He banished Jews from participating in government jobs during an era where anti-Semitic ideas defined status in Germany and across Europe. In addition, Hitler banned Jews from joining universities and intermarrying from as early as 1933 before he passed the infamous Nuremberg laws in 1935 (Totten and Feinberg 26). The law classified Jews as German subjects instead of citizens. Hitler hatred for Jews came from his personal convictions about Germany’s rule over the world. The leader believed that Aryan people and Germany as a whole had the power to take over the world. He abolished democracy because it was a concept that could disrupt the society. He valued Aryan blood abhorred other races. He came with extermination technique to prevent the races from draining the resources of the master Germany race. Harassment of Jews became a common occurrence during Nazi party era. Hitler has proclaimed himself as the Leader and Reich Chancellor (Fuhrer und Reichskanzler) and forced all armed forces to swear their allegiance to his reign (Caplan and Wachsmann 17). Hitler roles in the Holocaust were affirmed when he allied with Mussolini in 1936 to form Rome-Berlin Axis in a bid to keep out foreigners out their countries.Holocaust gained foundation from the conditions set in Europe before Hitler came to power. Anti-Semitism, racism, common prejudices defined Europe in the 20th century (Bergen 2). The restrictive environment gave Nazis the right environment to introduce brutality and mass murders in 1933-1945. Therefore, the root of Germany holocaust came from the deep-rooted anti-Jews rhetoric found in most of the European nations. Nazis came to carry out the genocides only to find collaborators from the government and German natives. Not only did Nazi ideology make sense to the poor but also to the intelligent and sophisticated Germans. Hitler received backing from key figures such as Martin Heidegger, Martin Niemoeller, and General Erich Ludendorff (Herf 281).
The anti-Semitism ideologies feature Jews as the masterminds of communism, revolutions, economic crises, and wars. The entire Europe had portrayed Jewish communities as evil, which gave Nazis the foundation for introducing their ruthless genocide ideas. The anti-Jewish ideas define an era that corrupted Germany with the knowledge that there were superior and inferior races across the world (Bergen 29). In 1938, Hitler opened the first concentration camp, Buchenwald given his immense support to exterminate the Jews and communists.
Hitler confirmed his commitment to deport the non-Aryan people from Germany when he introduced the first concentration camp 1933 after his appointment as German chancellor. The Nazis formed Storm Troopers or SA (Sturmabteilungen), Protection Squadrons or SS (Schutzaffel) as the elite squad of the Nazis and local civilian authorities (Totten and Feinberg 15). The role of the SA, SS, police, and civilian authorities was to organize the detention camps and carry out incarceration orders on behalf of the Nazis. The Nazis also used an ad-hoc system to handle the mass prisoners arrested across Germany. The establishment of Dachau, Lichtenburg, and Columbia Haus in Berlin were used to hold Jews and the political opponents of Nazi policy (Mikaberidze 109). The Gestapo carried out investigations until 1936 when the Nazis changed their tactic of handling non-Germans.
The Nazis also opened Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps in 1936 and 1937 respectively (Mikaberidze 110). Nazis and their affiliates had begun to boycott businesses that belonged to Jews. The Jews did not have the right to vote besides being deprived of their basic civil rights. Camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau became extermination and killing centers for the Jews. The main purpose was to put Jews in forced labor and prepare them for deportation to their countries of origin. The detention facilities were used to eliminate the ‘enemies of the Germany state’ where most of the prisoners were Social Democrats, Communists, Jehovah Witnesses Homosexuals, and people who Hitler perceived as socially deviant.
The annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938 gave the Nazis the power to arrest Jews in Germany and Austria (Bergen 65). Hitler directed Heinrich Himmler to change the system of concentration camps. The order was carried out and concentration camps were formalized in the Nazi government system. Hitler instructed the civilian authorizes, SA and SS to use forced labor to punish the inferior races detained in the camps. The formalization of concentration camps lasted until 1937 because only four major forced-labor centers were left. However, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Lichtenburg and Buchenwald still managed to hold prisoners and punish them to submission (Mikaberidze 111). The Germany Security Police has the absolute authority to incarcerate prisoners under Gestapo and Criminal police departments. The de facto authority was instrumental in the incarceration because both departments could issue preventive and protective orders to prevent criminals against Nazi policies.
Many prisoners died due to starvation, exhaustion, and exposure to harsh conditions (Caplan and Wachsmann 117). The SS units protected the camps to prevent the prisoners from forming uprisings against the Nazis. Mass arrests persisted in 1938 where most of the prisoners were adult male Jews. Forced laborers overseen the construction projects envisioned by Himmler. The expansion of camp system was unavoidable given the lucrativeness of the concentration camp endeavor. SS and SA supervised the business operations that took place in major concentration centers. Forced labor was used to divert the attention of prisoners from their civil rights and revolt against the dictatorship of Hitler. The labor was backbreaking considering that the prisoners worked endlessly in coal mines, stone quarries, and construction sites (Mikaberidze 112).
The suffering of the Jews culminated during The Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht).
The Nazis continued to deny Jews their basic rights and terrorize their generations in the concentration camp. The epitome of the Holocaust oppression came in November 1938 when Nazis terrorized at least 30, 000 Jews in Austria and Germany (Fitzgerald 8). The Night of Broken glass was the wickedest pogrom in the history Germany persecutions. The Nazis invaded Jewish businesses and destroyed properties following the murder of German diplomat by a young Jew. The Germans showed that they were committed to the course of directing offensive against the Jewish population. The assaults against the Jews took place on November 9 and 10 and initiated a series of attacks and oppressive laws to minimize the perceived impact of the Jewish population in Germany. The destruction targeted shops, businesses, and synagogues. Not only did Nazis murder thousands of Jews but also many Jews committed suicide to avoid the brutal abuse. 267 synagogues and 7500 businesses were vandalized. The order came from the above and the Nazi party organized gangs to carry out the assaults while police and fire departments were ordered from protecting the Jewish properties.
The Gestapo was at the center of the Night of Broken glass. The department arrested 30,000 Jews and transported them to the concentration camps. Most of the prisoners in the camps were arrested during the Kristallnacht but the perpetrators did not get any punishment. The Minister for Justice, Goebbels was the mastermind of the pogrom (Fitzgerald 9). He used violence to incriminate Jewish population without getting instructions from Hitler. The secret orders of the persecution did not come from Hitler because his ideologies had spread in the lower ranks too.
The violence that took place during Kristallnacht showed Germans that they could not collaborate with Jews and gave Nazi Party power to segregate Jewish population even further. However, the entire population did not embrace the radical Nazi party ideology but opponents resolved to retreat to avoid incarceration (Caplan and Wachsmann 188s). A conference presided by Herman Goring followed two days later and the council forced Jews to take responsibility for the damages. Jews order to pay 1 billion Reichsmark and banned from public baths, schools, and beaches across Germany (Fitzgerald 74). Goebbels came up with the banning legislation with the sole aim of forcing Jews to immigrate but his move initiated more troubles for the Nazis.
Holocaust events during World War II entailed war between Germany and Allied Forces. Soviet Union, Great Britain and USA combined forces and launched a rescue mission for the Jews in the death camps. The revelation Jewish exterminations occurred in 1941 following the ambitious move by the Germans to invaded the Soviet Union. Nazis wanted the Holocaust to remain a secret to prevent the reactions from other superpowers such as America (Bergen 135). One of the Jewish leaders, Rabbi Stephen Wise learned about the murder plan from Great Britain. The revelation followed massive press coverage through print media and the world learned about the holocaust for the first time in November 1942 (Rupprecht and Koenig 14). The commencement of Second World War compelled Hitler and Nazis party to come up with new policies to oppress Jews further. However, the war marked the end of the genocide plans against the Jewish population in Europe.
The American Jewish community responded by compelling their governments to take stern and immediate action against the Jews. Bermuda emergency conference was held in 1943 to develop a strategy for stopping the genocides (Herf 231). The Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were also planning a revolt against Nazis. The conference did not come up with stringent rescue efforts which gave Hitler a leeway in his extermination plan. America learned about the genocide only after the second-word war.
The main objective of concentration camps was to put Jews under conditions of forced labor. However, the Nazis elite squads also used the camps as killing centers and devised ‘The Final Solution’. Final Solution was a euphemistic term used by Nazis to hide their assault and intent to annihilate the Jewish population (Totten and Feinberg 31). The camps became centers for genocide following the intensified discriminatory measures after Kristallnacht. Hitler had planned to depopulate Jews in stages. Economic boycotts, government sponsored racism and pogroms during Kristallnacht did not drive many Jews out the country.
The invasion of Germans against Poland gave Nazis the power to segregate Jews in ghettos (Bergen 101). The unsanitary conditions did not provide a lasting solution. The final solution was the best way to initiate mass murder in Germany and Poland. The Nazis open Chelmno in December 1941as the first killing center. The elite squads arrested Roma and Jews and gassed them in mobile vans. The efficiency of gassing method inspired Hitler to create other centers by 1942 including Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka for the Jews living in Generalgouvernement Polish territory. The centers contain gas chambers where at least 6000 Jews were gassed and cremated each day (Totten and Feinberg 31). Hitler had vowed to continue extermination of Jews in European during his Reichstag speech. The extradition of Austrian and Czech Jews to Poland also began.
The acknowledgment of United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union about the extermination plans initiated the need to spoil the plans devised during Wannsee conference. Wannsee conference masterminded the ‘Final Solution.’ Germany allied with Japan to fight the Soviet Union, USA and Britain. The uprisings in Warsaw ghetto did not hamper the plans to annihilate Jews. Hitler expanded his invasion further in Hungary in 1944 (Rupprecht and Koenig 157). He deported 12,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz and murdered them. Nazis have established a large security and army force, which helped in putting down the resistance force of the Jews uprisings.
The rescue plan intensified in 1943 when Denmark and Sweden’s neutral forces decided to get involved in the war. The forces rescued at least 7000 Jews from the Nazi concentration camp. The final months of Holocaust saw SS guards trying to move prisoners from camps (Totten and Feinberg 56). The prisoners did not fit in the trains and were forced to walk. The ‘death marches’ were used to cushion Nazis from Allied liberation. The allied forced carried out a series of offensives against the Germans in an attempt to liberate Jewish prisoners. Hitler and German forces surrendered in May, 1945 and the World War II ended the next day (Caplan and Wachsmann 188). Soviet Forces played a major role in the victory against Germans. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945 and marked the end of Third Reich. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings forced Japan to surrender four months later.
The end of the Holocaust after Second World War put a sudden end to atrocities meted against the Jews across Europe. The death of Hitler meant that the Nazis could not execute the ‘Final Solution’. The Third Reich did not annihilate all the Jews according to the initial plan. The forced immigration of Jews, suffering in the concentration camps and the cruel murders were grave crimes against the humanity (Caplan and Wachsmann 192). The Allied forces helped to empty the death camps but there were so many displaced persons. The Allied armies also gave the survivors shelter and they captured top perpetrators of the crimes against Jewish population in Germany and other conquests across Europe. Thousands of Jews and Europeans were homeless, and lost their families. Over 700,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, United States and other European countries. The aftermath of the holocaust crimes created an era of tension among European communities where thousands of Jewish communities had been eliminated. International Military Tribunal was created in 1946 by Soviet Union, France, Britain, and the United States to try the Nazi leaders who survived World War II (Herf 264). The trials also included German collaborators who took part in committing the atrocities against humanity. The process of granting justice to the thousands of Jews murdered in the Holocaust did not succeed because not all Nazis criminals were tried. Some of the leaders who faced trials were, Herman Goring, Hans Frank, Martin Bormann, Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk, and Erich Raeder. In 1947, major world powers came together to form United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to manage the resettlement of the Jews. Later International Refugee Organization took over and continued the administration of Jews and Non-Jewish resettlement within and beyond Europe.