The Final Solution to the Jewish Question
If one were to look for "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question" in a history book, they would not find it. They would however find the Holocaust. For many, this word bears great meaning, it is the reason their friends are gone, or their family is dead. The Final Solution is the beginning of the Holocaust, it is what brought about this genocide.
The Holocaust refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to previously unprecedented persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of Europe's' Jews and one-third of the world's Jewish population. The Jews who died were not casualties of the fighting that ravaged Europe during World War II. Rather, they were the victims of Germany's attempt cleanse Europe of its Jewish population, a plan Hitler called the "Endlosung" or the Final Solution.
Anti-Semitism has existed for centuries in Europe. It was apparent throughout the Middle ages, the intensity varied from country to country. In the ninetieth century the Jews in imperial Russia and Hungary were terrorized by government sanctioned riots and beatings called "pogroms." This Anti-Semitism was based not only on religion but also on economic factors such as wealth and power. The Nazi party based it's anti Jew campaign on the same basic factors.
After its defeat in World War I, Germany was humiliated by the Versailles Treaty, which decimated its armed forces, demanded the public admission of its guilt for the war, and forced Germany to pay reparations to the allied powers. A new parliamentary government, the Weimar Republic, was formed. Under this government, Germany suffered from economic instability, inflation, and very high unemployment, these problems were worsened by world depression. This increased existing class differences and began to undermine the government.
On January 30, 1933, Adolph Hitler, leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party, was named chancellor by president Paul von Hindenburg. The Nazis incited clashes with the communists, disrupted the government with demonstrations, and conducted a vicious propaganda campaign against its political opponents: the Weimar government, and the Jews (who according to the Nazis were the source of Germany's problems).
Not long after he became chancellor, Hitler called for new elections in an effort to acquire full control of the Reichstag for the Nazi party. The Nazis used the government to terrorize the other parties. They arrested the leaders and banned their meetings. Then, in the midst of the election campaign, on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building burned. A man named Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested, and he swore he had acted alone. Even...