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Research Paper Holocaust Overview

Diana Raylyanu

English Comp 102-102 Mr. Neuberger 2 April 2012


The Holocaust is used to refer to the systematic killing of around twelve million people by the Nazis, over a period of two and a half years. But the events leading up to the Holocaust spanned a much longer period of time, beginning some twenty or thirty years before. These events allowed Hitler to gain enough power to put his plans into action. The consequences of these actions can be felt even today. By taking an in-depth at the Holocaust and the events prior to it, one can hope that such an atrocious event can be prevented from ever happening again. Nazi rise to power According to an article titled Rise of the Nazis and Beginning of Persecution found on the Yad Vashem website, Adolf Hitler, a soldier wounded in World War One, joined the insignificant National Socialist Party in 1919. He became the groups leader due to his orators skills, and in 1923 even led a revolt in Munich to try to take over power. He failed and was arrested. It was while he was in prison that he wrote his book Mein Kampf, in which he expressed his ideas about racial theory and Nazi global dominion (Rise of the Nazis). After Hitler was released he
Adolf Hitler in prison Source:

organized the Nazi Party and by 1932 they were the leading group in the House. Some may be surprised to learn that Hitler and the Nazi party came by their power legitimately. The article goes on to say that on January 30, 1933 Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany (Rise of the Nazis). Nazis views on Jews-Anti-Semitism


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) defines anti-Semitism as prejudice against or hatred of Jews (Antisemitism). The Holocaust can easily be defined as the worst example of Anti-Semitism in our history. The specific hatred of Jews existed even before modern times, but it wasnt until the 19th century that this hatred took on political dimensions, in the emergence anti-Semitic political parties in Austria, Germany, and France. The article on Antisemtism goes on to say With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the party ordered anti-Jewish economic boycotts, staged book burnings, and enacted discriminatory anti-Jewish legislation. The anti-Semitic feelings that existed in Europe came to a head when the Nazis came to power and enabled them to carry out their plans, which eventually led to the planned massacre of almost six million Jews (Antisemitism). Nuremberg Laws An article titled The Nuremberg Race Laws states that on November 15, 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were instituted at the Nazis annual party rally. The Nuremberg laws defined a Jew as anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religious community (USHMM). These laws went as far as to revoke Reich citizenship to Jews, and forbade Jews from having sexual relations or
Samples of Nuremberg Race Laws Source: Found in German childrens primer. Sign says Jews are not wanted here. Source:

marrying someone who was considered German. The same article goes on to say that in the years


following the institution of the Nuremberg laws, the German government set about impoverishing Jewish businesses. This was done by dismissing Jewish workers and managers, and Jewish businesses were sold to non-Jews at a bargain thanks to the price fixing done by the Nazis (USHMM). Propaganda According to an article titled Nazi Propaganda, Adolf Hitler first advocated the use of propaganda in his book Mein Kampf . In his book, he writes "Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea (USHMM). Hitler and the Nazi party used propaganda to spread their ideas about racism, antiBolshevism, and anti-Semitism. Hitler created a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with the aim to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press (USHMM). Films were used in particular to
Movie poster for the Eternal Jew Source:

portray Jews as subhuman, or glorify Hitler and the National Socialist movement. The German newspapers were also used in the Nazi propaganda movement by printing cartoons or caricatures that were anti-Semitic. Just one example of disturbing Nazi propaganda can be found in the film Der ewige Jude, the Eternal Jew, where the Jews were compared to rats. According to Dr. Stig Hornshj-Mller, the Eternal Jew is the most well known Nazi propaganda film (Der ewige Jude). Dr. Hornshj-Mller goes on to say that that It depicts the Jews of Poland as corrupt, filthy, lazy, ugly, and perverse: they are an alien people which have taken over the world through


their control of banking and commerce, yet which still live like animals (Der ewige Jude). The purpose of the film was to legitimize the exclusion and eventually the destruction of a whole group of people. Kristallnacht According to an article titled Kristallnacht, this event took place on November 9, 1938 throughout Germany (PBS). It is known as the night of breaking glass because the sound of shattering glass filled the night air as gangs of Nazi storm
The New York Times report on Kristallnacht Source:

troopers burned synagogues and other Jewish institutions and businesses. The article records the consequences of that night which included the burning of more than 900 synagogues, the destruction of 7,000 Jewish businesses and the killing of 91 Jews. Also, more than 30,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps. The article also explains how a desperate act by a young a 17-year-old Polish Jewish student named Hershel Grynszpan gave the Nazis an excuse to instigate such violence against the Jews. Grynszpan shot the Third Secretary to the Embassy, Ernst vom Rath, on November 7th in Paris. He did this because he was enraged at the deportation of his parents from Germany to Poland, and he hoped his actions would draw the worlds attention to the plight of Europes Jews. He is quoted in the article as saying Being a Jew is not a crime. I am not a dog. I have a right to live and the Jewish people have a right to exist on earth. Wherever I have been I have been chased like an animal" (Kristallnacht). Finally, the article describes how Rath died on November 9th, and news of his death reached leading Nazi party figures later that same day. They responded with the very clear message that the Jews of Germany would have to pay for Raths assassination. Later that night


all state police officers were given permission to loot Jewish businesses and arrest as many wealthy Jews as the jails could hold. The night of broken glass provided the German government with the perfect opportunity to finally remove Jews from German public life. Jewish children could not attend school anymore, and Jews were prohibited to sell or provide services, in an attempt to remove them from German economic life. The article Kristallnacht also states that the Jewish community was fined one billion marks as compensation for Raths death (PBS). Rounding up Jews-ghettos The USHMM website defines ghettos during World War II as city districts (often enclosed) in which the Germans concentrated the municipal and sometimes regional Jewish population and forced them to live under miserable conditions (Ghettos). These ghettos succeeded in isolating the Jewish community from the rest of the city, and the surrounding non-Jewish community. The first ghetto was established in October of 1939
Children eating in the ghetto street. Source:

in Poland in Piotrkw Trybunalski. The ghettos were used to segregate and control the Jewish populations while the Nazi party leaders in Berlin worked to come up with a solution to the Jewish problem. According to the USHMM website, as the Nazis came up with the Final Solution to the Jewish problem, ghettos were systematically destroyed as residents were either shot and buried in mass graves, or deported to killing camps on cattle trains (Ghettos). Living conditions in the ghettos were close to unbearable. According to another article titled Life in the Ghettos, overcrowding, hunger, and contagious diseases were a part of daily life (USHMM). Starvation was deliberately enforced by the Germans since the Jews were only


allowed to buy small amounts of food. Children were easily orphaned and then forced to beg on the streets for a bite of food. Many froze in the winters, or died from starvation and disease. According to the holocaust survivors website, the Warsaw ghetto was the largest ghetto, housing 400,000 inhabitants at its highest. The Jewish residents tried to survive on a daily food ration of 181 calories a day. The website goes on to say that Initially, some 30% of Warsaw's population was being crammed into 2.4% of the city's area (Warsaw). One can understand how difficult it would be to live under such conditions. Resistance According to the Jewish Virtual Library (JVL) website, Hitler started to liquidate the ghettos in 1942. During this time 300,000 men, women, and children were deported and sent to Treblinka where most of them were killed in the gas chambers. Around 55,000 to 60,000 Jews were left in the Warsaw ghetto. But in April of 1943, the Jews in Warsaw learned that the Nazis planned to transport the remaining Jews to Treblinka as well. An organization called the Z.O.B. was formed, with Mordecai Anielewicz as its leader. In January of 1943, the Z.OB. had used a small supply of weapons that had been smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto, to open fire on German troops who were trying to gather up Jews for deportation. This skirmish ended in victory for the Jews as the German troops retreated after a few days. The article goes on to say that
Germans burning buildings to the ground in the Warsaw Ghetto Source:

from January until April both German troops and the

Jewish resistance prepared for the possibility of a fight. In the article, it says that On the morning of April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants (Warsaw). 2,000 well armed and well-


trained German troops faced seven hundred and fifty-five Jewish fighters. The Jews managaed to hold out for twenty-seven days despite being outnumbered, and undertrained. In the end only three hundred Germans were dead, while 7,000 Jews had died in the uprising, and another 7,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka. This brave and dramatic resistance managed to raise the morale, for a breif time, of Jews everywhere. Another type of resistance took the form of individaul men and women who could not stand by and do nothing while such atrocities against human beings were taking place around. An example of such an individual is Oskar Schindler. According to an article on the USHMM website, Oscar Schindler was born on April 28, 1908. The article states that Schindler was An opportunist businessman with a taste for the finer things in life, he seemed an unlikely candidate to become a wartime rescuer (USHMM). In 1939, he even joined the Nazi party and in November of the same year, he came in to possession of an enamelware factory, which also employed Jewish forced laborers from the nearby Krakow ghetto. In 1944, Oscar Schindler was employing almost one thousand Jewish workers at his factory. Using bribes and personal diplomacy worked hard to keep his Jewish workers from being deported until about 1944. He was arrested three times, but the Germans were unable to charge him with anything. After 1944, when his Jewish workers were deported to Plaszow, he relocated his factory to Brnenec, and reopened it as an armaments factory. His assistant made up a list of Jewish prisoners needed to work in his new factory and in this way; Oscar Schindler facilitated the survival of 800 Jewish men and 300 to 400 Jewish women. According to the same article, In 1962, Yad Vashem awarded Schindler the title "Righteous Among the Nations" in recognition of his efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust at great personal risk (USHMM). Schindlers story finally became well-known with the release of the film based on his heroic actions, Schindlers List, in 1993.


The Wannsee Conference-The Final Solution The article titled Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution states that On January 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss and coordinate the implementation of what they called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question. The Final Solution was the code name that was given to the systematic and brutal annihilation of Jews in Europe. At some point in 1941, Hitler authorized this plan for mass murder. Issues such as selection of the able-bodied to be
Heydrich Letter concerning the Final Solution to the Jewish question. Source:

used for manual labor and the many more that would be lost through natural reduction, were discussed at this meeting. Fifteen men put into plan an action that would mean the end of thousands upon thousands of innocent lives (USHMM). Extermination methods According to the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (DCHGS) website, there are three main methods of extermination that the Nazis used to carry out the Final Solution (Methods). At first, the Nazis used mass shootings to carry out their plans. Some of the victims were even forced to dig their own graves before they were shot. Another possibility included the Jews being placed alongside a mass grave, and than being shot so that they fell into the grave. Another method of
Gassing chamber at Auschwitz. Source:

extermination was mobile gassing trucks. The same article goes on to state the Jews were



forced into a hermetically sealed truck, and then exhaust gas from the engine was led into the truck. The Jews were thus suffocated (Methods). But these two methods were not effective enough for the Nazis. The third extermination method the Nazis used was gas chambers using exhaust fumes or Zyklon B gas. Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables were told they would be taking showers, but instead they were forced into gassing chambers and gassed to death. To remove the evidence, the Nazis would burn the bodies in crematoriums (Methods). The Death Camps According to an article by Caren Kellar Niss, Treblinka II was used by the Nazis as a death camp. It was built shortly after Treblinka I, only one mile away from the original camp, near Warsaw Poland. The camp opened on July 23, 1942 just as the Warsaw ghetto was being evacuated. The Treblinka death camp would lead to the extermination of more than 265,000 Warsaw Jews. Niss goes on to say that Details were added in each of the death centers to support the lie of Jewish resettlement
Mass grave at Treblinka Source:

(Treblinka). This was done in order to suppress resistance and rebellion. The Jews did not know that once they arrived

at a death camp such as Treblinka, they would face certain death. An example of such a detail was the Star of David which was placed on the front wall of Treblinkas gas house. Once victims arrived at Treblinka, they were quickly moved through the selection process. Men were separated from women and children. The ones picked for the gas chambers were sent to the barracks where their hair was cut, and then they were directed to the gas chambers. Prisoners were told they were to be cleansed, and then packed into gassing chambers, made to resemble showers. Niss continues by saying that after the victims were gassed to death, the bodies were



removed and searched for valuables. At first, the Nazis would bury the bodies in mass graves. But that was too inefficient a method, so the Nazis progressed to burning the bodies. Niss states that Jews from the Polish Districts of Warsaw, Radom, Bialystok and Lublin as well as others from Theresienstadt concentration camp, Macedonia and the Reich comprised The nearly 750,000 people who would die in the gas chambers of Treblinka between July 1942 and April 1943 (Treblinka). Ursula Levy was a young child when she arrived at a camp in April of 1943. The only family she had left was her brother George. Both she and her brother survived the Holocaust and went on to live productive lives. She says she didnt have that fear of death that the adults had. When interviewed, she confesses that I never had these additional fears that the adults had about the crematorium and what might happen. I never thought that we would get killed. I had no ideas about the crematoriums. I didnt have those fears(Levy). She credits her survival to hope, and to luck. Many more were not as lucky as she was. According to an article titled Extermination Camps on the DCHGS website, Chelmno was the first of the six extermination camps to be established as part of the Final Solution. The same article goes on to say that Auschwitz-Birkenau, which also functioned as a concentration camp and a work camp, became the largest killing centre as far as the number of victims is concerned. It is estimated that between 1 and 2 million were killed in the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during its day (DCHGS). Half of the Jewish deaths that occurred during the Holocaust were due to these six brutal extermination camps. Liberation According to an article written by Dr. Stephen Hart titled Liberation of Concentration Camps, the Red army reached the Sobibor and Majdanek camps in the summer of 1944



(Liberation). In early 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets. This was the only camp that was still used in the extermination of the Jews in the final months of World War II. Dr. Hart continues by stating that During the last months of the war, however, as the Allies advanced towards Auschwitz, the Germans force-marched or transported many of the camp's Jewish inmates by rail to other, already over-full, concentration camps. This redistribution of Jewish prisoners, when combined with the administrative chaos that had engulfed the Third Reich, led to some concentration camps degenerating further into living visions of hell, packed with starving, dehydrated, disease-ridden prisoners. (Liberation) According to the USHMM website, as the Allies moved across Europe, they began to meet thousands of starved and diseased concentration camp prisoners. They encountered hundreds of concentrations camps, and even worse, the extermination camps. The Nazis had tried to cover up the evidence of their atrocities, but enough evidence remained to shock the world with what was found in war torn Europe. Dr. Stephen Hart continues with the British liberation of Belsen, which is just an example of what liberators encountered. The British discovered 20,000 corpses just lying on the ground, unburied. They also found 50,000 survivors. The British Armys first task was to face the medical nightmare of treating 20,000 seriously ill inmates. Despite all the efforts made by the British medical teams, many were too ill to be saved. The British also had to dispose of the 20,000 corpses in order to prevent the spread of disease such as typhus.
Children survivors of the Holocaust Source:



The photographs and news reel footage from Belsen and other camps greatly impacted western opinion. Because of such footage, the world clamoured for justice and the Nuremberg War Crimes process took place. Justice was sought out, but it could never make up for all the lives that were uselessly lost in the Holocaust. One can now understand how the Nazis were able to take advantage of the attitudes and prejudices of the time to come to power. Once legally in power, they did everything they could to put their plans and policies into action. This led to the mass murder of six million Jews, and three million of those died in a two and a half year period in the extermination camps. By learning about these events, people can try to prevent something like this from happening again.


14 Works Cited

":Antisemitism." United States Holocaust Memorial Muesem. United States Holocaust Memorial Muesem, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 Bard, Mitchell. "Warsaw Ghetto Uprising." Jewish Virtual Library. The American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "Ghettos." United States Holocaust Memorial Muesem. United States Holocaust Memorial Muesem, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 Hart, Stephen A. "Liberation of the Concentration Camps." 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Hornshoj-Moller, Stig. "Papers on 'The Eternal Jew'" The Holocaust History Project Homepage. The Holocaust History Project, 21 Feb. 1999. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 "Kristallnacht." PBS. WGBH Educational Foundation. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 "Liberation of Nazi Camps." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 "Life in the Ghettos." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 "Nazi Propaganda." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museumx, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Niss, Caren K. "Treblinka (Poland)." Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Oskar Schindler." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012 "Rise of the Nazis and the Beginning of Persecution." Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.



"The Nuremberg Race Laws." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. USCShoahFoundation. Holocaust Survivor Ursula Levy Testimony. Beverly Hills. YouTube. YouTube, 3 March 1997. Web. 24 March 2012. Vogelslang, Peter, and Brain Larsen. "Extermination Camps." Holocaust Education. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2002. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Vogelslang, Peter, and Brain Larsen. "Methods of Mass Murder." Holocaust Education. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2002. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "Wannsee Conference and the "Final Solution"" United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. "Warsaw Ghetto." Holocaust Survivors. Holocaust Survivors. Web. 15 Apr. 2012

Diana, you have a very informative paper here. Outside of the redundant use of parenthical citations, I enjoyed your paper very much. Even with the over use of the citations, I appreciate the fact you want to give credit where credit is due. It is better to have too many citations than not enough. I also wondered what happened on the conclusion, but I know that is just an oversight or something. I can tell from your writing that you understand what you have researched and the importance of it.

Raylyanu Points Available

16 Score

40 20 40 35 25 15 25

Content paper demonstrates understanding and confidence about topic Sources uses only primary and secondary sources In-Text Citations integrates sources within text with effective use of signal words and phrases Formatting properly uses MLA formatting Works Cited works cited page has the required number of sources and is properly formatted Pictures uses pictures to enhance the text with effective captions and source information Writing Mechanics Paper is free from errors in spelling, punctuation, etc.

39 20 28 32 25 15 20
Total Score

Total = 200