Essay on Jewish Populations in Poland and Germany During the Holocasut

Submitted By karlk1125
Words: 2611
Pages: 11

Karl Kobler
Professor Biale
History 142a
9 June 2011
Short Essays
In Poland, the Holocaust rose to its deadliest heights, unleashing its earliest and most hellacious onslaught upon the Jewish and other undesirable inhabitants. As the Nazi attempts to answer the Jewish question took their course, Poland rapidly became the epicenter of the Holocaust. It became the epicenter for a few primary reasons. Poland was the first country which the Nazis conquered. Once Poland was conquered, the Nazis found themselves in control of a much larger Jewish population than in the fatherland. To deal with the Jewish question, the Nazis organized ghettos within many of the large Polish cities. They squeezed the country’s Jewish population of about three and a half million into these ghettos. It was here, at these ghettos in Poland, when the Holocaust truly took seed and sprouted. Since the Nazis had acquired a massive amount of territory in close proximity to a heavily concentrated population of Jews, the Nazis used their new land to construct their ultimate weapon of destruction, death camps. [1]The majority of the Nazi death camps were constructed in Poland. After the fall of Warsaw, Poland quickly became the epicenter of the Holocaust, with almost three million of its Jews exterminated along with many others in the vast extermination camps located within its borders. The Holocaust in Poland unofficially began with the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. On September 21, Heydrich orders the SS in Poland to gather the Jewish populations into Ghettos near railroads. On November 23, all Jews were ordered to wear a Star of David arm band. On February 8, 1940, the Lodz Ghetto was formed. On October 12, the Warsaw Ghetto was formed. On March 1, 1941, Himmilar ordered a camp at Birkenau to be built, named Auschwitz. June 22, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, quickly capturing the rest of Poland. In October, Operation Reinhard was devised. January 20, 1942. Wannsee Conference is held. July 19, Operation Rheinhard begins, in which almost two million Jews were exterminated in two years. January 18, 1943, the first Warsaw Ghetto uprising occurs. April 19, the final uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto occurs. November 3, Nazis carry out Operation Harvest Festival, killing 42,000 Jews. January 3, 1944, Red Army reaches former Polish border. July 24, Red Army liberates the first concentration camp at Majdanek. October 30, last use of gas chambers at Auschwitz. January 17, 1945, Warsaw is liberated by the Red Army. January 27, Red Army liberate Auschwitz. April 30, Hitler commits suicide. May 7, unconditional German surrender. [2] After the fog of war, murder, and occupation settled from six years of Nazi occupation, Polish Jews had faced the most lethal onslaught of any country. By the end of the war, over 90 percent of the Jewish population had perished by the hands of the Nazi annihilation. Therefore, surviving the Nazi occupation in Poland was a rare feat. Chances of survival were minimal. In most survival cases, luck was heavily involved. There was not one specific way of surviving. Each case of survival was unique in its own way. Poland’s Jewish death rate was so catastrophically high due to the creation of the Ghettos. While there were ghettos in other countries, Poland’s ghettos proved to create such a high percentage lethality. Therefore, the majority of Polish survivors either eluded transfer to the Ghettos or escaped them. For those who eluded the ghettos, their chances of survival would be highest if they were able to procure Aryan documentation and assimilate into the population. There were cases of families obtaining Catholic identities and living unimpeded. After the ghettoization, such attempts became almost impossible. Soon after the Ghettos were formed, loose networks were formed throughout Poland in order to save Jews. Escapees were directed to people who could offer aid. They were given shelter, food, and even