How could it have happened?
I think there is a good reason for people to ask how the holocaust could have happened. The tragedy seems unrealistic when one thinks about it, and others still think it never was. The latter are more of antisemitists. Considering that World War II was triggered rather exacerbated by the unfolding events, it is like concluding that the war never was. To the most basic facts, the holocaust saw the death of approximately eleven million people, six million of these being Jews. According to (Berenbaum, 1993, p.194-195), two thirds of the Jews living in Europe were killed. What makes it unrealistic is the brutal methods of killing and treatment of human beings, just for the thought that someone wants a ‘clean’ generation of people. The treatment of humans at the time is unimaginable; take for instance the gas chambers. German prisoners transported to extermination camps were asked to take a shower. They undressed only to be guided to the gas chambers where they met their deaths. Children presented future generations of Jews to the Nazi’s and their death was deemed a greater success. Humans became the guinea pigs in scientific experiments. The Holocaust Memorial Museum has the story of the twins who were sewn together to resemble Siamese twins, only to later have infected wounds that saw their parents consenting to euthanasia in a bid to ease their suffering. What else can be more inhuman than placing human beings along with corpses in pits while still alive, and expect them to continue living? These are just but a few examples that make the holocaust look like a fictional story, prompting one to wonder just how it happened, and whether people actually did it.
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The United States did not make rescue of victims a priority for a number of reasons
First it was not clear how rescue plans for large masses would be made behind German lines. Secondly, this was at a time when people around the world were prejudiced against race; Jews were hated just like other foreigners. Third, finances were limited because of ensuing economic depression in part due to the housing bubble and the Second World War. Last, rescued victims would come in as refugees who had a problem obtaining visas as the refugee policy at the time was not friendly leave alone being clearly set (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009, 1).
American Jews did not put more pressure on the Roosevelt administration
It was apparent that the administration’s commitment to rescue was neutral if not negative. It is exemplified in the state department asking the then World Jewish Leader-Wise to refrain from revealing to the general public Nazi’s plans to murder Jews in Europe; they actually intercepted the report that had been sent by a Jewish representative in Geneva to Wise. Jewish attempts to persuade the U.S government officials to destroy gas chambers and rail tracks to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp where gas killing took place were futile too. The administration was just adamant and the Jews felt it too. Though they acted later, it was at a time that about eighty percent of Jews had died in the holocaust (Davidson, DeLay, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2008, 50).
Berenbaum, M. (1993). The world must know: The history of the Holocaust as told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Boston: Little Brown.
Davidson, J., DeLay, B., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M. & Stoff, M. (2008). Nation of Nations. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2009). The United States and the Holocaust. Web.