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    The Holocaust During Nazi Germany Is a Mysterious Part of History

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    History is not always completely understood or shown due to the loss or nonexistence of important evidence. Because of this, any existing documentations, testimonies, and information are considered to be valuable artifacts that can be taken into account to better comprehend the history and context behind them. The Holocaust during Nazi Germany in the 1930s to 1940s is a mysterious part of history due to the secrecy of the organizations and the crimes being completed. Various types of evidence left behind from both Jews and Germans of this time that survived, such as the community document ‘The Massacre of the Jews of Jassy’, deposition of Pesakh Burshteyn, and the diary of Jechiel Gorny hold great historical significance due to its ability to narrate indescribable events and express emotions that occurred during the Holocaust that can be used to further understand its nature.

    The Schutzstaffel, or SS for short, was a German organization that serves as one of the fundamental themes heavily mentioned in all three sources. The SS was a defense squadron that was in charge of regulating the movement of Jews, as well as the Final Solution to execute all Jews in Europe. They originally began as a hooligan group before Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1919. Eventually, they worked for Hitler, under the direct commandment of Chief Heinrich Himmler. In Himmler’s speech to SS officers in Posen, 1943, he preached about the moral standards and loyalty SS officers were required to have towards the German race, shedding light on the background and operations of this police force. Himmler also negatively commented on the race of the Jews and implied the willingness of the organization to eliminate all people of Jewish descent with any means necessary, including brutal violence. Because of this, historians and people today know Nazis to be very merciless and even evil, which is augmented and highlighted in these sources through historical fact and testimony.

    The diary written by Jeichiel Gorny features Jewish experiences in the ghettos and with SS officers. Although his diary is more informative and similar to a rapid report, important information is disclosed, in which he depicts the violent and authoritative display of the SS officials. He took note of a scene he witnessed in which an SS officer slapped a labor guard named Rosenberg across the face for losing a person he wasn’t even in charge of watching over. The viciousness of the SS can be further recognized when Gorny recorded a sign that stated, “‘Don’t [leave the block], there is an SS man over there, he will shoot you.’”, again providing more historical evidence about the savage and unsympathetic mindset Nazi Germans had (Gorny, 1942).

    His diary additionally held accounts of the various German deceptions, including Nazi controlled newspaper Kurier Warszawski and how “the report that unskilled workers would be released from the Umschlagplatz proved wrong.” (Gorny, 1942). This first-hand account of disappointment and deceit adds to the historical significance of Gorny’s diary as it demonstrates the lies the Nazis would create to either keep information classified or keep Jews ignorant. Many Jews, at first, entered the camps and ghettos with rumors that they would be able to live peacefully with their families at a new region, and believed they were going to take a shower before entering a gas chamber. Gorny’s diary helps expand knowledge on the Holocaust by granting insight into how challenging life was while living in the ghettos.

    Similar to Gorny’s diary is the the Deposition of Pesakh Burshteyn in 1945, which contains first-hand stories from a Jew who witnessed multiple destructive crimes completed by the SS while living in the ghetto, as well as their authoritative and inhumane personalities. He recounted on an instance where the SS, without any hesitation, shot and threw grenades at young Jewish rebels as if it were an instinct. He also noticed some of the officers sitting in a carrier tank “observing the scene and laughing” while they were completing a mass shooting, as well as a time in which officers beat Jews with knouts and stabbed them with bayonets (Burshteyn, 1945).

    These actions mentioned in Burshteyn’s deposition repeatedly reinforce the idea that Nazis were very heartless and intimidating people, thus making this source vital to interpreting the Holocaust. His account however, contains more emotions that were present behind the scenes, rather than only recording information on sightings and events that occurred as Gorny had done. He described the Germans and Latvian SS surrounding the ghetto as a “chain”, emphasizing his hostile feelings towards the Nazis through a unique choice of diction (Burshteyn, 1945). Unlike Gorny’s diary, Burshteyn additionally went more into depth about the number of deaths in and outside the ghettos, as well as a gave a description on the nerve wracking emotions behind being in a large crowd that “was unseasonably hot” with a “mood of panic” (Burshteyn, 1945). These small but impactful details allow readers/listeners to gain more insight on the various incidents that would commonly take place during the Holocaust.

    A Jewish community document from the Courtesy of The Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem is another essential written record. There is more information available in this document than in the deposition of Pesakh Burshteyn, in terms of the number and statistics of Jewish deaths. Knowing this data exemplifies the high value of this document, as it gives essential information to know about the devastating number of casualties caused by the Nazis during the Holocaust. This document also addresses the severe conditions of the train deportations to concentration camps that is absent in the witnesses of Gorny and Burshteyn.

    The document provides the number of deaths after the trip from Jassy to Roman and from Roman to Calarasi, which was approximately 2530, allowing readers to enhance their awareness on the disastrous and unfortunate state Jews were in during the Holocaust. Comparable to the other documents, the destructive nature of the Schutzstaffel are portrayed through witness stories, but this document additionally contains an underlying tone of anger and disbelief that the other two do not while outlining the behavior of the SS. The writers of this document applied an undertone of upset sarcasm as they described the SS helping Russian soldiers in the action of massacring innocent Jewish people as “kind assistance” along with the Nazi’s “brutal violence” as the SS took advantage of their authority to invade Jewish homes and murder them (Courtesy of The Central Zionist Archives, 1941).

    The Holocaust is not an unknown event that took place in history, however it is one of the more difficult concepts to fully understand due to its immorality and absurdity. With a basic grasp and recognition on World War II and the Nazi regime, analysis of these witness accounts and authentic writings can improve one’s understanding of the Holocaust by enlightening people with specific, emotive details that cannot be portrayed through a second source. Although people may not be able to fully comprehend the reasoning or justification behind the German Nazi’s actions, it is possible to learn from their mistakes and have a greater picture upon the nature of humanity.

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    The Holocaust During Nazi Germany Is a Mysterious Part of History. (2022, Nov 27). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-holocaust-during-nazi-germany-is-a-mysterious-part-of-history/

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