The H Word.

The Holocaust is probably one of the, if not the most, horrific events in history. The Nazis of Germany used this inhumane method to designate actual persons as lives not worth living, or as they called it, Lebensunwertes Leben: life unworthy of life. The Nazis particularly catered to the lives of humans who were deemed inferior in terms of race, sexual preference, and/or political tendencies. The Germans were particularly fond of killing the Jews. During this time, the Germans also made victim of other groups who were viewed as “racially inferior”. Some of these groups include the Gypsies (Roma), people with mental difficulties and physical disabilities, the Poles, Russians and other people considered as Slavic, people with different political, behavioural, and ideological beliefs, such as the Socialists, Communists, homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. As the Nazis spread their oppression far across other European territories, more and more millions of lives were taken. Roughly two to three million of the Soviet prisoners of war were either killed or died of hunger, illness, abuse, or neglect. The non-Jewish cognoscenti Polish were also targeted to be killed. A lot more of the Soviet civilians and Polish were deported to work in forced labor either in the occupied territories in Poland or in Germany. They worked under intolerable circumstances and most of them died under awful conditions. During the onset of the Nazi dictatorship, authorities annihilated homosexuals and mostly anybody who showed actions or behaviour that did not match their societal norms. Police officials eyed political opponents including trade unionists as well as religious dissidents. These people died of incarceration and abuse. At the beginning of the Second World War, the murder of civilians by bulk, specifically the Jews, was part of the Nazi policy. 

As the war grew on, this policy became a larger thing, from casual killing of many people it became a choreographed act. Hitler called it the “final solution”. The goal was to completely erase the whole Jewish race. At first, Hitler sent out death squads called Einsatzgruppen. These groups killed an estimated 1,000,000 human beings in multiple massacres. Still later on, concentration camps were built. These camps were designed to hold the killing of even more people through starvation and being denied of medical care. For some reason, the killing did not end there, and thus, extermination camps were erected. The purpose of these camps was more direct to the point. Here, German soldiers held massive murders in a systematic manner. Come 1945, the Allied troops discovered these camps and the activities being held within the premises. They found thousands of emaciated, hungered and nearly dead captives locked in together with corpses everywhere. Gas chambers and crematoriums that could fit in massive numbers of people were also unearthed. As the search went on, the troops yet discovered evidences of how the prisoners became the subjects of medical experimentation. On top of this, mass graves (which were more of piles of dead people rather than actual graves) were also found. When World War II was almost over, the SS soldiers moved their prisoners either by train or by foot (called “death marches”). These transfers were done in order to avoid occurrences of Allied liberation of huge numbers of these prisoners, which would pose as a direct threat to them. However, as the Allied forces travelled all throughout Europe, concentration camps were discovered. Different camps full of prisoners began to be freed. Some prisoners who were on their way during death marches encountered the same scenes, and Allied troops started salvage of these prisoners en route to the next camp. 

It was on May 7, 1945 when the last of the death marches took place. It was also on this day when the German Nazis signalled their surrender to the Allied forces. World War II was officially put to its end on the next day in Europe, and thus May 8 was called V-E Day. May 9 was held as Victory Day on May 9 subsequently by the Soviets.

Many survivors of the Second World War found refuge in shelters called “displaced persons” camps, facilitated by the Allied troops. All in all, it is believed that more than 10 million people were killed in this fashion. 200,000 were Gypsies. 200,000 physically and mentally handicapped people were murdered in what the Nazis called the “Euthanasia Program” 6,000,000 were Jews. At the end of World War II, it is believed that 2 out of 3 Jews died from the Holocaust. Starting on 1948 and on for three years, an estimated 700,000 Jews moved to Israel. Others moved to the United States and other countries. In 1957, the final displaced persons camp was closed. The innumerable crimes committed all throughout the Holocaust era has left aching marks in majority of the communities for European Jewish people with the murder of uncountable Jews in the entire Europe.

The role that the Holocaust has played in the whole of the Second World War is impossible to put plainly into words. Millions of people died in the process. It is all the more blatantly disturbing that the number of innocent children who were held victim is nothing but small. The scars that the Holocaust made during the World War II can still be felt today, in almost the same degree. It has played a huge role in uniting the people after the war. The end of racism and societal discrimination might have pioneered from the end of this war. It has stirred up universal emotion and humanity and in the end put a halt to inhumane dictatorship. To this day, the story of the Holocaust is still celebrated as a reminder of a dark time in history.

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