The Holocaust was one of the most important events of the 20th century. It started with Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic beliefs and soon was carried out by himself and the Nazi Party. It was a long and painful journey for the victims and the country. It will always be remembered as one of the most horrible genocides in history and will never be forgotten.
It began with Hitler’s beliefs that Jews were to blame for the beginning of the war. He carried this hatred with him, even when he became dictator of Germany and gained power. At first, the citizens thought he would make the nation great again and help them out of the depression but they were fooled. Hitler used propaganda to spread hatred. His words soon turned into boycotts. The Night of Broken Glass is one pogrom that escalated this hatred.
Hitler soon decided to isolate Jews of the state by moving them to ghettos. These ghettos held many people. They lived in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with little food. The Nazis deceived the public eye by making them think what they were doing was good for them. The people of the state had no clue. This is where the killing operations began. It was code named Operation Reinhard. From the ghettos, they deported them to camps. Labor camps, killing centers, and concentration camps. All of which were also contaminated with disease, little food, and horrible treatment. In labor camps, work was usually humiliating and pointless. And for how much hard work they were forced to do for hours, they had little rest.
Killing centers consisted of murder immediately upon arrival. Once off the deportation train, victims went through a selection process to decide who was healthy or strong enough for forced labor. For the ones who weren’t, were led to gas chambers. Concentration camps held victims without trial. One of the most known concentration camp and killing center was Auschwitz. It was also the largest. It is estimated that Nazis sent at least 1.3 million people to Auschwitz and 1.1 million died or were killed there.
As allied and Soviet troops moved across Europe, they had encountered tens of thousands of concentration camps and other sites of Nazi crimes. Many prisoners had survived death marchers and were suffering from disease and starvation. Soviets liberated Auschwitz in January 1945. They had found over six thousand prisoners alive, while the rest were forced to march westward. The Germans had attempted to burn the evidence and parts of the camp. The abundant amount of evidence still left standing gave away the mass murders happening in Auschwitz.
Some people believe it did not happen though. The Holocaust was a state secret at the time and the fear of Hitler kept many people’s mouths shut who did know. The Nazi policy did a great deal of denying this and the Germans had destroyed most documentations before the war had ended. But these criminals still got their justice.
After the war had ended, Nazi war criminals were put on trial as what we know as the Nuremberg trials. Some were sentenced to death, and others were sentenced ranging from 10 years to life in prison. Hitler commited suicide April 30, 1945 and never went to trial. Before WW2, 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe and 6 million European Jews had died by the end of the Holocaust.
The whole nation was impacted by this horrible time in war. Nations pledged to prevent and punish the crime of genocide along with internal protection of human rights. Many lessons can be learned from this. The Holocaust didn’t start with gas chambers, it started with words. The act of prevention and the dangers of silence are so simple yet so powerful. And in present day, it is important to remember and educate about the past because without it, good or bad, we would not be where we are today. The Holocaust will never be forgotten.
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