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Essay #1 by Gleb Samoshuk

My Hebrew name is Shamash Betzalel ben Yitzhak. I read in the Britannica® School Encyclopedia that the word Holocaust comes from Greek and means burnt offering. Priests, known as Kohens, sacrificed animals to God. Why was the murder of my people called "Holocaust", I do not know.

For why non humans killed my people without fault, I also do not know. They were killed only because they were born Jews. Why?... I know what happened with my people during World War II but I don't know a lot about Holocaust.

My father, grandfather and grandmother were born and lived in city Pinsk, Belarus. I want to tell, what happened to Jews in that city referring to information on the internet. First, a historical reference about the Jews of the city Pinsk. Jews settled in Pinsk after their expulsion from Lithuania in 1495. Initially, 12-15 families organized the Jewish community, they received permission to open a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. In 1560, the community consisted of 275 people (7% of the city's population), and by 1921, 17513 people (74.6% of the population). In 1853, a government school was opened for children of Jewish merchants, in 1878 a Hebrew school, in 1888 a Jewish Handicraft School was created, Cheder under the guidance of Howei Zion.

In Pinsk there was a department of the Society for the Spread of Enlightenment among the Jews of Russia. The economic significance of Pinsk has significantly increased. Pinsk has become a major center for trade in agricultural products and meat. In this process, the Jews played a major role. In 1914, out of 54 industrial enterprises 47 belonged to the Jews. Jewish agricultural settlement has developed successfully. In 1932, the Jewish population of Pinsk was 20,200, three Jewish weeklies and newspapers were published.

Chaim Weizmann was a delegate to the Zionist congresses of Pinsk, he was president of the World Zionist Organization in 1921-1931; 1935-1946; and the first president of Israel from May 16, 1948-1952. My grandmother is especially proud that she studied in the same school building where Chaim Weizmann studied before. There was a network of Jewish schools in the city: 2 schools of the Poale Zion, 2 schools of the Tarbut movement, a Jewish gymnasium.

From 1939, Pinsk was part of Poland. As soon as the city was passed to the Poles, 35 famous Pinsk Jews were executed on false accusations. This happened on April 5, 1919 (100 years ago!). On September 20, 1939, Pinsk was occupied by the Red Army. All Jewish institutions were liquidated, part of the leaders of the Jewish community were arrested. Many Jews from Pinsk were exiled to Siberia, to the north of Russia and to Kazakhstan. On the eve of the war, the Jewish population of Pinsk was more than 22,000 people.

On July 4, 1941, the Germans occupied Pinsk and the next day, on July 5, 1941, the anti-Jewish rules were declared... If a Pinsk ba ker, not a Jew, did not give up the bread rate to the Germans, they shot the Jews. Jews were obliged to give all the property, even old clothes. If they were hiding something they were shot, but even if the Jews fulfilled all the requirements of the German s, they shot them anyway. On the territory of the Jewish cemetery, the Germans entertained themselves by bringing 50-60 Jewish children there, then they would hunt hungry dogs on them, and let the dogs eat them... In August 1941, the Germans shot 4,500 Jewish men between the ages of 16 and 60. According to the commission investigating the atrocities of the Germans, from August 5th to 7th 1941, 10,000 Jews were shot. On May 1, 1942 the Pinsk ghetto was created. All the surrounding Jews from other European countries were brought to this ghetto.

On June 1942, 3,500 Jews were shot at the Bronnaya Gora station. On October 28, the Pinsk ghetto was liquidated.

Here is a translated (Russian to English) excerpt from the transcript of the Frankfurt Process in 1973:

Headquarters of the SS. Bergal Rasp, Commander of the SD in Pinsk Rasku and Gebitskomissary (personally). The SS Headquarters entrusts you with organizing, in the period from August to September 1942, the liquidation of the district's Jewish population. Gebitskomissariat is obliged to take care in the shortest possible time on the preparation of the action. The promotion must be carried out in accordance with the following plan:
1. It is necessary to prepare pits for burial of corpses in advance.
2. Hermetically close the ghetto.
3. Jews should be concentrated in one place for a more organized escort to the place of action. 4. March accompanied by guards - columns for a hundred people (100).
5. Jews are to line up near the moats with their backs to armed machine gunners.
6. The following groups must lie down on the corpses and be shot from close range.
7. Before and after the action, security forces and SD receive vodka. "
Thus, on the outskirts of the city, according to the reports of the Germans, 26,200 Jews were liquidated. According to eyewitnesses ,soil that was on the top of the corpses in the moat moved for another 3 days.

My grandmother said that when a column of Jews was led through the city, people were driven to the side of the road to watch and some Jews threw their small children into the crowd, thus some of these children were hidden and saved. My dad's grandmother told that she was a teenager and she and other Jews fled to the forest. The Germans searched for them in the forest with dogs, so they had to stand in the swamp, chest high in the water all day long, while there were raids. This happened in winter-spring time and the water was icy, but it was the only chance for salvation. Another case was where the Jewish man Spevak was hidden by residents in a well.

I am sorry that this сatastrophe that befell the Jewish people is almost forgotten. Most young people in different countries don't know much about it. Recent studies have shown that even now 30% of Europeans know nothing about the Holocaust, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of which is celebrated on January 27th. According to a survey of Americans, 11 percent either had not heard of the Holocaust or weren't sure whether they'd heard of it. But even more, I am sorry th at the Jewish youth living in the diaspora do not know enough about this, too. Last year (2018), a survey was also conducted among European communities, which showed that nine out of ten Jews living in Europe see an increase in anti-Semitic attitudes. Nowadays, there is still a lot of hatred and anti-Semitism and if we do not keep the memory of that terrible time the lesson will not be learned.

I told the story of one city in Belarus, the city of my family, how the people, who raised this city , made it developed and prosperous, has perished. Now there is a synagogue in Pinsk, a Yeshiva, a Jewish school for girls, but only a few hundred Jews live there. Pupils in the Pinsk Yeshiva come from all over Belarus and even from European countries. But those tens of thousands of Jews who were executed on the outskirts of the city silently cry out to our memory, to our hearts. My grandmother's mom survived in this Catastrophe and the grandfather's parents survived, so my dad was born, and then me. But those who lie in those moats did not continue their kind and therefore today w e remember and weep for them. They themselves can not tell about the terrible events that they experienced, but we have to do it for them and many others, so that it is not forgotten and does not happen again. Today we are giving birth to children and we want a lot of them to be born, because this is our answer to those who wanted to destroy the Jewish people at all times.

Grandmother

My great-grandmother Olga

The Holocaust affects me deeply. I understand now how scary it was during the Holocaust and I don't want it to happen again.


Essay #2 by Jeremy Pearlman

The goal of the Nuremberg Laws was to persecute and take away the feeling of importance in Jews in an attempt to make one race, the German race, superior to all others. I will try to explain in this essay how I feel about the Holocaust, and how the Nuremberg Laws tied into almost making Jews in Europe extinct. I feel like a lot of the time people think the past isn't important, however, in my opinion, the past is just as important as the present, and the future because if we don't learn from our mistakes we can repeat them again. I feel that understanding how the Holocaust affects our lives in the 21st century is an important topic. We hear people complain about how bad the world is today, however, we have to imagine how bad it was for however, we have to imagine how bad it was for people back then before we complain about our own problems. Our society has become very narrow minded, and we think that our problems can't get any worse, but we don't consider what our friends, neighbors, and even our ancestors, think about, or how horrible their problems are, or the traumatic experiences they faced. Society's mistakes in the past should help guide us to have a happier and more peaceful future. We know that slavery, the Holocaust, and other injustices, are horrible and destructive events from our past. We need to learn how not to repeat them in the future.

As time goes on, society will make more mistakes, but we need to learn from those mistakes, to help build a better future for our family, friends, and even random people we have never met. I believe a life is a life, and nobody is more important than another human being. It doesn't matter if you are rich, powerful, or have nice things, I believe the random person walking next to us on the street is just as important as we are. The Nuremberg Laws tried to deny Jews the right to feel important. The Germans tried to make one pure race that was supposed to be the strongest, and the most powerful race in the world. We need to be careful that we don't repeat these mistakes and fix problems as we see them coming and before they happen so nothing bad like that will ever happen again.

Everyone is their own person and we all know this to be true. With all the different organizations trying to make everyone equal this is showing a pleasant change to the global politics. These groups today realize that everyone is equal and that everyone should be kind to each other, and this shows a real improvement in our society. Even less than a hundred years ago, it was still thought certain groups of people were considered inferior. We all know know how horrible that is, however, certain people still think that those groups are inferior. Imagine what the world would think now if an event like the Holocaust happened again. After the Holocaust happened, countries didn't care about the starving, suffering people that were trying to find a new home, and start a better life and turned Jews away in a heartbeat. Everyone needs to know what being a good human being means, it doesn't matter if they are a baby or on their deathbed, it doesn't matter what you think being a good human means, it always boils down to being kind to your fellow man. If we all know that being kind to each other is the most important thing, and we try to be the best person we can be, we won't have to worry about another event like the Holocaust happening ever again. Even if it does because some horrible person who doesn't care about their fellow man comes to power, we will allow people to come and start a new life instead of sending them away. The Nuremberg Laws tried to keep people down and not to do what they wanted to do, and the Nuremberg Laws even kept people from marrying the person they loved. We need to be kind to our fellow person and not oppress them. All humans need to know that, because we are a society, we need to work together to make the world a better place. Everyone needs to realize that fighting, arguing, and threatening will never move us forward as people, rather, it will take us backwards. Our society needs to realize that humans work best together not separately.

The Holocaust affects me and my family in many different ways. One sad example is that I have family that was tragically killed during the Holocaust. This is really sad to me because that's almost a full generation of my family that I never got to meet all because of one man's ambition to rule the world under one pure race. Also, it left mental effects on my family and my ancestors after being oppressed. One example is the Nuremberg Laws, which boycotted business owned by Jews, didn't let Germans marry Jews, even if they loved each other, and didn't allow Jews to employ Germans to work in their homes. This leaves a mental effect of being inferior, and that feeling is passed down from generation to generation. It's just like people who are black whose ancestors were oppressed and now they feel that they don't matter as much. Jews felt the same way after the Holocaust, and that idea of being inferior is hard to get out of your family, which is how it was for my ancestors. I hope that I can try to change that feeling and start to feel free and independent and not let other things bother me. The way that not just my family but other families were treated connects us in a certain way. In a way, I feel this is a good thing because we all faced the same problems, so we are all connected in a big way. Even though it may be for a horrible reason, it is comforting to know we always have each other as Jews. That makes me feel good knowing that there are always other Jewish people in the world that aren't my family that I can fall back on and rely on if I need to. We all went through such a horrific time, and because anti-semitism has been so persistent in history, I will always feel on guard to make sure that anti-semitism doesn't affect my family, my friends, or my community.


Essay #3 by Eden Knight

Today, the story of the Holocaust serves as a warning to the world to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. But what did this particular mistake teach us? What exactly led to this organized genocide and allowed it to happen? Analyzing the events and environment of German society leading up to the Holocaust is crucial in preventing such horrific events from occurring again.

In order to significantly change a society's values and governmental system the way that Adolf Hitler changed Germany's, laws must be passed that enforce radical new ideals. But of course these ideals are rarely embraced unless the targeted society is able to be convinced that they are the solution to all of the country's hardships. Thus the country's vulnerability to extreme ideological change is heightened the more severe the issues. After the first World War Germany was suffering from devastating inflation. In addition, the country had lost a major war and been shamed for the defeat by their enemies. For these reasons German spirits were low. Hitler took advantage of the need for a strong, confident leader and intensified the Germans' anti-Semitic beliefs by using Jews and other non-Aryans as scapegoats for Germany's misfortunes.

Though the true cause of Hitler's anti-Semitic ideas remains unclear, he was certainly clever and resourceful in spreading them. Assisted by his powerful speaking skills and taking advantage of Germany's horrendous economic situation and lack of roads to rehabilitation, Hitler gained the people's favor by giving them hope for a better future with the use of socialist practices to bring more economic equality and prosperity to the country. The National Socialist party gained two-hundred and thirty out of six-hundred and eight seats in the Reichstag during the July 1932 elections, or German parliament, compared to twelve seats out of four-hundred and ninety-one in the 1928 election. The Nazi party now had the greatest representation in the Reichstag of any German political party. When chancellor Heinrich Bruning decided to cut government expenses, wages, and unemployment benefits the Nazi's position with the people of Germany was boosted, especially among the lower class workers, who were most deeply affected by and angry with the new expenditure policies.

President Hindenburg, along with many Germans, felt that with Bruning as chancellor the German government was chaotic. Heinrich Bruning was dismissed from his position as chancellor to the Weimar Republic on May 30th, 1942. Struggling to find a permanent replacement for Bruning, Hindenburg appointed and discharged two more chancellors over the course of eight months. Franz von Papen was second of these replacements. He and President Hindenburg came up with a plan to gain the support of the Nazi party by offering Adolf Hitler the position of vice chancellor. However, power-hungry Hitler demanded the position of head chancellor. Hindenburg agreed and Hitler was promoted to chancellor in January of 1933. Now that he held an executive position in German government, Hitler strategized to use article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which allowed the president to make decisions without the consent of the Reichstag in situations of "emergencies", to pass laws that would allow him to gain complete control of Germany, slowly turning it into a dictatorship.

By employing this political strategy and scapegoating minorites, Hitler created a welcoming environment for his Nuremberg laws, which defined Jews as lesser than human and restricted their rights to German citizenship, free marriage, and more fundamental civil rights. The laws, which distinguished between citizens of pure German blood as opposed to "German subjects" of Jewish blood, were based solely on race and bloodline rather than overt religious Jewish practice and beliefs. Eventually, these laws determined who would become a victim of the Holocaust.

Today, if similar laws were passed in the United States and they were successfully followed and enforced, I would not be able to enjoy privileges that I do now, like going to college or being friends with whoever I choose. I would be forced into living a life of ostracization and shame for my culture and descent. But it is quite likely that given the historical experience the world has had with mass-genocide, we would be more careful in preventing it and more aware of the key circumstances that led to a dictator like Hitler coming to power. By studying the events leading up to the Holocaust that were sometimes small but still consequential, hopefully our society would be able to stop tragedy in its tracks.

In order to prevent tyrants like Hitler from coming to power, it is important to make sure that different political parties and opinions always have a say in the passing of laws and the appointment of leaders. This requires all citizens to be allowed to vote on these decisions. By assuring that every adult is allowed a political opinion citizens governments can prevent one party or person from bringing radical violent change to a country the way that Hitler and the Nazis did to Germany.

Essay is very good and well thought out. What you still don't address is the second question of the prompt: how would your life be impacted if something like the Nuremberg laws were passed? Please use the conditional tense (would, rather than will) in discussing this. Your use of the future tense gives an intensely chilling effect to the writing, as if you are darkly predicting a catastrophic future. Answering this second prompt would come before the end of the essay as you have it now, where you discuss how historical insight and awareness are our best defenses against a similar tragedy.


Essay 4 by Ben Katz

The Nuremberg Laws, and the laws leading up to them, were sets of rules made to discriminate against people who weren't of the German Aryan race. In 1933, a legislation put a limitation on what Jewish people could do in a German society. The first important law to take away the rights of the Jewish people in German society was the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Services" of April 7, 1933. This was a law that excluded Jews and "politically unreliable" workers from state services. In April of 1933 German authority also made it so only a certain amount of Jews could attend German schools and universities! In 1934, Jewish actors were not even allowed to perform on stage!

In 1935, the Nazi's set out new laws in Nuremberg. These laws are known as the Nuremberg Laws (The laws against the Jews). These laws took rights away from anyone that was considered Jewish by German law (this meant anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents. Even if that person converted to Christianity). With these new laws, Jews and citizens that were considered Jewish weren't allowed to: vote or hold office, but in October of 1935 another role was added. It was the "Law for the Protection of the Hereditary Health of the German People," and citizens of Germany that were Jewish couldn't marry or have sexual relationships with anyone that was "German." This rule didn't just affect Jews. It also affected citizens with hereditary illnesses. converted citizens with hereditary illnesses couldn't marry "German Blood," because Nazi leaders thought these citizens would unpurify Germany. This goes along with Hitler's idea of a "Perfect German Society." Now, we know that type of society would be politically incorrect.

From 1933 to 1938, "Aryanization" was used to reduce the number of Jewish Businesses. This also meant reducing the number of Jewish employees. To add on to this the state would slowly take over Jewish wealth. This is what German authority did to take Jews out of German economy. Now German Jews couldn't even practice on Non-German Jews.

After the Kristallnacht, "Aryanization" was stepped up a notch. Now German Jews weren't able to even go in certain public places! Overall the Nuremberg Laws were Racist and anti-Semetic laws against Jews. These laws were enforced by the Reichstag on September 15, 1935 at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. On a final note Jews had to pay 90% of their wealth if they wanted to leave Germany. This made it very hard for any Jew to leave Germany, and settle in a different country.

If these laws were passed in the United States, I wouldn't be able to go to school with non-Jews. I wouldn't be able to go to most public places. When I am 18, I wouldn't be allowed to vote. If there was a game, or an item I wanted I probably couldn't get it, because my parents wouldn't have good jobs. This is because (as stated in paragraph 3) Jews were forbidden to work in higher paying professions. These laws would also make it hard for me to make friends, because most students that were "Pure Blooded" were taught to hate Jewish children. I think that is absurd! German Authority was even allowed to confiscate Jews' homes. This meant anything that was of value to us could be stolen or smashed by German Authority! To add on to this if I were to go to a park for say, I would have markings on my clothing to show I was Jewish, just so people could discriminate me. These are all obstacles that German Jews had to face in the 1930's.

At least we know what happened in Germany, in the 1930's, so we now know how to avoid such discrimination. In the United States of America such discrimination can be avoided. In our government we have Checks and Balances, so if the Legislative Branch wants to make such a law, the Executive Branch can veto that law/bill. There are also 535 in congress, so if one person wanted to make such a law, it would be impossible for them to enforce it.

In Nazi Germany, it was very hard for Jews to live their lives. We should always make sure the people of the United States should have freedoms that can't be taken away.


Essay #5 by Abel Widiss

The Nuremberg Laws were passed by the Reichstag in September of 1935 because the Germans wanted someone to blame for WWI. They decided to blame the Jews. Germany had lost the war and a lot of money in the fighting. The Treaty of Versailles made the Germans pay for war damage. The economy was in freefall, partly because of the 1929 stock market crash. One of the reasons the Germans blamed the Jews was that there have been anti-Jewish feelings basically forever and with the creation of the book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was written in September of 1903 and spread lies about the Jews and talked about an alleged Jewish banking conspiracy, feelings toward the Jewish people were worsened. As a result, many Germans thought Jews were secretly controlling the world. It worked to the advantage of the people blaming the Jews that many German Jews also had well-paying jobs and were somewhat rich.

The Nazi Party organized a boycott of all Jewish businesses. A Nazi soldier would stand outside the shop to enforce the boycott and block people from going inside to buy things. Many Jewish businesses closed from lack of customers. The government was also run by Christian people who expressed anti-Semitic feelings. They turned public sentiment against the Jews and other non-Aryans. Jews were easy targets because they were a minority and people did not know what to think about them. Jews tended not to live in tiny villages, they lived in cities and people knew who was a Jew and who was not a Jew, for it was obvious if they saw them going into a temple or a Jewish business. Jews were in a lot of public offices, such as lawyer, banker or judge, and that made people even more biased against the Jews because that reinforced the idea that Jews were controlling the world.

The Nuremberg Laws were also completely unexpected, so many people were caught by surprise and could not leave before they were enacted, unlike how some Jews were smart enough to leave the country before they got carted off to concentration camps. The Nuremberg Laws also took other countries by surprise and that was harmful because they could have gotten some people out of the country.

The first laws took away voting rights for Jews and other non-Aryans. The laws went on to take away citizenship for the Jews and other non-Aryans. If Jews wanted to leave the country they were not allowed to purchase visas to leave the country because the Germans said so and they were biased. And if somehow they managed to get visas, they had to pay 90% of their money as a tax as well, so if they were to leave the country then they were very close to declaring bankruptcy and then that would make their lives even harder beyond Germany. If they could leave Germany, many countries would not accept them for immigration.

The Nuremberg Laws also prevented Jews and other non-Aryans from holding, and it also revoked their licenses for all public office jobs such as judge and lawyer, so many Jews were forced to take low paying jobs in order to support their families. The Jews had a large part in German life, but many were disliked after the writing of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion so the Germans exploited that to control the population.

If laws such as the Nuremberg laws were made here we would probably lose housing, wifi, computers, phones, and good food. We might move so we could be with other Jews because of strength in numbers. If these laws were passed the first people to lose their jobs would probably be lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents because they have to get regular certifications. The next people to lose their jobs would be teachers because they get grants from the government, but the schools would not get those grants. The third people to lose their jobs would be actors, as people would not want to see things starring Jews. Tech Companies such as Google and Facebook would also go out of business because they are Jewish owned.

If people were fired they would have to go to minimum wage jobs or no jobs at all. We would sell our houses and valuables. We might also live with other Jews for saving money. We might move to Canada, Europe, Israel or any other country that would accept us. If we were to stay in the United States we might start a Jewish school where we live because we were bullied at the public school.

To stop such laws from being made we can vote against racist people that might do this, but we can also protest and help by supporting elected officials and organizations who will work to prevent these laws from being made again. We can also speak out against people who might support laws of this sort.

We can also speak out against hatred of other groups to make a more tolerant society. For example, we can speak out against people like the people who shot people in a synagogue in Pittsburg and the two mosques in New Zealand. Those people, if they got the proper help, might have been convinced not to do that if they got good counseling, same with those corrupt officials back in Germany who voted those laws in.

The Nuremberg laws were very avoidable and through hard work, we can stop it from ever happening again or something like it happening.