HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST
As soon as Hitler was firmly in power, he set out to dominate what he called the "inferior race." This "inferior race" was said to be a threat to the purity of the "master race." Dr. Joseph Goebbels, his Minister of Propaganda, helped Hitler by filling the popular media with pro-Nazi material. All forms of communication (i.e. newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) were controlled by the Nazi Party. Book burnings were held frequently and the books being burned were burned due to not going with the "Nazi ideals." Some books were burned simply because the authors were Jewish. Others were burned because they were offensive to the Nazis. Here it shows that there was practically no free speech without a penalty.
The Jewish population in Germany was identified by Nazi propaganda as a race inferior to any other. They were also said to be the cause of economic depression. Jews had laws that were instituted against them and forcing them out of public life. Some examples are that the Nazis did not let the Jews obtain civil service jobs, law court and university positions, etc. As of 1935, Jewish businesses were boycotted, The first organized boycott was held on April 1, 1933. Jews had to wear a yellow Star of David on the exterior of all of there exterior clothing.
The "Nuremburg Laws" said that Jews were second-class citizens. One's Jewishness was dependent on a person's grandparents. People's views and beliefs did not matter if their grandparents were Jew. More laws were being passed to make Jewish life harder than it already was. Jews were prohibited from going to a theatre, a public school, cinemas, or resorts. In some places they were even forbidden from walking. Between 1937 and 1939, the economic hardship for Jews started to increase. Boycotts and against Jewish businesses and building had escalated to the destruction of stores and synagogues.
Kristallnacht took place in November of 1938. During this time Jewish-owned buildings were being destroyed and Jewish men were being arrested and murdered. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned and 7,000 Jewish businesses were wrecked.
Nazi hatred extended to include groups that were racially or genetically "inferior." This was advocated by scientists who promoted "selective breeding" for the "improvement' of the human race. Between 1933 and 1935, laws were passed to reduce the number of genetically "inferior" through involuntary serialization programs. This resulted in may people to be judged as handicapped either physically or mentally and were sterilized either surgically or subjected to sterilizing radiation.
Throughout this time, almost half the population of Jews fled from Germany. They fled to territories such as Palestine, the United States, Latin America, Shanghai, and the western and eastern parts of Europe (these were poor choices because the Nazis would soon capture them as they conquered more and more of Europe). Some Jews were not able to leave for several reasons. Also, many foreign countries were making it harder for Jews to emigrate especially in the wake of the Depression.
World War II came into play on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Germany emerged victorious in a mere few days. The Nazis began to enslave the Poles and destroy their culture. The first step was to take away the leaders. The Nazis got rid of many university professors, artists, writers, politicians and Catholic priests. German families began to move into newly annexed land while thousands of Poles and Polish Jews were taken away to concentration camps. Hitler gave an order to kill all institutionalized, handicapped patients that were said to be "incurable." Doctors chose whether a patient lived or died and those who were marked for death were sent to concentration camps where they were taken to special gas chambers disguised as showers and were killed. Babies, small children, and others were killed by pills, forced starvation, or lethal injection. When they died, their bodies were then burned in a crematorium.
The Nazis succeeded in crushing Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France handily. In the months following an invasion of the Soviet Union, Jews, political leaders, Communists, and Gypsies were killed in mass executions. Mobile killing squads carried out these murders at improvised sites throughout the Soviet Union. These killing squads were not angry rioters or street thugs and neither were they gangs; instead they were people who were "just following orders."
As a result of World War II, major changes in the concentration camps were made. Many prisoners in large numbers came from German-controlled countries and swamped the camps. The only way to handle these new prisoners was to open up a hundred of new camps in eastern Europe, which the Nazis did. The conditions in these concentration camps were atrocious! Food was kept scarce on purpose and disease spread very quickly. Life became desperate. Smuggling was the only was of getting food and if you were caught, you would endure sever consequences. Tens of thousands died from starvation, disease, overcrowding and exposure.
The Germans decided to take away the ghettoes and deport the ghetto populations to extermination camps or killing centers equipped with gassing facilities in Poland.
On October 14, 1943, there was a successful one day revolt of the prisoners. By this time 200,000 people had died of gassing. Treblinka, the largest extermination camp, was responsible for 750,000 deaths. The identities of the Jews forced to labor at the camps were ripped from them and replaced by numbers that were tattooed on their arm. The survivors will not remove this number for it has become a part of their identity and it will forever be a part of it. In these camps the conditions were far more atrocious than any other. People squeezed into windowless, non-insulated rooms with no bathrooms. The only way to rid of their waste was by urinating in a bucket. Food was scarce as well and what there was for food was disgusting and consisted mainly of watery soup with rotten stew or vegetables, stale and moldy bread and maybe some tea or a coffee-like substance that was anything but coffee. Auschwitz- Birkenau was not only a killing center but also a sIave labor facility. Out of the 1.25 million people killed at Auschwitz, nine out of ten were Jewish. Not only was this camp almost impossible to live through, it was also virtually impossible to escape for there were electrically charged barbed wired fences and gun towers.
In the fall of 1943, The Danish resistance with the help of the local population rescued nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark from menacing deportation to the camps by smuggling them in fishing boats to neutral Sweden in a dangerous and risky national effort. A few individuals risked their lives to help these persecuted people.
In the late 1944, the war had turned and allied armies approached German soil, and the SS decided to evacuate outlying concentration camps. Many were killed during the marches. With all this happening, Nazi propaganda continued to claim that the Nazis had a secret plan to win the war, even though officials knew that the cause was lost.
Unfortunately, many of the liberated prisoners were too weak to digest food given to them properly and died shortly after their given freedom. Most of the living survivors would return home only to find many prejudices against them still deep-seated in the population
In May of 1945, SS guards fled and the camps ceased to function as killing centers, labor sites, or concentration camps. Throughout this time(l 933-1945), many injustices were made toward the Jews and other "inferior races." Many people died in the concentration camps and very little survived. It is a pity that it is only until now that we are beginning to comprehend the truth behind this historical event more and more fully.