were sent by rail to concentration camps after being lied that they would provide labor to other plantations. Many other camps were associated with the Nazis. They include transit camps, prisoner-of-war camps and labor camps. Political prisoners were held in concentration camps from 1933 to 1938. Prisoners sent to these camps were referred to as asocial since they were disabled, homeless or mentally handicapped. Life in the concentration camps was horrible. Everything about the concentration camps was a form of continued destruction of the quality of life that people dream about.

Extermination camps were built at Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec in Poland. By the final solution, the extermination camps were the instruments and tools of succeeding their plans. The victims traveled by rail or cattle cars to areas where they would be killed quickly. These camps were slaughterhouses where anybody who entered had no chance of getting out alive. Minimal physical harm was done on the prisoners as the killing process was done smoothly. Mobile gas vans were the first to kill the tens of thousands of Germans at Chelmno. In other areas, permanent gas chambers were built to ensure the killing process was conducted slowly and over a period in an uninterrupted manner. Carbon monoxide gas was the gas of choice for the killings.

In Auschwitz for instance, doctors were chosen to select the people who were to be killed first. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and the handicapped were chosen first to be killed by their tormentors. In addition to that, forced labor was in constant supply despite them being deprived of an essential basic amenities like food, shelter, clothing and medical care. All this was aimed at working the prisoners to death without actually killing them. Those who failed to work were forced into gas chambers. The concentration camps had different roles. In some, the role of the inmates was to provide labor to the plantations. In others, the concentration camps served as death camps where killing was the main agenda. For Instance, more than 250000 were killed at Sobibor alone. The used the language of ‘resettlement in the East’ to ensure their motive was hidden behind the rhetoric. The camps were closed once their mission was completed (Feig).

The impact of the holocaust was experienced differently in all the countries. For instance, in Hungary, the holocaust was more intense and inhumane. Despite the duration of the holocaust being short, its impact left with many people dead than the number of people who died in Germany over a whole year. Denmark was one of the countries where the Jews had an easy time. They rescued the Jews by sending them by sea to Sweden. One of the factors that contributed to this was the small number of Germans who were in the country in addition to the fact that the Jews had been integrated into the culture of the Denmark. Police forces in France collaborated by providing essential support to the Germans in the form of manpower. Italy, on the other hand, did not participate in the Holocaust until the overthrowing of Benito Mussolini.

Some people extended an olive branch to the suffering Jews by providing a haven for their escape from the hands of the bloodthirsty Germans. For Instance, Raoul Wallenberg decided to save the Jewish community in 1944. He instituted efforts to save the remaining Jewish community in Hungary. He collaborated with neutral diplomats in a bid to save the people from the persecution that was to follow. He prevented the deportation of the last remaining crop of the Jewish population. There were places in Poland where they aided in providing secure places. Additionally, they provided financial support and forged documents for identity with food. Although the Nazis tried to keep the operations a secret, the scale and magnitude of the killings made it very difficult. In other instances, the Jews revolted in the death camps of Sobibor, Treblinka, and Sobibor. However, they were largely unsuccessful at the hands of Germans who were so determined to flash out the population. Ghetto uprisings also took place in Holland (Wyman).

The End of the Holocaust

Spring of 1945 marked an important year for many Europeans. Camps were liberated as the allies advanced on the army. The soviets, for instance, liberated Auschwitz while those in Dachau were liberated by the Americans. German leadership was facing internal wrangles which were the foundation for internal dissent. Goering and Himmler were aiming for power. Hitler blamed the war on international people who were not supportive. In his last piece of writing, he urged people to ensure they were not poisoned by other races which were considered not pure at large. Hitler committed suicide on the day that followed. Essentially, Germany surrendered in World War II just a week after (Stone).

The Holocaust left a permanent mark on the victims. Those who survived the atrocities feared going back home due to the fear of the unknown in addition to the fact that they had been disowned by their neighbors. Having lost their families, they were in a state of trauma and confusion. Germans, on the other hand, faced the wrath of many countries since the Holocaust left a bitter legacy. Families that had lost their wealth during the process were compensated. The government paid the Jews for the destruction that had befallen them. They acknowledged the responsibility of committing the crimes. To this day, the Holocaust is viewed as the manifestation of evil towards fellow human beings. There are survivors to this day who continue to witness the impact of the Holocaust (Bergmann and Milton). The final plea of those who were dying was, “Remember! Do not let the world forget.”

Works Cited

Bergmann, Martin S., and Milton E. Jucovy. Generations of the Holocaust. Columbia University Press, 1982.Feig, Konnilyn G. Hitler’s Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness. Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981.Freyhofer, Horst H. The Nuremberg medical trial: The Holocaust and the origin of the Nuremberg medical code. Vol. 53. Peter Lang, 2004.

Garwood, Alfred. “The Holocaust and the power of powerlessness: Survivor guilt an unhealed wound.” British Journal of Psychotherapy 13.2 (1996): 243-258.

Stone, Dan. The liberation of the camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath. Yale University Press, 2015.Wyman, David S., and Charles H. Rosenzveig. The world reacts to the Holocaust. JHU Press, 1996.