Friday, August 7, 2015

Discovery of the Holocaust

Seventy years ago. To quote:
The Nazi Party had used relocation as an effective weapon against their political enemies as early as 1933, but it was some time between 1937 and 1938 that members of the Nazi Party started to deport Jews into concentration camps and ghettos. One of the first concentration camps built was at Buchenwald, while the ghettos in Poland were widely known. At first, Jews who held jobs that were regarded as critical to the war effort were allowed to stay. However that soon changed about fall 1941, when Gestapo agents started to order Jewish families out of their apartments into trucks that headed for the east; most of them headed for the concentration camps and ghettos in Poland, Byelorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia. Margot Rosenthal of Berlin was able to hide from the Gestapo agents until 5 Dec 1941 before she was found and forced to relocate to a ghetto in Bavaria. "Send us something to eat, we are starving," she wrote her friend Ruth Andreas-Friedrich in Berlin. "Don't forget me. I cry every day." On 20 Jan 1942, Adolf Hitler signed into an official policy the complete elimination of European Jews at a conference in a villa at Wannsee, with the responsibility given to Reinhard Heydrich. The policy was dubbed the "final solution of the Jewish problem". In the same month, the concentration camp at Chelmno began its operations which solely dedicated to the systematic extermination of its prisoners with the experience the Nazi party had already accumulated by experimenting methods of execution with 50,000 mentally deficient or terminally ill Germans.

"We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews", said Hitler on 22 Feb 1942 to a group of close associates. "The Jews must vanish from the face of the Earth", later proclaimed the Nazi governor of occupied Poland Hans Frank. The work the Jews left behind, they reasoned, would be filled by imported workers from the conquered nations. It was in camps like Chelmno that between eight to eleven million Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, prisoners of war, Roma, Sinti, the disabled, homosexuals, political dissidents, and Communists were murdered. Approximately half of those perished were Jews, and half of them were Polish Jews. The instrument of death used by the Nazi ranged from machine guns in the early phases to carbon monoxide and Zyklon B gasses later in mass murder chambers.

The anti-Semitism rampant among the Nazi was not a new phenomenon. Rather, it was built upon an anti-Semitic feeling that had long been present in Europe. Even after WW2, the Pocket Oxford Dictionary still grossly defined the word "Jew" as the following:
1. n. Person of Hebrew race; (fig.) scrupulous usurer or bargainer.
2. v.t. (colloq.) Cheat, overreach.
At the end of WW1 extremist beliefs squarely blamed the German defeat on internal disharmony, particularly the presence of Jews and Marxists. A 1920 work by Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche argued for discontinuing the care of life unworthy of living such as the mentally dead and those terminally ill; a gross misuse of this theory by Binding and Hoche became a twisted justification for the Nazi Final Solution of the Jewish Question that called for the extermination of the Jews and other supposedly sub-humans. Hitler's disturbed mind offered him personal prejudices against the Jews as well, for instance his suffering from syphilis was blamed on a Jewish prostitute whom he had seen in Vienna. While the disease had nothing to do with faith or genealogy, he believed that the impurity German blood, tainted by Jews, was the cause of such diseases and human sufferings. It was upon these unfounded beliefs that Hitler supported the genocide. (Read more.)

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