The Holocaust

Over Seas

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Photo from Baltimoresun.com.

6 million Jews | 220,000 Gypsies | 70,000 Homosexuals | 250,000 Disabled People | 7 million Soviet Civillians | 3 million Soviet Prisoners of War

 

January 27th, is the international memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide that resulted in the murder of millions. 27th January is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

Hitler had made it perfectly clear in “Mein Kampf” what he thought of the so-called “untermenschen” (the sub-humans) but to most people, these were the thoughts of a madman and not ones to be taken seriously. However, during “Krystalnacht” in 1938 the Nazis had shown their desire to persecute the Jews and in the war Hitler had the opportunity to carry out his plan to rid Nazi-occupied Europe of all undesirables (from his point of view) and he concentrated his efforts in Eastern Europe. After the attack on Russia, murder squads from the SS moved behind the army and systematically wiped out towns and villages containing Russian people (the same people who had welcomed the German Army into Russia as liberators against the Russian leader Stalin). However, the process was slow and the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, was concerned that the men doing the evil deed were becoming demoralised shooting innocent civilians and he looked for another solution. The lead to the Final Solution decided at the infamous Wannsee Conference in 1942 when it was ordered that all Jews in Europe be killed in extermination camps. With due speed, German industrialists were required to design and produce ovens and gas chambers that would enable the mass murders to be carried out quickly and cleanly without involving German personnel too much.

The most infamous camps were at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Here Jews, Eastern Europeans (many of whom were also Jewish), gypsies and the physically and mentally handicapped were brought and murdered.For many years there has been an accepted figure for the number of Jews murdered – six million. As a result of recently found evidence, this figure is now being upgraded and some historians have put the figure as high as 7 to 8 million. To this day mass graves are still found in Russia of Jews murdered by the Einsatzgruppen (SS) and so the final figure may never be truly known. The gypsy community claims that 50% of all gypsies in Europe (21,000 out of 23,000 at Auschwitz, for example) were murdered while the number of handicapped people murdered is not really known. I haven’t been to Auschwitz-Birkenau but I’ve heard that no flowers grow there; surprise surprise. Beyond the Point will be remembering the tragic events of the Holocaust year after year.

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