How did the Holocaust Happen? “For the dead and the living we must bear witness” Eli Wiesel
Credits This power point was completed from the work of Dr. Karl Schleunes UNC- Greensboro And The North Carolina Council on the Holocaust Audio clips courtesy of WWII German Veteran, GerdHans Marohm, February 22, 2014
How did it start? 1) Separation of “us” and “them” 2) Idea that “us” are better than “them” 3) “us” is superior and “ them” is inferior – less than, unworthy of life These three factors lead to things like prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes
Bystander • Bystander – one who stands by and does nothing when injustice takes place • The majority of people were bystanders often out of fear or because they considered Jews and others affected to be “not us” • Opposite of a bystander: upstander – those who are willing to stand up
The Longest Hatred • “The longest hatred in Western culture” • Pagan Era – Jews introduce monotheism into a polytheistic world… what does that mean? • Jews became defined as the “other”, a peculiar people – they were telling polytheistic believers (by implication) that their religion was wrong.
The Longest Hatred • Early Christianity defines and shapes the new European world… Jews seen as evil • Church decrees that loaning money at interest is a mortal sin – stereotype – Jews as money lenders, stingy, people who will cheat you • 1215 – Pope decrees that Jews must wear a star so that they can be avoided
The Longest Hatred • 1300s – Blamed for the spread of the bubonic plague • 1290-1500s – Jews constantly expelled from Western Europe
Protestant Reformation and the Jews • Martin Luther originally wrote a pamphlet that said he understood why the Jews didn’t want to convert (when Rome was in charge) • Later on, after Luther reformed the church, he published “The Jews and Their Lies” (1543) “First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire… Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed…They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies… Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books… Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore.” He went on to suggest that Jews should be placed into work camps…
Enlightenment/Revolution • Revolution = the idea of legal EQUALITY of men • Rousseau wrote an essay on the origin of the inequality of man – these inequalities were created by men, not a higher power, and can be undone
Things Looking Up? • Jews began to assimilate into 19th century German society • Entry into business world (Industrial Revolution) • Entry into German cultural world (art, literature, music, etc.) • Entry into medicine, law, journalism • High rate of marriage between Jewish and Germans **People began to resent the success of the Jews
Meanwhile in the 19th Century… • The threat of this century – The birth of Modern Racism: suggested that inequalities among humans are made by biology There are superior (Aryan) and inferior races…Science says it, so it must be true… Right?
Connecting Modern Racism and Social Darwinism • Darwin’s concepts in “On the Origin of Species” (1859) of survival of the fittest and natural selection applied to nations and races • Social Darwinism was especially popular in Germany • 1879 – the term Anti-Semitism is introduced • Jews = Semitic race, Anti = against
The problem with Jews in Germany • Jews were assimilating into German culture and life, while doing this, they were also infusing into the German race (Jews and Germans marrying) • Jews = inferior race • Germans = superior, Aryan race This will drag the superior people down…
Darwin’s idea on a national scale… • Notion that nations can be superior because of their social composition = they have been naturally selected by nature to control • So what’s the problem with Jews being in Germany and infusing into their race, culture, daily life, government, etc.?
How did all of this translate for a man like Adolf Hitler? • Breed a superior race • Root out “inferior stock” • Solve social problems – crime, poverty, disease How? • Selective breeding/sterilization, and eventually much worse Birth of a new science = Eugenics “good breeding”
Why Germany? • 1900 – Germany had become the world’s leading power What went wrong? • WWI – Germans did not believe that they were responsible for WWI starting – they had been attacked unfairly by the Allies who were jealous • Rush to defend the motherland, millions of young men volunteer
The war was supposed to be short… • Many thought it would be over by Christmas, but it was not over by Christmas 1914…1915…1916… or 1917 • Tremendous sacrifices demanded on the battlefield and the home front – Turnip winter – turnips replaced essential foods
The Cold Hard Truth • German leaders insist that Germany is winning – demand more sacrifices • October 1918 – Germans are told that they are losing the war = shock “How could we be winning for four years and then suddenly surrender?”
Falling Apart… • November 1918 – Revolution – monarchy overthrown • 1919 – Versailles Treaty – German Guilt Clause • 1919-1933 The shock continues… • Hyperinflation - $$ worth less • Brutalization of German politics – assassinations, roving political armies Big Question: Who is to blame for all of this?
Depression • 1929: The Great Depression begins • 1930s: Failure of democratic politics in Germany Situation is ripe for a manipulator to come in and save the day… Wonder who that could be?
Why Hitler ** Pressure on the political system allowed Hitler to come to power, he had an answer to the problems… • Hitler was extremely charismatic - remarkable speaking abilities • Hitler’s promises: • Restore Germany to world leadership • Restore the economy • Purify the Aryan race (eugenics) • Solve the “Jewish Problem” AUDIO: 6:42-8:39 Hitler’s charisma/ Plan for Germany https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvEMvuJiwTU
Hitler draws on the hate throughout history to fuel his argument against the Jews: • “Big Lie” Theory of Propaganda • Jews are responsible for all of Germany’s troubles • Jews are revolutionaries, communists, run the world capitals • Jews are responsible for the Versailles treaty and the war guilt clause • Jews “stabbed the German army in the back” • Jews are responsible for $$ inflation • Jews are responsible for Germany’s racial decline
Illustration from a children's book. The headlines say "Jews are our misfortune" and "How the Jew cheats." Germany, 1936. — US Holocaust Memorial Museum The Eternal Jew
“The God of the Jews is money. To earn money, he commits the greatest crimes…” "The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war."
Chancellor to Dictator • January 1933 – Hitler becomes Chancellor and soon established a total dictatorship One of the many speeches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH0Et56Hxt4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFNUdCtMXWE
Why the Holocaust? • Hitler’s racial policies – purifying the German race 1933 – sterilization law – people with hereditary problems were sterilized so that they could not reproduce 1935 – Nuremburg Laws – brings an end to race mixing 1939 – euthanasia of the physically and mentally handicapped
The Gestapo’s Helpers: poster justifying the prohibition of “interracial” relationships between Jews and Non-Jews under the Nuremburg Laws. Many Germans reported suspicions of the “crime” to the police, who needed the public to be their eyes and ears in this and other matters. Informers were variously motivated by political beliefs, personal prejudices, and desire to settle petty quarrels, or the patriotic desire to be a “good citizen” “Everyone cringes with fear… No letter, no telephone conversation , no word on the street is safe anymore. Everyone fears that the next person might be an informer.” – Jewish professor, Victor Klemperer, 1933 Photo of poster and information taken from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Why the Holocaust? • Hitler’s racial policies – Jewish Policies • Segregation of Jews – March 1933 Concentration Camps – starting with Dachau • Aryanization – Jews robbed of property and assets Aryan paragraph, 1933 “prevented Jews from becoming members of German political parties, social clubs, student groups, sports groups and others and included in constitutions of nationalist and racist student associations.”
“Jews Out” board game • Six Jews in the middle of the board game… you had to get yours out first…
Why didn’t the Jews leave? • It was nearly impossible … • Emigration – where to? • Difficult due to the Depression • Restrictive immigration laws in the U.S. and elsewhere • FDR calls a conference to discuss Jewish Refugees – countries would come ONLY if they didn’t have to take any Jews Jews can’t stay anywhere and can’t go anywhere…
Nazification of Schools • “The whole function of all education is to create a Nazi” - Bernhard Rust, Reich Minister of Science and Education Poster promoting the League of German Girls
From Gerd’s perspective as a Hitler youth: • At that time we are now in the beginning of the war -- announcements preceded by march music, we learned about the number of ships the u boasts sunk constantly. During that time, I got excited … you have to take into the context that we were taught to support Hitler. At 10 a boy became a member of the Hitler youth. You went to weekly meetings, any time things were going on politically in Berlin we had to be present there. I laugh about that fact that me and the Pope were both the same age and were both Hitler youths. He grew up like I did, not in Berlin, but a smaller city, but he was a Hitler youth too.
Nazification of Schools • National Socialist Teacher’s League – aligning all teachers with Nazi ideology – 97% of all teachers were members, 32% were also Nazi party members
Nazification of Schools • Removal of Jewish teachers AWAY WITH HIM The long arm of the ministry of education pulls the Jewish teacher from his classroom.
With WWII Comes the Holocaust • Ghettoes for Jews Created by Nazis • Death camps built in Poland – Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka • Hundreds of Concentration camps across occupied Europe • Heinrich Himmler in charge of operation
The Holocaust and War Crimes • Hitler’s hatred of Jews led to his “final solution” • Holocaust – the killing of millions of Jews and anyone else considered undesirable • between 9 and 12 million people were murdered, 6 million were Jews • Video about the US Holocaust Museum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf2u17yKR0Q&safe=active Child of the Holocaust http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWneASsotkc&safe=active
The Death Camps After deportation trains arrived at the killing centers, guards ordered the deportees to get out and form a line. The victims then went through a selection process. Men were separated from women and children. A Nazi, usually an SS physician, looked quickly at each person to decide if he or she was healthy and strong enough for forced labor. This SS officer then pointed to the left or the right; victims did not know that individuals were being selected to live or die. Babies and young children, pregnant women, the elderly, the handicapped, and the sick had little chance of surviving this first selection.
The Death Camps Those who had been selected to die were led to gas chambers. In order to prevent panic, camp guards told the victims that they were going to take showers to rid themselves of lice. The guards instructed them to turn over all their valuables and to undress. Then they were driven naked into the "showers." A guard closed and locked the steel door. In some killing centers, carbon monoxide was piped into the chamber. In others, camp guards threw "Zyklon B" pellets down an air shaft. Zyklon B was a highly poisonous insecticide also used to kill rats and insects.
The Death Camps Usually within minutes after entering the gas chambers, everyone inside was dead from lack of oxygen. Under guard, prisoners were forced to haul the corpses to a nearby room, where they removed hair, gold teeth, and fillings. The bodies were burned in ovens in the crematoria or buried in mass graves. Many people profited from the pillage of corpses. Camp guards stole some of the gold. The rest was melted down and deposited in an SS bank account. Private business firms bought and used the hair to make many products, including ship rope and mattresses.
Excerpt from Elie Wiesel's Nobel Prize Lecture Indeed this was another universe; the very laws of nature had been transformed. Children looked like old men, old men whimpered like children. Men and women from every corner of Europe were suddenly reduced to nameless and faceless creatures desperate for the same ration of bread or soup, dreading the same end. Even their silence was the same for it resounded with the memory of those who were gone. Life in this accursed universe was so distorted, so unnatural that a new species had evolved. Waking among the dead, one wondered if one were still alive... AUDIO: 33:10- 34:12 (Intro) resume at 35:09- 40:34 “That Jewish Question is a terrible question” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvEMvuJiwTU
Liberation • Allied troops moved across Europe • Encountered tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners • Many of these prisoners had survived forced marches (Nazis moved them and destroyed camps)
Never… • “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.” – Elie Wiesel
So What Now? 6 million Jews were killed as a result of Hitler’s final solution. The question now is, who will be held responsible? “We were just following orders…”