Holocaust Analysis Essays

Example of a Argumentative essay on History about:

holocaust / jews / Adolph Hitler / World War II / anti-semitism

Essay Topic:

The tragic historical consequences of Holocaust for the Jews.

Essay Questions:

What is the meaning of the word Holocaust?

How did Adolph Hitler and the World War II influence the lives of the Jews?

How is anti-Semitism spread nowadays?

Thesis Statement:

Holocaust divided the lives of Jews into three periods: before, during and after it, which showed how hard was its hit.

 

Holocaust Essay

 

"…It is not a story of remarkable people. It is a story of just how remarkable people can be…"

Helmreich W.

Introduction: The word “Holocaust” came into our language from Greek. It is a word that was used to identify sacrifices that ancient Jews made to their God. During these sacrifices people were burnt in fire. This word is almost a synonym to “death”. Nowadays it evokes negative associations in the minds of the living people. Even if a person does not completely know what it is, though such things must not be forgotten, he still knows that it has to do with persecutions and taking lives.It seems that the times of Holocaust are already very far away from the point we are standing now, but everything is not as simple as it seems from the first sight. For many people this time will be something they will never forget, the time of struggle for an opportunity to survive. It was a time for fighting for the right to live, the time when Jews were killed just for “being Jews”, a time when a man with a “yellow star” was doomed. It took place in 1939-1945 and was introduced by Adolph Hitler, a man whose idea was to decontaminate the German race from all the minorities. Thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps, killed or vanished. It was the time of “monopoly on violence”(Torpey, 1997) towards the Jews. This World War II period made an enormous impact on the direction that was taken by the social relations between Jews and other nations. Holocaust divided the lives of Jews into three periods: before, during and after it, which showed how hard was its hit.”…Cats have nine lives, but we - we're less than cats, we got three. The life before, the life during, the life after…"(Joselit, 1995 p.1) Jew people lost loved ones; homes, lives and it took them quiet a time to renew the curative power of their belief.

The other main thing resulting from the Holocaust was the influence it had on future terrorism and the appearance of pure racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination. Holocaust the terrorists showed that the “big” goals could be achieved through any possible ways, when a life of a human being is not worth of anything. Many contemporary people deny this kind of influence but objectively thinking leads us to the understanding that the base of everything is an example. And this terrible example is still influencing our lives without us noticing it. The mass murderers that occurred back then did not only give people very negative examples but also they did enter the possibility of total genocide into our minds. Holocaust sowed “the emergence of terrorism in postwar societies”(Torpey, 1997 p.2). Those countries that were suppressed the most are the ones that nowadays face serious terrorism problems. And are the countries that produce the largest number of terrorist organizations.

The extermination of the European Jewry was made disgustingly open to the eyes of everybody; it had a special influence on children, causing deformation in their personalities. The Nazi Germans did not hesitate to kill for it was their “cleaning” national project, they propagandized eliminationist anti-Semitism. The national spirit and moral suffered a lot. Why do contemporary little children that do not even know anything about Holocaust may think that having a Jewish friend is not appropriate? It is just that he was unconsciously given the information that so many of these people were murdered for being Jewish, as a “punishment”. And the next thought that comes to the little brain is: If they were persecuted like that, how bad are they? Fear comes into the play. Or for so many time it was dangerous to communicate with Jews that it became a habit for some people. Perhaps it is a little exaggerated but we still were all raised on that. How can we expect our children not to discriminate? The social impact of Holocaust will stay with us until the time we start teaching our children that being a minority does not mean being suppressed. Anti-Semitism was formed on the base of these brutal deaths, which became systematic at the time of Holocaust. Jews, who survived the Holocaust turned out to be even more resistant then other Jews. They did not get any support or moral help. Most of them immigrated to different countries and found strength to start living again, with some hope for a better life in their heart (Joselit, 1995). Such things arouse anger deep inside, for when you see people that have been wrested from their places, people whose lives were devastated just for “belonging” to a definite nation, it always makes you think of how would your life be if you were one of them at that time. Hitler’s seizure of power was the moment that started this awful period in the history of our world. The Jew persecution did not happen at one.

First it was the restriction of their rights and then – their exile (Laqueur, 1999). They were treated like animals and everything was forbidden. If we touch the moral aspect we can definitely say that it ingrained the base for anti-Semitism, discrimination. Lately, their living was forbidden, too. For many people Holocaust is already something very old and unreal. They know it but prefer to think of it as of something that happened not with them; therefore they cannot feel the depth of the problem. Those people who do remember and really know what Holocaust was are people who belong to the counties that got the worst from Hitler’s regime. For example “…94% of the French, 84% of the English, and only 62% of Americans believe that the Holocaust really happened…”(Knowledge of Holocaust, 1994). Anti-Semitism is not a remote consequence of the Holocaust; it “represents the most destructive form of nationalism of the twentieth century, a true malignant disease of humanity”( Florian, 1997). And the reason the French believe that Holocaust happened lies in them knowing what sufferings Nazi brought. 79 % of them pointed out that the Holocaust is still very relevant (Knowledge of Holocaust, 1994). Jews are believed to be a minority with Anti-Semitism trying to support this point of view. But being a minority does not mean being the victim of abridge of rights. In this perspective anti-Semitism may even be considered to be a form of racism. Nevertheless there are a lot of different points of view on this matter. For instance, multiculturalists do not think that anti-Semitism is a manifestation of racism. They call minorities: ”people of color”. But the most interesting part in their point of view is that they think that being a person of color automatically eliminates the possibility of being a racist (Alexander, 1994). This statement, by itself puts Jews in an inferior position towards other nations, which is not right. “…

The aggression of anti-Semitism against an absurdly small minority ensures that it cannot be countered by opposition in kind, and its focus on a particular group—the Jews--makes it irrelevant to those who are not Jews..."(Alexander, 1994 p.8). The Jews suffered the Holocaust and this is quiet enough to add anti-Semitism to it. But if we make a deep analysis we will see that Holocaust was already the result of something that was continuing for a very long time. And that something was the base of a «different» attitude towards the Jews. Our contemporary society works hard on eliminating any racist trends concerning the Jew. We still have to fight with the public opinion, which is explained by “the slow pace of change in the cultural, religious, political, and ideological subsystems in our society” (Silbermann, Sallen/1995, p.2). The worst thing is that anti-Semitism is not directed against the religion of the Jews or their social roles, but against Jews themselves, as Silbermann and Sallen write ”against the Jews in general”. Lets take the life of Israel, as a country. Their life is a constant fight for land. Analyzing this fact it is possible to assume that they have suffered so many suppressions and restrictions that they will not give away anything that is theirs. We cannot judge such a political behavior, due to their history. Nowadays Israel has a special politics concerning the Holocaust issue. Another problem is the appropriation of the Holocaust by the United States and the relations with the Germans and their attitude toward the Jews. These are very important social factors that must not be forgotten for they even include political aspects.

Conclusion: The aim of the modern society is not only to prevent any possible social, political or cultural rejection that can be directed on the Jews but also to eliminate any kind of injustice towards this nation. Holocaust was a real and terrifying fact, a fact of the Nazis attempting to start a total physical genocide (Katz, 1997). An attempt that had so many consequences that we still are suffering from them. All these terrorist trends and the young generation that grows up observing such things as anti-Semitism. These things will not bring any good for our world. Holocaust is already a fact and there is nothing we can do about it. Nevertheless the condition that Jews have always been considered a “minority” was the premises of them being the nation that was greatly touched by the Holocaust. If it were not for this firm prejudice towards the Jews Holocaust would never had happened. The Nazi knew this attitude was standard and they assumed that the “…world would tolerate their actions against the Jews…” (Helmreich, 1995). But we do can try to do our best to inoculate the rejection of racism, anti-Semitism to children of out nation. They have to know that such thing really happened, they have to know all the truth in order to never repeat this mistake. This problem nowadays has a very strong social coloration. The garbling of the social relations due to the presence of such ideologies as anti-Semitism is very unhealthy and built on the wrong notion that any nation can be humiliated and extirpated for being simply different. All these are needed to prevent very serious social problems – discrimination and social exclusion. Social prejudice towards the Jew is just a small part of what the post-Holocaust countries need to think about.The effect that Holocaust had on the contemporary society is enormous. This is one of those things that never leaves the memory and social consciousness of a nation. It puts our society in the situation where the consequences of the Holocaust make people suffer till our days. Anti-Semitism still exists causing traumas for the Jews and the problem is that time converts it from an idea to an general ideology that influenced other people, giving them wrong notions of what Jews are. The tragedy of it is that we the Jews are still suffering from the strategy the Nazi Army chose more then 60 years ago. For some people this time was not enough to forget that people that are supposed to wear a “yellow start” differ from all the others. For other people it was an example of an indelible mistake. Our society is in a great need of a defogging from all the prejudices concerning the Jews and from racism as a whole. Holocaust may be vied as a lesson of what we should never repeat. And our society should observe what changes Holocaust brought and learn that the only possible way to achieve a goal is being equal.

 

Propaganda was one of the most important tools the Nazis used to shape the beliefs and attitudes of the German public. Through posters, film, radio, museum exhibits, and other media, they bombarded the German public with messages designed to build support for and gain acceptance of their vision for the future of Germany. The gallery of images below exhibits several examples of Nazi propaganda, and the introduction that follows explores the history of propaganda and how the Nazis sought to use it to further their goals.

Introduction to the Visual Essay

The readings in this chapter describe the Nazis’ efforts to consolidate their power and create a German “national community” in the mid-1930s. Propaganda—information that is intended to persuade an audience to accept a particular idea or cause, often by using biased material or by stirring up emotions—was one of the most powerful tools the Nazis used to accomplish these goals.

Hitler and Goebbels did not invent propaganda. The word itself was coined by the Catholic Church to describe its efforts to discredit Protestant teachings in the 1600s. Over the years, almost every nation has used propaganda to unite its people in wartime. Both sides spread propaganda during World War I, for example. But the Nazis were notable for making propaganda a key element of government even before Germany went to war again. One of Hitler’s first acts as chancellor was to establish the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, demonstrating his belief that controlling information was as important as controlling the military and the economy. He appointed Joseph Goebbels as director. Through the ministry, Goebbels was able to penetrate virtually every form of German media, from newspapers, film, radio, posters, and rallies to museum exhibits and school textbooks, with Nazi propaganda. 

Whether or not propaganda was truthful or tasteful was irrelevant to the Nazis. Goebbels wrote in his diary, "no one can say your propaganda is too rough, too mean; these are not criteria by which it may be characterized. It ought not be decent nor ought it be gentle or soft or humble; it ought to lead to success."1 Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that to achieve its purpose, propaganda must "be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away."

Some Nazi propaganda used positive images to glorify the government’s leaders and its various activities, projecting a glowing vision of the “national community.” Nazi propaganda could also be ugly and negative, creating fear and loathing by portraying the regime’s “enemies” as dangerous and even sub-human. The Nazis’ distribution of antisemitic films, newspaper cartoons, and even children’s books aroused centuries-old prejudices against Jews and also presented new ideas about the racial impurity of Jews. The newspaper Der Stürmer (The Attacker), published by Nazi Party member Julius Streicher, was a key outlet for antisemitic propaganda. 

This visual essay includes a selection of Nazi propaganda images, both “positive” and “negative.” It focuses on posters that Germans would have seen in newspapers like Der Stürmer and passed in the streets, in workplaces, and in schools. Some of these posters were advertisements for traveling exhibits—on topics like “The Eternal Jew” or the evils of communism—that were themselves examples of propaganda. 

Connection Questions

  1. As you explore the images in this visual essay, consider what each image is trying to communicate to the viewer. Who is the audience for this message? How is the message conveyed?
  2. Do you notice any themes or patterns in this group of propaganda images? How do the ideas in these images connect to what you have already learned about Nazi ideology? How do they extend your thinking about Nazi ideas? 
  3. Based on the images you analyze, how do you think the Nazis used propaganda to define the identities of individuals and groups? What groups and individuals did Nazi propaganda glorify? What stereotypes did it promote? 
  4. Why was propaganda so important to Nazi leadership? How do you think Nazi propaganda influenced the attitudes and actions of Germans in the 1930s?
  5. Some scholars caution that there are limits to the power of propaganda; they think it succeeds not because it persuades the public to believe an entirely new set of ideas but because it expresses beliefs people already hold. Scholar Daniel Goldhagen writes: “No man, [no] Hitler, no matter how powerful he is, can move people against their hopes and desires. Hitler, as powerful a figure as he was, as charismatic as he was, could never have accomplished this [the Holocaust] had there not been tens of thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands of ordinary Germans who were willing to help him.”2 Do you agree? Would people have rejected Nazi propaganda if they did not already share, to some extent, the beliefs it communicated? 
  6. Can you think of examples of propaganda in society today? How do you think this propaganda influences the attitudes and actions of people today? Is there a difference between the impact of propaganda in a democracy that has a free press and an open marketplace of ideas and the impact of propaganda in a dictatorship with fewer non-governmental sources of information? 

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