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The Holocaust And Genocide History Essay

Genocide. This term did not exist before The Holocaust era. A polish lawyer, named Raphael Lemkin, was actually the person who created the word. The word is derived from the Greek word geno- for race or tribe and combining it with –cide a Latin word that means killing. He wanted to create a word that depicted the events that was a very accurate depiction of the Holocaust. In December of 1948 the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This particular convention established that “genocide” was an international crime. The convention defines genocide as: “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group;(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Germany, January 1933 the Nazis came into power. Holocaust is a Greek word that means sacrifice by fire. The German belief was that Germans were "racially superior.”Approximately six million Jews were persecuted and murdered by this belief and way of life. Jews were stereotyped as being inferior to the Germans and were a threat to the “perfect” German community. Surprisingly Jewish Germans were not the only group that was targeted by the Nazis. Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and the disabled were also discriminated and seen as aliens. Some groups such as homosexuals, Jehovah witnesses, Socialists, and Communist were also prosecuted because of their political and ideological beliefs.

On April 20, 1889 Adolf Hitler was born. At the age of 16 Adolf Hitler dropped out of high school, and was also turned down by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. The German Workers’ Party was were Hitler got his start. After joining he became the main attraction at the meetings.. The German Workers’ Party held its first mass meeting in February 1920. When Hitler entered the meeting hall on February 24th, 1920, he was thrilled to see two thousand people waiting for him, a large number of which where communist. The swastika was chosen as the symbol for the Nazi party in the summer of 1920. Hitler described the symbolism involved: "In the red we see the social idea of the movement, in the white the national idea, in the swastika the mission to struggle for the victory of Aryan man and at the same time the victory of the idea of creative work, which is eternally anti-Semitic and will always be anti-Semitic." The German Workers' Party name was changed by Hitler to include the term National Socialist. Thus the full name was the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) called for short, Nazi. Hitler traveled to Berlin in 1921, to address nationalist groups. However with Hitler away, the Nazi Party in Munich started a revolt. He rushed back to Munich and announced his resignation from the Nazi Party. The Nazi Party realized they would end without Hitler. He took this opportunity to announce he would return under the condition he was made chairman and given dictatorial powers. By a vote of 543 to 1, Hitler became the Führer of the Nazi Party. After the election of Hitler in 1933, the Nazi’s began their systematic take over of the governments in Germany.

Pogrom is a Russian word that means to “wreak havoc and to demolish violently”. This refers to the attacks on the Jewish. The government and local police enforcement was involved in organizing the pogroms. The perpetrators would rape and steal from their victims. When Adolf Hitler and his Nazis gained power he discouraged pogroms but did not however discourage street violence against the Jewish community. Acts of the non discouraged street violence were those such as: burning down synagogues, destroying Jewish-owned homes and businesses, and physical assaults on individuals. These would clearly classify as being a pogrom activity. The most famous and most orchestrated of the pogroms was, Kristallnacht.

Streets of Jewish communities were lined with glass, fire and havoc. This event in history is known as Kristallnacht; which is also known as The Night of Broken Glass. This took place on the days of November 9-10, 1938. Jewish homes and shops were ransacked along with predominantly Jewish towns and villages. This particular night is considered to some to be the beginning of the Holocaust. In 1988 historian Max Rein wrote, "Kristallnacht came…and everything was changed.” After the aftermath German officials claimed that this happened because of a public outburst relating to assassination of Ernst vom Rath. Rath was a German embassy official who was shot by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew. Grynszpan had received the news that a couple of days earlier thousands of Polish Jews that were living in Germany had been expelled. He later learned that his parents were included in the huge group.

A concentration camp is a “camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.” Auschwitz was one of the largest concentration camps of its kind. It consisted of three camps where the prisons were forced into labor. One of the camps that were located in this massive complex was run for an extended period as a killing center. As an extension of the main Auschwitz their were other camps such as Auschwitz I which was established in May 1940; Auschwitz II (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau) which was established in early 1942; and finally Auschwitz III (also called Auschwitz-Monowitz) which was established in October 1942. Almost every single concentration camp consisted of a gas chamber and a crematorium. These were located commonly in separate buildings located at the camps. All of the concentration camps were built to serve different purposes.

Auschwitz I was built to serve three main purposes: “1) to incarcerate real and perceived enemies of the Nazi regime and the German occupation authorities in Poland for an indefinite period of time; 2) to have available a supply of forced laborers for deployment in SS-owned, construction-related enterprises (and, later, armaments and other war-related production); and 3) to serve as a site to physically eliminate small, targeted groups of the population whose death was determined by the SS and police authorities to be essential to the security of Nazi Germany.” At this particular camp physicians and medical experts conducted experiments on infants, twins and dwarfs. They forced procedures such as sterilization, castrations and hypothermia on all adults. The “Black Wall” which stood between the crematory and the medical experiments site was were the guards executed thousands of prisoners.

Auschwitz II was separated into many sections just like all the others. This particular camp was separated by electrified barbed wire. This camp included various sections for men, women, and family camps for Gypsies and Jews. The famous gas “Zyklon B” was introduced here in the fall of 1941. After the success of this “mass murderer,” the gas was implemented in all concentration camps. This Auschwitz had four large crematory buildings each had three separate main areas: a large disrobing area, a large gas chamber and even larger crematory ovens.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish women were persecuted by the Germans. There were certain individual camps and certain areas that were designated just for women. Pregnant women were labeled as incapable of working and were among the first group sent straight to the gas chambers along with the smallest children. Germans guards in the ghettos and concentration camps for the women that were able to work into such horrid labor conditions that lead to death as well. Women were seen as extremely vulnerable and were very susceptible to beatings and rapings as well. Pregnant women often tried to conceal their pregnancy or be forced to have an abortion. Women were forced to submit for sexual relations for basic needs. If the result of a forced sexual relation with a German solider or guard they would try to determine if the baby was “Germanizble,” if it was determined that the fetus was not the women would have to have an abortion.

Anne Frank was one of the most famous children that was died during the Holocaust. Otto Frank her father fled to the Netherlands where he had business connections after the Nazis took power. The rest of the family followed. Anne was the last of her family to arrive in February after staying with her grandparents. Anne and her family would eventually go into hiding in an apartment which would also hide four other Dutch Jews. For two years all of them lived in a secret apartment that was located behind a family owned business. In Anne’s diary she refers to the secret attic apartment as the “Secret Annex.” Her father’s friends has previously arranged for the smuggling of food and clothing for the Franks and others. The Franks and the others were arrested in August and a month later in 1944 they were sent to Auschwitz. Because of their youth Anne and her sister, Margot were selected for labor. They were transferred to another concentration camp. Both girls died of typhus, which is a bacterial disease spread by lice or fleas. The only member of the Frank family that survived the war was Anne’s father, Otto.

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