Holocaust, The Concentration Camps
…the first anti – Semitic measures taken by the National Socialist immediately after taking over government in 1933. The measures represent the end of the equality of citizenship that Jews had enjoyed throughout Germany since 1871. By gradually removing the citizenship rights of German Jews the Nazi’s were fulfilling one of the principal demands that radical anti – Semites had been making since the 1870’s. ¹
Holocaust is defined as the systematic, bureaucratic, state – sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews including 1.5 million Jewish children in Europe by the Nazi regime and its collaborators that took place between 1933 – 1945. ² The Holocaust has always been a story worth investigating and never forgetting. Working with the AMERICAN RED CROSS in a predominantly Jewish community in Maryland provided the inspiration for this paper. The stories told by members of the community detailing the separation of their families and unknown of that family members’ fate supports the need to re-visit what really happened during the Holocaust. It is extremely important to history classes and students of every level, to understand the unnerving atrocities that took place during the 1930’s and 1940’s which will continue to be remembered and homage be paid to the Jews who have since passed away. The separation of families during the 1930’s would mainly occur at the trains transporting Jews from their homes to ghettos and concentration camps. Concentration camps were established soon after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor; these camps varied in there functions but, ultimately led to the deaths of many. This paper will primarily focus on the daily living of the Jews, the forced labor the Jews had to perform, and the death of many Jews in the concentration camps in Germany. Everyday life in concentration camps rarely enabled moments of joy and laughter but, called upon all of one’s strength to overcome the daily routine. This routine began with Jews being forced to wake early hours in the morning, arrange their bed’s of straw, report to lineup to be counted and march to labor. Before reporting back to the concentration camp the Jews and others being retained at the concentration camp were usually fed one meal consisting of a watery vegetable soup and half a piece of bread which is insufficient for people doing hard labor.
In the mornings: black coffee. At midday: soup. By the third day, I was eargerly eating any kind of soup… At six o’clock in the afternoon: roll call. Followed by bread with something. At nine o’clock: bedtime. ³
The conclusion of a day in the concentration camp consisted of returning from hours of hard labor to what has been described as one of the most horrific aspects of ones life in a camp; this event was a collection of inhumane acts inflicted upon Jews and other members. They were forced to line up, stand completely still, often for hours at a time, exposed to the elements of cold, rain, and/or snow, and living with the terror of sudden violence by the Nazi guards at any time. They would then retire to the barracks for bed. Ultimately the daily routine was one of fear, malnourishment, fatigue from hard labor and terror that they may not see another day. Daily life in a concentration camp provided very little peace but, those contained in the camps retained hope that the next day would be the day that they regained their freedom and that the next day would maybe, just maybe be the day that they were reunited with their families.
Since bible day’s, specifically before Christ, good work ethic has been embedded in Judaism; Jews believe that one should work hard and conscientiously while at work. Solomon, the author of Proverbs, wrote "One who works his land will be sated with bread, but one who runs after empty things lacks understanding"4 and "The slothful person desires but has nothing; but the soul of the diligent will be...
Bibliography: Desbois, Father Patrick. The Holocaust By Bullets. New York: PALGRAVE
Koker, David. At the Edge of the Abyss. New York: Northwestern University Press,
Longerich, Peter. “Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews”.
New York: Oxford University Press Inc, 2010
Solomon. “The Holy Bible” Proverbs. Thomas Nelson Bibles, 2003
Unknown. A brief Introduction of the Holocaust. www.Holocaustcenterpgh.org :1
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006
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