About 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust from 1933-1945 under Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. The Nazis thought Germans were racially superior to the Jews. Other groups that were targeted were Slavic groups (Poles, Russians), Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, mentally or physically disabled patients, and other political groups such as Communists and Socialists. After years of being persecuted, Hitler established the "Final Solution". Jews were deported to concentration camps where there was forced labor. Then millions went to mass killing centers where they were murdered in gas chambers. At the end of the war those remaining were evacuated from the concentration camps and were enlisted in forced death marches; they didn't want the prisoners to be able to tell their stories to Allied and Soviet liberators.
The story of Anne Frank is one of the better-known ones from the Holocaust. Anne was a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family in the annex of her father's firm to escape from the Nazis. She along with seven others hid in the secret annex for two years. During those two years in hiding, Anne wrote in her diary about events in the annex along with short stories. Anne and the others had to keep very quiet and were often frightened that they would be found. They were helped by office workers and a warehouse manager who gave them food, books, and clothes; it was their only point of contact with the outside world. Eventually they were discovered. They were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Anne died from disease in the camps and her father Otto Frank was the only one of the eight who survived.
YouTube - Anne Frank House
Lydia Tischler is a Holocaust survivor. Out of her classmates of 38 children, she is one of the 6 who survived. Lydia was in various concentration camps from September 1942 to May 1945. She remembers at the concentration camps in Auschwitz there was a process of selection, although people didn't know that's what it was. They were either sent to the left that was the side for the living or to the right that was the side for gas; she was sent to the left and her mother was sent to the right. Her hair was shaved off, she worked in the market gardens where she was able to smuggle fruit once in awhile, and because the well-known actors, musicians, writers, and professors were also in the camps, there was a sense of culture. On a psychological aspect, she understands why there has been some denial of the holocaust; when things are so outside of normal human experience it becomes hard to believe. One thing that she says she's learned from this experience is that they didn't succeed in making her feel like a victim; she's a survivor, which is very different. They took all of her physical belongings but the one thing they couldn't take from her was her soul. She reflects on the fact that everyone has the capacity to be sadistic or horrible to one another, but she has managed not to do it or become revengeful.
YouTube - Channel 4 News
After the Holocaust was over in 1945, the survivors that were left had to rebuild their lives. Many of the Jewish survivors feared returning home because of the persecution that was still going on in Europe. In Poland in the town of Kielce there were anti-Jewish riots going on, and during one of them there were 42 Jews that were killed and at last 40 others that were injured. Thousands of the survivors moved to other areas of Europe that were liberated by the western Allies. Many were housed in refugee centers and displaced persons camps. About 41,000 displaced persons immigrated to the United States in 1945 and another 400,000 by 1949. Around 96,000 of those displaced persons were Jews. About 170,000 Jewish people immigrated to Israel by 1953.
A study by American Psychological Association found that the Holocaust survivors' pain from the trauma they experienced has caused more psychopathological symptoms, more post-traumatic stress symptoms, and they had poorer psychological well-being compared to others in control groups who were not Holocaust survivors. They also found that the Jewish Holocaust survivors in Israel had higher psychological well being compared to those who live in other countries. Overall, there were not many differences in cognitive functioning or physical health.
In Germany teaching about the Holocaust is mandatory in schools. Most students have also visited a Holocaust memorial, museum, or concentration camps. An interview from 2005 with Lars Rensmann, a German professor, revealed that young children typically use the word "Jew" in a condescending manner. They might say, "You look like a Jew" or "You smell like a Jew". She believes the anti-Semitism towards Jews is linked to the Holocaust and notes the importance of teaching it along with the Nazism from that time period. She also mentions that the history curriculum should be improved because the Holocaust is only taught briefly and history classes are only two hours a week.
Jewish Americans have dealt with discrimination even before the Holocaust. They were often looked down upon and during the Holocaust anti-Semitism in the United States grew even more. Many Americans had passive anti-Semitism, meaning they would not physically harm any Jews but they did have negative feelings towards them.
According to the Anti-Demation League (ADL), since last year anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 86 percent. The harassment of Jewish Americans has gone up since last November and anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism has doubled at non-denominational K-12 grade schools. 34 of the incidents last year have been linked to the 2016 election. The incidents have occurred across the country but more so in the states that have a higher Jewish population.