Holocaust A Greek word that means “complete destruction by fire.” The systemic murder of 11 million people across Europe, more than half of whom were Jews during 1933-1945. About one-third of all the Jews in the world were killed.
Genocide The deliberate and systematic killing of an entire race or ethnic group Comprised of a Greek root genos meaning race + cide meaning kill.
Rise of the Nazi party After WWI, Germany was left with a broken government, limited military, and shattered economy. The Nazi party took power in Germany and offered to restore Germany’s pride. Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, or Prime Minister, in Germany.
Why did the Germans persecute Jews? Hitler needed a scapegoat to blame Europe’s problems. He chose the Jews. Anti-Semitism - (hatred of the Jews)-had existed in Europe for some time. Hitler blamed Jews for failures.
Hitler’s Master Race Aryan or master race: blonde hair and blue eyes Hitler believed Aryan race was superior and must be preserved. All other races were deemed inferior
Persecution In addition to the Jews, Nazis targeted: –Gypsies –Homosexuals –Jehovah’s Witnesses –Handicapped –Political dissidents
Persecution The Nazi plan for dealing with the Jews evolved in three steps: 1.Expulsion: get them out of Europe 2.Containment: Put them all together in one place – namely ghettos 3.“Final solution”: annihilation
Persecution Concentration Camps: A place where prisoners were mistreated and were subjected to medical experiments. Prisoners often died from disease, starvation, overwork, or were executed as unfit for working. Extermination Camps: These camps main function after the order of the “Final Solution”; was to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Within 24 hours of arrival, prisoners would have been killed.
The U.S. and World Response – World War II 1939 – Britain and France declared war after Germany’s invasion of Poland 1941 – U.S. entered the war By 1942, Hitler controlled or was allied with most of Europe (including Wiesel’s Romania which was pro-German) April 30, 1945 – Hitler commits suicide to avoid capture by Soviet forces
Night Background Memoir: a brief autobiographical work in which the author recounts events he has witnessed and introduces people he has known. Night begins in 1941 in Sighet, Romania. In 1944, Germany’s armies invaded Sighet. Elie and his family were sent to concentration camps at Auschwitz and at Buna, both in Poland. Much of Night takes place within a single year, 1944-1945. It was the final year of the Holocaust.
Why study the Holocaust? In a People magazine interview, Wiesel said, “The only way to stop the next holocaust… is to remember the last one. If the Jews were singled out then, in the next one we are all the victims.”