Research Paper Holocaust Overview

Justin Lyman

Eng Comp 102-102 Mr. Neuburger 2 April 2012



The Holocaust was approximately a three year period during the thirty year rise and reign of the Nazi Party. How the Nazi Party came to be and how it annihilated approximately twelve million people needs to be remembered and understood in order to prevent events such as the Holocaust from ever occurring again. The systematic and intentional attempt to exterminate Jews from German occupied territories may have occurred over a three year period, but it was a series of events and German engineering that took place over a thirty year period that allowed to Holocaust to happen. Rise of the Nazi Party After World War II, Germany fell into an economic crisis. This is due to unpreparedness from the German government to losing the war. The propaganda that they did use made the nation think that they couldn’t lose the war so when they did the whole
Picture of Hitler addressing part of the Nazi Party.

nation took a huge blow to their pride. The Treaty of

Versailles didn’t help matters either due to the fact that it charge the German people to pay for the war damages which were way over Germany’s head. In all of this misery, the German Workers’ Party slowly started to gain support. In 1919, Hitler rose in rank in the new party. He promoted national pride, a racially “pure” Germany, and militarism. To spark up more support from the poor Germans, he blamed the crisis on the Jews in turn creating anti-Semitic feelings. Later he changed the name to the party we all know as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or the Nazi Party. In 1921 Hitler became the party’s official leader.



In 1923, Hitler attempted to overthrow the government which failed. This is known as the Beer Hall Putsch. He used his public trial as a way of insulting the Weimar government. At the end of his trial Hitler had actually gained support for his cause. He was given a much lighter sentence than what he normally would have and was eligible for parole. He was out of prison after one year. While in prison, Hitler wrote his book called Mein Kampf, which means My Struggle. The book was basically an outline of what was to follow when he took control of the government. Once out of prison, Hitler brought back the Nazi Party. He waited for the right opportune moment to make his move on the government. The Party grew from 27,000 members in 1925 to 108,000 members in 1929. Most of this growth had come from propaganda. The Nazi Party mostly identified with young men of the lower middle class. In 1932, the existing capitalistic government collapsed while arguing about the rising cost of unemployment benefits. This caused the existing Reich president Paul von Hindenburg to invoke the constitution’s emergency presidential powers. He created a new government to rule by emergency decrees instead of laws passed by the Reichstag. Basically, he created a dictatorship with advisors. Slowly the Nazi Party continued to gain support until Hitler finally took over the government. Nazi Anti-Semitism. The original anti-Semitism came from a view that Jews had rejected Christianity causing a
Anti-Semitic photo of a Jewish banker. Source:

widespread hatred for them. Also they were portrayed as children of the Devil for killing the Christian children. The



Nazi view of Jews came specifically from racial anti-Semitism and social Darwinism. They viewed the Jews as an inferior race. It wasn’t until the rise of the Nazi party though that antiSemitism was used as a political instrument and an official policy of the modern state. After this the essence of being Jewish was thought to be biological. The Jews couldn’t avoid persecution then by means of denouncing his or her faith of adopting a non-Jewish faith. The Nazis made the Germans look as though that they were the perfect race of the Aryan-Nordic people. They then accused the Jewish people as challenging the dominant races and as being subhuman. They then stated that the Jews would destroy the world and that the Aryan race had to win the struggle. Nuremberg Laws. The Nuremberg Laws were racial laws used by the German Parliament. The laws were the basis for the anti-Jewish policy in Germany. The first of the Nuremberg Laws was the “Reich Citizenship Law.” This law stated that only those of Aryan decent
The original copies of the Nuremberg Laws. Source:

could be citizens of the Reich. It named the Jews as state subjects instead of citizens of the Reich. Jewish war

heroes and state officials had exemptions in the early anti-Jewish policy. The Nuremberg Laws nullified these exemptions. The second law was the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor.” This law forbade marriages and extramarital sexual relations between Germans and Jews, the employment of German maids under the age of 45 in Jewish homes and the raising of the German flag by Jews. The Nuremberg Laws came from a push to help bring down antiJewish rioting. The laws were to appease the Nazi officials who wanted a set system for dealing with the Jews.



Nazi Propaganda. Propaganda is used as a systematic way to promote specific ideas and practice in order to benefit one’s cause. Usually propaganda will stretch the truth and leave out important facts. The Nazis used propaganda in one of the most creative ways in history. The Nazi Party used propaganda before they rose to power to attract the attention of anyone in the public to gain
Propaganda stating, “Long live Germany!” Source:

support for their cause. They made Hitler out to be infallible

and they promoted greatly his dynamism. After the Party took power, they continued to use propaganda to re-enforce the image of Hitler as being untouchable. In Mien Kampf, Hitler states that propaganda should be used on the masses that are easily swayed by emotions and by the crowd. It also stated that propaganda should be repeated until everyone would have it on their minds constantly. The propaganda that the Nazis used always pointed at the one enemy which was the Jews. He kept the thought in the Germans’ heads that the Jews were parasites who were sub-human. Soon after Hitler came to power, he created the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Over this ministry he appointed Joseph Goebbels as the Propaganda Minister. The Ministry was divided up into 7 sections which consisted of radio, the press, films, theater, adult education, administration and organization, and propaganda. (Propaganda, Nazi) One thing that does stand out from Hitler as a person is that he was an incredible speaker. Using this skill he held many Nazi rallies and succeeded in gaining much German support. They also published anti-Semitic newspapers. Usually these papers depicted Jews in a much distorted view but did succeed in creating much more hatred towards Jews.



Anti-Semitic films were also produced which portrayed the Jews as being dirty, immoral, and ugly. (Propaganda, Nazi) Other movies were created also that over all portrayed the common Jew as just nasty and out right wrong. They went as far as to say that Jews killed Christian children for religious rituals. Some films were also made in which the Nazis were glorified as well as glorifying Germany. Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht was a “…pogrom carried out by the Nazis throughout Germany and Austria on November 9-10, 1938.” (Kristallnacht) Kristallnacht is also known as “Night of the Broken Glass” due to the thousands of Jews businesses’ broken
Ruined synagogue after Kristallnacht. Source:

windows. Kristallnacht was launched, officially, in response to the assassination on November 7th of a

German named Ernst vom Rath by a Jewish refugee. A group of Nazi leaders were gathered in Munich commemorating the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch that same night. They agreed that the time had come to strike at the Jews. They told their men to join in the riots but not to start them. Very soon, riots broke out all throughout Germany. Many shop windows were broken and looted of all items. Hundreds of Jewish synagogues and homes were burnt down with many Jews physically assaulted. Approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Around 90 Jews were killed during the rioting. After the pogrom was over, the Jews continued to receive intensified pressure from the Nazis. They set up a Central Office for Jewish Emigration to help the Jews leave the



country. (Kristallnacht) Many western countries started to admit more refugees as a result of Kristallnacht. Ghettos. The Jews were sent to Ghettos after Kristallnacht. The Ghettos were actually a Jewish only part of cities which had very poor living standards. While in the Ghetto, many Jews died but there is no official confirmation that the Ghettos were used as a
A Jew being assaulted in the Ghetto. Source:

way for killing the Jews. Still the Nazis could have cared less about a bunch of starving Jews.

There is no evidence that the Nazi leadership ordered the establishment of ghettos in the form that they eventually took. (Ghetto) In this way, there was no exact way the ghettos were to be established. They were formed by local officials and were unique in how each was set up. The first ghetto to be established was in Poland in the city of Piotrkow Trybunalski in October 1939. (Ghetto) It was established a month after war broke out. After that many others were established throughout Europe and the Soviet Union. For the most part, these ghettos were established after many local Jews had been killed. Each ghetto was also guarded differently. “The Warsaw Ghetto was surrounded by an 11mile wall.” (Ghetto) Some of the ghettos weren’t guarded either and Jews could come and go as they pleased. Though eventually, all of the ghettos were locked during deportation. The Jews never got much food in the ghettos. They were given ration cards by the Nazis to eat a very small bit of food. For the most part they were forced to buy food off the black market. Many of the Jews didn’t have money to afford this so they starved. Only the wealthy could manage to buy food.



Resistance. Though it isn’t talked about enough, the Jews did form resistances against the Nazis. Every time there was an organized resistance, many lives were at stake including non-Jews. One group in particular was the women.
Two Jewish Resistance officers. Source:

According to Weinstock, women were thought of be for only child rearing, the home, and for religion. (Women

and Resistance) The Nazis never expected women to be a threat. Women would bring information along with supplies to the other people in their group of resistance. Another form of resistance was spiritual resistance. This was the course of many of the Jews. This refers to attempts to remain sane during Nazi rule and their degradation. According to Weinstock, spiritual resistance proved that while physical resistance was necessary, spiritual resistance was just as important. The isolation of the ghettos was meant to break down the Jews and make them feel worthless. Many of the Jews actually found inner strength from this and were made stronger through it. Some Jews also created social programs for each other to remain strong for each other. These included a struggle for humanity, culture, normalcy, and for life according to Weinstock. (Spiritual Resistance) Education was also a form of resistance. The Jews would teach each other everything they knew. They actually created a library inside the ghetto and would pass around the books so that they may read all of the books. They also perform theaters for each other and also sang operas.



The Wannsee Conference – The Final Solution. There is no written document ordering the Final Solution to the extermination of Jews. Instead it is believed that it was given orally by Hitler himself. (The Wannsee Conference) On July 31, 1941, the Final
Villa where Wannsee Conference took place. Source:

Solution was put into effect and so began the mass

extermination of the Jewish people. There was already a program that was used called the Euthanasia Program which used poison gases to kill tens of thousands of physically and mentally handicapped people. This program was stopped due to public pressure though. It did serve as the basis of the gas chambers that used Zyklon B. On January 20, 1942, another meeting was held at Wannsee. At this meeting, it was announced that 11,000,000 Jews could be introduced into the Nazi program for the Final Solution. (The Wannsee Conference.) As a result of this meeting, the emigration plan for the Jews was replaced with the extermination of the Jews of Europe. Extermination Methods. There were three ways that the Nazis first killed the Jews. The first was by firing squad. The second was by mobile gas vans. The third method was by the gas chambers. Firing squads worked by lining up a group of
The results of the Extermination Methods. Source:

Jews and just shooting them until they died. Sometimes they would line up the Jews by a pit and fire so that

they would fall into the pits. They would later have to dig up the bodies to burn them so that



there was no evidence of them. This method proved ineffective and too demoralizing to the soldiers carrying out the orders. So they stopped using firing squads. They then moved onto mobile gas vans. What these actually were are large vans that they would load a large group of Jews in and they would drive around until the Jews died. They Jews died by carbon monoxide poisoning. What the Nazis did was they put the exhaust flow into the back of the van to kill the Jews. They would then dispose of the bodies in a mass grave. This method was ended because it took too long. The third and final method was using Zyklon B into sealed chambers in which many Jews were killed. This was the most effective method of extermination and was used throughout the Holocaust. Death Camps. The Death Camps were where the Gas Chambers took place. One of the more famous Death Camps is Auschwitz. The first extermination camp that was established was Chelmno. It began its exterminations from December 8, 1941 until January 1945. (Death
Entrance to a Death Camp. Source:

Camps) When the Jews arrived at Chelmno, they were ordered to undress and surrender all of their belongings

and to get onto gas vans, approximately 300,000 Jews were killed at this death camp with only three surviving Jews from there. In the death camps, permanent gas chambers were constructed. There was no selection process and everyone was sent straight to the gas chambers. Around 1,700,000 Jews were killed in the three extermination camps of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The common way of killing these Jews were to attach large tank engines to the gas chambers in turn suffocating them.



There were a small few that survived by being workers to clear out the dead bodies and to remove the clothing of the victims from the gas chambers. After a couple of months they would be replaced and killed also in the gas chamber. All the other people, though, that had failed to stay strong were sent straight to the gas chamber and were killed. Liberation. As the Allies advanced, they came across different camps. Sometimes when they got there they would find that the Nazis had tried to conceal what they had done there. They also found some places where the Nazis had left with the Jews and were most likely
A group of children leaving a Nazi Camp. Source:

sending the Jews on Death Marches. In most of the camps though, the Allies would find very large groups of

Jews suffering from malnourishment and disease. The Russians were the first to stumble upon the camps but often didn’t report their findings. They did, however, liberate many Jews from the camps. The first time the British and American troops stumbled upon the Jews they were awe struck. They could not believe the condition that the Jews were living in. They tried as much as they could but they just couldn’t save all the Jews they found. For some it was just a matter of it was too late. They also found many piles of corpses. The feelings of the Jews after liberation were very mixed. For one they were very happy to be free of the Nazi tyranny but they also had nowhere to go. Many times they were the sole survivors of their families and communities. They would just stay at the camps which became Displaced Persons camps. They would move around if they happened to find a relative that they



recognized. They did this until Israel was finally reformed. After that many of the Jews moved to Israel and began re-building their families. During the Nazi Reign, they murdered approximately twelve million people were annihilated. During this time also there were choices made on both sides of the war that shouldn’t have been made of done. One example would be of American bombers NOT bombing the rail lines that transported the Jews or bombing the concentration camps. Through a ridiculous struggle, the Jewish people did make it through the Holocaust with a much smaller number of them. If only steps were taken to possibly save more of their numbers then they wouldn’t have resentment toward Americans.



Works Cited "Gas Chambers." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Ghetto." SHOAH Resource Center. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Holocaust Timeline: The Rise of the Nazi Party." Florida Center for Instructional Technology. 2005. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. "Kristallnacht." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Liberation." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Nuremberg Laws." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Propaganda, Nazi." SHOAH Resource Center. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "Selektion." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust." After Liberation. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust." Antisemitism. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. "The Holocaust." The Death Camps. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.



"The Holocaust." The Wannsee Conference. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

Weinstock, Yael G. "The International School for Holocaust Studies." Spiritual Resistance. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. Weinstock, Yael G. "The International School for Holocaust Studies." Women and Resistance during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

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