Survivors of the Holocaust

By: Mikayla Storr

The Holocaust Begins

Jewish life was much different before the dramatic change caused by the events and actions of the holocaust and the effects that followed. In 1933, the year Nazis came to power in Germany, Jewish populations were largely concentrated in eastern Europe. Before the holocaust had changed any aspect of Jewish communities, Jews could be found in a wide array of occupations such as farmers, tailors, doctors, teachers, and even small business owners. Some families were able to achieve great wealth but many remained poor. Then, as Nazi power continued its rise in Germany all Jews became potential victims and thus began the dramatic change that would impact the rest of their existence. As the holocaust truly began causing changes Nazis began using many different techniques of propaganda to promote the community’s hatred of Jews, blaming them for the Social and Economic issues facing Germany and promising to find and implement a solution that would resolve the issues. For the survivors of the terrible tragedies that made up the Holocaust, it was painfully evident that their lives were beginning an irreversible change.

Camps and Ghettos

Before long people found themselves being torn from their homes and placed in concentration camps, or relocated to different areas or countries. Those that did not find themselves in camps or ghettos were often executed, incarcerated, or simply relocated to different areas. Among the people being removed from their families and communities were more than just the Jews, but also political prisoners, common criminals, Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, and even many others that were considered “shiftless” or simply “undesirable” such as the physically disabled and terminally ill. People in the camps that were not being executed often died of starvation, disease, exhaustion, and/or brutal treatment. The Nazis led the forced relocation of the Jewish population to isolated sections of towns that the Nazis referred to as "ghettos" or "Jewish residential quarters." The ghettos were typically established in very old and rather run-down cities. The residents of the ghettos were arguably worse-off than those in the camps. The ghettos were very unsanitary with human waste and garbage being disposed of in the streets, and contagious disease spread quite rapidly throughout these communities. The German enforced relocation of the “undesirables” was considered by some the harshest part of their experiences during this time, but for others it was just the beginning. But whether it was the entirety or just the beginning, the events during this period of time were not forgotten by any of them.

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The Arduous Continuance

Just under the technical statistic of the majority of Jewish population in Europe had lost their lives in the sense that they died, But the survivors also lost their lives if thoroughly considered. Everything they had ever known and loved had been torn away from them. Most Jewish communities in Europe had been utterly demolished and surviving families were forced to practically rebuild their previous state of existence from the ground up. It did not take long for the Jews to realize that for the time being, there was no longer a future for them in these places. Many of the people that found themselves without homes eventually decided to congregate into large communities called displaced persons camps. In an effort to punish the villains of the Holocaust, the allied collaborators held a series of trials with the general goal of punishing those responsible for crimes committed during the Holocaust and providing justice and closure to victims and their families. As the trials began to draw themselves to an end the pressure on the allied powers to create a new, safe homeland for the surviving Jewish population was greatly increased, and this pressure led to the eventual mandate for the creation of Israel in the year 1948.

The Holocaust has impacted not only the survivors and people involved directly in the events, but also the people around them and an unimaginable amount of completely unrelated individuals with inquisitive minds and wondrous curiosity.