What took place in Germany more than 50 years ago that made Holocaust perpetually imprinted in the history of man? What made an entire country support and commit planned, strategic, and state-sponsored acts of genocide during this time? The extermination of approximately six million Jews during the time of Hitler happened more than half a century ago; yet, the emotions it evokes among humans fifty years later is as raw as the morning news. The Holocaust was the strategic, bureaucratic, and state-supported maltreatment and extermination of approximately six million Jews during the reign of the Nazis and their allies.
The word “holocaust” has a Greek origin which means “sacrifice by fire. ” The Nazis believed that the Germans held the superior race, and that Jews who were considered to be of a lower order, were seen to be a threat to this supremacy. The widespread and state-sponsored killing of the Jews is based on the “Final Solution” , a policy and a plan that guided the systematic annihilation of the Jews. The Nazi, or the Nationalist Party, perpetrated and carried out the plans in the Final Solution.
The Nazi was headed by Aldolf Hitler who, after he was appointed as a chancellor in Germany, made the party a vessel to gain control over people to execute his own interests, and later on, the ideologies of an entire race. The following lines from the party’s doctrine clearly illustrate the pedestal Hitler has in the party: The National Socialist party is Hitler, and Hitler is the party. The National Socialists believe in Hitler, who embodies their will. Therefore our conscience is clearly and exactly defined. Only what Adolf Hitler, our Fuhrer, commands, allows, or does not allow is our conscience.
We have no understanding for him who hides behind an anonymous conscience, behind God, whom everyone conceives according to his wishes. The next section of the paper intends to present the extent of violations that the Nazis committed in terms of the number of people who were victimized during the Holocaust, the diversity of the races, the conceptions of inferiority that was deemed a threat to the superior German race, and the wickedness of the acts to carry out the plan of abolishing such a threat. The Nature and Evolution of Holocaust
The evolution of the Holocaust is said to have taken place between the years 1919 and 1945. The first phase occurred between 1919 and 1933, a time when Hitler and the National Socialist Party fought hard to increase its share of political power in Germany. In January 1933, the second phase began with the appointment of Hitler as the chancellor, with his term extended until 1939. During this time, the Nazis carried out trials of different forms of Anti-Semitic measures, which included “random violence, economic boycott, and discriminatory legislation” , forcing numerous Jews to leave the Reich.
The next phase, which occurred from September 1939 to June 1941, started with a shift from the experimental violence against the Jews to their forced exile to the congested labor camps of Poland, a Nazi-occupied territory, and later on to the absolute annihilation of the Jews as dictated by Hitler and the Final Solution. The last phase started in the summer of 1941 until the defeat of Germany in 1945. At this point in time, the state policy of the Reich was to practically exterminate every Jew in Europe, where Nazi domination was apparent. The Victims: Numbers and Race
Although the Final Solution specifically identified the Jews to be the target of the extermination, the Nazi’s acts of violence were not only confined in this group. Hitler sought to exclude Jews and Gypsies in the 1930s upon his appointment as a German chancellor. In the first two years of World War II, the Nazis executed genocide, starting with the German handicapped, the Soviet Jews, and ultimately all Jews and Gypsies in all of Europe. Simultaneously, massive killings by the Nazis found victims among millions of Soviet prisoners of war and Slavic civilians.
The Slavs included Poles, Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians. Furthermore, there were approximately 258,000 Gypsies, 220, 000 homosexuals, and more than 100,000 mentally and physically disabled Germans who were murdered during the reign of the Nazis. The Nature of Killings and Human Rights Violations At first, the Nazis tried to settle the Jews in the Lublin-Nisko region of southeast Poland. This was in the effort to Germanize the Warthegau and eastern Upper Silesia, two areas which were included in the Reich, rather than being added in to the general government.
The SS, the Schutzstaffel, or German for “Protective Squadron,” led a sequence of exiles to further this endeavor. Upon the arrival of the exiled, however, the refugees found out that there was no preparation made for them. Only a few were kept in the Lublin-Lipowa and Majdanek camps, and the rest had to look after themselves – their food, shelter, and all other necessities. Thousands of them died due to the cold brought about by the winter of 1930 to 1940. Although the advocates of the move planned to deport 400,000 more Jews, the unavailability of the trains hindered the materialization of this plan.
Instead, the Nazis proposed to exile the European Jews to Madagascar for them to be kept hostages and ascertain an appropriate conduct as part of the free Jewry. For various reasons, however, this plan was dropped. In Poland, on the other hand, the incarceration of the Jews in ghettos was executed by the Nazis. This was their way of simplifying the long-term solution of annihilating the inferior. Some of the ghettos were enclosed in walls, barbed wire, and guard posts. In these ghettos, the Jews lived in inhuman conditions. In Warsaw, almost 500,000 Jews were made to live in an area that could accommodate less than a hundred thousand people.
These conditions were likewise seen in Lodz, Krakow, Tarnow, and Lublin. Other than the overcrowding, the refugees were given insufficient amount of food, heat, and medicines. There were even situations when clean drinking water did not suffice for the number of people the ghettos housed. The sanitation of the ghettos was poorly maintained, causing dysentery, typhus, and other diseases among the prisoners. 7 The Nazis also devised a more “natural” solution for the extinction of the Jews. Instead of directly murdering the Jews, they were left to die in the winter cold, starvation, and extreme labor.
Almost 100,000 Jews (approximately 20 percent of the Jews in Warsaw) died in the city in the winter of 1940 to 1941. These statistics represent the same conditions and mortality in other areas. Other than the deportation and incarceration, the Jews and other prisoners of wars were used as guinea pigs in human experimentation. Christian Pross, a German historian and physician, played a role in unraveling the degree of the involvement of German doctors in human experiments. He claimed that there have been attempts to hide and rewrite this phase in the medical history.
Among the many experiments conducted, one of the most horrible is Mengele’s series of twin experiments. Eva Mozes-Kor, a survivor in the said experiments, is the president and founder of CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), an international organization. Some of Mengele’s vilest works include genetically-related experiments conducted on children who were twins, including those he had personally killed. In an experiment with fourteen Gypsy twins, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, one of Mengele’s prison aides described: In the work room next to the dissecting room, fourteen Gypsy twins were waiting and crying bitterly.
Dr. Mengele didn’t say a single work to us, and prepared a 10 cc and a 5 cc syringe. From a box he took Evipal and from another box he took chloroform, which was in 20 cc glass containers, and put these on the operating table. After that the first twin was brought in… a fourteen year old girl. Dr. Mengele ordered me to undress the girl and put her head on the dissecting table. Then he injected the Evipal into her right arm intravenously. After the child had fallen asleep, he felt for the left ventricle of the heart and injected 10 cc of chloroform.
After one little twitch the child was dead, whereupon Dr. Mengele had taken into the corpse chamber. In this manner all fourtee twins were killed during the night. This infamous account was said not to be the first that Dr. Nyiszli observed. The first one included four pairs of 10-year old twins, three of which had different-colored eyes which caught Mengele’s interest. The twins were killed and their eyes and other body organs were removed. These were then shipped to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, with the note: “War Materials – Urgent. ”
From these accounts, it can be inferred that the figures did not represent a meager number of victims or a meager number of individuals to execute these exterminations. The almost immediate execution of the National Socialist Party’s Final Solution seems to imply the plan has long been drafted, and the political webs have been carefully laid out to materialize the plan. Furthermore, the hatred that the Germans had for the Jews and their thirst to regard the self as the superior race are ideologies which were not inculcated into thousands of minds of violence perpetrators overnight.
An existing unrest seems to have been existent between the races such that, upon the presentation of a great plan, every angry and thirsty man had every inclination to make full use of this opportunity to demarcate the lines and exterminate the enemy. This paper is an attempt to gather evidences to answer the following questions: a) what were the beliefs held by the Nazi in their time that led them to conform with the political ideologies of their government in the commission of acts of genocide? and b) what were the strategies utilized by Hitler and his allies to convince the population of the “righteousness” of the act? The Role of Anti-Semitism and the Genocidal Policy In Idinopvlos’ article entitled “How Yehuda Bauer’s Critique of Holocaust Thinking Has Changed My Mind,” he argues that the historical German disfavor of Jews played a critical role in preparing the ground for the birth of a “racial-biological form of anti-Semitic ideology” that caught the attention and trust of the Germans, and which eventually led to the unspeakable acts of the Holocaust.
Idinopvlos asserts that there is a need to understand such ideology and the genocidal policy that complemented it. The formation of the Nazi party elite, headed by Hitler himself, won the trust of thousands of the most educated in Germany at the time. These included educators, university students, the clergy, doctors, the military, engineers, lawyers and judges. As mentioned, the ideology of anti-Semitism was an important ingredient in the misfortunes of the millions of Jews and all else who were victims of the Holocaust because of their “inferior race. ” Anti-Semitism
Brustein claims in his study that the long existence of anti-Semitism has been prevalent not only in Germany but in many different countries as well. In 1938, Germany held efforts to distribute its Jews to the world, while Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Italy which opened their doors to German and Austrian refugees, stopped the immigration of the Jewish. Furthermore, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland permitted few Jewish deportees to enter. Great Britain promulgated a special visa requirement which classified the Third Reich Jews from the rest of the refugees.
In July of 1938, the then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt coordinated efforts to conduct an international conference with delegates coming from 32 countries. This was in response to those who sympathized with the Jewish refugees in the United States. Many of the participants in the said conference expressed their sentiments about the Jewish situation and encouraged all governments to actively take part in alleviating the problem. However, most countries, which include Australia, Great Britain, and the United States, found excuses to not further accept more refugees.
Australia claimed that the influx of refugees might create a racial imbalance among their constituents. Frederick Blair of Canada, on the other hand, argued that the delegates should not do anything about the situation in order to force the Nazi Germany to internally act on the situation of their own Jewish population. The delegates from Hungary, Poland, and Romania used the conference as a venue to express their need to relieve their own countries of the Jewish refugees.
Western countries delegates, on the other hand, claimed that an increase in their own quota might lead to the expulsion of the Jewish refugees of other European countries. The conference concluded with only Dominican Republic and later on Costa Rica agreeing to increase the entry of refugees in their territories. When the world seems to have connived to turn its back from the German and Austrian Jewish refugees, the Nazi’s anti-Semitic propaganda seemed to have claimed success.
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