History is replete with wars and conflicts. The Holocaust was one such thing but it was somewhat different as it covered a huge number of people altogether. Holocaust also called Shoah basically means, sacrificing or killing by fire. It is derived from two Greek words, Holos and Kaustos. Holos means whole and Kaustos means burned. In early history, the word used to have its usual meaning which means sacrifice by fire but this remained only until World War II.
The Germans used to consider themselves racially superior. They at any cost did not want a mixed progeny. At that time many Jews used to live in Europe and the Germans found them racially inferior and hence a series of mass killings began. The Holocaust referred to these mass killings or in other words, “genocide” (genocide because it was intended to end the whole race of Jews so all those genes would disappear from the gene pool). From 1941 to 1945 six million Jews were killed which included 1.5 million children. This operation of mass murders is considered one of the deadliest that has ever happened. Not only the Jews, the Germans targeted other races too who they considered inferior, like the gypsies and the Slavic people.
It all began when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. At that time the number of Jews that existed were approximately 9 million. This was something unacceptable to Hitler as he considered them racially inferior. Therefore, he proposed a plan named as “the final solution” to eliminate Jews completely and this operation was later renamed the Holocaust. Even before Hitler came to power (in 1919), he wrote, “Rational anti-Semitism, however, must lead to systematic legal opposition and its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether.” To this anti-Semitism, later racial aspect was also added.
Thus soon after Hitler took over the office, his main aim was to culminate the non-Aryans and of course his policy of expansion. Laws were made to restrict the marriage between Germans and Jews and the Jews were also not given the basic rights. Therefore, the Jews tried their best to move out of Germany. The ones who were left behind suffered. This happened till 1940 after the expansion policy of Hitler accelerated. At this time, the religious institutions of Germany and the famous leaders expressed their resentment towards Hitler’s attitude and hence he stopped his regime even though secret killings continued.
The expansion policy still continued and in 1941, the Soviet Union was captured. This was the time when Hitler’s policy of eliminating the Jews gained momentum and a policy named “the final solution” came up. Beginning from that time, every Jew was openly killed and there was no stop. Mass gassings began so that maximum people could be killed in a go. The first targets were the old, sick and children. And of course, since there was gassing, along with the Jews many other people also succumbed to it.
As the World War II came to an end and Germany lost its power with Hitler committing suicide the Holocaust too came to an end but the aftermath was devastating. Things could not be restored quickly since so many people had lost their lives.
Watch the narration of the spine-chilling experience that Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister faced during the Holocaust, as they were used as a human experiment on being Mengele twins.