in history, theJewish Holocaust has to be one of the most prominent.
In the periodof 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” in1938. One of the end results of the Final Solution was the horribleconcentration and death camps of Germany, Poland, and other parts ofNazi-controlled Europe. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, peoplearound the world were shocked by final tallies of human losses, andthe people responsible were punished for their inhuman acts. TheHolocaust 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 “NurembergLaws”, which defined the meaning of being Jewish based on ancestry. These laws also forced segregation between Jews and the rest of thepublic. It was only a dim indication of what the future held forEuropean Jews. Anti-Jewish aggression continued for years after the passing of theNuremberg Laws. One of these was the “Aryanization” of Jewishproperty and business.
Jews were progressively forced out of theeconomy of Germany, their assets turned over to the government and theGerman public. Other forms of degradation were pogroms, or organizeddemonstrations against Jews. The first, and most infamous, of thesepogroms was Krystallnacht, or “The night of broken glass”. Thispogrom was prompted by the assassination of Ernst von Rath, a Germandiplomat, by Herschel Grymozpan in Paris on November 7th, 1938.
Twodays later, an act of retaliation was organized by Joseph Gobbels toattack Jews in Germany. On the nights of November 9th and 10th, over7,000 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 ofviolence to Jews made by the Nazis. Their intentions were now clear.
The Nazi’s plans for the Jews of Europe were outlined in the “FinalSolution to the Jewish question” in 1938. In a meeting of some ofHitler’s top officials, the idea of the complete annihilation of Jewsin Europe was hatched. By the time the meeting was over, the FinalSolution had been created. The plans included in the Final Solutionincluded the deportation, exploitation, and eventual extermination ofEuropean Jews. In September 1939, Germany invaded western Poland.
Most, if not allJews in German-occupied lands were rounded up and taken to ghettos orconcentration camps. The ghettos were located inside cities, and werea sort of city/prison to segregate Jews from the rest of the public. Conditions in the ghettos included overcrowding, lack of food, andlack of sanitation, as well as brutality by Nazi guards. Quality oflife in a ghetto was probably not much above that in a concentrationcamp.
In June 1941, Germany continued it’s invasion of Europe byattacking 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 NaziGermany. The SS deployed 3000 death squads, or “Einstagruppen”, todispatch Jews in large numbers (“Holocaust, the. ” Microsoft Encarta1996). In September 1941, all Jews were forced to wear yellow Starsof David on their arms or coats. A Jew could be killed with littlerepercussions for not displaying the Star of David in public. Some ofthe first Jewish resistance to the Final Solution came in 1943, whenthe process of deportation to concentration and death camps was infull swing.
The Warsaw ghetto in Poland, once numbering over 365,000,had been reduced to only 65,000 by the continuing removal of Jews tocamps in other lands (“Holocaust, the. ” Microsoft Encarta 1996). Whenthe Nazis came to round up the remaining inhabitants of the ghetto,they were met with resistance from the small force of armed Jews. Therevolt lasted for almost three weeks before being subdued. Between the years of 1941 to 1945, the main destination for Jews to betransported was a concentration camp or death camp somewhere in Polandor Germany. In these camps, innocent Jews, along with Gypsies, Slavs,Jehova’s Witnesses, Communists, and P.
O. W. s, were brutally beaten andabused, fed meager rations of poor food, worked to death, or simplyshot. The first of these camps were established in .