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An Indescribable Tragedy
Black, White, Jew, Gypsy, or Hispanic, we are all the same, we are all people. We all have hopes, dreams, and families regardless of our race or religion. We all have the right to a happy, healthy life and to pursue our dreams, whatever they may be.
It is unimaginable to think that one man is ultimately responsible for the brutal mass murder of around 11 million people (Adolf). Words can not even begin to describe the horror these people went through and witnessed. They were tortured in unthinkable ways because of their race or religion.
In 1933 nine million Jews lived in twenty one countries throughout Europe. Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Around 1.5 million children were killed (BÃ¼low, Louis, the). There were 20,000 camps throughout Europe. These included labor camps, transit camps, and extermination camps. Jews along with German Socialists, Communists, Social Democrats, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals were victims of these camps (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazi). Anyone who was “different” was a victim.
The definition of a holocaust is a large- scale sacrifice of destruction, especially of life, especially by fire (What was). Unfortunately, the Nazi’s followed the definition well. The Nazi’s felt they were a superior race and by 1945 two thirds of European Jews had been killed (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The).
Auschwitz was the worst concentration camp. It was the largest camp and was where the most people were killed. It is indescribable the horror these people saw and went through. Three million people lost their lives in Auschwitz during WWII. These innocent victims were gassed, starved, shot, burned and experimented on. In Auschwitz, mass murder occurred on a daily basis. For fun they were tested on with drugs, given surgeries, and frozen to death by the camp “doctor” Josef Mengele. Twins were one of Mengele’s favorite victims. Babies born in Auschwitz were killed instantly. In 1944 over 400,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz in 148 trains (Gate).
The Jews were locked in ghettos and put in forced labor camps. They were brought on death marches where several hundreds of people lost their lives (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The).
Imagine seeing the smoke billowing out of the chimneys and smelling burning all day long, and wondering if it’s someone you know. Survivors remember being put into cattle cars with 100 other people for days at a time. They were forced to give up all their possessions and were lined up everyday for hours to be counted.
The German military painted ambulances with the Red Cross symbol to stop others from finding out that they were really carrying poisonous gas to use in the gas chambers. The victims were starved and if they became too skinny they were killed (What the).
A survivor named Solomon Radasky said he was the only one to survive out of 78 people in his family (Survivor Stories, Solomon). Joseph Sher was one of three survivors out of one thousand people sent from Creszanow, a forced labor camp, to Czestochowa to build a highway (Survivor Stories, Joseph).
Thankfully, most people will never experience what the victims of the Holocaust experienced; what they went through every day.
George Santayana said, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” (BÃ¼low Louis, The Holocaust).
It’s extremely important for future generations to know the horrible things that happened and can happen when you let hatred go too far. If future generations are not taught in school what can happen, more innocent people could become victims of another holocaust, and it could be any race or any religion, all it takes is one person with a crazy idea who persuades others to follow.
Ellie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor talked about why we must never forget that dark piece of history,
“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for
the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that
belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but
offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. The
witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who
will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.” (BÃ¼low,
Louis, The Holocaust)
There were a few good people during the Holocaust. These people risked their lives to save the Jews. One man who is well known for saving more Jews than anyone else is Oskar Schindler. He saved more than 1200 Jews. He spent millions of dollars helping them and died a poor man. He even referred to his workers as his children (BÃ¼low, Louis, Oskar Schindler). If thousands or even hundreds more people had been like Schindler, imagine what could have happened. Schindler’s actions are a good example of how to stop prejudice. He was an ordinary guy who did an extraordinary thing. He saw something he believed was wrong and decided to change it. Schindler is proof one person can make a huge difference. (BÃ¼low, Louis, Oskar Schindler).
A Schindler survivor, Murray Pantirer, asked Schindler why he did what he did and Schindler said,
“I was a Nazi, and I believed that the Germans were doing wrong…when they
killing innocent people - and it didn’t mean anything to me that they were
Jewish, to me they were just human beings, menschen - I decided I am going to
work against them and I am going to save as many as I can.” (Schindler)
To prevent prejudice we must lead by example and not be prejudice. We must put our differences aside and remember that we’re all the same, we’re all people, and we all deserve to be treated equally regardless of race or religion. If we see or hear someone being prejudice we as students must do whatever we can to stop it. We must stick up for those who are being harassed. We must never think we’re better than anyone else. We must not agree when we hear prejudice comments; we must not laugh. We must not judge people based on the actions of a few. Ultimately there are good and bad people among every race and religion. We must not hate someone just because they are different than us, we must not judge someone until we know them and give them a fair chance, and still we must not hate them. We must set an example for our younger siblings by demonstrating tolerance.
Most importantly we must remember that we are all just people, a certain race or religion does not and can not make us any better than anyone else. We must give everyone a fair chance to be our friend. Schools must teach our future generations about the horrible past, so it is never repeated in our future and so the survivors stories are never forgotten. We as students must listen, really listen and remember. These innocent victims must be remembered when they areno longer around to share their stories with us.
“Adolf Hitler,” The Rise from Unknown to Nazi Dictator 2008. 8 Apr. 2008
“Gate to Hell.” Auschwitz 2008. 8 Apr. 2008
BÃ¼low, Louis. “Oskar Schindler,” His List of Life 2008. 7 Apr. 2008
BÃ¼low, Louis. “The Holocaust,” Crimes, Heroes, and Villains 2008. 7 Apr. 2008
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Nazi Camps." Holocaust Encyclopedia. 6 Apr.