The Shoah

In this assignment ‘The Shoah’ or more commonly known as ‘The Holocaust’ I will delve into various aspects of what it is about. I will aim to both reach an understanding and explain these aspects in detail. I will discuss about Adolf Hitler’s contribution to the Holocaust, define what the word holocaust means, discuss that not only the Jews themselves were victims and finally explain briefly what happened in the concentration camps. Bergen, 2003 states, there are three things that you need in order to burn down a house.

“The timber must be dry and combustible, there needs to be a spark that ignites it, and external conditions have to be favourable – not too damp, perhaps some wind. ” (Bergen, 2003) Hitler made sure that spark was provided to cause a mass destruction that nowadays we call the Holocaust. However in contrast Jackson, 2012 expresses “The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers and crematoria, it began with whispers, taunts, humiliation, discrimination, confiscation of property, segregation, restrictions, rules and laws.

It began with stereotyping, attitudes, bigotry and prejudice. ” In 1921, when Adolf Hitler became the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, now more commonly known and referred to as the Nazis he made clear to the people the his objective was “the removal of the Jews from German Society. ” (Jackson, 2012) It is estimated that 906 million Jews lived in what became Nazi occupied Europe. ” (Jackson, 2012) True to Hitler’s word by the end of World War 2 in the year 1945, “only 3. 2 million Jews had survived the Holocaust.

There were also millions of other victims of Nazi atrocities. ” (Jackson, 2012) To define the word Holocaust “it must be compared to other events, if it is a human event. ” (Bauer, 2001) Bauer came to a conclusion when he was trying to figure out the definition of the Holocaust as that and the term genocide are connected in some way as they belong to the same species of human action. He suggests that “retaining the term genocide for ‘partial’ murder and the term Holocaust for total destruction.

” He then goes on to explain that “Holocaust is a radicalization of genocide: a planned attempt to physically annihilate every single member of a targeted ethnic, national, or racial group. ” (2001) The Holocaust was merely a result of a long hatred towards the Jews. It began generations before as the racist values were learnt and thought back then. Hitler was known to have developed the worst kind of hatred to Jews known as anti-Semitism. But it is still not known when and how Hitler acquired his extreme anti-Semitism.

He did come into contact with anti-Semites in Vienna as Bergen, 2003 tells us, but he also points out to the fact that Hitler “also had acquaintances, associates, and even what might be called friends who were Jewish. ” Germany’s defeat in World War I however deepened his hatred of Jews. “To his mind, the Jews were somehow to blame. ” (Bergen, 2003) Hitler’s key to a successful political party was that he “drew on old forms of anti-Semitism, but he combined them in the ways that produced something new.

” Hitler had brown shirts, (which were young men without work) walking streets and any opposers of the Nazi party were beaten and in turn, killed. Even though these attack hurt many people and the government dint support the Nazi party, they remained silent as they were fearful and scared for their lives. Bergan, 2003 states that in 1933 Hitler took the title ‘fuhrer principle’ which means leader. It is true that not all of the victims of the Holocaust were Jews. The Nazi’s also had hatred to people with disability, Gypsies, Homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses to name just a few.

I will explain each of them in more detail below. Nazi Persecution of People with Disabilities In 1933 the Nazis announced the ‘sterilisation law’ the ‘Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily- Diagnosed Offspring. ’ In the website of The United State Holocaust Memorial Museum they state: This law called for the sterilization of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary…. With the law’s passage the Third Reich also stepped up is propaganda against the disabled, regularly labelling them “life unworthy of life” or useless eaters” and highlighting their burden upon society.

In later part of 1939 Hitler established the T-4 Euthanasia Programme. “It is estimated that the Nazis murdered more than 200,000 people with disabilities in the ‘voluntary euthanasia programme. ’” Nazi Persecution of Gypsies Gypsies, who nowadays are called Roma, just like the Jews were chosen just because of their race. They were made to wear black triangles in the concentration camps. According to Schwartz, 2012: The Nazis believed that both the Jews and the Gypsies were racially inferior and degenerate and therefore worthless.

Like the Jews, the Gypsies were also moved into special areas set up by the Nazis. Half a million Gypsies, almost the entire Eastern European Gypsy population, was wiped out during the Holocaust. Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals Male homosexuality was illegal since 1871; Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code had outlawed sexual relations between men: “An unnatural sex act committed between persons of male sex or by humans with animals is punishable by imprisonment; the loss of civil right may also be imposed. ” (www. homocaust.

org)This prevention did not indicate sexual acts between males and females. The Nazis then arrested thousands of gay men, who were sent to prison or concentration camps. “The first special centre to house criminals and homosexuals was erected in 1933 at Dachau, Southern Germany, which was largely seen as the prototype for further camps. The Sachsenhausen camp opened in 1936 to eventually house more than 200,000 prisoners, including many homosexuals. ” (www. homocaust. org). When they got to the camp they were forced to wear “pink triangles on their camp uniforms.

” (Jackson, 2012) “In the concentration camps, homosexuals were subjected to harder work, less food, and stricter supervision that other inmates. ” (Jackson, 2012) Nazi Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses “During the Nazi regime, Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted in Germany because they were refused to recognize the supreme authority of the state and objected to being recruited into the army. ” (Bauer, 2001) After 1939 most of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned or confined to concentration camps. They were made to wear purple triangles on their uniforms to help the camp officers recognise by category.

“In the Nazi years, About 10,000 witnesses were imprisoned in concentration camps, most of them of German nationality…. An estimated 2,500 to 5,000 witnesses dies in the camps or prisons. More than 200 men were tried by the German War Court and executed for refusing military service. ” (United States Holocaust Museum, 2009) Concentration Camps “The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.

” (United States holocaust memorial museum, 2012) Over the course of the years the Nazis created over one thousand concentration camps in Germany and its occupied territories. Jackson, 2012 explains what the prisoners had to endure during their stay: A great number of concentration camps also served as forced labour camps, where the prisoners were subjected to work under extreme brutality and harsh conditions. The very poor living conditions, subsistence levels of food, lack of insulation from the cold, and the lack of sanitation, coupled with maltreatment, caused prisoners to die within a couple of months of arrival.

Shooting and hanging of prisoners were common. In conclusion if anyone can come to one, that the Holocaust is without a doubt the most evil events of the early twentieth century and it affected the entire world in one way or another. Although we all wish it never happened, the fact of the matter is, it did! But the only proper conclusion that I can reach is that 12 million people were murdered without cause. To this day, these victims have not received fairness or rightness for what they have endured. And unfortunately and regretfully they never will.

As a final thought Maire Mhac an tSaoi’s poem ‘Shoah’ gives a vivid image of the way the Jews lived during the Holocaust: The old Jew on all fours, A load of snow on his shoulders, Ages of having been chosen in his features – ‘In this way’, said the metal figure, ‘My people scrubbed the paving stones on the street In Austria’s Wien, half a century ago – That and what followed it – No shame in bowing down in God’s presence… But you, the mandrakes Standing bolt-upright on your ‘lofty stilts’, You’ve no escape from defilement: The Ancient of the Peaks crushed to the knees, Living death in the mud, And the Brute on his hind legs!

’ (Jackson, 2012) ————————————————- Bibliography Banner, G (2000) Holocaust Literature: Schulz, Levi, Spiegelman and the Memory of the Offence. Great Britain: Bauer, Y. (2001) Rethinking the Holocaust. Bergen, D. L. (2003) War and Genocide: A concise history of the Holocaust. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Jackson (2012)….. Schwartz, T. P, (2012) Holocaust Forgotten: Five Million Non-Jew Victims, United States Holocaust Museum, (2009) Jehovah’s Witnesses. University of Minnesota: U. S Holocaust Memorial Museum. Landesarchiv, (2004) Paragraph 175. Berlin: USHMM. www. homocaust. org