What Ended The Holocaust: Analytical Essay

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Introduction

The Second World War lasted 6 years, however, the impact it had on the wider world still exists in the modern day. The largest of these many impacts is the monstrous events of the Holocaust which were implemented by Adolf Hitler and resulted in the extensive murder of over 6 million Jewish people. Hitler and his Nazi Party, therefore had a devastating impact on the Jewish population in Europe during World War II, as he enforced laws and strategies that dehumanized and persecuted the Jewish. His views and attitudes towards the Jewish were outlined in his book, ‘Mein Kampf’ (My Struggle), and this served as the basis of his motive for victimizing and oppressing the Jewish following his succession into power in 1933.

Hitler’s Philosophy

After Germany’s defeat in 1918, anti-Semitism beliefs accelerated among the people of Germany. German writers and public figures falsely accused the Jews and communists of diminishing morale back in Germany, while the army was still winning the war. This was known as the ‘stab in the back’ argument and was used by the Germans as an excuse for their defeat in the First World War, and Adolf Hitler in particular, enthusiastically embraced this thesis. (Anon., n.d.) Hitler strongly believed that the Jewish were the enemy or a poisonous race who ‘lived off’ other races. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) He also heavily relied on ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ which was a fallacious composition written by anti-Semites used to prove the alleged aspirations of the Jewish to take over the world. (The National Library of Israel, n.d.) Further beliefs are outlined in Hitler’s book, ‘Mein Kampf’, as he expresses his hatred for the Jewish people, referring to them as being human forms of the ‘devil’. He states, amongst other beliefs, that the Jewish were trying to subjugate and destroy racial foundations by systematically lowering the racial level with the continuous poisoning of individuals and that they only wanted a central organization, which had its own sovereign rights and was isolated from any intervention from other states, for their apparent world swindle. He referred to this as ‘a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.’ (See Appendix 1) Consequently, these strongly opinionated beliefs would soon serve as the basis of his plans to wipe out the entire Jewish population in Europe.

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Anti-Semitic Policies and Laws

Adolf Hitler being voted in as the Chancellor of the Reich in 1933 bought new laws and policies that extensively discriminated against the Jewish. Hitler and his Nazi party’s intentions were to exclude the Jewish socially, legally, and physically, and as a result, leave Germany. This occurred with the passing of the first law known as the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. Essentially, this meant that anyone who was deemed Jewish was expelled from their jobs and professional life. This included government officials, teachers, shop owners, lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople, amongst many others and most Jewish businesses were taken by the Nazis and then sold to non-Jewish Germans for a bargain price. (The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, n.d.) (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) Under this law, any person who had at least one grandparent who was Jewish was deemed as a Jew, even if they didn’t consider themselves to be Jewish or hadn’t practiced Judaism for years. Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity were also defined as Jewish. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) The Germans, encouraged by the actions of the Nazi party, began to victimize the Jewish. Businesses put up signs saying, ‘Jews not welcome’ and local councils placed signs on benches and park gates restricting and denying permission for the Jewish to use them. By the end of 1935, two more anti-Jewish laws were passed. The first was known as the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour and the other was the Reich Citizenship Law. These laws were together known as the Nuremberg Laws. The first law prohibited the Jewish from marrying and having sexual relations with Aryans, who were the desired German race, in order to protect the purity of the German blood, which was thought to have been necessary to uphold the German race. (Admin, 2016) The second law robbed the Jewish of all their legal rights and Reich citizenship, therefore making them legal residents in Germany and not citizens. In order to, assist the Germans in understanding the Nuremberg Laws, complex charts were created outlining the classification of the Jewish. (See Appendix 2) People who had three grandparents who were Jewish were considered to be fully Jewish and others who had fewer Jewish grandparents were referred to as ‘Mischlinge’ or half-breeds. (The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, n.d.) This was represented on the charts as circles. Black colored circles represented the Jews, white represented the Aryan Germans and the partially colored circles represented ‘mixed race’ individuals. (Admin, 2016) With these laws and many other policies in place, Hitler’s desire to create a pure German race was beginning to become a reality.

Strategies Used to Suppress the Jewish

In order to suppress the population of the Jewish in Europe, Hitler used multiple strategies which were persecuting and dehumanizing. During Nazi rule in Germany, sterilizations were carried out in order to rid the country of ‘genetically diseased’ people. The Nazi regime carried out roughly 400, 000 forced sterilizations and over 275, 000 euthanasia deaths resulting in the near annihilation of Jewish people in Europe. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) On the night of November 9, 1938, and the following morning, most of Germany’s synagogues and any remaining Jewish shops were vandalized or burnt down and at least 91 Jewish people were killed along with approximately 30, 000 more were arrested and confined in concentration camps due to an organized assault by the Nazi regime. This became known as Kristallnacht or the ‘Night of the Broken Glass’. (Holocaust. cz, 2011) (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) As Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the persecution of the Jewish increased further as the Nazis decided upon a temporary solution: concentrating and ghettoizing the Jewish population until they could devise a plan to exterminate them. Ghettos differed from concentration camps, in the fact that they had autonomous Jewish administrations. This, however, was merely an illusion that served as a tool for the Nazis. The Jewish were stripped of the majority of their belongings and their contact and relationships with the rest of society were broken off. The largest ghettos were located in the cities of Warsaw, which held up to 480, 000 Jewish people, Lodz, which had a maximum of 160, 000 and Lviv, which contained almost 150, 000 Jewish people when first established. While others that were comparatively smaller were located in Minsk, which held 100, 000, Vilna, which contained 57, 000 Jewish people who were all shot to death, and Bialystok, which contained 50, 000 Jewish people. The victims of these ghettos suffered from a lack of proper nutrients and medicine, therefore killing many elderly people and children. Furthermore, the task forces (Einsatzgruppen) terrorized the local population, and if they were deemed undesirable, shot and murdered any Jewish person. (Shoah Resource Center, n.d.) (Holocaust. cz, 2011) With temporary solutions for the Jewish question in Europe already underway, it was only a matter of time before a permanent and devastating extermination of the Jewish population occurred.

The Final Solution

As Hitler and the Nazi party’s desire to create a ‘pure’ Europe became stronger, their patience lowered resulting in the greatest dehumanizing act in history. This was a result of the dissatisfaction caused by the ineffectiveness of conventional killing techniques used to murder large numbers of Jewish people. (The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, n.d.) The Final Solution was the mass murder, or genocide, of all the Jewish people in Europe. In fact, the term ‘final solution’ was created by the Nazis in order to hide their true intentions from the greater world (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.). Initially, Hermann Goering, who was acting as Hitler’s second-in-command, sent the order to Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Main Office for Security and Heinrich Himmler’s direct subordinate, to prepare for the implementation of the ‘final solution’. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) Later, in the suburb of Wannsee on January 20, 1942, fifteen leading officials, who were members of the Nazi party, met to discuss the ‘final solution to the Jewish question in Europe’. This, as a result, triggered the large-scale gassing of the Jewish in German concentration camps, starting with Auschwitz, which was used to test the killing potential of Zyklon B gas (crystalline hydrogen cyanide gas). (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) Chelmno, however, was the first official Nazi camp that used poison gas, or more specifically carbon monoxide, to kill the Jewish. Others included Belzec (March-December 1942), Sobibor (May-July 1942 and October 1942-October 1943), Treblinka (July 1942-August 1943), Majdanek (September 1941-July 1944) and Auschwitz-Birkenau (March 1942-January 1945). (The Weiner Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, n.d.) In the spring of 1942, Heinrich Himmler, whom Hitler gave the responsibility for overseeing all security measures in newly conquered areas of the Soviet Union and the authority to eliminate any threats to Germany’s rulers in any way he thought was necessary, designated Auschwitz II, or Auschwitz-Birkenau, as a killing facility and it began to operate that same spring. (Sydney Jewish Museum, 2018) This camp, which is the most well-known Nazi camp, was used to murder the Jewish people in ‘Greater Germany’, along with those who resided in German-occupied or German-influenced areas of western, southern, south-eastern, and northern Europe. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d.) As a result of the implementation of the Final Solution, both the Jewish population in Europe and the wider population of the world were heavily impacted.

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