September 2 marks 75 years since the official end of WWII; it also marks the end of an irreparable holocaust. (Image source: Heinrich Hoffmann/TIME)
By Eva Blandis | @BlandisEva
In 1933 as Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, he made it his priority to get the country back on its feet in the wake of World War I (1914-1918) and the Great Depression. But, when Hitler invaded Poland, the world was thrown into yet another war.
Dr Daniel Fazio, who is accredited with a PhD and MA in history, is a keen historian believes that Hitler took advantage of the “anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe” to rise to power.
In the years before the war, Hitler had a lot to promise for a failing country like Germany.
“It’s very hard to think of positives … the holocaust, the human atrocities, the sheer … destruction,” Dr Fazio said.
“[But] they did get Germany going again after the ravages of the Great Depression.
“They got the economy going, [and] unemployment was reduced significantly… those six years before the war, for the German people, were good years.”
However, along with Hitler’s promises and determination to restore Germany, he had a plan to make Germans a pure race. In doing so, he aimed to rid the country, and the world, of ‘undesirables’.
“Whether he actually came to believe that in reality, or whether he used that as a political thing… no one will ever know,” Dr Fazio said.
“What became a political weapon, then became an obsession, and then basically dictated everything the Nazis did.”
However, Hitler still acted upon this hate in an attempt to “purify Germany… [and] get the Jewish people out.”
“The misconception a lot of people have is that Germany—when Hitler came into power—was full of Jews. The actual population was about 1%.”
Dr Fazio said that a lot of the Jewish population in Germany “had been there for a century”, and weren’t isolated from the main community.
Due to the desperation felt by many Germans to get their country back on its feet, they were likely to do anything to fix their situation.
Despite Hitler only having “37 per cent of the votes in 1932”, his party was the largest, so he was able to climb into power.
“Hitler was good at appealing to people’s emotions,” Dr Fazio said.
“Once you think emotionally, you’re not thinking logically.
“The Nazis instituted all these laws that denied Jews for … German citizenship. Germans couldn’t marry anyone of Jewish Heritage [and] they were denied any form of work,” Dr Fazio said.
“If [Jews] owned any property or businesses, they either had to sell them or shut them down, and if they left the county, they were allowed to leave, but they had to leave all their assets behind.”
When Hitler invaded Poland on September 1 1939, his problems were just beginning. Not only did he have a second world war on his hands, but he also had to deal with the larger Jewish population.
“That’s how the final solution was thought of,” Dr Fazio said.
“Those words ‘final solution’ was not an accident; it was a deliberate choice of words.
“[It] led to the building of the camp system and the exterminations.”
Hitler’s planned exterminations didn’t happen until 1942, but in the following three years he had enough time to murder an estimated 12 million ‘undesirables’.
It is estimated, within the camps, six million Jews were killed, and another six million ‘undesirables’. Among the latter were Gypsys, homosexuals and those with mental and physical disabilities.
“What happened in the concentration camps was the organised, systematic killing of human beings … they set up machinery … [with a sole] purpose was to wipe out a race,” Dr Fazio said.
Dr Fazio said that there is no way that we can accurately measure the number of people killed by the Nazis.
“They went along and massacred villages wholesale,” he said.
“As more and more years go by, it’s harder and harder to fathom that.”
The deep-rooted hate and determination to rid the world of a race is unbelievable, but the Nazis believed that the only way they could strengthen Germany, as a country, was to have a ‘master race’.
“Everything about the Nazis was about race [and] your place in society,” Dr Fazio said.
“It wasn’t just Jewish groups, but everyone else who was considered ‘sub-human’.”
Due to the high level of anti-Jewish sentiments throughout Europe, the Nazis had help from the local population in seeking out those of the Jewish faith.
“Without the help of those local populations, they never would’ve been able to get their hands on so many people,” Dr Fazio said.
The mayhem and destruction that Hitler’s wrath had on Europe and it’s populations is something that will never be forgotten.
It is unsurprising that Hitler, who used the promise of economic prosperity swayed the German voting population in his favour.
Unfortunately, no one could have predicted the horror that the Nazis were going to inflict on those of Jewish faith.