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How to Write a Research Paper on the Holocaust

How to Write a Research Paper on the Holocaust

As much as we all know about the Holocaust, writing a research paper on it can get really challenging, not to mention mentally taxing. To make your task a little easier, Penlighten tells you a few points on how to write a research paper on the Holocaust.
Vrinda Varnekar
Did You Know?
The International Holocaust Remembrance Day that falls on January 27 marks the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Soviet troops in 1945.

It really isn't easy reading so much and writing in detail about an event in history that claimed millions of lives and destroyed families by the thousands. The Holocaust remains one of the most studied, most researched, and most tragic events in history that shook the very foundation of humanity. How could one human being do such atrocious things to another? What could have possibly been the level of hatred for one another, back then? We cannot imagine the intensity of that hatred.
We know the Holocaust as the most horrifying and inhuman killing of countless people, Jews, other 'colored' people, homosexuals, and the disabled included. It is indeed a task to just read about the innocent lives that were so mercilessly taken by a ruthless dictator, let alone think, research, and write about such a tragic time in history. If you have to do this, we're here to help. Read on for some tips to write about the Holocaust.
Tips Before Beginning

Before you begin with your research paper on the Holocaust, you need to sit down and think thoroughly and clearly about what you want to do. The Holocaust in itself is a very vast subject, and there's a chance you may be thinking of writing on a more specialized part of the same. If that is the case, you can pick from many aspects about the Holocaust, as well as choose a unique way to present it.

Your specialized topic could be anything from writing about a particular concentration camp, or the genocide, to the Final Solution, or the atrocities committed at concentration camps, or the revolts against the Nazis, to the methods of mass-killing. These ideas are, of course, not exhaustive.

The way you write your paper is also important. If you have the freedom to pick the writing style, you can write it in the first person, as though it is a victim or an oppressor writing in a diary or in a letter, if you don't want to write your paper like everyone else. Writing the paper from the point of a Nazi official will definitely make it a very interesting read.

Once you've decided your writing style and your precise topic, pick an intriguing title that provides an insight into your research just through a few words. Here are a few creative ideas for the title of your research paper―
  • The Holocaust Survivor
  • Horrors of the Holocaust
  • Auschwitz (or any other concentration camp): Hell on Earth
  • Holocaust: Not Just A Word
  • When The World Looked The Other Way
  • When Humanity Was Lost

If time permits, then you should definitely educate yourself more about the Holocaust through books or movies. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a very popular work of a young girl who wrote about her experiences during the horrific time, and who unfortunately did not survive to see her work published. Night by Elie Wiesel is another moving book of a survivor of the tragic occurrence. If you're not much of a books person, try watching movies such as Schindler's List, which will really give you an insight into the terrifying world that existed back then.

Writing The Paper

It would be a good idea to begin your research paper by defining the Holocaust and writing about it in brief before explaining it in great detail in the body of the paper. Don't let your introduction give away the intensity of your paper. It should just be a small paragraph about what the Holocaust is, when it happened, the time period, and maybe some statistics. If your topic is much more specialized, say you're writing about a particular concentration camp, the introductory paragraph would be a good channel to tell the reader the focus of the paper, and why you've chosen it.

Background of the Holocaust
The background of the Holocaust can be a good way to introduce the reason why the tragic events unfolded the way they did. Include the state of political affairs in Germany, the state of the country after WWI, and the dwindling faith of the people in the government before Hitler rose to tremendous power. You can also write about the Nazi party, its principles, its rise to power, the organizations affiliated with it, and about some of its important officials.

Adolf Hitler
Include information about the mastermind behind the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler. There's a lot of information available about his life, his principles, his ideologies and his rise to power. Write about his oratory skills, and his implementation of 'mob psychology', and how he got so many people to follow and even agree with him in his horrifying endeavors.

The Motive behind the Holocaust
Aside from writing about Hitler, it would be a good idea to include the exact motives behind the Holocaust. Hitler believed in the concept of a master race, the pure Aryan race that would pave the way to a better future. His policy was to permanently get rid of all the races that were inferior to the Aryans, such as (but not limited to) Jews, the gypsies, Catholic priests, political opponents, Poles, homosexuals, and the disabled, among others. All these people were supposedly the 'imperfect' ones, who did not deserve to live. The Nazi policy of extermination of the undesirables was based upon everything except logic― they believed that if they weren't exterminated, they would be the ones taking over the world.

Methods of Mass-Murder
All the so-called undesirables, or anyone who did not belong to the Aryan race were tortured and murdered in ways which are too inhuman to even think about. The infamous concentration camps all over Germany as well as in the German-occupied territories were places where this institutionalized genocide largely took place, though there were a few other means of murder too. If you choose to highlight the methods of mass-killing used by the Nazis, it would indeed be a compelling research paper.
  • Gas Chambers: Every concentration camp was equipped with the infamous gas chambers which were probably responsible for the maximum number of murders. Men, women and children were hoarded like cattle in freight trains and were taken to these gas chambers. They were ordered to strip completely and go into the chambers on the pretext of taking showers. They were then locked in and gassed with hydrogen cyanide or Zyklon B, which killed them in about 20 minutes.
  • Concentration Camps: Concentration camps were initially only meant to house prisoners and let them die from starvation or sickness, but they eventually became places of torture and extermination. Those deported to concentration camps were made to work in terrible conditions as slaves, and were never entitled to even basic human treatment in return. These slaves were eventually killed outright, sent to the gas chambers, or died from starvation, sickness, and torture. Very few lived to experience liberation.
  • Ghettos: Ghettos were clusters of cramped living places where the Jews and other prisoners were housed until they could be taken away to concentration camps. These 'houses' were guarded by the German police, whose job was to ensure nobody escaped. These ghettos were the initial means of taking away the privileges and basic rights of the Jewish people.
  • Mobile Killing Units: The Nazi regime sent its men all over Germany as well as the German-occupied areas to kill those who were anti-Nazis, as well as those belonging to the 'inferior' races. Entire villages were wiped out due to these mobile killing units, who shot any 'suspect' on sight regardless of their name, age, and ethnicity.

Non-Jewish Victims
While it is true that more than half the victims of the Holocaust were Jewish, we often tend to unintentionally overlook the non-Jewish victims, who were equally innocent. You may choose to write about the different ethnic groups that were a part of the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Include information and death statistics about Poles, gypsies, homosexuals, the unemployed, children, the disabled, the mentally-ill, etc.

Revolts against the Holocaust
While Hitler did have massive support from the German people, not all Germans agreed with his propaganda, and many even have tried to resist as much as they could. Many of the resistance was observed in college campuses, while there were others who tried to resist discreetly. Your paper can include information about all those students as well as individuals who tried their best to stop what was happening. There is quite a lot of information available on individuals who tried and were for the most part, unsuccessful in their attempts, and yet, were not deterred by the fate of others before them.

The End of the Holocaust
Your paper should successfully end with describing the end of WWII, ultimately, the end of the Holocaust. You can include the final statistics of the estimated number of victims, the number of people liberated from concentration camps, the physical and emotional state of the survivors, the number of Nazi officials arrested as well as those killed by the Allied Forces. The end of the Holocaust should be the beginning of the end of your paper.

Based upon whatever topic you chose and all that you wrote, you can make an appropriate conclusion. Perhaps your conclusion can include your personal viewpoints or any references that you might want to make.

It really is not easy to write a research paper on an emotionally taxing subject such as the Holocaust. While it is intriguing, it can also be depressing to understand the torturous time that our fellow human beings lived and died in, all because they didn't belong to a particular race. While we understand it might be difficult, we certainly hope that our outline helps you write a good research paper. We're sure you'll do a great job.