The Holocaust

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Hitler's Rise to Power

After losing World War I and being forced to pay $15 billion in reparations, which threw the German economy into an unprecedented economic crisis, Germany was in very bad shape. Many people were out of jobs, and their savings were gone. Hitler took advantage of this sense of hopelessness to gain power in the National Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazis). Hitler wrote the book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), in which he argued that the German people were racially superior to other groups and needed to increase their numbers in order to fulfill their destiny of world supremacy. He portrayed Jews as parasites who preyed on other races. His book was a huge success, making Hitler both rich and famous. Hitler continued to blame Jews for Germany's problems. He later became the chancellor of Germany. Soon after his rise to this lofty position, Hitler took immediate action against Jews; burning Jewish businesses and Jewish books, firing Jewish government workers, and promoting violence against Jews.

The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin

American Olympian Jesse Owns, an African-American, set or equaled world records in four events at the 1936 Olympics, the very same year that Hitler promised to demonstrate Germany's racial superiority in that year's games.

The First Solution

Seventeen-year old Herschel Grynszpan, a Jew, was upset that his parents, who were living abroad, were no longer considered Polish citizens. At the time, Poland had the largest Jewish populatoin in Europe. After they were dumped on the border of Poland by the Nazis, they wrote Grynszpan a letter describing their misery. Grynszpan stormed into the German embassy in Paris and shot Nazi official Ernst von Rath.

This was the reason for Kristallnacht, the only Nazi pogrom, or state-sponsored attack. "The Night of Broken Glass" targeted Jewish businesses and...