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Research Paper Holocaust Overview

Trenton Eiken

ENG COMP 102-101 Mr.Neuburger 2 April 2012

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The Holocaust is a terrible tragedy that not only affected the people of Europe, but took an emotional toll on a vast majority of the world. Most people have heard of the Holocaust, but rarely do they know the details of the events that led up to and encompassed the Holocaust itself. It is an event that has forever changed the way people view the world they live in. How could such a horrific event befall innocent people? The simple answer is hatred. If the world could learn from the events of the Holocaust then it can make a change for the better.

The Nazis rise to power The Nazis rose to power after World War I. Germany as a whole felt humiliated after their loss in World War I. They were forced to get rid of their army and pay war reparations. The German people were looking for someone to blame for their defeat in the war. The Nazis used Germanys wounded pride to their advantage, and used this to begin blaming German Jews for the loss. The Jewish Virtual Librarys(JVL) website describes that the Nazi was created by Anton Drexler, Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart in 1919, originally the German Workers Party (GWP), later the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) , was little more than a gang of unemployed ex-soldiers when Colonel Adolf Hitler joined. He became the fiftyfourth registered member of the party. Soon after joining the party, Hitler was asked to join the executive committee, and would eventually become the propaganda manager. Hitler was able to bring some of the men from his army into the party, including Ernst Roehm. The JVL also states that in April 1920, Hitler suggested that the GWP be renamed to the NSDAP, or Nazi party. Even though he didnt agree with the Socialist ideas, Socialism was a growing
A Postcard of Hitler speaking to an audience. http://bit.ly/cQGiUW

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political trend in Germany. The party began to flourish because of Hitlers skills as a speaker. In the partys first program, Twenty-five Points, they refused the terms of the Versailles Treaty. They also called for the unification of the German people. In 1921, Hitler took over leadership of the Nazi party, and soon after he was imprisoned for beating a rival politician. Furthermore, the JVL says that on November 8, 1923, Hitlers first attempt to gain political control in Germany took place. Hitler and some of his Storm Troopers (SA) went into a meeting and held the some 3,000 people attending hostage. Hitler took the three officials into a room and offered them positions in his new government. With some persuasion they agreed. At the same time Roehm and some more SA captured the War Ministry. Hitler led a march on Berlin where he found a police roadblock, and continued to march. The police fired at the ground in front of the mob, and the SA returned fire. Hitler fled the scene and was arrested a few days later in a friends house. Facing the death penalty for high treason, Hitler was able to turn his trial into a political rally according to the JVL. The Nazis in the government sentenced him to the minimum punishment, a mere five years in prison. During Hitlers time in prison, he wrote Mein Kampf. The book was used to basically place Hitler on a pedestal and reinforce the idea of the Aryan race. Hitler also blamed the Jews for all the bad things in Germany, and as previously stated the loss of World War I. Hitler was released from prison after serving a little over a year of his sentence on December 20th, 1924. The JVL says that the party struggled to obtain power after his release. Hitler was viewed as an extremist, and had to change his image. In the next few elections, the Nazis had trouble trying to gain seats in the government. Even with the struggle for power, the party continued to grow. Between 1927 and 1928 the partys membership quadrupled. Their numbers grew from

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27,000 to 108,000. The partys hard times continued until the beginning of the Great Depression. In the parliamentary elections of September 1930, the Nazi party grew to 107 seats, and in 1931 Hitler ran for the presidency. He lost by a good majority of the votes. Lastly, JVLs website says that another election was held in July 1932, and the Nazis grew to 230 seats in the Reichstag. This still didnt give them a simple majority, and Hitler demanded that he be made Chancellor. Hindenburg, the German president, refused and appointed another man to the position. The Nazis began to grow increasingly violent. Urged by concerned industrialists, Hindenburg made Hitler Chancellor of Germany. The Nazis finally had power. (The Nazi Party (NSDAP)) Nazi Propaganda One of the Nazis, and Hitlers, greatest political influences came from their propaganda. Dictionary.com defines propaganda as information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. According to the History Learning Site (HLS) webpage, the Nazis used their propaganda for all of those. Hitler made Joseph Goebbels his propaganda manager. He had two goals for this post: make sure nothing bad was read by the people about the Nazis, and to make the Nazi views as persuasive as possible. Goebbels used the Reich Chamber of Commerce to produce his propaganda. NonNazis werent allowed to have anything published or produced.
An example of a WW2 anti-Semitic propaganda poster. http://bit.ly/J0YB3Q

The HLS also states that the public only heard, read, or saw what the Nazis wanted them to. They burned books that didnt match up to their beliefs, and created many propaganda films. Most of their films were made to try to increase the German peoples hatred of the Jews. They

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sold cheap radios to the people to ensure that everyone could hear Hitlers speeches. Speakers were placed throughout the streets of the country, and businesses were required to play the speeches over the radio. (Propaganda in Nazi Germany) Anti-Semitism The Jewish people are no strangers to persecution. For centuries they have been the targets of hatred, but during the Post-World War I through World War II Anti-Semitism was taken to a new extreme. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (DCHGS) website says that because the
One of the Nazi AntiSemitism leaflets. http://bit.ly/HLtxb1

Jewish people were so ingrained into the political and economic aspects of Germany, it was easier for the Nazis to spread the ideas that the Jews were responsible for communism, liberalism, capitalism, etc. Most of the Nazi viewpoints stemmed from their hatred of the Jews. The DCHGS also states that the first real demonstration of Nazi Anti-Semitism was in April of 1933 when there was a boycott of Jewish businesses. Between 1933 and 1945, some 2,000 laws were issued against the Jews. The Reichstag Fire Decree of 1933 gave the Nazis the ability to imprison Jews, and other people groups, without a trial. One of the largest displays of Anti-Semitism was The Nuremburg Laws. These laws separated the Jews from the German people. Before the Extermination camps, Kristallnacht was the most violent expression of Anti-Semitism. The Nazis wanted to spread their views throughout Germany. One of the easiest ways to do this was to start with the children says the DCHGS. From an early age German children were taught to hate the Jews. Books were published and lessons were taught in schools about how bad the Jewish people were. (Anti-Semitism)

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The Nuremburg Laws Passed in 1935, these laws took away the rights of the Jewish people according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) website. They denied German Jews citizenship and restricted marriage to non-Jews. Jewish
A chart explaining who was a Jew. http://bit.ly/HLykJt

doctors were forbidden to practice on any non-Jew, and Jewish lawyers werent allowed to practice law. According to these laws, a person was a Jew if they had three or four Jewish grandparents. This meant that people who had converted to Christianity or whose family hadnt practiced Judaism for years were also persecuted. The USHMM also says that the Nazis took a short break from their Jewish persecution for the Nuremburg Olympics, but soon after they began again with a new intensity. Jews had to register their property with the government, and their businesses were taken away. This Aryanization process stripped Jewish workers and business owners of their jobs, and allowed non-Jews to purchase formerly Jewish business at low prices. (The Nuremburg Race Laws) Kristallnacht The Night of Broken glass was perhaps the most violent expression of Anti-Semitism in Germany before the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. According to Aish.com, the events that led up to the Kristallnacht started in November 1938. Polish Jews had been immigrating into German due to the poor condition of Poland. The Nazis saw this as a problem, and in one night beat between 12,000 and 17,000 former Polish Jews back into Poland. This upset the 17 year old son of two of the Jews forced back into Poland. Herszel Grynszpan was living in Paris at the time of the deportation of his parents and the other Jews. He wanted to bring what the Nazis were doing to the publics

A synagogue burning http://bit.ly/HLEERd

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attention. The boy took a gun, walked into the German embassy in Paris, and shot Ernst Von Rath. The shooting death of Von Rath was just what the Nazis needed to enact their plans to further persecute the Jews. On November 9th, 1938 some 1,350 synagogues were burnt down or destroyed says Aish.com. Thousands of Jewish homes were robbed and vandalized, and 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. 30,000 Jews were taken to Concentration camps and 91 were killed. To add insult to injury, the Jews were fined one billion Deutsch marks to cover the damages that occurred that night. (Kristallnacht) Separating the Jews The Ghettos According to Susan Glazer of My Jewish Learning, before and throughout World War II around 400 ghettos were created to separate the Jewish people from the rest of society. The Nazis believed that the ghettos could be used to keep the Aryan race pure by not allowing the Jews to breed with them. The ghettos were also going to be a way to slowly kill off some of the Jewish population due to poor living conditions. Probably the most important reason for the ghettos was the fact that they made it easier to gather the Jews for transportation to the Concentration and eventually Extermination camps. Glazer says that the majority of the ghettos were created in Poland, the first being in Lodz on February 8th, 1940. They were small towns walled off from the rest of the country. These places were always very cramped and unclean. There was very little food, and disease and sickness often spread throughout the towns. The Jews were all required to wear armbands with the Star of David on them at all times in the ghettos. The ghettos were only temporary living arrangements; most were just used to house Jews for a

The Warsaw Ghetto Boy. http://bit.ly/HUP1jf

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short time before sending them to the camps. Most of the time, the Jews in the camps were of great economic importance, they were often laborers in factories creating goods for the German people and the Army. The most famous ghetto is also the largest. The Warsaw ghetto held some 450,000 Jews in a mere 1.3 square mile span. When the war took a turn for the worse for the Nazis, they began to evacuate the ghettos, and demolish them. They deported the Jews to Concentration and Extermination camps. Some 300,000 Jews were deported from the Warsaw ghetto alone Glazer concludes. (Ghettos Under the Nazis) The Wannasee Conference The Final Solution to the Jewish Question With the tides of the war turning against them, the Nazis needed to find a way to speed up the process of ridding Europe of roughly 11 million Jews. According to The History Places (THP) website, the conference was headed by the SSs second in command, Reinhard Heydrich, on January 20th, 1942. Fifteen of the top Nazis were called to the meeting to discuss how to exterminate the Jews. Three main solutions were decided upon, all code for an action; deportation to the east, death by natural causes, and treated accordingly. Deportation meant being sent to the ghettos, usually in Poland, and eventually to the Extermination camps. Natural causes was a combination of forced labor and starvation. Treated accordingly meant either death by SS firing squad or gas chambers. The Nazis had already begun sending the Jews to the ghettos, around 537,000 by October 31, 1941 says THP. To add insult to injury, the Jews had to pay for their own deportations. The wealthy Jews were forced to fund the deportation of the Jews that couldnt afford to pay for their
The House of the Wannasee Conference. http://bit.ly/INpoRC

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own deportation; this was to ensure that no Jew was left behind. People of mixed blood were also persecuted and sent to ghettos depending on how much Jewish blood they had, this included people who had married into or been born into mixed blood families. Older Jews, 65 years and older, werent evacuated, but they were to be sent to special old-age ghettos. (The Wannasee Conference) Extermination Methods The Nazis hatred of the Jews, other minorities, or the racially impure led them to turn extermination into a science. Their methods ranged from a simple firing squad to the elaborate formation of extermination camps, and everything in-between. One of the methods was the use of the Einsatzgruppen. The Central Page website says that these were the Nazis mobile killing squads. After the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen often carried their victims outside of the cities. Here they were dropped off at already dug graves, or had to dig their own before being shot by firing squads. After seeing the toll the murders were taking on his men, Heinrich Himmler changed how the Einsatzgruppen were used. The mobile gas chambers were developed in the fall of 1941. They were vans with hoses connected to their exhaust pipes. These hoses were then connected to holes in the back of the
A Mobile Gas Chamber. http://bit.ly/HJAELz

vans. The exhaust fumes were pumped into the back and the victim slowly died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The victims of the mobile gas chambers were usually residents of mental institutions or physically handicapped. (Central Page) The most efficient means of extermination were the gas chambers. The use of gas was also significantly cheaper than any other extermination method says the USHMM website. They

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were first tested in 1939 on mental patients. In 1942, the Nazis started to use carbon monoxide from diesel engines at three Extermination camps in Poland. Jews were brought to the camps in cattle cars and taken to showers for disinfection. The Nazis packed as many Jews into the gas chambers as possible. The Nazis started to experiment with a chemical called Zyklon B, which was originally produced as a pesticide, as a faster mass extermination method. Around 900 prisoners were gassed at Auschwitz in the initial testing. It was found to be a much faster method of killing, and was used in the majority of the camps. At the height of its killing capacity, Auschwitz was exterminating an average of 6,000 Jews per day with Zyklon B. (USHMM) The Nazi Camps There were two types of camps utilized by the Nazis before and during World War II. Both meant death for the vast majority of those unfortunate enough to be sent to them. Concentration camps were forced labor camps and extermination camps were for the mass execution of those sent to them. According to the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) webpage, the Nazis began building Concentration camps shortly after Hitlers rise to power. These early camps were mostly used to hold political prisoners and criminals. They were not used as death camps, although the death rate was high. In the late 1930s hundreds of camps had sprung up, and because of the poor living conditions, it was getting harder to dispose of the bodies. The solution to this problem was to build crematoria, and Dachau was the first camp to be outfitted with these chambers. The conditions never got any better for the people dwelling in the Concentration camps. They died of malnutrition, disease, abuse, being executed for crimes, and being over worked. The Nazis forced the Jews to make items necessary for the army. The transition from Concentration camps to Extermination camps came in 1933. A group of SS soldiers at the

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Aschaffenburg Concentration camp killed some of the Jews in the camp and were arrested. When Himmler found out that some of his men had been arrested he demanded that no charges be brought on them. The Extermination camps are the better known of the two types of camps. Though both had high death rates, the Extermination camps took mass murder to a whole new grotesque level. Over half of the six million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust were exterminated in these camps says MTSU. The majority of the killings done in these camps were from the infamous gas chambers, but beatings, hangings, and shootings still took place within them. The first Extermination camp to be built is by far the most notable. MTSU states that Auschwitz was built in September 1941. It was made up of three camps, Auschwitz I, I (Auschwitz-Birkenau), and III. Auschwitz I was a forced labor camp. All three camps resulted in the deaths of the prisoners in them, around 1,208,000 deaths, but only one camps main function was to exterminate them. A sign reading Arbeit Macht Frei, work will make you free, hung above the gate of the Auschwitz I camp says MTSU. This sign gave the prisoners a glimmer of hope, if they worked hard enough, they could earn their freedom. This was all a lie, but it inspired them to work for their freedom. This camps main purpose was to make use of the slave labor. The commanding officer also lived in this camp. There was a kitchen, guard station, hospital, office building, and a single gas chamber and crematorium. The Jews were kept in the camp by a double electric barbed wire fence and guard towers that surrounded the camp.
The sign above the entrance to Auschwitz I. http://bit.ly/54pnhp

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Auschwitz II was the main killing center of the Auschwitz compound. MTSU states that it was built in October of 1941, and was a mile and a half from the original camp. Four combination gas chamber and crematoriums, called Krema, were built here. Out of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, an estimated one-third of them were slain at this camp. At the height of its operation, 20,000 people could be executed and burned, 24,000 being the most murdered in a single day. During this time trains would roll into the camp on a daily basis, carrying cattle cars filled with Jews on their way to the gas chambers. Prisoners were separated into three groups if they survived their stay in the cattle cars. The first of these three groups were sent to the gas chambers immediately, where Zyklon B was used to exterminate them. The second group was put to work for various industrial companies. This was the group seen in Schindlers List. The prisoners in the third group were pulled aside for Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele performed medical studies and experiments on twins and dwarves. Lastly, MTSU says that the final of the three camps, Auschwitz III, main purpose was to make fuel and rubber. With the large number of new prisoners coming into the camp, the camp began to house prisoners as well. When the Nazis realized they were losing the war they began to destroy the evidence of what had transpired at the camps. Gas chambers were destroyed along with records of the prisoners and activities of the camp. The Nazis forced the able-bodied Jews on death marches, and left the others to starve in the camps. Auschwitz was finally liberated in January of 1945 (THE CAMPS). Liberation During the summer of 1944 the Nazis were rapidly losing their hold on Europe, and there was a light in the darkness for the Jewish people. That light was liberation by the Allied

Jewish men cheering after their liberation at Dachau. http://bit.ly/J2ro8a

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Forces. The first major camp to be liberated was Majdanek by Soviet troops in July 1944 according to the USHMM website. What they found in the camp, and in the other camps after it, was a horrific sight. The shells of what had once been human beings, reduced to little more than skin and bones. They also found piles of dead Jews throughout the camps. Most of the survivors were barely strong enough to move. The soldiers who liberated the camps brought in what food and water they could in moderation, so the prisoners wouldnt eat too much too quickly and harm themselves. Diseases were also quite common in the liberated camps. USHMM concludes that most of the Jews had to remain in the camps until 1948. There were so many of them, and nowhere for them to go until the formation of Israel. Most of the camps had to be burned down after liberation to prevent an epidemic from spreading across Europe (USHMM). All the events that I have highlighted, among countless others, are reasons why I believe that the Holocaust is a terrible tragedy that we could all learn a lesson from. If we could all learn to not hate just for the sake of hating, then the world could be a much better place for all of us to live. Although it was such a terrible event, there was a great display of the resilience people can possess in times of strife.

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Works Cited "THE CAMPS." Middle Tennessee State University. Middle Tennessee State University. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "Einsatzgruppen." Central Page. 2 Mar. 2006. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Ellis, Eliyahu, and Shmuel Silinsky. "Kristallnacht." Aish.com. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Glazer, Susan D. "Ghettos under the Nazis." Judaism & Jewish Life. My Jewish Learning. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students." Gassing Operations. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students." Liberation. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students." The Nuremberg Race Laws. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "The Nazi Party (NSDAP)." Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Trueman, Chris. "Propaganda in Nazi Germany." History Learning Site. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Vogelsang, Peter, and Brian B.M. Larsen. "Anti-Semitism." The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2002. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "The Wannasee Conference." The History Place. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.

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