In Greek, the word holocaust had an original meaning of “Sacrifice by fire” and was also known as The Shoah in Hebrew. Holocaust was a program of methodical, bureaucratic (Holocaust encyclopedia, 2011), state-guarantied maltreatment and Genocide of approximately six million European Jews (with 1.5 million being children) and destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities (jewishvirtuallibrary.org, 2011), by the Nazi Germany regime and its collaborators in the entire Nazi-engaged territory during the World War II.
This massive death accounted for the perishing of about two-thirds of all the nine million population of European continent Jews and a third of the world’s Jewish population. The death victims did not die in fighting that ravaged the European continent during world war II but rather a deliberate attempt to annihilate the whole Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called “Final solution” (jewishvirtuallibrary.org, 2011).
The holocaust refers to the era from 30th January 1933, when Adolf Hitler turned out to be Germany’s chancellor, to 8th May, 1945 (VE Day), when Europe war ended (Bartov, 2000). By 1930, Hitler was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party and chancellor elect, after his party won the vote in 1932 elections. This was marked by anti-Semite measures by the socialists symbolizing end of equality of citizenship (Longerich, 2010. p.10). The origin of the holocaust went back to the period after Christ when three anti-Jewish policies: conversion, expulsion, and annihilation became very apparent (Bartov, 2000, p.25).
Expulsion appeared an alternative to conversion while annihilation was alternative to repulsion. Conversion had fallen into deaf ears since the Jews refused to convert to Catholic Christianity (Longerich, 2010). This resulted to the anti-Semites hating the Jews and believing that they couldn’t be changed, converted, or assimilated; they were a refined product with concrete ways, fixed notions and strong beliefs (Bartov, 2000, p.25). The expulsion and segregation policy was taken on by the Nazis and was the goal of all anti-Jewish activity till 1941-the anti-Jewish turning point.
Nazis found themselves amidst war in 1941, confined several Jews in Ghettos, and with their evacuation impossible, and a project to ship the Jews to Madagascar in Africa failed. Just then, the territorial solution or the final solution to Jewry in Europe hit Nazis minds-kill all Jews that is, annihilation (Crowe, 2008, p. 52). These three stages describe the Nazis destruction cycle with the missionaries having said, “You have no right to live among us as Jews”, a slogan that was repeated by the worldly rulers and later the Nazis declaration that Jews had no right to live.
In the Nazis Empire, 1938 was a year that saw the intensification of the integration of architectural goals with measures aimed against the Jewish community, especially in Berlin (DeCoste & Schwartz, 2000, p.146). On the contrary, the German Jews were subject to both broad state policy as well as certain policies of specific Nazis institution especially the Anti-Semites. This resulted to the denial of basic political, economic and social rights and Anti-Semites -controlled forced labor concentration camps particularly after the start of World War II in 1938.
According to DeCoste and Schwartz (2010), the forced labor concentration camps were characterized by architectural policy and the prisoners were murdered coupled with Anti-Semites interest in stone production to finish colossal buildings bespoke by state and Party. In 1941, death camps were established. The forced labor concentration camps were set up around quarrying and brick making facilities like the Kreis’s Solders’ Hall with large amounts of granite requirements.
The solders’ hall was a focus of Anti-Semites to try and build a financial empire through the output of the forced labor concentration camps which had been set up to punish and kill the state’s political and philosophical enemies. By the spring of 1942, the Nazis had well-known six killing centers or death camps in Poland: Chelmno (Kulmhof), Treblinka, Belzec, Maidanek, Sobibor, and Auschwitz.
They were located close to railway lines to facilitate easy daily Jews transport. A huge structure of camps, called the Lagersystem, held up the death camps whose purposes varied: some were forced labor camps, transport camps, concentration camps and consequent sub camps, and the dishonorable death camps. Some camps merged all named purposes or a number of them.
Major characteristic of all camps was they were excruciatingly brutal (Varie, 2007). The key concentration camps were Ravensbruck, Bergen-Belsen, Neuengamme, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Theresienstadt, Flossenburg, and Natzweiler-Struth of, Dachau, Dora/Nordhausen, Stutthof, and Mauthausen (Donald, Anthony and Jeremy, 2005).In an article on the development of tattooing, by George and Trenton (2009), Auschwitz concentration camp was the only camp where prisoners were systematically tattooed during the Holocaust. This was a means of identification of prisoners that came after the use of serial numbers and category. The serial numbers were then sewn on the individual’s uniform.
Though not absolutely determined, it can be seen that tattooing was a means of identification.In almost each country teeming with the Nazis, the Jews had to wear insignia to clearly mark them as Jews; they were concentrated into ghettos or concentration camps and steadily transported to the murder centers. The death camps were fundamentally industrial unit for killing the Jews. The Germans transported thousands of Jews to them on daily basis (Varie, 2007) and in a few hours of Jewish arrival, the Jews had been denied all their belongings and treasures, burnt to death, and their bodies burned in particularly intended crematoriums.
Approximately 3.5 million Jews were put to death in these death camps. The rest were died on death marches while others died out of hunger.The relationship between architecture and the genocide as found in the brutal extreme sites of the ss political power over the death camps which were mainly inhabited by the Jewish prisoners. The architecture of the death camps was a matter of consideration, due to the contiguous political reasons behind it. In these camps, architects played a vital role though not for aesthetic reasons.
It was found that the death camps at Auschwitz were due to the active nature of architects, bureaucrats etc at these camps since they were driven by the ideology for developing the destruction process (DeCoste & Schwartz, 2000, p.146). The creative components of the death camps were symbols of seeing the intricacy of the destruction process and how it developed from methodical and extensive policy of oppression.
The holocaust ended in specific places when the Allies advanced on German army, gradually enlightening the camps in 1944-1945 (Neil, 2008). For instance, the Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945 by the soviets. The formal end of holocaust occurred when the Second World War ended and the German troops laid down their arms while Adolph Hitler committed suicide.
The associate armies then liberated all other prisoners left behind in the concentration camps a move that entirely buried the holocaust and all its activities (jewishvirtuallibrary, 2011). In this period, about 50,000- 100,000 Jewish survivors lived in America, British, and Soviet. The American occupation zone had at least 90% of Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs), who could not go back to their homes for fear of anti-Semitic neighbors and the bad memory it, rekindled.
Bartov A. (2000). Holocaust: Origin, Implementation, Aftermath. Routledge. London.
Crowe M. D., (2008). Holocaust: Roots, History, Aftermath. West view Press. United States of America: USA.
DeCoste F.C. and Schwartz B., (2004). The holocaust’s ghost: Writing on art, politics, law, and education. University of Alberta Press. Canada: CA. p. 146-60
Donald B., Anthony R. and Jeremy K., (2005). Holocaust: Critical Historic Approaches. Manchester University Press. New York: USA.
George Rosenthal and Trenton, (2007). The evolution of tattooing in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. (Qtd in The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Retrieved on 22-03-2011 from http://bibletattoo.com/2009/12/nazi-world-war-two-holocaust-concentration-camp-tattoos/ last updated on 01-12-2009.
Jewish virtual Library, (2011). History of the Holocaust: an introduction. Retrieved on 21-03-2011 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/history.html last updated 2011
Longerich P., (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford University Press. New York: NY.
Neil Tonge, (2008). The holocaust. Rosen Publishing Group Inc. New York: NY.
United states Holocaust Memorial Museum, (2011). Holocaust history: Introduction to the Holocaust. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 21-03-2011 from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143 last updated on 6th January, 2011.
Varie Bodden, (2007). The Holocaust. Creative Education. United States of America: USA.