Introduction to The Holocaust. Steps to Genocide 1933 to 1945 Adapted from teacherweb.com . holocaust (noun): Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire” “ holo ” = whole “ caust ” = burnt The Holocaust (proper noun):
Steps to Genocide
1933 to 1945
Adapted from teacherweb.com
Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire”
“holo” = whole “caust” = burnt
The Holocaust (proper noun):
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during WWII.
(2/3 of Jewish population – 9 million total in Europe)
Including other groups - 11-17 million killed
The crime of destroying a group of people because of their ethnic, national, racial, or religious identity
Greek and Latin roots
“geno” = birth/race “cide” = killing
Nazi Target Groups:
Ethnicities: Jews & Gypsies (Roma),
Nationalities: Slavs (Poles & Russians), Germans of
“Degenerates”: homosexuals & disabled (Germans too)
Political rivals: Communists , Socialists, & Soviet POWs
Religions: Jehovah Witnesses & Jews
Asocials: Anybody else who opposed the Nazis
Genocide was NOT the first step!
First Reason: Germany lost WWI – felt stabbed in back from own military and lack of popular support, especially in Jewish community.
Second Reason: The Nazi rise to power and seizure of Germany.
Third Reason: Hitler’s Agenda: Race and Space
Race: eliminate all undesirable and inferior individuals – create the “perfect” race.
Space: a quest for Lebensraum (living space). Hitler was afraid Germany was losing land, expand territory for more resources and future German dominance.
Hitler’s ultimate goal: If only we could eliminate Jews, then we can create a new society and radically remake Europe, eventually the world.
Hitler’s view of the Jews: Jews were like parasites. They had no real home and they are destructive in nature, so they could never live in harmony with Germans. If we can’t separate them, then we must kill them slowly.
Civil death – boycott of goods, state employment, academia
Social death – forced migration, ghettos
Economic death – pay for clean-up costs, possessions
Final Solution – concentration camps and death
Burning of Jewish books, including the Torah, 1934
Institutionalized, government sponsored racism
Based loosely on early 20th century understanding of the science of genetics, eugenicists believed that people should be bred as farmers breed animals: deliberately weeding out “inferior” traits through genetic selection. The Nazis believed that they could create a “a master race”.
The Nazis believed that people of Northern European ancestry – especially those with blue eyes and blonde hair – were superior to all other people, including people of African, Asian, and Middle-Eastern ancestry.
In 1933, there were few people of African or Asian ancestry living in Germany. There were, however, 500,000 Jews who seemed to threaten “racial purity”.
“The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one.”
“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”
The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.”
“ I believe today I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am doing the Lord’s work.”
What do all these quotations have in common?
German Hollenith Machine – a subsidiary of IBM
In 1934, Nazi scientists developed this kit, which contained 29 samples of human hair. The samples were used by geneticists, anthropologists, and doctors to determine ancestry. Hair color also became a means to prove the supposed superiority of Aryans and the inferiority of Jews, Gypsies, and those of “mixed breeds”.
On April 1, 1933, Hitler declared a one-day boycott of Jewish shops
Many German citizens voluntarily participated
May 1933, Jewish books were burned in public bonfires
Below: Aerial view of Nuremberg, Germany,
Kristallnacht means “Night of Broken Glass”
Many Jews attempted to leave Germany. But many nations, including Great Britain, Canada & the United States limited Jewish immigration
Left: In 1939, 850 Jewish refugees attempt to enter British-controlled Palestine illegally.
Evacuating the Jews from Germany, the Nazis created compulsory “Jewish Quarters” in most Polish cities and towns. The ghetto was a section of a city where all Jews from the surrounding areas were forced to reside, surrounded by barbed wire or walls
Left: Jewish labourers are forced to build a wall around the Warsaw ghetto
Nazi ghettos numbers. were a preliminary step in the annihilation of the Jews. Ghettos became transition areas, used as collection points for deportation to concentration & death camps
By spring of 1941, conditions inside Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto were hellish: Food was scarce, clothing consisted many of old rags, and medical supplies were virtually non-existent. Child mortality rates skyrocketed
Left: Orphan sleeping in Warsaw ghetto, 1941
In 1941, German Jews were taken into “protective custody” and deported to concentration camps, build in eastern Germany & Poland.
Left: Jews being deported from German city of Baden-Baden
In response to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Nazis destroyed the ghetto and moved the residents farther east “to safety”.
Jews carried their few remaining possessions to train stations. They were then transported in freight and cattle cars. Not only were there no chairs, but the trains also lacked sanitation, food, water, and air.
Concentration Camps numbers.
Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health
The code name for the plan to destroy the Jews of Europe. In December, 1941, Jews were rounded up -- under the excuse of a “resettlement” program -- and sent to death camps in the East.
Taking place at the beautiful Wannsee estate, the 1942 conference was attended by fifteen men, eight of whom had advanced university degrees ranging from law to philosophy and theology. Nearly all knew about the deportations and killings already in progress.
Ten days after the meeting, on January 30, 1942, Hitler proclaimed that “the results of this war will be the total annihilation of the Jews.”
The SS were put in charge of the day-to-day operations of the death camps.
Many SS guards claimed after the war that they had just “been following orders.”
Rudolf Hoess, Commander at Auschwitz said, “We were all so trained to obey orders without even thinking....”
Left: SS guards at Sobibor Death Camp, 1942
The sign over the entrance to Auschwitz said “Work makes one free.” However, Auschwitz was NOT a labour camp. It was actually the largest of the death camps.
This pile of clothes belonged to prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp
Most of it would be resold to German civilians.
Your luggage would be left for collection later
First you removed your valuables numbers.
Confiscated property from prisoners was kept in storerooms nicknamed “Kanada”. The sheer amount of loot stored there was associated with the riches of Canada
Then they removed your hair numbers.
The gas chambers, disguised as showers, mainly used carbon monoxide and Xylon-B. To meet the daily death quota, the SS guards gassed men, & women; the elderly & children.
Large industrial ovens were used to cremate the remains. Jewish inmates operated the ovens under SS supervision.
“Inspite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart”
- Diary of Anne Frank
In March 1945, Fifteen-year-old Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belsen of typhus
1945, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz. Rudolf Hoess, Commander of Auschwitz, was asked if the Jews whom he had murdered had in any way deserved their fate. He answered, “Don’t you see, we SS men were not supposed to think about these things ... Besides, it was something already taken for granted that the Jews were to blame for everything.”
Oscar Schindler (1908-1974) A German businessman who first profitted from the war but who later saved over 1,300 Jews from the gas chambers by declaring them essential workers – regardless of age or capacity to work.
On November 22, 1945, the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal began.
Stanislaw “Shlomo” Smajzner – survivor of Sobibor escape
Thomas Blatt – survivor of Sobibor escape
Chartock, Roselle and Jack Spencer. The Holocaust Years: Society on Trial. New York: Bantam Books, 1978.
Harran, Marilyn, et. al. The Holocaust Chronicle: Ahistory in Words and Pictures. Lincolnwood: Publications International, Ltd., 2000.
Schumacher, Julie A. Voices of the Holocaust. Logan: Perfection Learning Corporation, 2000.