by Rachael Borden
Also called “The Night of Broken Glass,” Kristallnacht was a revenge by Adolf Hitler and the German Reich after a Jewish boy had shot and killed a member of the German Embassy after mistreatment of his father. That night, some SS men, Hitler Youth, and Nazi troops beat and murdered Jews, while others destroyed their homes, synagogues, businesses, and shops by breaking the glass and destroying the contents inside.
A Jewish synagogue burned during this terrible event.
Jews and some Non-Aryans lose their rights as tenants and are relocated to separate Jewish housing.
German Jews were no longer allowed to run for government positions or hold government jobs. This lead to the slow decrease of Jews employed everywhere.
Jewish deportation into Poland began in early 1940, where two groups of experimental deportations went from Germany to a Jewish reservation in Lublin, Poland. Later on, this deportations went from experimental to routine and happened quite often.
Auschwitz concentration camp was established. This camp started as a simple concentration camp, but had many sub-camps that turned into death camps, making Auschwitz the camp with the most deaths by the end of the Holocaust.
The main entrance of Auschwitz.
German Jews are ordered into forced labor in their ghettos or housing areas.
A decree was issued that all German Jews and annexed Polish Jews had to wear a yellow badge. These badges were yellow, said “Jude” (meaning “Jew”) shaped like the Star of David (a Jewish symbol) and they must be worn on the left side of their chest.
Badges looked as the one does above, and were not optional apparel at the time for a Jew.
Chelmno, the first camp of its kind, opened in early December of 1941, with the other large scale death/extermination camps opening in 1942. It had three gas vans that used carbon monoxide to kill the victims, and then a burial and cremation site to remove the evidence. This was the beginning of the plan to implement to “Final Solution” to kill all European Jews. Overall, there was 150,000 - 300,000 deaths at Chelmno by the end of the Holocaust.
One of three vans used to gas Non-Aryans.
Auschwitz sub-camp Birkenau begins using Zyklon-B gas to massively and effectively kill Jews in extremely large numbers that are enclosed in gas chambers. The bodies of the Non-Aryan and Jewish victims are buried in mass, disgusting graves in a field closely located to the camp.
A gas chamber in Auschwitz used for the extermination of thousands of Jews and Non-Aryans.
Reinhard Heydrich, SS second in command, organized a conference with the top 15 Nazi officials to coordinate the Final Solution, which was the annihilation of European Jews. At the conference, they often hinted at things but didn’t directly name them. One example of this is saying that some Jews would “... be eliminated by natural causes,” referring to disease, hard labor, and starvation. Another example is when they state that other Jews will be “... treated accordingly,” meaning killed by gas.
A part of the Wannsee Conference transcript
The already-low amount of food that was given to German Jews in ghettos, concentration camps, and separate housings were further reduced. This lead to an even greater number of Jews starving and collapsing out of weakness from not enough food.
Most of the Jews' belongings were stripped by the SS men in search for anything valuable - gold, watches, purses, metal, currency of any country, eyeglasses, bedding, clothes, and other valuable objects. Even gold used for teeth were pulled right out of a victim’s mouth. The SS then sorted these objects and sent them to be used for the German troops, banks, or any institution that will use the product to benefit the German war effort.
Clothes and other items collected at Auschwitz.
American Jews organized an anti-Nazi boycott in Madison Square Garden, New York City, sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee. Their purpose was to try to convince the United States into helping the European Jews.
There was thousands of people who showed up for the Anti-Nazi boycott
The commander of the SS in Krakow, Julian Scherner, ordered the liquidation. Then then carried out the “Final Liquidation” of the ghetto so they could turn it into a place for Nazi government. The Jews who were deemed able to work were sent to Plaszow Labor Camp, and the rest were either murdered in the streets or sent to Auschwitz to be killed.
This was an act of Jewish resistance that was one of the greatest revolts during the Holocaust. A group of Jews heard that the remaining Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were going to be transported to Treblinka death camp. Instead of conforming to the plans, the Jews decided to form the Jewish Fighting Organization. When the German troops came to round them up, they shot back with guns they had smuggled into the ghetto, and the troops retreated. However, they came back later and burned down the Ghetto building by building, and eventually most of the Jews were either killed or transported to Treblinka. A couple dozen escaped through the sewers producing a small victory and a slight boost of morale for Jews.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Mengele in a time period between his first arrival and the liberation of Auschwitz did uncountable numbers of experiments on humans at the Auschwitz camps. He did experiments on twins, women sterilization experiments, surgeries without anesthetic, inserted diseases, tested how long until people died under certain circumstances, and many other absolutely detestable, unbelievable, and mind-chilling experiments. He was nicknamed the “Angel of Death,” because he also was quite often on duty to decide who was going to live and who was going to be gassed or experimented on. Many consider Josef Mengele to be one of the sickest, twisted, psychopathic people to have ever existed.
Joseph Mengele, the Angel of Death during the Holocaust.
On October 28, the last transport of Jews to be gassed, about 2,000 from Theresienstadt, arrive at Auschwitz. After they were killed by Zyklon-B gas in the gas chambers on October 30, the gas chambers had fulfilled their horrid purpose and were never used again.
The SS and Nazi men force 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in bad weather from Budapest to the Austrian border. They did this because the Allies were beginning to get close to Auschwitz and, even in the last days of war, they wanted to implement the Final Solution in killing all of the Jews, which they had not yet accomplished. However, unless they died from walking barefoot in the snow, most of the Jews on the march survived.
As the Allies quickly approached, the Nazi’s tried to get rid of as much evidence as possible. Himmler ordered the destruction of the Auschwitz crematories for this very reason, and on later dates he ordered the destruction of many other gas chambers, crematories, and evidence. Fortunately, a ton of evidence survived that still stands as a memorial to the deaths of so many.
Evidence attempted to be covered up.
Most of the people of Auschwitz had been forced to march or had been previously killed, but there was still about 7,000 people left in the camp that could not walk. When the Soviet Army arrived, they freed these prisoners, who were sick, diseased, starved, and practically dead.
The first concentration camp that was liberated by the United States was named Ohrdruf and was part of the Buchenwald concentration camp network located in Germany.
Nazi main leader Adolf Hitler had been hiding in an underground bunker in Berlin since the beginning of April. At one meeting with his staff, he went hysterical and blamed the loss of the war on horrible failures from his leaders. A few days later, he had poison tested on his favorite dog to sickeningly make sure it worked. On April 30, he and his wife Eva Braun (who he had married less than two days before) had committed suicide - Hitler had shot himself and Braun had used the poison.
A newspaper article that uncovered the shocking news.
Six months after Germany’s surrender, the biggest war crime trial to have ever existed began, lead by the four allied countries - The United States, Great Britain, The Soviet Union, and France. 24 people were selected to face the punishment of crimes of humanity, war crimes and crimes against peace, but only 21 made it to the trial. 12 of these faced death, 3 faced life in prison, 4 faced 10-20 years in prison, and the rest were acquitted.
A small slice of justice being served for Holocaust families.