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What was the Holocaust: A Brief Summary

After World War I, Germany suffered a lot. They were living in complete poverty. They had to sign a treaty that put very harsh terms on them. They were basically helpless. Until Adolf Hitler came to power. For years, he had had dreams of building a better Germany. He became too violent and was put in jail. While there, he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that told his dreams of the future. When he was released, he soon became complete dictator of Germany. He brought jobs back into Germany and brought them out of poverty. The Nazi party was soon formed as well as the Hitler Youth. They were told that they would rule the world. It was a glorious time in Germany. Hitler loved his Aryan people. (non-Jews usually stereotyped as blond hair, blue eyes and always German citizens) But if you were a gypsy, homosexual, or handicapped, your future was not as promising as the rest of Germany. But Hitler and the Nazis especially hated the Jews. For years, anti-Semitism existed. Jews were said to have killed Christ and they tended to be very wealthy. Hitler blamed all of Germany's problems on the communists, labor unions, and especially the Jews. Hitler convinced his country that the Jews were the enemy and that Jews were rats. Immediately, Jews lost their citizenship. As war broke out and Germany invaded Poland, the persecution of Jews became greater. They were forced to wear yellow stars that "branded" them. Nuremberg Laws were created that made their lives very difficult. Jewish children could not attend public schools, Jews could not be out of their own homes past a certain time, and Jews could not marry any Germans. The citizens of Germany thought nothing of it really. Food was on the table, they had jobs, and they were happy with what Hitler was doing. Many Germans encouraged the hatred of Jews, and hated them, too. Jews were humiliated on the streets and sometimes beaten on the streets as well. Ghettos were set up throughout Germany and Europe. These were sealed off sections of the country that had terrible living conditions. Many people died of starvation or disease in the ghetto. Some were hung or shot in the ghetto. What the citizens of Germany didn't know was that Hitler was planning to wipe out the entire race of Jews. They were soon being deported to unknown places. These of course were labor camps and concentration camps. None of them came back. The ghetto soon became a holding place until there was room for the Jews to go to the camps. Hitler simply told Germany that they were just moving the Jews to the east to do labor. This was far from true. Some Jews like Anne Frank and her family hid to avoid deportation. This was very smart. But most of the Jews that hid were found and deported. Concentration camps were extremely terrible places. In one of the most famous concentration camps known as Aushchwitz, there were gas chambers and crematoriums. Most death camps had these two things. Gas chambers were enclosed rooms where the gas went through a vent and killed whoever was in the chamber. This was one of the most effective ways of killing Jews in mass numbers. Once they were gassed, they would burn their bodies in the crematoriums, or bury them in mass graves. Thousands of Jews died daily. Some died of disease in the camps. When you entered some camps, your head was shaven and you lost your name. Instead, you  were given a number. They tattooed a number on your arm. You were forced to give up all your clothes so it was very embarrassing for the Jews. You also had to give up any valuables you had including your glasses or things like that. Jews slept in barracks. These were long narrow rooms with hard bunks in them. Sometimes, if you were lucky, you had a straw mattress with it. You usually had to share the same "bed" with other prisoners. Many times, Jews would wake up and find a dead body next to them. This was not unusual in a Nazi death camp. Jews were forced to do hard labor all day and many became so weak and died. Some killed themselves by throwing themselves against an electrical barbed wire fence that surrounded the camps. (see picture at the top of this page) This atrocity continued for years, until Germany finally surrendered and the war ended. Hitler shot himself and the Nazis desperately tried to cover their tracks from what they had done to all these Jews. The Americans liberated the camps and were disgusted at what they saw. Some townspeople were so sickened at the site of the camps that they killed themselves. They saw heaps and piles of tiny, weak, dead bodies. The crematoriums were destroyed and some of the gas chambers were, too. Yet we have evidence of them. Because of this genocide, more than 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Survivors tried hard to find lost family, but many times were disappointed. Germany was once again in ruins. The Holocaust wiped out two thirds of the population of Jews. 6 million of the 9 million Jews died at the hands of Hitler. One and one half million were children.

There is obviously much more to this atrocity than that. This is the most brief description I can give.