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What is the Holocaust? From the German Invasion of the Soviet Union until 1945

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On June 22nd 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union, in an operation that was code named “Operation Barbarossa”. In this invasion they reneged on their peace treaty with the Soviet Union that they had signed in August of 1939, but more significantly they had embarked on what they viewed as the most important element of their military conflict in World War II, because in the case of the Soviet Union, they saw two ideologies that might control the
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world, fighting the ultimate war for control of this world: The ideology of good, as they saw it, the Nazi ideology, and the evil of Bolshevism and Communism which was, ipso facto, the Jews. Because as the Nazis saw it, the Jews had created Communism as a tool to control the world, and therefore the Soviet Union - the largest and most significant Communist country in the world - was, in essence, a Jewish country, regardless of who the leaders were, but the Jews control, and this therefore was a war that was going to be a war against the Jews. This was not going to be a war that would be fought according to the regular laws of war.
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Ultimately then, this was a war that was going to include massive murder on a scale unknown in history before that.
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As soon as Germany invaded the Soviet Union, special murder units of the SS and the German police entered and began murdering primarily Jews, and also various Communist officials and so on, but their main target was Jews. But by the end of 1941, in that first stage, the first 6 months of murder, they had already murdered 800,000 Jews or even more. But the murder expanded gradually, beginning in the second half of the summer of 1941, with discussions inside of Nazi Germany about bringing other Jews into this picture of murder.
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Because as Germany now looked around and saw they had even more millions of Jews under their rule and there was nowhere to send them, and there is no other solution, they felt themselves, ironically, trapped, and now they had to deal with the problem of so many millions of Jews. And they determined that the only solution to the problem was to kill the problem.
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But it was a process to reach that decision: They began discussing including the Jews of the Third Reich in the murder, parallel to the murder in the Soviet Union. Their ally - Romania, began murdering Jews on their own in territories that Romania controlled in Romania and the Ukraine. And particularly inside of Poland, one SS general named Odilo Globocnik began organizing plans to murder the Jews of the areas of Poland where he had influence, which included more than two million Jews, and that became, later on, what was known as “Operation Reinhardt”.
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Parallel to that, experiments began at the end of the summer of 1941 to design gas vehicles - lorries, or vans - into which you could load several dozen Jews, drive around for a few minutes and kill them. They experimented with a number of prototypes until they reached the correct model, and then they began using that model in various places, but primarily in a new camp, that was constructed in November of 1941 and opened on December 8th 1941, that was Chelmno. And parallel to that they experiment with a different kind of gas, at the concentration camp known as Auschwitz.
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And in early September 1941, the first experiment using Zyklon B, the prussic acid, which was a pesticide for agriculture, was being adapted, and the experiment was found to be successful enough that they then embarked upon improving on the model and looking to build gas chambers that would use that method of gassing. And therefore we have parallel developments during the course of the second
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half of 1941: Massive shooting, gas vans, murder in other places, planning on bringing Jews from all over Europe into the murder areas that were being prepared, and murder by the exhaust of engines, “Operation Reinhardt” being planned by Globocnik - all of this coalesced, by the end of 1941, became the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.
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By the end of 1942 the Germans had already murdered millions of Jews, but there were still remaining before them many Jews, more millions, all over Europe and North Africa, whom they wanted to capture and to bring to the murder centers in order to kill them. And they embarked on that mission during the course of 1943 and the subsequent years until the end of World War II, where the murder did not stop until the end of the war. Auschwitz became ultimately the largest and most industrialized murder center of the entire history. Auschwitz came online fully during the course of 1943. All of the gas chambers at Birkenau, the murder center of Auschwitz-Birkenau, were online by the summer of 1943 and were
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now prepared to kill all these arriving Jews: Jews from Greece, Jews from Italy, and the peak - the Jews from Hungary. In the course of the spring and summer of 1944, some 437,000 Jews from Hungary were brought to Auschwitz and nearly all of them killed upon arrival, in a period of just eight weeks. Ultimately Auschwitz murdered more than a million people, nearly all of them Jews.
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As the Red Army approached Auschwitz, the Germans shut down the murder operations in Auschwitz and they marched out the majority of the remaining prisoners, some 57,000 approximately, in a death march through the snow, without any provisions, shooting thousands on the way as they marched them towards Germany, and only a few thousands were remaining in the camp itself when the Soviets arrived on January 27th of 1945.
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So if we come to sum up the Holocaust, we can say that the Nazis achieved some of their goals, but they did not achieve all of their goals. They murdered six million Jews, the Jews have never replenished their numerical numbers. If before the war there were between sixteen and seventeen million Jews, at the end of World War II there were fewer than eleven million. And today, at the peak of Jewish growth since World War II, there are approximately 13 million Jews in the world. They seriously damaged aspects of Jewish culture - Ladino and Yiddish and other things. They wiped out Jewish communities that have never been reconstituted, and have been essentially wiped off the map.
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In that sense the Nazis achieved some of their goals, but the Nazis also failed because the Jewish people are still here. The Jewish people did not win World War II, the Jewish people survived World War II, but in that survival lies the Nazi failure.

We now follow the German invasion into the Soviet Union and the ensuing systems of mass murder that are the heart of the Holocaust.

The aspects of territorial expansion in Europe and the escalating policies against the Jews in each country are intertwined. What does this teach us about the Nazi plans for future world domination?

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Poetry and the Holocaust

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