America's Reaction to the Holocaust
In the years of the Second World War, American leaders were aware of the plan of the Germans to exterminate all the Jews in Europe, yet they did not act to save them. The attitude in society and the state of the economy in the years leading up to the war made for conditions that did not make saving them likely.
Most Germans despised the Weimar Republic, which held control of Germany at the time they signed the Versailles Treaty. This treaty crippled Germany after they lost The First Great War. The proud Germans saw this republic as weak. Adolph Hitler, an Austrian born man of German lineage, claimed that the only true Germans were Aryans and that the Jewish influence in the Weimar Republic was the reason for their weakness. He published a famous propaganda novel entitled Mein Kampf, which helped to catapult him and his political party, the National Socialist German Workers Party, into power. (Barber)
Hitler's political position was simple: Germans were always right and the Jews were to blame for everything. After the outbreak of war by all the major powers of the world, Germany immediately turned a major part of their concern towards the extermination of the entire Jewish race.
It began with the Einsatzgrupen, a special mobile unit of who moved behind frontline troops in the attacks on Russia and Poland, whose sole purpose was to round up the local Jewish families and kill them. They dug massive graves intended for entire Jewish communities. Their victims were lined up, stripped naked and shot. One reporter observed that not every shot was fatal and the poor civilians were made to suffer in the pits till they were sufficiently buried alive by their own brethren. The first sweep of this unit between January and December of 1941 yielded about 500,000 Jewish deaths. The second rampage, which ranged from the fall of 1941 through 1942, took 900,000 Jewish lives. (Wyman)
Even with such massive extermination the German leaders were unsatisfied and demanded a more efficient and permanent answer to the problem. The directive to exterminate all the Jews in Europe was issued on July 31, 1941. In December of that year, a law banning Jews from leaving any German territories was put into effect. Then finally, on January 20, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich came up with what was termed "the final solution to the of the Jewish question." He proposed a plan to erect six camps built for killing large numbers of people. The Germans built six such camps in the two years to follow, Belzec, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, and Chelmno. Chelmno was the first of the camps to be built. It used large trucks into which they crammed as many Jews as possible who choked on the trucks own exhaust fumes. Most of the other camps had permanent gas chambers, which killed by the fumes of a stationary engine. Although Auschwitz used Zyklon B, a type of hydrogen cyanide. These venues of death were host to over 3...