Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945

Leah Rhiannon Savage

Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945

In recent decades, historiography has emerged that focuses on the importance of memory history and the importance of remembering the past in modern society. Remembering the past is essential for societal progression as ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ It is crucial that modern society learns from its past and that people are educated on past atrocities and tragedies and their origins to ensure that these actions or extremist perceptions do not reoccur. The Holocaust or Shoah was one of the most harrowing events in human history that occurred from the years of 1933-45. This is an event that arose from a prejudiced and discriminatory regime: “Age-old prejudice led to discrimination, discrimination to persecution, persecution to incarceration, incarceration to annihilation. Mass murder, which culminated with the killing of six million Jews, did not begin with the Jews nor did it encompass only the Jews.” This tragedy changed international identities and dramatically affected millions of people’s lives. It was a traumatic event that must not be repeated and therefore modern communities and society must be educated on the event so such extremist views do not carry weight in the modern world.
Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945
Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Concentration Camp

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Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945
Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Origins of the Holocaust

The origins of the Holocaust stemmed from the rise of the Nazi party, following the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933. His autocratic control of Germany demonstrated a systematic and cruel treatment of anyone who didn’t fit into the Nazi’s perception of the ‘perfect German race’ or ‘Aryan race’. This escalated into the mass murder of over 6 million people in a German plan known as ‘The Final Solution’, which saw the destruction and the genocide of Jews, Romani people, disabled, homosexuals and political protesters during the Nazi regime between the years of 1941-45. The Nazi party had ideologies of anti-semitism and discrimination even before they established power. As early as 1919, Adolf Hitler had written “Rational anti-Semitism, however, must lead to systematic legal opposition.… Its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether.” This was followed by his publication of Mein Kampf in 1925-7. Therefore, remembering the Holocaust acknowledges the dangers of rising ideologies, the dangers of fascist and extremist governments and how this process of harrowing mass murder of millions, started with prejudice and discrimination on a much smaller scale that escalated due to the indoctrination of fascist ideologies. The Nazis referred to the Jews in particular as ‘Untermenschen’ or sub-humans and discriminated against them. The Jews were perceived as a ‘race’ rather than a religious group that needed to be eradicated for the purity of the German culture. This discriminatory ideology resulted in the mass annihilation of entire families and communities. The Nazi party came to power in 1933 intending to consolidate their power and cleanse Germany of all political and social opponents to their ideologies. Anyone who was considered non-Aryan and non-German was to be removed as quickly as possible. The German people were also indoctrinated and propaganda was used to ensure that the Nazi way of thinking was the only one allowed within the country. Similarly, Jewish iconography, literature and communities were destroyed to ensure that the Jews could not ‘pollute’ the country. In 1935, the political system went further establishing the Nürnberg Laws the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour and the Law of the Reich Citizen. This ostracised anyone who was not considered ‘German’ in the eyes of the Nazis by law and placed a direct threat on anyone who did not conform or fit into this perception. The Nazis established more concentration camps across Europe to house their victims and force them to either die from forced labour or become so weak and ill that they could be forcibly transported to death camps when the Nazis organised this. Anyone who objected or attempted to fight back was immediately shot and many others were killed merely because they were too ill to work in mass shootings. As more and more people were imprisoned by the Nazis it was perceived that they were not dealing with the problem efficiently enough. This resulted in the establishment of death camps to speed up killings through the use of gas chambers.
Ancestry UK

The Importance of Remembering the Holocaust

Remembering those lost to the tragedies of the Holocaust is of crucial importance to the progression of modern society as: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Remembering the Holocaust, painful as it may be, ensures that society does not forget the dangers of extremism and discrimination in society. It is a reminder that discrimination and prejudice on a small scale can escalate into a national ideology that causes widespread persecution and tragedy. The treatment of the Jews and other minorities during World War II was traumatic and a tragedy, an event which must be learned from and not repeated. Those lives lost should be commemorated and remembered for all they suffered, and the survivors of the event should be celebrated for their bravery, and courage and for carrying on their lives after such a devastating experience. The commemoration of International Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th of January is, therefore, an essential time to remember the painful history, whilst also celebrating those who have rebuilt their lives. This day is dedicated to the importance of the memory of history and remembering the Holocaust, but society must remember this event always to prevent the reoccurrence of such widespread discrimination of communities and people.
Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945
Auschwitz Gates
Memory History: The History of the Holocaust 1933-1945

Leah Rhiannon Savage

Leah Rhiannon Savage, a 25-year-old Historian and working mother from Nottingham. Specialism in Early Modern British History, with a particular interest in Early Modern Scottish History. Dissertations on ‘The Origins of John Knox’s Social Thought with a focus on his attitudes towards women ’ and ‘The Social Experiences of the Female Relatives of Robert Bruce during his rise to power 1296-1314.’ A holder of a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, a Masters in History and a Bachelors in History. Working in Further and Higher Education Access and Inclusion Tutor, with six years of experience working in various education providers including colleges, a university, secondary schools, primary schools and SEN settings, supporting students to achieve in the face of adversity. Working currently with students in further and higher education who have special educational needs, helping differentiate learning and making learning accessible for them. Two years working as a Freelance Writer and Published Historian for three history Magazines, as well as a Sub-Editor for The Historians Magazine. History Enthusiast with a passion for education and promoting history.
Queen Elizabeth I Coronation
Queen Elizabeth I
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