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The Holocaust is considered one of the darkest moments in human history. It is easy to believe that Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are to blame for this cataclysmic event, but the roots of this evil vine run far back in time to the age of the Romans…And Masada. The Jews defied the Roman attempts to assimilate them into the Roman Empire, and subsequently lost their homeland as the Romans wiped Judea off the map… The remaining Jews scattered across Europe in a flight to safety known as the Diaspora. In exile, the Jews maintained their nationality through their monotheistic religion. The Jews stuck together, utilizing their rigid faith to bind themselves together and to keep the world away…They gained strength through unity, but the rest of the world despised their isolationist tendencies…The Jews essentially made themselves leaders in commerce, eventually controlling banks and other money-lending institutions. The Jews willingly loaned money to other Jews, but charged high interest to others for borrowing. However…The Jews truly became the hated race after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jewish priests were responsible for turning Jesus over to the Romans when they grew fearful of his rising power and influence. Later, when Christianity gained popularity as a world religion, the Jews were blamed for Jesus’ death. Peter Paul Rubens’ famous picture of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ As time passed, the Jews grew ever more economically powerful with their isolationist tendencies, eventually controlling a large portion of the world’s wealth and banking systems. Meanwhile, time passed and true world war erupted on the face of the planet…The Germans utilized unrest in the Serbian nations as well as indecision in the United States to launch a bid for European domination in the early 1900’s. WWI truly showed how technology had outpaced man’s conscience as face to face warfare was replaced by poison gas, airplanes, submarines, and long-range artillery. The United States eventually became embroiled in the war when a German submarine sank the luxury liner ‘The Lusitania,’ killing over a thousand civilians. Now, you might ask, “How does WWI have anything to do with the Holocaust?” Well, it has everything to do with the Holocaust…After the Allied Powers (U.S., England, France, etc.) finally defeated the Germans, they tried to make sure that Germany could not try something like this again. In the treaty that ended the first world war, German industry was greatly restricted and many of their major businesses were sold. (often to Jewish owners!) The German economy went into depression. WWI left the Germans with no way to rebuild… Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, an interesting man fought and was wounded in WWI…He spent his time after the war studying why the Germans lost and how Germany could again rise to power… While in prison, young Adolph Hitler wrote a book titled “Mein Kampf” which is German for “My Struggle.” In the book he outlined why Germany failed in WWI and what needed to be done for them to rise again to greatness. Slowly but surely, young Adolph Hitler began gathering people around him who felt as he did, that Germany could rise again to a position of power. Hitler was a very persuasive speaker who was unafraid to take extreme measures to accomplish his goals. He started by giving the Germans a scapegoat to blame for their problems…He blamed the Jews for controlling all of Germany’s financial institutions. Hitler continued to thumb his nose at other world leaders as he quietly built a military juggernaut and made himself, “Fuhrer.” (German word for “Leader.”) Hitler began finding ways to undermine the Jews’ position in the German community. As he rose to power, he began to limit the Jews’ ability to own and run businesses. He continued to use negative propaganda against the Jews, blaming all of Germany’s economic and social troubles on the influence of the Jewish community. In 1938, carefully organized Pogroms were set in motion by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. One of the most famous of these was “The Night of Broken Glass” in which 1000 Jewish synagogues were burned, 7000 Jewish businesses were destroyed, and dozens of Jews were brutally murdered. Up to this point, the Nazis had been quite secretive about their plans, but this horrible night made Hitler’s plans for genocide very apparent… A pile of discarded Jewish shoes at a German concentration camp… As Hitler gained power, the need for more consumed him, because as we know… Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Fuhrer was no longer happy with controlling Germany; he now thirsted for world domination. As part of his plan to conquer and unify the world, Hitler believed that Aryan supremacy was the key. He considered the Aryan race better than all the other races, so in his twisted design for Utopia he ultimately planned for other races to be systematically exterminated. It was most convenient for him to start with the Jews. Ultimately, he planned to wipe out or subjugate all races that didn’t fit his blonde and blue-eyed model for utopia… Hitler planned to show off his superior athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, but African American Jesse Owens stole the show by winning 3 gold medals in the premier track and field events. Hitler was furious! World leaders knew that some strange things were going on in Germany, but no one was willing to get involved… By 1938, Hitler had already begun moving Jews into concentration camps where they quickly and quietly began to disappear. Jews were utilized as slave labor on almost non-existent food rations until they were too weak or sick to move, and then they were exterminated… In 1939, Hitler felt that he had all the necessary pieces in place and he put his plan into motion by invading Poland. Britain, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Canada immediately declared war on Germany. The U.S., still struggling through the great depression was reluctant to get involved… Italy, under the control of another maniacal dictator, Benito Mussolini, jumped in on Germany’s side. This period in history was an age of totalitarianism, where vicious dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin controlled large populations through fear and military might. Benito Mussolini Japan had dreams of continental domination also at this time…In 1939, the Japanese invaded China yet again with the desire to control this vast area through military might. The United States condemned the action and placed an embargo on metal being shipped to Japan, severely hurting Japan’s ability to make ships, planes, and weapons. Japan responded in 1940 by signing a pact with Germany and Italy. The U.S. had still not entered the war, but they convinced other countries to put economic pressure on Japan, hoping Japan would stop their invasion of China. Japan was furious with the U.S… Emperor Hirohito In 1941, The Japanese planned a sneak attack on the United States…Foolishly, the United States kept most of their battleships in one place – Pearl Harbor. The Japanese felt that if they could surprise the United States by wiping out all the ships at Pearl Harbor, the United States would be unable to retaliate against them…They were almost right! The devastating attack on December 7, 1941, nearly wiped out the United States’ Pacific Fleet. The Japanese hoped to shock and surprise the United States into staying out of the war, but what they did was quite the opposite—they made us mad… Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said it best when he wrote in his diary, “I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve.” On December 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt and the United States declared war on Japan after what Franklin Roosevelt declared to be “A day that shall live in infamy…” Germany in turn declared war on the United States a few days later. Franklin Roosevelt signs the “Declaration of War” with The Empire of Japan. Meanwhile, back in Germany, Hitler was increasing the speed of his operation to eradicate the Jewish Race. Hitler called his plan, “The Final Solution.” By 1942, over one million Jews had already been exterminated in the death camps and in open executions across Poland. Hitler didn’t confine his “Solution” to just Jews, he also condemned to death the handicapped, Romanian gypsies, certain religious groups, members of the intelligentsia, and homosexuals. The Warsaw Ghettos Secretly, the Germans were also carrying out horrible medical experiments on their Jewish prisoners…The man responsible for overseeing this part of the final solution was Joseph Mengele, nicknamed “The Angel of Death.” He injected healthy prisoners with various chemicals just to see how they reacted. He attempted to change eye color with chemicals, and did horrible experiments with twins. Mengele was never captured, and he fled to South America after the war posing as a doctor and a veterinarian. Israeli agents were constantly on his heels, but Mengele was never caught. He died in a drowning accident in 1979. Jews in the Warsaw Ghettos (areas in Warsaw Poland that had been fenced off to keep the Jews there in one place) put up a fierce resistance to the Germans, hiding in underground tunnels and abandoned buildings. The Germans countered by sweeping the area with poison gas. Those who surrendered were lined up and shot. Selection at the Auschwitz ramp in 1944, where the Nazis chose whom to kill immediately and whom to use as slave labour or for medical experimentation. The entrance to the main camp is in the background. Between 1.1 and 1.6 million people were killed at Auschwitz; over 90% of the victims were Jews. In one labor camp there were fifteen thousand Jewish prisoners and on guards. Asked why so many Jews did not attack their outnumbered guards, one survivor answered: Here we were still working. The Germans had told us they needed man thought: Who knows? Perhaps? ... It was obvious that if anyone started opposition, all these armed guards around us would immediately open dreadful thing to stand opposite a machine gun and to watch a boy bein ... Then there was still the hope that this war was bound to end one d endanger all fifteen thousand men? And once we had escaped, where could we go? On July 18, 1942, there was an armed revolt in the small Jewish ghetto of Nieswiez. The Jews threw homemade sulphuric acid in the faces of the German policemen. A machine gun had been stolen, piece-by-piece, and when more German police came, the Jews turned the gun on them. They set the ghetto aflame, burning their own homes. In reprisal the Germans hunted down every last fighter; then they murdered all the other Jews who had lived in the ghetto. This was the Nazi answer to resistance: whenever a revolt occurred in the ghettos, the Nazis would destroy its entire Jewish population. In many cases the only records we have of these revolts were kept by the Nazis themselves--not a single Jew escaped to tell the tale. The beginning of the end for the Germans came on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces completed what was thought to be impossible, an amphibious landing at Omaha Beach on the shores of France. Thousands died, but this strategic location allowed the Allied forces to create a base of operations from which they could invade Germany. Hitler went into hiding in a bunker designed and built for him beneath Berlin. In April most of the Nazi leaders left Berlin as it was being encircled by the Allied troops. Hitler refused to leave his bunker. Indeed, he never again left it alive. On April 30, broken by his defeats, Adolf Hitler shot himself. By his own orders, his body was taken just outside the bunker and burned. Hitler was dead, and with him Nazi Germany had died. Liberation of Dachau THE HANGMAN By Maurice Ogden Into our town the hangman came, smelling of gold and blood and flame. He paced our bricks with a different air, and built his frame on the courthouse square. The scaffold stood by the courthouse side, only as wide as the door was wide with a frame as tall, or a little more, than the capping sill of the courthouse door. And we wondered whenever we had the time, Who the criminal? What the crime? The hangman judged with the yellow twist of knotted hemp in his busy fist. And innocent though we were with dread, we passed those eyes of buckshot lead. Till one cried, "Hangman, who is he, for whom you raised the gallows-tree?" Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye and he gave a riddle instead of reply. "He who serves me best," said he "Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree." And he stepped down and laid his hand on a man who came from another land. And we breathed again, for anothers grief at the hangmans hand, was our relief. And the gallows frame on the courthouse lawn by tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone. So we gave him way and no one spoke out of respect for his hangmans cloak. The next day's sun looked mildly down on roof and street in our quiet town; and stark and black in the morning air the gallows-tree on the courthouse square. And the hangman stood at his usual stand with the yellow hemp in his busy hand. With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike, and his air so knowing and business-like. And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done, yesterday with the alien one?" Then we fell silent and stood amazed. "Oh, not for him was the gallows raised." He laughed a laugh as he looked at us, "Do you think I've gone to all this fuss, To hang one man? That's the thing I do. To stretch the rope when the rope is new." Above our silence a voice cried "Shame!" and into our midst the hangman came; to that mans place, "Do you hold," said he, "With him that was meat for the gallows-tree?" He laid his hand on that one's arm and we shrank back in quick alarm. We gave him way, and no one spoke, out of fear of the hangmans cloak. That night we saw with dread surprise the hangmans scaffold had grown in size. Fed by the blood beneath the chute, the gallows-tree had taken root. Now as wide, or a little more than the steps that led to the courthouse door. As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall, half way up on the courthouse wall. The third he took, we had all heard tell, was a usurer..., an infidel. And "What" said the hangman, "Have you to do with the gallows-bound..., and he a Jew?" And we cried out, "Is this one he who has served you well and faithfully?" The hangman smiled, "It's a clever scheme to try the strength of the gallows beam." The fourth man's dark accusing song had scratched our comfort hard and long. "And what concern," he gave us back, "Have you ... for the doomed and black?" The fifth, the sixth, and we cried again, "Hangman, hangman, is this the man?" "It's a trick", said he, "that we hangman know for easing the trap when the trap springs slow." And so we ceased and asked now more as the hangman tallied his bloody score. And sun by sun, and night by night the gallows grew to monstrous height. The wings of the scaffold opened wide until they covered the square from side to side. And the monster cross beam looking down, cast its shadow across the town. Then through the town the hangman came and called through the empy streets...my name. I looked at the gallows soaring tall and thought ... there's no one left at all for hanging ... and so he called to me to help take down the gallows-tree. And I went out with right good hope to the hangmans tree and the hangmans rope. He smiled at me as I came down to the courthouse square...through the silent town. Supple and stretched in his busy hand, was the yellow twist of hempen strand. He whistled his tune as he tried the trap and it sprang down with a ready snap. Then with a smile of awful command, He laid his hand upon my hand. "You tricked me Hangman." I shouted then, "That your scaffold was built for other men, and I'm no henchman of yours." I cried. "You lied to me Hangman, foully lied." Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye, "Lied to you...tricked you?" He said "Not I... for I answered straight and told you true. The scaffold was raised for none but you." "For who has served more faithfully? With your coward's hope." said He, "And where are the others that might have stood side by your side, in the common good?" "Dead!" I answered, and amiably "Murdered," the Hangman corrected me. "First the alien ... then the Jew. I did no more than you let me do." Beneath the beam that blocked the sky none before stood so alone as I. The Hangman then strapped me...with no voice there to cry "Stay!" ... for me in the empty square.