Jewish Reactions to the Holocaust: A Learned Behavior Essay

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Jewish Reactions to the Holocaust: A Learned Behavior

When thinking of Jewish persecution, images of Nazi Germany, concentration camps, and the Holocaust are most likely to be conjured. Although these images do represent the attempted destruction of the Jews, persecution actually began thousands of years earlier. The Holocaust, or Final Solution, which was the destruction of European Jews by the Nazis, was the culmination of attempts by other groups to eradicate Jews from their society.1 Reacting in many different ways to persecution, the Jewish sect has undergone years of harsh treatment, climaxing during the Holocaust.

Jewish persecution did not begin in Europe with the onset of World War II; rather, anti-Semitism had existed for
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This expulsion policy was later adopted by the Nazis, and remained the goal of all anti-Jewish activity until 1941.5

Obviously not the first to initiate anti-Jewish policies, the German Nazis began the era of annihilation, or the attempt to kill all European Jews. Adolf Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist Party in Germany, excluded Jews from the protection of German law by allowing Jewish property to be seized and Jews to be sent to concentration camps where they underwent forced labor, torture, and execution.6 Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy continued with the passing of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 "for the protection of German blood and German honor."7 These laws resulted in Jews losing rights of citizenship and marriage to Aryans, the requirement that Jews carry special identification cards and give their children specific Jewish names, and the framing of the definition of a "Jew" for legal purposes. Through the Nuremberg Laws, Hitler was slowly taking away Jewish liberty and as a result, making it difficult for Jews to resist their annihilation, which unfolded with mass killings and continued until the end of World War II and the operation of death camps. Becoming apparent throughout the Nazi's annihilation of Jews was that "The Germans…were engaged in no random game of terror and

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