For understandable reasons, the World War II remained the most notorious bloodbath in the 20th century. However, apart from costing hundreds of millions of soldiers their lives, WWII also produced one of the most atrocious phenomena in the human history, which was the Holocaust (Shaw 78). Started in 1942 and taking place until the end of the war, the Holocaust was the genocide of Jewish people arranged by Hitler and implemented by the Nazi army (Grabowski 257).
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Even though concentration camps were established before 1942, it was only after the identified date that mass killings of Jews along with the deportation of the survivals to death camps became the official policy of Nazi Germany and was implemented extensively. The outcomes of the Wannsee Conference, during which Hitler’s policy toward Jews, i.e., their complete extermination, was proclaimed as the ultimate goal, can be viewed as the primary reason behind the Holocaust of 1942.
To pinpoint the exact date at which the Holocaust started is a rather difficult task because of the convoluted nature of the phenomenon. The anti-Semitic policies of Nazi Germany were established well before the WWII erupted. (Luxenberg-Eisenberg 426). However, it was only after 1942 that the anti-Semitic ideas were heralded as the foundation for the state’s foreign policy and the crucial step toward implementing the Nazi German ideas (Hirschfeld 31). Particularly, the Wannsee Conference held in Berlin should be viewed as the starting point of the Holocaust implementation on a massive scale (Hirschfeld 44).
It was during the conference that Reinhard Heydrich ordered that the so-called Endlösung (i.e., the Final Solution) implying the extermination of Jewish people across Europe should be carried out (Luxenberg-Eisenberg 426-428). Therefore, the prejudices against Jewish people that were viewed as the essential philosophy of Nazi Germany served as the reason for the Holocaust to commence. Particularly, Nazis, who were the proponents of the Aryan race theory, claimed that Jewish people were on the far opposite of the pure Nordic race and, therefore, were viewed as undesirable and unneeded (Hayes 111).
The Holocaust was implemented by deporting millions of Jewish people from European states to concentration camps, where they were doomed to death at the hands of soldiers, due to poor living conditions, or suicide (Lopez-Munoz and Cuerda-Galindo 89). Furthermore, countless numbers of Jewish people were ruthlessly killed by Nazis. Jewish people were deported from Slovakia, France, and other European states to Auschwitz and Belzec, the concentration camps where they were forced into slave labor, tortured, and killed in gas chambers (Hirschfeld 61).
Even though the hatred-fueled policy toward Jewish people among Nazis had been implemented before 1942, it was after the specified date that the process of extermination gained the scale of a Holocaust due to the results of the Wannsee Conference, with mass deportations to death camps and mass murders of Jews. Even though WWII triggered a range of devastating outcomes for all parties involved, it was the Holocaust, and especially the Holocaust of 1942, that remained its most horrid product. The genocide will always remain one of the most tragic events in the history of the humankind. Even with the military tribunals that followed the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust can never be forgotten. It is a horrendous mistake that people need to be reminded of not to repeat the past mistakes ever again.
Grabowski, Jan. Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland. Indiana University Press, 2013.
Hayes, Peter. How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader. University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
Hirschfeld, Gerhardt. The Policies of Genocide (RLE Nazi Germany & Holocaust): Jews and Soviet Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany. Routledge, 2014.
Lopez-Munoz, Francisco, and Esther Cuerda-Galindo. “Suicide in Inmates in Nazis and Soviet Concentration Camps: Historical Overview and Critique.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 7, no. 1, 2016, pp. 88-94.
Luxenberg-Eisenberg, Florence. “Management Changes and Challenges to Preserve Holocaust Extermination Site.” Review of International Comparative Management, vol. 14, no. 3, 2013, pp. 425-437.
Shaw, Martin. War and Genocide: Organised Killing in Modern Society. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.