in history, the
Jewish Holocaust has to be one of the most prominent. In the period
of 1933 to 1945, the Nazis waged a vicious war against Jews and other”lesser races”. This war came to a head with the “Final Solution” in
1938. One of the end results of the Final Solution was the horrible
concentration and death camps of Germany, Poland, and other parts of
Nazi-controlled Europe. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, people
around the world were shocked by final tallies of human losses, and
the people responsible were punished for their inhuman acts.
Holocaust was a dark time in the history of the 20th century.
One can trace the beginnings of the Holocaust as far back as 1933,
when the Nazi party of Germany, lead by Adolf Hitler, came to power.
Hitler’s anti-Jew campaign began soon afterward, with the “Nuremberg
Laws”, which defined the meaning of being Jewish based on ancestry.
These laws also forced segregation between Jews and the rest of the
public. It was only a dim indication of what the future held for
Anti-Jewish aggression continued for years after the passing of the
One of these was the “Aryanization” of Jewish
property and business. Jews were progressively forced out of the
economy of Germany, their assets turned over to the government and the
German public. Other forms of degradation were pogroms, or organized
demonstrations against Jews. The first, and most infamous, of these
pogroms was Krystallnacht, or “The night of broken glass”. This
pogrom was prompted by the assassination of Ernst von Rath, a German
diplomat, by Herschel Grymozpan in Paris on November 7th, 1938. Two
days later, an act of retaliation was organized by Joseph Gobbels to
attack Jews in Germany.
On the nights of November 9th and 10th, over
7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed, 175 synagogues demolished,
nearly 100 Jews had been killed, and thousands more had been injured,
all for the assassination of one official by a Jew (“Holocaust, the.”
Microsoft Encarta 96). In many ways, this was the first major act of
violence to Jews made by the Nazis. Their intentions were now clear.
The Nazi’s plans for the Jews of Europe were outlined in the “Final
Solution to the Jewish question” in 1938. In a meeting of some of
Hitler’s top officials, the idea of the complete annihilation of Jews
in Europe was hatched.
By the time the meeting was over, the Final
Solution had been created. The plans included in the Final Solution
included the deportation, exploitation, and eventual extermination of
In September 1939, Germany invaded western Poland. Most, if not all
Jews in German-occupied lands were rounded up and taken to ghettos or
concentration camps. The ghettos were located inside cities, and were
a sort of city/prison to segregate Jews from the rest of the public.
Conditions in the ghettos included overcrowding, lack of food, and
lack of sanitation, as well as brutality by Nazi guards.
life in a ghetto was probably not much above that in a concentration
camp. In June 1941, Germany continued it’s invasion of Europe by
attacking and capturing some of the western U.S.S.R. By this time,
most of the Jews in Europe now lived in lands controlled by Nazi
The SS deployed 3000 death squads, or “Einstagruppen”, to
dispatch Jews in large numbers (“Holocaust, the.” Microsoft Encarta
1996). In September 1941, all Jews were forced to wear yellow Stars
of David on their arms or coats. A Jew could be killed with little
repercussions for not displaying the Star of David in public. Some of
the first Jewish resistance to the Final Solution came in 1943, when
the process of deportation to concentration and death camps was in
full swing. The Warsaw ghetto in Poland, once numbering over 365,000,
had been reduced to only 65,000 by the continuing removal of Jews to
camps in other lands (“Holocaust, the.
” Microsoft Encarta 1996). When
the Nazis came to round up the remaining inhabitants of the ghetto,
they were met with resistance from the small force of armed Jews. The
revolt lasted for almost three weeks before being subdued.
Between the years of 1941 to 1945, the main destination for Jews to be
transported was a concentration camp or death camp somewhere in Poland
or Germany. In these camps, innocent Jews, along with Gypsies, Slavs,
Jehova’s Witnesses, Communists, and P.O.
W.s, were brutally beaten and
abused, fed meager rations of poor food, worked to death, or simply
shot. The first of these camps were established in .