Culture and People / Political

Hitler, Nazi, Holocaust… words that are easy to say but do we understand their gravity…

Hitler, Nazi, Holocaust… words that are easy to say but do we understand their gravity…

We use the words so casually, at time without understanding the gravity of those words at all. It is specially true for the social media, people rant through their tweet, undated Facebook status and pages, personal blog’s and comment on other people’s blog. It all fine, we all have the right to express our point of view. But at times it feels ridiculous and painful when you see people making a spectacle of themselves through their maddening quest to support a cause and complete ignorance of the facts.

Today I came across an fellow Indian, who while having a go at Israel with respect to the current conflict in Gaza, started humiliating a friend from Israel by using words like Holocaust, Nazis, Hitler and referring to the dark days of World War II; what happened in the concentration camps across Europe.

I felt appalled by the ignorance bordering stupidity of my fellow countryman and words of caution to him were met by more  abusive words towards me and the Israeli friend. So just decided to ignore him, to each his own… I am sure he will see the light one day, ultimately he too will reach the final goal that he deserves.

Israel and Gaza strip are hot topic of discussions these days and in the discussions words like Hitler, Nazi, Holocaust, Concentration Camps, Auschwitz are being used so freely on the various social networks these days, I just hope the people using them realize the gravity of these words. Do they really know what happened less than a century ago? Have we forgotten the history? Just because the generation who suffered those dark days mostly gone now, we can use their painful memories to cause more pain to the generation of survivors.

Every human life lost unnaturally is our way of insulting the God – whichever she/he may be that we believe in… We lower ourselves below the category of animals by killing our fellow human beings for our Ego… If we call ourselves human then it must pain us, and shame us to know that innocent human beings are being killed all around the world for frivolous reasons. But what really makes me angry is the self-righteousness of a large number of people who take it upon themselves to define the whole narrative. I am pained by the innocent civilians and children dying in Gaza strip or even more closer to home here in India if such a thing happens… like a freak accident couple of days ago where a baby suffered most painful death – hit by a speeding e-rickshaw the mother could not control herself and baby she was carrying in her arms, and while she fell on the road, the baby fell into a big cooking pot containing boiling sugar syrup on the side of the road. The mother tried in vein to get her baby of the boiling sugar syrup burning both her arms instead. As I read the story in the newspaper and shared it with wife and kids, we all felt a sharp pain inside our hearts. And we feel the same pain when we hear, read, see the news of innocent people dying anywhere in the world. But this does not give us any right to become sanctimonious and start preaching others or trying to humiliate the people involved in the accident.

Ignorance is truly a bliss… A little knowledge is a dangerous thing… we all must have heard many such phrases in our life but do we really understand their meaning? I really want to ask those who have been abusing Israel and its citizens  for the Gaza conflict using the words like Hitler, Nazi, Holocaust, etc. how much do they know about these words. Well let me just refresh their memories…

Magnitude of Destruction of Human Life

Country Initial Jewish Population Estimated % Killed Estimated Killed Number of Survivors
Total 95,08,340 63% 59,62,129 35,46,211
Poland 33,00,000 91% 30,00,000 3,00,000
USSR (Russia) 30,20,000 36% 11,00,000 19,20,000
Bohemia/ Moravia 1,18,310 60% 7,11,502 47,160
Hungary 8,00,000 74% 5,96,000 2,04,000
Romania 3,42,000 84% 2,87,000 55,000
Germany 5,66,000 36% 2,00,000 3,66,000
Lithuania 1,68,000 85% 1,43,000 25,000
Netherlands 1,40,000 71% 1,00,000 40,000
Latvia 95,000 84% 80,000 15,000
France 3,50,000 22% 77,320 2,72,680
Slovakia 88,950 80% 71,000 17,950
Greece 77,380 87% 67,000 10,380
Austria 1,85,000 35% 65,000 1,20,000
Yugoslavia 78,000 81% 63,300 14,700
Belgium 65,700 45% 28,900 36,800
Italy 44,500 17% 7,680 36,820
Estonia 4,500 44% 2,000 2,500
Luxemburg 3,500 55% 1,950 1,550
Norway 1,700 45% 762 938
Denmark 7,800 0.80% 60 7,740
Finland 2,000 0.03% 7 1,993
Bulgaria 50,000 0%   50,000

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Known by the nick name Adi in his childhood, the dictator of Germany and synonym for everything evil, Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria on April 20, 1889 to Alois (1837-1903) and Klara (1860-1907) Hitler. The only other child of Alois & Klara to survive childhood was Paula (1896-1960). Four other siblings of Hitler died in childhood; Gustav (1885-1887), Ida (1886-1888), Otto (1887), and Edmund (1894-1900). In addition to sister Paula, Hitler had one step-brother also named Alois (b. 1882) and a step-sister named Angela (1883-1949) both from his father’s previous marriage. Klara was third wife of Alois and he was 51 years old at the time of Hitler birth. Known for his strict discipline, Alois retired from civil service when Hitler was only six and died when Hitler was 13.

  • How he became so Anti-Semite
    • Throughout his youth, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He applied twice to the Vienna Academy of Art (once in 1907 and again in 1908) but was denied entrance both times. But that dream ended in 1908 when his mother died of breast cancer – some believe he blamed the Jewish doctor for the death of his mother and that may be the seed of his hatred towards Jewish people.
    • After the death of his mother, Hitler spent four years living on the streets of Vienna, selling postcards of his artwork to make a little money. These days of struggle and hard work maybe be the time when his hatred grew and darkness covered his heart.  Vienna was the city known at that time for its antisemitism.
    • Some people also refer to the questionable his grandfather’s identity  (Jewish?) for his virulent anti-Semite views.
  • How he became an Angry Soldier 
    • Although Hitler attempted to avoid Austrian military service by moving to Munich, Germany in May 1913, he volunteered to serve in the German army once World War I began.
    • Hitler endured and survived four years of World War I. During this time, he was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery.
    • Hitler sustained two major injuries during the war. The first occurred in October 1916 when he was wounded by a grenade splinter. The other was on October 13, 1918, when a gas attack caused Hitler to go temporarily blind.
    • It was while Hitler was recovering from the gas attack that the end of World War I was announced. Hitler was furious that Germany had surrendered and felt strongly that Germany had been stabbed in the back by its leaders – both political and businessmen (mostly Jews).
  • How he formed the Nazi Party 
    • Furious at Germany’s surrender, Hitler returned to Munich after the end of World War I, determined to enter politics.
    • In 1919, Hitler became the 55th member of a small antisemitic party called the German Worker’s Party.
    • Hitler soon became the party’s leader, created a 25-point platform for the party, and established a bold red background with a white circle and swastika in the middle as the party’s symbol. In 1920, the party’s name was changed to National Socialist German Worker’s Party – the Nazi Party. Over the next several years, Hitler often gave public speeches that gained him attention, followers, and financial support.
    • In November 1923, Hitler spearheaded an attempt to take over the German government through a coup, called the Beer Hall Putsch. When the coup failed, Hitler was caught and sentenced to five years in prison. It was while in Landsberg prison that Hitler wrote his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After only nine months, Hitler was released from prison. After getting out of prison, Hitler was determined to build up the Nazi Party in order to take over the German government using legal means.
  • How he Shrewdly Gained Absolute Power and Destroyed Germany
    • In 1932, Hitler was granted German citizenship. In the July 1932 elections, the Nazi Party obtained 37.3% of the vote for the Germany’s parliament, making it the controlling political party in Germany. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor. Hitler then used this high-ranking position to gain absolute power over Germany. This finally happened when Germany’s president, Paul von Hindenburg, died in office on August 2, 1934. Hitler took the title of Führer and Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor).
    • As dictator of Germany, Hitler wanted to increase and strengthen the German army as well as expand Germany’s territory. Although these things broke the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the treaty that officially ended World War I, other countries allowed him to do so. Since the terms of the Versailles Treaty had been harsh, other countries found it easier to be lenient than risk another bloody European war.
    • In March 1938, Hitler was able to annex Austria into Germany (called the Anschluss) without firing a single shot. When Nazi Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, the other European nations could no longer stand idly by. World War II began.
    • On July 20, 1944, Hitler barely survived an assassination attempt. One of his top military officers had placed a suitcase bomb under the table during a conference meeting at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair. Because the table leg blocked much of the blast, Hitler survived with only injuries to his arm and some hearing loss. Not everyone in the room was so lucky.
    • On April 29, 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun just a day before both of them committed suicide together on April 30, 1945

Nazi : Nationalsozialistishe Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Worker’s Party

Nazi Party

Nazi

The term NAZI is an acronym for Nationalsozialistishe Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Worker’s Party – no surprise there, as we find a lot of Left – Liberals using the same tactics to browbeat their opponents even today.  The Nazis used the term “the Final Solution” to refer to their plan to murder the Jewish people – the aim was to completely annihilate the Jewish people from the face of the earth – which ever comes under the control of Nazi forces.

Under the leadership of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party, grew into a mass movement and ruled Germany through totalitarian means from 1933 to 1945. Founded in 1919 as the German Workers’ Party, the group promoted German pride and anti-Semitism, and expressed dissatisfaction with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the 1919 peace settlement that ended World War I (1914-1918) and required Germany to make numerous concessions and reparations. Hitler joined the party the year it was founded and became its leader in 1921. In 1933, he became chancellor of Germany and his Nazi government soon assumed dictatorial powers. After Germany’s defeat in World War II (1939-45), the Nazi Party was outlawed and many of its top officials were convicted of war crimes related to the murder of some 6 million European Jews during the Nazis’ reign.

  • Origin of Nazi Party
    • In 1919, army veteran Adolf Hitler, frustrated by Germany’s defeat in World War, which had left the nation economically depressed and politically unstable, joined a fledgling political organization called the German Workers’ Party. Founded earlier that same year by a small group of men including locksmith Anton Drexler (1884-1942) and journalist Karl Harrer (1890-1926), the party promoted German nationalism and anti-Semitism, and felt that the Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement that ended the war, was extremely unjust to Germany by burdening it with reparations it could never pay. Hitler soon emerged as a charismatic public speaker and began attracting new members with speeches blaming Jews and Marxists for Germany’s problems and espousing extreme nationalism and the concept of an Aryan “master race.” In July 1921, he assumed leadership of the organization, which by then had been renamed the Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party.
    • Sales of Hitler’s political autobiography “Mein Kampf,” sometimes referred to as the bible of the Nazi Party, made him a millionaire. From 1933 to 1945, free copies were given to every newlywed German couple. After World War II, the publication of “Mein Kampf” in Germany became illegal.
    • Through the 1920s, Hitler gave speech after speech in which he stated that unemployment, rampant inflation, hunger and economic stagnation in postwar Germany would continue until there was a total revolution in German life. Most problems could be solved, he explained, if communists and Jews were driven from the nation. His fiery speeches swelled the ranks of the Nazi Party, especially among young, economically disadvantaged Germans.
    • In 1923, Hitler and his followers staged the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, a failed takeover of the government in Bavaria, a state in southern Germany. Hitler had hoped that the “putsch,” or coup d’etat, would spark a larger revolution against the national government. In the aftermath of the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler was convicted of treason and sentenced to five years in prison, but spent less than a year behind bars (during which time he dictated the first volume of “Mein Kampf,” or “My Struggle,” his political autobiography). The publicity surrounding the Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s subsequent trial turned him into a national figure. After his release from prison, he set about rebuilding the Nazi Party and attempting to gain power through the election process.
  • Nazi seize the Power : 1933
    • In 1929, Germany entered a period of severe economic depression and widespread unemployment. The Nazis capitalized on the situation by criticizing the ruling government and began to win elections. In the July 1932 elections, they captured 230 out of 608 seats in the “Reichstag,” or German parliament. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed German chancellor and his Nazi government soon came to control every aspect of German life.
    • Under Nazi rule, all other political parties were banned. In 1933, the Nazis opened their first concentration camp, in Dachau, Germany, to house political prisoners. Dachau evolved into a death camp where countless thousands of Jews died from malnutrition, disease and overwork or were executed. In addition to Jews, the camp’s prisoners included members of other groups Hitler considered unfit for the new Germany, including artists, intellectuals, Gypsies, the physically and mentally handicapped and homosexuals.
  • Militant Foreign Policy of Nazi Party : 1933-39
    • Once Hitler gained control of the government, he directed Nazi Germany’s foreign policy toward undoing the Treaty of Versailles and restoring Germany’s standing in the world. He railed against the treaty’s redrawn map of Europe and argued it denied Germany, Europe’s most populous state, “living space” for its growing population. Although the Treaty of Versailles was explicitly based on the principle of the self-determination of peoples, he pointed out that it had separated Germans from Germans by creating such new postwar states as Austria and Czechoslovakia, where many Germans lived.
    • From the mid- to late 1930s, Hitler undermined the postwar international order step by step. He withdrew Germany from the League of Nations in 1933, rebuilt German armed forces beyond what was permitted by the Treaty of Versailles, reoccupied the German Rhineland in 1936, annexed Austria in 1938 and invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. When Nazi Germany moved toward Poland, Great Britain and France countered further aggression by guaranteeing Polish security. Nevertheless, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Six years of Nazi Party foreign policy had ignited World War II.
  • Nazi Fight to Conquer Europe : 1939-45
    • After conquering Poland, Hitler focused on defeating Britain and France. As the war expanded, the Nazi Party formed alliances with Japan and Italy in the Tripartite Pact of 1940, and honored its 1939 Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact with the Soviet Union until 1941, when Germany launched a massive blitzkrieg invasion of the Soviet Union. In the brutal fighting that followed, Nazi troops tried to realize the long-held goal of crushing the world’s major communist power. After the United States entered the war in 1941, Germany found itself fighting in North Africa, Italy, France, the Balkans and in a counterattacking Soviet Union. At the beginning of the war, Hitler and his Nazi Party were fighting to dominate Europe; five years later they were fighting to exist.
  • Systematic Murder of Jewish People
    • When Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933, they instituted a series of measures aimed at persecuting Germany’s Jewish citizens. By late 1938, Jews were banned from most public places in Germany. During the war, the Nazis’ anti-Jewish campaigns increased in scale and ferocity. In the invasion and occupation of Poland, German troops shot thousands of Polish Jews, confined many to ghettoes where they starved to death and began sending others to death camps in various parts of Poland, where they were either killed immediately or forced into slave labor. In 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Nazi death squads machine-gunned tens of thousands of Jews in the western regions of Soviet Russia.
    • In early 1942, at the Wannsee Conference near Berlin, the Nazi Party decided on the last phase of what it called the “Final Solution” of the “Jewish problem” and spelled out plans for the systematic murder of all European Jews. In 1942 and 1943, Jews in the western occupied countries including France and Belgium were deported by the thousands to the death camps mushrooming across Europe. In Poland, huge death camps such as Auschwitz began operating with ruthless efficiency. The murder of Jews in German-occupied lands stopped only in last months of the war, as the German armies were retreating toward Berlin. By the time Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, some 6 million Jews had died.
  • The End of Nazis
    • After the war, the Allies occupied Germany, outlawed the Nazi Party and worked to purge its influence from every aspect of German life. The party’s swastika flag quickly became a symbol of evil in modern postwar culture. Although Hitler killed himself before he could be brought to justice, a number of Nazi officials were convicted of war crimes in the Nuremberg trials, which took place in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1949.

Holocaust : Sacrifice by Fire 

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The term Holocaust originally comes from a Greek word holokauston meaning Sacrifice by Fire – it general context it refers to the Nazi’s persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people in Europe during the World War II. The Hebrew word Shoah, which means devastation, ruin, or waste is also used to describe the genocide of millions of Jews during the period of 1933 – 1945.

  • The Holocaust began in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and ended in 1945 when the Nazis were defeated by the Allied powers.
  • In addition to Jews, the Nazis targeted Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the disabled for persecution. Anyone who resisted the Nazis was sent to forced labor or murdered.
  • Big Numbers
    • It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews.
    • The Nazis killed approximately two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe.
    • An estimated 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.
  • Persecution Begins
    • On April 1, 1933, the Nazis instigated their first action against German Jews by announcing a boycott of all Jewish-run businesses.
    • The Nuremberg Laws, issued on September 15, 1935, began to exclude Jews from public life. The Nuremberg Laws included a law that stripped German Jews of their citizenship and a law that prohibited marriages and extramarital sex between Jews and Germans. The Nuremberg Laws set the legal precedent for further anti-Jewish legislation.
    • Nazis then issued additional anti-Jews laws over the next several years. For example, some of these laws excluded Jews from places like parks, fired them from civil service jobs (i.e. government jobs), made Jews register their property, and prevented Jewish doctors from working on anyone other than Jewish patients.
    • During the night of November 9-10, 1938, Nazis incited a pogrom against Jews in Austria and Germany in what has been termed, “Kristallnacht” (“Night of Broken Glass”). This night of violence included the pillaging and burning of synagogues, breaking the windows of Jewish-owned businesses, the looting of these stores, and many Jews were physically attacked. Also, approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
    • After World War II started in 1939, the Nazis began ordering Jews to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing so that Jews could be easily recognized and targeted.
  • Ghettos
    • After the beginning of World War II, Nazis began ordering all Jews to live within certain, very specific, areas of big cities, called ghettos. Jews were forced out of their homes and moved into smaller apartments, often shared with other families.
    • Some ghettos started out as open, which meant that Jews could leave the area during the daytime but often had to be back within the ghetto by a curfew. Later, all ghettos became closed, which meant that Jews were trapped within the confines of the ghetto and not allowed to leave.
    • A few of the major ghettos were located in the cities of Bialystok, Kovno, Lodz, Minsk, Riga, Vilna, and Warsaw. The largest ghetto was in Warsaw, with its highest population reaching 445,000 in March 1941.
    • In most ghettos, Nazis ordered the Jews to establish a Jewish council to both administer Nazi demands and to regulate the internal life of the ghetto.
    • Nazis would then order deportations from the ghettos. In some of the large ghettos, 1,000 people per day were loaded up in trains and sent to either a concentration camp or a death camp.
    • To get them to cooperate, the Nazis told the Jews they were being transported to another place for labor.
    • When the Nazis decided to kill the remaining Jews in a ghetto, they would liquidate the ghetto after boarding the last Jews in the ghetto on trains. When the Nazis attempted to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto on April 13, 1943, the remaining Jews fought back in what has become known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Jewish resistance fighters held out against the entire Nazi regime for 28 days – longer than many European countries had been able to withstand Nazi conquest.
  • Concentration and Extermination Camps
    • Although many people refer to all Nazi camps as “concentration camps,” there were actually a number of different kinds of camps, including concentration camps, extermination camps, labor camps, prisoner-of-war camps, and transit camps. One of the first concentration camps was Dachau, which opened on March 20, 1933.
    • From 1933 until 1938, most of the prisoners in the concentration camps were political prisoners i.e. people who spoke or acted in some way against Hitler or the Nazis and people the Nazis labeled as asocial.
    • After Kristallnacht in 1938, the persecution of Jews became more organized. This led to the exponential increase in the number of Jews sent to concentration camps.
    • Life within Nazi concentration camps was horrible. Prisoners were forced to do hard physical labor and yet given tiny rations. Prisoners slept three or more people per crowded wooden bunk (no mattress or pillow). Torture within the concentration camps was common and deaths were frequent.
    • At a number of Nazi concentration camps, Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on prisoners against their will.
    • While concentration camps were meant to work and starve prisoners to death, extermination camps (also known as death camps) were built for the sole purpose of killing large groups of people quickly and efficiently.
    • The Nazis built six extermination camps: Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Majdanek. (Auschwitz and Majdanek were both concentration and extermination camps.)
    • Prisoners transported to these extermination camps were told to undress to take a shower. Rather than a shower, the prisoners were herded into gas chambers and killed. At Chelmno, the prisoners were herded into gas vans instead of gas chambers.
    • Auschwitz was the largest concentration and extermination camp built. It is estimated that 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz.

Kids-at-Auschwitz

Auschwitz

Jews at Auschwitz

Life and Death at Auschwitz

 

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