The twelve years between 1933 and 1935 saw the systematic elimination of over ten million people, including over six million Jews and over four million Gypsies, Slavs, Communists, and people deemed unfit for life, such as the mentally retarded and homosexuals. Known as the Holocaust, this mass-genocide was perpetrated by German nationals under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, who promoted a racial ideology of German superiority over inferior races. At the height of the Holocaust, extermination camps such as Auschwitz and Treblinka processed over 9, 000 victims daily, in what would become the paradigm of efficient slaughter of human beings.
[...] Auschwitz-Birkenau, which also served as a concentration camp and slave labor camp, became the killing center where the largest numbers of European Jews and Roma were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941, of 250 malnourished and ill Polish prisoners and 600 Soviet POWs, “mass murder became a daily routine; more than 1 million people were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau out of 10 of them Jews” (Dwork 85). In addition, Roma, Soviet POWs, and ill prisoners of all nationalities died in the gas chambers there. [...]
[...] The winter of 1944-45 saw the last days of the Holocaust and the extermination camps. As the war neared its end, British and American troops advanced from the West as Soviet troops advanced from the East. Hemmed in on both sides, the decision was made to abandon the concentration camps, destroy the evidence of their existence, and move the prisoners. Sick from disease and weakened by hunger and exhaustion, concentration camp prisoners were forced to march for days, often from the site of an extermination camp to areas more directly under German control (Marrus 92). [...]
[...] Furthermore, he blamed Jews for the crippling depression that hit Germany in the years following the war. Forced to pay reparations to the Allied powers, Germany's economy collapsed due to hyperinflation. On January Hitler was named chancellor, the most powerful position in the German government, by President Hindenburg, and swiftly moved to put his racial ideology into practice. In 1935, a set of laws proclaimed at Nuremburg effectively made German-Jews second-class citizens. A precursor to the Holocaust, these Nuremburg laws identified Jews by their ancestry, not their religion, and went back two generations. [...]
[...] While the Holocaust as it is commonly known represented the “final solution of the Jewish question,” there were a number of prior attempts made as well. (Dwork 20) The first, and perhaps more humane solution, involved the forced emigration of all German Jews to Madagascar. Proposed in July of 1940 by Adolf Eichmann, the “Madagascar Plan” represented a “Territorial Final Solution,” as opposed to genocide (Browning 117). Other emigration plans involved sending Jews to the United States, England, and France, but were largely unsuccessful because of the country's refusal to take in massive numbers of refugees. [...]
[...] Jews would be deported from ghettos in massive numbers to extermination camps, were a certain percentage would be selected for forced labor, while the rest would be killed in gas chambers and then incinerated in massive crematories. The main architect behind the Final Solution was Adolf Eichmann, known as the “Chief Executioner of the Third Reich,” who was responsible for the logistics of the operation, and oversaw the identification and transportation of people to the camps (Marrus 72). Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS and the Gestapo, was responsible for implementing the Final Solution, including inspecting concentration camps and ordering the deportation of millions of people (Marrus 74). [...]
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