The National socialist racial policy


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Geschiedenis: De raciale politiek van de Nationaal Socialistische Partij

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The National socialist racial policy

  1. 1. HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 12 National Socialist Racial Policy
  2. 2. Eugenics <ul><li>Eugenics = ‘good birth’; widespread in western societies from late 19thC (i.e. not German-specific) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Ideal’ racial stock often equated to middle-class </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Dangerous’ classes of lumpenproletariat </li></ul><ul><li>Note cultural stereotypes rather than scientific criteria </li></ul>‘ Inferior Hereditary Material Penetrates a Village’: lone mother, illegitimate children, drinking fathers, mental illness & prison
  3. 3. Pronatalism <ul><li>NS settlement schemes demanded a high birth rate </li></ul><ul><li>Depression discouraged large families; cf pre-1914 statistics disappointing </li></ul><ul><li>Positive eugenics: incentive schemes such as marriage loans, mothers’ crosses </li></ul><ul><li>Lebensborn (Well of Life): SS scheme to promote Aryan births out of wedlock </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-natalism? (Gisela Bock): several hundred thousand women sterilised </li></ul>Above: Mother’s Cross; below: ‘The nation’s military strength is safeguarded by hereditarily healthy, child-rich families’
  4. 4. Homosexuals <ul><li>Especially male homosexuals targeted as failing their reproductive duties </li></ul><ul><li>1936 para. 175 of Penal Code outlaws homosexuality </li></ul><ul><li>Homosexuals incarcerated in concentration camps with pink triangle </li></ul>NS chart alleging that one homosexual man can ‘contaminate’ 28 others; note the pseudo-scientific diagram
  5. 5. ‘ Asocials’ <ul><li>Racial theory of hereditary illnesses (criminality, alcoholism), rendering sufferers ‘unfit for community’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Workshy’ & prostitutes targeted from 1936 on, becoming significant proportion of concentration camp population </li></ul>‘ This is how it would end.’
  6. 6. Roma and Sinti gypsies <ul><li>Sinti & Roma labelled workshy </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnographic studies of gypsies as Indo-European migrants </li></ul><ul><li>Proportionally as many gypsies died in Holocaust as Jews </li></ul>Gypsies await their fate at Belzec camp
  7. 7. Euthanasia <ul><li>Financial savings on mentally handicapped </li></ul><ul><li>Killings in sanatoria </li></ul><ul><li>‘ T4’ programme under Viktor Brack experiments with gas vans </li></ul><ul><li>Bishop Galen of M ü nster leads Catholic opposition (euthanasia becomes clandestine from 1941) </li></ul><ul><li>Key text: Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance </li></ul>Victor Brack, architect of the ‘T4’ euthanasia programme Bishop Galen of Muenster, outspoken critic of euthanasia
  8. 8. Antisemitism <ul><li>Religious antisemitism, dating back to medieval period </li></ul><ul><li>Economic antisemitism: emancipation of Jewish Germans post-1871 coincided with economic depression </li></ul><ul><li>Biological antisemitism: Social Darwinism; organicist view of body politic; Jews as parasites ‘contaminating’ Aryan blood </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Jewish ‘World Conspiracy’ Jewish ‘capitalist oppressor’ Jewish ‘bolshevik commissar’ (PoW photo, 1941) ‘ Bolshevism is Jewry’
  10. 10. Pogrom-style violence <ul><li>Canalisation of street violence </li></ul><ul><li>1 April Jewish shop boycott flopped </li></ul><ul><li>Concern at overseas opinion </li></ul>SA men boycott Jewish businesses in April 1933
  11. 11. Nuremberg Race Laws <ul><li>Sept 1935 ‘legal’ solution </li></ul><ul><li>Forbids sexual relations between Jewish and gentile Germans </li></ul><ul><li>Defines Jews as those whose grandparents attended synagogue (i.e. non-biological criterion) </li></ul><ul><li>General public acceptance that a ‘Jewish question’ existed </li></ul>
  12. 12. Kristallnacht, 9 Nov. 1938 <ul><li>Goebbels & SA manufacture ‘popular’ pogrom against Jews </li></ul><ul><li>Synagogues burned </li></ul><ul><li>Jewish businesses trashed & later ‘Aryanised’ or sold off </li></ul><ul><li>20,000 mainly male Jewish citizens put in ‘protective custody’ in camps </li></ul><ul><li>Jewish community forced to pay 1billion marks in ‘atonement’ </li></ul>Passers-by view the shattered glass of a shopfront attacked on Kristallnacht
  13. 13. The SS and Jewish Policy <ul><li>From 1939 SS tasked with Jewish policy </li></ul><ul><li>Emigration schemes (Madagascar, Urals) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Jew-free’ Reich leads to ghettoisation in General Government, but ‘cumulative radicalisation’ (Mommsen) between competing agencies </li></ul>Reinhard Heydrich, Security Service leader Adolf Eichmann, head of Jewish desk at Reich Security Head Office
  14. 14. The decision for the Final Solution <ul><li>Autumn 1941 (Operation Barbarossa): elation of victory or realisation of defeat? </li></ul><ul><li>First tests of gas chambers at Auschwitz on Soviet PoWs </li></ul><ul><li>January 1942: conference at Wannsee (Berlin) decides on European -wide programme of mass murder, using mechanised techniques </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Holocaust <ul><li>55,000 Jews from the Łódz ghetto & 5000 Gypsies gassed in mobile gas chambers in the winter of 1941-42. </li></ul><ul><li>200,000 killed in death camps at Chelmno, Treblinka & Belzec in August 1942. </li></ul><ul><li>By Dec. 1942 500,000 had been gassed at Belzec alone. </li></ul><ul><li>Jews & Gypsies from all over Europe transported to Auschwitz from spring 1942 onwards. </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated that around 1,600,000 murdered at Auschwitz alone, c.300,000 of which were not Jews. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Medical’ experiments conducted on camp inmates. </li></ul><ul><li>Around 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, plus hundreds of thousands of others – Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill etc. </li></ul>Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, showing percentage of the population killed in each country Source: H. Schulze, Germany: A New History (1998)
  16. 16. Models of radicalisation <ul><li>Intentionalists : top-down models based on a Fuehrer order (lack of written evidence?) </li></ul><ul><li>Incremental, step-by-step radicalisation, & ‘war against the Jews’ (Lucy Dawidowicz) </li></ul><ul><li>Functionalists : polycratic, competing bureaucracies radicalise from below (Martin Broszat); ‘working towards the Fuehrer’ (Ian Kershaw) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Holocaust: Height of Modernity? <ul><li>Pseudo-scientific justification derived from rational Enlightenment ‘perfectibility of mankind’ </li></ul><ul><li>Use of ‘factories of death’, but also compartmentalisation of killing process enabled distancing from murder </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing ‘economisation’ of the Holocaust to justify it in war effort (Aly & Heim) </li></ul><ul><li>Key commentators: Zygmunt Bauman </li></ul>
  18. 18. Holocaust: height of barbarism? <ul><li>Daniel Goldhagen: focus on the ‘trigger pullers’ </li></ul><ul><li>Need to explain sadistic nature of violence </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Eliminationist antisemitism’ too simplistic? </li></ul><ul><li>Cf Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men , who cites peer pressure, careerism, but also psychological need to conform to authority </li></ul>Police Reserve Battalion 101, stationed in occupied Poland