Impacts Of The Jewish Holocaust History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
After 4 years of hard battle, from 1914 to 1918, Germany lost World War I losing 1,500,000 soldiers. The war caused a coup within Germany; Wilhelm II, the German Emperor, abdicated his throne and escaped to the Netherlands. Furthermore, it led to the economic collapse within the allied countries of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Germany. Following the fall of the German Empire and the economic collapse, Germany surrendered signing the Treaty of Versailles, a peace treaty ending WWI on November 11th, 1918. Adolf Hitler claimed the Jews stabbed Germany in the back causing its defeat; moreover, Jews “directed an international conspiracy of finance capitalism” (Dictatorships) against the German race rendering the disintegration of the economy. This became the foundation of Hitler’s hatred towards Jews. However, Hitler’s distorted view of Darwinism, the concept of ideas surrounding the survival of the fittest, also contributed to his hatred towards the Jewish population. He believed by destroying the inferior races, namely the Jews, it would ensure the existence or survival of the German population.
The Jewish Holocaust is the highest form of hatred, which greatly influenced mankind. It displaced, or aliened lives of a large population and united the Jews resulting in the creation of a new nation, the State of Israel. Ultimately, it made the society reflect on the disastrous incident as well as learning to value justice and peace greater than before; which, of all impacts of the Holocaust, can be considered the most critical one. This can be claimed as the most important impact on the world as peace leads to prosperity and a better world for not only of this generation, but also the generations to come. In addition, the Holocaust may possibly be a reason why world peace can be achieved in most parts of the world today. Furthermore, the moral lines in the world today are more clearly defined. For instance, genocide is now universally acknowledged as unacceptable. Finally, the Holocaust acts as a precedent for the citizens of the world to prevent genocides in the future.
As the lives of many Jews were uprooted by the Holocaust, the Jewish population was also decreased and traumatized. Most of the Jews who were liberated from concentration camps were unwilling to return to their hometowns, and instead, lived in Displaced Persons Camps. In addition, these victims were afraid of being purged, frightened, and had lost confidence in people. Also, their hometowns were destroyed and they weren’t proud of their Jewish background. These were all contributing factors of the standstill of the Jewish culture’s development. Secondly, the Holocaust led to the establishment of a new country-the State of Israel. The resistance of the Holocaust’s victims in returning to the biblical homeland caused large populations of Jewish immigrants, but many countries restricted the number of Jews into their countries. With the creation of Israel, Jews were able to immigrate freely; this also symbolized some unification of the Jews. Finally, and most significantly, the Holocaust made the human race respect equality, human rights, and harmony. The Holocaust still reminds the world today of a cruel, painful historical event with memorial dates set to commemorate the millions of innocent people who had died during the Holocaust. Not only are there on-going investigations of the Holocaust, but the Holocaust also provoked many to analyze whether the idea and practice of eugenics, the study and practice of selective breeding of the humans, is right or wrong. Numerous essays and reviews have been written after the Holocaust based upon the morals behind the practice of Eugenics. Furthermore, the events of the Holocaust are teaching materials for future generations in order to develop one’s own stance and view.
The Holocaust stirred much discussion and debate on the morality of eugenics practices. After the Holocaust, many people wrote pieces to express their personal opinions and thoughts on the incident. For example, Frederick Osborn firmly agrees with the idea of eugenics and the reason which many wanted others to accept: the idea that they are genetically inferior among the society. In addition, even though people are not willing to accept being second rate, if another reason can be found this proposal, then maybe the proposal, concerning being second rate, will be accepted (Egnor). On the other hand, other individuals have strongly disapproved with eugenics.
“I don’t believe that man is the product of purposeless natural selection. I believe that man is created by God, for a purpose, and that each of us is in part the image of God. Our dignity is that we carry that image. We are not mere animals to be bred and culled. Our dignity is not that we are smart, or strong, or that we have prevailed in our struggle for survival. Our dignity is that we are human and carry our Creator’s image, and we retain that full dignity despite the accidents of illness or genetics” (Egnor).
An idea worth considering after reading the quote is the point of view of the speaker. One must understand Egnor, the speaker’s, point of view in stating what he did before making a stance in agreement or disagreement with him. From the quote above, it is apparent that Egnor’s statement was from a Christian’s point of view. Similarly, individuals have also claimed that Darwinism was only an ‘excuse’ for the actions such as Hitler’s genocide of mainly Jews and other inferior ethnic groups among the society; that “Darwinism was used by eugenicists to justify their scientific researches. These programs were based on the idea that evolution failed to ensure the survival of the fittest people in the modern society; that it needed other forms of help, or support” (Wilkins). In the end, some have come to the conclusion that “the world is made better by every person” (Egnor), while others continue to believe that eugenics should exist and be practiced. No matter which stance one chooses to advocate, or support, the Holocaust has made many individuals reconsider the proposal of eugenics.
Moreover, the Holocaust brought an awareness of mankind around the world; it made people around the world uphold respect, peace, justice, human rights, and social equality. Thus, defining clearer moral lines would be an example of this.
“On December 9, 1948, because of Raphael Lemkin’s relentless efforts, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This convention establishes “genocide” as an international crime, which signatory nations “undertake to prevent and punish” (What is Genocide?).
Raphael sought to define the deliberate act of exterminating a group of people and formed the word genocide. It was because of his efforts in fighting against this ruthless act that there are now laws to prevent and punish the crimes of genocide. In addition, awareness among mankind, to many individuals, is the only constructive accomplishment that resulted from the Holocaust. For example, Ray Cook is one who shares this opinion about awareness that resulted from the Holocaust. He states that if one were to search for something positive from the Holocaust, it would be the conscience of the world. Not to feel guilt for what they weren’t involved in, the Holocaust, but to acknowledge that humanity can have a profound effect on people; also, be willing to be conscious of genocide and to destruct genocide and racism wherever it may occur (Cook, pg 3). Although many people around the world did not take part in the Holocaust, the Holocaust has affected the majority of mankind.
Actions have been taken to expose the tragedy that happened to the victims of the Holocaust in order to remind people to not let the Holocaust reoccur. Firstly, in order to commemorate the 6 million Jews who were murdered 60 years ago, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as, Yom HaShoah, was established. The Holocaust Remembrance Day is held on the 27 Nisan, the seventh month of the civil year on the Hebrew Calendar. First initiated in 1951, Yom HaShoah was anchored in a law that was signed by the Prime Minister and the President of Israel. In addition to this, many monuments and museums opened to memorialize the Holocaust and its victims. Similarly, books about the Holocaust have also become teaching materials to educate future generations. For instance, the novel The Diary of Anne Frank has been translated numerous times and is read amongst the younger generations today; exposing children to the frightful situation Jews faced during WWII. In the opinion of the vast majority, teaching the younger generation is crucial. For instance, Jennifer Rosenberg is one who believes that “without discussing and teaching our children about the Holocaust, they will grow up ignorant about such important event in history” (Rosenberg). Likewise, the Holocaust Museum Houston also shares the same belief as Rosenberg, as it shows in its mission statement, which manifests the museum’s focus on teaching the history of the Holocaust:
“To promote awareness of the dangers of prejudice, hatred, and violence against the backdrop of the Holocaust…. By fostering Holocaust remembrance, understanding, and education, the Museum will educate students as well as the general population about the uniqueness of that event and its ongoing lesson: that humankind must learn to live together in peace and harmony” (Berger).
The Holocaust acts as a constant reminder for us, showing us the importance of peace and equality; ultimately, proving to us the need to prevent future genocides and to eradicate them when they occur.
Another example that shows the measures the world has taken in preventing the Holocaust from happening in the future is The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. The purpose of this programme, created by the United Nations, is to “remind the world of the lessons to be learnt from the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide” (Holocaust and United Nations). Not only does the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme commemorates the death of the Holocaust victims, the United Nations have also taken steps in order to remind all people of the danger in which comes with hatred, prejudice, and racism. Furthermore, The Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme have also proposed resolutions in rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event whether it is in partial or in full. Moreover, the United Nations have urged all member nations to take part in rejecting any Holocaust denial. The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for example, believes Holocaust denials should be rejected. In a press conference in 2006, he stated,
“Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, are just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community” (Holocaust and the United Nations).
In addition, the United Nations has also worked together with the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF) in order to assist the UN member states in creating national educational curriculums about the Holocaust. To clarify, the ITF is an organization consists of government officials, as well as both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The main goal of ITF is to gain leaders’ support in the need of research, education, and remembrance of the Holocaust. An example of a Holocaust educational curriculum is The Footprints for Hope Program designed to allow teenagers to learn about the Holocaust through historical artefacts, to be more specific, the shoes of those murdered in the Holocaust. The main goal behind The Footprints for Hope Program is to stimulate students’ interests in further learning about the Holocaust and to reinforce the importance of respect, and the worth of individuals. In conclusion, the United Nations is a perfect example in portraying the actions humans have taken in order to commemorate, and more importantly, preventing future Holocausts.
In addition, in recent years, efforts have been put forth to collect the testimonies of the liberated Holocaust victims.
“Over half a century after the end of the war, we know much more about the victims – in recent years particularly a concerted effort has been made to interview survivors of the Holocaust. There are now over 100,000 Jewish testimonies collected – in written, oral, and video form – perhaps the largest total gathered on one specific historical subject” (Kushner, pg 84).
One may come to wonder, why weren’t these testimonies recorded after liberation? Why weren’t they valued back then? Although there may not be a definite answer for any of the questions above, some have claimed that it was because the victims were not willing to share their near death experience due to reasons such as the Holocaust victims having yet to overcome their shock of the experience in order to reflect on it. However, others have also supported that the silence after 1945 was due to a lack of people interested in the experiences of the Holocaust victims. An example to illustrate this is Tony Kushner, who claims that: “The reality is that many survivors did want to talk about their lives during the war but they faced a world that was at best indifferent and at worst openly hostile to them exposing their experiences” (Kushner, pg 85). Furthermore, there are three commonly used reasons for the need to now accumulate victim testimonies no matter in video, oral, or written form. To start with, one of the reasons that collecting testimonies is important is to be able to combat the Holocaust denial in not only the present, but also in the future. Secondly, the aspiration to inform the younger generations, as mentioned before, and moreover, so that family experiences will not be lost. Finally, it is argued that the victims have reached the age of retirement, and are able to reflect on their traumatizing experiences (Kushner, pg 85). Hence, due to reasons such as those listed above, men from all around the world are slowly realizing the importance of these victims’ statements in forming a precise knowledge of what took place during the Holocaust. For example, Lawrence Langer states that: “Historians are slowly coming to agree that survivor accounts are a crucial source of evidence for appreciating the unorthodox and unprecedented moral universe of the Holocaust” (Langer). In conclusion, more people are beginning to appreciate the value of victims’ accounts in combating Holocaust denial; and also in educating the generations to come. More importantly, it demonstrates the willingness of the population in listening to what these Jewish victims have to say. By accumulating these testimonies, we may ultimately gain a better understanding the events that took place during the Holocaust.
Furthermore, apart from bringing awareness, gathering victims’ testimonies and discussions on the practices of eugenics, the Holocaust also shattered the lives of the Jewish population. After being liberated from concentration and death camps, many survivors were so mentally disturbed that they committed suicide. The survivors “[â€¦] suffered psychiatric illnesses, and some committed suicide. They had been emotionally damaged during the war and were unable to recover” (Greenfeld pg 109). On the other hand, many survivors of the Holocaust had no clue what they were bound for; many refused to return home. After liberation, survivors feared to revisit their hometowns due to anti-Semitism, or hatred of Jews, that prolonged in parts of Europe and also because of the horror and trauma they had endured (The Aftermath). They were scarred forever and had no further plans for their future; the humiliation would always dwell within the survivors. Irving Altus, a survivor of the Holocaust recalls: “and we were debating what we are going to do now. What should we do? What should we do with our lives now? It’s no future there” (Wraight). Similarly, Chief Rabbi Ferenc Hevesi describes how he believes those who allowed the Holocaust to happen should feel after the humiliation and uneasiness the event, Holocaust, caused the Jewish victims to felt. Hevesi stated, “The yellow star will be removed from us, but a mark of humiliation will always show on the breasts of those who forced us to wear this star and those who by their indifference allowed this to happen” (Morse, pg 350). In short, it became extremely difficult for those survivors who were liberated to, once again, gain confidence and trust in people. As the pain and fear dwelled amongst the survivors of the Holocaust, the Jewish culture’s development hurled to a standstill.
The Holocaust greatly reduced the population of the Jews. The Nazis annihilated an estimate of six million Jews during World War II; amongst the six million deaths, around one and a half million children were murdered. “It is generally assumed, 4 million died in camps and 2 million perished elsewhere-mainly by shooting in the Soviet Union or by starvation and disease in the ghettos of Eastern Europe” (Marrus, pg. 199). Even so, there are still revisionists who either claim that the Holocaust never happened at all, or that it didn’t happen in the way the historians acknowledge it. An example of a revisionist would be David Irving, an English writer, who made claimed that the Holocaust was not the works of Hitler’s.
“They [the Jews] were the victims of a large number of nameless criminals into whose hands they fell on the Eastern Front. Mostly around Eastern Europe, the liquidations occurred. And these men acted on their own impulse, their own initiative, within the general atmosphere of brutality created by the Second World War, in which of course Allied bombings played a part” (David Irving).
Although his claims and beliefs might sound plausible, his trials and criticisms by others must also be taken into consideration. Irving has been trialed numerous times for his assertions such as that there were no gas chambers or that it was not systematic murder. In these trials, David Irving has failed to defend for his beliefs hence, losing these trials and ultimately, becoming bankrupt paying all the cost of the trials for Penguin. Bankruptcy struck David Irving in 2002. Not only has he failed to defend himself in trials, he is also not a trained historian but rather, a writer. Therefore, his view on history is very selective. Irving has also been criticized by many historians such as, Professor Richard J. Evans, a historian and Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, and Christopher Browning, an American Holocaust historian. After examining Irving’s works for two years, Professor Evans suggested that David Irving used forged documents as sources and could not be considered a historian. Professor Evans stated:
“Not one of [Irving’s] books, speeches or articles, not one paragraph, not one sentence in any of them, can be taken on trust as an accurate representation of its historical subject. All of them are completely worthless as history, because Irving cannot be trusted anywhere, in any of them, to give a reliable account of what he is talking or writing about. […] If we mean by historian someone who is concerned to discover the truth about the past, and to give as accurate a representation of it as possible, then Irving is not a historian” (David Irving).
Therefore, Irving lost, along with all of his money, all of his credibility; ultimately, proving the claims of the revisionists, concerning the happenings of the Holocaust, wrong.
In addition to a decreased Jewish population, the Holocaust also displaced the Jews, which ultimately led to the establishment of the State of Israel. Firstly, a factor that caused such a large displaced population was the on-going anti-Semitism throughout Europe. As a result of the anti-Semitism, the majority of the Holocaust victims either lived in Displaced Persons Camps or immigrated to other parts of the world. However, most nations strictly limited the number of Jewish immigrants. This situation where nations restricted the amount of Jewish immigrants could be described by the following passage:
“Thousands of them moved westwards; and thousands more moved westwards from Poland, from Hungary, and from elsewhere following a wave of anti-Semitic pogroms in 1946 which left many dead. But the states of western Europe were reluctant to absorb these Jewish refugees, and those who sought to travel to Palestine were prevented by the British, who held the territory under a League of Nations mandate” (The Aftermath).
Subsequently, on May 14th, 1948, the State of Israel was established after decades of effort in creating a Jewish homeland, or also known as Zionism. The definition of Zionism is a movement aimed to establish a Jewish national community in Palestine (Merriam-Webster). As a result of the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews were able to immigrate freely into the nation. From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, statistics show that approximately 120,000 Jews immigrated to the State of Israel in 1948 while approximately 240,000 Jews immigrated in 1949. In addition, 170,000 more Jews immigrated to Israel in 1950 (Map). In short, before Israel was established, it was difficult for Jews to immigrate to places away from their own homelands. However, after the founding of the State of Israel, Jews could now immigrate freely into a nation without any limits or restrictions; Jewish victims could immigrate into the State of Israel without restraints.
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