Adams Paper

This essay has a total of 1692 words and 10 pages.

Adams Paper

Fuel…. Flame…. Fire…. Inferno…. Ash….

Historically, the word holocaust meant a religious rite in which an offering was
completely consumed by fire. In current times the word holocaust has changed to a darker
more tragic meaning and refers to more than a religious sacrifice. During World War II, a
fire raged throughout Eastern Europe. Guns, bombs, and military groups did not ignite this
fire. This fire burned intensely in the hearts of men -- sparked by centuries-old
prejudice. One man, Adolf Hitler, took this flicker of hatred and fanned the flames.
Hitler energized and stoked the embers, spreading them throughout Eastern Europe causing
widespread destruction in the pursuit of a perfect Aryan nation. Although the Holocaust is
measured over the course of twelve long years, it does not begin with the mass murder of
innocent victims. Michael Berenbaum, a survivor of the Holocaust believes, "Age-old
prejudice led to discrimination, discrimination to incarceration, incarceration to
elimination" (Altman 1). Thus, the progression of prejudice in the Holocaust began as a
flicker of hatred in the heart of a leader and became a blazing inferno consuming the
lives of the men, women, and children who crossed its radical path.

After World War I, the social climate in Germany was depressing. The German people were
humiliated by their country's defeat and by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The
financial depression that resulted left millions of individuals out of work. The German
government was weak, and the people sought new leadership. These conditions provided an
opportune setting for a new leader, Adolf Hitler, and his party, the National Socialist
German Workers Party. Hitler, reckless and powerful, was able to fan the flames of an
ancient hatred into a wild and out of control holocaust (Altman 12).

As with most hatred and prejudices, the hatred that fueled the Holocaust started with
verbal abuse. As soon as Hitler was named chancellor, he persuaded the cabinet to declare
a state of emergency allowing him to end all personal freedom. Among the rights lost were
freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of gathering. He then voiced his beliefs
in the supreme "Aryan" race. As his beliefs spread, spoken or verbal abuse escalated.
Those who were not considered to be of the perfect "Aryan" race were jeered and mocked.
Fred Margulies, a survivor of the Holocaust, recalls: " When I was about ten years old
there was a knock on my apartment-house door: and there was my best friend, Hans. And he
spat in my face, and he said 'Manfred, you dirty…Jew' my best friend changed overnight"
(Shulman 7). The Jews endured burning words tossed at them consistently. At first, they
were told Jews were not desired, and finally, they were told Jews were prohibited. Jews
were not the only ones attacked. Jehovah Witnesses, handicapped individuals, and
foreigners were also considered racially and genetically poor. These verbal attacks became
the match that would ignite a much bigger fire.

Verbal attacks sparked an avoidance of those considered undesirable. On April 1, 1933,
Hitler called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses. Nazi storm troopers stood in front
of stores owned by Jewish proprietors holding signs that warned: "Don't buy from Jews,"
"The Jews are our misfortune," and "Buy Aryan" (Bachrach 14). Many Jews lost their
businesses as a result of the boycott. Restaurant signs cautioned, "No Jews or Dogs
Allowed"(15). Radio broadcasts and newspapers became Nazi advertisement tools to spread
lies about the Jew. Schools taught that the Aryans were the most intelligent race.
Pictures were displayed showing the sizes of different brains and always depicted the
Aryan brain as the largest. Furthermore, the people were told it was a sin against the
German people, their ancestors, and the Aryans' future to associate with the Jews. The
Nazi Party distributed leaflets urging pure Germans to keep their distance from the Jews
and to shun the Star of David with great ridicule (Shulman 35).

The large-scale avoidance of the immoral Germans made German society more receptive to
legalized discrimination. The government was quick to pass laws that in essence torched
Jewish citizenship and their legal standing within society. The Nuremberg Laws prevented
immoral Germans from being citizens, owning property, or marrying pure Germans. These laws
were further rectified to include statutes prohibiting Jews from having public jobs or
going to public places such as parks, libraries, or theatres. The Jews were not permitted
to have telephones, ride public transportation, or serve in the armed forces. The laws
became so strict that Jews were allowed on public streets only on certain days. The
government even started regulating schools. Public schools were prohibited for Jews, and
private Jewish schools would later be included in the ban. Nazis forced all Jews to wear
the yellow Star of David. The middle name of each male was changed to Israel, and females
were called Sara (Bachrach 24).

Lare Heuman recalls that for Jews in Germany, "Life went on relatively normal, but more
signs went up quickly of what was to come" (Altshuler 117). The flame would turn into a
wild fire lashing out violently against both people and property. The violence was first
foreshadowed in the Nazi book burning of 1933. At a Nazi rally, more than 25,000
objectionable books were burned in one night. A Jewish poet predicted, "Where they burn
books, they would soon burn people" (Stern 2).

The first physical violence flared at Kristallnacht. On November 9, 1938, the Nazi
parties, aided by mobs of citizens, burned and wrecked about 200 synagogues and 800 shops
owned by Jewish proprietors. At least thirty Jews were killed during the tormenting rage,
which stoked the blaze of injustice. Public safety servants such as police and
firefighters were present to protect and save the Aryans and their nearby property and
holdings, while the Jews watched in horror (Bachrach 24). The Chicago Tribune headlines
blared the "Systematic destruction of Jewish property, looting, arson, and wholesale
arrest of Jews without official charges swept Germany today" (Altshuler 98). Violence
against the Jewish community got worse. Nazi violence against the world community also

The Nazi invasion of Poland and Russia set the stage for the beginning of mobile killing
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