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The word “Holocaust” became a synonym of suffering, torture, murder, and extermination. Picture a tragic world of stereotypes, discrimination and a collective threat towards a certain population. It seems to be impossible in a civilized society. However, all the terror of that genocide had place not in the Middle Ages in some faraway godforsaken place; it was Europe of the twentieth century.
Around 1930s, the Jewish population was labeled as a bad race. There were no objective reasons for that; the surrounding world just stopped being a friendly place to live in. The reality changed in one moment. Suddenly, Jews became hated and chased for just being born, for being the representatives of the Jewish nation. They were treated as defective and unapt human beings, the unwanted result of evolution.
In 1933, the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler initiated the Holocaust. Hitler’s reign resulted in a collective threat among Jews. The Jewish population began to suffer from the discrimination, the loss of citizenship rights, and segregation. It also “resulted in lower self-esteem, lower academic performance, self-stereotyping, and physical distancing from those who act out outside Jewish communities” (p. 388). In the beginning, there were only signs of limitations on freedom and rights. However, Jews were obligated to hide in order to avoid pressure, violence and forcible deportation to the concentration camps towards the middle of the Holocaust. Finally, the Jewish race was largely exterminated towards the end of the goal of the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler. Fortunately, the end of the World War II and the capitulation of the German Reich impeded total implementation of Nazis’ plans.
Hitler was obsessed with the idea of the pure privileged race of Aryans. The Nazis’ racial ideology assumed that there is he only good, healthy and dignified group of people, or the master race, which should be prevented from the influence of others. According to this explanation, the Holocaust was aimed to save the racial purity of Aryans.
The Jewish tragedy did not start with the mass murder right away. The segregation and the loss of citizenship rights were the first signs of the collective threat for the Jewish population. The constant humiliation and persecution turned to be a part of the everyday life for millions of people accused to have the Jewish blood. During the first years, they were suffering from different kinds of limitations. Since 1933, the discrimination acquired some distinct traits. It started with the exclusion of the “inferior race” from the civil life. Most of the limitations were submitted in the Nuremberg Laws adopted in 1935, which was a compilation of antisemitic laws regulating almost all the aspects of the Jewish social life. Thereby, the repression became legal.
According to the new rules, the Jews were obligated to resign all the state posts and could not hold public offices; they were deprived of the voting right regarding the political questions. It was also forbidden to employ a female German citizen under the age of 45 as a domestic worker, and to get academic education. It was strictly forbidden to display the Jewish colors and to be referred to as a citizen of the Reich. In order to avoid the ”defilement of blood” protecting the purity of the German nation and safeguarding the future of the master race, marriages between Jews and the Citizens were forbidden. The violators of the new laws would be punished with hard labor.
The Jews lost their citizenship rights due to adoption of the discriminating Nuremberg Laws. Normal life became impossible. The situation changed for the worse every day. The segregation was replaced by chassing and deporting to the camps, where people were tortured and actually put to death because there was no way to escape from the extermination camp. The history knows very few examples when a person got away from the concentration camp and stayed alive.
Trying to stay alive and to protect their families, Jews began to hide. Some of them managed to leave Germany, move away abroad and find a safer place, but the rest of the Jewish population on the territory of the Reich had to hide and live in secret hideouts for years. Everyone heard about a Jewish girl Anne Frank, the most discussed young victim of the Holocaust, and her diary, which was written while her family was hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. This girl died at fifteen years, tired of fighting with the reality and the disease, which deprived her of forces. In her dairy, translated to many languages, she told the tragic story of millions of people who were suffering from their terrible destiny. She was sincere and honest, writing, “When I think about our lives here, I usually come to the conclusion that we live in a paradise compared to the Jews who aren’t in hiding. Kitty, Anne is crazy, but then these are crazy times and even crazier circumstances.”
Those Jews, who did not hide, knew all the cruelty of the Nazi. They were deported into the ghettos and camps. Millions of people died there. It was the climax of Hitler’s plan in order to liquidate the “inferior race”, committing total extermination of the Jewish population. The life of a slave, hard labor in camps, mass murder and execution, pogroms, scientific experiments on human beings like on medical laboratory rats, death in gas vans, when the driver can hear the screaming of the victims in agony, gas chambers – all these frightful misdeeds became a tragic destiny for approximately six million people during the World War II.