The Heroes and Victims of the Holocaust

Published: 2021-06-30
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Vanderbilt University
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Research paper
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The Holocaust refers to a period in history between the year 1933 to 1945 when the Nazi regime systematically murdered over six million Jews together with their collaborators. The death involved persecution, bureaucratic, and discriminated mass murder perpetrated by Adolf Hitler. The victims included the mentally challenged, physically disabled, and over 1.5 million children who resided in Europe. The mass murder involved acts of oppression, political, and ethnic cleansing that included all arms of the German's bureaucracy. The period was marked by overwhelming terror, grief, and pain. However, despite the pain, the Holocaust brought out deeds of valor and compassion from amongst many of the survivors and victims through their rescue mission and bravery.

The Heroes and Victims

Swedish Diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg stood out as one of the most outstanding rescuers providing protective passports to many Jews who were destined to the death camps. He intervened and released passport bearers who were intended to be deported and at the same time, rented houses for over 10,000 refugees (Brenner 56). At the homes, he put up signs indicating the houses as research institute centers. He stood out to have rescued over 100,000 jews. However, despite his great effort in saving lives, he was arrested by the Soviet Red Army and sent to a Soviet jail where he died under mysterious circumstances (Brenner 34).

Victims of the Holocaust included religious groupings, gypsies, homosexuals, POW, political activists, and the intelligentsia. According to the Germans, these groups were inferior (Webber 17). The Holocaust marked the Second World War as one of the deadliest and costliest in the history of humankind. In the workplace, many lives were lost, but German Industrialist, Oskar Schhinndler, used his business premises to hold and protect his workers. Coupled with his connections within the German hierarchy, he protected children, women, unskilled, and disabled persons whom he claimed were essential for his business activities. Despite his death as a pauper, unable to lift past his business losses, he stood out as a rescuer with many Jews grateful for his efforts. Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic faithful used fake documents to protect Jewish families. When she was appointed head of Zegota, a children's unit, she moved out over 2,500 children who included orphans, giving them new identities. Despite her work in helping the Jews, she was caught and sentenced to death in 1943. She was lucky and was rescued and went into hiding where she later resumed her duties attending to Jewish kids.

The Kindertransport

The Kinder transport operated between the year 1938 and 1939 and was used for humanitarian efforts in sending Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany, to Britain. After the Nazi took power and the persecution of the Jews begun in earnest in 1938, Sir Samuel Hoare organized for a speedy issuance of travel materials for both Jews and non-Jews children with a guarantee of $50 for financing their re-emigration (Nichols 508). When the Nazis gained entry into Czechoslovakia, transportation of the children under the Refugee Children's Movement begun with the first batch leaving on 1939 March. The last batch left on 1940 May. The children gained permanent residency in Britain, while some moved to neighboring countries such as Canada, America, Israel, and Australia among other nations.

The Voyage of the St. Louis and Emilie Schindler

The Voyage of the St. Louis presented the difficulties, and life-threatening challenges the Jews who attempted to flee from the Nazi endured. When the passengers left Hamburg in May 1939, they were destined to the United States. They all had valid traveling documents giving them entry into Cuba. However, upon reaching Havana, Cuban President denied them entry. The left for Florida and were denied any assistance. Eventually out of options, they returned to Europe (Webber 12). They were finally allowed entry by England, Netherlands, France, and Belgium. However, upon disembarking, they fell victim to the German Nazi. Many died in the harsh ordeal. The few who survived were left with lifelong wounds, disabilities, and deep traumas.

Emilie Schindler led a spirited effort in protecting and saving many Jewish workers. Over 1200 Jews were saved by Emilie Schindler. She remains a household name amongst many surviving families all over the world (Nichols 508). Together with her husband, she worked tirelessly to save many Jews at the point of death. Other Sendler descendants and relatives helped the Jews evade arrest and hid them in their houses. Irean Sendler went against the Nazi to save over 2,500 kids by secretly moving them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Together with Maria von Maltzan, they put their lives in danger and defied Hitler by refusing to expose the Jews under their care (Nichols 509). The Sendler family puts a spirited effort to rescue and help many Jews evade death to the point of risking their lives.


There are no words, descriptions, or retributions that can describe and make up the horror the Jews faced and went through under the Nazi regime. However, despite the pain, grief, and death, many individuals survived and lived to tell the tale. On the other hand, many risked their lives to save and bring out many Jewish people out of Europe. The survivors gave the first account of what transpired in the camps, amongst their people, and during the entire ordeal. The rescuers, such as Sendler, Anne Frank, Simon Wiesenthal, Miep Gies among others enabled many generations to live and tell the horrifying tale.

Works Cited

Brenner, Reeve Robert. The faith and doubt of Holocaust survivors. Transaction Publishers, 2014.

Nichols, Bradley J. "Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments: Science and Suffering in the Holocaust." (2015): 508-509.

Webber, Jonathan. "Making Sense of the Holocaust in Contemporary Poland: The Real and the Imagined, the Contradictions and the Paradoxes." Jednak Ksiazki. Gdanskie Czasopismo Humanistyczne 6 (2016): 7-28.

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