The Nazis came into power that January and their belief was that German’s were racially superior to everyone else and anyone who was not German was considered inferior or as they called them, aliens. The groups mainly targeted included: Jewish, Roma/Gypsies, Slavic (Polish, Russian, etc.), Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and mentally and physically disabled. People were also targeted for their political and ideological views. In the end, it didn’t matter what you were. If you weren’t a Nazi, you were targeted, adult and child. The people whom were targeted were murdered in concentration camps, marches, gas chambers and more. Those who weren’t murdered died from disease, starvation and malnutrition.
Among those who were in the safety of being a non-targets by the Holocaust, were the hero’s who risked their lives to hide Jewish families from Nazi soldiers. Miep Gies risked her life everyday for two years to hide a girl named Anne Frank, her family and four others. Hiding people from soldiers was considered a crime that was considered punishable by arrest or death. On August 4, 1944, the soldiers came to her house and found the families. Miep tried bribing and fighting the soldiers but they still arrested the families and not her. After the soldiers left, Miep found Anne Frank’s diary on the floor. She promised herself that she would make Anne’s story known and that she did. The whole world is very familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank. This book was made in 54 different languages, sold more than 25 million copies, read in most schools and is known as the most read book all over the world after the Bible.
The Holocaust however didn’t end until May 7, 1945, after 12 years of killings. The Nazi’s had finally surrendered to the Allied Powers. At the beginning of the Holocaust, there were over 9 million Jews in Europe. When the Holocaust was over, only 1 out of every 3 remained. Those who remained alive were cared for by the Allied Powers in Displaced Persons Camps until they decided where they were going to go. A majority of living migrated to Israel and the United States as well as some other nations as well.
Many survivors have shared their stories with the world so everyone would know what happened.
Elie Wiesel - He was 5 years old when the Holocaust started. He had survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. He was in a concentration camp until April of 1945 when he was liberated. His father had died a few months before in January. Elie was then in an orphanage until he moved to Paris to study journalism in 1948. He had seen and been through so much at such a young age and now he was about to write about it. Elie Wiesel published the books Night and Jews of Silence. He became chair for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
Jeannine Burk - At 3 years old, remembers living with a woman that she never knew the name of, occasionally being able to go in the backyard and Nazi parades where she had to hide in an outhouse in the far corner so no one could see her through the cracks. Her father had been thrown into the back of a truck while her mother had refused to leave her other daughter who had a bone disease. The troops left and said they would be back. After they left, her mother took her sister to a Catholic hospital that agreed to take her and keep her in the isolation ward (Nazi’s never went there). Her mother ran off to a nursing home in the country to work as a nurse. They all hid for two years before everyone, except for their father, was reunited.
The Holocaust is an example of what we see every day around the world. Turning on the news or reading a newspaper, a majority of what is heard and read are shootings, stabbings and beatings. Racism and stereotypes is not something someone just has, it something someone learns from others. A majority of the people who are doing these violent crimes are young in age. The question is, have these young crime doers ever heard of the Holocaust?