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Belzec Concentration Camp Essay

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Adolf Hitler stated: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” Hitler’s early life influenced his rise to power, the holocaust itself, and the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Adolphus Hitler was born in a small town in Austria-Hungary in 1889 as the second oldest child. He had two younger siblings, but his eldest ran away at age 14 because of their abusive father. That left Adolf to complete most of the chores bare the heavy end of the punishments. As a result, he had a very difficult relationship with his father. He was super attached to his mother who cared and worried about his well-being excessively. At first, Hitler did well in school, his teachers were proud, he played well with the other students, and he particularly loved to read stories about cowboys and Indians. As he grew older, he started to get into trouble at school and around the area. He was caught smoking, he raided an apple orchard, he disrespected his teachers, ad more. Because he did these things, his father punished him severely.

When Adolf was just 10 years old, his brother, whom he loved dearly, died of measles at age 6 and was buried in the cemetery just across from their house. After, neighbors began to see changes in Hitler’s behavior such as: talking to trees, and staying out late on the cemetery walls while staring at the stars. He lost interest in religion, and his grades in school began to decline. This enraged his father and was punished severely for it. Entering high school, he wasn’t interested in most subjects but spent his time reading and drawing which he was quite good at. His father died of a lung hemorrhage just months before Hitler barely passed his final semester. He dropped out of school at 16, instead of taking the final semester exam. For the next three years, he was unemployed and spent most of his time at the opera house with his only friend August. His friend later wrote about him saying that he was quick to anger just as his father was, and a fantastic speaker once he got started. At age 18, he said a very sad goodbye to his mother and went to Vienna to take the entrance exam for art school. He failed. Soon after, he returned home because his mother was sick and getting much worse. When she died, her doctor said he had never seen someone as overwhelmed with grief as Hitler was. He strived to find a career in the arts, but he never did. By his 20s he was living in and out of homeless shelters making very little money from postcards he painted. It’s difficult to pinpoint when Hitler formulated his beliefs, but his time in Vienna would have greatly impacted him. The Mayor, whom Hitler supported, was an outspoken anti-semite. He became a firm believer that there are many different races in constant struggle with each other and that the purest of them all was the German Aryan people and believed that the worst was the Jews. When he was 24 he moved to Munch in Germany to avoid doing military service. A year later, Hitler volunteered for the German army. He was reportedly a brave soldier and was awarded the iron cross, first class. Germany was defeated and surrendered, and he blamed the communists and the Jews. After the war ended, Hitler joined the National German Workers’ Party which became the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) known as the Nazis. For his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Hitler was imprisoned. While in prison, he wrote a memoir and a propaganda tract called (in English) “my struggle”. He was released from prison and within a few years, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. During this time, the Jewish population in Germany was 566,000.

February 27th of the same year, the Nazis wanted to create a chaotic environment, so they burned the Reichstag building to the ground. The next day, President Von Hindenburg granted Hitler emergency Powers as a result of the fire that Hitler had caused. Article 48 of the German constitution of the Weimar Republic allowed the president, under certain circumstances, to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag, generally known as a parliament.

The Dachau concentration camp was opened on March 22, 1933. As their punishment, prisoners were forced to stand without moving for endless hours. Shortly after, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, and Ravenbrück, which was a camp for women only, were all opened as concentration camps.

The Nazis staged a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses. Hitler made Jews walk up and down popular business streets, such as Buehlstrasse, holding signs that said, “Don't buy from Jews, shop in German businesses!!”

Several days later, the Nazis issued a decree defining who a non-Aryan was: “anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One grandparent or parent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan, especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith.”

April 26th, 1933 was the date that the Gestapo was created by Hermann Göering, the designated successor to Hitler. The Gestapo, the Secret State Police, was later taken over by Himmler to terrorize Europe.

May 10 of 1933 was the burning of the books in Berlin and throughout Germany. All the books that were burned contained “Ungerman” ideas, and those who burns the books said nazi songs and anthems while the books went up in flames.

In the summer of 1933, the Nazi Party was declared the only legal party in Germany.

In September of 1933, the Nazis prohibited the Jews from owning land. The next month they were also prohibited choosing from being newspaper editors. and a month later they decided to pass a law declaring that Beggars, the homeless, alcoholics, and the unemployed could be sent to concentration camps.

In the new year (1934), the Jews were banned from the German Labour front. In May, the Jews were not allowed National Health Insurance. In July, the Jew's rights to get legal qualifications were stripped of them. In that same year, in August, President Von Hindenburg died leaving Hitler to become the “absolute leader”. Days later, Hitler got a 90% “yes” vote from the German voters, approving his new powers.

In the early summer of 1935, the Jews were banned from serving in the military and a law was passed that allowed forced abortions on women in order to not spread hereditary diseases. on September 15th, 1935, the Nuremberg race laws were passed. This deprived German Jews of their citizenship. In the February of 1936, the German Gestapo was placed above the law. The Jews were banned from professional occupations in January of 1937.

Three main things happened in July of 1938: Jews were not allowed to trade or provide Commercial Services, Jews over 15 years old had to constantly have identification ready to show to the police at any time there were asked, and Jewish doctors could no longer practice medicine. In November of that year, any Jewish students were expected from all non-Jewish German schools.

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1939, in April, Jews were told they could not be tenants, and therefore were relocated to Jewish houses. Later, in May, a ship crowded with 930 Jewish refugees was turned away by Cuba, the US, and other countries. As a result, the ship, called St Louis, was forced to return to Europe. A few months later, on September 3rd, Great Britain declared war on Germany. 20 days later, German Jews were forbidden to own wireless radio sets. In October of that same year, the Nazis began euthanasia on the sick and disabled in Germany. They called it “mercy killing”. In October of 1939, a decree was issued saying that Polish Jews from the age of 14 to 60 could be forced into labor.

In late January of 1940, the Nazis chose the site of a new concentration camp, in the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in Poland. In February what is the first deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland? The Nazis invaded France containing a Jewish population of 350,000, Belgium with a Jewish population of 65,000, Holland with a Jewish population of 140,000, and Luxembourg with a Jewish population of 3,500. In June of 1940, did Nazis occupy Paris, and France signs an armistice with Hitler. Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940. The Nazis invaded Romania, containing a Jewish population of 34,000, on October 7. Also in October of that year, many participated in the deportation of 29,000 German Jews into France. In November Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia become Nazi allies, and the Krakow Ghetto is sealed off containing 70,000 Jews. Then on November 15, containing over 400,000 Jews Warsaw Ghetto is sealed off.

“I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear,” stated Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland in 1941. After a Dutch Nazi his killed by Jews, 430 Jewish hostages are deported from Amsterdam, in February. Less than a month later, German shoes are forced into labor. 3,602 Jews were arrested in Paris, in May 1941. A concentration camp, occupied in Poland, becomes operational in July of that year. On September 3rd of 1941 in Auschwitz, was the first test use of Zyklon-B gas.

December 7th, 1941 is a well-known event. This is the day that the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. Then the next day the U.S., fighting alongside Britain, declared war on Japan. Hitler declares war on the United States not even a week later. The United States entered the war concentrating about 90% of its military resources on Hitler and his defeat.

In January of 1942 in Auschwitz, mass killings of Jews using the Zyklon-B gas began, and bodies were buried in mass graves nearby. In March, the Belzec extermination camp was opened in Poland and was equipped with permanent gas chambers. Train loads of Jews begin to arrive at many different camps from all over Germany. In April of 1942, German Jews are disallowed the right to use public transportation. Sobibor extermination camp in Poland opens, containing three gas chambers. The New York Times reported that over 1,000,000 Jews were already killed by the Nazis by June of 1942. Treblinka extermination camp opened in Poland and contained 10 gas chambers which could each hold roughly 200 people.

The decision was made to burn the bodies in open pits instead of burying them, and so the bodies already buried, which were approximately 107,000 people, were dug up.

In September of 1942, they began to reduce the food rations for Jews. They also began cashing in all possessions of the Jews for money but gave away mostly the clothes to German families. There were estimated 800 boxcars of confiscated goods just from Auschwitz. In December 1942 after over 600,000 Jews have been murdered, the Belzec extermination camp is taken apart, plowed, and trees are planted in its place.

In August of 1943, after an estimated 870,000 deaths at Treblinka, exterminations cease. In October of that year, underground, the Danish helped to transport and save 7,220 Danish Jew's safety. Nearly 300 Jews escaped from the Sobibor extermination camp, but only 50 survived. Shortly after, the camp closed, and it was reported that there had been over 250,000 deaths.

In August of 1944, Anne Frank and her family were arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. Later, Anne and her Sister Margaret were sent to another camp where she died of typhus on March 15, 1945.

In 1944 the Nazis forced 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in horrible weather conditions. Shortly after there was a second forced march of 50,000 people.

In January 1945, Budapest was liberated by the Russians which freed over 80,000 Jews. Later, they also liberated Auschwitz. By this time it was estimated that 2,000,000 people, of which 1,500000 Jews, had been murdered there.

Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30th, 1945. That day, 33,000 inmates were freed by Americans from the concentration camps.

The Holocaust lasted between 1933 and 1945 in which 6 million Jews were murdered. Mazis called this time the “Final solution of the Jewish Question in Europe”. In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe was over nine million, and by 1945, Hitler had wiped out nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution”.

Many survivors found shelter in displaced people's camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948-1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Beginning in the early 21st century, the Swiss government and banks have established funds to aid survivors of the Holocaust as well as other victims of human rights, abuses, genocide, and others. Mostly all the survivors had serious psychological suffering, and many also had physical difficulties. They felt as if they were living in the shadow of the holocaust, always being haunted by the memories. Survivors began searching for their families soon after liberation. John Freund wasn’t lucky enough to live with his family again. He wrote this saying, 'Our beautiful apartment was empty. Shortly after liberation, a young man and woman I had met asked me why I never smiled. “How can I?” I replied. Now that hunger and the fear of death receded, the pain and sadness of living through hell and losing all those I loved was great. I waited for someone from my family to return. No one did.'

Hitler’s early life influenced his rise to power, the holocaust itself, and the aftermath of the Holocaust. When you face a tragedy and a hardship such as a holocaust, it’s hard to look for God in this situation. To not feel lonely, when you have absolutely no one seems impossible. In the words of Franklin D Roosevelt, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” 

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