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Introduction to the Holocaust: a Massive Destruction

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The Holocaust is well known by the words horror, suffering, cruelty etc. The Holocaust took place during World War II. The Holocaust started around January in the year of 1933 and ended around May in the year of 1945. It took a big turning point on January 30th of 1933 when Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. The word “Holocaust” is scary alone but the prefix “Holo” means whole and “kaustos” means to be burned. If you were to put these both together it would be “whole burned’. Whole burned represents the Jewish race being burned and killed by the Nazis. Overall the meaning of Holocaust is the mass murder of Jews and it’s known for being the most famous genocide in history. In this essay I will being talking about the events that happened in the Holocaust.

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The leader of the Holocaust was Adolf Hitler who was born April 20th, 1889. He grew up in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Hitler had somewhat a normal life as a child. As a young child Hitler was bad tempered and sulky and he was even friendless. Hitler lived in Germany and had even fought for Germany in World War I. After he served in World War I he was hospitalized because he was partially blind due to the Mustard Gas. As he got older he traveled to Munich and he had interest in German Politics instead of Austrian politics. In the year of 1921 Hitler was voted chairman for the Nazi Party. As Hitler rose there was a total of over nine million Jews in Germany. The Nazis were wrecked that they had lost World War 1 and they had even felt that it was the Jews fault. Many people couldn’t believe Hitler’s points of view but after being humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles some of the Germans could see his sick points of view on Jews.

Kristallnacht or The Night of Broken Glass had occured at night on November 9th and 10th in 1938. These nights were horrific and full or anger and rage. This outrage was as a result of one Anti-Semitic frenzy. “Synagogues were set on fire, Jewish homes, schools, and business were vandalized, as well nearly 100 Jews were killed and thousands of more were sent to concentration camps” . The streets were smothered with glass and the Jews were held responsible for the damages. The German police and fireman were told to not to do anything except put out fires and not to do anything about the riots. This attack was a wake up call for the Jews and many of them had planned to leave their homeland which was easy for them.

Hitler had believed that Jews were the inferior race and that Germans were the superior race this was known as an Anti-Semitic mindset. It basically meant the hostility to or prejudice against Jews. Hitler wasn’t the only one with this mindset of Jews. In the mid of Hitler the perfect person had blonde hair and blue eyes. However Hitler didn’t look that way himself, he had viewed those people as pure.

The nazis had planned to wipe out their enemies with “The Final Plan”. The Final Plan was just a cover name for the mass murder of Jews. On January 20th, 1942 fifteen Nazi officials had met up in Wannsee, Berlin to discuss the plan. This plan was to wipe out the whole Jewish race. The Nazis knews that they needed something big that would kill them all at the same time. They had came up with gas chambers. The Gas chambers were sealed chambers where the Nzais could pump in posionous gas and it would wipe out many people in seconds. The most common poison used was cyanide but the cyanide based gas the Nazis used most often was called Zyklon B. There was many other gas chambers spread around.

One of the biggest things that people remember from the Holocaust is the Concentration camps. Concentration camps was where the Jews and other prisoners were sent and forced into slave labor. Prisoners such as homosexuals, gypsies, people with disabilities, or people viewed as the enemy were sent into concentration camps. Even some of the people there were basically test dummies cause they were used in medical experiments which was such a cruel thing that happened there. In Auschwitz was the most famous concentration camp. This was located across some crossroads of many Polish cities which was optimal for shipping of incoming prisoners. The head staff was Heinrich Himmler which was who ran Auschwitz after Hitler. Something special about the Jews and prisoners is that they would each get a tattoo with a serial number if they weren’t headed to the gas chambers. The tattoo was to keep count of bodies there and register prisoners who died. The tattoos were given with a metal stamp on their chest but it had eventually been changed to getting it on with a needle on either their inner or outer of their forearm. There was a total of 28 two story bunker like buildings. There was three sections which were known as Auschwitz I, II, and III.

Auschwitz I was the main camp or central office but it was the smallest the part of the camp. Auschwitz I it was basically a living space, guard station, the “Death Block, and held the first cremation and gas chamber. The “Death Block” was a prison at the concentration camp where criminals were housed. There was also courtrooms were people were taken to be tortured and sentenced death or they would get both punishments. The biggest thing about Auschwitz I was the “Firing Wall” which was located next to the Death Block. The “Firing Wall” is where prisoners lined up against the wall and shot, after their bodies were spreaded around the camp in garve pits. Auschwitz I was the most guarded section out of the three. Auschwitz I was surrounded by double barbed wire and electric fencing and even had 9 guarding towers.

Auschwitz II was located in Birkenau and it was established in 1942. The purpose of Auschwitz II was to house more prisoners so it became known as the largest Auschwitz. It roughly held up to 200,000 inmates in the hut. The hut was only supposed to hold 125,000 thousand of inmates but it ended up holding a lot more of people. “Birkenau was the largest of the more than 40 camps and sup-camps that made up the Auschwitz complex” (auschwitz.org). There was roughly 250 barracks in Birkenau, which were modeled by old horse stables. In each barrack they managed to fit 800-1,000 people.“The majority probably about 90% of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camps died in Birkenau. This means approximately a million people. The majority, more than nine out of ten, were Jews” (auschwitz.org). One million deaths is a crazy number because this was only one section of the camp.

Final was Auschwitz III which was known as Monowitz. Auschwitz III was built by inmates in 1942. Auschwitz was the most important because the key factories were the key part to the German War effort. Auschwitz prisoners worked for a factory company called IG Farben. Jews thought of working as a luxury because it was a less chance of them being killed. The workers that worked at the factory seemed to vulnerable to be sent to the gas chambers to be killed. If they no longer could work then they were sent to be murdered. About 10,000 working inmates were killed working for IG Farben. A plus to working at the factories is that they had a better habitat. However, workers were beat which had made it hard for them to work to the best of their ability.

Before Jews got sent to concentration camps they were usually sent to Ghettos first. “Ghettos” were a “confined areas in a city” (Begin WWII notes). The most famous and well known ghetto was in Warsaw, Poland. The ghetto in Warsaw could hold up too many as 400,000 people. In November of 1940 the ghetto was sealed all the way off and covered with brick walls. Warsaw was guarded missively they even had barbed wire on top of the brick walls and they had armed guards covering the area. If literally anyone tried to leave and escape they would instantly get shot and die. People couldn’t escape the starvation, malnutrition, or disease. On April 19,1943 tanks were sent to Warsaw to destroy Warsaw and this was known as the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Germans continued to pick and pick on ghettos’ bunkers until they found Jewish residents however the Germans were outnumbered by a lot. Of course Jews were found and captured or they were killed. In the same year on May 16th the ghettos were controlled by Nazis. After the uprising had passed about 50,000 Jews and others survived and they were taken to different concentration camps.

Eventually the Soviet forces started to take over the Nazi concentration camps starting with Lublin and Majdanek in summer of the year 1944. It came to be noticed that the Soviets were making moves so Heinrich Himmler ordered that all the concentration camps and the subcamps were evacuated immediately. The evacuations had so quickly cause Germany didn’t want three things happening. The evacuation ended up turning into a death march. “Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began” (ushmm.org). It ended being a death march because they were forced to march and prisoners and others were left to die along the walk. In the march there was 600,00 prisoners marching West from the Auschwitz camps. “Tens of thousands of prisoners, were mostly Jews, were forced to march either northwest for 55 Kilometers (approximately 30 miles) to Gliwice…” (ushmm.org) One of the things that Germany didn’t want was having their prisoners be in the enemy’s hands because there was maybe a possibility of them telling their story. The second reason was that they needed prisoners to keep productions going. The final reason was that some German leaders believed that they could use Jews to bargain for peace in the West. Since guards had to shoot anyone who fell behind and who couldn’t continue this led to many people dragging their loved ones because they knew that they would get shot. Many people in the march were having hard times since there was harsh weather conditions and many of them were starving. On the march to Gliwice many as 3,000 people died. Many more people could have died in the evacuation from Auschwitz roughly 15,000 more people could have died.

Eventually The Holocaust came to an end when one of Germany’s enemies the Allies started to pass concentration camps. Since this occured many Nazis burned all the evidence and tried to kill as many prisoners as they could so they could cover their crimes. You could actually say that The Holocaust was one of the most destructive events that has ever happened. At the end of all of this Hitler had killed nearly eleven million people. Six million were Jews and five million were assorted people. Everyone has their own point of view so some people see the The Holocaust as a massive destruction and others see it as a good thing.  

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