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The Holocaust Essay

2727 words - 11 pages

The Holocaust is defined as destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war. Following 1945, the word has taken on a new meaning referring to the mass slaughtering of millions of European Jews as well as other persecuted groups (gypsies and homosexuals), by the German Nazi regime during the Second World War. In Europe the Jews experienced anti-Semitism (hostility or prejudice against Jews) which dated back to the ancient world, to the time when the Jewish temples were destroyed and they were forced to leave Palestine by Roman authorities. This wide-spread hatred of the Jews augmented the virulent mindset behind the Holocaust.
On the night of January 30, ...view middle of the document...

Dachau housed many communists prisoners, it was controlled by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Schutzstaffel (an elite military unit that served as Hitler's bodyguard). The vast Nazi rallies including symbolic acts such as the public burning of books written by Jews, Communists, liberals, and foreigners helped vocalize the party’s strength.
By 1933, the Jewish population in Germany was around 525,000 people which was only one percent of the total German population. During the years to follow, Nazis established an “Aryanization” of Germany. Non- Aryans (non- Germans) were dismissed from civil service, Jewish- owned businesses were liquidated, and Jewish layers and doctors were stripped of their clients. Later in 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted by the Nazi government. The Nuremberg Laws were composed of two new racial laws, the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law to Protect German Blood and Honor. The Nuremberg Laws restricted Jews, it declared that anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents would be deemed as a Jew, and anyone with two Jewish grandparents would be deemed a Mischlinge (half-breed). The Nuremberg Laws led to Jews becoming targets of wide-spread discrimination and persecution. These laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship and outlawed marriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews. They also prohibited Jews from obtaining certain jobs (such as jobs in the government, medical field, and in law). They prohibited Jews from certain entertainment and recreational activities (such as parks, beaches, theaters, sporting events). Under the Nuremberg Laws Jews were also prohibited from using telephones and radios. Jews were forced to wear the star of David, and were given a set curfew.
The discrimination of the Jews culminated in Kristallnacht, which is commonly known as the “night of broken glass.” Kristallnacht refers to the vicious surge of anti-Jewish pogroms that took place in 1938, throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and parts of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. Initiated by Nazi Party officials, members of the Sturmabteilung (SA), and Hitler Youth, Kristallnacht gets its name from the shards of broken glass that coated the German streets. On the night of Kristallnacht, rioters wreaked havoc by destroying around two hundred and sixty-seven synagogues and shattering shop windows of approximately seven thousand and five-hundred Jewish-owned businesses. Nearly one thousand synagogues were set on fire throughout the night, while firefighters were given specific orders not to intervene unless the flames were starting to spread to nearby buildings. Approximately one hundred Jews were killed and almost thirty thousand were arrested and transported to concentration camps. As the Nazi regime expanded their tactics in entirely removing Jews from German economic and social life became more radical. Kristallnacht became a pivotal moment in the persecution of the Jews. Many Jews who had the opportunity to leave...

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