The Nazi Holocaust Extermination of the Jews
Standard WHII.12b: The student will demonstrate knowledge of the worldwide impact of World War II by examining the Holocaust and other examples of genocide in the twentieth century. Essential Understandings: • There had been a climate of hatred against Jews in Europe and Russia for centuries. • Various instances of genocide occurred throughout the twentieth century. Essential Questions: Why did the Holocaust occur? What are other examples of genocide in the twentieth century?
Terms to Know Genocide: The systematic & purposeful destruction of a racial, political, religious, or cultural group Anti-Semitism: Prejudice against or hostility toward Jews, often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, and/or religion. In its extreme form, it defames Jews as an inferior group and denies their being part of the nation[s] in which they reside. Holocaust: Systematic, government-sponsored, persecution and murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime and it’s collaborators. Means “sacrifice by fire.”
Elements Leading to the Holocaust • Totalitarianism combined with nationalism • History of anti-Semitism • Defeat in WWI and economic depression blamed on German Jews • Hitler’s belief in the master race (Aryans) • Final Solution: extermination camps, gas chambers
Racial Superiority • Mein Kampf (1925) • “My Struggle” • Considered the Bible of Nazism • Presents Hitler’s major ideas on anti-Semitism, anti-Communism, superiority of the Aryan race, German nationalism, the state’s superiority over the individual, and Hitler’s feelings of hostility for democracy • Hitler described a racial hierarchy with: • Aryans (the culture-producing race) at the top • Jews, Africans, Gypsies, the mentally and physically disabled, etc. (the culture-destroying races) at the bottom • The importance of the book is that it calls for German domination of Europe
Goal: Remove Inferior Types • Hitler's goal was to remove the inferior types from Germany, making more lebensraum (living space) for the superior Aryans • Jews were the special object of his hatred
The War Against the Jews • When the Nazis began to wage war against the Jews, they used rhetoric and propaganda From an anti-Semitic children's book. The sign reads "Jews are not wanted here." The headlines say "Jews are our misfortune" and "How the Jew cheats." Germany, 1936.
PROGRESSION OF DISCRIMINATION TOWARDS JEWS • The NAZI party and Adolf Hitler seized power in Germany in 1933 and slowly began their program against the Jews of Germany • In 1933 there were 566,000 Jews living in Germany • Each new year in Germany led to harsher policies directed towards the Jews
1933 • NAZIS boycott Jewish businesses • Issue decree that defines non-Aryans • Hermann Goering creates the GESTAPO (the secret police of Nazi Germany) • Nazis pass law allowing for forced sterilization of those found by a Hereditary Health Court to have genetic defects • First concentration camps are built • Dachau near Munich • Buchenwald near Weimar in central Germany • Sachsenhausen near Berlin in northern Germany • Ravensbruck for women
Eugenics & Sterilization • It also meant eugenics – the science of improving the race through selective breeding • The Nazis required the sterilization of those who carried hereditary defects, such as types of blindness and deafness and certain diseases which were thought to have a genetic basis, such as Huntington's Chorea and epilepsy • To further purify the race, women of mixed blood were to be sterilized • Those with ideal Aryan characteristics were bred like livestock
The "Sterilization Law" explained the importance of weeding out so-called genetic defects from the total German gene pool: Since the National Revolution public opinion has become increasingly preoccupied with questions of demographic policy and the continuing decline in the birthrate. However, it is not only the decline in population which is a cause for serious concern but equally the increasingly evident genetic composition of our people. Whereas the hereditarily healthy families have for the most part adopted a policy of having only one or two children, countless numbers of inferiors and those suffering from hereditary conditions are reproducing unrestrainedly while their sick and asocial offspring burden the community.
1934 • Jews are not allowed to have national health insurance • The SS (Schutzstaffel) is formed (Hitler’s personal bodyguards) • Hitler becomes Der Fuhrer and receives a 90% approval rating from the people
1935: Nuremberg Race Laws Many Jews fled to other European nations or to the United States. Most, however, stayed behind, convinced that as fully integrated German citizens they were safe. In doing so, they failed to understand the seriousness of their predicament.
Harassment Harassment followed the limitations on the civil rights of Jewish citizens Jewish children humiliated in the classroom
1937 1936 • Jews are not allowed to teach Germans • Jews are not allowed to be accountants or dentists • “Eternal Jew” exhibit opened in Germany, which promoted stereotypes of Jews and warned Germans • SS Deathshead division is created to guard camps • Heinreich Himmler is appointed Chief of the German Police
1938 • Nazi troops enter Austria (lebensraum = union with Austria) • League of Nations considers helping Jews fleeing Hitler, but no country will take them • Jews are not allowed to practice medicine Why was Austria so important to Hitler?
1939 • Reinhard Heydrich is ordered to speed up emigration of Jews • The St. Louis, a ship crowded with 930 Jewish refugees, is turned away by Cuba, the United States and other countries and returns to Europe • Jews must hand over all gold and silver • Nazi troops seize Czechoslovakia and invade Poland (SPARK of WWII) • Forced labor decree issued and all Jews must wear yellow stars as a method of identification • Nazis begin euthanasia on sick and disabled in Germany “I ask nothing of Jews except that they should disappear”
Flight and Rescue http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/flight_rescue/ http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/flight_rescue/story.htm
Operation T4: Euthanasia • The Nazis advocated the removal of those who would not improve the German race and had no use in society – those who Hitler called the "useless eaters" • This meant killing the mentally ill, the terminally ill, and the physically and mentally handicapped. They euphemistically called this "euthanasia,“ which is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering
Letter from chief of institution for feeble-minded in Stetten to Reich Minister of justice, Dr. Frank: Sept. 6, 1940 Dear Reich Minister, The measure being taken at present with mental patients of all kinds have caused a complete lack of confidence in justice among large groups of people. Without the consent of relatives and guardians, such patients are being transferred to different institutions. After a short time they are notified that the person concerned has died of some disease...
1939 • Herschel Grynszpan, a 17 year old Jew living in Paris, shot and killed a member of the German Embassy in retaliation for the poor treatment his father and his family suffered at the hands of the Nazis: his family, along with thousands of other Jews, had been transported in boxcars and dumped at the Polish border • In response, the German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, incited Germans to "rise in bloody vengeance against the Jews • Mob violence broke out as the German police stood by and watched • Storm troopers and members of the SS beat and murdered Jews along with the mobs • Nearly 1000 synagogues were burned, Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed, and thousands of Jews were rounded up during KRISTALLNACHT = “Night of Broken Glass” (Nov. 9, 1939) Grynszpan Goebbels
Message from SS Heydrich to all State Police Main Offices & Field Offices November 10, 1938 Regards: Measures against Jews tonight. a) Only such measures may be taken which do not jeopardize German life or property (for instance, burning of synagogues only if there is no danger of fires for the neighbourhoods). b) Business establishments and homes of Jews may be destroyed but not looted. The police have been instructed to supervise the execution of these directives and to arrest looters. c) In Business streets special care is to be taken that non-Jewish establishments will be safeguarded at all cost against damage.As soon as the events of this night permit the use of the designated officers, as many Jews, particularly wealthy ones, as the local jails will hold, are to be arrested in all districts. Initially only healthy male Jews, not too old, are to be arrested. After the arrests have been carried out the appropriate concentration camp is to be contacted immediately with a view to a quick transfer of the Jews to the camps....
1940 • German Jews, who had been forced to live in ghettos, were deported to Poland • Ghettos of Lodz, Krakow and Warsaw are sealed off (these ghettos will be liquidated starting in 1942); however, some Jews remained in ghettos until the end of WWII (1945) Waiting for a drink of water in the Warsaw Ghetto, where water and food were in short supply. • Jewish people were herded into ghettos (walled off parts of the city in which the people could be more easily controlled). Joseph Goebbels called the ghettos "death boxes“ • Ghettos did not originate during this time period. The term "ghetto" originated from the name of the Jewish quarter in Venice, established in 1516, in which the Venetian authorities compelled the city's Jews to live. Various officials, ranging from local municipal authorities to the Austrian Emperor Charles V, ordered the creation of ghettos for Jews in Frankfurt, Rome, Prague, and other cities in the 16th and 17th centuries.
This ration card from October 1941 entitled a resident to 300 calories a day
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: April - May 1943 One of the most famous photos taken during the Holocaust shows Jewish families arrested by Nazis during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, and sent to be gassed at Treblinka extermination camp.
1941 • Nazis invade the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) • Hitler issues infamous “Commissar Order” • SS Einsatzgruppen follow advance of German Army “Liquidate (shoot/kill) all Communist officials you encounter!”
Einsatzgrubben • Not all murdered Jews were killed in the camps • A mobile killing force called the Einsatzgrubben conducted many executions, particularly in the Ukraine and Baltic states Jews from Lubny (Ukraine) assembled just prior to execution
Jewish victims who have been asked to remove their outer garments prior to execution
The ravine at Babi Yar, scene of mass executions in 1941. Ensatzgrubben killed 33,000 citizens of Kiev by gunning them down on the edge of the ravine.
1942: The “Final Solution” • At the Wansee Conference on January 20, 1942, the decision of the “Final Solution” was made to systematically evacuate Jews from all over occupied Europe to camps in the east, where the entire Jewish population would be exterminated • Three Phases: • Phase 1: Shooting – Jews were rounded up and told they were to be relocated – They were taken to the woods and were shot one by one – their bodies were buried in mass graves • Phase 2: Gas Vans – Again, Jews were rounded up and told they were to be relocated in vans – The vans were equipped so that the van’s exhaust was piped back into the van • Phase 3: Gassing – Nazi leaders decided to drastically speed up the Final Solution by sending Jews to camps (two types: Concentration camps and Extermination camps) – The most effective method for mass extermination became gassing in specially constructed gas chambers (disguised as showers), from which the bodies were removed to adjacent crematoriums • This plan of genocide was carried out with efficiency and the victims, whose will to resist had been sapped by prolonged starvation and disease, were often unaware until the last moment that they were going to be gassed • Nevertheless, there was some Jewish resistance, both passive and active
Jewish Resistance • Nazi-sponsored persecution and mass murder fueled Jewish resistance to the Germans • Resistance took many forms: • Organized armed resistance (e.g., Warsaw ghetto uprising) • Unarmed resistance (e.g., production and spread of underground newspapers; acts of sabotaging the German war effort – stealing documents, tampering with vital machinery, producing faulty munitions, setting fires in factories, etc.) • Escaping from the ghettos into the forests (e.g., Bielski brothers) • Aid and rescue (e.g., parachutists were dropped in German-occupied regions to give whatever help they could to Jews in hiding) • Spiritual resistance (e.g., attempts to preserve the history and communal life of the Jewish people)
Rescuers • Foreign governments had policies to stay neutral or to restrict immigration • Some diplomats and foreign officials disobeyed their governments by issuing visas and other protective documentation that allowed refugees to escape German-occupied territories • Some rescuers established safe houses or hid Jews in their embassies or private residences • Consequences for rescuers who were caught: • By their own government = transferred, fired, or stripped of their ranks and pensions • By the Nazis = imprisoned, deported to a concentration camp, and sometimes murdered
Rescuers • Oskar Schindler (German industrialist) • Chiune Sugihara (Japanese consul general posted in Lithuania) • Charles “Carl” Lutz (Swiss vice-consul in Budapest, Hungary) • Feng-Shan Ho (Chinese consul general in Vienna, Austria) • Varian Fry (American journalist who volunteered to head up the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization) • Raoul Wallenberg (Appointed to be the first secretary at the Swedish legation in Budapest, Hungary, with a mission to save as many Budapest Jews as possible) Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler: An Unlikely Hero When asked why he had intervened on behalf of the Jews, Schindler replied (1964 interview): “The persecution of Jews in the General Government in Polish territory gradually worsened in its cruelty. In 1939 and 1940, they were forced to wear the Star of David and were herded together and confined in ghettos. In 1941 and 1942, this unadulterated sadism was fully revealed. And then a thinking man, who had overcome his inner cowardice, simply had to help. There was no other choice.”
Concentration Camps • In the next phase of the "final solution," Nazis separated out the young, the old, and the ill and sent them to their deaths (this process was called “selection”) • The gas chamber was used in the extermination camps such as Auschwitz • Those who could work obtained only a temporary reprieve Inmates at Sachenhausen wearing identifying badges
AUSCHWITZ • Extermination camp located in Poland • Started operations in January 1940 • Himmler chose Auschwitz as the place for the Final Solution • Had 4 gas chambers/crematories by 1943 • Mass killings with Zyklon B gas • Commanded by Rudolph Hoess • Recorded 12,000 kills in one day
THE SS AT AUSCHWITZ WERE ORDERED TO TAKE ALL POSSESSIONS FROM JEWS TEETH WITH GOLD PILES OF GLASSES
ZYKLON-B GAS USED TO KILL VERMIN. IT WAS INEXPENSIVE COMPARED TO GAS. DROPPED FROM CEILINGS IN GAS CHAMBERS.
Jewish prisoners are loaded onto the train from Westerbork, a transit camp, on their way to a concentration camp