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The Warsaw Ghetto.

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Introduction

History Assignment The Warsaw Ghetto The Final Solution was the planned culmination of Hitler's attempts to rid German -occupied Europe of the Jewish peoples during the Second World War- plans that he set in motion back in 1933, when he was appointed chancellor. Hitler began passing laws preventing Jews from gaining employment - Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service, (April) and owning farms - Entailed farm Law (Sept.). There were also a series of attacks and official boycotts on Jewish shops and business, with the Nazis also organizing the burning of books by Jewish authors, and in 1935 the Nuremberg laws stripped the German Jews of their citizenship. The basis for this systematic alienation of one percent of the population came from Hitler's own opinion of the Jews. He believed them to be inferior, almost sub-human, and seen it as his mission, to save the"master race" from their pestilence. As well as the overt discrimination shown in the new laws being passed, the more insidious work of indoctrinating the German people into accepting his extreme views began. A task made easier by the national feeling of ante-Semitism that was rife after WW1. The Nazis propaganda machine headed by Goebbels depicted the Jewish people as grasping, evil and untrustworthy. They began to take over every type of national media, and in doing so controlled all public information. The German people were subjected to a daily diet of subliminal and overt propaganda- reinforcing their growing hatred of the Jews. And the Nazis didn't stop there, German children were also targeted; their history books were rewritten; new text books teaching Nazi ideology appeared in schools, and children at the age of ten where 'encouraged' to join Hitler's youth. Between 1933 and 1939, the Nazis policy concerning their 'Jewish problem' centered on voluntary emigration. But with the outbreak of war in 1939 this option closed; and because Germany's invasion of Poland had dramatically increased the numbers of Jews trapped inside their territory; another way of solving their 'problem' had to be found. ...read more.

Middle

Brutal scenes depict the angst and suffering that is almost impossible to dispel. In the faces of men, women and children you observe the gaunt, worn and weary expressions, that speaks more eloquently than words - the effects of trying to survive on 184 calories per day; you see the image of a Jewish woman hopelessly trying to unravel woolen garments to fashion newer ones, simply because the was nothing else to use. You also observe the effects of the chronic over-crowding, both inside dwellings and on the streets-and get a sense of the hopelessness and helplessness felt by the ghetto's inhabitants that was laid bare, as their 'shame' was exposed for all to witness. The Jews only relief from their living nightmarish existence was death - to become one of the skeletal bodies hauled onto carts and disposed of as rubbish. The first part of source D supports source A, backing up the grim reality with cold facts and figures. For a population of 500,000, there were 780 dwellings- 718 of which had no heating. The average occupancy was thirteen people to a room, with the remaining thousands left in the streets. (This statistic for me, puts into perspective how over-crowded 'living conditions' must have been). Along with the Nazis' systematic confiscation of property, and the fuel /food shortages, these facts paint a gloomy and bleak picture of life inside the ghetto. One of a people passively waiting to die. But there were sparks of life. The human spirit is indomitable- and even in the midst of their sufferings, the Warsaw Jews attempted to live a normal life, in abnormal circumstances. As the latter part of source D tells us, not all the population was over-whelmed by the poverty and sickness. They reproduced their cultural identity, with musical evenings, lectures etc. And according to source E, even went as far as to have their own governmental bodies. ...read more.

Conclusion

These words were written by revisionist historian, Daniel Goldhagen- himself the son of a Holocaust survivor, in his book "Hitler's Willing Executioners" 1996. This book is undoubtedly written from a Jewish perspective and therefore biased; but is there evidence to support his theory, or indeed disprove it? Certainly when you look back to the Nazi propaganda; posters, film, books, all depicting the Jewish population in derogatory ways; not to mention the Nuremberg Laws, Krystalnacht and the belief in 'Aryan superiority- you could be forgiven for thinking that all Germans upheld and assisted the Nazis. As I believe a large number did. However, you must also bear in mind that Germany was being run by a dictator. By a man who ruled by fear and intimidation, and counteracted any opposition to his plans with deadly force; both to the Jews, and his own German peoples. As most people possess an overwhelming desire to live. I believe the masses of German, Polish and other conquered European citizens, passively chose to ignore the genocide that surrounded them, in the hope that they themselves would survive. Just as the Jews themselves carry some guilt for what occurred; so the passive, selfish behavior from the Nazi - ruled masses, must also. I believe it was Churchill who said, 'All it takes for evil to flourish is for the good to do nothing'. Hitler shouldn't have been allowed to lead a nation without censure; his policies were widely recognised as being extreme and genocidal - and still no-one spoke out against him. In so doing, the German population gave unspoken permission for the slaughter of millions; and can't now with the gift of hindsight, reflection and rationalization, change history. They are all guilty to a greater or lesser degree of the genocide that occurred. As history has a habit of repeating itself; we had better learn the lessons harshly given in the Second World War. Jacqueline Ewing April 21, 2003. ...read more.

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