Martin Niemoeller, Dachau, 1944.
“In Germany, they came first for the
communists, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a communist. Then they came for the
Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a
Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists but I
didn't speak up because I was not a trade
unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I
didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then
they came for me, and by that time nobody was
left to speak up.”
●How do you describe the sorting out on arriving at
Auschwitz, the separation of children who see a father or
mother going away, never to be seen again? How do you
express the dumb grief of a little girl and the endless lines
of women, children and rabbis being driven across the
Polish or Ukrainian landscapes to their deaths? No, I can’t
do it. And because I’m a writer and teacher, I don’t
understand how Europe’s most cultured nation could have
done that. For these men who killed with submachine-
guns in the Ukraine were university graduates. Afterwards
they would go home and read a poem by Heine. So what
Anti-Semitism Before the War
00,000 German Jewshe Nazi’s used
existing anti-Semitism to their advantage
(create a common enemy for all Germans).
●State sponsored persecution of Jews
began immediately after Hitler’s election in
Let us never forget that
everything Hitler did in
Germany was legal. - Martin Luther
●Hitler saw history as a struggle between races. In
his mind the Aryan or Nordic race was superior.
●What he meant was that the German race was better
than all others, the Jews were the most inferior of all.
●Jews were seen as the opposite of everything
Germans stood for. Hitler believed it was his mission
to make Germans the rulers of the world. This
required the destruction of the Jews.
6 Million Jews (2/3rds of all European
Jews) were murdered by the Nazi’s.
This mass murder was called the
Holocaust or Sho’ah
by the Jews.
1933 – Jewish businesses are boycotted, shops are looted, Jews are
beaten by Nazi supporters. Jews are permitted and encouraged to
immigrate to other nations (but are often refused entry wherever they
The Nuremburg Laws
●1935 – the Nuremburg Laws come into effect.
●A Jew is defined as anyone with one or more Jewish
●Jews are no longer considered citizens of Germany (can
●Mixed marriages are banned
●Jews lose their assets and businesses
●From 1935 – 1942 there is a Jew Ban – Jews can no
longer be executives of companies or be involved in crafts,
they are removed from schools, forbidden use of movies,
theaters, museums, bikes, pets etc.
●Jews are forced to wear the Yellow Star of David and
register to make them easily identifiable and known to
●November 1939 –
Night of Broken Glass
●Synagogues are burned
and the shop windows
of Jewish businesses
●20,000 Jews are
arrested, many are
●The Jews are told to
pay for the damages
●1939 the Jews are
forced into Ghettos –
designated living areas
in the city where Jews
were made to live.
●This type of physical
control over the Jews
makes them easier to
humiliate, torture and
●As Hitler moved across Europe, ghettoes
●Eventually these Ghettos were emptied;
the people inside of them were sent to
●Many people died on the way to the
camps, once there those who were not
killed immediately were used as slave
labour until they were too weak.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp,
which has turned my life into one long night, seven times
cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget
those moments which murdered my God and my soul and
turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these
things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God
The Final Solution
●As Hitler invaded other countries the
removal and extermination of Jews become
●Nearly 2 million were rounded up,
stripped of their possessions and shot but
Hitler considered this too slow.
●1941, Hitler come up with the Final
Solution – a number of extermination
camps were to be established where Jews
could be killed en mass.
The largest concentration
camp was Auschwitz in
●A new method of killing was developed –
gas chambers disguised as showers. The
bodies were placed in large ovens for
●6000 Jews were gassed each day in
●Using this method it took 3-15 minutes for
everyone to die.
●A number of German physicians conducted
painful and often deadly experiments on
thousands of concentration camp prisoners
without their consent.
●These experiments can be broken into three
●Experiments aimed at ensuring the survival of Axis military
●Developing and testing treatments for injuries and illnesses
●Experiments aimed at advancing the racial goals of the Nazi world
Block 10 was a balance of horrors. Being an
experimental subject could prolong life, or end it
immediately. An inmate assigned here might undergo
skin testing for reaction to relatively benign
substances, or receive a phenol injection. Block 10
was a balance of horrors. Being an experimental
subject could prolong life, or end it immediately. An
inmate assigned here might undergo skin testing for
reaction to relatively benign substances, or receive a
phenol injection to the heart for immediate dissection.
Doctor Mengele,Block 10 was a balance of horrors.
Being an experimental subject could prolong life, or
end it immediately. An inmate assigned here might
undergo skin testing for reaction to relatively benign
substances, or receive a phenol injection to the heart
for immediate dissection. Doctor Mengele, the most
evil man in Auschwitz, reigned here; Dr. Ernst B.
protected and saved many inmates here.
The Nazi’s are Caught
●Before his suicide Hitler sent a message
to those in charge of the camps to destroy
them so they could be kept a secret.
●It was too late, the camps were already
●The camps were never destroyed and now
stand as a reminder of what humans are
●Two reactions within
(leading to the
creation of modern
The Jewish Response
Stay true/reinforce traditions
Traditions no longer relevant
Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement. Should we fast? The question was
hotly debated. To fast could mean a more certain, more rapid death. In
this place, we were always fasting. It was Yom Kippur year-round. But
there were those who said we should fast, precisely because it was
dangerous to do so. We needed to show God that even here, locked in
hell, we were capable of singing His praises. I did not fast. First of all,
to please my father, who had forbidden me to do so. And then, there
was no longer any reason for me to fast. I no longer accepted God’s
silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that action into a
symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him. (5.23-24)
And in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this God in
whom I no longer believed. “Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me
the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu’s son has done." (6.65-66)
Akiba Drummer has left us, a victim of the selection. Lately, he had been
wandering among us, telling everyone how weak he was: "I can't go on
... It's over …“
He was not alone in having lost his faith during those days of selection. I
knew a rabbi, from a small town in Poland. He was always praying, in
the block, at work, in the ranks. He recited entire pages from the
Talmud, arguing with himself, asking and answering himself endless
questions. One day, he said to me:
"It’s over. God is no longer with us."
And as though he regretted having uttered such words so coldly, so
dryly, he added in a broken voice, "I know. No one has the right to say
things like that. I know that very well. Man is too insignificant, too limited,
to even try to comprehend God’s mysterious ways. But what can
someone like myself do? I’m a simple creature of flesh and bone. I suffer
hell in my soul and my flesh. I also have eyes and I see what is being
done here. Where is God’s mercy? Where’s God? How can I believe,
how can anyone believe in this God of Mercy?"
Poor Akiba Drumer, if only he could have kept his faith in God, if only he
could have considered this suffering a divine test, he would not have
been swept away by the selection. But as soon as he felt the first chinks
in his faith, he lost all incentive to fight and opened the door to death.
Impact on Judaism
●Until the Holocaust Jews could make sense of their
difficult history –after the Holocaust traditional
reasons for Jewish suffering no longer made sense.
●Jews responded in a variety of ways:
●Some maintained that they deserved even this as a
punishment for their sins (specifically for abandoning the
traditional ways of Judaism)
●Others contended that the Holocaust could only mean that
God had broken his covenant (bringing about the emergence
of a group of Jews who are cultural Jews ONLY).
●A very prominent response was Zionism, support for the state
●Term originally referred to a movement to
re-establish a Jewish homeland
●Since Israel was established in 1948 the
term has referred to the support of Israel.
The Holocaust and Religion
●Prior to WWII, it was “okay” to be
discriminatory in your practices of your faith
●After, no longer acceptable
●ECUMENISM = Catholic reaction (Nostra
●Came face to face with the depths of Humanity’
●Made possible because of CENTURIES of
discrimination in Europe
All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that
good men do nothing – Edmund Burke
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
– Elie Wiesel
Our lives begin to end the day
we become silent about things
- Martin Luther King Jr.