What do we define as `Holocaust´?
The systematic, state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, from 1933 to 1945. Jews were the main victims but not the only ones. During World War II; as night descended, millions of others were killed in its wake. Non-Jewish victims of broader Nazi crimes include Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), Poles, communists, the mentally and physically disabled were targeted to annihilation just for the sole reason of belonging to various ethnic or nationality groups deemed as inferiors. Some million, like homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet POWs and political dissidents were also victims of the oppression and murder by the Nazi Germany.
Which is the origin of the term `Holocaust´?
This term was used also in the first references to the murder of European Jewry by the Nazis.
In 1941, some writers were already using the term Holocaust to refer to the crimes of the Nazis against the Jews, but in these initial cases, it was not exclusively related to the term. Nevertheless, when the 40´s decade was beginning, a process of change begun.
Holocaust (with capital or small H letter) happened to be a more specific term because its use in Israeli translations of the word Shoah.
This Hebrew word was to be used more frequently to mean the murder of European Jewry committed by the Nazis and its collaborators. (The Yiddish speaking Jews used the term churbn, Shoah’s translation to Yiddish). The identification of Holocaust with Shoah could be noted very clearly in the official translation to English of the Declaration of Israel’s Independence in 1948; in Yad Vashem publications translated in the 50s decade, and in the media coverage of the Adolf Eichmann Trial in Israel in 1961.
The term Holocaust comes from the ancient Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”, referring to a sacrifice offered to a god in whom the whole (olos) is completely burnt (kaustos), or a great life destruction, especially by fire.
The term meaning sacrificial burnt offerings, appears frequently in religious writings through the centuries, mainly in ritual´s descriptions that included sacrifices by fire. In the secular writings, holocaust normally means “a complete or total destruction,” connotation that was particularly dominant from late 19th Century up to the time of the weapons race of mid 20th Century.
A living memorial to the Holocaust.
How many Jews were killed during the Holocaust?
It is impossible to estimate the exact number of Jew victims, but, statistics show that the whole number was above 5.860.000 people. Most investigators agree to the number of six million people. However, we must take into account that many Shoa victims were not registered in the pattern due to the fact that majority of records were made by Nazis. This means that at the end of the Second War World and the Holocaust, those patterns were burnt, lost on purpose, destroyed or damaged during military operations in order to hide their crimes. Nevertheless, the records did not have information such as nationality, victim`s religion or genesis.
Besides, we must consider that statistics based his information in different dates because of changes in the boundary. The number of victims cover ground not only country citizens but also foreigners or internally displaced people, etcetera.
How many Catholics died during the Holocaust?
The Catholic community was not the main Nazi’s blank for practicing Catholicism. In fact, a significant minority of the population of the Third Reich was baptized in their belief among them members of the Nazi elite. The Nazis try to weaken the influence and teachings of the Catholic Church using propaganda so they took extreme measures against the clerics who dare to criticize system policies. Cleric members that could not stand the Nazi state took the risk of being under arrest because of various offenses such as criticize the policy, participating in religion deeds, the co-operation and aid with public enemies like Jews and pacifism and because of keeping religious objects at schools. The punishment varied from a couple of days in prison until committal to concentration fields or execution. Despite of this, it exists many cases where cleric members died in circumstances while coming through a sentence or waiting for the trial. Their deaths were associate to accidents o illnesses.
Lay Catholics who denied submitting to the Nazi´s regime suffered very similar persecutions.
Nazis authorities in the concentration fields did not tend to record the different religions of the prisoners except of the Jehovah Witnesses. In addition to this, is almost impossible to determine the exact quantity of Catholic victims because of following religion. In spite of this, in some concentration fields some statistics about the number of catholic prisoners can be found, especially the ones who belonged to the cleric.
Which was the main difference between Jews persecution and other group’s persecution classified by Nazis as `Third Reich enemies´?
Jews was the only group chosen by the Nazis to be exterminated systematically. In accordance with Nazis plan, every single Jew should have to be killed. In case of “Third Reich enemies”, their families were safe as opposed to Jews families.cuenta.
Was Hitler´s plan supported by all Germany ´s population?
Although Hitler´s plan of Jews persecution was not supported by all Germany´s population, there is no evidence of hullabaloo. In the first of April of 1933 the Nazis made the boycott to Jew shops, and even though the threaten and hazards, there were Germans who despite of this bought in Jew shops on purpose and there were others who helped Jews to scape and hide.
When was the first concentration field built?
As soon as Hitler took power, the Nazis opened Dachau, the first concentration field in March 22nd of 1933 where they punished and incarcerated political prisoners, for instance, communists, socialists, trade unionist, and other people seem as a threaten to their regime. The fields were built with the purpose of deleting opponents and frightened population so that new opponents do not show up either. Dachau became the field where the SS police would train. His first commandant was called Theodor Eicke. The following fields that opened afterwards were Buchebwald, Mauthausen, Neuengamme, Ravenbruck, Sachsenhausen and Bergen Belsen. Other reasons why people were incarcerated in these fields were because of social drawback (gays, Jehova Witnesses, criminals, Republican combatants in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War).
Forced labor by the time, turn to be a central thing in the concentration fields. Most of the prisoners died accordingly to heartlessness, the inhumane physic and work conditions the prisoners had.
Which was Hitler’s main goal to trigger Second War World?
His main aim was to create an Aryan empire that went from Germany to Ural. He considered that fringe as native territory form Germany but also he needed that fringe in order to give his farmers the enough lands.
What did each badge of identification means?
The Nazis used triangle badges or patches to identify the different prisoners in the concentration fields. Different colours meant different groups. If you wore yellow you were Jew, if you wore brown you were a gipsy, if you were purple you were a Jehova witness, if you wore pink you were gay, if you wore green you wore a criminal, if you wore red you were a political prisoner, if you wore black you were antisocial and if you wore blue you were emigrant.
The “antisocial” status was the most varied one and included such as prostitutes, drifters, murders, criminals, gays, and the people who contravene the law that prohibited sexual contact between Jews and Aryans. Although gipsys had to wear brown triangles, they usually be forced to wear a black triangle that included them in the “antisocial” status.
Some of the patches had letters written on them so they could distinguish a little bit more the very different groups the concentration fields had. In general, the letters denote the nationality, for instance, “F” from Franzosisch (French), “P” from Polnisch (polish), etc and also a special prisoner subcategory.
In the case of the Jew offenders, two triangles of different colours were blended together so they made a star; a yellow triangle was to indicate that a Jew was wearing it and the other shape to announce the offense. For example, the Jewish criminals wore a yellow triangle with a green one overlapped and the gays wore a yellow one with a pink overlapped as well.
On the outskirts of the concentration fields, the SS police obligated Jews to wear patches or bracelets with the Star of David cling on the clothes, but the colour and size varied depending on the country they were. Some of the yellow stars had a big “J” drawn in the middle whereas other patches had the whole word “Jude” tacked in the center for instance. The worst consequences for not wearing the star/patches, was to be under arrest or deported. This was why almost all of the Jewish population tended to follow this rule even though the patches made them felt less than other people and restricted on many things.
What was it called Ghetto?
Since 1939 the Nazis established these places called Ghettos in East Europe as the beginning of their plan of total execution. The Ghettos were big neighborhoods of a city which population was exclusively Jewish people that had been obliged to take up permanent residence there while they were actually living in other places of the city. This ghettos where Jews were isolated, with no privacy at all, underfeed and with a broken spirit was the very first step into the concentration fields and execution. Furthermore, the Ghettos were highly overpopulated. For this to happened, the Nazis created extremely hard conditions of living with overcrowded rooms, malnutrition, epidemics raising mortality of children and adults. The ghettos were a restricted area of the city and escaping was punishable by death.
What was the Judenrat?
It was the Jewish council whose members of every community and ghetto were appointed by the Nazis. The fulfillment of the Nazis law and the administration of the Jewish community was responsibility of the Judernat. As a result, the Judenrat had power and the specific tools to interrupt and block Nazis plan of Jewish execution.
What is a mass extermination field? How many of these fields existed? Where were they located?
A mass extermination field is a concentration field with specific equipment design for systematic murder; it existed six of these named Auschwitz-Birkenau-Belzec-Chelmno-Majdanek-Sobibor-Treblinka. They were all situated in Poland.
Which is the meaning of “Final Solution” and where did it came from?
The phrase “Final Solution” refers to the Nazis plan of extermination of all the Jews in Europe. This is the same term used in the Wansee conference (20th of January, 1942, Berlin) where they discussed its implementation. They agreed in that the plan had to be done in the mass extermination fields mentioned in the previous paragraph. All East and West Europe Jews would be transferred progressively.
When “The Final Solution” did begin to work?
Because of the discrimination measures taken by the Nazis during the early years of the Third Reich, millions of Jews were murdered or died as a result. However, what is known as the “Final Solution”, the systematic execution started with the “Barbarossa plan”, the German invasion into the ex-soviet union in June 1941.
Did the European Jews had any idea of what will be happening to them?
Regarding the “Final Solution”, we must take into account several points. Firstly, they did not disclose the “Final Solution”, the did not divulge it or talked about it in public. They made all efforts to try to cheat on victims so they could prevent or minimize endurance.
Secondly, when the prisoners were taken to the concentration fields they were forced to write letters to their families telling them how wonderful life was there…
Thirdly, the Germans did the impossible to ensure confidentiality. Because of the fact that every European community of Jews was mostly isolated, little places had the right information about was had been going on.
Did the Allies and the free world know the facts happening in Europe?
Unlike with the “Final Solution”, the extreme measures the Nazis took against Jews prior to the “Final Solution” were known by the press and were executed in public. The foreign corresponds wrote about the most important anti-Jewish doings that took place in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia before Second War World. Once the war started, it became more difficult to obtain information, but despite of it, brief reports had been published announcing Jewish destiny. Furthermore, some details about the systematic execution of Jews come out to light specially to the West although the Nazis did not say a word. This happened before a year of “Final Solution” birth.
How many Jews had the possibility to escape from Europe before the Holocaust?
It seems fairly difficult to estimate the quantity of Jews that could escaped Europe before the Second War World cause the statistics are quite incomplete.
In the period between 1933 and 1939, 355.278 German and Austrian Jews had to abandon their homes. Some immigrated to countries where they thought they would be safe but unfortunately those countries were later conquered by Nazis. At the same time, 51.747 European Jews immigrated to Argentina, Brasil and Uruguay.
As opposed to Shanghai, this was the only country where a Visa was not needed to get in so 20.000 European Jews immigrated. The majority were from Germany.
Did the Jews seek to fight against the Nazis? Until what point they succeeded in that?
Although the extreme conditions Jews in occupied Europe had to handle with, most of them participated in the fleet endurance divided in three different types: disclosure and rebellion in Ghettos, Partisan wrestling and resisting in the execution and concentration fields. In addition to this, there existed other kinds of resistance such as the cultural ones that consisted in reading and studding Torah (hallowed script) or celebrating “Shabbat” with a piece of bread.
What were the `death marches´?
While the “Third Reich” was losing East Front, Heinrich Himmler (SS Boss) gave the order to kill the prisoners that still remain with life so the Allies would find anyone alive. In the latest 1944, the Germans began to evacuate hundreds of prisoners from Poland fields and the East of Prussia. On April 1945, the evacuation of prisoners was extended to concentration fields in Germany and Austria either. Apart from this, on half of winter season, the prisoners were transferred, mostly on foot, through forced marches that lasted for weeks. Their survival depended on the prisoner´s merits to avoid dangers on the road and the brutality of their supervisors whom killed mercilessly the ones who hesitated or tried to escape. This massive execution of hundreds of prisoners continued until surrendered.
Who were the `Righteous among the Nations´?
It was people with unlike faiths (non-Jews) that helped Jews during the Holocaust. There were “Righteous among the nations” all over the countries conquered by the Nazis and Nazi´s allies. Their main thing was the rescued of Jewish lives.
The Israeli national authority on the holocaust memory, Yad Vashem, grant honors to these people. Nowadays, Yad Vashem has recognized almost 10.000 “Righteous among the nations”. To add, some “Righteous” had been appearing years after the Holocaust ended and some are still coming out to light by the time their action is recognized and ascertainable.
What were the Nuremberg judgments?
The term “Nuremberg Judgments” referred to ensemble trials of Nazis war criminals that were carried out after the end of the war. In those, political leaders, militaries and economists of the Third Reich captured by the allies were under prosecution.