Discrimination, unfortunately, has been occurring throughout history. It mainly revolved around a particular event during World War II: the Holocaust, which was considered to be a systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of almost six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators (Finchel). Amid this time of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups due to their apparent racial and biological inferiority. As many Jews became the primary victims of Nazi racism, it resembles to today’s events as many races and religions still remain to encounter prejudice (Finchel). As one understands the depths of the disastrous effects that was placed by the Holocaust, the living survivors and its victims should continue to be honored and remembered as many future generations become educated on these horrific events.
Adolf Hitler was born into an Austrian family in 1889 and moved to Germany in 1913. He served in the German army during World War I, and not long after became heavily involved in German legislative issues (Wistrich). He was attracted to the ideas of German-Nationalism, anti-semitism, anti-capitalism, and anti-marxism. Once discharged from prison, Hitler chose to seize control constitutionally as opposed to by force of arms (Grobman). Using demagogic oratory, Hitler addressed scores of mass audiences, calling for the German people to resist the burden of Jews and Communists, and to create a new empire which would rule the world for 1,000 years (Grobman).
With Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, this racial anti-semitism turned into the official ideology and policy in the German regime (Wistrich). The idea of Nazi philosophy depended on an arrangement of racial standards which were established on the “scientific” principles of “Social Darwinism”. This ideology ranked society through purity of blood, building a hierarchy wherein the top were the “purest,” as all others were progressively polluted through years of race mixing (Roberts). Using this hierarchical structure, Jews were the least ideal and were positioned on the bottom, labeled as the enemy of the “State”. The Nazis set forth ideas based on centuries-old concepts of anti-semitism, including religious and economic forms of segregation (Wistrich). They associated these chronical thoughts with contemporary concerns, reprimanding the Jewish individuals for German and European societal issues, including Germany’s defeat in World War I (Roberts).
After Hitler was designated Chancellor of Germany, the Nazi party quickly began passing anti-Jewish laws with the objective of expelling Jews from Germany (Grobman). It sought to confine Jewish economic activity and distance Jews from public life in their nations. Initially, the thought was simply to get Jews to leave, however emigration was not an easy errand (Finchel). Jews were requested to surrender their homes, livelihoods, and businesses, charged excessive expenses, and had few places of escape open to them. Nazi policy soon moved to coordinate viciousness against Jews and their property (Roberts).
In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain genuine and envisioned political and ideological adversaries. Increasingly in the years prior to the outbreak of war, SS and police authorities imprisoned Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethics and racial hatred in these camps (Chisholm). To focus and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later expulsion of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war year (Chisholm). As Warsaw ghetto historian Emanuel Ringelblum wrote in 1942:
“Even in the most barbaric times, a human spark glowed in the rudest heart, and children were spared. But the Hiterlian beast is quite different. It would devour the dearest of us, those who arouse the greatest compassion–our innocent children” (Kellins).
In the camps, children, the elderly, and pregnant women routinely were sent to the gas chambers immediately after entry. One of the which became one of the most famous labor camps was Auschwitz, which turned into a symbol of the Holocaust (Reilly).
Within the camps, the Nazis set up a hierarchical identification system and prisoners were organized depending on nationality and reason for imprisonment. Detainees with a higher societal position inside the camp were regularly remunerated with more alluring work assignments, for example, administrative positions indoors (Roberts). Some, such as the kapos (work supervisors) or camp elders held the intensity of life and demide over other prisoners. Those lower on the social ladder had all the more physically demanding tasks such as production line work, mining, and construction, and endured a much higher mortality rate from the joined impacts of physical exhaustion, meager rations, and extremely harsh treatment from guards and some kapos (Chisholm). Prisoners also staffed infirmaries, kitchens, and served different capacities within the camp. Living conditions were cruel and outrageous, however fluctuated incredibly from camp to camp and furthermore changed over time (Finchel).
For the individuals who were not sent to concentration camps, parents, children, and rescuers confronted overwhelming challenges once the choice was made to seek total isolation. A few youngsters could be mistaken for non-Jews and live transparently (Kellins). Those who could not had to live stealthily, often in attics or cellars, where they needed to stay quiet, even motionless, for a considerable length of time. Children posing as Christians needed to deliberately disguise their Jewish character from curious neighbors, classmates, informers, blackmailers, and the police (Kellins). Any clamor—discussion, footsteps—could stir neighbors’ suspicion and perhaps even incite a police raid. Under these conditions, the children frequently experienced an absence from of human interaction and endured boredom and fear (Kellins).
Among the most difficult recollections for concealed children was their separation from parents, grandparents, and siblings. For an assortment of reasons—the lack of space, the failure or reluctance of a rescuer to take in a whole family, or the choice of the guardians not to desert other relatives in the ghetto—numerous Jewish children remained in isolation alone (Chisholm). Leo Schneiderman portrayed the arrival at Auschwitz, selection and separation from this family: “My mother ran over to me and grabbed me by the shoulders, and she told me ‘Leibele, I’m not going to see you no more. Take care of your brother’” (Finchel). Separation tormented both parents and children (Kellins). Each dreaded for the other’s safety and was powerless to initiate action. Their children and parent regularly needed to manage their melancholy in silence so as not to jeopardize the wellbeing of the other. For many hidden children, the wartime separation became permanent (Kellins).
Thousands of Jewish children survived the Holocaust because they were secured by people and institutions of other faiths (Kellins). Dozens of Catholic convents in German-occupied Poland autonomously took in Jewish youth. In Albania and Yugoslavia, some Muslim families covered adolescents. Subsequently, Children immediately figured out how to master the prayers and rituals of their “adopted” religion in order to keep their Jewish identity hidden from even their dearest companions (Kellins).
At that time, the quantity of Jews acquired with each occupation became overwhelming, and the murder of innocent civilians, including women and children, upon the SS killing squads was taking its toll and another arrangement must be set up (Roberts). In addition to the murder of European Jews, the Nazi government was in charge for the persecution of several other groups of people. Poles, Sinti, and Roma were viewed as racially inferior to the Aryans and were exposed to death and labor camps (Chisholm). They oppressed church leaders and Jehovah’s Witnesses who declined to salute Hitler, serve in the German armed force, or opposed Nazism in general (Finchel). Homosexuals, explicitly men, were viewed as hindrance to the conservation of the German country and were therefore subjected to concentration camps. People with mental and physical disabilities were also executed as a feature of the so-called Euthanasia Program (Chisholm). Nazis also persecuted political opponents, revolutionary authors and artists, Red Army political officers, and Soviet prisoners of war, amongst many other people. Altogether, five million non-Jews were killed (Chisholm).
In the end, the Holocaust destroyed society. This devastating Genocide killed millions of people, left thousands in physical or mental agony, and influenced the present society in such a negative way (Reilly). In total about eleven million people were killed unjustifiably and those who fortunately escaped will be traumatized for the rest of their lives confronting today’s society (Reilly). These survivors still face the long term effects from the Holocaust. As survivors and children began aging, the terrifying flashbacks return to their minds and insecurities begin to control their physiologic mind. Thus, it seems that Elie Wiesel (1978) was correct in stating that “time does not heal all wounds; there are those that remain painfully open (Finchel).
The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely. After World War II, West European Jewish survivors were allowed to compose and publish as they liked, whereas East European Jewish survivors, if caught behind the iron curtain, were unable to. In the West, memoirs of the Holocaust could (although very slowly) go into historical writing and public consequences (Reilly). Today, these sources became evidence to prove the Holocaust’s existence. It is now unfortunate to see that the concept of discrimination still occurs today as it was back then. On October 27, 2018, 11 individuals died as a result from a shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Swensen). This shows that hate crime is still prevalent in society and we are seeing the reality of hatred in communities and the rise of religious and racial hatred. Realizing that we are the last generation to live with the remaining survivors of the Holocaust, we must guarantee that the crimes committed against humanity during the Holocaust are never forgotten.