In January of 1933, one of the worst genocides in history took place, with the extermination of 6 million Jews and millions of other minority groups. This was called the Holocaust. This happened during World War II and was lead by the dictator of Germany at the time, Adolf Hitler. The Holocaust is still an important event that people should be learning about because the roots of how it started still has relevance in our society today such as racism and religious differences. Learning the causes of the Holocaust is also important because we need to know what lead up to the Holocaust so something like this doesn’t ever happen again.
The Holocaust started in January, 1933 when Hitler came to power and ended May 8th, 1945. On July 31, 1941, there was a memorandum from Hermann Goering to Reinhard Heydrich which referred to the need for the final solution to the “Jewish problem” and by September of 1941, every Jew had to wear a yellow star which made them targets. The Nazis took millions of Jews to concentration camps where they were doing forced labor and eventually, most were killed in the gas chambers. They started with people who were seen as least useful like people that were sick, old or very young. The concentration camps were meant to be a secret but so many people were being taken into them that there were some people that brought reports but they were never responded to. The lack of response was said to be because the Allies were focused on winning the war but also could have been from disbelief. On April 30, 1945 Hitler committed suicide and on May 8th, barely a week later, Germany suppenered in World War II.
One of the main causes that definitely contributed to the holocaust would be racism against Jews. Even German scientists believed that the Jews were “inferior” and the Nazis used that to make everyone believe that the society would be better without them. The Nazis would spread racism through posters, the radio, movies, classrooms and newspapers.
The school teachers that were Nazis applied the “principles” of racial science. They would do things like measure skull size and nose length. They would also record their hair, eye, and pupil colors to see if the students were of Aryan race. These things usually embarrassed students that were Jews. The first public meeting of the Nazi party was on February 24th, 1920. Hitler issued the “25 point program” which was the party’s political agenda. This was mostly all based off racism and it demanded racial purity in Germany, it initiated Germany’s destiny to rule over inferior races and established Jews as racial enemies. Racism is still very relevant today, even though it isn’t as extreme as the holocaust, things like stereotypes are still relate to things that happen today.
Another thing that lead to the holocaust was difference in religion. The specific religion that was said to be against Jews was Christianity. A lot of people from the religion believed that Jews were to blame for Jesus’ death and it was a big reason why so many people turned against them at the time. Nazis would spread things like this to try to get people to agree with them about the Jews. This is why in the beginning of the war, not as many people had a problem with the Jews until the Nazi party would tell people things like this to make them think differently. Things like passion plays which were plays that were meant to represent Christ’s passion from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion were mainly against Jews. These would talk about how Jews were “God-killers” and made people believe that they were all horrible people. In the 12th century, a child was found killed in England. There was a rumor that Jews planned to murder a Christian child every year to re-enact the death of Christ. Jews were also accused of poisoning wells during the Black Plague, stealing and circumcising Christian babies and of ritual murder. In Mein Kampf, a book written by Hitler he says “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” (p. 65). Things like difference in religion could also relate to today’s society.
The holocaust is an important event in history that is still something we need to learn today. Things like racism and differences in religion lead to the outbreak of the genocide. It’s important to know what happened to cause something like the holocaust because the problems that caused the holocaust are still apparent today. Things like the Trump travel ban can be related to how the Germans tried to reduce and deport Jews. There were also a lot of things said about how Trump wanted all muslims to wear a band on their arm to show that they were muslim. This is a lot like what happened during the holocaust when all Jews were forced to wear the star of david to show that they were a Jew. Learning about the holocaust will make us aware of our history otherwise we will repeat ourselves. One would think that after something as tragic and terrible as the holocaust, we would learn from our mistakes. But here we are doing the same thing we were doing 80 years ago.
Article by Maggie Sand & Video by Salma Naim
History.com Staff. “The Holocaust.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust.
“Nazi Racism.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007679.