The Holocaust Essay

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The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the destruction of European Jewry by the Nazis through an officially sanctioned, government-ordered, systematic plan of mass annihilation. As many as six million Jews died, almost two-thirds of the Jews of Europe. Although the Holocaust took place during World War II, the war was not the cause of the Holocaust. The war played a role in covering up the genocide of the Jewish people. How could this have happened? The answers can be found by understanding how violence of this magnitude can evolve out of prejudice based on ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding about minority groups and other groups who are different from ourselves.

In 19th century Europe, Jews were classified as an "inferior" race with
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The Madagascar Plan was one example of strategies which were formulated to remove Jews from Germany and its occupied lands. Many countries refused to accept Jewish refugees. This shift in policy resulted in the deportation of Jews to camps and ghettos in the East. The policy to "resettle" Jews to these ghettos and camps was a significant step in what was to become the "Final Solution" the systematic murder of millions of Jews.

The Nazi concentration camps were established beginning in 1933 for the purpose of imprisoning political opponents. The S.S. expanded the concentration camp system, and used these facilities to warehouse other "undesirables," including hundreds of thousands of Jews. Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen were among the first concentration camps built by the Nazis near Munich, Weimar, and Berlin respectively.

Upon arrival at a camp, the inmates were usually stripped of all their valuables and clothes. They were then shorn of body hair, disinfected, given a shower, and issued a striped prison uniform without regard to size. Each step of the process was designed to dehumanize the prisoners, both physically and emotionally. Each prisoner was given a number. At Auschwitz, for example, the number was tattooed on the arm, but some camps did not tattoo their inmates.

Life in the camps was horrible. A typical day in the life

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