The Holocaust

Six million or more Jews killed. Five million other non-Aryans killed. How did this happen?

The Cause and Beginning of the Holocaust

As large portions of Europe were taken over by the Nazis, the Nazis started a new policy. In accordance to Hitler's beliefs, the Nazis decided that the Aryans (incorrectly used to mean Germanic people) were the "master race" of the world. The Nazis declared that non-Aryans, especially the Jews, were inferior. This idea would cause the mass killing of millions of Jews and non-Aryans. This slaughter was called the Holocaust. According to's article on "The Holocaust", the term 'holocaust' is from the "Greek word holokauston which means completely (holos) burnt (kaustos)"
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How did the Holocaust begin? Europe had been, for many generations, somewhat hostile to the Jews, mostly because they were not of the Christian faith. During and before the 1930's, Hitler had built a strong hate toward Jews; he was an anti-semitist. In his published book, Mein Kampf, written before he rose to power, while he was imprisoned for treason, Hitler wrote that Jews were the cause of Europe's and Germany's failures, and refers to his idea as the "Jewish peril". The Jewish were relatively wealthy in history and were also rumored to have been spies against the Nazis, causing Hitler to blame the Jews for Germany's defeat in WW1 and all of its economic problems. Hitler had made the Jewish people the scapegoat of Nazi Germany. Anti-semitic propaganda spread throughout Nazi Germany. Even Jews were forced to hold ant-semitic posters, humiliating themselves in public.

To the right is a photo of Anti-semitic propaganda posters. The poster the Nazi man in the middle is holding says, "Germans! Protect yourselves! Do not buy from Jewish stores" These posters posted by Nazis often spread messages that encouraged the Germans to boycott Jewish businesses.
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Starting in 1933, the Nazis enforced persecution against Jews. Firstly, they forbade Jews from holding public office. In 1935, they enforced the Nuremberg Laws, which took away from the Jewish their German citizenship, their jobs, and also their property. To identify the Jews, the Nazis forced the Jews to wear the yellow Star of David. In result, the Jews were heavily discriminated against.

To the right, is the Star of David cloth that Jews were required to wear on their clothing. Picture Source

Kristallnacht: "Night of Broken Glass"

On November 7, when a Jewish youth named Herschel Grynszpan shot an emplyee of the German Embassy in Paris to avenge his father's deportation, the Nazi leaders launched a violent attack on Jewish community. The Nazis murdered around 100 Jews destroying Jewish himes, buisinesses, and synagogues. This attack on the night of November 9 became known as Kristallnacht, or "Night of Broken Glass" after an American in Leipzig wrote, "Jewish shop windows by the hundreds were systematically...smahsed....The main streets of the city were a positive litter of shattered plate glass." Kristallnacht became a big step-up in the Nazi policy of Jewish persecution.

Above is "Kristallnacht- German pogrom of 1938", a video that contains actual footage and photos of Kristallnacht. It also discusses how statistics of Kristallnacht may be wrong, and that more damage might have been inflicted than what has been recorded by the Nazi government. (above) video source

Jewish Emigration

Overflowing Refugees

After the violent "Night of Broken Glass", known as "Kristallnacht", many Jews living in Germany evacuated to other countries, trying to avoid further violence. However, there were still many Jews left in Germany and in the lands that Hitler took control of. To solve this "Jewish Problem", Hitler took a powerful action by forcing Jews into emigration. The Central Office for Jewish Emigration was established by the high-ranking Nazi Adolf Eichmann; this office pressured and forced Jews to emigrate from Nazi Germany.

Since the number of Jewish refugees were increasing rapidly in countries that accepted the Jews, it created a problem. The following shows the countries which accepted Jewish refugees by the end of 1938 and their numbers:

  • France - 25,000
  • The British - 80,000
  • Latin America - 40,000
  • The United States - 100,000
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Above is a map of the emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany, 1933-1938. As you can see, the Jewish emigrated to all over the world. map source
Even though the Nazis wanted to continue removing the Jews, these countries refused to accept any more of them. Thus, Hitler's first plan of solving "the Jewish problem" was unsuccessful and he had to think of another way.

The Jews locked in Ghettos

Hitler put his second plan of solving "the Jewish problem" into action. He forced Jews living in all of his conquered countries into isolated cities in Poland. There were horrible, separated places in those cities called ghettos where Jews were caged in by wire and stone walls. The places were just unbearable that many people died of hunger and sickness, as the Nazis wished.

It was miraculous that the Jews survived through the ordeal. They were strong. They not only worked out ways to get the necessities but also tried hard not to lose their own values and customs. They made everyday life as pleasant and normal as possible by creating plays and concerts at the theaters and offering lessons in secret places. Moreover, they did not forget to write about what they experienced in the ghettos.

The following video will show how life was like in a segregated ghetto. (below) "Jewish Ghetto Warsaw in Color" This is actual color footage of the Warsaw ghetto. Although the first half shows people living life normally, the second half will reveal how people suffered through ghetto life.
video source

"The Final Solution"

Hitler couldn't wait for Jews to slowly die of famine or illness, so he decided to make a plan called the "Final Solution." This plan included genocide: the killing of a whole nation or race. One of the reasons, Hitler was determined to destroy all the Jews, was because he believed that the non- Aryans (non- Germans) and others, such as:
-the Jews
-the gypsies
-the homosexuals
-the mentally ill people
-the disabled
-the Jehovah's Witnesses
... were inferior to the Aryans. He considered these groups as subhumans.

After Hitler, the hrer ('leader' in German), invaded Poland in 1939, he made it clear that he was determined to wipe out the entire group of Jews, by sending the SS units ( the security force of Hitler) to capture all the Jews, regardless of their gender or age, and took them to pits and simply shot the prisoners to death.

Those not killed were taken to concentration camps. Concentration camps were all over Nazi Germany and the land taken over by the Nazis.
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Above is a map of the Nazi concentration camps and death camps. concentration camp map source

The lives in these camps were horrible for the Jews. All they were given to eat were scraps of bread and peelings of potatoes! The people starved and were becoming extremely weak; most of the people lost over 50 pounds the first month in the concentration camps. Jews had to work for 7 days a week!

The picture above shows children who had to suffer starvation during the rule of the Nazis.
Source for picture of children in famine

One of the survivors of the Holocaust said, from the Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction textbook,
"Hunger was so intense that if a bit of soup was spilled over, prisoners would dig their spoons into the mud and stuff the mess in to their mouths! "

Hitler's wish was finally granted in 1942. The Nazis found the way to kill as many Jews at a shorter amount of time.
Their solution was "gas chambers". They would make the prisoners: the young children, elderly and the sick, and the women to undress and go into have a shower. However, they led them to gas chambers with fake shower heads and poisoned them for approximately 30 minutes with cyanide gas. To get rid of the corpses, they built large ovens to burn the bodies.

The picture below shows the many lives that were poisoned in the gas chamber in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1944. All the corpses were dumped into a pit.


Source for picture above

These videos show the Nazi concentration camps and the victims of the Holocaust.

The video show shocking evidence of the Holocaust and how gas chambers were used. video source

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