Written by Naman Sonpar, a grade 7 student
The word Holocaust means – “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war.”. This is what happened to the European Jews at the time of World War II (1939-1945).
Millions of Jews were murdered because of who they were, because of their religion. This period in history was called ‘The Holocaust.’ The word comes from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned).
Who did this?
The genocide was spearheaded by Germany’s cruel Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler. He believed that the Jews were an inferior race that should be eliminated.
As long as the Nazis ruled Germany, Jews were persecuted. Then, when World War II took place, Hitler found an excuse to kill them in big numbers. Hitler got, what were called, concentration camps constructed, where Jews were forcibly taken and killed. Some six million Jews, apart from 5 million others (who were targeted for many other reasons), were killed in the Holocaust.
There was Anti-Semitism before Hitler too. It can be traced as far back as the ancient world when Romans attacked Jewish temples in the city of Jerusalem and forced the Jews to leave Palestine.
Why did Hitler hate the Jews?
It’s not very clear why Hitler had such hatred for the Jews. But some reasons can be seen.
He blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in World War I. Also, Hitler believed that the “pure” German race was superior – he called it the “Aryan” race and thought that this race needed living space. He wanted to eliminate all those who he thought were not pure.
He rose to power and, became the chancellor of Germany in 1933. Then in 1934, Hitler anointed himself as “Fuhrer,” meaning supreme leader – after which the lives of the Jews were hell.