Few would have thought that the Nazi Party, starting as a gang of unemployed soldiers in 1919, would become the legal government of Germany by 1933. In fourteen years, a once obscure corporal, Adolf Hitler , would become the Chancellor of Germany.
With Adolf Hitler's ascendancy to the chancellorship, the Nazi Party quickly consolidated its power. Hitler managed to maintain a posture of legality throughout the Nazification process.
Confining Jews in ghettos was not Hitler's brainchild. For centuries, Jews had faced persecution, and were often forced to live in designated areas called ghettos . The Nazis' ghettos differed, however, in that they were a preliminary step in the annihilation of the Jews, rather than a method to just isolate them from the rest of society. As the war against the Jews progressed, the ghettos became transition areas, used as collection points for deportation to death camps and concentration camps .
Camps were an essential part of the Nazis' systematic oppression and mass murder of Jews, political adversaries, and others considered socially and racially undesirable. There were concentration camps, forced labor camps, extermination or death camps, transit camps, and prisoner-of-war camps. The living conditions of all camps were brutal.
Resistance against the Nazis--planned and spontaneous, armed and unarmed--took many forms throughout WWII and the Holocaust. For many, the resistance was a struggle for physical existence. Some escaped through legal or illegal emigration. Others hid. Those who remained, struggled to obtain life's essentials by smuggling the food, clothing, and medicine necessary to survive.
Resistance was very hazardous. In addition to the direct threat to those engaged in resistance, there was a great risk of immediate retaliation by the Nazis to the larger population after an insurrection.
Throughout the Holocaust, victims received help from rescuers. Courageous citizens were able to hide and protect thousands of Jews and other victims of oppression until the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the death camps by the Allied forces.
Two large and on-going international needs emerged as World War II was ending: 1) retribution for perpetrators, and 2) the re-settlement of people uprooted by the war. These complex issues have occupied the hearts and minds of thousands around the world for decades. Even today, unresolved issues about the Holocaust remain.