The Holocaust Research Paper

1908 Words May 15th, 2012 8 Pages
The Holocaust

Anti-Semitism in Europe did not begin with Adolf Hitler. Though use of the term itself

dates only to the 1870s, there is evidence of hostility toward Jews long before the

Holocaust--even as far back as the ancient world, when Roman authorities destroyed the

Jewish temple in Jerusalem and forced Jews to leave Palestine. The Enlightment, during

the 17th and 18th centuries, emphasized religious toleration, and in the 19th century

Napoleon and other European rulers enacted legislation that ended long-standing

restrictions on Jews. Anti-Semitic feeling endured, however, in many cases taking on a

racial character rather than a religious one.

The roots of Hitler's particularly virulent brand
…show more content…
In September 1939, the German army occupied the

western half of Poland. German police soon forced tens of thousands of Polish Jews from their

homes and into ghettoes, giving their confiscated properties to ethnic Germans (non-Jews outside

Germany who identified as German), Germans from the Reich or Polish gentiles. Surrounded by

high walls and barbed wire, the Jewish ghettoes in Poland functioned like captive city-states,

governed by Jewish Councils. In addition to widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger,

overpopulation made the ghettoes breeding grounds for disease such as typhus.

Meanwhile, beginning in the fall of 1939, Nazi officials selected around 70,000

Germans institutionalized for mental illness or disabilities to be gassed to death in the so-

called Euthanasia Program. After prominent German religious leaders protested, Hitler

put an end to the program in August 1941, though killings of the disabled continued in

secrecy, and by 1945 some 275,000 people deemed handicapped from all over Europe

had been killed (Jewish virtual Library). In hindsight, it seems clear that the Euthanasia Program

functioned as a pilot for the Holocaust. Throughout the spring and summer of 1940, the German

army expanded Hitler's empire in Europe, conquering Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands,

Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

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