The holocaust was the state sponsored genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime which began in the early 1930’s and ended with Allied liberation at the end of World War II in Europe in 1945. This was a time of despair and terror for all Jews during this time period. Many Jews ranging up to six million were killed and only a few survived to tell their story.
It is important for the survivors of the holocaust to tell their stories because in todays day some people believe the holocaust never occurred and a famous saying is “those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it”. In the document The Survivors a young girl is told the story of her grandparent’s victims of the holocaust during WWI. In this document the girl starts of by telling the readers how the men were digging their own graves “Work! Harder, Shovel! He stopped working, leaned over on his shovel, and let his body limply rest, and his eyes stared at the ground”. The commander yelled “Shovel! But the man did not move.” So, the commander shot him. This shows how Jews were being treated by the Nazi the Nazi didn’t view the Jews as humans but inferior. The goal for the Nazis was to annihilate all Jews and create a master race for them to do this they had to look at the Jews as animals. Millions of Jews died in death camps such as Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and Treblinka etc. As stated in the document millions of Jews were killed and “the survivors were the young and the strong, not the old and the meek”. Even though there were few survivors many of them died on the inside as stated in The Survivors they “witnessed the deaths of their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors. They witnessed the destruction of their lives and homes, towns and country, shops and synagogues”. As readers we can’t even begin to fathom this feeling of being took out of your home separated from your family and loved ones not knowing if they are still alive or being killed.
During this time period Jews weren’t the only human beings targeted other groups were also targeted such as beggars, homosexuals, roma, disabled, and criminals. In the document Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi a first-hand experience he explains how he was brought to an empty room where he had to take of his shoes and strip naked. Primo Levi is a citizen from Italy furthermore shows that German Jews weren’t the only targeted group. In this document there’s visible water in the room however it’s not drinkable this is a symbol of false hope another ironic symbol of false hope is the sign that says “Arbeit Macht Frei work gives freedom”. This is ironic because the only freedom is death. In the death camps Jews had their belongings took from them, they had their hair cut off their heads and was used as blankets and pillows, and they were also branded with a tattoo with a number on it. As stated in the document Auschwitz: Artifacts of Atrocity they “no longer had a name just the number on their arms”. The goal of the Nazis was to not only hurt the Jews physically but also mentally. To take away someone’s identity is almost like taking away their meaning or purpose in life. “What the Nazis wanted to do to the Jewish people was to erase their memory and leave no trace” of their existence. In spite of their hard work to do so their memory lived on with their belongings.
Pol Pot group the Khmer Rouge killed people based on their religion and ethnic backgrounds during his leadership “all religions were banned, and the repression of adherents of Islam Christianity and Buddhism was extensive”. Under the “leadership of Pol Pot, and it resulted in the deaths of approximately 1.5 to 2 million people from 1975 to 1979, nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s 1975 population”.
Throughout history major genocides such as these two have occurred and the few survivors of these genocides are dying and there isn’t much left there are many people who believe these genocides never happened. Which is why it is very significant for people to tell the stories of these survivors so that they may never be forgotten. These are terrible, terrifying events that must never repeat themselves.