Major effects of the Holocaust?


When World War II erupted in 1939, Americans believed the extremities of the war laid in the hands of the fallen solders. Not until the last stages of war in 1943, would Americans discover Hitler’s “final solution to the Jewish question”, which was the extermination of not only Jews, but Gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone deemed an “inferior race”. The Holocaust would prove to effect all aspects of life, including, Germany’s political, social, and historical reputation which was previously known for having an outstanding education system at all levels, especially from 1880-1933, when it was the world leader in scientific and academic research. The Holocaust transformed the world by socially displaying the ultimate form of racism, politically creating new agencies in response, and historically changing the view of the Germans in the eyes of the world.

Beginning in 1933, Nazis under the command of Hitler, began murdering as many Jews as possible, along with whomever Hitler deemed “undesirable”. Hitler believed that the Jews were the cause for all the troubles in the world and believed they stood in the way of his “master race”, which was a tall, blonde haired, blue eyed human. A distinctive feature of Nazi genocide was the extensive use of human subjects in "medical" experiments. The most notorious of these physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes, and various amputations and other surgeries. Another form of Hitler’s atrocities were his concentration camps he established for prisoners and the “undesirable”. Though the death rate in the concentration camps was high, with a mortality rate of 50%, they were not designed to be killing centers. (By 1942, six large extermination camps had been established in Nazi-occupied Poland, which were built solely for mass killings.) After 1939, the camps increasingly became places where Jews and POWs were killed or made to work as slave laborers, undernourished and tortured. It is estimated that the Germans established 15,000 camps and sub camps in the occupied countries, mostly in Eastern Europe. New camps were founded in areas with large Jewish, Polish intelligentsia, communist, or Roma and Sinti populations, including inside Germany. The transportation of prisoners was often carried out under horrifying conditions using rail freight cars, in which many died before reaching their destination.

Politically, during the war, the U.S. government revealed very little as to the true extent of the atrocities occurring in the concentration camps. Liberal magazines such as the Nation, attempted to display the horrifying reality of the Holocaust, but major newspapers such as the New York Times and Time Magazine depicted the Nazi genocide as minor news. Leaders of the American Jewish community, who were better educated on the action carried out by the Nazis, had sent numerous petitions to Roosevelt asking him to allow the German Jews to immigrate to the United States for safety: both Congress and Roosevelt denied their petitions. Finally, in 1944, Roosevelt an executive order creating the War Refugee Board, which provided aid to victims of Nazi Germany. Finally when solders invaded the concentration camps, the true extent of Nazi depravity was revealed to the American public. Since the League of Nations had failed in preventing a second world war, the United Nations was formed. The European Union was also formed after World War II. Actually, they began to work on it before the war even began, but it didn't have any real steam until Europe wanted to heal the wounds of the war. So they formed the European Union, which got its leg up when Churchill gave support for it a year after World War II ended.

After World War II, instead of reprimanding Germany, the victorious Allies made every effort to help rebuild Germany and to re-establish a strong government and a strong economy (this was true in West Germany in particular, in East Germany the Soviets were not quite so forgiving). The Allies used vast amounts of economic aid (under a program called the Marshall Plan) to rebuild German industry and infrastructure. In a sense, this was a reflection of a different philosophy regarding who was actually responsible for the war. After the First WW, the allies essentially tried to hold the entire German nation responsible for the war. After the Second WW, they only held the leaders of Germany responsible, not the entire nation. Also, upon the ending of the Second World War, the Allies, France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, arrived to occupy the war-torn and defeated Germany. The Allies viewed themselves as the “victors” as opposed to the liberators of the German people. Security of the Allies and reconstruction were the two main concerns of the victors. Actions made in order to fulfill these two goals, as well as the effects of war itself made for a difficult life for the Germans which in no way mirrored the country in the pre-war era. To fulfill the first goal of security, the Allies arrested people whom they believed threatened security. In 1945, The United States made 117,500 arrests, Britain 90,000-100,000, French 21,500, and the Soviet Union 122,671 (of which 42,889 died in internment camps and 766 were executed). Prisoners of War taken by British and Americans were relatively lucky as the majority survived and were released by 1948. The USSR on the other hand took their POWs and deported them to the Soviet Union where the last ones returned in 1955; many still remain unaccounted for. The Allies imposed strict curfews and confiscated items that were deemed a threat to their lives.