Holocaust Essay, Research Paper
?The holocaust is a Greek word (holo ?whole?; caustos ?burned?) which is a religious rite in which an offering was entirely consumed by fire.?(Encarta) In modern world the word holocaust refers to any widespread of human disaster, especially means slaughter of Jewish population in Germany and in German-controlled states.
When somebody hears ?holocaust? the first thing that comes to their mind is the killing of Jews in Poland and that Poles did not do anything to help Jewish people. It is not true, because ?not just Poles and Jews, but Poland?s Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Byelorussians, Tartars, Gypsies, Catholic, Orthodox, Uniate, Protestant, Judaic and Moslem were all to pass through the mills of Hitler?s and Stalin?s human engineering? (Lukas, p ix), and many Polish people risked their lives to save Jews. Also, there were many other great crimes and murders, such as the killing of the Armenians by the Turks or murders of Russians by Stalin, but the Holocaust stood out as the ?only sysmatic and organized effort by a modern government to destroy a whole race of people.?(Seymor) The Germans under Adolf Hitler believed that the Jews were the cause of all Germans troubles and were a threat to the Germans and Christian values.
Following the defeat of the Germans in the World War I, the Treaty of Versailles and the United Nations resolutions against Germany raised many militaristic voices and formed extreme nationalism. Hitler took advantage of the situation and rose to power in 1933 on a promise to destroy the Treaty of Versailles that stripped Germany off land. Hitler organized the Gestapo as the only executive branch and secret terror organization of the Nazi police system. In 1935, he made the Nuremberg Laws that forbid Germans to marry Jews or commerce with them. Hitler thought that the Jews were a nationless parasite and were directly related to the Treaty of Versailles. When Hitler began his move to conquer Europe, he promised that no person of Jewish background would survive.
Before the start of the World War II, the Jews of Germany were excluded from public life, forbidden to have sexual relations with non-Jews, boycotted, beaten but allowed to emigrate. When the war was officially declared, emigration ended and ?the final solution? to the Jewish problem came. When Germany took over Poland on September 1, 1939, the Polish and German Jews were forced into overcrowded Ghettos and employed as slave labor. ?The war in Poland was not conventional war that is war against Polish government and its armies, but a war against Polish people and destruction of Polish population.? (Lukas) The Nazis jailed and executed intellectuals and priest, closed all schools, churches and forbade Poles from holding professional positions. 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland and as Hitler promised to his people that no person of Jewish background would survive and he started murdering innocent people.
Hitler established ghettos in Poland where all the Jewish and other minorities were forced to live there. They were separated from the rest population and kept isolated from the city and the news. People in the ghettos lived in bad conditions: 2 or 3 families lived in one room, there was not any food or water, which helped diseases to spread and kill many people. Jewish did not want to go to ghettos so they tried to hide from the Nazis. The Poles came with help risking their lives to save others lives. Germans established a law that said if a Pole will hide or help a Jew then he will be killed with the rest of his family. Even thought there was this law that supposed to scare people from helping others, many Poles helped Jewish to survive the war. Many Poles risked and lost their lives to save Jewish population. The best example of this is Janusz Korczak, who were director of an orphan home were little Jewish kids lived. One night the Nazis came and they wanted to take these children to concentration camp. Janusz Korczak did not want ?his? children to be killed, but he knew he couldn?t do anything to help them. He did not want ?his? children to die alone, so he sacrificed his life and he was killed in poisonous gas chamber with ?his? children.
When Jewish people saw that many Poles want to help them, they realized that they also must do something to help themselves. In April 1943, the first Jewish uprising came in Warsaw Ghetto. More than 60,000 armed Jews decided to resist and they fought for 28 days, but the heavily equipped German forces put down the violent uprising. The Jews lost their battle, but it showed that they did not lost hope for survival.
After Ghettos, Jewish and Poles were transported in little cattle cars to concentration camps. The victims traveled for days without food, water and air and some of them did not make it to their destination. At the camp, SS doctors waited for them and inspected the new arrivals. Who was strong and young were sent to work, but others who were weak, old and even children (they were too small to work) were sent to gas chambers were they died. After few minutes, a squad of Jewish prisoners would remove gold teeth and other expensive values from the dead bodies. Later, these bodies stripped from everything were burned in crematoriums. Sometimes this process happened few times a day, and near the end of the war the killings were even made at night to get rid of more bodies.
The war in Europe ended on May 8th, 1945. The following years tented to heal a few wounds, but the damage caused to the Jews of Europe could not be fully repaired. These horrific events of the holocaust have let some consequences, which are unfortunate to the Jewish people. ?A great deal of the Jewish culture and learning perished. Deep mental scars plagued the survivors and their children.? (Seymor) The population of Jewish declined and after the war many Jewish still had a problems finding jobs. Most of them lost a close relative or at least knew someone who died in the gas chambers of the Nazi concentration camps. Also, many Polish people by helping Jewish lost their lives and families. This has put a psychological strain on Jewish and Polish survivors, because some of they did not have a family or friends with them for support and love. They lost everything in the war and now they had to start all over again, but sometimes without any relatives and friends. The World War II and the Holocaust showed an aspect of human cruelty that was exposed more brutal than the civilized world could admit.
Lukas, Richard. The Forgotten Holocaust. The Poles under German Occupation 1939-
1944. New York: Hippocrene Books. 1997.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99. Holocaust. CD-ROOM
Seymor, Rossel. The Holocaust. Toronto: Canada. 1981.