The Holocaust is the term used to denote the execution of more than six million Jews which was perpetrated by the National Socialist Germany Workers [Nazis] Party during the Second World War. Holocaust [Shoah] signifies the era of the reign of Adolf Hitler as the chancellor of Germany from 30 January, 1933 to 8th may, 1945.
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This genocide represented two-thirds of European Jewish population, and a third of the world Jewish population. Those Jews who were killed were victims of intentional and systematic efforts of the Nazi to annihilate all Jews in Europe, but not casualties of Second World War which devastate Europe (“Jewish virtual library,” par. 1).
Following the success of the National Social Germany Workers Party in the 1932 elections, Adolf Hitler was appointed Germany chancellor. The Nazis, capitalized on the then unstable Germany government to gain an electoral foundation. The Nazis provoked conflict with the communist, organized numerous demonstrations, and conducted a ferocious propaganda crusade against its political rivals -the Weimar authority, and the Jews who they held accountable for the all the Germany evils (“Jewish virtual library,” par. 3).
Why did it happen?
Propaganda against Jews
The common media the Nazis used for the campaign against the Jews was the Weekly Nazis newspaper, “The attacker.” At the bottom line of the front page of the newspaper, a slogan, “the Jews are our misfortune!” was inscribed in bold letters. The attacker often featured Jewish cartoons characterized with hooked-noses and ape statures. In fact about half a million copies of “The Attacker” were supplied per week (par. 4).
Shortly after Hitler attained chancellorship, he organized for new elections in endeavors to acquire full power over Reichstag (parliament) for his party. The Nazis terrorized other parties using government’s resources. After the Reichstag house was burned down, the German’s democracy was placed in jeopardy.
Immediately, the Nazi’s government eliminated various privileges including the sovereignty of press, freedom of expression, the right to assemble and the privilege for privacy. In the March 5 election the party succeeded by securing more than 50 percent parliament seats (par. 6).
The Nazis immediately transformed their authority into dictatorshipvia the Enabling act passed on March 23. This act legitimized Hitler’s dictatorial ideas and allowed him to implement them over generally all areas. Additionally, the Nazis organized their propaganda machine, Der sturmer, and overshadowed their critics. In addition the put up a well organized military and police unit. Any opposition to the Nazis authority culminated to imprisonment in the concentration camps, which initially served as political prisoners (par. 7, 8).
Eventually, Hitler gained full authority over Germany and reinforced his campaign against the Jewish community in Europe. The Nazis accused the Jews of contaminating pure German traditions with their “mongrel” and “foreign” exertion. They depicted an evil and cowardly impression of the Jews, as opposed to the Germans who they expressed as truthful, brave and industrious. The Nazis alleged the Jews for the weakened German’s economy and civilization, because they occupied considerable positions in finance, commerce, the press, art, theatre and literature (par. 9).
Another element which contributed to the holocaust is race perceptions in which there was a misconception that the superior race was the “Aryans” which signifies the Germans (Leni Yahil 36).
It is believed that the holocaust was perpetuated by the sentiment European Christians had about the Jews. These sentiments are proven by various anti-semantic myths that were held across Europe (Ashliman, par. 1). These myths portrayed the Jews as very brutal and sacrilegious people, causing them to be hated by the rest of the communities in Europe.
The proceeding paragraphs reviews one of the anti-Semitic myths. Most of these legends were propagated in Germany which explains why Germany was the setting of the holocaust. I am going to review one of the twelve anti-Semitic legends to emphasize why there was such ferocious hate for the Jews.
“The Jews’ stone,” is a story of a peasant who sold his child to some Jews. The Jews then took the child and brutally persecuted her on a large stone till death. From hence forth the stone was denoted the Jews’ stone. The mother of the child who was working at the farm sensed that a terrible thing has befallen her child. She hurried home to inquire about the child from the father who told her, he had sold the child. In the mean time the money turned to leaves.
The mother went to look for the child and she found her hanged on a tree and brought it down and took it to the church. The father was shocked and he lost his mind and shortly died. The stone was placed at the grave side of the child and it is believed that it is still lying there up to the present. Later on a shepherded shopped the tree down, but he broke his leg when trying to carry it home and he later died of the wound (Ashliman, par. 1).
The other anti-Semitic legends include; “the girl who was killed by the Jews,” “Pfefferkorn the Jew at Halle,” “the expulsion of the Jews from Prussia,” “the bloody children of the Jews,” “the imprisoned Jew at Magdeburg,” “the chapel of the holy body at Magdeburg”, “the lost Jew,” “the story of Judas,” “malchus the column,” “buttadeu, and the eternal Jew on the Matterhorn” (Ashliman, par. 1).
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The way the Holocaust was conducted
The Nazis reinforced their genocidal activity against the Jews with their racist hypothesis in conjunction with Darwinian Theory of evolution. Hitler started terrorizing the Jews and he imposed harsh legislation on them. These racist intents entailed a wide range of activities including exclusion from public proceedings, investment and assets confiscation; exterminating their professions and public learning institutions, and burning books of Jewish author(s). The most notorious of the anti-Jewish policies were the Nuremberg laws. This legislation constituted the legal foundation for the Jews elimination from Germany (“Jewish virtual library;” par. 12).
These reforms triggered a massive Jewish emigration from Germany to the neighboring European nations. Nevertheless, tough immigration policies hindered the Jews from leaving Europe. In fact such frustrations compelled a Jewish boy aged 17 to shoot and kill a third secretary in the Germany Embassy in France.
Nazi hooligans used this assassination as the excuse for initiating a famous night of destruction known as Kristallnacht. They plunder and spoiled many Jewish possessions including their residence, enterprises and place of worship, the synagogue. During these skirmishes, many Jews lost their lives and 30,000 of them were arrested and taken to the concentration camps (par. 13).
Jews confinement in the ghettos
During the onset of the Second World War, Germany invaded Poland and developed ghettos for the Polish Jews. There were about three million Jews in Poland, representing about 10 percent of the entire polish population. The Nazis authority forced the Jews from their homes to live in ghettos isolated from the rest of the ethnic groups.
This concentration in ghettos facilitated the Jews deportation to concentration camps by the Nazis authority. The ghettos were characterized by shortage of food, water, sanitary amenities, and space. Deprivation and starvation contributed to the deaths of many Jews in the ghettos (par. 17).
The “final solution”
In 1941 the Nazi invaded the Soviet Union and culminated into a plan of execution which they termed the “final solution.” In the same year four itinerant the Nazi developed einsatzgruppen A, B, C, and D, whose duty was to move around killing the Jews. The duties of this group were to systematically collect Jews from towns, parade them to pre-dug pits, strip them, align them, and execute them with sub-machineguns. One such popular massacre is the Babi yar’s in which between 30,000 to 35,000 Jews were murdered within a period of two days (par. 18).
The pinnacle of Nazi authority met to develop the a system to use to implement mass killing of the Jews. This discussion, the Wannsee Conference, indicated the preliminary for massive, thorough Jewish execution, and developed the plan for its administration which ensued shortly following the completion of the conference (Yahil, p. 328, qtd in “Jewish virtual library,” par. 19).
Although the Nazis killed other nationalities and communities including various soviet prisoners of war, gypsies and polish academics, just the Jews were targeted for methodical and complete annihilation. The Jews were specially exterminated by often chlorine gas poisoning (par. 20)
Noteworthy, all the execution points were situated along the railway lines to allow for easy transportation of the Jewish victims. A huge structure of camps backed-up the execution camps. The support camps played various roles such as serving as workforce camps, transportation camps, concentration camps, while others as death camps (par. 21).
In almost all the colonies of the Nazi, the Jews were obliged to wear badges to distinguish them from the other ethnic groups, so that they could be gathered into ghettos or alternatively concentration camps to be gradually conveyed to the death camps. Thousands of Jews were conveyed to the death camps from all the Nazi colonies. Shortly after their arrival, the victims will be gas poisoned’ and the bodies blazed. An estimated 3.5 million Jews were murdered via death camps (22).
Nevertheless, the able bodied young Jews were spared, to be used in the Nazi’s war effort and to provide forced free labour. They were confined in labour and concentration camps, and forced to labour in Germany’s munitions and other manufacturing plants including I. G. Farben and Krupps, and in every place the labour was necessary. These slave laborers were exerted from dawn till night with inadequate food and cover. Many of these Jews were essentially labored to death by the Nazi in conjunction with their collaborators (22).
Eventually, in the final months of Adolf Hitler’s reign, the Nazi military began to parade the survivors in the concentration camps to the regions they still governed. The Nazi military pressured the emaciated and sickly Jews to trek so many miles to reach other concentrations camps in nation that were still their subjects. Approximately 250,000 Jews died naturally or were shot during the marches (23).
Ashliman, D. L.(ed.). Anti-Semitic Legends. Jewish virtual library; The American Israel Cooperation Centre. 2010. Web.
Jewish virtual library. History of the holocaust – an introduction. West Bloomfield: Holocaust memorial center; The American Israel Cooperation Centre. 2010. Web.
Leni, Yahil. The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.