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The Lost of Germany: Liberation and Death Toll of World War II
The Nazi Party’s regime was one of the darkest times not only in Germany’s history, but the world's. The regime was an instigator of the second world war and persecuted minorities–the non-Aryan races. During this time, racial persecution and war led to millions of deaths in Germany. Jews, gays, and other minorities became prisoners in concentration camps and other facilities until the end of the war. However, even after their liberation, the victims continued to experience persecution due to the persistence of discrimination in Europe.
The Losing War of the Nazi Party
World War II lasted for six years, starting with the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 until Germany’s and Japan’s defeat in 1945. However, Nazi Germany’s defeat was already apparent by the end of 1943. By this time, the Nazi Party was experiencing problems both in leadership and in their war efforts. Military leaders were losing their confidence as the Allies successfully penetrated their defenses. Many Nazi leaders were certain that they were fighting a losing war and it was only due to Hitler’s insistence that the war continued (Third Reich, 2020). Hitler ordered the German troops to continue fighting the war and ignored the strategic advice to withdraw.
As the Allies proceed to gain a more strategic advantage over Nazi Germany, Hitler continued to refuse to surrender to his enemies. Not long after, German patriots started to plot an assassination against Hitler to prevent the war from causing irreparable damage to their country (Third Reich, 2020). The patriots failed in their attempt to assassinate the Nazi leader as Hitler survived the bombing in East Prussia in 1944. As the war continued and Nazi Germany struggles to defend itself, Hitler lost his confidence. On April 29, 1945, Hitler appointed Karl Dönitz as the new head of the state and Joseph Goebbels as the chancellor. The next day, Hitler and his wife committed suicide. Other Nazi Leaders also committed suicide, including new chancellor Goebbels. Dönitz negotiated with the Allies and Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. However, the fall of the Nazi Party was not the end of World War II. The war ended when Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945.
Factors for the Nazis’ Loss
Nazi Germany’s loss was due to the combination of their organizational weakness and the overwhelming forces of the Allies. Since the Allies’ strength includes a variety of factors and may span a lengthy discussion, this section will only focus on Nazi Germany’s weaknesses that led to their defeat. According to The Wiener Holocaust Library, Nazi Germany’s loss was due to four major weaknesses: weak supply lines, poor economy, war on two fronts, and lack of strong leadership. These weaknesses made it difficult for Nazi Germany to defend their position which led to its defeat despite Hitler’s refusal to withdraw.
Nazi Germany’s poor economy and weak supply lines were closely related weaknesses as they magnified each other. Germany allocated 75% of its GDP to fund its war efforts (Evans, 2008, cited in The Second World War, n.d.). This massive allocation percentage meant that Germany’s economy suffered since more than half of the nation’s funds went to war. It also indicated that Nazi Germany’s economy was in decline. With a poor economy, the Nazis struggled to maintain their war supply lines, making it difficult for their troops to receive provisions. Since the Allies had more funding and stable supply lines, they gained an advantage over the Nazis as the conflict extended.
Nazi Germany’s war on two fronts and lack of strong leadership were factors that cemented their defeat. The war on two fronts was due to the Allies' successful attacks on the surrounding regions which made Germany’s eastern and western fronts susceptible (The Second World War, n.d.). Nazi Germany had to split their forces to defend the two areas, giving the Allies a number advantage. As Germany’s condition worsened, Nazi leaders began to lose confidence which eventually led to Hitler’s and the other leaders’ suicides. With no strong leadership and a compromised defense, Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies.
The Nazi Victims During the Aftermath
The defeat of the Nazis meant the demolition of their propaganda and ideologies. Allied soldiers liberated them from concentration camps and Nazi prisons, freeing starved and ill victims (Blakemore, 2020). The Nazis’ victims regained their freedom and could rebuild their lives. However, rebuilding during the war’s aftermath was difficult for the victims. Nazi ideologies persisted in some forms , causing continuous discrimination against minorities. Despite leaving the concentration camps and Nazi prisons, the victims had to adapt to a world that saw them as inferior.
Jews During the Aftermath
Jews were the major victims of the Nazi Party and had the highest number of casualties during the war. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2020), the Nazis killed at least six million Jews. These were due to the concentration camps and other Nazi policies that targeted non-Aryan races. So when Nazi Germany fell, the Jews did not only have to rebuild but also mourn the millions that they lost. Furthermore, antisemitism persisted in some parts of Europe. For instance, 42 Jews died during an anti-Jewish riot in Kielce, Poland (The Aftermath, n.d.). There were also other riots in various European countries, forcing Jews to leave communities as they attempted to rebuild their lives.
The anti-semitism that persisted in Europe forced Jews to emigrate to other territories. Many Jews wanted to immigrate to the United States and western European borders. However, immigration restrictions prevented them from leaving Germany. There were quota restrictions, British policies preventing immigration to Palestine, and European territories closing their borders to the victims (The Aftermath, n.d.). Fortunately, Jewish Agencies from various countries assisted the victims, providing food, shelter, other necessities, and vocational training to help in the rebuilding. The U.S. also established the Displaced Persons Act which granted visas to about 68,000 Jews and other displaced persons (The Aftermath, n.d.). Immigration was the best solution for the victims as anti-semitism persisted and Jews continued to die despite the defeat of the Nazi Party.
Other Nazi Victims
Since the Nazi Party targeted all non-Aryan races in Germany, the Jews were not their only victims . The Nazis persecuted gays, the disabled, Roma, Sinti, foreign prisoners of war, and other groups (Foster et al., 2016). According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2020), the Nazis killed thousands of homosexuals, about 250,000 disabled individuals, around 250,000 to 500,000 Roma, around three million Soviet prisoners of war, and around seven million Soviet civilians. Many of these deaths were due to Nazi policies, such as the Euthanasia Decree and Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour, while others were the consequences of the war. After the war ended, many of these individuals also experienced the persistence of discrimination.
World War II led to millions of deaths in Germany due to the armed conflicts against the Allies and the Nazi Party’s internal fight against non-Aryan races. Even after the defeat of the Nazi Party, their ideologies persisted. Many European countries, especially Germany, continued to see minorities as enemies of the country. Jews continued to be the subjects of violent riots while the other victims experienced varying forms of discrimination. The persistent discrimination forced victims to immigrate westward, and despite restrictions, assistance from organizations allowed them to leave hostile communities. Many victims began rebuilding while others continued to mourn the millions lost during the war.
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Foster et al. (2016). Non-Jewish Victims of Nazi Persecution and Murder. Available at https://holocausteducation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/1.-Non-JewishVictimsOfNaziPersecutionMurder-Digital.pdf. Accessed: September 1, 2022.
Taylor, A. (2011). World War II: After the War. The Atlantic. Available at https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/10/world-war-ii-after-the-war/100180/. Accessed: September 1, 2022.
The Aftermath of the Holocaust: Effects on Survivors. (n.d.). United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Available at https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-aftermath-of-the-holocaust . Accessed: September 1, 2022.
The Second World War (n.d.). The Wiener Holocaust Library. Available at https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/life-in-nazi-occupied-europe/the-second-world-war/why-did-germany-lose/. Accessed: September 1, 2022.
Third Reich. (2020). Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at https://www.britannica.com/place/Third-Reich . Accessed September 1, 2022.
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