The Holocaust Nazi Germany For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation. This icon indicates the slide contains activities created in Flash. These activities are not editable.
What we will learn today
In this presentation we will consider:
how Nazi persecution of the Jews was able to escalate into state-led mass murder ('The Holocaust').
the extent to which the international community and ordinary Germans chose to ignore what was happening.
how the Holocaust still affects international relations today.
Between 1933 and 1945, Hitler and the Nazi party systematically persecuted German Jews.
The Escalation of Persecution 1933–39
When and how were Jews persecuted?
Escalation In its early stages, persecution was generally non-violent and mainly focused on attacking Jewish rights and businesses. Since many people in Germany and the rest of Europe were traditionally anti-Jewish, most Germans did not object to these forms of persecution. Once in power, the Nazis used propaganda and indoctrination to persuade people that the ‘inferior’ Jews were conspiring to sabotage the Germanic master race. Gradually, most Germans came to accept more violent forms of persecution, culminating in Kristallnacht in 1938. Those who did not agree with the violence rarely voiced their concerns for fear of being arrested by the Gestapo.
Life for the Jews Edith Velmun, who was in Holland during the Nazi occupation. “… I suddenly became very aware of my Jewish identity. Up until this point my religion had never seemed an important part of who I was.” “… It wasn’t very nice, to look over at the tennis courts and to know that you can’t go in. You see your friends on their way to play tennis or hockey … and you can’t do any of those things any more.”
Did other countries do enough to help the Jews?
Nazi Actions 1939–45 ‘ The historical guilt of world Jewry for the outbreak and extension of the war is so clearly proven that there is no point in wasting any words on it. The Jews wanted their war and now they have got it. But now they are feeling the effects of the prophecy which the Führer made on 30th January 1939 in the German Reichstag that, if international finance Jewry should succeed in plunging the nations once again into a world war, the result would be the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.’ – Goebbels, 1942
'Resettlement' – The ghettos As Germany conquered more and more land in Europe, the number of Jews under Nazi control increased drastically. Adolf Eichmann was put in charge of ‘Jewish resettlement’. This involved rounding up Jews from occupied countries and moving them to ghettos in a range of cities, the largest being the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. Walls were built to separate the ghetto from the rest of the city. Jews lived in cramped conditions – 7 or 8 people to a room, each given only 300 calories of food per day. Although the Nazis were not yet systematically killing Jews, it is thought that around 500,000 Polish Jews died of disease and starvation in the ghettos.
“ On the streets children are crying in vain, children who are dying of hunger. They howl, beg, sing, moan, shiver with cold, without underwear, without clothing, without shoes … emaciated skeletons … Already completely grown up at the age of five … I no longer look at the people; when I hear groaning and sobbing I cross the road.” A visitor to Warsaw, 1940. 'Resettlement' – The ghettos
Genocide – The Final Solution Till a few years ago, I thought of making a clean sweep of all European Jews and lumping them on Madagascar or some other island. But today, I’m sure it’s far better to exterminate them, right on the spot, wherever you find them. But by 1942, Hitler’s policy toward the Jews was changing.
In January 1942, a secret conference was held at Wannsee to discuss the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’. According to Rudolph Hess during his war crime trial in 1946: The ‘Final Solution’ of the Jewish question meant the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe… Genocide – The Final Solution
Why do you think Hitler’s plans for the Jews changed? Why did he not want these plans written down? “ Hitler and his lieutenants cloaked their most criminal activities in euphemistic language, [and] tried … to keep their murderous plans secret … Hitler was reluctant to commit himself to paper…” M Marrus, 1988, on the Final Solution . Genocide – The Final Solution
Where were the Jews taken? The Final Solution saw Jews initially herded out of their ghettos and into existing concentration camps . Some of these quickly turned from harsh prisons into straightforward execution sites. In addition, brand new ‘Death Camps’ were created. These were built by the prisoners themselves and were designed specifically to kill people as quickly as possible.
Jewish populations in Europe, 1939
Extermination camp locations
What happened to the inmates?
Approximate Jewish death toll 1939 – 45
Legacy of the Holocaust After World War II, the international community was horrified to discover the true scale of what had happened to the Jews. So in 1947, the United Nations, under pressure from Britain and the USA in particular, decided that the Jewish people should be given their own homeland . Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.
The Jewish homeland was to be situated in Palestine , where the ancient Jewish Kingdom of Israel had once existed. However, the Muslim Arab peoples who already lived in this area refused to accept this decision. This gave rise to the Arab-Israeli conflict which continues to pose a serious threat to world peace today. The USA gives strong support to Israel while the Arab world supports the Palestinians. Do you think that the UN was right to create the state of Israel? Explain your answer. Legacy of the Holocaust
Hitler’s willing executioners? The question of who was responsible for the Holocaust is a highly controversial one. David Irving argued that Hitler did not even know that the Holocaust was taking place! Irving’s views have been largely discredited by other historians. Daniel Goldhagen in Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1997) argues that the Final Solution was the responsibility of the German people as a whole, not just of Hitler and the Nazi Party.
In the words of historian Richard Evans : “ Goldhagen argues that Germans killed Jews in their millions because they enjoyed doing it, and they enjoyed doing it because their minds and emotions were eaten up by a murderous, all-consuming hatred of Jews that had been pervasive in the German political culture for decades…” Based on the evidence of this presentation, and on the extracts shown on the following slide, do you agree with Goldhagen’s interpretation? Who was to blame for the Holocaust?