Holocaust: Why Jews were slaughtered put into perspective
The Nazis came to power in 1933 and only began the killings in the 1940s. During the ‘30s German Jewry was subjected to massive persecution largely designed to force them to emigrate. In fact, it was SS policy during much of this time to encourage the Jewish population to make aliyah, even if they later oversaw the Holocaust.
It was only in 1942 that the “Final Solution” became official policy, although the killings had already begun.
So as not to horrify the world and even segments of the German populace, the Holocaust was kept secret. This was also done to prevent the Jews from resisting and making the job of the killers more difficult to achieve. Code words were employed to disguise these atrocities.
The impression was created that the Jews were being resettled in the east and being put to work. In some cases they were made to write back home indicating that they were okay.
The death camps were positioned in remote locations and the slogan “Work Makes You Free” was placed over the entrances. The victims were given the impression that the gas chambers were in fact showers.
It was only late in 1943 that the Allies became aware of Auschwitz and knowledge of the mass murders was not yet known. This information began to leak out towards the end of the war.
While Hitler believed in the survival of the strongest and crushed any resistance with overwhelming brutality, there were situations where our people fought back.
Uprisings in the death camps of Treblinka, Sobibor and even Auschwitz took place. The Warsaw Uprising shocked the Nazis. Many Jews also fought with the Partisans and remained a thorn in the side of the Germans.
Spiritually, people repeatedly risked their lives by keeping the mitzvot and Chasidim were known to defy the Nazis by dancing in the concentration camps.
Finally, in any army, the officer in charge might scream at the troops, ordering them to drop and crawl through the mud. Although they are strong and fit, they do so without hesitating even though the commander is not allowed to harm them.
Yet we somehow expect civilians who were often starved and manhandled to disobey an armed SS officer who would beat or kill them if they refused.
Sunningdale Ridge, Johannesburg