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Starvation During The Holocaust



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Investigating the Holocaust Part 10: Nazi Evil in Action

With starvation at our doors, grimly staring us, vessels laden with our sole hopes of existence, our provisions, are hourly wafted from our every port. From one milling establishment I have last night seen not less than fifty dray loads of meal moving on to Drogheda, thence to go to feed the foreigner, leaving starvation and death the sure and certain fate of the toil and sweat that raised this food. For their respective inhabitants England, Holland, Scotland, Germany, are taking early the necessary precautions—getting provisions from every possible part of the globe; and I ask are Irishmen alone unworthy the sympathies of a paternal gentry or a paternal Government?

Let Irishmen themselves take heed before the provisions are gone. Let those, too, who have sheep, and oxen, and haggards. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. The right of the starving to try and sustain existence is a right far and away paramount to every right that property confers. The appalling character of the crisis renders delicacy but criminal and imperatively calls for the timely and explicit notice of principles that will not fail to prove terrible arms in the hands of a neglected, abandoned starving people.

McEvoy, in his grim forebodings and apocalyptic fear, was closer to the truth than the sanguine rationalists quoted in the newspapers, but McEvoy, like many others, overestimated the likelihood of mass rebellion, and even this great clerical friend of the poor could hardly have contemplated the depth of social, economic and cultural destruction which would persist and deepen over the following century and beyond. It was politics that turned a disease of potatoes and tomatoes into famine, and it was politics which ensured its disastrous aftereffects would disfigure numerous future generations. William Smith O'Brien —speaking on the subject of charity in a speech to the Repeal Association in February —applauded the fact that the universal sentiment on the subject of charity was that they would accept no English charity.

He expressed the view that the resources of Ireland were still abundantly adequate to maintain the population, and that, until those resources had been utterly exhausted, he hoped that there was no one in "Ireland who will so degrade himself as to ask the aid of a subscription from England". He suggested that it has been carefully inculcated by the British Press "that the moment Ireland fell into distress, she became an abject beggar at England's gate, and that she even craved alms from all mankind". He further suggested that in Ireland no one ever asked alms or favours of any kind from England or any other nation, but that it was England herself that begged for Ireland. He also claimed that it was England that "sent 'round the hat over all the globe, asking a penny for the love of God to relieve the poor Irish", and, constituting herself the agent of all that charity, took all the profit of it.

President James K. Most significantly, on 25 March Pius IX issued the encyclical Praedecessores nostros , which called the whole Catholic world to contribute moneywise and spiritually to Irish relief. International fundraising activities received donations from locations as diverse as Venezuela, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Russia and Italy. The British Relief Association was one such group. Founded on 1 January by Lionel de Rothschild , Abel Smith , and other prominent bankers and aristocrats, the Association raised money throughout England, America, and Australia; their funding drive was benefited by a "Queen's Letter", a letter from Queen Victoria appealing for money to relieve the distress in Ireland.

Private initiatives such as the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends Quakers attempted to fill the gap caused by the end of government relief, and eventually, the government reinstated the relief works, although bureaucracy slowed the release of food supplies. It was an amazing gesture. Contributions by the United States during the famine were highlighted by Senator Henry Clay who said; "No imagination can conceive—no tongue express—no brush paint—the horrors of the scenes which are daily exhibited in Ireland.

Pennsylvania was the second most important state for famine relief in the US and the second-largest shipping port for aid to Ireland. Catholics, Methodists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Moravian and Jewish groups put aside their differences in the name of humanity to help out the Irish. Historian Harvey Strum claims that "The states ignored all their racial, religious, and political differences to support the cause for relief. Landlords whose land was crowded with poorer tenants were now faced with large bills. In , there had been some clearances, but the great mass of evictions came in Donnelly Jr. It was only in that the police began to keep a count, and they recorded a total of almost , persons as officially evicted between and Donnelly considered this to be an underestimate, and if the figures were to include the number pressured into "voluntary" surrenders during the whole period — , the figure would almost certainly exceed half a million persons.

In some cases, tenants were persuaded to accept a small sum of money to leave their homes, "cheated into believing the workhouse would take them in". West Clare was one of the worst areas for evictions, where landlords turned thousands of families out and demolished their derisory cabins. Captain Kennedy in April estimated that 1, houses, with an average of six people to each, had been levelled since November. George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan , who owned over 60, acres km 2 , was among the worst evicting landlords. He was quoted as saying that "he would not breed paupers to pay priests".

Having turned out in the parish of Ballinrobe over 2, tenants alone, he then used the cleared land as grazing farms. In , Bishop of Meath , Thomas Nulty , described his personal recollection of the evictions in a pastoral letter to his clergy:. Seven hundred human beings were driven from their homes in one day and set adrift on the world, to gratify the caprice of one who, before God and man, probably deserved less consideration than the last and least of them The horrid scenes I then witnessed, I must remember all my life long.

The wailing of women—the screams, the terror, the consternation of children—the speechless agony of honest industrious men—wrung tears of grief from all who saw them. I saw officers and men of a large police force, who were obliged to attend on the occasion, cry like children at beholding the cruel sufferings of the very people whom they would be obliged to butcher had they offered the least resistance. The landed proprietors in a circle all around—and for many miles in every direction—warned their tenantry, with threats of their direct vengeance, against the humanity of extending to any of them the hospitality of a single night's shelter The population in Drumbaragh, a townland in County Meath, plummeted 67 per cent between and ; in neighbouring Springville, it fell 54 per cent.

There were fifty houses in Springville in and only eleven left in According to Litton, evictions might have taken place earlier but for fear of the secret societies. However, they were now greatly weakened by the Famine. Revenge still occasionally took place, with seven landlords being shot, six fatally, during the autumn and winter of Ten other occupiers of land, though without tenants, were also murdered, she says. One such landlord reprisal occurred in West Roscommon. The "notorious" Major Denis Mahon enforced thousands of his tenants into eviction before the end of , with an estimated 60 per cent decline in population in some parishes.

He was shot dead in that year. Lord Clarendon , alarmed at the number of landlords being shot and that this might mean rebellion, asked for special powers. Lord John Russell was not sympathetic to this appeal. Lord Clarendon believed that the landlords themselves were mostly responsible for the tragedy in the first place, saying that "It is quite true that landlords in England would not like to be shot like hares and partridges The "Gregory clause", described by Donnelly as a "vicious amendment to the Irish poor law", had been a successful Tory amendment to the Whig poor-relief bill which became law in early June , where its potential as an estate-clearing device was widely recognised in parliament, although not in advance. They would soon view them as little more than murderous from a humanitarian perspective.

According to Donnelly, it became obvious that the quarter-acre clause was "indirectly a death-dealing instrument". The beginning of mass emigration from Ireland can be traced to the midth century, when some , people left Ireland over a period of 50 years to settle in the New World. Families did not migrate en masse , but younger members of families did, so much so that emigration almost became a rite of passage , as evidenced by the data that show that, unlike similar emigrations throughout world history, women emigrated just as often, just as early, and in the same numbers as men. Many of those fleeing to the Americas used the McCorkell Line. O'Connor in , and continuously re-elected him unopposed until his death in Of the more than , Irish that sailed to Canada in , an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition, including over 5, at Grosse Isle, Quebec , an island in the Saint Lawrence River used to quarantine ships near Quebec City.

However, fearing nationalist insurgencies, the British government placed harsh restrictions on Irish immigration to Canada after , resulting in larger influxes to the United States. In America, most Irish became city-dwellers; with little money, many had to settle in the cities that the ships they came on landed in. In addition, Irish populations became prevalent in some American mining communities. The famine marked the beginning of the depopulation of Ireland in the 19th century.

Application of Thomas Malthus 's idea of population expanding geometrically while resources increase arithmetically was popular during the famines of and By the s, they were seen as overly simplistic, and Ireland's problems were seen "less as an excess of population than as a lack of capital investment ". By , between 1. It is not known exactly how many people died during the period of the famine, although it is believed that more died from disease than from starvation. A census taken in recorded a population of 8,, A census immediately after the famine in counted 6,,, a drop of over 1. The census commissioners estimated that, at the normal rate of population increase, the population in should have grown to just over 9 million if the famine had not occurred.

On the in-development Great Irish Famine Online resource, produced by the Geography department of University College Cork , the population of Ireland section states, that together with the census figures being called low, before the famine it reads that "it is now generally believed" that over 8. In , the census commissioners collected information on the number who died in each family since , and the cause, season, and year of death. They recorded 21, total deaths from starvation in the previous decade and , deaths from disease. Listed diseases were fever , diphtheria , dysentery , cholera , smallpox , and influenza , with the first two being the main killers , and 93, The commissioners acknowledged that their figures were incomplete and that the true number of deaths was probably higher:.

The greater the amount of destitution of mortality Later historians agree that the death tables "were flawed and probably under-estimated the level of mortality". MacArthur, [] writes that specialists have long known that the Irish death tables were inaccurate, [] and undercount the number of deaths. Cousens' estimate of , deaths relied heavily on retrospective information contained in the census and elsewhere, [] and is now regarded as too low.

Foster estimates that "at least , died, mostly through disease, including cholera in the latter stages of the holocaust". He further notes that "a recent sophisticated computation estimates excess deaths from to as between 1,, and 1,, Joel Mokyr 's estimates at an aggregated county level range from 1. Mokyr produced two sets of data which contained an upper-bound and lower-bound estimate, which showed not much difference in regional patterns. At least a million people are thought to have emigrated as a result of the famine. The total given in the census is , Another area of uncertainty lies in the descriptions of disease given by tenants as to the cause of their relatives' deaths.

The diseases that badly affected the population fell into two categories: [] famine-induced diseases and diseases of nutritional deficiency. Of the nutritional deficiency diseases, the most commonly experienced were starvation and marasmus , as well as a condition at the time called dropsy. Dropsy oedema was a popular name given for the symptoms of several diseases, one of which, kwashiorkor , is associated with starvation. However, the greatest mortality was not from nutritional deficiency diseases, but from famine-induced ailments.

Measles , diphtheria , diarrhoea , tuberculosis , most respiratory infections , whooping cough , many intestinal parasites , and cholera were all strongly conditioned by nutritional status. Potentially lethal diseases, such as smallpox and influenza, were so virulent that their spread was independent of nutrition. The best example of this phenomenon was fever, which exacted the greatest death toll. In the popular mind, as well as medical opinion, fever and famine were closely related. Diarrhoeal diseases were the result of poor hygiene, bad sanitation, and dietary changes. The concluding attack on a population incapacitated by famine was delivered by Asiatic cholera, which had visited Ireland briefly in the s. In the following decade, it spread uncontrollably across Asia, through Europe, and into Britain, finally reaching Ireland in Ireland's mean age of marriage in was One consequence of the increase in the number of orphaned children was that some young women turned to prostitution to provide for themselves.

The potato blight would return to Ireland in , though by then the rural cottier tenant farmers and labourers of Ireland had begun the " Land War ", described as one of the largest agrarian movements to take place in nineteenth-century Europe. By the time the potato blight returned in , The Land League, which was led by Michael Davitt , who was born during the Great Famine and whose family had been evicted when Davitt was only 4 years old, encouraged the mass boycott of "notorious landlords" with some members also physically blocking evictions. The policy, however, would soon be suppressed. Despite close to interned under the Coercion Act for suspected membership. With the reduction in the rate of homelessness and the increased physical and political networks eroding the landlordism system, the severity of the following shorter famine would be limited.

According to the linguist Erick Falc'her-Poyroux, surprisingly, for a country renowned for its rich musical heritage, only a small number of folk songs can be traced back to the demographic and cultural catastrophe brought about by the Great Famine, and he infers from this that the subject was generally avoided for decades among poorer people as it brought back too many sorrowful memories.

Also, large areas of the country became uninhabited and the folk song collectors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not collect the songs they heard in the Irish language, as the language of the peasantry was often regarded as dead, or "not delicate enough for educated ears". Of the songs that have survived probably the best known is Skibbereen. Emigration has been an important source of inspiration for songs of the Irish during the 20th century.

Contemporary opinion was sharply critical of the Russell government's response to and management of the crisis. From the start, there were accusations that the government failed to grasp the magnitude of the disaster. Sir James Graham, who had served as Home Secretary in Sir Robert Peel's late government, wrote to Peel that, in his opinion, "the real extent and magnitude of the Irish difficulty are underestimated by the Government, and cannot be met by measures within the strict rule of economical science". This criticism was not confined to outside critics. The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Clarendon, wrote a letter to Russell on 26 April , urging that the government propose additional relief measures: "I don't think there is another legislature in Europe that would disregard such suffering as now exists in the west of Ireland, or coldly persist in a policy of extermination.

Other critics maintained that, even after the government recognised the scope of the crisis, it failed to take sufficient steps to address it. John Mitchel, one of the leaders of the Young Ireland Movement, wrote in I have called it an artificial famine: that is to say, it was a famine which desolated a rich and fertile island that produced every year abundance and superabundance to sustain all her people and many more. The English, indeed, call the famine a "dispensation of Providence"; and ascribe it entirely to the blight on potatoes. But potatoes failed in like manner all over Europe; yet there was no famine save in Ireland.

The British account of the matter, then, is first, a fraud; second, a blasphemy. The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine. Still other critics saw reflected in the government's response its attitude to the so-called " Irish Question ". Nassau Senior , an economics professor at Oxford University , wrote that the Famine "would not kill more than one million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do any good".

God grant that the generation to which this opportunity has been offered may rightly perform its part Christine Kinealy has written that "the major tragedy of the Irish Famine of —52 marked a watershed in modern Irish history. Its occurrence, however, was neither inevitable nor unavoidable". Kinealy notes that the "government had to do something to help alleviate the suffering" but that "it became apparent that the government was using its information not merely to help it formulate its relief policies, but also as an opportunity to facilitate various long-desired changes within Ireland". Some also pointed to the structure of the British Empire as a contributing factor. James Anthony Froude wrote that "England governed Ireland for what she deemed her own interest, making her calculations on the gross balance of her trade ledgers, and leaving moral obligations aside, as if right and wrong had been blotted out of the statute book of the Universe.

It was an epic of English colonial cruelty and inadequacy. For the landless cabin dwellers it meant emigration or extinction The British government has not expressly apologized for its role in the famine. But in , at a commemoration event in County Cork, the actor Gabriel Byrne read out a message by Prime Minister Tony Blair that acknowledged the inadequacy of the government response. It asserted that "those who governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while a crop failure turned into a massive human tragedy". The message was well-received in Ireland, where it was understood as the long sought-after British apology.

Archive documents released in showed that the message was not in fact written or approved by Blair, who could not be reached by aides at the time. It was therefore approved by Blair's principal private secretary John Holmes on his own initiative. The famine remains a controversial event in Irish history. Debate and discussion about whether the British government's response to the failure of the potato crop, and the continued exportation of food crops and livestock, constituted a genocide , remains a subject of political debate.

In , the U. Following criticism of the curriculum, the New Jersey Holocaust Commission requested statements from two academics that the Irish famine was genocide, which was eventually provided by law professors Charles E. Rice and Francis Boyle , who had not been previously known for studying Irish history. He argued that "genocide includes murderous intent , and it must be said that not even the most bigoted and racist commentators of the day sought the extermination of the Irish", and he also stated that most people in Whitehall "hoped for better times for Ireland". Additionally, he stated that the claim of genocide overlooks "the enormous challenge facing relief agencies, both central and local, public and private". Rubinstein also rejected the genocide claim.

Or perhaps one should say in the Irish mind, for this was a notion that appealed to many educated and discriminating men and women, and not only to the revolutionary minority And it is also my contention that while genocide was not in fact committed, what happened during and as a result of the clearances had the look of genocide to a great many Irish. Historian Donald Akenson , who has written twenty-four books on Ireland, stated that "When you see [the word Holocaust used with regard to the famine], you know that you are encountering famine-porn. It is inevitably part of a presentation that is historically unbalanced and, like other kinds of pornography, is distinguished by a covert and sometimes overt appeal to misanthropy and almost always an incitement to hatred.

In it, Brendan O'Leary , Lauder, Professor of political science , offered to use the term 'genoslaughter' rather than the term 'genocide' because, in his view, the term 'genoslaughter' is a more accurately descriptive term for the British response to the potato blight than the term 'genocide' is. O'Leary pointed out that the decision-making by the government of the day was based on capitalist principles rather than ethnicity; its aim was to reduce the tax burden on the middle-class who were of both main ethnicities by clearing the 'unproductive' landless poor from Ireland.

Between and , the Nazis did attempt to compile statistics for their final solution. One copy of that record was captured by the U. Army in By late , however, the German and Axis authorities recognized they were losing the war and had no time to continue counting. Instead, they ramped up the number of deaths and began destroying existing records and evidence of previous mass murders. Total estimates used today are based on postwar studies and research of the existing data.

A study published in by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, based on a painstaking evaluation of available documents and investigation of 42, camps and ghettos, identified that the total number of deaths was almost double the numbers generated shortly after the war. In addition to at least 7 million Jews killed, the Axis killed around 5. Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and German political opponents account for at least another , people. Estimates of the total number of people who died in the Holocaust now range between 15 and 20 million. The following chart shows the estimated number of Jews killed during the Holocaust by country. Notice that Poland by far lost the largest number three million , with Russia having lost the second most one million.

The third highest losses were from Hungary , Notice also that despite the smaller numbers in Slovakia and Greece, for example, they still lost an estimated 80 and 87 percent, respectively, of their pre-war Jewish populations. The totals for all countries show that an estimated 58 percent of all Jews in Europe were killed during the Holocaust. The following figures are estimates based on census reports, captured German and Axis archived records, and postwar investigations. In addition to widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger, overpopulation made the ghettoes breeding grounds for disease such as typhus.

Meanwhile, beginning in the fall of , Nazi officials selected around 70, Germans institutionalized for mental illness or disabilities to be gassed to death in the so-called Euthanasia Program. After prominent German religious leaders protested, Hitler put an end to the program in August , though killings of the disabled continued in secrecy, and by some , people deemed handicapped from all over Europe had been killed. In hindsight, it seems clear that the Euthanasia Program functioned as a pilot for the Holocaust. Beginning in , Jews from all over the continent, as well as hundreds of thousands of European Romani people, were transported to the Polish ghettoes.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June marked a new level of brutality in warfare. Mobile killing units called Einsatzgruppenwould murder more than , Soviet Jews and others usually by shooting over the course of the German occupation. Since June , experiments with mass killing methods had been ongoing at the concentration camp of Auschwitz , near Krakow. The SS soon placed a huge order for the gas with a German pest-control firm, an ominous indicator of the coming Holocaust. Beginning in late , the Germans began mass transports from the ghettoes in Poland to the concentration camps, starting with those people viewed as the least useful: the sick, old and weak and the very young.

The first mass gassings began at the camp of Belzec, near Lublin, on March 17, Five more mass killing centers were built at camps in occupied Poland, including Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and the largest of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau. From to , Jews were deported to the camps from all over Europe, including German-controlled territory as well as those countries allied with Germany.

The heaviest deportations took place during the summer and fall of , when more than , people were deported from the Warsaw ghetto alone. Fed up with the deportations, disease and constant hunger, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in armed revolt. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from April May 16, ended in the death of 7, Jews, with 50, survivors sent to extermination camps. But the resistance fighters had held off the Nazis for almost a month, and their revolt inspired revolts at camps and ghettos across German-occupied Europe.

Though the Nazis tried to keep operation of camps secret, the scale of the killing made this virtually impossible. Eyewitnesses brought reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland to the Allied governments, who were harshly criticized after the war for their failure to respond, or to publicize news of the mass slaughter. This lack of action was likely mostly due to the Allied focus on winning the war at hand, but was also a result of the general incomprehension with which news of the Holocaust was met and the denial and disbelief that such atrocities could be occurring on such a scale.

At Auschwitz alone, more than 2 million people were murdered in a process resembling a large-scale industrial operation. A large population of Jewish and non-Jewish inmates worked in the labor camp there; though only Jews were gassed, thousands of others died of starvation or disease. And in , eugenicist Josef Mengele arrived in Auschwitz to begin his infamous experiments on Jewish prisoners. His special area of focus was conducting medical experiments on twins , injecting them with everything from petrol to chloroform under the guise of giving them medical treatment. By the spring of , German leadership was dissolving amid internal dissent, with Goering and Himmler both seeking to distance themselves from Hitler and take power.

The following day, Hitler committed suicide. The last trace of civilization had vanished around and inside us. The work of bestial degradation, begun by the victorious Germans, had been carried to conclusion by the Germans in defeat.

Foster estimates that "at leastdied, mostly through disease, including cholera in the latter stages of Starvation During The Holocaust holocaust". Accessed 15 January Starvation During The Holocaust Testimonies of Auschwitz SS-Men. Why Do People Feel Uncomfortable With Music Starvation During The Holocaust of Tattooing in Auschwitz. Great Starvation During The Holocaust Ireland's Potato Famine From Starvation During The Holocaustit was Starvation During The Holocaust policy of the U. Starvation During The Holocaust, fearing nationalist insurgencies, the British government placed harsh restrictions on Irish The Pros And Cons Of Comprehensive Sex Education to Canada Hearing Impaired Childrenresulting in larger influxes to the United States.

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