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German Crime Against Humanity: the Holocaust

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Nazis had won the war? Have you ever wondered how different history would be if the Nazis were the ones who wrote it? While there are countless possibilities of how it could have gone, the most accurate scenario could be found within the past. Our current knowledge of life in Nazi Germany would most likely be the fate of the whole world. Many would perish under Hitler’s hand for him to build his perfect utopia. There are many conspiracies to Hitler’s motive behind the genocide of over 11 million people but the one that we know for sure was his hatred for the Jews and often portraying them as the enemy of the people, “ The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew”. The passage was taken from Mein Kampf, an autobiographical manifesto written by him, to him Jews are to blame for everything but on the other hand Hitler is known for his love for those he considered “Aryan”, blonde hair and blue eyes, and for his anti-Semitic attitude. However, such menacing and inhumane ideology was once accepted by most during the Third Reich. Many prejudiced acts against the Jewish and those who are deemed inferior population are the norm and encouraged by the Third Reich. The hammer took its hardest stroke on the Jews after Hitler was elected chancellor in 1933 marking the start of what to be the biggest crime against humanity in history. Through the use of brute forces, legislature, and propaganda, the Third Reich turned a once peaceful land to Jews into a living hell, they would later be segregated, punished, humiliated, deported, and ultimately annihilated. While there is some misconception between the Holocaust and “The Final Solution”. Many would know the Holocaust as the systematic and government-supported murder of over six million Jews and others. The Holocaust did not target just the Jews but also others who deemed to be “inferior” including, homosexuals, disabled, and people with Slavic origin. Though much of the accusation was solely put on Hitler’s hatred for Jews it should not be the only one as there are other varieties of events that lead to the “Final Solution” itself. This research paper shall provide an overview of the causes and events that were responsible for the path that leads up to “The Final solution to the Jewish question”.

In order for us to understand the present we must first understand the past. The root of the hatred for Jews could go back as far as the ancient world but it is irrelevant to the topic therefore we will discuss about what happened after World War I. After Germany lost the war the whole country was in a state of anarchy and suffering from economic crisis. The majority of the population were jobless and were living in poverty. Germany was humiliated and outraged by the Treaty of Versailles which the allies compelled the new German government, the Weimar Republic, to accept which includes the 33 billion in war reparation. Moreover, they were forced to give up its oversea colonies, Ruhr was occupied by the French and Belgian troops, to retaliate the German government gave order to the workers to go on strike but the attempt was backfired as all they did was shat down another source of their income. In response, the government printed more money devaluing the German Mark even further and causing hyperinflation. On top of that, they were forced to reduce their army size to only 100,000 personal. Many start to wonder to why they lost the war and who were to blame thus started the search for the scapegoat to how they lost the war leading to the birth of the “Stab-in-the-back” myth. It’s a myth that Germany didn’t lose on the home front but instead stabbed in the back by those at home. The search for the scapegoat came to an end when The Pan-German league pinpoint the fault towards the Jews started a deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the German political system. War veteran such as Adolf Hitler were shocked and outraged by the treaty and the myth when they returned to Germany. In 1929 the Wall Street crashed causing a ripple effect throughout the world’s economy. The Weimar Republic took a heavy hit on top of the war reparation of 33 billion. Following the Great Depression, the German economy crippled leaving the government of the Weimar republic in complete disarray. Seeing how insufficient management of the republic and the fear of communism taking over people turned to groups and leaders with new and daring ideas such as Hitler and the NSDAP party which was founded in 1919. After witnessing how insufficient the Weimar Republic was, the NSDAP led a coup d’état known as the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich on November 8th 1923 to overthrow the Weimar Republic but the Putsch failed causing Hitler and many conspirator to be put in jail where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. Hitler was one of many that were disgusted by what the treaty had done to Germany and how the Jews were to blamed for. In one of his early speeches made in Munich on 12th April 1922, he stated, “there are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan, or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.” He often portraits the Jews as an enemy of the Aryan people. Jews are generally stereotype as being greedy and often associate with money making this very easy for Hitler to make his speeches and gain popularity while at the same time planting the idea of Jews being the enemy of the people. During the election campaign, most posters were featured with; a tall masculine blonde male (Hitler’s Aryan ideal appearance), a large group of working-class, man with a top hat and long downward-pointing nose, a stereotypical feature of a Jew, anti-communist , and capitalist propaganda. The person responsible for that propaganda was Joseph Goebbels. We could say that Goebbels created the face of the Nazi party and controls how the public sees the party. One of his infamous quote “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…” This quote was proven very crucial to the rise of the Nazis and their attitude towards the Jews. Many of Hitler’s personal believe whether if it’s right or not was integrated into many of the propaganda posters and in his speeches, the process repeated until the majority believed in the concept.

Hitler was appointed chancellor on 30th January 1933 by Paul Von Hindenburg despite the fact that the NSDAP only gained 107 seats while the Social Democrat gained 143 seats and in the re-election of November 1932 the NSDAP gained 33.1% of the vote while The Communist gained 16.9% fearing that the Communist might take over the Reichstag President Hindenburg then turned to the Nazi party as being their last hope, this resulted in Hitler becoming the chancellor. Not long after, Hitler issued the “Decree for the Protection of the German People” the decree “restricted the German press and authorized the police to ban political meetings and marches.” Hitler appointed Hermann Göring as the cabinet minister, he later orders a raid on the communist party headquarter in Berlin claiming that they found traces of materials related to an armed revolt. On February 27th, 1933 The Reichstag was set on fire, the arson was said to be committed by Van der Lubbe, a communist sympathizer, he claimed that he acted on his own free will to “encourage a worker’s uprising against the German state”, while there are conspiracy theory that the building was set on fire by Hitler’s order in order to gain more control over the Reichstag. Regardless of the theory, Hitler took the opportunity to convince Hindenburg to invoke the Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution which states “ If public safety and order be seriously disturbed or threatened within the German Reich, the President of the Reich may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order; if necessary, with the aid of armed force. For this purpose, he may temporarily suspend in whole or in part the fundamental rights enumerated in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153.” This gave Hitler the power to act without consulting or getting approval from the Reichstag, at this point his rule is similar to a form of dictatorship holding absolute power in Germany. Following the fire, many Communist, political leaders and individuals that pose a threat were arrested resulted in the establishment of the first concentration camp, Dachau. On April 1st, 1933 the Nazis carried out its first action against the Jews: the boycotting targeting Jewish businesses. Many brown shirts (SA) stood in front of the stores preventing any customer from entering. The star of David was painted on windows and doors with antisemitic phrases. But it was proven ineffective as people continue to use services of those stores, some German would complain about the ban as it “disrupted their lives and create public order”. A new law was introduced on the 7th of May banning Jews from civil services as a result, Jewish professors, judges, doctors and teachers losing their jobs. While many measures were taken to segregated the Jewish and “unwanted” population measures were also taken towards the Reich citizens. Goebbels who is now the head of the propaganda ministry organized a public book burning in May. Many books and artwork by Jewish and many well-known figures were destroyed given the reason to cleanse the German culture from the Jews. Things get disturbing when the Sterilization law was passed on the 14th of July forcing any man or woman who is disabled or mentally ill to be sterilized as they are what the Nazis deemed “unwanted”. Some would describe Hitler as a very paranoid guy and always have a small circle of those who he truly trusted such as Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler. Such a theory was proven when Hitler ordered the massacre of the SA paramilitary leaders on July 30th, 1934. The event would be known as “The Night of the Long Knife” Some sources suggest that up to 400 people were killed that night including Ernst Röhm, the leader of the SA. Röhm was the commander of almost 3 million men and possess a potential threat to Hitler’s dictatorship. Over the period of time most of the SA merged with the SS.

On September 15th, 1935 a special meeting was held in Nuremberg, it was a special session of the Reichstag. Here Hitler proposed an anti-Jewish legislation to the Reichstag which would be passed and later known as The Nuremberg Laws. In his speech to the Reichstag he said, “The first two laws repay the debt of gratitude to the movement under whose symbol Germany has recovered her freedom since it implements the programme of the Nationalist Socialist party in an important point…” His first two laws were the “Reich Flag Law” and “Citizenship law”. The flag law dictates that the colour red, black, and white shall be the national colour and the swastika flag as the national flag. The citizenship law grants full citizenship rights including access to civil services, rights to vote, and full protection from the Reich for those that are considered to be the citizen of the Reich. Hitler also said “… The second is an attempt to regulate by law a problem [Jews] which, should this attempt fail, must be handed over by law to the National Socialist Party for a final solution”. This “attempt” is the introduction of The Nuremberg Race Law. It is the law that excludes the Jews from the Reich citizen, and prohibits any sexual relation between Jews and Reich citizen. The law defines a “Jew” not by their religious belief but “anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents.” Those who are categorized as a “Jew” would be stripped of their German citizenship. The statement he made also foreshadows the systematic killing of the Jews when he said “final solution”. To further segregated them the “Law on Alteration of Family and Personal Names” was introduced on the 17th August 1938. The law forces alteration to names for any German Jew who has a “non-Jewish” name to add the name of: “Israel for men and Sara for women.” It was important for them to carry an I.D. around to indicate that they are Jewish. On October 5, 1938, all passports of the German were stamped with the letter J this was to prevent them from fleeing to Switzerland. However, things moved from a peaceful segregation to a more violence method. The “Kristallnacht” or the night of the broken glass was a pogrom carried out by the Nazis on November 9th, 1938. It was a pogrom towards the Jewish businesses, store windows were smashed, giving the name night of the broken glass, and then were raided. Approximately 91 Jews were murdered, around 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps and 1400 synagogues were burned throughout Austria and Germany. In 1939 Hitler would begin his conquest for the expansion of the Reich nation to create a living space for his “Aryan race” (war and genocide). Poland would also serve as an experimental ground to find the most effective way to eliminate what they called “population problem”(war and genocide). Poland was also the birthplace of the T4 program, an involuntary euthanize program tested on the mentally ill or handicap population. The victim would travel by bus or rail to one of the euthanize facility located in places such as Grafeneck, Brandenburg, and Bernburg. It was estimated that the T4 program claimed about 70,273 lives. The T4 program was also responsible for the gassing and cremation method later be used in many concentration camps such as Auschwitz- Birkenau. 2 Years later the camp was built and later would be the most brutal and inhumane concentration camp. On January 20th, 1942 The Wannsee Conference was held by Reinhard Heydrich, the head security of the Gestapo, where the “Final solution to the Jewish question” was discussed among the high ranking SS members such as Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Müller, and Otto Hofmann. According to the European Judaism, Davis wrote “ … the meeting aimed to ensure cooperation between all the agencies in speeding up the evacuation of the Jews from the Lebensraum (living space) of the German people”. Now that the Nuremberg Laws serves its purpose at identifying Jews who live in Germany, the “final solution” is just a term for the extermination of those said Jews. If the operation would have succeeded it would mean the annihilation of approximately 11 million Jews in Europe.

Without question, the holocaust was and still is the worst crime against humanity in history. It could have been an extinction of a specific race and disrupt many more. The holocaust was a product of one man distorted ideology and with the assist of many, that share the same idea as he manages to sabotage the life of over 6 million people. While many would only know the Holocaust by keywords such as Jews, Auschwitz, Gas chamber, and Nazi. The truth is that the Holocaust was a series of an event staged by the Nazis and the use of propaganda to convince the population that a certain group of people is undesirable, therefore not a member of the society and needed to be eliminated. While events such as the Reichstag fire and The Night of The Long knives paved way for Hitler’s ideology to become a real event such as the Kristallnacht and the introduction of the Nuremberg law emphasize the desperation to segregation certain group from the society. “The Final Solution” did not happen within a day but rather a desperate effort to achieve the goal of annihilation.

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