The Holocaust Research Paper
The origin of the word Holocaust comes from the Greek shores and shallows radiant blue, which is holokauston. The word is a direct translation from the Hebrew word ólah, which means a burnt sacrifice offered to God. Today, the word Holocaust is known in history as the Jewish genocide or Shoah, meaning destruction. The term Holocaust has gained wide usage since then, as many believe that the word fittingly pertains to the ultimate manifestation of the Nazi Germany’s violence and racism – the extermination camps, where countless lives were subject to open fires and cremation.
In history, the Holocaust is known as the genocide of the European Jews in Word War II. The murder of the Jews was systematically done by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, where six million Jews perished. That is estimated to be two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population, polished off from the face of the world between 1941 and 1945. The murders were carried out in various methods, which included mass shootings and pogroms. Forced labor, gas vans, and gas chambers were also utilized in labor and extermination camps scattered across German-occupied Europe.
The persecution was implemented by Germany in stages. Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor paved way for a network of concentration camps in Germany, mostly built for political opponents and anyone deemed “undesirable”. On the 24th of March, the Enabling Act finally granted Hitler plenary powers. From there, the government began isolating the Jews from society, which manifested in forms of boycotting Jewish businesses and the Nuremberg Laws.
On the evening of November 9, 1938, the candle lights slowly dimmed for the Jews. Jewish businesses and other establishments where smashed, set on fire, and ransacked all throughout Germany and Austria, which is now known in the pages of history as the Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. A carefully arranged anti-Jewish violence, the Kristallnacht damaged more than 1,000 synagogues and business establishments. Thirty thousand (30,000) Jewish men were also arrested and deported to concentration camps. Police merely stood by as violence engulfed the streets, often done by neighbors. Firemen were present to protect Aryan property, doing nothing to prevent the flames destroying synagogues. Here, the Jews finally realized that they had no future left in Germany.
Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered World War II. By this time, the Nazis have moved to the next stage of their master plan: the formation of ghettos to separate the Jews from the rest. Eventually, camps and other sites of horrors were established across German’s new empire across Europe. The quality of life in the ghettos were extremely poor, and food was rarely available. The spread of disease was rampant, and many perished in the tight spaces. Eventually, the Final Solution needed to materialize. The Germans have been ordering deportation all throughout, but when an “evacuation to the east” was announced, most of the victims knew they were to face imminent death.
Death camps were essential instruments to the success of the Final Solution. While the Einsatzgruppen proved useful for slaughter by bullets, they needed to travel often and some reported to have suffered from psychological repercussions. With the killing centers, however, the process was reversed: the victims traveled to be slaughtered. They were taken by train on cattle cars to the extermination camps. Essentially, the camps became factories for producing corpses. And like burnt sacrifices, the bodies were thrown into open fires or cremation rooms. The mass murder was effective, efficient, and came with no psychological costs to the German staff. According to witnesses, a few Germans could kill tens of thousands of prisoners in a month.
In labor camps, death was also the end game for the Jews. Prisoners were deprived of food apart from meager pieces of bread, watery soup, and cups of bad coffee. The wardrobe consisted of the striped uniforms and wooden clogs, given nothing for warmth during cold winter nights. Medical care was close to non existent, and many of the wounded were left for dead or shot instantly. Sporadically, the prisoners had to line up for another Selektion, much like the first inspection upon their arrival. Those unfit to work were transported to death camps, straight into the gas chambers. Survivors often tell tales of them pricking their fingers for blood, which was then used to color their cheeks - to look “healthy” and avoid selection.
The system of murder ran smoothly for quite a while, and went on even as the Allied Forces started breaking down Germany’s defenses. Six million Jews perished.
While the Holocaust may be a tale of Jewish persecution, those who listen and understand will be able to acknowledge the evil that can bewitch society, the very one that caused this extreme suffering. This case of racism may be the worst the world has ever seen, but knowing what has transpired throughout those years will help prevent another one from happening ever again.