Life can be sometimes really very cruel. The example of its cruelty is the holocaust, persecution and genocide of various ethnic, religious and political groups during World War II by Nazi Germany and collaborators. It caused the death of 6 million Jews and 5 million others ethnic groups. How did it begin?
Anti-Semitism was common in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s but its roots go back much further. It the 15th century there existed ghettos for Jews in Italy (as described in William Shakespeare’s Marchant of Venice).
In 1925 the book of the leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was issued . At the time it was nor popular but when Adolf Hitler became the “Fuhrer”, it became the bestseller. In this book Aryens are classified as the perfect, superhuman race. The Jews were characterized by special pseudo-scientific claims, racial considerations and bodily features, for example, a big nose and ears, strange walk, a large forehead, etc.
On April 1st, 1933, the boycott of Jewish-owned businesses began in Germany.
“Under the “Law for the Restoration of a Professional Civil Service”, passed by the Reichstag on April 7, 1933, all Jewish civil servants at the Reich, Länder, and municipal levels of government were fired immediately. This was followed by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 that prevented marriage between any Jew and non-Jew, and stripped all Jews of German citizenship (their official title became "subject of the state") and of their basic civil rights, e.g., to vote.”
(Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia)
Later Jews were banned to work as teachers, politicians (for they could influence the people) or work in industry. Children could not attend the “normal” schools. Jews were moved to ghettos and had to wear the star of David for better identification.
Their properties were moved to the ownership of SS men’s families. From these ghettos Jews were allowed to leave only for work which was assigned to them. If people did not obey the rules they were killed.
The largest ghetto was in the capital of Poland, Warsaw, 380,000 Jews lived in 2.4% of the city's area, averaging 9.2 people per room. Between 1940 and 1942, thousands of people died in the ghettos from the diseases and starvation. In December, 1941, the Nazis opened Chelmno, the first of the seven extermination camps. On July 19, 1942, Heinrich Himmler ordered the start of the deportations of Jews from the ghettos to the death camps (concentration camps).
Death camps were placed all around Europe. People were told that they were going to the labor camps. They took all their luggage in hope that they would live in the other (hopefully better) place. In most of the cases the luggage never left the cities from which people were leaving. Many of these concentration camps were located in Poland because it was easier to build the concentration camps close to where Jews were living instead of transporting them any distance. The largest and the best known concentration camp was Auschwitz-Birkenau in which approximately a total of 1,094,000 people died. In the gas chambers of Birkenau about 8,000 people died daily.
About 5 months ago I visited Auschwitz. A large complex of buildings “welcomes” you with the words on the gate “Arbeit macht Frei” (Labor makes free). This had a big influence on me.
Expositions of the hair, shoes, children clothing, luggage with the names and addresses of real people and many others left my eyes wet. So many people. Next were gas chambers. Big rooms with holes in the ceiling for cyclone B (“killing” gas). I could not believe that I was in the room where so many people had died. It really was a strange feeling.
However there were some brave and intelligent people which I call“Human Heroes”. They saved a lot Jews from deportation to the Concentration camps. Examples of those heroes are:
●Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and his colleagues, who saved about 100,000 Hungarian Jews by issuing them diplomatic passes.
●The King of Denmark and his subjects, who saved the lives of most of the 7,500 Danish Jews by sending them to Sweden via fishing boats.
●Chiune Sugihara, who saved several thousands of Jews by issuing them Japanese visas.
●Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,100 of Jews by paying them off.
There were also groups that took drastic and dangerous steps to rescue Jews and other potential victims from the Nazis.
And why? Why are people so mean to each other? How could somebody like Hitler come to power? I think that we caused the deaths of these people as well. Because we did not stop it when it started. We were just watching and obeying the rules although we knew that they were not correct. We tried to ignore it for very long time. Because of our ignoring at the situation
11 million people or more died. We were thinking just about ourselves, not about others. In my opinion, until people begin to care more about each other, try to help each other and will not be afraid to express their opinions on the things with which they disagree, the world will not be safe for anyone of us. Disasters like the holocaust will repeat but with a greater impact on humanity than that experienced 65 years ago.