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The Holocaust: Planned Physical Extermination Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 10th, 2021

The issue of racial interrelations has always been a burning one for mankind. It is universally known that some people differ from others in the country of origin, in the color of skin, in the shape of eyes or nose. But it is also a universal fact that all human beings were created equal on the Earth, and no one can discriminate against a person on the basis of his or her skin color or racial identity. (Kehr, 1978, p. 32) These statements sound simple and understandable for humans nowadays, but no for all of us. That is why ethnic conflicts still constitute a great part of international relationships. Nowadays, we can witness the consequences of what ethnic cleansings led to in Serbia and Kosovo. Interracial conflicts within Palestine, Iraq and many other countries of the world prove that the ethnic question is still a burning one for mankind. But today’s situation does not seem that difficult as it was at the beginning of the 20 th century when the political ideology of National Socialism and Nazism was a dominant one around the majority of the European countries. ( Adler, 1987, pp. 54 – 56) At that period, many nations, especially Slavic and Jewish ones, experienced terrible discrimination against themselves. These ethnic groups were exterminated by the Nazi rulers of almost all the European countries. The very process of the planned physical extermination of the whole nations during 1930 – 1940ss which took place in the Nazi concentration camps, was called “The Holocaust” (from the Greek “holekauston” where “holos” meant “completely” and “kaustos” meant “burnt”). ( Bauer, 1978, p. 4)

As it has already been stated, the process of the Holocaust took place all around Europe. Let us try to see why it had such territory of action and what were the main reasons for the Holocaust on the whole. The Holocaust was the process of ethnic extermination of certain nations, especially the Jews. Why then was this process so wide according to the territory? The answer lies in the historical background of the situation that formed in Europe in the late 1930s. The Jews did not have their own country, so, beginning from the Middle Ages, they had to look for a place to live all around the world. (Rayski, 2005, pp. 443 – 447) The greatest number of Jews settled in Europe, especially in the countries where racial discrimination was not observed, and the political system was liberal enough. Throughout the history of European countries, the Jews dealt with finance and trade, and although they were considered to be cunning, European nations found their advantages of living in one country with them. (Hilberg, 1985, pp. 36 – 41) Nothing indicated that soon the situation would change so drastically.

After the end of World War I, the attitude towards the Jews in Europe changed very much. The countries that lost their influence during the war and were defeated, namely Japan, Turkey, and Germany, considered the Jews to be the leading cause of their defeat. (Poznanski, 2001, pp. 67 – 78)In the former two countries, this issue was not that significant as the number of Jews there was very small, but Germany was furious about the defeat and was eager to restore its power as soon as possible. To do this, the leaders of Germany had, at first, to find the people responsible for the war results and take revenge upon them. This would have satisfied the offending national identity of the Germans and add to their confidence in the further struggle. (Kahn, 1978, pp. 43 – 56)

The rise of the Nazi Party in Germany coincided with the time when all the above-mentioned issues troubled Germans most of all. The Nazis, headed by a talented speaker and political leader Adolf Hitler (AKA Schicklgruber), used the Jews’ question as to the leading point of their political platform. (Baldwin, 1990, p. 12)The diversions were carried out by the Nazis dressed like Jews to raise the hatred towards Jews among the population of the whole of Germany. (Adler, 1958, pp. 33 – 37)The Nazis reached the goal they had set themselves, and the popularity of the Party became incredible because it named the people who were to blame for all the misfortunes of the German nation and promised to punish them and lead Germany to lost power again. When the Nazi Party won the Parliamentary elections of 1933, and Adolf Hitler became the new Chancellor of the Third Reich, the fate of Jews was decided. (Bar-Adon, 1941, p. 45) Lots of concentration camps were erected all over Germany aimed at exterminating the political and ethnic enemies of Nazism. But then, with the start of World War II, the geography of the Nazi concentration camps widened greatly. ( Aronowicz, 1993, p. 88) The places of genocide were built in almost all countries of Eastern and Western Europe, such as Poland, Romania, France, and some others. (Marrus, 1981, p. 54)In this essay, we are going to concentrate particularly on the point of the Holocaust in the countries of Eastern and Western Europe, namely the extermination of Jews that took place in Romania and France during World War II.

The process of the Holocaust in Romania is one of the most forgotten pages of Holocaust history. (Ioanid, 2000, pp. 99 – 104) The situation in Romania at the time when the Holocaust began was rather specific, and knowing this situation can mostly explain the reasons for the Jews’ extermination in this country. First of all, Romania had the third in number population of Jews in Europe after the USSR and Poland. (Bauer, 1979, p. 83) Secondly, Romania was headed by the people who were Nazi’s allies. This means that, at first, the King of Romania Carol II and then the people who displaced him, Ion Gigurtu and Antonescu, followed the policies of Nazism in their rule over the country. During this regime, a lot of right-violating and anti-Semitic acts and laws were adopted in Romania. Between 1941 and 1942, over thirty anti-Jewish laws made the life of Jews in Romania unbearable. Jews were forbidden to take public offices, to get higher education, to possess any public institutions privately. Jewish people of art were not acknowledged as artists, and their works were not allowed for public exposure and sale. ( Levin, 1945, pp. 34 – 76) Because of these issues, many Jews decided to live in Romania and move to Palestine by sea, but during these trips, lots of them died in the storms and ship crushes.

Understanding this all, we should also understand the reasons for the hatred towards Jews in Romania. Among the most important reasons, there are racial prejudice, mostly based on assumptions than on facts, and also the political situation in Romania and its neighboring countries. Romanians were inclined to think that Jews spread various diseases and they should be sterilized in order not to let their physically inferior representatives produce new generations of such people. (Arad, 1978, p. 91) Besides, Romanians considered Jews to be the Soviet spies, and this point was of crucial importance in the considered period as Romania had to share its territory with the USSR. (Ioanid, 1990, pp.66 – 72) As the majority of the Jewish population of Romania lived in those territories, the Government, having decided not to give up any territory to the Soviet Union, became eager to remove all Jews from those regions. This operation was carried out with the purpose of avoiding any possible diversions from the Jews who were thought to support the USSR. (Dobroszycki,1993, p. 59)

As we can see, there were enough excuses for the Nazi Government of Romania to start the Holocaust of the nation that was considered to be responsible for all the misfortunes of Romania. On the territory of Romania itself, there were no concentration camps before the Nazis subjugated the country, but the extermination of Jews was carried out by other means such as suffocation, shooting, and hanging. (Kissener,1995, pp. 44 – 65) A noticeable case of the anti-Jewish policy in Romania happened in 1941 when rumors were spread about the landing of the Soviet parachutists near the city of Iasi, where the main part of the population was Jews. (The Last Stand, 1944, p.74) The punishment detachments were sent to the city, and over nine hundred people of Jewish origin were killed during the massacre that took place in the city of Iasi. The head of the mobile killing detachments that committed the act of genocide, Otto Ohlendorf, said concerning this event and other numerous killings of Jews around Romania: “I am in favor of expelling the Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina on the other side of the border…There is nothing for them to do here, and I don’t mind if we appear in history as barbarians…There has never been a more suitable time in our history to get rid of the Jews, and if necessary, you are to activate machine guns against them.” (Shachan, 1996, pp. 221 – 244)

The events that were taking place in Transnistria, one of the Romanian regions, also deserve considerable attention. In this area, over two hundred concentration and labor camps were built in order to exterminate as many Jews as possible. (Laska, 1983, pp. 332 – 335) Those who could work worked, others either died from malnutrition or were killed in the most disgusting way. In 1942 over a hundred young Jewish women were told that they would be driven to Germany, but then were killed and raped in a forest close to the camp they were imprisoned in. (Caron, 1999, p. 354). The acts of the Holocaust against Jews took place even when the Soviet Army started the advance on Romania. At that time, lots of Jews were forced to live in the border regions they lived in and go to the camps erected at the area of Tirgu Jiu. (Langbein, 1996, pp. 352 – 367)

All the above mentioned examples prove that the Holocaust in Romania took place and was one of the severest acts of genocide against Jews in the world history, only in Germany there were killed more Jews. The Nazi occupation, together with the domestic anti-Semitic regime created the conditions under which Jews could exist in Romania. Those who were lucky managed to leave the country when it was possible, others either died in the concentration camps or were killed during numerous punishment rides of the killing units of S. S. (Bauer, 1989, pp. 412 – 435)

In France, the situation resembled one of Romania but, nevertheless had its own peculiarities. After the World War I, France was one of the most liberal countries in regard to the possibility of Jews immigration into the country. Jews from Poland, Hungary, and Romania moved to France in addition two the Jews who left Germany afraid of concentration camps that were starting to be erected after the Nazi Party came into power. (Braham, 1994, pp. 53 – 57) By the beginning of the World War II, there were about 400, 000 Jewish people in France. But with the defeat of the country in the war against Germany, the positions of Jews turned out to be not safer than in Germany. (Kowalski,1986, pp. 220 – 235)

The armistice signed between France and Nazi Germany in 1940 stated that France gave some of its territory up to Germany, while other areas of France were ruled by the French, but Nazi, Government. The head of the Nazi France, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain was a great supporter of the anti-Semitic policies of Germany. (Kaye, 1992, p.63) The capital of the new France was situated in the city of Vichy, that is why France of this time is called Vichy France. (Bauer, 1981, p. 55) At once after coming into power, during 1941 – 1942, the Vichy Government adopted the “Law of the Jews,” which was clearly anti-Semitic. This law prohibited the Jews from participating in the social and political life of the country, gave them no access to the education and career in any of professions including medicine, science, and law. Jews had to resign from the leading positions they occupied in the authority offices and in the Army. (Bar-Adon, 1958, pp. 413 – 423)

The second stage of the genocide against Jews in France consisted in establishing lots of concentration camps all over the country. The largest one was called “Gurs”, it was situated close to the Spanish border, which guaranteed that no one would run away as Spain was also the ally of the Third Reich. (Zuccotti, 1999, p. 49) Many Jews died in the French concentration camps, those who survived were transported to the camp “Auschwitz” in Poland and were severely tortured and killed there. The plan titled “Final Solution” was started in 1942 by the Germans in collaboration with French Nazi Government. Its aim was to remove all the Jews from the territory of the Western Europe, and place them in the concentration camps in Poland, Hungary, and Germany. (Ainsztein, 1974, pp. 45 – 85)

But if we compare the volume of genocide against Jews in Romania and in France, we will find considerably different data. In France, the majority of Jews, who managed not to be imprisoned in the concentration and labor camps, survived the Nazi occupation. This was due to the powerful Anti-Nazi Resistance movements which were supported by Jews and non-Jews all over France. In 1942-1943, the most active resistance group was the detachment number two of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans–Main-d’Oeuvre Immigree (FTP-MOI). It was a French Communist unit members of which primarily were Jews born abroad but who moved to France before the World War II. (Bauer, 1973, pp. 54 – 76) In Paris, for example, these partisans conducted numerous armed attacks on German soldiers. They operated in small groups, throwing bombs into restaurants, hotels, and other public places, which were frequently attended by the German military and civil officials. Also, these detachments set numerous ambushes in order to kill as many Nazi soldiers as possible.

One of the most prominent leaders of the French-Jewish resistance Movement was Marcel Rayman, a Jew who was born in Poland but immigrated to France. He was the member of the French Communist Party and was an influential person whom Nazis were afraid of. (Kohn, 1971, 99 – 134) Rayman and his comrades killed many high-ranking German military and intelligence officials, but did not live to see the victory of the Anti-Fascist Forces. Marcel Rayman and his group was captured and executed by the Germans in 1944.

Speaking about the Resistance movements in Romania, the situation was not that good as in France. But nevertheless there were Partisan movements and detachments which cooperated with anti-Nazi forces of the bordering countries like Poland and the Soviet Union. Such names as Golda Bancic, Aron Dereczynsky, Rubin Segalowicz and plenty of others are the name of the Jews who contributed greatly to the Jewish Anti-Nazi Resistance Movements in Romania. (Braham, 1998, pp. 67 – 112)

All the above considered data, facts from the history and clear examples from the works of prominent historians allow us to make the following logical conclusion to this research essay. The Holocaust was one of the greatest crimes that a human being ever committed in the history of the mankind. (Laska, 1985, p.97) Great numbers of Jews, as well as other national minorities like Gypsies, were exterminated without any exception and mercy by the Nazi Germany rulers. Lots of concentration and labor camps were erected all around the Europe during the World War II by the Nazis to keep their prisoners there and to wipe off the face of Earth the nations that were considered to be inferior to the German race. Jews were proclaimed to be responsible for all the misfortunes of the German nation, that is why they were legally killed in all the countries which supported the ideology of Nazism. France and Romania are not the only countries where this terrible anti-human genocide took place. It was also observed, at even greater rates in Germany, Poland, Hungary and the USSR. The lesson of the Holocaust must be studied by today’s and next-generation for them not to allow anything of this kind to appear on Earth in the future. What we also must do is remember the victims of the Holocaust and speak openly about the lessons of the past without any fear, because this will allow us to hope that there will not be another Holocaust in the history of the mankind.

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