Experiencing the Holocaust

Experiencing the World's Most Horrific Event

Introduction to the Holocaust

The Holocaust was one of the most horrendous events in history, wiping out almost three percent of the world’s population, Jews and non Jews. The ethnic cleansing had a massive impact on people, but what was the experience really like? In September, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, beginning the reign of terror that would be World War II. As the Germans invaded several other countries, such as Norway and Denmark, tighter control was brought upon the land’s inhabitants. On December 11th, 1941, Germany declared war on The United States of America. Other nations such as the Soviet Union assisted our country and others to bring seek justice for the Jews. Most people have heard stories of the Holocaust, but how much more traumatic was it? On October 1st, 1943, many Jews were rescued from Denmark, but that was not the end of the Nazi reign. As Jews rebelled, they were moved to large ghettos or concentration camps, inflicting pain and death on those of the religion. It wasn’t until many years later that Allied Forces liberated these camps.

Hostility in Eurpoe

One of the sparks that started the fire that was the Holocaust was the invasion and hostility of other countries. At the beginning of the war, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the Soviet Union all in a matter of two years. With these invasions came capture of those going against the harsh rules and ideologies of the Nazis. The majority of these people were of the Jewish religion and heritage, although some were not.

Jewish Resistance

As the Nazis continued their way through Europe, groups of Jewish resistance formed. Major allies being France, Belgium, Poland, Ukraine and Belorussia, alongside others such as Italians, Yugoslavs, Greek and Soviet resistance units sided with the Jews. Some may argue that the uprising and real resistance did not begin until 1943, when larger battles took place. One highly significant clash was in Warsaw, when thousands of men fought against the Nazis, freeing thousands of Jews in return. Although those numbers might seem large, in reality, it was nothing in comparison to the millions still in German hands. With lack of training and an obvious disadvantage, these occurrences did little in to stop the capture and punishment of those they knew.

Life in Concentration Camps

The aftermath of rebellion in Europe resulted in the escape of Jews, but also the capture of many. If one was to be held under Nazi control, they would be taken to a camp to be punished. There were several types of camps such as concentration, transit, work, and extermination camps. At these “konzentrationslagers,” victims would be set to work, starved, beaten, dehydrated, and in many cases, murdered. Upon arrival, one would undertake dehumanization, followed with what would become daily life. Daily life in these places of horror included roll call, rations of soup, bread, and coffee for a meal, and work. It was also known to be true that prisoners washed in unclean water without soap, and shared toilets. Examples of work in camps were processing of belongings, working in outlying farms, factories, and mines, and working as a Sonderkommando. Sonderkommandos or “Special Work Units” were chosen based upon their physique to work in the camp’s crematorium. The life expectancy with this task was cut down to a mere four months.


In conclusion, the Holocaust was a horrific event, with many layers to it. Most have heard stories about the tragic event, but did not know the entire story. Through rebellion, capture, and daily life, the Holocaust was an event killing millions of people, surely never to be forgotten or repeated.

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