The significance of the major causes of the Holocaust and Nazi policies towards the Jews
In 1939, under the orders of Adolf Hitler, the German army invaded Poland and the Second World War began. Many of the Jews in Europe had fled from the Nazis and had sought the relative safety of Poland. The Nazis hatred of the Jews had started when Hitler had come to power and was able to spread his word. Slowly many people began to listen to Hitler and so his hatred was spread and the invasion of Poland and expansion in Europe was planned. Hitler wanted to invade Poland for two reasons. Number one was to expand Germany and to gain what he believed was his.
Number two was to rid Europe of the Jews. Before the invasion of Poland however, were a number of events in which the Jews had been racially abused and discriminated for what they believed. One of the first main events was the Nuremberg Party where Hitler and his officials devised the Nuremberg Race Laws on September 15,1935. These were a set of laws against and discriminating the Jews, telling them what they could and more importantly could not do. The laws did not define someone as a Jew just in a religious sense but also in a relation and society sense too.
For example in Nazi terms a Jew could be a person with three Jewish Grandparents even if they did not pray or worship in that religion. Even if you lived in a Jewish Society or had Jewish friends you could be arrested or even killed yourself. For a few weeks after the conference many Nazis campaigned against the Jews as even before the laws, many people blamed the Jews for many things in German Society but they didn’t know how to express their anger, when the laws were released many German Nazis found an excuse to discriminate the Jews. This led to the government stepping up laws against Jews.
The Nazis called this “Aryanising” Germany. An example of the Nuremberg Laws “for the protection of German blood and honour”, is, “Jews may not employ in their households female subjects of the state of German or related blood who are under forty five years old. ” The reason this was important is that if the laws had not been passed many Nazis would probably have kept their feelings to themselves, if not at least be less racial and abusing towards the Jews. It is possible that even though the main holocaust may not have been able to be avoided, thousands less Jews or so called Jews may not have been killed.
In 1938 another important event happened. Nicknamed, “The Night of the Broken Glass”, “Kristallnacht”, was another relatively important event in the Nazi policy towards the Jews. The night of November 9, violence across the Reich broke out. The event seemed to be unplanned by the Germans and was pledged against the Jews. This was because the German’s were angry over the assassination of a German Official whose name was Ernst Von Rath. A “Jewish” teenager had killed him although it was never found if this was an excuse by the Germans to start an attack on the Jews.
Although Goebbels had made a bitter attack against the Jews in a speech when he heard of Von Rath’s death. In two days, over 1,000 Synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses smashed up and robbed and many people killed, including many non-believers. This was an important event because it meant that not only did the Jews know that the Nazis now had more power over them but that if the Nazis had done it and no-one had complained then they knew they could get away with it and no one would stop them. But it was true that if the Nuremberg Race Laws had not been enforced then the night of Kristallnacht may never have happened.
The Nazis knew that if Officials or the government did not enforce discrimination of Jews, they would not have done it themselves because it would have been looked down upon and they might have been arrested. One of the other important events was the German invasion of Poland. This was what “pulled the trigger” of the Second World War as the Allies thought that Hitler had gone too far. Many Jews had fled to Poland because they knew that under the new government that they would be discriminated if they did not move. Many of them never thought that the Allies would let Hitler touch Poland let alone invade it.
During the occupation of Poland many camps were set up. The first ones were to house the Jews and get them out of the way. But Hitler found a new way to insult and discriminate the Jews. He built concentration camps that he used as detention centres. Jews were sent there to be discriminated and made vulnerable. Hitler found that he could kill the Jews and no one of importance would complain. He built death camps and the main Holocaust had begun. Hitler began finding new ways to hurt the Jews, these ranged from slave labour and point blank shooting to gas chambers and mass cremation.
This was possibly the biggest step so far in the Nazi policy to the Jews. This was the main country where the Jews were being most abused mainly because there was so many of them. Another important event was the invasion of the USSR. There was a specific reason for doing this. First Hitler wanted to expand what he thought was rightfully his and also because he knew that there where many Communists in the USSR. Hitler, because of his racial attitude thought that most Communists were Jews. This as we know is not true although many Jews were persecuted in Russia.
When Poland was invaded by the Germans the Russian Jews were petrified, as they knew that if Hitler could get his hands on Poland he would gladly try to lay a hand on Russia too. But even when Hitler did invade they weren’t ready. The invasion of Russia and the discrimination of so-called Jews there, is almost as important as the invasion of Poland. But Hitler would never have laid a hand on Russia if he knew he couldn’t get to Poland. Another decisive event in the outcome of the Second World War and the German discrimination and harm of Jews was the Wannsee Conference and the “Final Solution” in 1942.
The Final Solution was the Nazi planned massacre, genocide and destruction of all European Jews. This was what Hitler had mainly wanted all along as he despised all the Jews. The Wannsee Conference was the place the Final Solution was formally revealed to non-Nazi leaders who would help arrange for the Jews to be transported from occupied Europe to Poland where the death camps were. No one at the conference rejected this. This is important because this was the decision to kill off a whole race of people in Europe and to “aryanise” it. This would be the end of the Holocaust but the beginning of mass murder and massacre.
This may not have happened if Hitler was not able to get his hands on Poland as then he would have not been able to get himself Russia and would not have been able to plan the final solution. If he had done, the amount of Jews killed would have been much less than it was. A conclusion to say which was the most important and how, is that I think that most of the events are linked together but the most important is the German Invasion of Poland. I think this because even though when the Nuremberg Race laws were signed many people saw that they were able to persecute the Jews it was Poland that really started the problem.
This is because if Hitler had never got his hands on Poland because the Allies had stopped him then he would never have dared to reach out to Russia and abuse the Jews even more than they were. The Final Solution may not have been thought up, as they would not have all the Jews in Europe at their disposal. The reason I don’t think that it is an event such as Kristallnacht is that although it happened throughout the majority of Germany it was a relatively local area that it happened in. By this I mean that if Hitler had already invaded Poland and Russia and it happened there as well it would have been much worse but much more important.
The Nuremberg Race Laws did not immediately affect the Jews but apprehended them instead. Kristallnacht didn’t happen on a European scale therefore did not affect any Jews in Russia or Poland but the invasion of Poland to the Nazis meant that they could get away with stealing land and they could easily change their policies because they could get away with it. If the Allies had not let Hitler get Poland a lot of trouble would have been saved and the Wannsee Conference and Final Solution would never have been planned, if so on a much more minor scale.
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