The Holocaust Essay Research Paper Historically the

The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper Historically, the word holocaust meant a religious rite in which an offering was completely consumed by fire. In current times the word

The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper

Historically, the word holocaust meant a religious rite in which an

offering was completely consumed by fire. In current times the word

holocaust has changed to a darker more tragic meaning and refers to

more than a religious sacrifice. During World War II, a fire raged

throughout Eastern Europe. Guns, bombs, and military groups did not

ignite this fire. This fire burned intensely in the hearts of men —

sparked by centuries-old prejudice. One man, Adolf Hitler, took this

flicker of hatred and fanned the flames. Hitler energized and stoked

the embers, spreading them throughout Eastern Europe causing widespread

destruction in the pursuit of a perfect Aryan nation. Although the

Holocaust is measured over the course of twelve long years, it does not

begin with the mass murder of innocent victims. Michael Berenbaum, a

survivor of the Holocaust believes, “Age-old prejudice led to

discrimination, discrimination to incarceration, incarceration to

elimination” (Altman 1). Thus, the progression of prejudice in the

Holocaust began as a flicker of hatred in the heart of a leader and

became a blazing inferno consuming the lives of the men, women, and

children who crossed its radical path.

After World War I, the social climate in Germany was depressing. The

German people were humiliated by their country’s defeat and by the

terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The financial depression that

resulted left millions of individuals out of work. The German

government was weak, and the people sought new leadership. These

conditions provided an opportune setting for a new leader, Adolf Hitler,

and his party, the National Socialist German Workers Party. Hitler,

reckless and powerful, was able to fan the flames of an ancient hatred

into a wild and out of control holocaust (Altman 12).

As with most hatred and prejudices, the hatred that fueled the

Holocaust started with verbal abuse. As soon as Hitler was named

chancellor, he persuaded the cabinet to declare a state of emergency

allowing him to end all personal freedom. Among the rights lost were

freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of gathering. He then

voiced his beliefs in the supreme “Aryan” race. As his beliefs spread,

spoken or verbal abuse escalated. Those who were not considered to be

of the perfect “Aryan” race were jeered and mocked. Fred Margulies, a

survivor of the Holocaust, recalls: ” When I was about ten years old

there was a knock on my apartment-house door: and there was my best

friend, Hans. And he spat in my face, and he said ‘Manfred, you

dirty…Jew’ my best friend changed overnight” (Shulman 7). The Jews

endured burning words tossed at them consistently. At first, they were

told Jews were not desired, and finally, they were told Jews were

prohibited. Jews were not the only ones attacked. Jehovah Witnesses,

handicapped individuals, and foreigners were also considered racially

and genetically poor. These verbal attacks became the match that would

ignite a much bigger fire.

Verbal attacks sparked an avoidance of those considered undesirable. On

April 1, 1933, Hitler called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses.

Nazi storm troopers stood in front of stores owned by Jewish

proprietors holding signs that warned: “Don’t buy from Jews,” “The Jews

are our misfortune,” and “Buy Aryan” (Bachrach 14). Many Jews lost

their businesses as a result of the boycott. Restaurant signs

cautioned, “No Jews or Dogs Allowed”(15). Radio broadcasts and

newspapers became Nazi advertisement tools to spread lies about the Jew.

Schools taught that the Aryans were the most intelligent race.

Pictures were displayed showing the sizes of different brains and

always depicted the Aryan brain as the largest. Furthermore, the

people were told it was a sin against the German people, their

ancestors, and the Aryans’ future to associate with the Jews. The Nazi

Party distributed leaflets urging pure Germans to keep their distance

from the Jews and to shun the Star of David with great ridicule

(Shulman 35).

The large-scale avoidance of the immoral Germans made German society

more receptive to legalized discrimination. The government was quick

to pass laws that in essence torched Jewish citizenship and their legal

standing within society. The Nuremberg Laws prevented immoral Germans

from being citizens, owning property, or marrying pure Germans. These

laws were further rectified to include statutes prohibiting Jews from

having public jobs or going to public places such as parks, libraries,

or theatres. The Jews were not permitted to have telephones, ride

public transportation, or serve in the armed forces. The laws became

so strict that Jews were allowed on public streets only on certain days.

The government even started regulating schools. Public schools were

prohibited for Jews, and private Jewish schools would later be included

in the ban. Nazis forced all Jews to wear the yellow Star of David.

The middle name of each male was changed to Israel, and females were

called Sara (Bachrach 24).

Lare Heuman recalls that for Jews in Germany, “Life went on relatively

normal, but more signs went up quickly of what was to come” (Altshuler

117). The flame would turn into a wild fire lashing out violently

against both people and property. The violence was first foreshadowed

in the Nazi book burning of 1933. At a Nazi rally, more than 25,000

objectionable books were burned in one night. A Jewish poet predicted,

“Where they burn books, they would soon burn people” (Stern 2).

The first physical violence flared at Kristallnacht. On November 9,

1938, the Nazi parties, aided by mobs of citizens, burned and wrecked

about 200 synagogues and 800 shops owned by Jewish proprietors. At

least thirty Jews were killed during the tormenting rage, which stoked

the blaze of injustice. Public safety servants such as police and

firefighters were present to protect and save the Aryans and their

nearby property and holdings, while the Jews watched in horror

(Bachrach 24). The Chicago Tribune headlines blared the “Systematic

destruction of Jewish property, looting, arson, and wholesale arrest of

Jews without official charges swept Germany today” (Altshuler 98).

Violence against the Jewish community got worse. Nazi violence against

the world community also increased.

The Nazi invasion of Poland and Russia set the stage for the beginning

of mobile killing squads. As the military gained control over the

various regions, the mobile killing squads were formed with the express

purpose of killing all Jews. These squads ordered their helpless

victims to march to large open fields and ravines where massive murders

were conducted. Massive graves became the resting spot for the

persecuted Jews (Ayer 9).

The raging fire had turned into an inferno. The killing did not end

with the mobile squads; for Hitler could not destroy the “immoral”

victims fast enough to suit his needs. He needed a faster and more

economical means to destroy large numbers of individuals. To achieve

this goal, Hitler and his band of followers expressed a plan, applied

trained personnel, constructed a killing machine, and employed

insincere language to cover up the criminal character of destruction.

The plan was called the “Final Solution to the Jewish

Question”(Altshuler 72).

Perfected by the Nazi Regime, the “Solution” focused initially on the

elderly, handicapped, and incurably ill. Shooting victims had become

expensive, and bullets needed to be reserved for the war effort

elsewhere. Carbon monoxide gas was put into large chambers made to

execute massive numbers of peoples. Even children were quickly chosen

for these first “gas” chambers as they represented the next generation

of Jews. Over time, a less expensive poison/toxin –Zyklon B– was

used in the concentration camps to quicken the massive murders.

The inferno was raging in a destructive rage. Healthy individuals were

maintained in concentration camps where the tiring work tested the

strength and spirit of the Jews. Some individuals were chosen for

experimental medical procedures with agonizing pain and at times

disfigurement and death (Ayer 53). Life was depressing in these camps,

but hope flickered in the hearts of some. The holocaust continued

until the war ended at which time the concentration camps were released.

With liberty, frantic murder and burning hatred ended.

Those who died in this tragic time gave way to the cruel blaze of

hatred. As one survivor put it, “One thing is clear what happened

exceeded our boldest horrors and ended with an answer to our greatest

prayers” (Shulman 59). Jewish prayers were answered when the

liberators put out the flames of hatred. Even so, the Jews were left

with a strong desire to let people know what really happened. Many

survivors are aging, and in years to come, no survivors will be alive

to tell what happened during the Holocaust. History shall never be

forgotten. The ashes have cooled and remain buried in massive graves.

The ovens that housed the inferno are silent and are visited today by

new generations that learn the story of the Holocaust from the dead.

The flames and fire that raged across Eastern Europe have died.

Tragically the prejudice that fueled the Holocaust still exists in the

heart of man (Shulman 59).

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