The Holocaust was a terrible historical event. It took the lives of many
innocent people. As Nazi Germany gained control of one country after another in
World War II, many civilians were killed. These crimes weren’t as bad as the
massive and deliberate and well-planned killing of more than fifteen million people.
Although the Holocaust was the worst manmade disaster in recent history, it taught
the world the value of human life.
The main goal of the Nazi Holocaust was to kill all of the Jews in Europe. Hitler
wanted what he called a perfect race. Anyone who wasn’t in his race or what he
thought was a perfect race was tormented and killed. Jews were forced to wear
yellow stars so everyone would know who they were. Adolf Hitler’s persecution of
the Jews began as soon as the Nazis came to power in 1933(Fischel 30) .
the Germans to believe that the Jews were behind a conspiracy, so the Germans
boycotted Jewish businesses. Jews were driven from their jobs in government and
in universities. They became “nonpersons” in their very own country, with no claim
to rights of any kind. Many nations fled to other European nations or to the United
States. The Jews were fearing for their lives, unfortunately not everyone could go,
some would have to stay and endure something they couldn’t
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Brawnaw, which is at the border
between Austria and Bavaria. Hitler had a strained relationship with his father. He
joined the National Socialist Workers Party in 1919 and became the chairman in
July 1921(Fischel 136). As World War II turned against Germany, Hitler retreated
to an underground bunk in Berlin in January 1945. When Hitler made his last will
and testament, he blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat and encouraged the nation
to keep the blood pure. He then married his mistress Eva Braun, and committed
suicide with her on April 30, 1945(Fischel 138). Hitler had Germany practically in
a trance. The Jews were so scared. No one really knew why Hitler had the Jews like
he did or what his reason he had behind the whole ordeal.
The Nazis deceived their victims in cruel ways. Even though they treated the
Jews like animals, they also confused them into thinking everything was going to be
ok. They gave false hope to the people they deported, right up to the doors of the
gas chambers, which were disguised as shower rooms. The Jews needed hope, they
didn’t know what to believe. (Anflick 9).They had been taken away from
everything they had known, little did they know that things were going to get very
bad. Even though this all was taking place, some people still fought and
resisted. Their resistance took three forms: armed, unarmed and spiritual.
In November 1938, the Germans rounded up thousands of the Jews and
imprisoned them in concentration camps. Other countries such as Italy, Romania
and Hungry were starting to follow Germany’s lead in their Jewish Minorities.
Resistance happened whenever Nazis imposed their rule. In cities, ghettos and
camps people risked their lives to resist. In the forests and cities resistance fighters
were killed. Their names are celebrated throughout the world. (Anflick 10).Jews
didn’t give up. Many had the strength of God and that’s the only reason they
In September 1942, the first wave of deportations from the warsaw ghetto
stopped. Hundreds of thousands of ghettos residents had been deported, starved or
killed. Only about 60,000 remained and most of them weren’t armed. There were
under grand resistance groups such as the Jewish Fighting Organization that the end
was near (Anflick 29) Resistance wasn’t an easy thing to do thats why not many
chose to resist.
Resistance in the camps was even more unlikely and dangerous than in the ghetto.
Almost no one was prepared for what was waiting from them in those camps, so no
one could organize resistance in advance. The camps were more isolated then in the
ghettos, so there was basically no way to smuggle in weapons or information
Along with physical resistance was spiritual resistance. Spiritual resistance
was the unwillingness to accept Nazi definitions of time and human worth. In this
way, Jews resisted the idea that they were worthless ans sustained their lived and
culture. At other times spiritual resistance was defined as just remembering and
holding firmly to the belief that no matter how powerful the Nazis were, God was
still in control and would hear his people (Anflick 48) Spiritual resistance was more
important than physical resistance. Its easier to have physical resistance when you
have spiritual to start out with, because if you don’t have spiritual resistance there’s
no reason to fight for your life.
One of the worst concentration camps was Auschwitz. Jews began going
underground to seek safety. Auschwitz was initially designed to serve as a forced
labor camp in order to attract companies to the area. The camp was to serve two
purposes: a source of slave labor and a place to punish enemies of the Reich. It
could hold approx. 11,000 prisoners. It was at Auschwitz were the majority of the
deported Jews were killed (Fischel 97) Jews who arrived at Auschwitz were
subjected to a selection. The ones who appeared strong and healthy were waved to
one side and given hard work. The others were sent to chambers.
The process of
selecting who would live and who would die was in the hands of the SS doctors.
The victims who were chosen for hard work were sent to an area of the camp called
the quarantine where there clothes were taken from them and in return they were
given ” prison-striped garb”. Men and women would have their heads shaved. The
hair was sent to Germany, where it was processed as mattress filling (Fischel 47).
The most dreaded part of the day was probably the roll call, which was in
both the morning and in the late afternoon. Prisoners were made to stand at
attention motionless for many hours in cold, in rain and snow. Whoever stumbled or
fell was sent to the gas chamber(Fischel 110). The number of Jews killed at
Auschwitz was 1.3 million.
The first concentration camp the Germans opened was Daucha , where
political oppenets of the Reich were held and brutalized (Fischel 14). Daucha
wasn’t as strict as many of the other camps but it was strict enough. Another camp
called Majdonek , constructed in the winter of 1940-1941, served as a labor camp
for Jews , Poles, and Soviet prisoners of war during its first years. By the end of
1943 more than 125,000 had been killed( Fischel 84)
Bergen-Belsen was established in April 1943 as a detention camp and it
became a concentration camp in March 1944. Those who arrived at Bergen-Belsen
received no medical attention (Fischel 86).
In the last weeks of the war, tens of thousands of prisoners were evacuated
from both extermination and concentration camps and were forced to March to
Bergen-Belsen . That also includes 20,000 women prisoners who were from
Auschwitz. The camp was unprepared to handle the ones who did survive the death
marches. They all lacked water and food.(Fischel 89) . The result from that was a
serious outbreak of typhus which in March 1945 claimed the lives of 18,168
prisoners, including Anne Frank.
Although many died from the Holocaust, there were some survivors. Claude
Cassier fled from Berlin to Prague, to Casablanca. Finally he took a boat to New
York (Wiesel, 142) Cassier explains how Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia with
a list of names. Cassier’s family was on that list. A couple days before Hitler came ,
Cassier’s father received a telephone call from a stranger revealing the information
of what was going to happen . So they left all there belongings and went to Paris.
France would allow people to visit but unfortunately they did not allow them to
work. (Wiesel 144). Then Hitler invade Poland , England, and France declared war
on Germany . The Cassier’s were all sent to detention camps . Fortunately, Cassier’s
father had some friends high up in the French army and they released them (Wiesel
146). And then in 1940 Hitler began his “blitzkrieg” and they were all interned
again. They were in a camp with about sixty German Jews and half a dozen guards.
The Cassier’s begged the French guards to let them go and to understand that they
were friends of France, not Hitler. When they were released from the camp , they
figured Hitler would come from the North, so they traveled hundred miles south
from there. They hid until the war was over (Wiesel 148). Cassier was a very strong
man. He didnt give into Hitler . You can see that in his survivor story.
Jack Goldman was born in Mannheim, Germany , was jailed with his father
as a polish Jew. He was in Auschwitz during the uprising of September 1944
(Weisel 155). Goldman says that everywhere people went there were signs “Juden
Veboten” which meant Jews forbidden . The Germans kept all the polish citizens
confined until the war with Poland was over. The Poles who weren’t even Jewish
were then sent home. The Jews were kept in jail until they were sent home. The
Jews were kept in jail until they were sent to camps . Goldman was kept in a
Jewish barrack and wasn’t allowed to mingle with other prisoners. After a few
months they gave the prisoners shovels and took them out to work (Wiesel 157).
They were forced to carry sand from one place to another and then back again for
Then they picked a few to learn brick laying. This was just torture because they
would be told to build a wall just to take it down. The only good thing was getting
an extra slice if bread at the end of the day( Wiesel 157) . Jews were tortured very
badly . Goldman was in the main camp in a barrack no bigger than a doll’s house.
Ten to fifteen men slept in it. The Americans were coming closer and closer and the
bombs were falling all around them. The war was coming to an end but not soon
enough for the prisoners in the prison camps (Wiesel 164). Goldman was very lucky
tp survive what he went through. God saved his life.
Rachella Velt Meekcoms was twelve years old when the Germans came into
the Netherlands. She and her sister were hidden by their neighbors but were
caught and first taken to Westerbork and then to Auscwitz (Wiesel 172)
Rachella remembers the soldiers coming into her home and taking her family
away. They were going to be put in a prison camp. Rachella did not know the
torture that was going to come. They separated the men from the women . They
made them stand with their faces to a brick wall. A Dutch policeman escorted
Rachella to her cell where he gave her a message that her father sent. Rachella was
scared she would never see her father again(Wiesel 178). They put her in a cell with
her sisters and step-mother and two other women .
It was about very small and there was straw on the floor and a pail in the corner .
They stayed in that cell for six weeks. After the six weeks they were all sent to
Westerbork. Her father was put in the hospital . Her sister and step- mother and her
were put in a barrack but were not part of the labor force(Wiesel 179).
After her sixteenth birthday they were sent off on another transport. They
brought them into a sauna and made them stand naked for hours and waited for
their names to be called. They gave her a new name and a tattooed a number on her
arm. They shaved them and gave them a gray prison dress to wear. There were three
levels of bunk beds. The sleeping situation was awful . There were five people in
each bunk and when one turned everybody had to turn. The bathroom was very far away and there was no water to wash(Wiesel 179). Everyday was terrifying for
Rachella. She lost about twenty pounds the first two weeks. Those few weeks
seemed like years(Wiesel 180). A man came to Auschwitz and asked for the Philips
group which was the group she was in. They put them on a train and gave them
some food. They put them to work in a factory. They were still prisoners at the
factory. The Russian -front was moving in and the Germans were scared to death.
Rachella’s sister was very ill at them time so she decided to get them both out of
there . So they escaped and came to a camp with a small barrack . Everyone was so
confused but Rachella was convinced she had escaped Auschwitz. They dragged
them around on cattle wagons . Rachella spent most of her time taking the lice of
each other. Her sister got sicker and sicker . They wound up in a camp where they
went to work in a salt mine. It was in Wiesbaden in West Germany (Wiesel 182).
Then after a few weeks they were moved again. By this time nearly everyone in
their Dutch group was ill and suffering from malnutrition, but there was a change in
attitude among the German guards. They would crack a smile or say hello. They
were hearing rumors that the war was coming to an end. Then in May they got called to attention in the yard and were going on transport. German soldiers came
and took them on a train.
The train stopped and they were left out in a big field,
were they were going crazy from hunger and thrist and the lice eating them. When
they went back on the train there were German soldiers all around them. These
German soldiers didn’t want anything but to go home to their families . They came
into a Danish station . The German Wehrmacht left train and the Danish Red Cross
people jumped on the wagons. “You are in Denmark” they said in German “You
are free”. Nobody could believe it. They were touching the Red Cross people as if
they weren’t real (Wiesel 182) They gave them clothes , good meals , a spoonful of
cod liver oil and a spoonful of sugar every day(Wiesel 184). Rachella’s sister was
sent to the sanitarium because she had tuberculosis . It took time but things were
starting to go back to the way they used to be in Germany.
Although the Holocaust was the worst man made disaster in recent history, it
taught the world the value of human life.
The Holocaust was an awful tragedy. So many people didn’t expect that to
happen. There was no way to prepare for something that drastic. Hitler was so
messed up in the head. He had Germany tricked and was deceiving so many people.
Even though it was one of the worst things that has happened in history, it also has
an important significance. It taught people all around the world many different
lessons. It taught to treat all people as one . That there souldnt be any racism . It
taught the awful things that Hitler did so people will never forget the pain the Jews
went through. Jews were singled out for no reason and they were Gods chosen
people. Hitler will have to pay for what he did to the Jews. I think the most
important lesson of all is the lesson of endurance. So many Jews endured so much.
There was almost nothing they couldn’t take on. They knew they had Jesus on their
side and they knew he would always be there for them. It is a awful thing that it
happened but so many people have learned and will continue learning from it.
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Cybrary of the Holocaust .2 April 2000 <http://remember.org/>
Fischel, Jack . The Holocaust .Greenwood Press Westport, 1998.
Herzstein, Robert. The war that Hitler won. Paragon House Publishers : New
Laqueur, Walter. The Terrible Secret .Owl Books Henry Holt and Company: New
Lazare , Lucien . Rescue as Resistance. Columbia University Press : New York,
Rothchild Sylvia . Voices from the Holocaust . New American Library : New York,