The Holocaust is an event that is often not talked about primarily because of its horrific history. This tragic occurrence is left in the darkest of annals in the history of our world. And for good reason. It’s not an enjoyable topic. It doesn’t bring laughter or evoke memories of a better world. It was a nightmare and the people who survived it are leading shattered lives. Some of them will even admit that their lives will never be the same.
Pacific Lutheran University is doing the Holocaust justice. On Feb. 20 and 21, a myriad of keynote speakers will be sharing their thoughts on what the Holocaust, or Shoah, really means to them, in addition to genocide. In order to get a better understanding of the implications of the Holocaust, one must delve into the unforgiving statistics of one of the most infamous exterminations of our generation.
The Jews were not spared during the Holocaust. More than 5,800,000 Jews were slaughtered, but they didn’t all die in the gas chambers, according to Judah Gribetz, author of “The Timetables of Jewish History: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in Jewish History.” While 3.3 million Jews were killed in gas chambers, 2 million were killed by one of the most feared task forces of their time: the Einsatzgruppen.
The Einsatzgruppen were Schutzstaffel paramilitary Nazi death squads that were responsible for mass killings. This group would round up Jews and mow them down in remote locations with an array of bullets. Additionally, the Einsatzgruppen would force the Jews to dig mass graves, only to be shot down into these ditches later on.
Most of the Jews who were slain were from the Polish-Soviet area, about 4,565,000 in total. The two other largest groups of Jews who were mercilessly murdered were either from Czechoslovakia or Hungary.
The Jew population was once thriving in Germany. At least before 1933. In 1933, the Jew population in Germany was 503,000. In 1939, the death toll began to rise, resulting in a severe decrease in the Jewish population in Germany. Only 234,000 Jews remained alive in Germany in 1939. That number only dwindled as the years ticked on by. In 1941, the Jewish population in Germany was 164,000. In 1969, the number was 30,000, according to Gribetz. The Jews were nearly depleted.
The Holocaust serves as a reminder that hate is still coursing through our world. All across the world today, there are nations in disarray. Injustice is taking its toll.
The chief purpose of the Shoah event at PLU is to help people understand genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Our world is slowly dying as a result of global warming. The last thing we need is dictators and tyrants to hasten that process.