Why did the Nazis treatment of the Jews change from 1939-45? Essay

From 1933 to 1939 the Jewish race were treated horrifically by the German society and their leader. The discrimination to begin with was quite mild merely by anti-Semitic behaviour towards all Jews, but rapidly progressed further with the Nuremberg laws, restricting them from certain places and even forbidding ‘mixed blood’ marriages so it would save the Germans from corruption. Violence was not used until Kristallnacht took place during 9-10th November 1938. Property was destroyed and Jewish citizens were attacked and the Jewish people had to pay for all damage.

However the treatment drastically worsened leading the ‘final solution’ in 1942. Hitler invaded many countries for example Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Soviet Union and even parts of Germany. However Hitler’s first invasion act was against Poland on September 1st 1939. Around this time there were 3. 3 million Jews living there, such a large number that Hitler decided he should open ghettos in order to resettle them along with the rest of the Jews he had under his control. The smallest ghetto housed approximately 3,000 people.

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Warsaw, the largest ghetto, held 400,000 people. Walls were built around the Warsaw ghetto to separate the ghetto district from the rest of the city, and the only way in and out was by a guarded bridge if anyone attempted to cross it execution would be enforced immediately. Typhus was one of the main killers in the ghettos as the living conditions were so poor. Bodies of the dead were piled up in the gutters and on the streets waiting to be removed to mass graves. All together half a million Jews died in the ghettos

One of the most brutal invasions Germany saw under Hitler’s reign was the invasion of the USSR in June 1941. The Einsatzgruppen, under the control of the Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler followed the German army with the SS and their main assignment was to slaughter all Jews- men, women and children they came across. Altogether they ended up murdering over two million people. They were split up into four groups, A B C and D, and would unload Lorries of people full to capacity, and order them to undress then stand in a line over the mass graves.

SS men would walk down the line shooting them in the back so they would fall straight into the graves, about 1000 bodies would fill the graves. The invasion of Poland triggered England and France declaring war on Germany, Hitler then decided that Jewish men and woman would come into use for slave labour. The first concentration camps were temporary prisons set up by the SS and SA in disguised factories or hastily erected barbed wire enclosures in the country side.

Millions of Jews and undesirables were taken from their homes and squashed into cattle carts to be transported to the camps; it was so full that many died travelling to the camps from lack of oxygen and heart attacks. When arriving at the camps they would be lined up where their fate of dying or working would be decided. If they worked they would work building weapons for the war, and even build the ovens in which were used against them later on. Life in the camps was indescribable; the prisoners were starved, and kept in inhumane conditions waiting for their chance to be killed.

Heinrich Himmler was the head of the SS and set up these camps, he oversaw what was happening in them but however let his team of SS guards treat them how they please, and let them decide who lived and died. In January 1942 a meeting was held named the ‘wansee conference’, 15 Nazi senior bureaucrats attended led by reinhard heinrich head of the SS and Gestapo. The meeting was based around ‘the final solution’ a plan which would exterminate all the Jewish citizens in Europe. The Germans decided the Jewish prisoners were not needed as they were convinced they had won the war.

A couple of months after the meeting, the first gas chambers were installed at Auschwitz. The Sonderkommando, a group of Jewish prisoners who had the job of to clearing out the gas chambers once those inside had been murdered. They then had to dispose of the bodies under supervision of SS guards or guards. The Sonderkommando had to remove gold teeth from the victims, work in the crematoriums, burning the bodies. By doing this they would lengthen their lives by about four months, which is when the new team would swap with them and they would be shot through the head.

At the Death camps, various methods of elimination were used. To begin with the gas in the chambers was Carbon monoxide, but was soon replaced with zyklon B as the outcome of this was to traumatising to the SS guards as it resulted to bleeding and slow death. Once the Jews were removed from the chambers, the Sonderkommando would get to work with removing anything valuable from the corpse. This included gold teeth, pubic hair for the army and navies insulation, and teeth to be used by dentist. Throughout Hitler’s rule over Germany the Jewish race were penalised simply for being a different race.

Adolf Hitler brainwashed the German population into believing the Jews were evil by blaming the great depression on them as they were wealthy. Anti-Semitic behaviour began early in his rein and soon became Laws to follow what Hitler preaches, with the act of the Nuremberg laws. Kristallnacht in 1938 was when Hitler’s hatred became violent, but no one believed it would result in the extermination of the entire race. The treatment changed to the final solution in 1941 as Adolf Hitler believe in the Nazi Ideology and thought the Jewish race was worthless.


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