While the Jews of Europe waited in vain for meaningful changes to American immigration policy, Adolf Hitler began organizing the most horrific crimes against humanity in the known history of the world. By the time war broke out in 1939, Hitler had already stripped Germany's Jews of their civil rights and excluded them from most realms of German society. In 1933, the Nazis purged Jews from the civil service and restricted their participation in the nation's universities and professions. Two years later, Hitler's Nuremberg Laws institutionalized anti-Semitism in German law by making Jews ineligible for citizenship, taking away their right to vote, and making it illegal for them to marry or even have sexual relationships with non-Jewish Germans. By 1937, the Nazi government had imposed an "Aryanization" program that confiscated many Jewish-owned businesses, and established a Jim Crow-style system of legally sanctioned social segregation in which Jews were confined to their ghettoes and banned from even entering so-called "Aryan zones" of many German cities and towns. The German government devised new ways to humiliate and dehumanize Jews in their everyday lives, for example by forcing them to wear yellow Stars of David prominently on their clothing when they went out in public so that everyone would know they were Jewish and thus ought to be shunned or mistreated. Through this steady erosion of Jewish civil rights and constant demonization of the Jewish people in vicious Nazi propaganda, Hitler laid the foundations for the next, infinitely worse, stage of his anti-Semitic master plan; by using the power of the state to define the Jewish community as a despised, alien, and inferior presence in German society, Hitler set the stage for the genocidal violence of the Holocaust.
That genocidal violence began in earnest with the outbreak of war on the Eastern Front in 1939. A large majority of the Jewish population of Europe lived east of Germany, mainly in Poland and the Soviet Union. As German forces surged eastward into Poland (1939-40) and then onward into the Soviet Union (1941-43), they found themselves in control of territories that were home to millions of Jews. It did not take long for the atrocities to begin.
At first, violence against Jewish civilians unfolded without much central organization, with sporadic massacres by German troops. By mid-1941, the Nazis began to take a much more systematic approach by deploying the Einsatzgruppen ("task groups" of special police, perhaps more accurately translated in this context as "mobile killing units") to follow the regular German army as it advanced into Russia in order to organize the mass murder of Jews there. The Einsatzgruppen would typically move into a town or village that had fallen under German control, round up all Jews living there, march them out to a nearby ravine or ditch that could serve as a mass grave, and shoot them all dead. Four separate Einsatzgruppen battalions fanned out across the Eastern Front, carrying out dozens of massacres in 1941 and 1942. In perhaps the most notorious incident, it took two days for the Nazis to murder some 33,000 people—virtually the entire Jewish population of Kiev, Ukraine—in the Babi Yar ravine, where group after group of victims were forced to lie down, naked, in a mass grave atop of the bodies of their already-murdered neighbors before being themselves machine-gunned to death.
By the end of 1941, the rampaging death squads are estimated to have murdered more than a million eastern European Jews. Yet Hitler and his lieutenants felt that the Einsatzgruppen's methods—requiring an individual gunshot to kill each victim—were too inefficient to achieve the total genocide of the Jewish people. In January 1942, the top leadership of the Nazi Party met at a villa outside Berlin, in a peaceful suburb called Wannsee, to coordinate a more systematic approach to the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," as they euphemistically described their plans for genocide. Those plans called for Jews in occupied areas to be concentrated into ghettos near rail lines, then transported to new concentration camps to be constructed in Poland. The healthiest Jewish prisoners would be permitted to live for as long as they could serve the Nazis as slave laborers; anyone too old or young or sick or frail to do hard labor would be killed immediately. To speed the killing of large numbers of people, the Nazis built special gas chambers disguised as group showers; prisoners would be ordered to strip down for a wash, then they would be ushered into the large shower rooms where they would be killed en masse by cyanide gas or carbon monoxide, enduring terrible suffering in their last moments of life.
A large majority of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust would die in these death camps—nearly a million at Auschwitz (the largest of the killing centers) alone. The camps were chilling in their efficiency, reducing mass murder to an orderly process of bureaucratic and mechanical ease. These were factories of death, the most terrible manifestations of Hitler's evil. The immeasurable brutality, violence, and dehumanization built into those nightmarish places were difficult to comprehend or describe—even for survivors. Elie Wiesel, who lived through internment at both Auschwitz and Buchenwald and later wrote the moving Holocaust memoir Night, spoke of the difficulty of even communicating what had happened there: "It was not easy. At first, because of the language; language failed us. We would have to invent a new vocabulary, for our own words were inadequate, anemic. And then too, the people around us refused to listen; and even those who listened refused to believe; and even those who believed could not comprehend. Of course they could not. Nobody could. The experience of the camps defies comprehension."
Pentagon Consults Extremist Who Calls Christians Monsters and Enemies of the Contstitution to Develop Religious Tolerance Policy
Jesus told us in the book of John to expect persecution for our faith.
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:18,19 KJV.
But we should not fear this because we know what our end will be and we know that we will reign with Him in eternity. "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Revelation 1:17,18 KJV.
"Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Revelation 2:20 KJV.
Therefore "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Hebrews 13:6 KJV. Praise be to the Lord, God almighty, Jesus Christ: who was, and is, and is to come!