Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Over one million Jewish children were killed in the genocide, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men. A network of over 40,000 concentration camps in Germany and German-occupied territory were used to hold, and kill Jews, Romanians, homosexuals, and people with disabilities. Once in a concentration camp victims were forced into labor, starved, raped and eventually gassed to death.
Recent estimates based on figures obtained since the fall of the Soviet Union indicate some ten to eleven million civilians and prisoners of war were intentionally murdered by the Nazi regime.
The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Various laws to remove the Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, were enacted in Germany before the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The Nazis required Jews and Romani be confined in overcrowded ghettos before being transported by freight train to concentration camps. Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar has called “a genocidal state.”
How did Germany, which was a democracy looking for economic security, get to the stage it did in WWII systematically murdering on mass? Why? How do other countries contribute to the problem? How do the survivors and their decedents deal with the legacy?
How did the soldiers that helped liberate Europe cope with the fighting, with shell shock, with returning home after being involved in such a life-changing event?
Many of the same elements that led to WWII survive today. It is our duty to reflect and understand more about this turbulent time. A time that brought the best out in everyday people, a time that also saw the worst in some. The Allies fight for democratic freedoms over a Nazi regime is a period in history that should never be forgotten.
This blog is dedicated to highlighting books of the Holocaust and WWII, so we can pass the knowledge to new generations and learn from our past.
If anyone has a book that they wish to post please contact me, Ramona at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Just send me a review of the book. Thanks for sharing.