The Holocaust was the planned genocide of the Jewish race, and anyone deemed unfit or too inferior by Nazi standards. Hitler intended to create a superior race that he called 'Aryans', and this plan consisted of eliminating those that were Jewish, Gypsies and anyone who opposed the Nazi regime or had opposing political views to the Nazis. Disabled, homosexual and homeless people were also among the hit list at first, but with growing suspicion by German citizens, the target became mainly Jews. He called it the 'Final Solution'.
It started when Hitler rose to power, in 1933. Laws targeting Jews increased, with the quality of their life slowly deteriorating. German Jews were stripped of their citizenship due to the Nuremberg Laws, and they were segregated from the rest of society.
Eventually, an international conference was held to deal with the growing amount of Jewish people migrating out of Germany, but no result came out of it as most countries declined to offer a helping hand. Maybe if they had, the death of millions of people wouldn't have occurred. They didn't raise their voice; in fact, no one did, and if they did, it wasn't loud enough.
And so the torture continued, with the occupation of other countries by the Nazis. Jews couldn't go out of their house without wearing a yellow star labelled with the word 'Jude'. They had curfews, they couldn't own bikes, they couldn't go to the theatre and they couldn't even go to schools or shops unless they were specifically for Jews. This isolation continued as Jews were rounded up and put into ghettos. These ghettos weren't large enough, safe enough, or hygienic enough for the amount of people that lived in them, but no one could do anything about it.
Jews were sent to concentration or work camps, where they would work until they died of hunger, disease, or the torture inflicted on them. People that were unfit to work would be gassed to death. A lot of information known by doctors and scientists today is because of the Holocaust as Nazis tormented the concentration camp victims as experiments to complete their research. This "research" included taking out organs and testing how long the victim would survive, or freezing the body and attempting to recover it.
The Nazis gave the world the illusion that these camps were pleasant places where families could live happily, but in fact the truth was quite the opposite of that. The humiliation began at the entry: once the women and men were separated, everyone was forced to get their heads shaved and their arms tattooed with identification numbers. The food given was not sufficient for the people, and not nutritional enough either. If anyone disobeyed, they would be severely beaten, and in the case of women, even raped. Some officers were sadists, torturing the wife and children of a man in front of his eyes, or whipping them on their faces. If the person fainted during the torture, they would even revive them and continue their brutality.
The war gradually came to a halt in 1945, and the surviving victims of the Holocaust were given refuge by countries such as the US. Despite whatever help they were given, the scars left by the Nazi regime never completely healed for those victims, and the least we can do is honour them and their courage for surviving, and commemorate those who lost their lives to this dreadful tragedy.
There are many people who've been through the Holocaust, whose stories have been inspirational and educational to many. There have been people who survived, and those who didn't...
Anne Frank is a famous icon of the Holocaust. She was a bubble of hope in the despair that she lived in, representing the youth of that generation. Anne's family moved out of Germany due to the Nuremberg Laws, settling quietly in Amsterdam until the German invasion. The stifling lives of Jews in Amsterdam and the call that came for Anne's sister, Margot, led to their family having to go into hiding. They hid in Anne's father's work building along with another family, until 1944 when the German Police were tipped-off by someone who still hasn't been identified. The people living in the annex and two of their German associates who played a major role in hiding them were transported to concentration camps, where no one survived but Otto Frank, Anne's father. Though Anne's diary did mention the difficulties of her situation, she also wrote about the other aspects of her life; the somewhat normal ones. She wrote about her mood swings, her attraction towards boys, her development towards adulthood, and her dreams for the future. She was like just any girl, but unluckier than the others as she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Wladyslaw Szpilman was playing the piano on a radio when the first German bombs hit Warsaw. He lived in the Warsaw Ghetto until it was time for his and his family's 'resettlement' into a concentration camp. He escaped and stayed in the Aryan section of Warsaw, hiding in the houses of people who appreciated music and therefore, him. His life was tough; he often didn't have enough food to sustain his body, but he somehow managed. While hiding in someone's attic, he was discovered by a German officer who agreed to help him after being charmed by his enchanting music. He survived the war, and wrote his book, The Pianist which got published despite the various obstacles that came in the way. His work was realistic and showed the truth, which is what made it popular.
Clara Kramer and her family also went into hiding when the Nazis invaded Zolkiew and attempted to relocate all Jews into the ghetto. Surprisingly, they hid in a bunker under the house of a German who was known for his Anti-Semitic views. They constantly lived in fear as SS officers partied right above their heads, forcing them to be extremely silent, which was difficult considering the presence of the two children of the family. Clara spent 18 months in the bunker until Zolkiew was liberated by the Soviet Army, and published the diary that she had kept during the time she had been in hiding.
The Holocaust is an unerasable tragedy. The pain of the victims (which does include the SS officers as well), probably won't disappear, but the least we can do is to make sure that this never repeats. To stop discrimination and prejudice at the bud, and to speak out before the problem can escalate. It's up to us to make sure that the world stays in peace, and it shouldn't take the death of millions to remind us that.
Thank you for reading this post. I'd love if you shared any stories related to the Holocaust with us.
Edited by Prinsesse.Suvi - 25 January 2012 at 8:17pm