What was the Holocaust?


The Holocaust first began in 1941 when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in Germany. It was a genocide (the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group) that targeted Jews. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazis targeted Jews because they were falsely accusing them of causing Germany’s social, economic, political, and cultural problems. Nazis as well as blamed them for Germany’s defeat in World War I.

The Holocaust ended in May 1945. Around 6 million Jewish children, men, and women were killed during this time period. Among the 2,819 inmates liberated from Auschwitz (a notorious concentration camp) there were 180 children, 52 of them were under the age of eight. This tells us that even Jewish children were targeted, not just men and women.

The Holocaust did not come out of nowhere. There were moments leading up to it, it was months, maybe years before Nazis began deporting Jewish families to concentration camps. According to another article titled “What is the Holocaust” by Koen Smilde, it states “The genocide did not come out of nowhere. They used age-old hostility towards Jews, modern racism, and nationalism.” This means the idea arose that Jews belonged to a different race and were therefore not part of ‘the people’ or the nation. This was false. Jews were always a part of the German people and nation. Nazis created this idea to scapegoat Jews and to dehumanize them.

During the Holocaust German units used two main methods of killings. One method was mass shootings. German units carried out mass shootings on the outskirts of villages, towns, and cities throughout eastern Europe. The other method was asphyxiation (the state or process of being deprived of oxygen.) with poison gas. Gassing operations were conducted at killing centers and with mobile gas vans.

In the article titled “Final solution to the Jewish question” by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it states, “The vast majority of Jews deported to killing centers were gassed almost immediately after their arrival. Some Jews whom German officials believed to be healthy and strong enough were selected for forced labor.” They picked them out from who can work and who can’t. Basically, if they were to be picked for labor it was in a way borrowed time. The sad reality is that even if you were to be picked to work, you’re most likely to still die. Nearly 2.7 million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered at the five killing centers.

In the concentration camps Jews were forced to work even if they were now too weak and dying of starvation (weighed around 70 pounds), illnesses, or dehydration. They were beaten for not following orders or beaten because the soldiers wanted to beat them. It could have been for no reason at all but because they were born as jews. They were also taken to death marches and left to die. German soldiers would laugh at them as they were dying. It was a cruel thing and the soldiers really had no remorse for them. Jews were disrespected, burned alive and a lot of them died because of illness that were spreading around the camp.

It wasn’t only men and women, it was children too. Some children were too young to work and instead they were used as experiments instead of mice and rabbits. It was hard for children as well, even if they weren’t in forced labor.

Many of the children were twins. Nazis took an interest in them scientifically for conducting experiments. Joseph Mengele,also known as “The angel of death” or “White angel” would conduct these horrible experiments. In an article titled “Josef Mangele” made by United states Holocaust Memorial Museum, it states that Mengele would collect the eyes of his murdered victims for his research about heterochromia, a condition in which the irises of an individual’s eyes differ in coloration. Mengele conducted many different experiments on Jewish children, men, and women throughout the time he spent in concentration camps.
If some of the children were too young and not able to work and be experimented on they were sent to killing centers where they were gassed along with other prisoners. It was kids like Thomas Kulka who on March 31, 1942, was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in western Czechoslovakia and on May 9, 1942, Tomas was then deported to the Sobibor killing center where he was gassed. Thomas was seven years old.

In conclusion the Holocaust was a terrible genocide that took place from 1941-1945. The German party striped away Jews’ rights and began treating them as if they were non human. Nazis took away their livelihoods.