Into The Rails
The Holocaust, a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; a burnt offering. This is the definition of that horrible world and it is the best word to describe what happened; but of course it isn't the only option. Some people call it massacre, others the biggest atrocity of time, and that’s only a few of the horrible but fitting ways to describe it.
11 million people, 6 million jews, 1 million children. Those numbers seem unreal, at least to me. Yet these are only the people who were killed. Of course 3.5 million survived having been tortured and stripped of there dignity, lives, and family first. The story of the holocaust is one of something that killed people physically and mentally. This is that story.
Before it All Happened
Jews have always been envied and made fun of since BC, and particularly at the end of the First World War, 1918. When the Armistice, the peace declaration, was signed, the Germans had to pay a treaty, the treaty of Versalles: 132 billion gold marks, but the worst part was that the people who where blamed, were the jews. Finally they had an excuse to deal with the " Jew question " as they called it. And when Adolf Hitler, an anti-communist believer in the Aryan race, emerged the germans listened to his promises to make Germany great again; it seemed their only way out of this huge depression.
The Last Straw
Slowly Hitler and his Nazi party (National Socialists) started invading parts of Europe like Austria. When the allies realised just how strong and powerful Germany had become they offered the axis an offering; they handed over Czechoslovakia as a way to stop any further invasions. This sadly did not stop Hitler from invading Poland in mid 1939. This was a way of decelering war. In September 1939 the Second World War began.
Behind the Battle
The war started in November, 1939 but the fighting itself didn’t start until March, 1940. Some people think that the worst part of the whole Holocaust was in those 7 months. For the allies were concentrating on preparing for war and the Nazis could do what ever they wanted. This is mostly true for the mass murder started in 1939 and the killing rate reached its highest between December and March.
Because the fighting and murder that was happening on the battle field had doubled the killings of the previous world war most people didn’t realise what was happening until late 1943. Of course, some people realised sooner. Some made salvation groups to save small villages, some hid children under their beds, but others looked away. The killing was aimed not only aimed at jews but anyone who thought differently, so the people who looked away had their own salvation in mind.
Lots of people were forced to hide in uninhabitable places plagued by overcrowding, fearing for their lives and facing increasingly scarce food supplies. Others fled to places like Switzerland or the United States as places to live at peace. Others weren't so lucky and did not have a chance to hide. In these cases they were just left to die in concentration camps or ghettos. Often people who were caught hiding were put to death or sent to overcrowded camps where you would have probably come to prefer the first option. This is the best way to describe hiding in the holocaust. In generally considering the diaries of people who were forced to hide, it describes it as a fear of getting caught that just stabs you every time you enjoy something. That was the way I felt when I was reading diaries and books by people who had hidden in these horrible circumstances.
Inside the Camps
Once arrested by the nazis you would not be brought to a normal jail but to a death camp or work camp. If you were brought to a death camp you had two fates. As the name suggests, you were either put to death in gas chambers, shooting etc. . Or, if you were strong and up for work, you would most probably end up clearing bodies or digging graves. If you were brought to a work camp, it meant you were not going to be put to death directly but to work in horrible conditions in which you would only have a few hours of sleep and the time you had to sleep you would probably be in a tight space with thousands of half dead people. The food was limited and because of overcrowding people sometimes spent weeks without food. The days consisted of surviving the moment.
The "Superior" Race
The Aryan race, the so-called "superior" race. Blue eyes and blonde hair. If you were an Aryan you were royalty. You had superiority over everyone else and you had opportunities no non Aryan would ever have. When the Nazis came to power every non Aryan police officer or doctor etc would have been fired. For they were jobs which were not to be " handled" by non Aryans. There isn't much to say about this except to recognise that the monstrosities the Nazis committed were done so to make the Aryan race grow. Horrible things happened in those “human farms” which have hit another level of inhumanity.
Free the Camps!
When the Nazis realised the war was over and Hitler had taken his own life the camps were mostly brought to march or killed directly. Others, after having been tortured and beaten were finally left to die. Others woke up one morning and were surprised by not being woken up. Others ran out of the barracks. Others crawled slowly. Every camp was released. Many people even despite not being killed physically, were destroyed mentally when realising that their whole family had been slaughtered. Lost of people are now in mental hospitals, irreversibly scarred by what happened. This is a mayor part of history that people are slowly forgetting and yet must not. Because if people forget, these mistakes are bound to repeat themselves. This is the story that has been the most powerful for me and I still continue to be amazed by the cruelties the Nazis committed in those five years.
Marta D, Year 7