We all know now about the devastating events of the holocaust that started in 1941. Reading this post comes with a bitter note, as looking back at dark memories can cause much disdain.
However, in life, the past creates the future –so we must look back at our history to learn and discover how we shape tomorrow. So for that reason, we will have a look at 29 facts about the holocaust that we may have missed.
Did you know that the holocaust lasted for roughly 13 years? Or that Anton Drexler first founded the Nazi party in 1919, known as the “German Workers’ Party”. But let’s dig a little deeper than the surface to uncover some well-hidden truths about the holocaust that you may have never heard of.
With that said, here are 29 Facts about the holocaust
In 1945 an American psychologist named Gustave Gilbert was tasked with perhaps one of the most compelling assignments in the history of psychology. Gilbert had to study the minds of Hitler’s leading right-hand men. He did so using intelligence tests, Thematic Apperception tests, and other psychological tools used at the time.
After releasing his book “Nuremberg Diary,” the self-proclaimed prison psychologist was scrutinized by the world’s leading psychologists. Many had dismissed his work as unprofessional and not impressive to academic reviewers at the time.
Soon Gilbert’s work was overshadowed by Stanley Milgram’s laboratory-based research into the holocaust, which focused on how the ordinary person was convinced or influenced to participate in such devastating acts.
Hitler’s decision to invade Poland resulted in a butterfly effect fuelled by many instabilities and unresolved conflicts left behind from WWI. Soon up to 30 countries found themselves involved in a bloody war that took the lives of an estimated 35 to 60 million people. It’s safe to say that wherever Hitler and his followers went, death followed.
The holocaust started in 1941, but the Nazi Regime had already started to persecute Jews in 1933. This was the same year Hitler rose to power after he was elected as chancellor of Germany. The Nazi party established itself based on antisemitism, German pride and views that expressed disdain for the World War 1 peace agreement.
About six million Jews were systemically murdered across Europe under Nazi rule. That is about a third of all Jewish people worldwide at the time. But the Jews weren’t the only ones to suffer this fate. Among the targeted groups were people with disabilities, people of colour, people who identify as queer and other minorities.
During the holocaust, Nazi Doctors ended the lives of about 2.2 million Jews under the Euthanasia Program, codenamed T4. Once the Doctors started to receive monetary compensation from Hitler for their lethal injections, a “hunt for money” ensued, which motivated Doctors to end the lives of many more Jews.
The Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele was known as the “Angel of death” for a reason. He performed many often cruel experiments on Jewish children held in camps. Some of these “operations” included an attempt to create Siamese twins, which meant that he would horrifyingly sew two children together.
Adolf Hitler died by suicide on the 30th of April 1945 , in fear that the Soviet Troops would capture him. Many people believe and share conspiracy theories that Hitler staged his death. The most popular theory is that Hitler did not die in his Berlin Bunker but that he had managed to escape to South America, which is where many Nazi officials found refuge .
Anne Frank is one of the most prominent names associated with the holocaust. Her well documented experiences as a Jewish girl during a Nazi Regime nightmare is was gathered her a notable place in human history. Sadly, Anne Frank passed away on 4 August 1945, mere weeks before Allied troops liberated her Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Eisenhower was convinced that people would try to deny that the holocaust had ever happened. So in 1945, he called upon the press to record as much as they could about the holocaust. Today, those who still deny it are charged with crimes in over 17 countries.
Nazi Germany tried its best to keep the holocaust a secret– they made sure not to write down anything that could point to it. Most orders relating to the holocaust were verbally executed, and the Nazis would use codenames to conceal their killing operations.
Despite all of the concrete evidence, survivor testimonies, photographs of the concentration camps and memorials that have come out in the aftermath some people claim that the holocaust never took place.
Jews were sometimes deported to concentration camps in passenger cars, which took up to 18 days of travel. The Nazi officials would not give their captives any food or water, nor did they have ventilation and toilets. The corpses of those who could not survive the arduous journey would fall out upon opening the cab doors.
The majority of concentration camps were not liberated in time, and the remainder of the Jewish survivors were forced on a death march in Germany towards the end of World War II. A death march would force prisoners to march over long distances and under life-threatening conditions. Prisoners were starved, beaten and murdered along the way.
After the world war was over, Hitler had plans to collect over a thousand Jewish artefacts to display in his museum called “Museum of an extinct race”.
Nazi officials used toys to lure children into the poisonous gas chambers, a tactic that led to the death of many Jewish and other minority children. The elderly, children and pregnant women were sent to the gas chambers first at the killing centres, which meant that children and the elderly had the lowest survival rate.
A 1988 story printed by the New York Times spoke about a gruesome story told by Morris Hubert. He claims to have witnessed how holocaust victims were thrown into a cage with a bear and an eagle. Whether this is a fact is still unknown, but when asked about it, Hubert would reply along the lines of : ”how can it not be true?”
At the start of the holocaust, newborn babies were murdered by Nazi officials, often in front of their mothers. Later on, some babies with lighter hair and eyes (features of the Aryan race) were taken from their mothers and sent off to be raised by German families.
The Nazi regime would use the media to push their beliefs and ideals onto the German population. This psychological tool brainwashed many citizens to participate or accept the cruel government.
The Nazis used censorship and propaganda to make the citizens believe in their dictatorship. And that Jews and unfit people needed to be replaced with the Aryan race. They used music, newspaper articles, radio, books, art, theatre and more to spread their propaganda and censorship to shield their followers from an opinion that went against their regime.
Irma Grese, known as the “Fair-Haired Devil”, was a feared Nazi member who enjoyed inventing ways to torment her holocaust victims. She would often organize killings and practices to bait victims, and she would select some of the prisoners that went into the gas chambers.
On the night of 9 November 1938, members of the Nazi Party set out to attack Jewish people living in Austria and Germany. Members of the party would break the windows of Jewish owned businesses and burn and pillage synagogues and residents.
The Nazis used poisonous gas on their holocaust victims at the various killing stations. Under the Euthanasia Program, six killing facilities would utilize carbon monoxide gas disguised in their showers to take the lives of many unsuspecting victims.
Some of the earliest victims of the holocaust were people with disabilities. To the Nazi regime, disabled people were nothing but a burden and did not fit into their ideal world of an Aryan, the strong and healthy human race. Therefore gassing facilities were put in place at hospitals to commence the mass murder of disabled people.
The Nazi Party constructed over 44,000 incarceration sites throughout the holocaust period. Concentration camps were used to keep all prisoners in one place. The extermination camps were the sites used to detain and murder Jews. They also had detention centers, and captives were exposed starvation, torture and mass murder.
The forced-labour camps were other incarceration sites where the conditions were appalling. Prisoners would go long hours with insufficient access to food, medication, clothing and water. Finally, transit camps were sites outside of Germany used to keep prisoners shortly before being deported to other Nazi camps.
Some of the survivors who were never held in concentration camps were forced into hiding. The hiding areas would later be known as the ghettos. The people in hiding lived in insufferable conditions with little to no access to sanitary facilities, food, and clean water.
The rest of the world was aware of the holocaust that was taking place in Germany. Reporters informed world leaders that the Nazi was hunting Jews in many parts of Europe. British intelligence agents eves dropped on classified German radio transmissions and became aware of the Nazi’s plottings.
Many foreboding headlines such as “Nazi kill million Jews, says survey” and “Nazi slaughterhouse”—Germans massacre million Jews in extermination drive” were published in well-known newspapers. So at least the world leaders knew about it and those paying attention to news articles. But the Allies decided that if they could end World War Two, it would mean the end of the holocaust.
The holocaust is not the only genocide in human history, but there are genocides taking place even today. Which only reiterates how much truth the saying history repeatsitself holds.
Auschwitz camp was the Nazi’s most prominent death and concentration camp. The captives were exterminated, forced into slavery and subject to Josef Menge’s horrific medical experimentations.
The Auschwitz Trials started on 24 November 1947, and 41 former staff members were put on trial by Polish authorities. Only 10% of Nazi officials who worked at Auschwitz were put on trial.
Babi Yar, Kyiv, is where many Jews were mass murdered. Between 1941 and 1943, over 30,000 Jewish people were executed by members of the Nazi Party. Babi Yar became known as the first stage of a massacre during the holocaust after the German army conquered Kyiv.
Two Polish Doctors faked a typhoid epidemic which prevented Nazi soldiers from entering their towns. Because of this brave act, the two doctors saved the lives of 8,000 Jews.
Hitler was inspired by the United States’ race laws, specifically regarding citizenship laws and interracial marriage. The Nazi would observe and study American race law and was highly inspired by the Jim Crow era, which legalised the discrimination of America’s black citizens and justified segregation.
The holocaust is the most well-documented genocide globally. Hitler’s attempt at eradicating what he had deemed as ‘undesirables” had stretched across 35 European countries. The holocaust ranks third on the list of the worst genocides ever, after Mao Zedong’s and Stalin’s Communist Regimes.
So, how many people in total lost their lives during the holocaust? The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that about 17 million people lost their lives.
After the holocaust, things did not return to normal immediately. Many survivors suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled to return to their former homes due to antisemitism and post-war violence.