Holocaust is a time in the history of the Jews when they were taken as captives by the German armies. The Jews lost their identity and their relatives in this period. The Germans took them to concentration camps in their countries. They separated the women from the men on their arrival to these camps. These concentration camps posed many problems for the Jews. This is because they the German police officers tortured these Jews and gave them little to eat. They usually slept in the cold during snow time. After liberation, several Jewish writers came up with a variety of criticisms. They criticized their captivators. They also wrote about their experiences in the camps. This time of captivity has shaped the life of the Jews.
Berenbaum and Roth in the prologue of their book "Holocaust" posed a question to the reader. The question is who what where when and how did all these happen. The German Nazis took the Jews into their concentration camps. They capture men, women, children, and the old. They take them all to concentration camps in Auschwitz. The Germans forced the Jews to partake difficult work. They beat up the Jews and gave them little to eat. The Jews suffered immensely during wintertime. It is a reflection on the experiences of the Jewish in the camps. What reason prompted the Germans to take them into their captivity? The Jews barely survived this period. Most of them died in the winter and from several diseases like dysentery. It is a story of how the Jews lived in these camps and how those who survived did it.
Judith Baumel in her book has highlighted several problems that the women encountered in the German camps. Initially when the German Nazis set to capture the Jews, they wanted to arrest the men only. They arrested women, children, and the male fraternity because they could not identify the difference between men and women. Judith narrates the experiences of women in their camps. The women tried their best to make to the end. They had children who wanted the mothers help. The Nazis gave these women little food to eat. They sometimes went without food. In the morning, the barbed wires were full of children's clothes. It was the survival of a mother trying to make ends meet for their young ones.
The children had been taken away from the life they knew. That is diapers and food. The Nazis gave women difficult work to do. They beat them up and sometimes raped them. Their men were not around to protect them. Women are considered vulnerable human beings, but the experiences they went through in the camp made them strong. What humanity is left if a person can beat up women who do not measure them in their strength? What prompted the Nazis to rape women and mistreat their children (Baumel, 1998)?
Primo Levi in his article "Survival in Auschwitz" narrates his story from the time he was deported to the German camps, his life in the camp and how he survived the ordeal. The writer got an experience first hand. He explains how the Germans dehumanized the Jews. He says that life in the concentration camp was a process of dehumanizing human beings. The German Nazi forced them to strip their clothes. How dehumanizing this is. They remained naked during winter. The Germans forced them to run in the cold. He barely survived this time. The Nazis replaced their names with numbers.
They called the Jews using numbers and not names. The Germans forced the Jews to cut all the hair. The cutting was not the usual shaving but sheering. The question here is what makes up a human being? It is the issue of identity and dignity. How far then can a human being who has been stripped of identity and dignity fall? Many people will not know how much it takes to survive when one has been derived of everything. A person can survive without food at least when they have some form of human dignity. Levi managed to survive all these forms of dehumanization (Levi, 1996).
These experiences are either first hand or narrations to the writers by survivors. The Jews faced difficult times during holocaust. It has shaped the religious philosophies of the Jews.