The Holocaust

by Marsha Rosenthal

Thursday, May 2, 2019, was Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust (the Hebrew word for the unforgettable day is YOM HASOAH).  “Holocaust” from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned).
The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior”, were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.
The Holocaust was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany murdered some 6 million European Jews between 1941 and 1945.  The Nazis considered Jews to be the main danger to Germany.  Jews were the primary victims of Nazi racism, but other victims from Poland, Hungary, gypsies and the LGBT group as well as other victims of ethnic and racial hatred.
In 1939, Poland was taken quickly.  Russians and Germans worked together.  In June of 1941, Germany broke the pact with Russia and took over.
The Jewish people were identified by wearing yellow stars on their clothing and were gathered together in ghettos.  Jewish businesses were marked and people were not allowed to enter.
It was dangerous for other people and families to show compassion to the Jews.  They were victimized.  Some were eager to catch a Jew and take them to the Gestapo, and they thought they were being patriotic and loyal to the Nazis.
The ghettos were staging areas of transportation to Concentration Camps.  There were a total of ten concentration camps in Germany, Poland, and Russia.  One of the camps, Auschwitz in Birkenau, Poland, did much to exterminate the Jews.  Six thousand Jews a day were shot and fell into a long trench that they were made to dig out for own burial.  Crematories burned as many as 10,000 a day.  Over 1-1/2 million children under the age of 16 were exterminated.
Nazis killed children and women of child-bearing age so they could not reproduce.  They killed the elderly and ill because they were of no use to the Nazis.  In 2 months of 1944 and 1945, Hungarian Jews went to Auschwitz and were gassed.
Today we face an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and anti-semitism. Approximately 41% of Americans know nothing about the Holocaust.
All the people who have survived the Holocaust are profoundly different than how they would have been had they not lived through that horrendous period of time.  Forgiveness is not a word that comes to mind very easily.
Every community in America must be made aware that the Holocaust DID take place.  We must never forget, and we must not let a Holocaust ever happen again.

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