2Why do we study the Holocaust? The word ‘Holocaust’ refers to ‘destruction or slaughter on a massive scale’. We usually use the word in connection to the genocide and mass murder carried out by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Those targeted included Jews, , homosexuals, the disabled, and some religious groups.Why do we study the Holocaust?It helps us to appreciate democracy, choice and freedom in society – it is important that we do not take these things for granted!It shows us the dangers of silence and indifference – if the rest of the world had acted when it observed the effects of Hitler’s rise to power, perhaps the deaths of millions of people might have been avoided.
3Anti-Semitism in Pre-WWII Europe Dislike or hatred of Jews and Judaism is called ‘Anti-Semitism’. Jews were a minority in Europe, and Jewish communities and traditions were often the target of suspicion and distrust because they were ‘different’ – they were not Christians, like most Europeans. Some Jewish people wore different kinds of clothes. They did not eat the same food, or follow the same cultural traditions as other Europeans. Without discussing your thoughts aloud, take a moment to think about groups of people today who are portrayed negatively because they are ‘different’.
4A cartoon created after World War One suggesting that the German army was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Europe’s Jews.
5Students ask ‘why did Hitler hate the Jews so much?’ First of all, Hitler was an anti-Semite. Lots of people in Europe were. We need to remember that during this period, theories of racial superiority were regarded as ‘fact’ by many, many people. In the United States, the black population were considered second class citizens. In Australia, Aboriginal Australians were regarded as ‘fauna’ rather than people. Hitler used anti-Semitism as a tool in his rise to power. By blaming the Jews, he created a ‘scapegoat’ – a reason for Germany’s defeat in the First World War.
61933 to 1938Following Hitler’s appointment as German chancellor on January 30, 1933, the Nazi state (also referred to as the Third Reich) quickly became a regime in which citizens had no guaranteed basic rights.
7Jews were forced to wear a yellow star so that they could not ‘pass’ as Germans.
8A woman sits on a bench marked ‘Only for Jews’ A woman sits on a bench marked ‘Only for Jews’. Take two minutes to discuss with your neighbour the following questions: 1. Why is she concealing her face? 2. Who do you think might be taking the photo? Why did they choose to take this photo? 3. Do you have any other questions about this source?
9What happened to the Jews at the beginning of World War Two? After Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War, many Jews living in German-occupied areas were rounded up and sent to live in in ghettos. The ghettos were enclosed areas of cities and towns where Jews lived under miserable conditions.
10Ghettoes established in German-occupied Europe from 1939 onwards
13An excerpt from the Diary of David Sierakowiak, a teenager living in the Lodz Ghetto “The streets of Lodz feel eerie. Although richly decorated with Nazi flags, they are gray and sad. Dozens of regulations, public notices, and so on have been posted... A person has to wait in line for bread for five or six hours, only to go away empty-handed 50 percent of the time. They are still seizing people for forced labour. Nothing seems to go well.” Sunday, September 24, 1940.
14The Final SolutionThe Final Solution was the name given to the plan, implemented after the Wannsee Conference of 1942, to exterminate the European Jews.Two methods were used by the Nazis to carry out the destruction of Jews in Europe:Mobile killing squads – the Einsatzgruppen.Extermination camps - Chelmno , Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. All six extermination camps were in Poland.
15Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland A woman and children deemed unfit for work, on their way to Gas Chamber 4.Questions for discussion:Who do you think took this photo? Why? How would the photographer feel?2. Do you think that woman and the children knew they were being photographed?
16Excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Night “The beloved objects that we had carried with us from place to place were left behind in the wagon and, with them, finally, our illusions. Every few yards, there stood an SS man, his machine gun trained on us. Hand in hand we followed the throng. An SS came towards us wielding a club. He commanded: ‘Men to the left! Women to the right!’ Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother.”
17The Righteous Among the Nations Righteous Among the Nations is a term used to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. .