why is the holocaust important to history

Anti-Semitism in Europe did not begin with. Though use of the term itself dates only to the 1870s, there is evidence of hostility toward Jews long before the HolocaustБeven as far back as the ancient world, when Roman authorities destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and forced Jews to leave Palestine. The, 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. Did You Know? Even in the early 21st century, the legacy of the Holocaust endures. Swiss government and banking institutions have in recent years acknowledged their complicity with the Nazis and established funds to aid Holocaust survivors and other victims of human rights abuses, genocide or other catastrophes. The roots of HitlerБs particularly virulent brand of anti-Semitism are unclear. Born in Austria in 1889, he served in the German army during. Like many anti-Semites in Germany, he blamed the Jews for the countryБs defeat in 1918. Soon after the war ended, Hitler joined the National German WorkersБ Party, which became the National Socialist German WorkersБ Party (NSDAP), known to English speakers as the Nazis. While imprisoned for treason for his role in the
of 1923, Hitler wrote the memoir and propaganda tract БMein KampfБ (My Struggle), in which he predicted a general European war that would result in Бthe extermination of the Jewish race in Germany. Б Hitler was obsessed with the idea of the superiority of the БpureБ German race, which he called БAryan,Б and with the need for БLebensraum,Б or living space, for that race to expand. In the decade after he was released from prison, Hitler took advantage of the weakness of his rivals to enhance his partyБs status and rise from obscurity to power.


On January 20, 1933, he was named chancellor of Germany. After President Paul von HindenburgБs death in 1934, Hitler anointed himself as БFuhrer,Б becoming GermanyБs supreme ruler. British troops guard Alex Pickowski, Camp Commandant of Dechau concentration camp P The discovery of Belsen brought home the shocking truth about Nazi atrocities, but the facts had been known for some time. As early as the summer of 1941, British signals intelligence had intercepted and decoded radio messages from German police units co-operating with the Einsatzgruppen, and details of the killings of Jews were included in the monthly summaries that were sent to Churchill. Churchill responded with a speech on August 24 1941 in which he called the massacres 'a crime without a name' but erroneously identified the victims as 'Russian patriots defending their native soil'. Otherwise, these facts were not made public. In June 1942, a report from the Jewish Workers' party in Poland reached London. The report described the massacres in the east and estimated that 700,000 Jews had been killed; but when a Polish courier mentioned this number to a British journalist he was advised to 'drop a zero or two' if he wanted to be believed. Another Polish courier, Jan Karski, reached the west in November 1942, carrying messages from Jewish leaders in Poland. He had himself witnessed the conditions in the Warsaw ghetto and in what he believed to be the Belzec death camp, and was eager to inform the world. Karski saw the British foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, and US President Roosevelt, but they seemed to be more interested in military intelligence than in atrocity stories. Partly as a result of Karski's mission, however, the Allies agreed to a joint declaration, read to the British Parliament on 17 December, which acknowledged Nazi war crimes and threatened punishment for the perpetrators.


Subsequently millions of leaflets were dropped in the course of bombing raids on German cities to inform Germans of the facts, but these had little or no effect. By the spring of 1944, detailed descriptions of the killing operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau received from escaped prisoners were published. This prompted calls for the camp or its railway approaches to be bombed, but these proposals were rejected on technical grounds. Britain's attitude to Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled areas was strongly influenced by its role as the mandatory power in Palestine, where it had to mediate between Jewish and Arab interests. In December 1941, the Struma, a ship carrying 769 Jewish refugees, left the Romanian port of Constantsa hoping to reach Palestine. Towed into Istanbul harbour when its engines failed, it became the subject of diplomatic discussions between Britain and Turkey. Britain's chief concern was to discourage what it regarded as an undesirable traffic, and it proposed that the ship be returned to Romania. After ten weeks of wrangling the Struma was towed out to sea, its engines still disabled, where it was sunk by a Soviet submarine. There was one survivor. Jewish refugees were the subject of two international conferences, at Evian in 1938 and Bermuda in 1943. Neither conference resulted in any concrete action. In general, Britain treated refugees from Nazi Germany as economic migrants, and took in only those who would be of economic benefit to the country. About 10,000 Jewish children were brought to Britain in 1939 under the Kindertransport scheme, and placed with British families, but their parents were excluded and had to pay for their children's support. The best that can be said for Britain's refugee policy is that it was less ungenerous than that of most other European states at the time.

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