Holocaust Memory: Essay, Research Paper
Germany surrenders unconditionally May 7, 1945. Victory in Europe Day is celebrated May 8. For millions, these two dates meant the end of World War II in Europe and the end of the Holocaust: the torturous inhumane treatment that caused death for millions of people. The effects of this event left non-Aryans, especially Jews, persecuted and the rest of the world in wonder of the horror. Those who survived and those who understood are the voices’ of the Holocaust and they tell us not to forget the immorality and destruction.
If we are not to forget, we must come to a realization of how horrific the evil was. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis of Germany proclaimed their plan for the final solution’. Jews and other non-Aryan races were sent to labor camps and then concentration camps. Many were killed in gas chambers while others died from starvation and disease. Rudy at Auschwitz remembers, “We were starving. We were dreaming of food.” Most of these people had no knowledge of their planned death. The Germans invaded cities everywhere, forcing whole villages of people into a single ghetto. Stores, houses, and other things of value were destroyed. People thought the terror would never end, as they became aware that millions of people were dying.
The voices’ of the Holocaust want us to remember the incomprehension that most people shared. Nobody could understand any motivation that would cause someone (Hitler) to order the death of millions based on religion and appearance. In Italy, a young boy tried to explain to village people the need to hide from Germans
” …Why do they want to kill you? Because we are Jews. But why would they want to kill you? It doesn’t make sense.” (Leo Finds a Safe Haven) Even those sent to concentration camps couldn’t comprehend it: “I didn’t know what extermination camp’ meant. People told me, but I couldn’t imagine or understand it” (Ben at Auschwitz). The ignorance of such evil led to the confusion and lack of action as Hitler tried to take over Europe. Another reason that led to lack of action was that people did not want to recognize the savageness taking place. They didn’t want to admit that something so uncivilized was happening to our world. These seem to be the mistakes that held the Allies back from winning an earlier victory.
While some people couldn’t understand or ignored the Holocaust, others did understand and risked their lives to save people. It’s common knowledge that Anne Frank and her family were hidden for several months, trying to escape the Nazis. In the winter of 1944, a Polish foreman risked his life for girls working on his rabbit farm. He allowed them to eat vegetables from the rabbits’ food supply and when one of the girls became sick, he infected himself so he could receive medication (Rescuers). Another man in Holland, Joop Westerweel, rented apartments for Jewish families and led groups of children to Spain. However, in 1944, he was killed by the Nazis (Rescuers). A Ukrainian farmer, Kalenczuk, hid four people on his farm for 17 months.
He continued to feed them, even after part of his harvest was taken by the Germans (Rescuers). During 1943, a girl, Francine, and her mother and sister joined their uncle in Occupied France. A farmer, Hertaux, rented them a room and lied to the Germans when he found out they were Jews (Francine in Hiding). These are experiences the voices’ want us to remember.
The world must also learn from the past. Miriam Charles said, “It [evil] must not be forgotten–or it will come back again.” This is true and people must try to understand the Holocaust to prevent it from happening again. We must acknowledge any terror that arouses and end it. From the examples above, one can see that the Holocaust had a shocking effect on people. At first, the Nazi war crimes were incomprehensible. Then, the Allies took action, as well as others who risked their lives, to save the Jews and end the war.
Those voices’ of the Holocaust tell us never to forget the maliciousness that caused the disastrous effects and inflicted the savage torture of so many. We, the people of the world, are to remember Hitler and the Nazis’ reign of terror that spread across Europe. We cannot forget how it took a world war to end this. The voices’ want us to understand and perceive how the lives of millions were ended abruptly and how those who survived must have felt when they were liberated. Most importantly, we must keep a memory of Hitler’s destruction and inhumane acts, so they can be prevented. “The inability to comprehend evil on such a scale gives evil an advantage” (Miriam Charles).
Ben at Auschwitz. http://wwwbeta:state.sc.us/scetv/les5.html
Francine in Hiding. http://wwwbeta:state.sc.us/scetv/les8.html
Leo Finds a Safe Haven. http://wwwbeta:state.sc.us/scetv/les8.html
Rudy at Auschwitz. http://wwwbeta:state.sc.us/scetv/les5.html