The Holocaust, literally meaning ‘whole burnt’, was a state sponsored, mass murder of six million Jewish individuals, led by Adolf Hitler and the entire German party. The Holocaust was a horrific period full of gruesome experiences and losses. This was a time when the Jewish community could not live their lives to the fullest. They had to hide their religious beliefs and fight to survive every day. The Holocaust left an effect on many people in the 20th Century. The lives of millions were destroyed when the Nazi Party came into power in 1933 after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany (The History Place). Although Hitler’s stepfather had different views than most of the German people, Hitler learned his stepfather’s way of thinking. Hitler’s stepfather taught him that all Jews were bad. They were blamed for everything because they had “money and business”. When Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he planned to “purify” the nation by killing off anyone who wasn’t “perfect” Their definition of perfect was anyone with blonde hair and blue eyes, which he did not have and neither did most people of Jewish descent. Hitler first took their businesses away along with other privileges. These privileges included taking away health insurance, civil rights as German citizens, and separating them from Germans legally, socially, and politically. More than twenty laws stripped the Jewish community of their rights and freedoms, all because Adolf Hitler wished to “purify” Germany.
After the Jews had everything they owned taken from them including their houses, they were sent to ghettos, which were territories the general government owned to keep the Jews in confinement. Beginning in 1939, Germans ordered that each ghetto be run by a Jewish council, consisting of Jewish community leaders who were in charge of running the ghetto. These responsibilities included the distribution of food, water, heat, medicine, and shelter. They were also told to undertake the consequences of disobedience, organize forced labor, and aid in the deportations to extermination camps. Elie Wiesel, the author of the book Night, writes about his experience in the ghettos: “A large one in the center of town occupied four streets, and another smaller one extended over several alleyways on the outskirts of town. The street we lived on was in the first ghetto. We therefore could remain in the house.” He goes on to say that because his house was on the corner of the ghetto, the windows facing outward of the ghetto had to be sealed. They also had to open their house to people who were moved out of their homes and into the ghetto, mostly relatives or close friends. He describes how the barbed wire fence surrounding their community became part of their normal, everyday life. Most people sent to the ghettos believed they would be there until the end of the war and everything would be as before. They thought the ghetto would then be ruled by neither German nor Jew; but by delusion. Later, they would find they were very wrong. The transportation of prisoners out of the ghetto was often carried out under horrifying conditions, using rail freight cars in which many died before reaching their destination. Individuals, families, and whole communities were packed together into cattle trucks with their personal belongings. They were locked in and transported for days (The Holocaust Explained). They did not know anything about where they were going or what would happen to them when they reached their destination. With seventy to eighty people packed into these freight cars like animals, “David, a Polish Jew age 13, graphically describes how crowded the train was: “There is no room to sit. In order to make room we are forced to stand with our hands above our heads… Suddenly, the door is slammed shut and sealed. A water bucket is tossed into the car for use as a disposal container for human waste” (The Holocaust Explained). Many victims...
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