A Timeline Of The Holocaust Essay Research

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A Timeline Of The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and their collaborators as a central act of state during World War II. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. Although Jews were the primary victims, hundreds of thousands of Roma (Gypsies) and at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons were also victims of Nazi genocide. As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe from 1933 to 1945, millions of other innocent people were persecuted and murdered. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were killed because of their

nationality. Poles, as well as other Slavs, were targeted for slave labor, and as a result, almost two million perished. Homosexuals and others deemed “anti-social” were also persecuted and often murdered. In addition, thousands of political and religious dissidents such as communists, socialists, trade unionists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their beliefs and behavior and many of these individuals died as a result of maltreatment. The concentration camp is most closely associated with the Holocaust and remains an enduring symbol of the Nazi regime. The first camps opened soon after the Nazis took power in January 1933; they continued as a basic part of Nazi rule until May 8, 1945, when the war, and the Nazi regime, ended. The events of the Holocaust occurred

in two main phases: 1933-1939 and 1939-1945. I. 1933-1939: On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor, the most powerful position in the German government, by the aged President Hindenburg who hoped Hitler could lead the nation out of its grave political and economic crisis. Hitler was the leader of the right-wing National Socialist German Workers Party (called the Nazi Party for short); it was, by 1933, one of the strongest parties in Germany, even though * reflecting the country’s multi-party system * the Nazis had only won a plurality of 33 percent of the votes in the 1932 elections to the German parliament (Reichstag). Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the Constitution which

permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces * the Special State Police (the Gestapo), the Storm Troopers (S.A.), and the Security Police (S.S.) * murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (communists, socialists, and liberals). The Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, forced through a Reichstag already purged of many political opponents, gave dictatorial powers to Hitler. Also in 1933, the Nazis began to put into practice their racial ideology. Echoing ideas popular in Germany as well as most other western nations well before the 1930s, the Nazis believed that the Germans were “racially superior” and that there was a struggle for survival between them and “inferior races.” They saw Jews, Roma

(Gypsies), and the handicapped as a serious biological threat to the purity of the “German (Aryan) Race,”[footnote #1] what they called the “master race.” Jews, who numbered around 500,000 in Germany (less than one percent of the total population in 1933), were the principal target of Nazi hatred. The Nazis mistakenly identified Jews as a race and defined this race as “inferior.” They also spewed hatemongering propaganda which unfairly blamed Jews for Germany’s economic depression and the country’s defeat in World War I (1914-1918). In 1933, new German laws forced Jews to quit their civil service jobs, university and law court positions, and other areas of public life. In April 1933, a boycott of Jewish businesses was instituted. In 1935, laws proclaimed at