historians have called “The Holocaust.” The word ‘holocaust’ is a
conflagration, a great raging fire that consumes in it’s path all that
lives. In the years between 1933 and 1945, the Jews of Europe were
marked for total annihilation. Moreover, anti-Semitism was given legal
sanction. It was directed by Adolf Hitler and managed by Heinne
Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann. There were many other
great crimes and murders, such as the killing of the Armenians by the
Turks, but the Holocaust stood out as the “only sysmatic and organized
effort by a modern government to destroy a whole race of people.” The
Germans under Adolf Hitler believed that the Jews were the cause of
all the German troubles and were a threat to the German and Christian
Dating back to the first century A.D. the Jews and Christians
were always at war. The Jews were considered the murderers of Christ
and were therefor denounced from society, rejected by the
Conservatives and were not allowed to live in rural areas. As a
result, the Jews began living in the cities and supported the
liberals. This made the Germans see the Jews as the symbol of all
Following the defeat of the Germans in WW1, the Treaty Of
Versailles and the UN resolutions against Germany raised many
militaristic voices and formed extreme nationalism. Hitler took
advantage of the situation and rose to power in 1933 on a promise to
destroy the Treaty Of Versailles that stripped Germany off land.
Hitler organized the Gestapo as the only executive branch and secret
terror organization of the Nazi police system. In 1935, he made the
Nuremberg Laws that forbid Germans to marry Jews or commerce with
them. Hitler thought that the Jews were a nationless parasite and were
directly related to the Treaty Of Versailles. When Hitler began his
move to conquer Europe, he promised that no person of Jewish
background would survive.
Before the start of the second world war, the Jews of Germany
were excluded from public life, forbidden to have sexual relations
with non-Jews, boycotted, beaten but allowed to emigrate. When the war
was officially declared, emigration ended and ‘the final solution to
the Jewish problem’ came. When Germany took over Poland, the Polish
and German Jews were forced into overcrowded Ghettos and employed as
slave labour. The Jewish property was seized. Disease and starvation
filled the Ghettos. Finally, the Jews were taken to concentration
camps in Poland and Germany were they were murdered and killed in
poisonous gas chambers in Auschwitz and many other camps. Despite the
harsh treatment of the Jews, little Germans opposed this.
When the news reached the allies, they all refused and put
down any rescue plans to aid the Jews. American Jews were warned
against seeking any action for the benefit of the European Jews
although Zionists managed to save small groups of young Jews and
brought them to Palestine. The Vatican condemed racism in general but
did hardly anything to stop the German actions.
The victories of the Germans in the early years of the war
brought most of the majority of the European Jews under the control
of the Nazi’s. The Baltics, Ukrainee’s and white Russians gladly
joined the Nazi’s. France and Italy sent 100,000 Jews to Germany but
refused to send any of it’s Jews. Holland and Belgium were Anti-Nazi’s
and refused to co-operate with Germany. Denmark protected it’s Jews
from Germany and Norway sent it’s Jews to Switzerland for protection.
Unaware that they will be gassed, the Jews kept quiet until
the last moment. When their fate was clear, the first Jewish uprising
came in April 1943 in Warsaw Ghetto, when more than 60,000 pitifully
armed Jews decided to resist. The battle took 28 days before the
heavily equipped German forces put down this violent uprising.
Individual Jews also resisted by joining partisan groups. Jewish
resistance, however, was mainly spiritual.’The Jews prayed, wrote,
observed festivals and also refrained.’
The war in Europe ended on May 8th, 1945. The following years
tended to heal a few wounds, but the damage caused to the Jews of
Europe could not be fully repaired.’A great deal of the Jewish culture
and learning perished. Deep mental scars plagued the survivors and
their children.” An aspect of human cruelty was exposed more brutal
than the civilized world could admit.’ In Israel, the Holocaust day is
celebrated on Nisan 27, the date that marked the Warsaw Ghetto
uprising of 1943. Although the Germans had lost the war, they won
their war on the Jews of Europe.
1.) Rossel, Seymor. The Holocaust, Toronto: Canada. 1981 edition.
2.) Britanica Publishing Company. Britanica Vol.6, Toronto: Canada.
3.) Americana Publishing Company. Americana Vol.14 Washington:
America. 1988 edition.
Seymor Rossel. The Holocaust, Toronto:Canada. 1981 edition.
Britanica Publishing Company. Britanica Vol.6, Toronto:Canada. 1984
Americana Publishing Company. Americana Vol.14, Washington:America.