The Holocaust in Two Parts

The beginning of the Holocaust started when WWI ended. Germany lost the war, and Adolf Hitler got furious at Jews, homosexuals, and religious groups like Gypsies, and also, there was a bit of an economic crisis, so he needed to go Thanos and wipe out pretty much half of all Jews, homosexuals, and persecuted religious groups. But before he could do that, he needed to rise to power. HITLER’S RISE TO POWER The roots of Hitler’s particularly virulent brand of anti-Semitism are unclear. Like many anti-Semites in Germany, he blamed the Jews for the country’s defeat in 1918. Soon after the war ended, Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), known to English speakers as the Nazis. While imprisoned for treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Hitler wrote the memoir and propaganda tract Mein Kampf (My Struggle), in which he predicted a general European war that would result in the extermination of the Jewish race in Germany.

Hitler was obsessed with the idea of the superiority of the pure German race, which he called Aryan, and with the need for Lebensraum, or living space, for that race to expand. After he was released from prison, Hitler took advantage of the weakness of his rivals to enhance his party’s status and rise from obscurity to power. On January 20, 1933, he was named chancellor of Germany. After President Paul von Hindenburg’s death in 1934, Hitler anointed himself as Fuhrer, becoming Germany’s supreme ruler. THE NAZI REVOLUTION One of the main reasons the Holocaust happened was because Hitler wanted racial purity and spatial expansion. The Nazis reserved their harshest persecutions for Commies and Social Democrats, or people of the same likes. Basically, their harshest persecutions were reserved for political opponents. The first official concentration camp was opened at Dachau, and many of the first prisoners were Communists. Like the network of concentration camps that followed, becoming the killing grounds of the Holocaust, Dachau was under the control of Heinrich Himmler, head of the elite Nazi guard, the Schutzstaffel (SS), and later chief of the German police.

By July 1933, German concentration camps . . . held some 27,000 people in protective custody. Huge Nazi rallies and symbolic acts such as the public burning of books by Jews, Communists, liberals and foreigners helped drive home the desired message of party strength. In 1933, there was only about 1 % of Jews left in Germany. During the next six years, Nazis dismissed non-Aryans from civil service, liquidated Jewish-owned businesses and stripped Jewish lawyers and doctors of their clients. Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew, while those with two Jewish grandparents were designated Mischlinge (half-breeds). KRISTALLNACHT (NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS) On November 9 to November 10, 1938, in an incident known as ‘Kristallnacht’, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews.

In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, also called the ‘Night of Broken Glass,’ some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. The German authorities looked on doing nothing. In the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht, the streets of Jewish communities were littered with broken glass from vandalized buildings, giving rise to the name Night of Broken Glass. The Nazis held the German-Jewish community responsible for the damage and imposed a collective fine of $400 million (in 1938 rates), according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Additionally, more than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to the Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps in Germany“camps that were specifically constructed to hold Jews, political prisoners and other perceived enemies of the Nazi state. TOWARDS THE FINAL SOLUTION Beginning in 1941, Jews from all over the continent, as well as hundreds of thousands of European Gypsies, were transported to the Polish ghettos. The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 marked a new level of brutality in warfare. Beginning in September 1941, every person designated as a Jew in German-held territory was marked with a yellow star, making them open targets. Tens of thousands were soon being deported to the Polish ghettos and German-occupied cities in the USSR.

SOURCES USED:

Editors, H. (2018). The Holocaust. [online] HISTORY. Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust [Accessed 30 Nov. 2018].

Editors, H. (2018). Kristallnacht. [online] HISTORY. Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/holocaust/kristallnacht [Accessed 30 Nov. 2018]. “Kristallnacht”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht. Accessed 30 Nov 2018.

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