Intro to the Holocaust
Exit Ticket: Pick two essential questions to answer. Write your
answers on the back of this paper, and number your response.
1. What is your understanding of the Holocaust?
2. Do you believe we should study the Holocaust? Explain your answer.
3. What do you expect to learn by studying the Holocaust?
4. What is your understanding of discrimination or prejudice?
5. Do you believe there are ways to stop discrimination or prejudice? Explain.
6. What emotional and physical challenges do you think the people of the Holocaust
7. Genocides and massacres, like the Holocaust, have occurred in the past and are still
occurring today. Do we know more about current situations? Why?
8. How do you believe studying the Holocaust will change you?
The wrongs which we seek
to condemn and punish
have been so calculated, so
malignant, and so
devastating, that civilization
cannot tolerate their being
ignored, because it cannot
survive their being repeated.
(Robert Jackson, 1945)
What is the Holocaust?
• The Holocaust is a watershed event in human
history. There is a distinct “before” and “after” the
• Ordinary people perpetrated these events against
other ordinary people.
• The Holocaust arose slowly, in stages, and arose
because of conditions in Europe – questions of
religion, race, nationalism, war, peace, politics, etc.
Why bother studying
• Some hatreds which allowed the Holocaust to occur still
• We’ll see how events in our world are shaped by events in
the past, and how understanding the past can help us avoid
similar situations in the future.
Why bother studying the Holocaust?
• Help us understand concepts of prejudice,
stereotyping, and racism in any society.
• It helps us understand what it means to be a
bystander, remaining silent in the face of grave
moral injustice, and what apathy can lead to.
• Learn about individual acts of heroism or courage.
• Learn about choices people made or were forced to
make during this time.
Why bother studying the Holocaust?
• To understand how power can be abused by
individuals, groups, and even nations.
• To understand how important each individual is in a
democracy. Each person has rights and
responsibilities in maintaining a truly democratic
• Learn that citizens of a democracy have the
responsibility to stand up against evil of all forms:
social, political, economic, etc.
Think about this question…
How could the
Before World War II…
• 1918: World War I ends
– 37 million dead
– Germany left in ruins
• Economically, politically
– Treaty of Versailles
– Adolf Hitler
– German Workers Party
The rise of Adolf Hitler
– Hitler attempts to overthrow local government in
– Hitler and other leaders sent to jail for treason
– Sentenced to 5 years with parole; Hitler was released
after 1 year
• 1925: Mein Kampf (My Struggle)
– Written while in hiding
– Radical ideals of German nationalism, anti-Semitism,
– “The Jewish Peril” – Jewish conspiracy to gain world
The rise of
• 1925-1927: Jewish propaganda leads
to condemnation of Jewish
person or group
on whom the
crimes of others
• 1933: Hitler appointed Chancellor of
– Beginning of a police state in Germany
– Dachau concentration camp created
– Special courts established
– Anti-Semitic legislation passed
– Book burnings
• 1934: German President dies; Hitler
declares himself “Fuhrer”
• 1935: “non-Aryans” are stripped of civil
Adolf Hitler (below)
and Eva Braun
Nuremberg Laws: 2,000
*Took away civil rights of
*No citizenship, no
marriages with Germans,
closed businesses, stole
property, forced to wear
yellow Star of David
*Jews could not be judges,
lawyers, teachers, or
Chart used to define racial identification. Only a person with four German
grandparents was considered of “German blood.”
The cartoon shows a Jew politely asking for room on the bench, after which
he shoves the previous inhabitant off. The poem notes that Jews behave the
same way in other situations. July 1936 (Issue #28)
It was even taught in
is superior to all
The caption says: "As long
as the German people has
racially valuable children, its
future is assured." (June
• 1936: Germans host the Olympics (right)
• 1938: Nazi Germany takes over
Czechoslovakia and Austria
– Kristallnacht (below)
• 1939: Germany invades Poland; WWII
Riots destroyed Jewish property all over Germany and
• 1939: Hitler declares Polish
citizens “slaves” for Germans
– 2 million Jews relocated to
ghettos in cities
– Star of David
– “official story:” Jews were
carriers of diseases and must
be contained in ghettos for
• 1940: over 365 ghettos in
Soviet Union, Baltic nations,
Romania, and Hungary
•Some resistance: Jews
attended music concerts and
January 1943. 56,000
Jews killed (9 Nazis).
Transport to the camps
began after this uprising.
• Not only Jews were there
– Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, clergy,
homosexuals, and political opponents
– Six “death factories” in Poland began operations in 1942
• Those being moved to concentration camps were
rounded up into cattle trains (sometimes 100 people
or more per car)
• Extermination of Jews
– 1941: firing squads
– By 1942, 1,500,000 Jews shot
• 1942: “Final Solution” to Jewish
– Nazi officials agreed to transport and
destroy all 11 million European Jews
• No selection process: Jews murdered upon
arrival to concentration camps
• Also included 30 million Slavs, Russian
prisoners of war, and Gypsies
Nazis claimed that
Jews were being
“resettled in the East”
The end of the war…
• June 6, 1944: Allied forces land in Normandy,
– Begin liberating countries as they move across Europe
• Germans close down death camps when
Allies drew close (1944)
– Death marches (1945)
• 1945: Adolf Hitler commits suicide as Allies
surround his underground bunker in Berlin
– Total Jewish deaths: 5.2-5.8 million
– About 5 million other victims (Russian POWs,