Holocaust is one of the horrible things that the world has ever witnessed. The mass murder of 6 million European Jews, as well as millions of others, including Gypsies, physically challenged people, and homosexuals by the German Nazi regime during the Second World War can never be forgotten. After Hitler came to power, the Jews were persecuted in many ways. They were deprived of their civil rights, their properties were confiscated and many were confined to ghettos. Eventually, the Nazis came up with the notion of the Final Solution, which was to exterminate the Jews completely.

Beginning in late 1941, the Germans began mass transports of Jews to the concentration camps, starting with those people viewed as the least useful. They were the sick, old and weak and the very young. The first mass gassings began at the camp of Belzec, near Lublin, on March 17, 1942. Five more mass killing centres were built at camps in occupied Poland. From 1942 to 1945, Jews were deported to the camps from all over Europe, including German-controlled territory as well as those countries allied with Germany.

Though the Nazis tried to keep the operation of camps secret, the scale of the killing made this virtually impossible. Eyewitnesses brought reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland to the Allied governments, who were harshly criticized after the war for their failure to respond or to publicize news of the mass slaughter. This lack of action was likely mostly due to the Allied focus on winning the war at hand but was also a result of the general incomprehension with which news of the Holocaust was met and the denial and disbelief that such atrocities could be occurring on such a scale.

The Fallout

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In the aftermath of the Holocaust the UNO in its Charter pledged to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction to race, sex, language and religion. The UN efforts to protect human rights on a global basis resulted in the constitution of the UN Commission on Human Rights. A committee constituted under its auspices was chaired by the widow of President Franklin Roosevelt. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was its important contribution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights set forth fundamental human rights in 30 articles. The UN adopted this historic Charter on 10 December 1948 and this day is observed globally as Human Rights Day.

Birth of Israel

A major outcome of the Holocaust was the creation of the state of Israel as a homeland for the Jews. While this was historically the original home of the Jews during Roman times, the Jews had dispersed across Europe, and the region was predominantly populated by Muslims by the twentieth century. Carving out a Jewish state in this region has created continuous tensions in West Asia. There is a continuous state of hostility between the Arab states and Israel. Israel has occupied large parts of Palestinian homelands. Israel derives vast support from the United States.

Holocaust was not only a Jewish tragedy but also a human tragedy.

Simon Wiesenthal


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