Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Holocaust is generally regarded as the systematic slaughter of not only 6 million Jews, (two-thirds of the total European Jewish population), the primary victims, but also 5 million others, approximately 11 million individuals wiped off the Earth by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It is hard to grasp the idea that it isn't just 11 million deaths, but 11 million people whose lives were cut off because of racism and hate, all in a period of 11 years (1933-1945). There are actually two main phases to the Holocaust, the period between 1933 and 1939, the Nazi rise, and the period between 1939 and 1945, the period of war, or more specifically, World War II. The first concentration camp opened in January 1933, when the Nazis came to power, and continued to run until the end of the war and the Third Reich: May 8, 1945.

The Holocaust was geographically widespread and systematically conducted in virtually all areas of Nazi-occupied territory, where Jews and other victims were targeted in what are now 35 separate European nations, and sent to labor camps in some nations or extermination camps in others. The mass killing was at its worst in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than 7 million Jews in 1939; about 5 million Jews were killed there, including 3 million in Poland and over 1 million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Greece.

Documented evidence suggests that the Nazis planned to carry out their 'final solution' in other regions if they were conquered, such as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. [6]. The extermination continued in different parts of Nazi-controlled territory until the end of World War II, only completely ending when the Allies entered Germany itself and forced the Nazis to surrender in May 1945

The Holocaust was carried out without any mercy or reprieve even for children or babies, and victims were often made to suffer before finally being killed. Nazis carried out cruel and deadly medical experiments on prisoners, including children.

The victims of the Holocaust were Jews, Serbs, Poles, Russians, Communists, homosexuals, Roma (also known as gypsies), the mentally ill and the physically disabled, intelligentsia and political activists, Jehovah's Witnesses, some Catholic and Protestant clergy, trade unionists, psychiatric patients, some Africans, common criminals and people labeled as "enemies of the state". These victims all perished alongside one another in the camps, according to the extensive documentation left behind by the Nazis themselves (written and photographed), eyewitness testimony (by survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders), and the statistical records of the various countries under occupation.

Starting in 1933, the Nazis set up concentration camps within Germany, many of which were established by local authorities, to hold political prisoners and "undesirables". These early concentration camps were eventually consolidated into centrally run camps, and by 1939, six large concentration camps, located in Poland, had been established. After 1939, with the beginning of the Second World War, the concentration camps increasingly became places where the enemies of the Nazis, including Jews and POWs, were either killed or forced to act as slave laborers, and kept undernourished and tortured.

During the War, concentration camps for Jews and other "undesirables" were spread throughout Europe, with new camps being created near centers of dense "undesirable" populations, often focusing on areas with large Jewish, Polish intelligentsia, communist, or Roma populations. Most of the camps were located in the area of General Government in Poland, but there were camps in every country occupied by the Nazis. The transportation of prisoners was often carried out under horrifying conditions using rail freight cars, in which many died before they reached their destination. Concentration camps also existed in Germany itself, and while not specifically designed for systematic extermination, many concentration camp prisoners died because of harsh conditions or were executed.

Die Kristallnacht, also known as die Reichskristallnacht (literally Imperial Crystal Night), die Pogromnacht and in English as the Night of Broken Glass, was a massive nationwide pogrom in Germany and Austria on the night of November 9, 1938 (including the early hours of the following day). It was directed at Jewish citizens throughout the country and portended the events of the Holocaust.


Post a Comment

<< Home