The holocaust was not an incident we can discuss so casually. It did not happen over one night. There was a series of events that led to this dark patch in the history. Here is a brief introduction to how Jews were treated before the mass killings known as “The Holocaust”
The Origin of the Word HOLOCAUST?
The word “Holocaust derived from “Holokauston”, a Greek word which translate as “A completely burnt sacrificial offering” where Holo means completely and kauston means burnt. But the word holocaust was later adopted from the Greek translation of “Olah“, a sacrifice made to god in Judaism. The term was first used in its latin translation to describe the massacre of Jewish people by the Roger of Howden and Richard of Devizes in 1990. And soon you will know why this word was used to describe this series of unfortunate events.
Rise of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was born in April 20th, 1889. He was born in Austria and he moved to Germany in 1913. He fought for Germany in the first world war and he was a decorated soldier. In 1919 he joined the German Worker’s Party and rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party in 1921. After two years he attempted to seize governmental power but failed, for which he was imprisoned for 5 years but released early in 1924. After his release he published his autobiography “Mein Kampf” that he had written when he was imprisoned. He gained popularity attacking the Treaty of Versailles, The peace treaty that ended the war between Germany and allied powers in world war I. Also he promoted the Nazi propaganda along with pan-Germanism, Anti-communism and Antisematism.
Even before he became the chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler promoted anitisematism and claimed that communism is a part of Jewish conspiracy. And in 1933 Adolf Hitler became the German chancellor appointed by the then president Poul Von Hindenburg. Soon after the Reichtag, the German parliament approved the “Act of 1933” which made Hitler more powerful.
Within six years the Germany had a massive recovery from the “Great depression“. He was popular as he reduced the restrictions imposed on Germany and captured the areas which were inhabited by ethnic Germans.
Jews Before the Holocaust
Hitler was determined to eliminate Jews from Germany. He created new rules and regulations to determine the differences between Jews and Germans such as “Racial Policy”. The fact that Germans were Aryan Herrenvolk (The Aryan Master Race) was constantly and widely spread through the Nazi propaganda. As for the laws they separated Jews from the German society and restricted the political, legal and civil rights of Jews.
Once Erin Koch, the commissioner of the Nazi German occupied Ukraine said “We are a master race, which must remember that the lowliest German worker is racially and biologically a thousand times more valuable than the population here.”
The Racial Policy in Nazi Germany
The policy labeled the residents who weren’t ethnic German in German territory who lived for centuries. They graded humans from pure Aryans to non-Aryans (sub-humans). The top level was Germans and other Germanic people such as Dutch and Scandinavians. The English and Latins were held somewhat inferior but were tolerated. The French and Italians were considered as a suitable mixture of German blood.
Law of Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
Commonly known as civil service law. This law allowed Nazi government to remove or replace some occupations such as lawyers, doctors and teachers. So the Jew doctors, lawyers or teachers who were working at the time were forced to retire.
The government prohibited Jews to slaughter animals according to their custom Shechita in order to prevent Jews to obey their own dietary regulations.
Law Concerning Admission to the Legal Profession
Not only they removed the Jew lawyers from their profession but also they prohibited any new Jews taking the bar exam to be a lawyer.
Decree Regarding Physicians’ Services with the National Health Service
Under this law any patient who were treated by a non Aryan doctor would not be covered under national health insurance which removed Jew doctors from the society.
The Law Against the Over-Crowding of German Schools
This law limited the percentage of Jewish students to enroll school into 1.5% of the total enrollment of a year. Also the law required to end the old Weimer teachings which discussed equality and democracy. And the new syllabus was filled with teachings about racial pride.
Citizenship and De-naturalization Law
Under this law government could take back the citizenship of Jews in order to prevent Jews from having full citizenship rights.
Chambers of Culture
Chambers of Culture was a government agency that established to regulate the cultural activities such as cinema, theater, music or literature. They had the power to remove anyone from the process if that man or woman did not have proper Aryan certificate.
There were three laws named as Nuremberg laws which the first law was established to prevent marriages or extramarital relations between Jews and Germans. The second law insisted that Jews were forbidden to fly national colors but allowed to fly Jewish colors. The third law described the people who were suitable to get the German citizenship.
1938 A Second Wave of Anti-Jewish Legistation
It was a year of prohibition for the Jews. The Jewish doctors license were taken away and forced to refer them selves “sick-treaters”. The Jews were forbidden to own private gardens, attending movie theaters, opera or concerts and Jewish children were prohibited to attend public schools. The Jews were forced to turn in all jewellery of any value. They were prohibited to have a driver’s license or their own automobile. They were forbidden to change their names or their business’s names. Their freedom of movement was highly restricted.
As the situation was turning into a more devastated event the Jews were attacked for two days in the same year. It was called The Night of the Broken Glass or Kritallnacht. Which is considered the first direct attack on Jew. The government claimed it was a spontaneous act but the truth is that the attack was planned by Hitler.
T4 program or Aktion T4 was a Nazi program to kill physically or mentally disabled, emotionally distraught or incurably ill people. It was presented to the society as a merciful act. Although it was officially discontinued in 1941 the killings continued until 1945.
There was a series of medical experiments done on the Nazi prisoners including children. The prisoners did not volunteer or consent was not given. The experiments were more like medical tortures as they were conducted without anesthesia and the resulted in death, trauma, disfigurement and permanent disability.
These inhumane acts all started long before the holocaust which killed almost 6 million of Jews alone Let’s wish that humanity will never face such despicable event in future.