The Significance of the Holocaust in WWII

(emotional music) – [Narrator] The Holocaust, or Shoah as it is known to the Jewish people, is one of the worst atrocities
in human history. The Holocaust was the state-endorsed systematic persecution and
mass murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its
collaborators between 1933 and 1945. The Nazi regime murdered
more than six million Jews. Other groups targeted for
eradication included communists, criminals, homosexuals, the disabled, Roma and the long-term unemployed. What drove the Nazis to
persecute and kill Jewish people? (dramatic music) (Adolf Hitler shouting in German) (crowd cheering) In 1933, the National Socialist
Party led by Adolf Hitler, swept to power on a platform
of extreme nationalism, Aryan race ideology and
demonisation of the Jews. The Nazis believed that
the Germanic people were a superior form of humanity: the white-skinned, blonde-haired
and blue-eyed Aryan race. But the Aryan race was
supposedly being corrupted by inferior races and had to be kept pure. The Jews, demonised as a rich,
greedy race of people, were considered the greatest
threat to the German Aryan race and needed to be removed
from Third Reich society. Tapping into centuries
of anti-Semitic prejudice that had existed across Europe,
the Nazis blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s and Europe’s ills. Nazi propaganda, exploiting
pre-existing attitudes, falsely claimed the Jews
had started World War I and ensured Germany’s defeat, were behind the Russian
Communist revolution threatening to sweep across Europe, and, paradoxically, had a secret agenda to control the world’s capitalist
system through banking. The Nazis also felt the
Jewish community was a threat because they refused to
prioritise German nationalism over their religious tradition. German Jews became increasingly isolated from mainstream German society. They were denied their civil rights, had property confiscated and
suffered constant harassment. Strict economic boycotts were
imposed on Jewish businesses. On the 9th of November, 1938, violent riots against Jews
broke out across Germany. Known as Kristallnacht,
the Night of Broken Glass, these state-endorsed
attacks were soon followed by German Jews being
rounded up by authorities and held in concentration camps. (mournful music) Effectively prison camps,
detainees were used as forced labor, many of
whom were worked to death or died in the inhumane conditions. (dramatic music) During 1938 and ’39, Hitler
had extended German control after the annexation of Austria and invasion of Czechoslovakia. And when Nazi Germany invaded
Poland in September 1939, Britain and France
declared war on Germany. It was the beginning of World War II. Hitler’s aggressive
expansionist military policy was designed to establish
more Liebensraum, or living space, for the superior
German race to settle in. He also campaigned strongly
for German women to help increase the pure Aryan race by bearing more children. The German army took Poland
within a matter of weeks. Polish Jews were rounded
up and held in ghettos in the most squalid conditions. By June 1940, Nazi Germany
had dramatically expanded its tyrannical domination over Europe. A year later, in June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The German army’s rapid
advancement into the Soviet Union was followed by Einsatzgruppen,
or mobile killing units. As part of the Nazi’s ideological battle for a pure Aryan race,
more than 1.5 million Jewish men, women and
children were mass murdered. The mobile killing
units stood face-to-face with hundreds of victims every day, repeatedly pulling the trigger. But the mobile killing units proved to be an inefficient method of mass murder. In German-occupied Europe, with millions of European
Jews under their control, the Nazis sought a more efficient and sinister method of killing. After many horrific
trials and experiments, they found the gas chamber
to be the most effective. The Nazis answer to the Final Solution of the Jewish Question became
the deportation of Jews to death camps in German-occupied Poland. The systematic killing of
German Jews began late in 1941. The first to be transported
to the death camps were the weak, the elderly and the sick, as well as infants and young children, all completely unaware of their fate. In 1942, as the German
army ground to a standstill on the eastern front, unable to take the strategically critical
cities of Moscow and Leningrad, Jews from across German-occupied Europe were deported to the
death camps in Poland. Most victims were gassed to death within hours of their arrival. The Nazis aimed to commit
nothing short of genocide, the murder of entire ethnic groups, numbering in the millions. World War II was the staging ground for some of the worst
racially-motivated atrocities the world has ever seen. We remember it by a name that means “total destruction by
burning”: the Holocaust. (emotional music)


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