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Introduction to The Holocaust. Steps to Genocide 1933 to 1945 Adapted from . holocaust (noun): Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire” “ holo ” = whole “ caust ” = burnt The Holocaust (proper noun):

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Introduction to the holocaust

Introduction to The Holocaust

Steps to Genocide

1933 to 1945

Adapted from

holocaust (noun):

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

340 stadiums 17 million people

20 stadiums = 1 million people

340stadiums = 17 million people

genocide (noun):

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

African decent

“Degenerates”: homosexuals & disabled (Germans too)

Political rivals: Communists , Socialists, & Soviet POWs

Religions: Jehovah Witnesses & Jews

Asocials: Anybody else who opposed the Nazis

How did all of this happen
How did all of this happen?

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.

How did all of this happen1
How did all of this happen?

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

  • They came for the Communists,

  • and I didn't object

  • - For I wasn't a Communist;

  • They came for the Socialists,

  • and I didn't object

  • - For I wasn't a Socialist;

  • They came for the labour leaders,

  • and I didn't object

  • - For I wasn't a labour leader;

  • They came for the Jews,

  • and I didn't object

  • - For I wasn't a Jew;

  • Then they came for me

  • And there was no one left

  • to object. Martin Niemoller, (1892-1984 )

  • German Protestant Pastor, & Nazi Political Prisoner from 1937 to 1945

Why have camps
Why Have Camps? numbers.

  • Essential to Nazi’s systematic oppression and eventual mass murder of enemies of Nazi Germany

  • Slave labor moved them towards their ultimate goal- “annihilation by work”

  • What was taken from Jews was used to provide goods for the German People

Three steps on the road to genocide
Three Steps on the Road to Genocide: numbers.

  • You cannot live among us as Jews.

  • You cannot live among us.

  • You cannot live.

Burning of Jewish books, including the Torah, 1934

Escalation of hate
Escalation of Hate numbers.

Institutionalized, government sponsored racism





You cannot live among us as jews
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.


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”.

You cannot live among us as jews1
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

Aryan 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 power of words
The Power of Words… numbers.

“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?

How did they know who was jewish
How did they know who was Jewish? numbers.

  • November 1935 German churches begin to collaborate with Nazis by supplying records indicating who is Christian

  • State of the art data processing was used to take a census in all German territory. Early on the Nazis included questions on religious heritage

  • The machine allowed Nazi officials to tabulate huge amounts of data very quickly

German Hollenith Machine – a subsidiary of IBM

You cannot live among us as jews2
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

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”.

You cannot live among us as jews3
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

On April 1, 1933, Hitler declared a one-day boycott of Jewish shops

Many German citizens voluntarily participated

You cannot live among us as jews4
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

May 1933, Jewish books were burned in public bonfires

You cannot live among us as jews5
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

  • “The Nuremberg Laws” turned prejudice & discrimination into systemic racism.

  • For example:

  • 1935: Jewish Newspapers could no longer be sold

  • 1936: Jews lost the right to vote

  • 1938: Jews had to surrender drivers’ licences & car registrations

Below: Aerial view of Nuremberg, Germany,

prewar period

You cannot live among us as jews6
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

  • The Nuremberg Laws also classified “degrees “ of Jewish blood

  • One use for this classification was to permit or to deny couples the right to marry (and thus to reproduce)

  • One proposed “solution” to the Jewish problem was sterilization

You cannot live among us as jews7
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

  • By 1938, all Jews were required to carry identification cards

  • Jewish passports & papers were marked with a “J”

You cannot live among us as jews8
You cannot live among us as Jews. numbers.

Kristallnacht means “Night of Broken Glass”

Why didn t people just leave
Why didn’t people just leave? numbers.

  • The Immigration Act – the US, Palestine, and other countries limited or closed its doors to Jewish immigrants.

  • The Great Depression – US was having its own economic troubles.

  • Many didn’t want to leave family members.

  • Hard to obtain visas and documentation needed to leave.

You cannot live among us
You cannot live among us. numbers.

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.

You cannot live among us1
You cannot live among us. numbers.


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

You cannot live among us2
You cannot live among us. numbers.

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

You cannot live among us3
You cannot live among us. numbers.

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

You cannot live among us4
You cannot live among us. numbers.

In response to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Nazis destroyed the ghetto and moved the residents farther east “to safety”.

You cannot live among us5
You cannot live among us. numbers.

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.

  • Camps were built on railroad lines for efficient transportation

  • On arrival, all are given numbers- some have this tattooed on their wrist

Step 3 you cannot live
Step 3: You Cannot Live numbers.

Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health

  • Idea was to improve the quality of the German race

  • Nazi policy to eliminate those “unworthy of life” (mentally or physically challenged) to promote Aryan “racial integrity”

  • Policy halted in 1941 due to outcry within Germany


  • (mobile killing units) had began killing operations aimed at entire Jewish communities in the 1930s.

  • Thought to have killed as many as 1 million people in six months

  • Vigorous participation of local police helped facilitate the killing

You cannot live
You cannot live numbers.

Final Solution:

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.

You cannot live1
You cannot live. numbers.

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.”

You cannot live2
You cannot live. numbers.

The SS were put in charge of the day-to-day operations of the death camps.

You cannot live3
You cannot live. numbers.

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

You cannot live4
You cannot live numbers.

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.

You cannot live5
You cannot live numbers.

You cannot live6
You cannot live numbers.

This pile of clothes belonged to prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp

Most of it would be resold to German civilians.

You cannot live7
You cannot live numbers.

  • The Germans deported the Dutch Jews east starting in mid-1942

  • Most believed they were going to labour camps

  • Few believed the death camps even existed.

Once selected you began the process of extermination
Once selected, you began the numbers. process of extermination

Your luggage would be left for collection later

Eyeglasses 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

Finally numbers.

  • Prisoners were sent to gas chambers disguised as showers

  • Zyklon B gas used to gas people in 3 – 15 minutes

  • Up to 8000 people were gassed per day at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest death camp with 4 operating gas chambers

  • Gold fillings from victims teeth were melted down to make gold bars

  • Prisoners moved dead bodies to massive crematoriums

You cannot live among us6
You cannot live among us 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.

You cannot live among us7
You cannot live among us numbers.

Large industrial ovens were used to cremate the remains. Jewish inmates operated the ovens under SS supervision.

Major death factories
Major Death Factories numbers.

  • Sobibor - 250 000

  • Chlemno - 255 000

  • Majdanek 360 000

  • Belzec 601 500

  • Treblinka 750 000 - 870 000

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau 1 100 000 – 1 600 000

Nearing the end of the war
Nearing the End of the War numbers.

  • By 1945, the Nazis’ began to destroy crematoriums and camps as Allied troops closed in

  • Death Marches (Todesmarsche): Between 1944-1945, Nazis ordered marches over long distances. Approximately 250 000 – 375 000 prisoners perished in Death Marches

  • On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz (largest camp) and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill and dying.

You cannot live among us8
You cannot live among us numbers.

“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

You cannot live among us9
You cannot live among us numbers.

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.”

There were some revolts
There were some revolts. numbers.

  • In October 1942, the Sobibor armed revolt and escape attempt closed the camp.

  • In October 1944, Auschwitz inmates revolted, but failed to achieve their goal: the destruction of the ovens & gas chambers.

There were some heroes
There were some heroes. numbers.

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.

There was some justice
There was some justice. numbers.

On November 22, 1945, the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal began.

There were some survivors
There were some survivors. numbers.

Stanislaw “Shlomo” Smajzner – survivor of Sobibor escape

Thomas Blatt – survivor of Sobibor escape

Works cited
Works Cited numbers.

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.