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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Night by Elie Wiesel. Background Information on World War II and the Holocaust. The Book Thief Covers. and more covers…. Night covers. The Book Thief. Fiction Setting: Nazi Germany, 1939 Narrated by Death Protagonist: Liesel Meminger
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Background Information on World War II and the Holocaust
German propaganda had not prepared the nation for defeat, resulting in a sense of injured German pride
1919: The German Workers’ Party (forerunner of Nazi Party) formed – Hitler rose to leadership because of his emotional and captivating speeches.
Nazi Party stands for National Socialist German Worker’s Party
By 1920, Hitler was the official leader of the Nazi Party
1923 – Hitler attempted to overthrow authorities in Munich – but failed miserably and was sent to prison (a hero!)
1925 – Hitler published Mein Kampf (My Struggle) – written while in prisonAdolf Hitler: the FührerRise to Power
1929: Great Depression had a large impact on Germany
On January 30, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler ChancellorRise of Nazi Power
As part of a policy of internal coordination, the Nazis created Special Courts to punish political dissent. In a parallel move from April to October, the regime passed civil laws that barred Jews from holding positions in the civil service, in legal and medical professions, and in teaching and university positions. The Nazis encouraged boycotts of Jewish-owned shops and businesses and began book burnings of writings by Jews and by others not approved by the Reich.
Hitler announced the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. These laws stripped Jews of their civil rights as German citizens and separated them from Germans legally, socially, and politically. Jews were also defined as a separate race under "The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor." Being Jewish was now determined by ancestry; thus the Germans used race, not religious beliefs or practices, to define the Jewish people. This law forbade marriages or sexual relations between Jews and Germans. Hitler warned darkly that if this law did not resolve the problem, he would turn to the Nazi Party for a final solution. More than 120 laws, decrees, and ordinances were enacted after the Nuremburg Laws and before the outbreak of World War II, further eroding the rights of German Jews. Many thousands of Germans who had not previously considered themselves Jews found themselves defined as "non-Aryans."
Within days, the Nazis forced the Jews to transfer their businesses to Aryan hands and expelled all Jewish pupils from public schools. With brazen arrogance, the Nazis further persecuted the Jews by forcing them to pay for the damages of Kristallnacht.
In 1941, Germany invaded Russia which had a population of 5 million Jews.Prelude to the Final Solution
Women, children, the old & the sick were to be sent for ‘special treatment.’
The young and fit would go through a process called ‘destruction through work.’
Shooting was too inefficient as the bullets were needed for the war effort
On arrival the Jews would go through a process called ‘selection.’
How was the Final Solution going to be organised?
Jews were to be rounded up and put into transit camps called Ghettoes
The remaining Jews were to be shipped to ‘resettlement areas’ in the East.
The Jews living in these Ghettos were to be used as a cheap source of labour.
Conditions in the Ghettos were designed to be so bad that many die whilst the rest would be willing to leave these areas in the hope of better conditions
New arrivals at the Death camps were given postcards to send to their friends.
The Jews were told that they were going to ‘resettlement areas’ in the East.
The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were only fed a 1000 calories a day .
In some Ghettos the Jews had to purchase their own train tickets.
A Human being needs 2400 calories a day to maintain their weight
They were told to bring the tools of their trade and pots and pans.
The SS publicly shot people for smuggling food or for any act of resistance
Hungry people are easier to control
All new arrivals went through a process known as ‘selection.’
At Auschwitz the trains pulled into a mock up of a normal station.
Mothers, children, the old & sick were sent straight to the ‘showers’ which were really the gas chambers.
The Jews were helped off the cattle trucks by Jews who were specially selected to help the Nazis
Deception & Selection
The able bodied were sent to work camp were they were killed through a process known as ‘destruction through work.’
At some death camps the Nazis would play records of classical music to help calm down the new arrivals.
At Auschwitz the new arrivals were calmed down by a Jewish orchestra playing classical music.
Notice how it has been built to resemble a railway station
‘Destruction Through Work’
Notice how the Death camp is set out like a factory complex
The Nazis used industrial methods to murder the Jews and process their dead bodies
The SS would try and pack up to 2000 people into this gas chamber
Taken inside a huge glass case in the Auschwitz Museum. This represents one day's collection at the peak of the gassings, about twenty five thousand pairs.
This photo was taken by the Nazis to show just how you could quite literally work the fat of the Jews by feeding them 200 calories a day
Same group of Jews 6 weeks later
Today there are only 2000 Jews living in Poland.
The Nazis managed to kill at least 6 million Jews.
Men like Schindler helped Jews escape the Final Solution.
Not all Jews went quietly into the gas cambers.
In 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto, like many others revolted against the Nazis when the Jews realised what was really happening.Was the Final Solution successful?
Evil is when a few good men decide to do nothing.