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Holocaust Essay, Research Paper

The Holocaust. A subject most people would like to forget but shouldn’t.

People must find out as much as possible about it so history won’t repeat

itself. Millions of Jewish men, women, and children , of all strata were

persecuted because of what? Nothing besides the fact that they were Jewish.

Most Jews living in Germany, Austria, Poland, France or practically

anywhere else in Europe were sent to concentration camps. There they were

either tortured or killed. In The book Devil in Vienna, by Doris Orgel, Inge a

young, intelligent Jewish girl is faced with the same types of problems. Being

Jewish at that time was no small problem. Instead of worrying what to wear

the next day, she would have to worry about whether or not her family would

be safe or taken to a concentration camp. Inge not only had to face the

problem of keeping her family together, she had to find a way to maintain a

friendship with her best friend Lieselotte. Lieselotte?s father was a Nazi and

forbade her to keep any contact with Inge, but the two girls would always

find a way to see or write to each other even when things were rough. Inges

father also began to disprove of their friendship and pretty soon if either one

were to mention the other?s name she would be punished. Yet the girls

refused to forget each other. One day Inge received the news. She was to

move away to Yugoslavia to escape Hitler?s regime. The girls promised to

never forget each other and they never did; even long after the war was over.

I think Doris Orgel did a wonderful job in portraying these girls as people

who would forget their differences and what others said in order to maintain a

close bond. I think She did this well because she lived in Austria at that same

time and had to leave several of her friends when she escaped to Yugoslavia.

If one were to look through the pages of a few holocaust books, they would

be sickened and would have to force themselves to continue. Horrorful

accounts of genocide, abuse, starvation, and death fill the pages of these

books telling stories about the suffering of Jews in concentration camps.

Concentration camps were setup throughout Europe for one single purpose:

to get rid of Jews. Many of these camps were kept secret in order to keep

people from acting against them. The people who did know about the

existence of these camps most likely were not aware of the number of killings

and the horrible living conditions. Jews who were sent to concentration

camps did not know what was coming to them. Camp living conditions were

atrocious. People sent to the camps were fed the very bare minimum, never

bathed, were frequently beaten, given the worst sleeping quarters, and killed

in mass numbers by carbon monoxide gassing, shooting and being cremated

alive. The people in charge of the camps were allowed to do anything they

pleased, no matter how violent and abusive. Often they would make Jews do

embarrassing and painful things just out of pure hatred, such as walk around

naked, dig their own grave before being shot, and work until they would die.

It may not seem true, but it is all too real, and it was caused almost

single-handedly by Hitler. Adolf Hitler, the man who was ultimately

responsible for having thousands of Jews executed, was born on April 20,

1889 in Austria-Hungary, one of five children from his father’s third marriage

(three died during childhood). He grew up in what we now call a “broken

home”. His father was a violent ill-tempered man who would frequently resort

to beatings to silence his children. His mother spoiled him with material

goods, maybe out of maternal anxiety. Although Hitler was never encouraged

to try his best, he was punished when he did not do well. This may explain

why he acted the way he did when he grew up. Hitler did not do much better

at school than he did at home. He was a poor student, not because he wasn’t

intelligent but rather because he never applied himself. His teachers often

complained that he was lazy and disrespectful. In 1905, two years after the

death of his father, as his situation at home worsened, Hitler dropped out of

school. After leaving school Hitler would spend his days roaming around the

streets and drawing anything which sparked his interest. Eventually he met

Kubizek, the man who would end up being his only true friend. Kubizek

recalled Hitler as a very disturbed young man with a gentle caring side. Hitler

finally decided to apply to art school, but when he was not accepted there he

fell into a deep depression an began to plot revenge against anyone who had

done any wrong to him. He would go to anti-Semitic meetings in abandoned

taverns and basements and eventually became the president of one of those

organizations. Anti-Semitic organizations grew larger with time and before

long Hitler got to run most of them. Members of anti-Semitic organizations

believed that Jews were bad and Germans were good and would not stop at

anything to carry out their beliefs. Hitler became totally obsessed with

anti-Semitism and although he said some outrageous things, for one reason or

anther people listened. Hitler had one main dream and that was to conquer

the world starting with his homeland, Austria. Austria was once a peaceful

country, with sweeping hillsides and quiet towns until one day – the day Adolf

Hitler rose to power in Germany. Soon he started invading neighboor

countries, and Austria was one of the first to feel its horrible effects. This

however did not happen suddenly and without warning. For several years the

Austrian government was slowly deteriorating as its socialist government was

loosing its grip of power. The Heimwehr, a fascist paramilitary organization

was gaining strength and eventually took over. After proposing a plebiscite in

1938, Kurt von Schuschnig was forced to resign by Hitler, and all other

political parties were abolished, except for the Fatherland Front. The

Anschluss (annexation) of Austria was completed on March 12, 1938,

before the plebiscite had a chance to take place. A Nazi government

immediatly took over, and Austria was divided into seven administrative

districts. This was around the time the holocaust began. In the meantime, the

Austrian economy continued to move in a downward slope. Austria remained

occupied by Germany during the entire Second World War. In 1943, with

the Allies beginning to push the German army backwards, an independent

Austria was considered one their goals. The Moscow Declaration signed by

the US, great Britain and the USSR stated this principle. By early 1945 the

Eastern part of Austria was liberated by the Soviet army, with the Western

part following a few months later. With the end of World War II, Austria

became free of Nazism, independent, neutral and began to rise once again.

Its industry, which had totally collapsed as result of the war, was helped with

funds from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and

the country started prospering again. While Skimming through a few research

books, I came across a very startling fact. While Jewish people were in

concentration camps, they were forced to dig their own mass graves then

stand in front of it to get shot in the head and fall in the pit that they dug. Any

Jews who were chosen to live had to pick up corpses of dead people strewn

about the camp and either bury them or cremate them. I also learned that

there were over one million Jewish men, women, and children who were sent

to concentration camps. However, not even two thirds of those Jews ever

made it out alive. Not all of the Jewish who were slain were killed in

concentration camps several of them were killed in public or sent to mobile

gassing chambers set up in vans. once in those chambers, they inhaled carbon

monoxide and other poisonous gasses. I always thought that the Holocaust

was a sad event, but the further along I got on my project, the harder it

became to continue. I learned that not only Jewish people were sent to

concentration camps, but also Gypsies, Blacks or anyone else who opposed

the Government or Hitler. These people were not treated as poorly as Jews

were, but still received beatings and were faced with partial starvation. Many

people would hide Jewish families in their homes, churches and businesses.

Those who did were wonderful people because by doing this they put their

own lives and families in danger. Anyone who was caught hiding a Jewish

person from the Nazis faced serious consequences. They were either sent to

jail or killed. The most interesting thing I learned was that although Aldof

Hitler was an antisemitist, his father and other relatives were Jewish .

Therefore, Hitler had a lot of Jewish blood.( He was almost one half Jewish.)

He also had brown hair and brown eyes. This does not comply with his belief

that the model German has blonde hair and blue eyes. His belief in this was

so strong that he even had people killed only solely based on the fact that

they did not meet “German Standards”. He was a very confusing man and

very few people understood his reasoning, but for some reason no one

seemed to argue when he decided to eliminate Jewish people from German

society by sending millions of them to concentration camps. The book,

Hitler’s Willing Executioners, had very detailed accounts of the horrendous

acts committed upon Jewish people by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Chapter by chapter was filled with facts and real life accounts of Jews and

Germans during that time period. It was very formally written and a bit hard

to comprehend, but it was also very informative. Chapter five spoke of

different ways of deceiving Jews into death. The camp officers would use

such tactics as claiming the Jews were to go into a room in which to shower

in when in fact those rooms were gassing chambers. Once in the chambers,

the Jews were exposed to toxic amounts of carbon monoxide and other

potent gasses and chemicals after a few breaths of air whomever was in those

chambers would die. Chapter nine was about the believed model German

characteristics. Almost all others who did not fit the standards were

considered to be bad and inferior to those who did meet the standards. The

perfect German person to many people (mostly Hitler) was wealthy, blonde

haired, blue eyed and definitely not Jewish. This is a paradox because Hitler

himself had brown hair and brown eyes. His father was Jewish which makes

Hitler part Jewish as well. This book supported most of the facts in the book

Devil in Vienna which proves that it was historically accurate. It however did

not back up certain incidents in the book. This is most likely because these

events were not actually recorded or did not even take place but other similar

events were recorded. Doris Orgel probably took facts from the recorded

events and created her own fictional scene. Although this project was very

time consuming, it taught me a lot about the history of the Holocaust era. The

book Devil In Vienna was very informative and historically accurate, yet it

was entertaining enough to keep me interested in my reading. It supported my

research on how Jewish people in Austria were discriminated against during

the events leading up to and during the Holocaust. The food that Inge and

other characters in the book ate were the same type of food many Jewish

people ate back then and still do. These dishes are meatless dishes prepared

in a certain way it is called kosher food. The events that took place in the

book such as the Plebiscite of Austria, and the Anschluss.(When the Nazi

Germans took control of Austria.) actually did take place in real life. The

author of the book, Doris Orgel was accurate in describing major and minor

events which took place in the 1930’s in Vienna, Austria. One event that is

described in the book is the Anschluss. This was when Aldof Hitler and the

Nazis took control of Austria, forcing the chancellor, Schuschnigg, to resign

and the national plebiscite to be canceled. The plebiscite was supposed to be

deciding on Austria’s independence, but since Hitler wanted to conquer

Austria he did everything he could to prevent it from taking place. All of the

facts the author listed in the book were supported by the research I did in the

library. I think she did a fantastic job of depicting the character’s thoughts and

emotions throughout the Holocaust just as a Jewish person at that same time

period would feel. In conclusion, I feel that I gained a better understanding of

the Holocaust. I also learned to manage my time during research days. I feel

that this project was a great step towards high school and its many long and

difficult assignments. I feel that I have done a good job and put forth a great

effort in this assignment. I hope all of my hard work will pay off not only with

a good grade but with a new knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust.

I believe I will come away from this with great sense of accomplishment and


BIBLIOGRAPHY Alder,David. We Remember the Holocaust. New York:

Henry Holt, 1989. “Austria.” Microsoft Encarta. 1995. Goldhagen,Daniel.

Hitler?s Willing Executioners. New York: Random House, 1997.

Marrin,Albert. Hitler. New York: Viking Penguin, 1987. Orgel,Doris. Devil

In Vienna. New York: Puffin, 1978. Rogasky,Barbra. Smoke and Ashes.

New York: Holiday House, 1988. Wepman,Dennis. Aldof Hitler. New

York: Chelsea House, 1985

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