TWELVE-b Part II. The 3rd Reich & the Holocaust Era, Jan. 1933-May, 1945

B. Sept. 1939-May, ‘45 - The period of World War II: Genocide & a ‘New Order’

Phase 2: 1941-45 From Dehumanization to Annihilation
Ostracize, Isolate, Annihilate - Policy Bureaucracy, & Technology


The Final Solution - Places: Tunisia, Italy, Eastern & Central Europe, China-Shanghai

‘The Nazis continued to deport Jews -& persecute them- ... even after it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before they lost the war.’1

‘... local conditions had a marked influence upon the numbers of deportees, the rate of extermination & the methods used. The readiness or reluctance of the local population to cooperate with the Nazis was a factor of vital importance. The various conquered peoples were allowed different degrees of self-government. The Poles, for example, had no self -government, while the Danes retained relatively wide powers. Obviously, the attitudes of the people themselves were also an important factor. The Baltic peoples were eager to collaborate in the extermination of the Jews. For the most part, the Poles remained aloof and indifferent to the course of events. The Bulgarians saved most of their Jews ... Satellite states, such as Croatia & Slovakia were headed by puppet rulers, devoted to the Nazis and their ideology and were only too ready to fulfil the requests of their overlords.’2

Nov 1, 1942 - Operation Surcharge (Allies break Axis lines at El Alamein)
Nov 8 - Operation Torch begins (U.S. invasion of North Africa) - liberation
Nov 9, 1942-May 13, 1943; Germany occupation of Tunisia
Nov 11, 1942 - German & Italians invade unoccupied Vichy France
Nov 19, 1942 - Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad begins.
Dec 2, 1942 - Professor Enrico Fermi sets up an atomic reactor in Chicago
Dec 13, 1942 - Rommel withdraws from El Agheila
Jan. 23, 1943, Allies victory, Tripoli in Libya liberated
February 2, ‘43 - Germans surrenders at Stalingrad in the 1st big defeat of Hitler’s armies
April 19, ‘43 - Waffen SS attacks Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto
* May 13, 1943, Germans & Italians defeated in North Africa
May 1943, Germany was declared "free of Jews."
May 16, 1943, Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto end.
* June 11, Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in Poland.

Hitler’s war against the Jews had priority over his war against all other enemies.’3
‘...the destruction of the Jews would be so intrinsically desired by the Nazi state that even when it was clear to all but the most fanatical & self-deluded that Germany was heading inescapably, for military defeat, her anti-Jewish policy would be carried out with even more vigor & determination. ... this policy continued to be enacted with ruthless efficency even though it often worked directly against the German war interest. (Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, p. 117-8)

The ‘Final Solution’ in Nazi-occupied Tunisia (Nov. 1942-May ‘43)

Fate of Jews during WWII: large round-ups of Jews, deportations, and forced labor, execution and plunder.


“The Holocaust was perpetrated by the Nazis for very specific reasons. They saw the Jews the ultimate enemy ... Murder him ... And it wasn’t really directed against the Jews of country ‘X’ but against the concept of the Jew. The Jew. Anywhere. Everywhere. ... And that is unique.”4

Gerhard L. Weinberg: “There exists a fairly common tendency to write ... about the Holocaust and about World War II as separate and only barely related events. ...
Certainly those in charge of both the war and the Holocaust on the German side had no doubts on the connection themselves. No one needed to explain to them that the overwhelming majority of
the Jews they killed had come into their reach only because of the war. ...”5

These authors (intentionalist & functionalist Holocaust scholars) ... indicate no comprehension of
the Holocaust as a German program to kill not only the Jews of Europe but those of the whole globe, if they could get their hands on them. ... The point here is that from the perspective of those who ran the German war effort and the German killing program, the Jewish popualtion of the globe as a whole was the target. ...

What I am trying to clarify is the extent to which developments in
the military and diplomatic course of the war and in the Holocaust intersected with each other, and how a failure to take this intersections into account reduces our ability to understant either.”6

“... the term ‘Holocaust’ is generally associated with the intentions of the Germans and their collaborators to rid the earth of its Jewish population. ... I want to emphasize that Hitler’s war against the Jews was as much a priority as was the more traditional conflict against the Allies. ... the Nazi animus toward the Jews derived from racial ideology ...”7

The Jews of Tunis at risk

“Hitler decided that the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish problem’ was to murder every Jew who fell into Nazi hands. ... every Jew was a powerful enemy of the German people and had to be destroyed.”8 The Holocaust, Yad Vashem.

Hitler’s ‘War Against the Jews’ was connected with German conquests and the local socio-political conditions in Nazi’s new occupied territories.” For indeed, for the Nazis perpetrators, Jewish persecution because of antisemitic ideology was not limited to only occupied territories within Europe. Despte war defeats, the Nazis started implementing the first phases of the ‘final solution.’

“The fate of Tunisian Jews during World War II differed from that of Jews in the other countries of North Africa; they were the only ones who experienced direct German occupation, which began in November 1942.”9

The Jews in Nazi-occupied Tunisia, 85,000 (Nov. 1942-May 1943), suffered during 6 months, under antisemitism Nazi terror by the infamous SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Walter Rauff. A Judenrat was created. Tunisian Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge; subject to acts of plunder, violence and terror: arrest of hostages, confiscation of property, ill-treatment -indiscriminate snatching of Jews from street corners and private homes, storming into the synagogue, hitting worshipers, executions, deportation, and forced labor. More than 4,000 were sent to forced labor camps, and many died from disease .

Jews, who in the full-blooded Nazi ideology were considered unimprovably evil, were ultimately to be the sole targets of a policy of comprehensive annihilation - there was intention to kill all of them’ (Landau, p. 117).

An SS unit was preparing gas chambers near Kairouan. Plans were not completed because of lack of time. Tunis was liberated May 7, 1943; six days later, the battle for Tunisia was over.
(Reexamining The Wannsee Conference, Himmler's Appointments Book, and Tunisian Jews, at:

The Tunisian Jewish Resistance & Sabotage 10

The Jews played an important role in the Resistance in Tunisia. In 1940, when movements of resistance were organized in Tunisia under Vichy, to provide political information to the Allies, about half of their members were Jewish men and women. One of the first resistance organization was set up by Mr Mounier, with the help of Mr Alfred Rossi, a Jewish lawyer and sionist, officer of reserve. Officers of reserve from the French army were members of resistance organizations. Many more were the Jews from different nationality -Tunisians, French & Italian, who were members of resistance by the Communist Party

When Mounier died in an action in Malte, Rossi was in charge; was killed in Sicily, while as a prisoner, he tried to escape; received Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur. Victor Attias, also member of the Mounier resistance as Rossi, was actif in Malte; was in the R.A.F.; received Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur. Sylvain Lumbroso, member of the Mounier resistance, organized the department of renseignements, spying for the Allies; was helped by Andre Nataf, Raoul Sitruk, Jules Cohen-Solal, Dr. Albert Benattar, Lucien Lumbroso, decoration of "Croix de Guerre," & Raymond Uzan ...

Henry Smadja, Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur. Francoise Grumbach, decoration of "Croix de Guerre.” Maurice Taib, deported to Sachsenhausen, and Buchenwald, came back, decoration of "Croix de Guerre.” Louise Hannon, deported to Germany, came back - decoration of "Croix de Guerre.” Sylvain Karoubi, prisoner, survived the tortures. Raoul Benattar, Samuel Benattar, Maurice Nizard, Georges Attal, , Emile Barron,
(compiled from: Jacques Sabille, Les Juifs de Tunisie sous Vichy et l’Occupation, Centre de Documentation Juive Conetemporaine, Paris, 1954)

Allied advance into North Africa. Liberation

In May, 1943, the Allies advanced into North Africa and alleviated the suffering of Tunisian Jews. This map illustrates the battle routes for the liberation of North Africa from the Nazis.

Tunis and Bizerte were liberated by the Allies on May 7, 1943. Six days later, the battle for Tunisia was over. But this was not the end of the troubles of the Tunisian Jews. As soon as the French came back, dozens of Jews holding Italian nationality were arrested, on charges of "collaborating" with the enemy. They were put into the same camps that were being emptied of the forced laborers imprisoned by the Nazis, and several weeks went by before they were released. Courtesy of: "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust" ©1990 Macmillan Publishing Company. New York, NY 10022

For the extermination of the Jews to occur, 4 principal factors were necessarily involved:
1. The Nazis -the leadership, Hitler- had to decide to implement the annihilation
2. They had to gain control over the Jews - over the territory in which they resided
3. They had to organize the killing and devote to its sufficient resources
4. They had to induce a large number of people to carry out the killings.

In Tunisia, the Nazi regime and leadership could not implement the 2 last phases. The situation of Tunisian Jewry would undoubtedly have become even worse had the Germans stayed on.

“The Nazi regime could not implement in Tunisia the ‘Final Solution’ as decided to the Jewish Question. “The situation of Tunisian Jews under their brief German occupation brings forth much insight backing the conclusions brought to light by Holocaust research. Thus even though ... that the fate the Germans planned for the Jews of the regency was like the one they had meted out to Jews elsewhere, it is nonetheless clear that the Nazi ‘death machine’ did not encounter in North Africa conditions favorable to its functioning. This then proves that, when submitted to Allied attacks and unable to obtain collaboration and secrecy necessary for the execution of their plans, the Germans acted like vultures with broken wings, falling haphazardly on their prey.”11

By May 13, 1943, Germans & Italians defeated in North Africa. Allies in control of North Africa - Axis forces surrender. British-American victories gave Allies a springboard for Italian campaign/invading southern Europe.

May 1943, Germany was declared "free of Jews."
May 16, 1943, Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto end.
June 11, Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in Poland.

WWII - Western Front, July 1943

After securing North Africa, the Allies seeking complete control of the Mediterranean, invaded Sicily in July 1943, & conquered it. Mussolini’s fellow Fascist leaders turned against him, & the king dismissed him as Prime Minister: July 25/26, 1943, fall of Mussolini & fascist regime. In September, the new government surrendered to the Allied, asked for armistice; and in the following months Italy declared war on Germany.

The fighting continued as the Germans seized Rome, Sept 11, 1943, & northern Italy, and would last until the very end of the war. Captured by Italian partisans, Mussolini was executed (April 28, 1945).


Jews have lived there for 21 centuries. In 1939, the Jewish community numbered 35,156. With the fall of the Fascist regime on July 25, 1943, Jews went from a period of economic discrimination to the "Final Solution." Sept. 11, 1943, Germans occupie Rome. About 7,750 died in concentration camps. 2,000 fought the Nazis and fascist forces, in partisan units.

‘fascist seizure of power on October 30, 1922, ... Mussolini hastened to claim repeatedly and publicly that his movement was not antisemitic. Until 1936 antisemitism was a marginal phenomenon, ... progressive assimilation, secularization, ... intermarriage ...

In 1930 and 1931, Mussolini created the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, which included the Jews of Rhodes and Libya under its rubric ... From Hitler's rise to power until 1936, Mussolini ... alternated strictly unofficial antisemitic measures with declarations and acts in favor of the Jews. ...

From 1936 to 1943, antisemitism increased. ... antisemitic press campaign began in late 1936, and in the fall of 1938, racial laws were issued. With Italy's entry into the war, on June 10, 1940, new anti-Jewish measures were decreed. However, Italy never marched in step with the Nazis. ... The Italian occupied areas of France, Yugoslavia, and Greece, became havens for Jews. Mussolini also refused to agree to the deportation of Italian Jewry to the east. Until the Italian armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, Hitler allowed Mussolini this freedom of action.

The "Final Solution" in Italy

From the armistice ... Hitler invoked the "Final Solution" in Italy. ... Hitler restored Mussolini to power, ... decided against carrying out the projected occupation of the Vatican, which ultimately benefited the Jews. Between September 15, 1943 and January 30, 1944, 3,110 persons of Jewish "race" were sent to Auschwitz; ... In all, of the 44,500 Jews in Italy and Rhodes, at least 7,682 perished. Although many Jews were saved by Italians, it was largely owing to collaborators that the Germans were able to deport Jews. ...

Aid to Jews

During World War II the Italians, more than most other peoples in Europe, extended aid to the Jews. From the beginning of the war to mid 1942, the Italian authorities gave protection to Jews of Italian nationality living in German occupied territories or in countries in the German sphere of influence. In occupied France, 15,000 Jews of Italian nationality, and in Tunisia, 5,500, were protected. Jews were also protected in Salonika and the satellite states in the Balkans and the Danube basin.

From mid - 1942 until September 1943, many Italian soldiers and diplomats serving in France, Belgium, Greece and Croatia, were outraged by the atrocities committed against the Jews. They influenced the Foreign Ministry and General Staff in Rome to give aid to Jews, regardless of their nationality. As a result a rescue operation was launched: in Dalmatia-Croatia, 5,000 Jews were helped; in southern France, at least 25,000, and in Athens and the Greek islands, at lest 40,000 were given refuge. The Germans brought tremendous pressure to bear on Italy, to have the Jews handed over to them. ... high ranking diplomats refused ...

From the time of the Italian armistice, on September 8, 1943, until the end of war, the Jews were hunted down mercilessly. The great majority of the people, including a substantial part of the clergy, gave aid to Jews and helped them go into hiding, in private homes, in remote villages, and in monasteries. It was thanks to this aid, as well as other options, like crossing into Switzerland or Allied-occupied southern Italy, that the greater part of the Jews of Italy were saved.

Concentration Camps in Italy

On September 4, 1940 the Ministry of the Interior ordered the establishment of 43 concentration camps. In addition to the thousands of foreign nationals and stateless Jews, 200 Italian opponents to the Fascist regime were interned. The conditions in the camps were much better than in Germany.

The Italian armistice of September 8, 1943 was a dramatic turning point for the camps. ... camp inmates ... were set free. On the other hand, the bulk of the Jewish population ... in the north, fell under German rule. In October and November Jews in Trieste, Rome, Genoa, Florence, Milan, Venice, Ferrara, and other places, were seized and interned. On November 30, 1943, G. Buffarini Guidi, the minister of the Interior in Benito Mussolini's satellite state, ordered that all Jews be put into concentration camps. Jews were hunted down.

In the camps, Jews ‘suffered from starvation and callousness. Transports with primarily Jews were sent chiefly to Auschwitz. One transport with many Jews from neutral countries was sent to Bergen-Belsen. Those with mostly political prisoners were sent mainly to Mauthausen. Between November 1943 and the end of 1944, at least 3,198 Jews passed through Fossoli. ... Owing to the hostility of the German South Tyrolians, escape attempts were rare. On liberation in April 1945, some 800 inmates were still in the camp.

La Risiera di San Sabba

Prisoners were killed in La Risiera di San Sabba and it had a crematorium. ... near Trieste, it was part of a special district under Nazi rule after the Italian armistice ... The camp was commanded by Christian Wirth ... The staff was all German, except for some Ukrainian auxiliaries. Over 20,000 people passed through the camp and several thousand people were murdered there, among them several dozen Jews. About 650 Jews were sent from San Sabba to Auschwitz.

Countries in Northern Europe

The countries of northern Europe tried to remain neutral. The fate of the Jews depended upon the country's degree of autonomy and its citizens' determination to rescue Jews. Denmark & Finland rejected German anti-Jewish orders and rescued Jews. In Norway, which was subject to direct German authority, about 50, (900), of its Jews were killed. Click on: [Denmark] [Finland] [Norway] [Sweden]

The German Conquest of Denmark and Norway


Country in northwestern Europe. Jews first settled there in 1622. The Danish people and government protected the Jews during WWII. On October, 1943, 7,200 Jews were saved by being sent by boats to Sweden. About 120 perished because of Nazi persecution (less than 2). In 1968, there were 6-7,000 Jews there

On the eve of the war about 7,800 Jews lived in Denmark; some 6,000 native Jews and the rest refugees, among them several hundred Youth Aliyah children and Zionist youth. Between 1934 and 1938 the regulations applying to refugees were tightened and most of the 4,500 Jews who reached Denmark's shores did not stay. In the first years following the German occupation (on April 9, 1940), the situation of the Jews remained unchanged. The Danes did not offer any real resistance to the Germans, and reached agreement with them on the continued operation of the country's democratic institutions, and even its army.

Resistance Operations

A change came in the spring of 1943 when in the light of allied victories, Danish resistance operations gathered momentum. Strikes and sabotage acts created tension between the Danes and the Germans, and the "Jewish question" was put on the agenda. The Zionist youth, became aware of the changing situation and made plans for escaping from the country. An attempt by some to reach the coast of southern Europe by hiding under train carriages failed; but a group of Zionist youth fishermen on Bornholm Island obtained a boat and used it to flee to Sweden.

The Decision to Deport the Jews

Late in August 1943 the Danish government resigned after refusing to accede to new demands made by the German. Best thought the moment opportune to propose to Berlin that the Jews be deported. Then he had second thoughts about the matter, fearing his own relations with the Danes would be compromised.

The Rescue of Danish Jewry

On the night of October 1 - 2, 1943, the German police began arresting Jews. Reports of the planned deportation had been leaked to various Danish circles by several German sources, among them the German legation's attach for shipping affairs, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz. The reaction was spontaneous, the Danes alerted the Jews, helped them reach the sea shore, and, with the aid of Danish fishermen, cross to Sweden. Soon the Danish resistance joined in and helped to organize the massive flight that followed the Swedish government's proclamation that it would take in all refugees from Denmark. King Christian X and the heads of the Danish churches protested to the Germans against the deportation. In the course of three weeks seventy-two hundred Jews and some seven hundred non-Jewish relatives of theirs were taken to Sweden.

Denmark, 1943

Denmark in particular, shines as an example. The rescue of Denmark's 8,000 Jews serves as an example of an entire nation mobilized to rescue humanity from the abyss of German terror. Denmark was the only occupied country that actively resisted the Nazi regime's attempts to deport its Jewish citizens. While the story may be apocryphal that King Christian X threatened to abdicate and to wear the Nazi yellow Star of David as a badge of honor, it symbolizes his opposition to all antisemitic legislation. Almost all of the Jews of Denmark survived the war, while those in almost every other nation occupied by the Nazis had their ranks decimated.

A September 1943 decision by the Nazi occupiers of Denmark to round up all Danish Jews for shipment to the death camps was thwarted.
On September 28, 1943, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, a German diplomat, secretly informed the Danish resistance that the Nazis were planning to deport the Danish Jews. Warned of the German plans, Jews began to leave Copenhagen, where most of the 8,000 Jews in Denmark lived, and other cities, by train, car, and on foot. With the help of the Danish people, they found hiding places in homes, hospitals, and churches. Courageously acting on this tip from the German shipping official, within a two-week period, Danes from all walks of life mobilized whatever would float and ferried 5,900 Jews, 1,300 part-Jews, and 700 Christians married to Jews to safety in Sweden. (The Danish resistance, with the support of the local population, rescued nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark from impending deportation to the camps by smuggling them in fishing boats to neutral Sweden in a dangerous and risky national effort)

The Danish rescue effort was unique because it was nationwide. It was not completely successful, however. Of the 500 or so Jews left in Denmark on October 1, 1943, all were deported by the Germans to Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Yet even of these Jews, all but 51 survived the Holocaust, largely because Danish officials pressured the Germans with their concerns for the well-being of those who had been deported. In early October 1943, 85% survived the war. The Danes proved that widespread support for Jews and resistance to Nazi policies could save lives.

Historians have pondered why the citizens of Denmark resisted the war against the Jews, unlike most of their European neighbors. One reason is that Denmark did not have a history of antisemitism. Another was that nearby was neutral Sweden, willing to accept the Jews that could be saved.

Aid to Deported Jews

Rolf Gunther - Adolf Eichmann's deputy - failed in his mission to deport the Jews of Denmark. Nevertheless about 500 Jews were arrested and sent to Theresienstadt, among them some Zionist youth and Youth Aliya people. The Danes sent parcels to the deportees. The Foreign Ministry bombarded the Germans with warnings, and demanded that a Danish delegation be allowed to visit Theresienstadt. A fake "model ghetto" was set up there when the Danes and an International Red Cross delegation visited in the summer of 1944. Nonetheless, Danish Jews were not deported to Auschwitz and most were transferred to Sweden just before the war ended in an operation carried out under Count Folke Bernadotte. The Danish concern for the Jews has aroused profound admiration, and its echo reverberates to this day.


Jewish Presence: from before 1685. Jewish Population in 1930: 7,044 .
Fate of the Jews during WWII: before the war 3,000 refugees entered Sweden. During the war, 8,000 Jews were accepted into Sweden. Most refugees emigrated after the war.

A Policy of Neutrality

Sweden pursued a policy of political neutrality from the mid - nineteenth century onward. It remained neutral during World War I and wanted to maintain a strictly neutral position during World War II.

Toward a Pro - Allied Neutrality

The defeats suffered by the Germans in North Africa at the end of 1942 and at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942 - 1943 enabled Sweden to evince a more favorable policy toward the western Allies. In May 1943, Sweden succeeded in reestablishing trade relations with the Allies. On July 29 of that year, the Swedes declared that Germany could no longer transfer soldiers or war materiel across Sweden. The Germans, now interested in keeping Sweden from joining the Allies, acceded to this demand. By 1944 Swedish policy favored the Allies, without, however, interrupting the trade with Germany.

The Rescue of Jews

In 1930 seven thousand Jews lived in Sweden. The authorities limited immigration through a law that went into effect on January 1, 1938. The policy was waived once, was when 500 Jewish children from Germany were allowed to enter Sweden, at the urging of Swedish women. When the Germans began to mark Jewish passports with a capital J, the Swedes used this mark to discriminate against Jews; they were given transit visas only. Jews who arrived in Sweden from Germany without a visa were forced to return to Germany. Thousands of Jewish refugees applied for permission to immigrate or for temporary residence, and most were turned down. In the 1930s, Swedish Jews established several refugee relief committees, some in cooperation with non - Jews.

Aid to its Neighbors - Norwegian Jews

During the war, Sweden tried to help its neighbors, within the confines of its neutrality. Tens of thousands of Norwegians and Finns, among them twenty thousand Finnish children, were taken in by Swedish families. While the Nazi deportations from Norway were under way in the early winter of 1942, nine hundred Norwegian Jews (over half of the Jewish community) managed to escape to Sweden. The Swedish Foreign Ministry also facilitated the entry into Sweden of Jews and non - Jews who had Swedish relatives. Through the Swedish consul in Oslo, Claes Adolf Hjalmar Westring, in February 1943 about fifty Norwegian Jews were able to reach Sweden this way. However, few Jews from other countries benefited from this.

The Jews of Denmark

In the spring of 1943, the Jewish Agency convinced the Swedish government to admit twenty thousand Jewish children from occupied countries. Owing to the deterioration in Swedish - German relations, the scheme was never raised with the Germans. That fall, Georg Duckwitz, a member of the German legation in Copenhagen, met with Swedish Prime Minister Hansson to solicit Swedish help in saving others Jews - those of Denmark. As a result the Swedish minister in Berlin, Arvid Richert, submitted a proposal to the Germans that called for the placement of Danish Jews in camps in Sweden. The Germans never responded to the suggestion, and the Swedish government reacted by publicly announcing its readiness to accept all Danish Jewish refugees. This announcement served as a kind of official authorization for the rescue effort launched by the Danes. The Swedish Jewish community also played a significant role in this rescue. Following the successful rescue operation, some nine thousand Danish Christians also reached Sweden, as did about one hundred Finnish Jews.

The Jews of Hungary

With the change in Sweden's political situation and the creation in the United States of the War Refugee Board, the Swedish government took decisive measures to help rescue the Jews of Hungary. At the end of June 1944, King Gustav V sent a firm message to Miklos Horthy, deploring the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. In the meantime, Raoul Wallenberg was assigned to the Swedish legation in Budapest to rescue Jews. Wallenberg's efforts, along with those of other members of the Swedish legation and members of the Swedish Red Cross, contributed to the rescue of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Raoul Wallenberg

*He was a Swedish diplomat who made it a special, personal mission to help save the Jews of Hungary; printed Swedish passports and handed them to Hungarian Jews being transported to the East in the summer and fall of 1944. More than 30,000 Jews received special Swedish passports from Wallenberg. The Swedish blue and gold protective passport, Schutzpass saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews;* because Sweden was a neutral country, Germany could not easily harm Swedish citizens.

He set up "safe houses," distributed food and medical supplies, and virtually single-handedly set up a bureaucracy in Budapest, Hungary's capital, designed to protect Jews.
Wallenberg set up hospitals, nurseries, and soup kitchens for the Jews of Budapest.
More than 90,000 Budapest Jews were deported to the death camps and murdered, and Wallenberg's efforts may have reduced the number of those murdered by half. As a diplomat, he successfully confronted the Nazis at great risk to his own safety.

Following the "liberation" of Budapest by the Soviets, he was arrested by them, thrown in prison, and never heard from again.
He was seen for the last time in the company of Soviet troops on January 17, 1945. Reports often surface, unconfirmed, that he is still alive, although the Soviets announced his death two years after his arrest. Ten years later, the Soviet Union admitted that he had been arrested and claimed that he died in prison in 1947.
He is honored by having his name given to the street on which the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum resides.

Aid to Concentration Camp Inmates

As the war drew to an end, the Swedes launched an operation for the rescue of Scandinavian nationals in concentration camps in the Reich. They succeeded in having these prisoners handed over to the Swedish Red Cross. At the same time, under the leadership of the chairman of the Swedish branch of the World Jewish Congress, Hillel Storch, food parcels were sent to Jews in concentration camps; mostly to Bergen - Belsen. The Germans, however, distributed only a small portion of the consignments.

In 1945, Heinrich Himmler's Finnish masseur, Felix Kersten served as liaison between the World Jewish Congress and Himmler. Himmler was willing to alleviate the situation of the Jews to gain the trust of the Allies and make it possible for him to save Germany from total defeat. Himmler met with Norbert Mazor of the World Jewish Congress on April 21, 1945, at Kersten's estate near Berlin. The next day, Himmler met Count Folke Bernadotte of the Swedish Red Cross and an agreement was made to transfer the remaining 14,000 women in the Ravensbruck camp to Sweden; 2,000 of the women were Jews.


After the war, Sweden took in thousands of survivors and did everything possible to rehabilitate them. To help fund this work, the Jewish community had already levied a tax on its members. Money stemming from the Joint Distribution Committee, the Swedish government, and (later) the Conference on Jewish Material Claims was also addressed to refugee aid. By the late 1950s, about half of the Jewish refugees had become integrated into the Swedish Jewish community. The rest of them emigrated mainly to the United States, Canada, and Israel.


Republic in Northern Europe. There were 2,000 Jews in Finland between the two world wars, including some three hundred refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Before and during World War II, antisemitism in Finland was virtually nonexistent and the Finnish government resisted the spread of Nazi ideology.

Following the German invasion of the country in 1941, Finland was involved in the war against the Soviet Union, and at least three hundred Jews fought in Finnish uniforms. Many Jewish women were active inthe civil defense corps, and eight Jewish soldiers lost their lives.

Despite strong German pressure, the Finns refused to enforce anti-Jewish legislation. Jewish refugees were deported from Finland.

Although at the WANNSEE CONFERENCE the Jews of Finland wereincluded in the plans for the "FINAL SOLUTION", Finnish Jewry came through the war unscathed.


German Rule
Germany planned to annex most of the conquered eastern territories after they had been Germanized. While some areas were to serve as reservations for forced laborers, most were to be resettled by German colonists. Most German plans for resettlement were postponed until the end of the war. Meanwhile, the regions were ruthlessly exploited for the German war effort: foodstuffs, raw materials, and war stocks were confiscated. Members of the local population were drafted for forced labor in war industries or military construction projects. Millions more were deported to Germany to be used as forced laborers in German war industries or agriculture.

In Eastern Europe, whole Jewish communities were wiped out by the Germans. Thousands of Jews were killed by SS killing units which followed the German Army eastward. After Nazi occupation, the Jews were ghettoized and ultimately deported to death camps. About 90, (over 3 million) of the Jews of Poland and the Baltic states were annihilated.

[Estonia] [Latvia] [Lithuania] [Poland] [USSR]

: Soviet Socialist Republic

4,381 Jews in 1934. 3,000 escaped in September 1941. All those remaining in Nazi occupied areas were murdered by the end of 1941. About 20,000 Jews passed through the labor camps in Estonia. It was liberated in Sept. 1944. There were 5,436 Jews there in 1959.


Location: One of Baltic states of NE Europe. Jewish Presence: From 18th century. Jewish Population in 1935: 93,479.

Fate of the Jews: Killed by Einsatzgruppen, ghettoized and sent to forced labor camps. About 1,000 survived internment and emigrated to Israel.


Location: southernmost Baltic state of NE Europe. Jewish Presence: before the 16th century. Jewish Pop. in 1923: 153,743

Fate of the Jews: over 136,421 were killed by the mobile killing squads. Some locals took part in the murder of Jews. In 1959 24,672 Jews lived in Lithuania


Location: republic in E. Central Europe. Jewish Presence: from early 11th century. Jewish Pop. 1939: 3,351,000. See lecture 10-a.

Fate of the Jews: ghettoized and deported to death camps. About 2,982,000 were murdered. 900 years of Jewish life came to an end. Antisemitism in Poland continues today.

Extermination Operations

... Another question relates to the Poles' attitudes and reaction to the murder on Polish
territory of millions of Jews who were Polish citizens. The Polish underground did not
undertake any military action to help the Jews or to sabotage the Nazi deportation and
murder operations; but neither did it take such action to liberate non - Jewish Poles
from any of the many camps in which they were imprisoned. Ten of thousands of Jews
escaped from the ghettos and sought refuge or some means of existence in Polish cities
and villages; in Warsaw and its environs alone, twenty thousand Jews looked for a safe
haven. For Poles, saving Jews was much more difficult and dangerous than in any of the
occupied countries of western Europe. Tens of thousand of Jews also escaped to the
forests. But because there was no organized Polish partisan movement and because of the
prevailing hostility toward Jews in the rural areas, most of the escapees could not save

Polish Aid to Jews.

Before October and November 1942, no clandestine public organization existed in Poland
to extend help to the Jews. The help that was given was on a personal basis and resulted
from individual political ties or was in exchange for large sums of money. It was only in
late 1942 and early 1943 that a provisional council for aid to the Jews was set up,
which later became the permanent Council for Aid to Jews (Rada Pomocy Zydom, known
as ZEGOTA). This organization was recognized by the Polish underground institutions and
had their support. Several thousand Jews were taken care of and protected by Zegota,
which was made up of Poles belonging to the Polish political center and left, some of
whom were totally dedicated to their task. Thousands of Poles risked their lives to help
Jews, and later they were officially recognized as "RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS" by YAD VASHEM in Jerusalem. Many Poles and their families paid with their lives for
saving Jews; persons who helped Jews jeopardized the members of their households, and
in quite a few instances the Germans executed family members of Poles who had saved
Jews or had tried to do so.

There also existed various gangs of Poles, some of them underworld types, who
methodically almost professionally, engaged in uncovering Jews who were in hiding or
were posing as non - Jews, extorting money and possessions from them and handing them
over to the Germans.


Russian Jews participated in resistance actions by joining the Russian partisans or fighting in the Red Army. Despite the antisemitism in many partisan units, some family camps were set up for escaping ghetto Jews. Inspired in part by the desire to avenge the murder of their families and people, many Jews in the Red Army were known for their courage and self sacrifice.

Countries in Central Europe

Throughout central Europe, the fate of the Jews depended upon the degree to which the occupied country was under direct Nazi SS control, as well as the willingness of the host country to comply with Nazi anti-Jewish measures. In Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia, over 61, (924,000) of the Jews were annihilated.

[Albania] [Bulgaria] [Czechoslovakia] [Greece] [Hungary] [Romania] [Yugoslavia]


Location: Balkan state on Eastern shores of Adriatic. Jewish Presence: from end of the 12th century. Jewish Population, 1930: 204

Fate of the Jews during WWII: were unharmed by the German invasion in 1943. When Nazis controlled annexed Yugoslav territory, 400 Jews were deported to Bergen Belsen.


Location: Socialist republic in the Balkan Peninsula. Jewish Presence: As early as Roman times. Jewish Population in 1941: Approx. 80,000

Fate of the Jews: Murdered, in all areas, mainly through deportations. 5,000 survivors returned, after war. At present, about 5,000 left.

BULGARIA (50,000 Jews) - March 1, 1941

Country in the Balkan Peninsula containing people of mixed origin, 806f whom were peasants up to the end of WWII. Jews lived only in cities, were occupied in trade and professions, and were autonomous financially. The rural population hardly knew the Jews and displayed little, if any antisemitism. During the war, it was a Nazi satellite nation, ruled by a fascist government under King Boris.

On February 22, 1943, an agreement was signed in Sofia between Belev and Adolf Eichmann's representative in Bulgaria, SS - Hauptsturmfuhrer Theodor Dannecker. The agreement provided that "as a first step, twenty thousand Jews will be deported to German territories in the east." The Blockage of Further Deportations. Forced Labor

Rescue Efforts and Acts of Resistance - A Haven in Palestine

Prior to Bulgaria's alliance with Germany in April 1941, several attempts were made to save Jews without Bulgarian nationality, as well as groups of children and Zionist youth. "Illegal" immigration (Aliya bet) ships left Bulgaria for Palestine. The first such ship, the Salvador, left Varna on December 4, 1940, only to sink twelve days later off the coast of Turkey because it was unseaworthy. Of the 335 refugees on board, 213 drowned, while 122 were saved and made their way to Palestine. Another 170 Jews from Bulgaria joined other Palestine - bound Jewish refugees on a Romanian ship, the Dorian, in late February 1941, and a month later a group of 65 children left for Palestine. From April 1941 until late 1943, the borders of Bulgaria were hermetically sealed for Jewish emigration.

In late 1943, Chaim Weizmann and Rabbi Stephen wise, in London and Washington respectively, worked on plans for rescuing Bulgarian Jewry by transporting them to Palestine via Turkey. In Sofia, secret contacts concerning these plans were handled by the Swiss legation, and in Istanbul they were in the hands of Ira Hirschmann, representative of the war refugee board. The fact that the Allied powers were taking interest in the fate of the Jews of Bulgaria induced the Sofia government to moderate its Jewish policy. Finally, in August 1944, it repealed the anti - Jewish legislation. On September 9, when the Soviet army entered Bulgaria, the new antifascist government that had by then been established declared war on Nazi Germany.


A few dozen Jewish youths joined the partisan units, and some of them fell in battles with the Bulgarian gendarmerie. Among those killed in action who had gained renown for their heroism were Emil Shekerdzhiiski, Violeta Iakova, Mati Rubenov, Menachem Papo, and Yosif Talvi.

The Special Situation of Bulgarian Jewry

The special situation in Bulgaria in those years has not been fully researched, and the question of who was responsible for saving the Jews has yet to be resolved. The Jewish community of Denmark was the other community under the Nazis that was saved, but this was because they
were moved to Sweden by a concerted effort of the Danish people. In Bulgaria the Jews survived in a country that was in the pro - German camp. Thus far, the answers given to this question have been colored by ideological bias and for the most part have not been based on reliable and conclusive evidence.

Toward an Assessment of the Rescue of Bulgarian Jewry

The question of how Bulgarian Jews were saved has two aspects:

(1) Who gave the orders to postpone the deportations in March and May 1943, and to refrain from deporting the Jews in the fall of 1943?

(2) What were the motives for these decisions?

A rare combination of international circumstances and internal pressures influenced the king's behavior. However, it would be difficult to assess the specific weight of each of these factors, which together saved the lives of fifty thousand Bulgarian Jews.


Republic in central Europe. In 1930, there were 356,830 Jews. 26,629 managed to escape. 1000s were deported to concentration and extermination camps, In 1945, 10,090 deportees returned, out of 80,614, who had been deported. In 1948, there were about 44,000 Jews living there.


Country in SE Europe. Jewish Presence from 3rd century B.C.E. There were 77,000 Jews living in Greece, on the eve of World War ll. 8527f them were sent to their deaths in extermination camps. At least 56,000 Greek Jews perished in the Holocaust. 1,300 joined Greek partisan groups.10,000 Jews remained when Greece was liberated in 1944.

The Occupation of Greece

On October 28, 1940, when Italy demanded that Greece give up its sovereignty, Mataxas refused and Italy invaded. ... On May 20, 1941, Crete fell to the Germans. ... In September 1943, the Italian regime fell, and the Germans took full control of the Italian zone. Some fifteen thousand Italian troops transferred their allegiance to the Allies. ... In September 1944, the Germans evacuated the mainland, but ... surrender ... May 1945.

Soon after the Germans entered the Greek mainland in April 1941, they invoked anti - Jewish measures against the 77,000 Jews of Greece (including Rhodes). ... February 1943, the NUREMBERG LAWS were implemented in the German zone and the Jews of Salonika were isolated in three ghettos near.

Deportation from Thrace & Salonika

The first Greek Jews to be deported were the Jews of THRACE, which had been annexed by BULGARIA. On March 4, 1943 they were arrested and only some 200 escaped the roundup. The remaining 4,100 were sent to TREBLINKA. The local population, though cowed by the Germans, sometimes helped the Jews who fled, and acted kindly towards the deportees. ... during March and April, 48,000 Jews from Salonika and Jews who had been brought to Salonika, were deported to Auschwitz. ... in the Italian zone. There many Italians rendered aid to the Jews.

The Fate of Greek Jewry in the Nazi Camps

At least 54,533 Greek Jews were sent to Auschwitz and of these, 41,776 were killed immediately and 12,757 were selected for forced labor, the orchestra, MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS or the SONDERKOMMANDO. Most of the selected Jews later perished. A contingent of about 300 Salonikan Jews were sent to WARSAW to recycle the ruins of the ghetto, in August 1943. They were joined in October by another group. In July 1944 most of them were sent to Dachau, but a few remained behind and participated in the Warsaw Polish uprising in August and September 1944. Some of the fighters fell, but 27 survived and fought as partisans under the Greek flag. ...
Greek Jews also were active in the Greek resistance movement.


State in SE central Europe. Jewish presence from 2nd half of 11th century. (During the 1920s & 1930s, Horthy (the regent of Hungary)’s regime was characterized by an official antisemitism. ... legitimation of the Arrow Cross Party, a pro-Nazi & vehemently antisemitic paramilitary group). There were 803,000 Jews there in 1941. By mid-1941, the Hungarian government passed anti-Jewish racial laws ("Third Jewish Law") and removed Jews from economic life. After German occupation in 1944 over 440,000 Jews were ghettoized, deported to death camps, and thousands more were shot by the Hungarian Nazis. Rescue activists, especially Raoul Wallenberg, saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Rescue Activities

The plight of the Jews during this period was eased by the heroism of many. The Relief and Rescue Committee Budapest, under the leadership of Reszo Kasztner and Otto Komoly, engaged in a variety of rescue activities, including negotiations with the Germans. Zionist youth saved many lives by forging and distributing various types of documents and by supplying the ghetto with food. In concert with Jewish activists, similar rescue activities were undertaken by the representatives of the neutral states, the Vatican and the International Red Cross, who were backed by the War Refugee Board. Jews under their protection were put into a special "international" ghetto. Chief among the rescuers were Raoul Wallenberg of the Swedish legation and Charles Lutz of the Swiss legation. Many Jews, especially children, owed their lives to the activities of those associated with various Christian orders and the International Red Cross, headed by Friedrich Born.


Location: republic in SE Europe. Jewish Presence: from about 101 C.E.
Jewish Pop. in 1939: 607,900 and in 1942, 342,000
Fate of the Jews: 264,900 were murdered. Jews were ghettoized and deported to death camps. Many survivors emigrated after the war

Statistical Assessment

Some 420,000 Jews who were living on Romanian soil in 1939 are estimated to have perished in the Holocaust. This figure includes the Jews killed in Bessarabia and Bukovina in July and August 1941; the Jews who died during the deportation to Transnistria or after their arrival there; the victims of the pogroms in Iasi and other places in Romania; and the Jews of northern Transylvania who were deported to Auschwitz and killed there. Not included are the Jews who had been living in the Soviet territory that Romania occupied during the war and who also perished in the Holocaust.

Countries Outside Europe

[China] [Mauritius]


MAURITIUS: tropical island in the Indian Ocean. During WWII, when it was still a British colony, Britain decided to deport illegal immigrants in Palestine to Mauritius. As part of this policy 1,580 Jews were transferred there & were held prisoners. The conditions in the camp were poor and many people became sick. In 1945, 1,300 Jews were finally allowed to go to Palestine

Expulsion of Jewish refugees to Mauritius

Jews from Austria and Czechoslovakia, desperately trying to escape the Nazis by illegally immigrating to Palestine, were denied entry by the British (then Palestine's rulers), and deported to detention camps on the island of Mauritius.


SHANGHAI: Location: port in Eastern China

Jewish presence: from 1843, when opened to foreign trade.
Jewish Population 1932-1940: 25,000.

Fate of Jews during WWII: Many escapees from Nazi countries found safe haven there because refugees could enter the free port without visas.
Post-war: majority left for Israel and America

In 1944, with their fortunes in decline, the Nazi rushed to finish their gruesome task - to achieve a victory in their racial war that imminent military defeat could no undo. Nazi Jewish policy was shaped by a number of factors and evolved toward the "Final Solution" in fits and starts over many years, but this in no way detracts from the fact that in the end it was the most cruel and important legacy, indeed the epitome, of National Socialism. (encyclopedia).

In the west, Allied soldiers landed on June 6, 1944 (known as D-Day) in Normandy, France. More than two million Allied soldiers poured into France. In July, Allied forces broke out of the Normandy beachhead. The Allies continued the attack into Germany. In March 1945, Allied forces crossed the Rhine, advancing into the heart of Germany. In April 1945 Soviet forces entered Berlin. Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945.


‘The organization of the plan to murder the Jews was anything but random. It involved the bureaucracies of Germany & the occupied territories. ... where the Germans were able to deport Jews, and they aided by collaborationist governments that placed their bureaucracies at his disposal. ... Ideological fervor and a bureaucratic ethos committed to fulfilling its task at all cost combined to make genocide possible even after it was apparent that the war was lost.

By the time the war ended, the Jews of Europe ... had suffered proportionally the largest number of casualties among those designated for death in the name of Aryan supremacy.”12

“The Holocaust would only be made possible because of the active participation or passive compliance of many groups & individuals, 1st with Germany, then in Austria & later in other countries under Nazi occupation or sway. Worlwide forces that might have acted to prevent the implementation of this horrific plan were either inadequate, slow to act, under-informed, disbelieving, or downright unwilling to adjust their priorities in order to save Jewish lives.”13

Copyright 2000 Edith Shaked

1 Jack R. Fishel, The Holocaust, p. 81

2 The Holocaust, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Martyrs & Heroes Remembrance Authority, p. 50

3 Jacob Robinson, The Holocaust, pp. 15-16

4 Yehuda Bauer interviewed by Michael Dunn in 1993

5 “The Holocaust and World War II,” in Lessons and Legacies, v. 2, p. 26.

6 “The Holocaust and World War II,” in Lessons and Legacies, v. 2, pp. 29-32.

7 Jack R. Fischel, The Holocaust, Westport, Connecticut. London: Greenwood Press, 1998, pp. vii-viii.

8 The Holocaust, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Martyrs & Heroes Remembrance Authority, p. 48

9 Gutman, Yisrael, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. 4 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1990

10 Sabille, Jacques. Les Juifs de Tunisie sous Vichy et l'Occupation. Paris: Edition du Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine, 1954, pp. 130-136

11 M. Abitbol, The Jews of North Afica during the 2nd World War, Paris: G. -P. Maisonneuve, 1989, p. 168

12 Jack R. Fishel, The Holocaust, pp. 86-87

13 Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, p. 118