The Holocaust : An Annihilation Of The Body Essay

1611 Words May 2nd, 2016 7 Pages
Humanity’s past is filled with traumatic, violent events. Wars have been waged, bombs have been dropped, and innocent lives have been caught up in the crossfire. Each of these acts is terrible in their own right, but perhaps the most ruthless of them all are categorized under the term genocide. The systematic purging of an entire ethnic group or nation. Genocide does not simply take lives; its aim is to completely blot out a people’s history and future. The effects of such a campaign are clearly seen in the Holocaust, where over six million Jews were killed at the hands of the Nazi regime in Germany. These victims suffered greatly: physically but also psychologically, morally, and spiritually. Yet during those tumultuous times, individuals managed to maintain pieces of themselves that allowed them to carry on; to survive.

The Holocaust was equally an annihilation of the mind as it was an annihilation of the body. It was the goal of the S.S. to wipe out all traces of the individual within the ghettos and concentration camps. This caused a great deal of psychological stress within the prisoners. One manner in which this manifested itself was self-reliance. In Survival in Auschwitz, Holocaust survivor Primo Levi comments on the need for selfishness. “Man’s capacity to dig himself in, to secrete a shell, to build around himself a tenuous barrier of defense, even in apparently desperate circumstances, is astonishing…” (p. 56). In the camps, one could only trust oneself. The…

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