December 13, 2013
A Jewish Journey
In 1933, Adolf Hitler, a leader of the Nazi Party, rose to power in Germany. The Nazi Party abused their power in many different aspects, which creating issues beyond Germany’s borders. This abuse of power lead to the horrific event we know today as the Holocaust. The Holocaust caused over eleven million deaths, with approximately one million of them being children. The Nazis targeted certain groups of individuals including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mentally or physically disabled, and anyone who did not agree with Nazi Party. The Nazi Party had excessive power, which was used to undermine the others below them. Out of all of the individuals who were targeted by the Nazis; the Jewish were the most discriminated against. Six million out of the eleven million executed were Jews. The journey of the Jews through a span of only fifteen years showed how one event in history could be so crucial. Jewish individuals’ lives took a toll for the worse as the Nazis rose to power.
Before the rise of the Nazi Party, Jews lived in every country of Europe. Some basic distinction nonetheless structured the European Jewish scene. The main dividing line ran between Eastern European and Western Jewries: though geographic to a point, its manifest expression was cultural. The Eastern European Jews primarily lived in Poland, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania in small town or villages, known as shtetls. They spoke a language that was a combination of German and Hebrew, in which they called Yiddish. Yiddish was a very popular language to the Jews, books were written in this language and there where theaters that screened Yiddish speaking films. The older Jewish men wore hats and caps almost always, while the women were modest by covering their hair with either wigs or kerchiefs. Meanwhile, the Western European Jews lived in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Yiddish was less important to them as they dressed and talked like countrymen. Their religious practices were traditional and they had a more formal education compared to the Eastern European Jews. Although having their differences, the Eastern and Western European Jews shared mainly similarities as well. The majority of working Jews were farmers, tailors, seamstresses, factory workers, accountants, doctors, teachers, or small business owners. Even with a set job and income, there were more poor families compared to rich families. The children had a choice between two things; either working or continuing their education. A vast majority of the children ended their schooling early and began work in craft or trade while the rest continued schooling to achieve a university level education. When the Nazi Party rose to power, the Eastern and Western European Jews were seen as a whole and both became imprisoned by the Nazis. From this point forward, the Jewish community was changed forever.
As Adolf Hitler and the...