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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

I made the above video in memory of the six million souls murdered by Hitler and his Nazi followers.

To say that the Holocaust of European Jewry (1933-1945) is an unprecedented episode in the history of the Jewish nation is not merely an understatement. It is an inaccuracy of the greatest magnitude, for such an event is unmatched in any recorded history. Millions of Jewish people suffered for twelve years under the terror of Nazi rule, where anti-Jewish propaganda, segregation, and then murder were the norm.

Though there are other cases in history of Genocide, the Holocaust was characterized by its methodical, systematic, efficient, almost scientific murder of any person with Jewish roots. Assimilation or conversion offered no protection in this situation.

At the core of the Holocaust we find modern anti-Semitism, the current version of Jew Hatred - that same phenomenon which appeared throughout the centuries, perhaps finding its most blatant manifestation with the medieval Church. The modern German anti-Semitism was based on racial ideology which stated that the Jews were sub-human (untermensch) while the Aryan race was ultimately superior. The Jew was systematically portrayed as a low-life, as untouchable rot (faulniserscheinung) and as the main cause of Germany's problems.

Germany had major problems resulting from World War I. The Weimar Republic, which was established on the ruins of the defeated Germany, had relinquished land on almost all fronts, had succumbed to military jurisdiction under the Allies, and was forced to pay reparations beyond the prevalent economic capabilities. The rocketing inflation and economic insecurity became even worse with the advent of the Great Depression of 1929. By 1932, unemployment in Germany peaked, and it was in this economic and political climate that Adolf Hitler established the Nationalist-Socialist Party (with Mein Kampf as its manifesto). With Hitler's rise to power in 1933 began the national policy of organized persecution of the Jews.

The subsequent Holocaust of European Jewry can be divided into four periods of time:

1. 1933-1939: The aim of the Nazis during this time was to "cleanse" Germany of her Jewish population (Judenrein). By making the lives of the Jewish citizenry intolerable, the Germans indirectly forced them to emigrate. The Jewish citizens were excluded from public life, were fired from public and professional positions, and were ostracized from the arts, humanities, and sciences. The discrimination was anchored in German anti-Jewish legislation such as the Nurnburg Laws of 1935. At the end of 1938, the government initiated a pogrom against the Jewish inhabitants on a particular night which came to be known as Kristallnacht. This act legitimized the spilling of Jewish blood and the taking of Jewish property. The annexation of Austria in 1938 (Anschluss) subjected the Jewish population there to the same fate as that in Germany.

2. 1939-1941: During this time, the Nazi policy took on a new dimension: The option of emigration (which was anyway questionable because of the lack of countries willing to accept Jewish refugees) was brought to a halt. The Jew-hatred, which was an inseparable part of Nazi policy, because even more extreme with the outbreak of World War II. As the Nazis conquered more land in Europe, more Jewish populations fell under their control: Jews of Poland, Ukraine, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, etc. The Jews were placed in concentration camps and compelled to do forced labor. Ghettos were set up in Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states in order to segregate the Jewish population. In the camps and ghettos, great numbers of Jews perished because of impossible living conditions, hard labor, starvation, or disease.

Hitler's political police force, the Gestapo, had been founded two months after the Nazi rise to power. It became the most terrifying and deadly weapon of the Nazi government, and was used for the destruction of millions of Jews.

3. June 1941 - fall 1943: This was the time during which the Nazis began carrying out the Final Solution to the Jewish problem. Systematic genocide of the Jewish people became official Nazi policy as a result of the Wannsee Conference (Jan. 1942). Special task forces, known as Einsatzgruppen, would follow behind the German army and exterminate the Jewish population of newly conquered areas. In this manner, entire Jewish communities were wiped out. At this point, many concentration camps which had been set up shortly after the Nazi rise to power, became death camps used for the mass-murder of Jews in gas chambers. Some of the more well-known extermination camps were Auschwitz, Chelmno, Bergen-Belsen, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, and Belzec.

4. 1943 - May 1945: The beginning of 1943 was a turning point in the war. This time saw the gradual collapse of the Third Reich until its ultimate surrender on May 7th, 1945. Despite the weakened position, the Nazis continued with their plan of destruction of the Jewish population in the ghettos and camps still under their control. As the Soviet army proceeded westward, the Nazis hastened the destruction of the Jews and then of their own facilities in order to cover the tracks of their crimes. In the fall of 1944, the Nazis began the evacuation of Auschwitz, and in January 1945, Himmler commanded to evacuate (by foot) all camps toward which the Allied forces were advancing. In this so-called "Death march", tens of thousands of more Jewish lives perished.

In the Holocaust, approximately 6 million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered.

It is important to note that the success of the Nazi machine could not have been so great were it not for the cooperation of the local populations of the conquered territories such as Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and even western countries such as France. On the other hand, there were cases of governments and individuals who did their best at risk to their own lives to save the Jews. One such example was the organized evacuation from Denmark of the Jewish population to Sweden.

Following the war, many have asked why the Jews succumbed to the Nazis like "sheep to the slaughter." One cannot ignore the many shows of resistance among the Jews to their fate: The Jewish Partisans who fought in the forests of Eastern Europe, the Jews who joined forces with the local underground resistance, and the uprisings in ghettos and in concentration camps.

There is no doubt that the Holocaust accelerated the establishment of the State of Israel. As a result of the great catastrophe which occurred to the Jewish people, many nations realized that establishing a state was a necessary step for the protection of and the expiation for the Jewish people.

With the end of the war and unconditional surrender of Germany, international military courts were set up for the quick trials and sentencing of the Nazis for their war crimes against the Jewish people and against all humanity. (One of the better known is the Nurnberg Trials.) In 1960, the Israeli Mossad captured one of the greatest war criminals, Adolf Eichmann, in Argentina. He was brought to Jerusalem where he was tried and sentenced to death.

In 1951, the Knesset declared that the 27th day of Nissan is to be Holocaust Day, a day of commemoration of the Jews who perished and for those who showed resistance and heroism. In 1959, the Knesset passed the law of Holocaust Day.

Every year, since 1989, the Knesset (in cooperation with "Yad Vashem") performs the ceremony of "Everyone Has a Name" in which the names of all of the holocaust victims are read out loud.

Source: The Holocaust

And for those of you who say, "Never Again" I would remind you that there are people trying to wipe Jews from the face of the earth today. They are called Muslims.

Bear witness:

Watch a presentation regarding the heirs of Hitler at The Islamic Mein Kampf.