The Holocaust was one of the worst pages in the history of mankind.
We won’t delve into the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis, the whole world knows, and will tell you about some things that are not as well known.
The manufacturer of Leica cameras saved lives
The German company Leica Camera, manufacturer of precision optics, has always been famous for good attitude towards its employees. Since 1933, the Nazis in Germany began a campaign of persecution of the Jews, the owner of Leica Camera Ernst Leitz figured out how to help people in this situation. He sent the Jews – employees of the company and their relatives and friends allegedly a “business” trip to Britain, France, Hong Kong and the United States. And the people there continued to work for the company if they were her employees, or looking for a job, while the company financially supported them. This secret program was called the “Leica freedom Train” and it has undoubtedly saved hundreds of lives in the 30-ies, when the persecution of the Jews was gaining momentum.
Suffering and death is not stopped immediately after the liberation of the camps
It would be wrong to think that immediately after the prisoners of concentration camps were liberated, for them it is happiness. Unfortunately, it is not. Many of them used to life outside the fence and with great difficulty were used to freedom. But it is the difficulties of a psychological nature that could be overcome with time. Much worse was the fact that many of the released were already in such physical condition that to help them was impossible. They died in front of their liberators. Emaciated people had died after several pieces of bread – their digestive system cannot cope with the load. And those who did not die, still immediately from the camp was released – it was impossible to just go and leave hundreds of thousands of hungry and sick people.
This word translates from German as “deployment group” or “target group”, but in fact it was a mobile death squads. The Einsatzgruppen were catching people and taking them to the camps. They are responsible for the destruction of entire regions, consisting of “undesirable populations.” Even in comparison with most of the staff of the concentration camps these people were much worse. They differed special cruelty killed, even babies and young children. There are four such groups, each with 600-1000 people. The Einsatzgruppen had committed many terrible crimes. They included mass executions and sometimes they even invented their own methods of execution, for example, linked people together, set on the banks of the river, then killed several so that all the related fell into the water, and waited until they drown.
The first reports of concentration camps were perceived as a fake
The hardest part in this war had the Soviet Union, had to endure much and experience a lot of losses before they were able to go on the offensive against the enemy. By 1944 the Soviet army entered in Poland. Soviet soldiers were the first who met on the way a concentration camp and liberated it. It was Majdanek, near Lublin. Estimated it killed 80 000 people and 60 000 of them were Jews. When the announcement reached the army of the Western allies, first they didn’t believe what I was hearing. Of course, then any doubts left…
This man started the war as captain of the Polish army, but the Polish army was quickly defeated, and during the German occupation he joined the Polish resistance – the “Secret Polish Army”. Unbelievable but true: Witold Pilecki voluntarily went to Auschwitz (in doing so he was captured) and two years collecting information, passing it to their comrades on the outside with the help of a secretly assembled in the camp of the transmitter. Two years later he managed to escape. He proposed a plan for the capture of Auschwitz, but the management didn’t approved it. Thanks to the report Pilecki became aware of what was happening at Auschwitz: no one had accurate information, especially about villainous murders.
After the war Poland became a Communist, and Witold Pilecki continued to work for the Polish government in exile. In 1947 the Communist government of Poland he was arrested, tried, charged with espionage and executed. Every mention of it was prohibited until 1990, when the Military Prosecutor’s office reviewed the case and announced the complete posthumous rehabilitation Pilecki. Today he is honored as one of the heroes of the war.
Righteous among the Nations
The first thing that comes to mind when the word “Holocaust” is cruelty, suffering and death, but there was something else – for example, the selfless assistance of people who’ve risked your life, but still tried to save Jews from death. Everyone knows about Oskar Schindler, thanks to the excellent film “Schindler’s List”, but this man was not one. To honor these heroes, the Israeli Institute for Holocaust and heroism assigns them the honorary title “righteous among the Nations”. On January 1, 2016, the righteous among the Nations recognized by 26 119 people from 51 countries.
Not to say that there are proponents of Holocaust denial, who claim that the “Final solution of the Jewish question” involved the mass destruction, just mass deportation. They also claim that the horrors of concentration camps is a conspiracy theory and fiction “Jews who rule the world” with the aim of obtaining some benefit. These are just a few items, but there are entire books written on this subject, in which Holocaust deniers prove that it or not, or its magnitude is very much exaggerated. What can I say? The Holocaust is studied thoroughly and there is plenty of evidence that six million Jews were exterminated in gas chambers, shot or killed in some savage way. And the evidence outweigh all the rhetorical arguments of those who deny the Holocaust.
Sometimes people forget stuff, namely: in the first half of the 20th century anti-Semitism flourished, not only in Germany but also in many other countries too. In 30-e years of the Nazi party of Germany has made the lives of Jews in this country is very difficult: they could not vote, could not enter into relations with ethnic Germans, etc. On this background, the leaders of Western countries under the leadership of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt decided to meet with the Nazi leadership, to discuss the plight of Jews in Germany. The meeting took place in France, in Evian-Les-Bains in 1938.
Despite the fact that in the USA there was a very small quota for immigration (partly because of the great Depression), Roosevelt tried to persuade other countries to increase their quotas and make 150 000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria-Hungary. Almost all countries, including Canada, Australia, all countries of Western Europe and almost all Latin America, flatly refused to take on such a burden, explaining that the Jewish people will bring to their country a “racial issue.”
It was not just the Jews
Usually the term “Holocaust” used in relation to the extermination of the Jews, but it is important to remember that the Nazis didn’t restrict yourself to just one ethnic minority. They just did not like the Slavs (Russian, poles, Ukrainians, Serbs), Asians, Africans, Romanians, Gypsies. They do not accept homosexuals and people with disabilities (they are sterilized). In this list you can add political dissidents, drug addicts, prostitutes, all who in any way helped Jews and even ethnic Germans who lived too long abroad. All the “disloyal” were sent to the camps.
“The banality of evil”
About the Holocaust, many books and fiction, and documentary. As for the documentary, one of the most powerful books on this subject is “the Banality of evil: Eichmann in Jerusalem,” written by Hannah Arendt, who was present as a correspondent of the New Yorker magazine on the trial of Adolf Eichmann – a former obersturmbannfuhrer SS, the Gestapo, responsible for the “final solution of the Jewish question.” The trial of Eichmann took place in Jerusalem in 1961.
In this book Arendt outlines the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who was caught only 10 years after the Holocaust and tried in Israel. “The banality of evil” – a term she used to describe a normal, average Nazis who “were just doing their job” and “just follow orders” without thinking about the consequences. Eichmann was responsible for organizing the deportations of Jews to the death camps. He claimed that he did not represent the end result of these actions, and following orders, as she gave the oath and served their state.
“Arbeit macht frei” – “Work makes you free”
This phrase was a slogan was posted at the entrance to many Nazi concentration camps. It was originally the title of a novel by the German writer and nationalist Lorenz Diefenbach, published in 1872. The meaning of the phrase and the novel was the fact that people of low moral character can change and be saved, if there will be a lot of work. In 1928 the government of the Weimar Republic took this phrase into service, running the public works program (jobs act). As you can see, as long as no crime. He came in 1933 to power, the Nazis continued to use this slogan. And that phrase “Work makes you free” adorned the gates of many camps served as labor camps. Now this can be perceived only as a mockery, but, perhaps, prisoners of concentration camps believed in the slim chance ever to be released.
That meant the loss of 6 million people for the Jewish nation
It is currently estimated that during the Holocaust killed six million Jews. The Nazis were ruthless and women, and children. Their aim was the complete destruction of the Jews. In 1939 the total number of Jews in the world amounted to about 17 million people. By 1945, there were just eleven, that is, 35% of Jews were just wiped off the face of the Earth. This loss of population, the Jews were not restored until now. By 2014 there were only about 14 million people. Today in the world there are 16.5 million Jews, given the descendants of mixed marriages.
The Wannsee conference
It was a big and important meeting of Nazi leaders held on 20 January 1942 at the lake Wannsee Villa “Marlin” in Berlin. At the meeting, the Nazis defined the ways and means of the “final solution of the Jewish question”, that is, amounted to a program of genocide against the Jews of Europe (Holocaust).
The victim resisted
There is some standard representation of obedient Jews who meekly raised up his hand and went to the gas chamber. Yes, many just died, because they believed that cooperation is their chance for survival. But there were others – those who went underground and tried to fight with the enemy. In the beginning of the war in occupied Europe, Jews were herded into a ghetto. And in these ghettos originated in the resistance movement. From 1941 to 1943 occurred more than 100 rebellions in the ghetto. One of the most famous – the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in may 1943. People fought hard, with the enemy whose number was more than ten times. Almost all of the ghetto was destroyed, tens of thousands of its inhabitants sent to concentration camps.
Nakam: “The Avengers”
Nakam – a group of Jewish fighters who took revenge on Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust. The entire group consisted of about 60 Jews, most of whom are former guerrillas and prisoners of Nazi concentration camps. There are two well-known events related to Nakam. Soon after the war they found out where bread is baked for prison Stalag 13, which included former SS officers. Nakam fighters managed to sneak into the bakery and bread poisoned with arsenic, resulting in dead, hundreds of former Nazis. And in 1946 the soldiers tried to smuggle a large quantity of poison in order to poison the water supplies of Munich, Weimar, Berlin, Hamburg and Nuremberg. Fortunately, the plot was discovered, otherwise it would have killed millions of people privy to the Holocaust. Although this attempt failed Nakam fighters, they continued the hunt for Nazi war criminals – for years looking for them in the countries of North and South America, the middle East and other parts of the globe in an attempt to restore justice.
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