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Holocaust The Genocide Of European Jews History Essay

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The Jews had been mistreated long before the Holocaust began. Anti-Semitism (hatred against Jews) has existed for thousands of years. Early Christianity hated the Jews because they remained faithful to their own traditions and refused to convert to Christianity. By the1500's, the religious leader Martin Luther put out fierce attacks against the Jews because they didn't convert to Christianity. He referred to the Jews as deadly and dangerous people to the society and called for violence against them. In many places, the Jews were forced to live in separate communities called ghettos. They had to pay more taxes, and they were not allowed to own land or to have certain jobs.

Around the 1800's, many people began discriminating against Jews because of their race rather than their religion. Many anti-Semitic writers said that Jews were the lower race. Hatred towards Jews became a powerful force in European politics. Many people believed that the Jews were the cause of all problems in their countries. For an example, when revolutionaries killed Czar Alexander II of Russia, they believed that the Jews were to blame. Hundreds of Russian Jews were then killed in a organized massacres called pogroms.

On April 1, 1933, Hitler's government ordered a nationwide boycott of Jewish stores and other businesses. In the months to follow, the government passed laws that forbid Jews from certain careers. Jews were excluded from civil services. They banned the fields of education and culture to the Jews, also they couldn't do any form of farming what's so ever.

The Nuremberg laws of 1935 took away the citizenship of Jews. Jews were not allowed to marry non-Jews. These laws made it so they can tell who was full Jewish or part Jewish blood. For example, a person who had at least three Jewish grandparents was classified as a Jew. Someone with one Jewish grandparent might be classified as a Mischling (mixed blood) or just Germen.

In the next few years, the Nazi government continued to deny Jews of their rights and belongings. Jews were not allowed to sit in parks and swim in public pools. The government took away Jewish businesses as well as personal property. The biasness was an effort to make the Jews leave so Germany would be free of Jews. 1000's of Jews did leave the country, but they couldn't take much of their property with them. Many Jews were stuck because other countries would not accept them in large numbers.

The Nazi torture reached a new level on Nov. 9, 1938. within about 24 years the Nazis destroyed thousands of Jewish-owned businesses and burned most synagogues (Like a Church) in Germany and Austria. They beat Jews in the streets and attacked them in their homes as they killed many Jews. They arrested more then 30,000 Jews and sent them to concentration camps. The night became known as Kristallnacht, a German word meaning Crystal Night. In English, it is called the Night of Broken Glass.

What is the Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the organized wiping out of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War 2. In 1933 about nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be taken by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. The European Jews were the initial victims of the Holocaust. But Jews were not the only group singled out for pursuit by Hitler's Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, and at least 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah's Witnesses, and gays were also victims of the hate and assault carried out by the Nazis. Basically anyone who wasn't a Germen or didn't like the Nazis was hurt in someway.

What does Final Solution mean?

This was the Germens Plan to physically kill all the Jews that were in Germany and other European countries. The term was used at the Wannsee Conference held in Berlin on January 20, 1942, where German officials discussed how it was going to be done.

"The Final Solution."

After World War II began in 1939, Germany's powerful war machine conquered country after country in Europe. Millions more Jews came under German control. It was most likely that the Nazis killed the Jews or sent them to concentration camps. If they didn't do that the Nazis moved many of the Jews from towns and villages into city ghettos. They later sent these people, also, to concentration camps. Although many Jews thought the ghettos would last, the Nazis saw ghetto captivity as only a temporary extent. In as early as 1941, the Nazi government put the final details of a policy decision labeled "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question." This policy was the right and duty to kill all Jews under German control. The killing began with Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Special squads of Hitler's SS (Schutzstaffel) troops attach to advancing German forces. These killing squads, called Einsatzgruppen, rounded up Jews, Roma, and Soviet leaders, and shot them to death one by one. The face-to-face killing became hard for the Nazis and was not efficient so they decided to do something different. It would be hard to kill an entire race killing on by one. So instead they began using sealed vans, in which the Jews and prisoners chocked to death on exhaust fumes as the van traveled to a burial pit.

At the Wannsee Conference, held in Berlin in January 1942, Nazi leaders further systematized the killing. They decided that Jews that occupied German territory would be sent to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. These camps would be used for slave labor or exterminating the Jews.

The camps Shortly after Hitler came to power, the first set of Nazi concentration camps were made in 1933. And by the late 1930's, these concentration camps were home to more then 10,000 political prisoners arrested by the Nazis. In the early 1940's, several new camps were made, with were specially made to have gas chambers appeared to have looked like showers.

For the Jews who had been placed in ghettos, the next step was what the Nazis called deportation the transportation to the deadly concentration camps. The Nazis took the Jews in railroad freight cars to their destination.

When the Jews arrived at the camps, an SS physician picked out the young and able-bodied. The others, who were not young or physically fine, were sent directly to the gas chambers. The guards took the belongings of those who were about to die. As many as 2,000 Jews were sent into the gas chambers at one given time. SS workers poured containers of poison gas down an opening. Within 20 to 30 minutes, the Jews that just came from the Ghettos were now dead. The guards shaved the heads of the Jews and removed any gold teeth directly and painfully right from their mouths. Then they burned the bodies in crematoriums (something similar to ovens and kilns).

Those that were able-bodied also had their heads shaved and their belongings stolen away. The camp workers tattooed a number on the arm of each person. From then on, these people were identified by the numbers tattooed on them instead of by their name like a normal human. These Jews were forced to work very long hours under very hard conditions. When they could no longer work, they too were killed or left to die by starving. Altogether there were six death camps, all in which were fully occupied. The names of these camps were Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Auschwitz was the largest and most known out of the camps. It was known for how dangerous and bad it was. It was a slave labor camp as well as a killing center. Many say that about 1 1/4 million people were murdered there.

Hundreds of other brutal concentration camps operated in Germany and German occupied territories during the war. None of these camps were intended to be made just for killing Jews, but the conditions in all of them were so harsh that hundreds of thousands of them died from starvation and diseases. The situation got so bad that in some of the camps the Jews in which most of them were children had medical experiments performed on them by the physicians.

As the war was coming to a conclusion, American, British, and Soviet troops, swept through Europe. The Nazis were hastened to empty some camps to remove witnesses of their cruelty. They put all of the Jews in the camps near were the Americans, British and Soviet troops were into boxcars and forced some to walk to other camps were the troops were not there. The forced marches, made in the winter with few ready, claimed so many lives latter became known as the death marches.

Why did Hitler hate the Jews?

The Holocaust happened because Hitler and the Nazis were racist. They believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated.

Resistance. During the Holocaust, the Nazis kept everything they did as secret as possible, and they deceived their victims in many ways to prevent resistance. Initially, the Jews in the ghettos either were not aware of the slaughter planned for them or simply could not believe it was happening. Some tried to pacify the Nazis, hoping they would be left in peace. Others tried sabotage or escape.

Armed resistance was not the first response of the Jews. They tried to thwart the Nazis by nonviolent means. Also, it was difficult and dangerous for the Jews to obtain weapons. Little help was available to them. Anti-Semitism was widespread, and Jewish resistance did not have popular support. Jewish fighters could not disappear among the population because non-Jews might betray them. Jewish leaders in the ghettos knew that the Nazis could kill everyone in the ghetto in revenge for the actions of a few resisters. But many Jews who managed to escape the ghettos joined secret bands of fighters against the Nazis. And some non-Jewish individuals risked their lives to smuggle Jews to safety.

Some Jews in ghettos, slave labor camps, and death camps did fight. In 1943, for example, thousands of Jews revolted in the ghetto in Warsaw, Poland. Although the Jews were surrounded and poorly armed, they held out for about four weeks. But the Nazis either killed or sent to death camps all of the 60,000 Jews in the ghetto.

In 1943, uprisings took place at the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps. In 1944, prisoners at Auschwitz revolted and set fire to a crematorium. A few prisoners escaped during each uprising, but most were killed. Such revolts were often acts of desperation. They erupted when the Jews understood Nazi intentions and had abandoned hope of survival. The fighters also hoped to protect Jewish honor and to avenge Jewish death.

After the Holocaust

A Jewish homeland. As the Allies advanced through Europe in 1944 and 1945, they found millions of displaced persons living in countries not their own. Most of these people, including many Jews, eventually returned to their homelands. However, many of the Jews had nowhere to go. Their homes had been destroyed, and their families murdered. The presence of so many Jews on German soil, living among their former killers, pressured world leaders to find a place where the Jews could go. The Jews themselves wanted an independent Jewish state in Palestine, the ancient Jewish homeland in the Middle East.

In the late 1800's, members of a Jewish movement called Zionism had begun promoting immigration of Jews to Palestine. In the early 1900's, the British rulers of Palestine had pledged support for a national homeland there for the Jews. But the Arabs who lived in the area had opposed it, and severe fighting had broken out several times during the 1920's and 1930's. In 1939, the British had begun limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine to gain Arab support for the Allies in World War II. Both during and after the war, Palestine's Jews fought bitterly against the restrictions. The British submitted the problem to the United Nations (UN). In 1947, the UN proposed dividing Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish one. In May 1948, the state of Israel officially came into existence and opened its borders to receive the Jews.

The Nuremberg Trials. In the fall of 1943, Allied leaders declared their determination to bring the Nazi leaders to justice for their wartime behavior. The outrage of the Allies only intensified during the final months of the war, when the killing centers were discovered. The Nuremberg trials took place from 1945 to 1949. They were held in Nuremberg, Germany, where the Nazi Party had staged huge rallies.

The Nazi leaders were charged with four major types of crimes-conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Conspiracy to commit crimes against peace included the planning of a war of aggression. Crimes against peace included carrying out such a war. War crimes included the murder of prisoners of war and of civilians, and the destruction of towns and cities. Crimes against humanity included deporting civilians and using them for slave labor as well as persecuting and murdering people for their political beliefs, race, or religion.

On Dec. 9, 1948, the United Nations passed the Genocide Convention, which was designed to overcome the claims of Nuremberg defendants that they had violated no law. The convention made genocide a crime. The next day, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the 1990's, Jewish groups pressured those who had profited from the Holocaust to compensate Holocaust victims or their descendants. Groups that paid reparations included the German government, certain Swiss banks, and some German companies.

How many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?

While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Jewish victims, statistics indicate that the total was over 5,830,000. Six million is the round figure accepted by most authorities. The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.

Polish-Soviet area

4,565,000

Germany

125,000

Austria

65.000

Czechoslovakia (in the pre-Munich boundaries

  277,000

Hungary, including northern Transylvania

402,000

France

83,000

Belgium

24,000

Luxembourg

700

Italy

7,500

The Netherlands

106,000

Norway

760

Romania (Regat, southern Transylvania, southern Bukovina)

40,000

Yugoslavia

60,000

Greece

65,000

Total Loss

5,820,960

 

 http://faculty.ucc.edu/egh-damerow/Statistics.htm

Picture 1: http://z.about.com/d/history1900s/1/0/L/5/arbeitmachtfrei.jpg

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Berenbaum, Michael. "Holocaust." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2010. Web.  27 May 2010.

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