2What was the Holocaust?The systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazis between"Holocaust" is a Greek word meaning "sacrifice by fire."The Nazis believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were "life unworthy of life."
3A quote from Hitler:“Nature is cruel; therefore we are also entitled to be cruel. When I send the flower of German youth into the steel hail of the next war without feeling the slightest regret over the precious German blood that is being spilled, should I not also have the right to eliminate millions of an inferior race that multiplies like vermin?”
4Were Jews the only victims? Nazis also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority":-Roma (Gypsies) -Handicapped-Some Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others)Other groups were persecuted for political and behavioral reasons:-Communists -Socialists -Jehovah's Witnesses-Homosexuals -Prisoner’s of WarSoviet POWsGypsies
5Photograph with the caption: " Photograph with the caption: "...because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce.“This image is from a propaganda film to gather support for the Euthanasia Program.At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled people were murdered.
6In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe was over nine million. By 1945, close to two out of every three European Jews had been killed as part of the “Final Solution.”
8Children in the Warsaw Ghetto Child factory worker in a ghetto GhettosDuring World War II, ghettos were city districts (often enclosed) in which the Germans forced the Jewish population to live under miserable conditions.Ghettos isolated Jews by separating Jewish communities from the non-Jewish population and from neighboring Jewish communities.The Nazis established over 400 ghettos.The largest ghetto in Poland was the Warsaw Ghetto, where approximately 450,000 Jews were crowded into an area of 1.3 square miles.Children in the Warsaw GhettoChild factory worker in a ghetto
9The Germans established ghettos to control and segregate Jews. In many places ghettoization lasted a relatively short time.With the implementation of the "Final Solution" in 1942, the Germans systematically destroyed the ghettos and deported the Jews to extermination camps where they killed them.A smaller number of Jews were deported from ghettos to forced-labor camps and concentration camps.
11EinsatzgruppenEinsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) were squads of German SS and police personnel.The tasks of the Einsatzgruppen included the murder of those perceived to be racial or political enemies found behind the front lines in the occupied Soviet Union.These victims included Jews (men, women, and children), Roma (Gypsies), and officials of the Soviet state and the Soviet Communist party.The Einsatzgruppen also murdered thousands of mentally disabled living in institutions.Many scholars believe that the systematic killing of Jews by the Einsatzgruppen battalions was the first step of the Nazi program to murder all of the European Jews.
12EinsatzgruppenThese photographs are of Eastern European Jews taken shortly before being massacred by the Einsatzgruppen.They are from a series of photographs that were used as evidence of war crimes after the war.More than a million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered by these units.
13Concentration CampsThe term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment.The first camps were established in Germany and Poland, but the camp system expanded eastward after Nazi military victories in the Soviet Union.The camps were also sites of hideous and perverted medical experiments conducted on prisoners against their will and often with lethal results.Example: to determine the length of time German air force personnel might survive under reduced air pressure or in frozen water.Also, the skin of young and healthy prisoners was prized material for lampshades, gloves, saddles, etc. that became popular souvenirs for Nazis.
14Hairbrushes of victims at Auschwitz Extermination CampsNazi extermination camps fulfilled the singular function of mass murder.Unlike concentration camps, which served primarily as detention and labor centers, extermination camps were almost exclusively "death factories."Over three million Jews were murdered in extermination camps, by gassing and by shooting.CrematoriumHairbrushes of victims at Auschwitz
16Death MarchesIn January 1945, the Germans stood on the verge of military defeat.The Soviet army had publicized Nazi atrocities at one camp called Majdanek, which its troops overran in July 1944.Nazi authorities, therefore, ordered commandants of concentration camps to evacuate prisoners to prevent the prisoners from falling into Allied hands and providing further evidence of Nazi mass murder.The term death march referred to forced marches of prisoners over long distances under heavy guard and extremely harsh winter conditions.During these death marches, SS guards brutally mistreated the prisoners.Following explicit orders to shoot prisoners who could no longer walk, the SS guards shot hundreds of prisoners en route.Thousands of prisoners also died of exposure, starvation, and exhaustion.
17LiberationAs the Allies moved through Germany and Eastern Europe they discovered and liberated the camps.Liberators confronted unspeakable conditions in the camps, where piles of corpses lay unburied.Only after the liberation of the Nazi camps was the full scope of Nazi horrors exposed to the world.The survivors resembled skeletons because of the demands of forced labor and the lack of food.Many were so weak that they could hardly move.Disease remained an ever-present danger, and many of the camps had to be burned down to prevent the spread of epidemics.Survivors of the camps faced a long and difficult road to recovery.
19America and the Holocaust American leaders had knowledge of the holocaust, but rescue was not a priority for the U.S. government.In August 1942, the State Department received a telegram confirming Nazi plans for the murder of Europe's Jews, but no action was taken.American Rabbi Stephen Wise, who also received the report, was asked by the State Department to refrain from announcing it.Reports of Nazi atrocities often were not publicized by the American press.In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt given reports of mass murder received from Jewish leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto. No immediate executive action was taken.
20American anti-Semitic propaganda posters, circa WWII
21Aftermath Aftermath Map What does “DP” stand for? Where did the Allies set up DP camps?Why did many survivors want to leave Europe?Where did many survivors desire to relocate?Was America a welcoming location for survivors?
22Part One QuestionsAfter the Nuremberg Laws were enacted in 1935, the Jews lost their civil liberties and rights as German citizens.Identify the civil rights you hold dear.Golly D., Frank S., and Joseph K. tell us about Brown Shirts marching and the activities of the Hitler Youth. Robert S. speaks of being a member of the Hitler Youth at the age of ten.What do you think might have attracted young people to join the Party?Do you think that you could have been persuaded? Why or why not?Helen K. said, "We didn't believe what Hitler said or what he was going to do."How do you think disbelief played a part in decision making for the Jews?
23Part Two QuestionsEdith P. said, "Had we known enough, I think we would have done more."Why didn't the Jews leave their homelands after the first signs of persecution and restrictions?The survivors tell of heartbreaking separations from loved ones at the time of deportation and arrival in the camps.Why you think the Nazis used the plan of separating families?Joseph K. tells us of how the Nazis killed babies.Define what you think he means when he says, "Cultured people did this."
24Part Three QuestionsList the reasons you think the Nazis wanted to evacuate the camps when they learned the Allies were advancing toward them.To us, liberation means freedom, but to many of the survivors this was not so.Describe some of their fears and worries upon liberation.When given a rifle and told he could shoot German officers, Joseph K. could not strike back.Discuss Joseph K.'s reaction.Speculate about what others might have done in similar situations.Even though it is a difficult undertaking for the survivors to give their testimonies, they have done so.Describe why you think, after many years, they have spoken to us.