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Death and Humanity in the Holocaust

Within the twentieth century, what event stands out to you as the most inhumane treatment of fellow humans. Without a doubt, most would agree that the Holocaust completely matches this sad frame of reference. The Holocaust in Germany was an unspeakable event in human history. In this terrible act, at its worst in Poland, was the direct cause of the deaths of 62.7% of the Jewish population in Europe (History 1). It is obvious that two themes stand out during this time period death and humanity, or inhumanity for that matter.

The Holocaust was a blemish, not only on the 20th century, but in the entire history of humanity. The inhumanity of the Holocaust helps us to understand the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping in any society. The sheer amount of death and its depiction in Elie Wiesel's, Night, help to develop an awareness of the value of tolerance, and encourages tolerance of diversity in our society. The Holocaust provides a glimpse into the sheer levels of death and inhumanity that we are capable of inflicting on one another and the level of danger in being uninterested or indifferent to the suffering of others whose beliefs differ from ours.

Night, demonstrates how, in developing an inhumane nature, any civilization can use its resources to better facilitate and implement death in the form of genocide. In the very beginning of Night inhumanity is shown in the cramming of Jews into cattle cars. This is clearly inhumane because these cars were made for animals, with no provisions for sanitation or digestive release.


A closer examination of Night helps us to think about another part of humanities' nature the gaining of, use of, and abuse of power. Night helps us to gain insight into more aspects of humanity and the many historical, social, religious, political, and economic factors that caused the Holocaust, and helps us they gain a perspective on how humanity can so actively and evilly, pursue such sadistic methods of executions and how a convergence of factors can contribute to the disintegration of civilized values. The Gestapo made their Jewish prisoners tirelessly dig their

own graves only to find that they would be the ones in them when they were "without passion,

without haste" slaughtered. The Gestapo inhumanely tossed babies into the air and, "the machine gunners used them as targets." (Night 5)

Although murder of any kind is by no means justified the motivations for the Holocaust were insubstantial in that they were entirely racial. There was little, if any economic gain; in fact, one would think that the Holocaust brought economic loss to Germany because Jews owned a greater majority of the shops at the time. The Jews represented absolutely no threat to the German nation, nor to the Nazi party as a whole (Judy 1). The rational nature of its execution, its efficiency, calculability, predictability and control are even more inhumane in that every extermination system was planned to kill as many Jews as possible, as fast as possible. This methodical slaughter of 11 to 12 million human beings began in late 1938 and ended in 1945. Of the approximately 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, more than half were systematically exterminated in the inhumane death traps, such as furnaces and gas chambers, of the Nazi Death Camps between 1942 and 1945 (History 1).

The names Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Chelmno, Sobibor, Belzek and Majdanek are indelibly stamped on history as poster children for death and inhumanity. The


"Final Solution" was an official policy of death for many minority groups in Europe, and a major obsession of the Nazi regime. These death camps were built for the sole purpose of rationalized,

evil, mass murder,



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