Horrors of the Holocaust
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Jessica M. Bird Dr. Gilbert English 102 12 April 2010 Horrors of the Holocaust Boris Slutsky wrote a poem titled, "How Did They Kill My Grandmother!" The title itself is self-explanatory of the poems significance. There is no hidden symbolism or meaning. He is simply telling his readers how the Nazis cruelly killed his grandmother. During World War II, Nazis took over most Europe and the USSR, afflicting its people with unspeakable acts of cruelty and immorality. Hitler put a plan for extermination of ethnic impurity, known as the Final Solution, in place. The Nazi executed this through the encampment, abuse and slaughter of millions, with Jews, gypsies and other cultural minorities being targeted. Of all the examples of injustice against humanity in history, the Holocaust is one of the most prominent. The Holocaust did not happen all at once. It started off with herding the minority races into the Ghettos. The ghettos were usually located inside cities, and acted as a prison to segregate the Jews from the rest of the public. This quote "A building where/ the hundred and fifty Jews of our town who," lets the readers know that the setting of this poem was probably the ghetto (Sltusky 1065). Polina, Slutsky's grandmother, probably led a very hard life there. Conditions in the Ghettos included overcrowding, lack of food, lack of sanitation and brutality by the Nazi guards.
The train ride itself was horrid. A hundred to a hundred thirty Jews were crammed to one train car. They had no food, water or bathrooms for days or even weeks. Due to these conditions Jews died from dehydration and many illness due to feces. The trains were so packed that those who died, died standing up because there was nowhere for them to fall. When the trains stopped at a concentration camp they were hurried off. All of there belongings were taken or left on the train. Clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, shoes and even gold teeth were taken. Nazis had two separate lines, one for men and one for women. After these lines were formed they were forced to strip their clothes. After this the Germans separated the fit from the unfit. These people were usually women, children, and the elderly. The unfit Jews were told that they were going to be showered for hygiene purposes. In reality they were sent to the gas chambers ("Belzec"). During this time a lady named Helena Jurczak lived near the Belzec camp. "The transport came one after another, the people got off the trains and went straight into the camps. An orchestra played waltzes all the time, but you could hear the screaming and the shouting," she said. Helena also remembers the smell of burning flesh when she peered into the camp. (LeBor 2).
Event Slutsky's grandmother Polina revolted against the Nazi soldiers, "My seventy-year-old grandmother/ began to curse and/ scream at the Germans;" (Slutsky 1065). As she screamed at them others from the town began to notice and cheered her on. "From every window then/ Ivanovans and Andreyevans/ Sidorovnans and Petrovnas/ sobbed: You tell them, Polina" Due to this the Nazis shot her right there. They killed a woman who was defenseless. This not only shows how the Nazis were cowards but also of how cruel they were. Even though the Nazis murdered Polina she made an impact on the other Jews lives. She showed them that they could stand up for themselves and have hope. The Jews were put through living hell during the Holocaust. They were forced to live in the ghettos where they were beaten, starved and killed. The ghettos were not as bad as the concentration camps however. Here they were not only starved and beaten, but forced to work. The living conditions here were also worse. They had to sleep in barracks with no room to move. Many got sick due to the unsanitary conditions. If they were unable to work then they were killed. Jews were mostly killed in gas chambers, but were also killed by mass shootings. Yet no matter what happened the Jews fought for their freedom. They stood up for themselves, like Slutsky grandmother. As the Nazis became crueler and did more immoral things the Jews had hope. They were not going to stand idle and see their race disappear. These Jews were not going to die without a fight.
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