Accounts Of The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper
Accounts of the Holocaust
The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. I will tell the story of the Holocaust through many different personal accounts of people involved in many different sides of this incredible story. I will do this by using the personal accounts of surviving victims, of those not directly involved in the event, though affected by it, and the defense of the Nazi party. But first, I will tell you a little about the event.
The Holocaust began in 1938 and lasted until 1945. This was most definitely the hardest seven years the Jewish population has ever faced. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 European countries occupied by Germany during the war. The rise of the Nazi party?s anti-Semitism became noticeable in 1935 when laws were put forth limiting the rights of all German Jews.
For the Jewish population the hardest time came with the introduction of the concentration camps. Jewish people were
stripped from their homes and hiding places by the German special police services such as the Special State Police (the Gestapo), the Storm Troopers (S.A.), and the Security Police (S.S.). The Jews were transported, in mass amounts, to different Concentration and Extermination Camps throughout Europe. Here they were forced into labor and exterminated when found to be useless to the Nazis.
To explain the cause of the Holocaust we must first look at the situation through the eyes of the Nazi party. They truly believed that the Jewish population was the enemy and that annihilation was the only way to rebuild Germany. Dr. Joseph Gobells, the author of The Gobells Diaries, and a member of the Nazi party explained:
The Jews have deserved the catastrophe that has now overtaken them. Their destruction will go hand in hand with the destruction of our enemies. We must hasten this process with cold ruthlessness. We shall thereby render an inestimable service to a humanity tormented for thousands of years by the Jews. This uncompromising anti-Semitic attitude must prevail among our own people despite all objectors. (www.virtual.co.il,1)
Nazis felt that in order to build a perfect world all the impure
people, such as the Jews, must be exterminated.
The Nazi party also expressed why all Jews, including women and children, were targeted. Heinrich Himmler, of the Nazi party explains:
We were asked: What about the women and children? I made up my mind to find a clear solution here too. You see, I did not feel I had a right to exterminate the men while allowing the children to grow up and take revenge upon our sons and grandsons. We had to reach the difficult decision of making this nation vanish from the face of the earth. (www.virtual.co.il,2)
This statement shows that the plan of the Nazi party went much farther than the time of the war, They wanted to build a perfect world.
Some living in Europe, not directly involved in the Holocaust, were affected by the event. This is shown in a letter to the Reich Minister of Justice from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Limberg. It reads:
…Buses arrive in Hadamar several times a week with a large number of these victims. After the arrival of such vehicles the citizens of Hadamar then see the smoke coming from the chimney and are upset by constant thoughts about the poor victims especially
when, depending on the direction of the wind, they have to put up with the revolting smell. The consequence of the principles being practiced here is that children, when quarrelling with one another make remarks like: "You are thick, you’ll be put in the oven in Hadamar." People who do not want to get married or who do not get the opportunity say: "Get married? No fear. Put children into the world who then end up going through the stack." Old people are saying "on no account will I go into a state hospital! After the feeble-minded, the old will be next in line as useless mouths to feed." (www.virtual.co.il,3)
This shows that even those that weren?t targeted by the Nazis feared them. Children near the extermination camp were so desensitized to the thought of death that they made jokes about the suffering Jews. No one was protected from the rage of the Nazis.
Finally I will show you the events of the Holocaust through the eyes of the victims. A Holocaust survivor, David Katz, paints for us a very touching picture of life and liberation from an extermination camp. He speaks of the labor he was forced to do and the disturbing state he was in when he was liberated. He states:
My group, 44 Crop, had to work in the channels with cement. My foreman, Gelbar, said I must carry 50-pound bags of cement…. The cement would get into my eyes where I could no longer see…. We were given boiling water for lunch. We come back to the barrack at night, after the work day. People were continuously being beaten and falling down. Even the strong ones would fall from these beatings. (www.members.home.net)
He then states:
I was liberated from a Nazi death camp on May 8, 1945. I looked like a walking skeleton. I want the world to relive some of my experiences; and experiences of millions of holy Jewish people who were murdered by the criminal Nazis. (www.members.home.net)
David Katz does tell the story of millions of people. The only difference is that most never made it to the liberation of their camp. Most Jews were tortured, shot and gassed to death, and are unable to tell their story.
Finally, I want to leave you with a story that takes you from beginning to end. This is why I a finishing with a very touching poem written by a surviving victim. In this poem the author expresses his fear of the death he felt was certain to
come to him, his refusal to die that carried him through the
struggle, and how he had to rebuild a life for himself. It clearly says it all.
A Survivor’s Prayer
I have lived
in a world gone mad
and I have seen evil
unleashed beyond reason or
I was with them.
We drank from the same bitter cup.
I hid with them
Feared with them,
Struggled with them
And when the killing was finally done
I had survived
while millions had died.
I do not know why
I have asked many questions
for which there are no answers
And I have even cursed
my life thinking I could not
endure the pain.
But a flame inside refused to die.
I could not throw away
What had been ripped away
from so many.
In the end
I had to choose life.
I had to struggle to cross
the bridge between the dead and the living.
I had to rebuild
what had been destroyed.
I had to deny death