Part II. The 3rd Reich & the Holocaust Era, Jan 1933-May 1945
Perpetrators, Collaborators, Victims, Bystanders, Resisters, Rescuers

B. World War II, Sept. 1939-May, 1945: “New Order” & Holocaust
1. 1939-41: Exporting Nazism - Lebensraum, Racism, Antisemitism & Dehumanization
2. 1941-45: Death by Design & Shoah

FOURTEEN End of the Third Reich - The Last Years, 1943-45

Bauer, chapter 13
Objective. At the conclusion of this module students will be able to describe and explain the end of the Third Reich and the aftermath (1945- )

Focus/Discussions Questions

1. How did the Germans treat the Jews during the last months of WWII? Why?
2. Describe liberation.

Study Questions

1. List and discuss the various factors hypothesized to play a role in the perpetration of the Holocaust. What “caused” the Holocaust? What’s Bauer’s opinions?

2. What are the consequences and lessons of the Holocaust?

3. Describe and explain the implications of the Holocaust for relevant events i.e. the contemporary episodes of "ethnic cleansing" such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, American Indian Genocide, etc., racism, value of diversity, and the legacy for the future.


Chapter Content

Liberation & Liberators
Throughout the Holocaust, some Jews received help from non-Jews. Courageous Gentiles were able to hide and protect thousands of Jews until the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the death camps by the Allied forces.

“By the spring of 1943, 2.7 million of the 3.3 million Jews of Poland were dead. in Sept. ‘43 ... of some 45,000 Italian Jews, 8,000 died ... aid received from the Italian population and the local Catholic priesthood. ... 1943 the Nazis murdered 65,000 Greek Jews ... Most of the approximately 5.8 million Jews who died in the Holocaust were dead by the time the Soviet army recrossed the Polish border in 1944.”1

Towards Victory, 1943-1944

Japanese offensive -Pearl Harbor, US’s entry into war
Defeat of the Axis Powers: Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad in 1943
Bermuda Conference, April 1943, to discuss solutions to the refugee problem.

Allied victories in North Africa -El Alamein, & Italy

By May 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
July 1943 In West, Allies invaded Sicily, conquered it. The king dismissed Mussolini as Prime Minister. In Sept. 1943 Italy surrenders to Allies, asks for armistice; but fighting continued as the Germans seized Rome & northern Italy.

The War Refugee Board -WRB, January 22, 1944
: President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board as an independent agency to rescue the civilian victims of the Nazis.

Trucks for lives
. “
After April 1944, Eichmann offered Brand, Zionist leader and refugee from Germany, to release one million Jews in return for war material - 10,000 trucks and a lot of tea, coffee, sugar, soap. Negotiations failed.

June 2, 1944
, demand by Rabbi Weissmandel/Jewish Agency/Agudat Israel and the British, to bomb Auschwitz and the railways leading to it, transmitted to the US government. America rejected proposal on July 4: Auschwitz was “civilian” -not military target.

*Hungary. *1944
: Hitler takes over Hungary and begins deporting 12,000 Hungarian Jews each day to Auschwitz where they are murdered. Between just under three months, (May 14 through July 8, 1944), 437,402 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz via 48 trains. This is most likely the single largest deportation of the Holocaust. A similar system was used at Majdanek, which also saw "double usage" as a concentration camp and which was responsible for at least 275,000 deaths.

The Mayer Negotiations
. Nazis contacted Jews to negotiate; WRB agreed. Saly Mayer, Swiss Jewish representative, chosen to handle negotiations. Transport of 1,684 Jews organized by Kastner in June 1944, part of bargaining package. Aug. 21, 1944: 318 Hungarian Jews arrived to Switzerland from Belgen-Belsen; “US cannot enter into ... transactions.

Raoul Wallenberg
, July 1944, became 3rd secretary to the Swedish ambassador in Budapest; provided 4,500 Swedish protection papers to Jews -especially after Oct. 15.

Triumph & Aftermath, 1944-1946

[The A-Bomb and Truman] [Air War over Japan] [The Battle of the Bulge] [Collapse of the Third Reich] [Founding of UN] [Liberation of the Phillipines] [Rhine Crossings] [Road To Tokyo] [Russia Rolls West] [War Crimes] [Yalta Conference & "Liberated Europe"]

*June 6, 1944
D-Day Operation Overlord

Allies amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy -beach on the French coast. 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. German cities were being destroyed by bombing, and Italy, Germany's major ally under the leadership of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had fallen.

*July 23, 1944: Majdanek was liberated by the Soviets, and the other camps would soon follow, freed by troops from the United States, Canada, and France. Unfortunately many of the freed prisoners were so weak they couldn't eat or digest the food they were given and died shortly after liberation.

Aug. 1944 Paris is liberated; & Belgium. Poles revolt against German occupiers; Bruxelles & Antwerp fell to Allies. After war Petain & Pierre Laval, his 2nd-in-command, convicted of treason.

“The war against the Jews continued as the Allies closed in on the crumbling Nazi empire.”2

*Nov. 24, 1944: Himmler orders crematoria at Auschwitz destroyed, fearing the Allied advance; in November, the Auschwitz gas chambers were dismantled. The mass murder was to remain a secret; camp evacuations & death marches.

*Dec 16th ‘44: German attack through Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge begins: final German offensive halted -heroic defense by the Americans at Bastogne helped stop Germans offensive.

Map Europe after invasion of Normandy, Nazi collapse on the Eastern front, and the Soviet

The War ends. Liberation

*Death Marches

*In late 1944 the tide of the war had turned. Allied armies approached German soil, and the SS decided to evacuate outlying concentration camps, almost within sight of the advancing Allies. From Nov.-Dec. 1944 inmates of a number of camps were marched off: Mercilessly, the retreating Germans forced all remaining prisoners to march to the interior of the collapsing Reich, to the inner camps, under indescribably cruel conditions. In an attempt to cover up the evidence -death marches to the inner camps. Many were killed during the marches, and sometimes the Nazis would execute the rest when they reached their destination; during one march of 7,000 Jews, 6,000 of whom were women, 700 were killed during the March. Upon arrival at the Baltic Sea ten days later the rest were forced into the water and shot.

The Last Agony at Auschwitz: Liberation, January 1945

On January 18, 1945, those Auschwitz inmates capable of walking were evacuated in a "death march"
which became the final struggle for thousands of Jews. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot. “... some 300,000 to 400,000 Jews were evacuated from other camps.” *Approximately 20,000 of 58,000 prisoners died en route, from exhaustion, starvation, cold, beatings, and executions by guards.* Those who survived evacuation arrived in overcrowded camps without food, water or facilities. Those who had any strength remaining were worked to death building futile fortifications to defend the Reich. *Over 400,000 died in these last days*.

1945 Allies converged on Germany: The Soviet troops were continuing their drive in the east, advancing into the Baltic states, Poland & Hungary - by beginning of 1945 Soviets were advancing through Poland.
When the Russians arrived on January 26, only several thousand ill prisoners remained at Auschwitz. This tragic pattern--last- minute mass murder, death marches, starvation or death from exposure in overcrowded camps in the interior of the Reich--typified the last days of the Nazi terror. Despite valiant medical efforts many inmates died after liberation. Those who survived had to deal with both the psychological & physical legacy of their imprisonment in the camps*

Jan. 45: Russians invade Germany. By Feb. 1945, they stood within 100 miles of Berlin. On March 7, 1945, Americans crossed the Rhine into the interior of Germany, advancing into the heart of Germany.

*Camps like Bergen-Belsen, never intended for extermination, became death traps for thousands like Anne Frank, who died of typhus in March 1945. Nazi propaganda continued to the bitter end to claim that the Nazis had a secret plan to win the war, even though the officials knew it was a lost cause.

The finals days

The finals days in the spring of 1945, conditions in the remaining camps exacted a terrible toll in human lives. Ironically, it had been the goal of the Nazis to keep a record of all the people who was exterminated once the job was "complete" and to open a "museum" of the dead "race." It was this careful record keeping that couldn't be covered up in the hurried attempt to hide evidence or destroy it.

(Australian SBS (multicultural) TV a 1995 German film - 3 DAYS IN APRIL - based on an actual incident in Bavaria, in April 1945 - only weeks before the final surrender.
The film refers to the advances of the Americans (possibly only about 20 km away), the attitudes of the villagers (situated on a railway line with a station), deserting Germans, the SS rounding up and shooting deserters, the malevolence and petty stupidities of the hand wringing, winging stationmaster and bureaucracy, who all refused to make any decisions, etc.

Apparently a trainload of KZ prisoners, men and women, was bombed on its way (to or from a KZ?) and stopped in this hamlet and detached three carriages of KZ prisoners and left them to die under the guard of an SS officer with a few SS troops (from the east - possibly Ukrainian).

Eventually some of the people in the village could stand the screams of the prisoners no longer (they were locked in the carriages, without water, food, etc.) and left to die. After a futile attempt to at least give them water and food, the villages could stand it no longer and deliberately manually pushed the carriages off downhill to a fate unknown and obviously without caring to find out what happened. Even 60 years later the filmmakers were unable to locate anyone who knew anything, apart from one woman, who was a teenager at the time. The local pastor was prohibited by his superior from intervening, and didn't have the courage to do anything or show any leadership. Some of the women and a few of the men seemed to want to do something but did nothing. Everyone just stood and stared and did nothing or went about their business with the screams in their ears.

The awfulness of the situation could not be ignored, but they all managed to not see or hear and not feel or care about three carriages crammed full of human beings literally dying in front of them. They all so *programmed* that they could not even act out of simple humanity. It was if they were so brainwashed they were no longer independent and had no will of their own.

This is how the Nazis were able to do what they did. They built on an already strongly established innate antisemitism/anti-slav/anti any non-aryan prejudices/hatreds, and strengthened these by the use of intimidation and vicious propaganda which permeated throughout society from the youngest children to the oldest people. Lorraine B.)

Liberation : The Unmasked Horror

*By April 1945, British, American, & Russian troops were penetrating into Germany from east & west. Soviet forces entered Berlin. Nazi Germany collapsed, the SS guards fled. “Buchenwald freed on April 11 by Americans; Bergen-Belsen by British Apr. 15, Dachau and Mauthausen on Apr. 29 and May 3, respectively, by the Americans, Terezin on May 9 by Soviets.”
Photos: Scenes of Allied troops advancing into German territory; the liberation of the camps.
Views of camps immediately following liberation; inspection tours by General Eisenhower.

By May 1945, the war in Europe had ended. The liberators reached the camps, and the brutality of Nazi crimes was visible to the shocked Allied troops. "It was like stepping into the dark ages," said one stunned American sergeant. Only 250,000 prisoners were liberated from the camps. Tragically, twice that number died in the last months before liberation -in the death marches.*


*As Allied troops entered Nazi-occupied territories, the final rescue and liberation transpired.
Allied troops who stumbled upon the concentration camps were shocked at what they found. It was beyond any war scene the soldiers had experienced. There were rows upon rows of bodies stacked up like cordwood. Large ditches filled with bodies, rooms of baby shoes, and gas chambers with fingernail marks on the walls all testified to Nazi brutality.

*Upon encountering the Ohrdruf concentration camp, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, was overwhelmed with emotion. Liberators struggled to make sense of the scenes they witnessed. General Eisenhower insisted on photographing and documenting the horror so that future generations would not ignore history and repeat its mistakes.
He also forced villagers neighboring the death and concentration camps to view what had occurred in their own backyards.

“Soldiers also found thousands of survivors suffering from starvation and disease.”3
Allied troops, physicians, and relief workers tried to provide nourishment and medicine for the prisoners, but many were too weak and could not be saved.

Liberators' stories

There were about a dozen bodies in the dirty boxcar, men and women alike. They had gone without food for so long that their dead wrists were broomsticks tipped with claws....
Someone broke the silence with a curse and then with a roar the men started for the camp on the double...the men were plain fighting mad. They went down that road without any regard for cover or concealment. No one was afraid, not after those boxcars.
--British officer Peter Coombs, in a letter to his wife

Photos: Eisenhower inspects Buchenwald
I have never felt able to describe my emotional reaction when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency...I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda. --
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Europe, Letter to Chief of Staff George Marshall, April 12, 1945

I saw Eisenhower go to the opposite end of the road and vomit. From a distance I saw Patton bend over, holding his head with one hand and his abdomen with the other. And I soon became ill. I suggested to General Eisenhower that cables be sent immediately to President Roosevelt, Churchill, De Gaulle, urging people to come and see for themselves. The general nodded. --Lewis H. Weinstein, Lieutenant Colonel and chief of the liaison section of General Eisenhower's staff, April 1945

As we entered the camp, the living skeletons still able to walk crowded around us and, though we wanted to drive farther into the place, the milling, pressing crowd would not let us. It is not an exaggeration to say that almost every inmate was insane with hunger. Just the sight of an American brought cheers, groans and shrieks. People crowded around to touch an American, to touch the jeep, to kiss our arms--perhaps just to make sure that it was true. The people who couldn't walk crawled out toward our jeep. Those who couldn't even crawl propped themselves up on an elbow, and somehow, through all their pain and suffering, revealed through their eyes the gratitude, the joy they felt at the arrival of Americans. --Captain J.D. Pletcher, 71st Division Headquarters

Hitler's Last Days. Collapse of the Third Reich, May 7, 1945

“Having returned from his East Prussia headquarters on January 16th, Hitler declared Berlin a "fortress" in February and moved into his Fuhrerbunker -with a 16 - foot thick concrete ceiling-where he celebrated his 56th birthday on April 20th. ... Hitler drew up a political testament denouncing Goering and Himmler, appointed Admiral Doenitz as his successor, and married his longtime mistress Eva Braun.

*On the 30th of April, knowing that the war was lost, the newlyweds committed suicide -he by a pistol shot, she by poison-after which the bodies were burned in the Chancellery garden above the Fuhrerbunker - the "1,000 Year Reich" had lasted only a few years; one of his chief objectives was achieved with the annihilation of two-thirds of European Jewry. Having come to power the same month as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, Hitler also died during the same month 12 years later - Roosevelt's passing on April 12th.

Some of the Fuhrer's inner circle-including Joseph and Magda Goebbels who took their own lives after poisoning their six children-followed his lead, but others managed to escape the downfall of "the Thousand Year Reich."

The War Ends

On May 2nd, the same day that Berlin fell and German troops in Italy surrendered, the Doenitz successor government asked for a separate peace with the Western Allies. The request was refused on the grounds that only "unconditional and simultaneous surrender" to both Anglo - American and Soviet forces would be accepted.

*On May 7, 1945, Germany formally surrendered to the Allies. World War II ends in Europe; the surrender ceremony was repeated the next day, May 8 -officially "V - E Day" -in Berlin at Stalin's insistence. Scattered fighting continued for a few days, but ended when German Army Group Center surrendered to the Red Army in Czechoslovakia on May 11th and Army Group E surrendered to Tito's forces in Yugoslavia on the 14th.
By the end of the war, more than 55 million had died and 35 million wounded. Only 17 million of the dead were soldiers.

Hiroshima & the surrender of Japan

After the victory at Midway in June 1942,US & Allied forces moved against Japan on several fronts in the Pacific -attacking strategic island. Japanese resisted fiercely, suffering especially heavy casualties on Iwo Jima & Okinawa. ‘Nationalism was a key force in WW II,’ statement best supported by that Japanese kamikaze pilot deliberately sacrificed their lives for their country. June 1944 American capture of Okinawa -strategic islands on the route to Japan.

*Aug. 6, 1945:
Convinced that an invasion of Japan might cause a million American deaths, Harry Truman ordered an atomic bomb dropped 1st on Hiroshima & then on Aug. 9, on Nagasaki. On Aug. 8, Soviet Union enters the war against Japan, invading Manchuria.
Aug. 15, 1945 Japan surrenders unconditionally

Allied Conferences
. 1943: Teheran, ‘45 Yalta, Ju-Aug. ‘45: Postdam

*During the war,
leaders of US, Great Britain & Soviet Union met at series of wartime conferences to discuss strategy & postwar plans. Nov. 1943: Teheran Conference, the Big 3 -US, Russia & Britain - Stalin, Roosevelt & Churchill, decided a cross-channel carried out on - to open a 2nd front on continent, to ease pressure on Russian

*Feb. 1945 Yalta Conference

Shaping of the Postwar World:
Allies, Franklin Roosevelt, US, Winston Churchill, Great Britain & Joseph Stalin, Russia, had met at Yalta in the Soviet Union. The Big 3 agreed that Germany should be temporarily divided into 4 occupation zones, & occupied by troops of the victorious powers, including France.

- Allied agreed to
form the United Nations
, international peacekeeping organization

- July & Aug. 1945: Postdam Conference & the question of Germany -decisions that affected events for the next 40 yrs. Stalin, Truman, Churchill - confirmed Yalta agreements; to make agreements on demilitarization & de-Nazification of Germany;

- Germany would be divided into eastern & western halves; to hold war crimes trials for Nazis; to make Germany pay reparations with the Soviets to receive the most; virtually gave the Soviet Union control of Eastern Europe:
- Russia would have a major sphere of influence in east-central Europe.

Why Could the Holocaust Happen?

“ ... the more we study it -the Holocaust, the more we know about it, the less comprehensible it becomes. We still seek an answer to the most important questions: Why did it happen? How could it have happened? How could it happen in an advanced, civilized modern nation? There is no easy answer to that question, as is the case with most questions about the Holocaust.

“The Holocaust - Summing up. What “caused” the Holocaust?

“How did the German people become a band of murderers?
How could people who had created, in Central Europe, one of the greatest civilization in history commit itself to such an ideology as the Nazi one and stick to it through the most destructive war in human annals (so far) to the bitter end?”4
How does ideology turn into bullets or poison gas? Psychology of propaganda.
How do cold bureaucratic decisions become machine-gun bullets and crystals of poison gas?5

No one reason alone paved the way for the Holocaust to occur. It was the combined result of many factors. Historians agree that the Holocaust resulted from a confluence of various factors in a complex historical situation. ...

- "racism, combined with centuries-old hatred/bigotry, the longest hatred- of the Christians for the Jews:

- antisemitism fostered throughout the centuries in European culture ...”6
renewed by a nationalistic fervor which emerged in Europe in latter half of the 19th century, fueled by World War I never totally resolved;”

@ “ ... essential to mention the brutalization of European society in the wake of World War I. The death of million of soldiers ... the harsh treatment of civilian population ... women and children, during and especially after the war, established a precedent, which was followed by the Nazis murderers and their helpers of various nationalities.”7

“ ... development of the Holocaust by German National Socialism (Nazism) can be explained
by specific factors operating in Germany:

*1. ... retardation of the development of a national unity ...
*2. Identification of an integral German (volkisch) nationalism ... excluded Jews ...
*3. German romanticism ... rejected liberal & democratic traditions ...

*4. German defeat in WWI and resulting desire to reassert German collective strength (DEFEAT and what was perceived as an unjust peace treaty, and unfair financial burden; the defeat left German people demoralized & without strong government) -Political problem

- “LOSS OF FACE in the community of nations;” the "dictate" of the peace conference, and the Treaty of Versailles (defeat and its national humiliation following the Treaty of Versailles, exacerbated by worldwide economic hard times);

*5. Economic crises of early and late twenties ... (Ravaged by World War I, the German state was already in poor economic shape before the Depression of the 1920's struck. Reparations demands and a weakened infrastructure led to inflation and unemployment.
FINANCIAL COLLAPSE in 1929 & depression which left economic ruin, as well as political instability. During the worldwide economic depression that began in 1929, banks & businesses failed & unemployment soared in Germany - social and economical crisis.

*6. Central & crucial element of the long-standing tradition of antisemitism in “explaining” crises and social problems.”8 (The democratic institutions artificially established by the Allies and a feeling of global alienation as a result of a guilt clause and land seizures in the Treaty of Versailles exacerbated social turmoil and left Germany looking for someone to blame.)

“The functionalist school traced the development toward murder through the history of the social and economic structures of German society, sometimes from the late 19th century ... and often from the Weimar Republic. ... the economic, political, and social crises in Germany, together with the preexisting social, especially bureaucratic traditions, pushed German society toward an authoritarian regime. ... Racism and antisemitism were in the background, but by themselves would not have led to the so-called Final Solution- the extermination of all the Jews.”9

- POWER STRUGGLE between Communists, capitalists, and socialist.

- FEAR OF COMMUNIST REVOLUTION similar to that in Russia loomed ever menacing

Rule was often by emergency decree. Elected officials couldn’t rule without coalitions. Elections were often and violent.

- Ineffectiveness of
the Weimar Republic: The Weimar Republic, a weak democracy, never really effectively governed Germany and therefore was not much of a match for the Nazi party when it gained power.

- FEAR OF CHANGE brought about by a more liberal modern age.

-Nazism appealed to people’s need for a sense of belonging, loyalty & community

- the political charisma, militaristic inclusiveness, & manipulative propaganda of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

- a brutal & powerful dictatorship,

“The intentionalist school put the primary emphasis on the ideology-ridden dictatorship, which intended to establish a racist utopia and which saw in the Jews a prime target for physical annihilation. Hitler, it was said, had intended the destruction of the Jews well before the outbreak of war in 1939 and grasped at the opportunity once it developed ... Why did this particular dictatorship produce mass murder on an unprecedented scale, of Jews and many others? What made the bureaucrats do it? ... why German society lent itself to collaboration with such an intent”10

“From our understanding of Nazi racial ideology, it is clear that Jews were the primary intended victims. Once Nazi racist ideology permeated German society, it legitimized the murderous action taken against the Jews.

The Holocaust was made possible by the convergence of

1. - hard-core racial antisemites,
who moved Germany in the direction of genocide;

“Other historians ... Ian Kershaw, have pioneered different explanatory models. .... most ordinary members of the Nazi Party were not quite certain of the centrality of antisemitism to their ideology ... not extreme antisemites; ... shared an antisemitism ... pervasive ... not necessarily murderous ... This kind of moderate antisemitism was shared by a considerable part of the German population ... The Jews were a rather unpopular minority ... not considered to be Germans (contrary to the self-perception of the Jews themselves. ... In eastern Europe, anti-Jewish feelings were very much stronger.

It was the elite of the Nazi Party, possible a couple of hundred persons ‘true believers’, who saw in the Jews the major threat to German Nordic, Aryan humankind. It was within that group that the murderous inclinations developed. Hitler himself, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Alfred Rosenberg, Julius Streicher, Hans Frank, Reinhard Heydrich ... some of the more prominent names. The leadership of Hitler was crucial, because he was undoubtedly the radicalizing factor. ... Hitler influenced a group of what might be called pseudo-intellectuals who were prepared, socially, psychologically, and politically, to accept radical, murderous programs. ...

In a society that had willingly accepted the absolute leadership of a ruling elite and especially of its head, the intellectuals became the chief transmitters of murderous orders. ... recruiting ordinary murderers from the lower ranks of society became very easy ...

... once the Fuhrer expressed a desire and once an enthusiastic class of educated people backed it, the simpler folk who did the shooting and beating and child-murdering were easily found.

The moderate antisemitism of a large part of the German population, or even the queasiness that many, if not most, Germans felt in connection with the Jews, was absolutely crucial. It prevented any effective opposition to the murder of an unpopular minority. ...

In summary: ... a political elite ... who were obsessed with pseudo-messianic concepts of saving humanity from the Jews, had used a broad stratum of the intelligentsia, people who totally supported Nazi utopianism, to execute a genocidal program. That program went unopposed largely because anti-Jewish tendencies in the general population, ranging from mild discomfort about Jews to open but nonlethal antisemitism, both prepared the way for the extreme, murderous variety of antisemitism and prevented effective resistance to the genocide.

... In the Armenian genocide ... medical doctors were prominent in planning ... The murder of the Tutsi ... planned by a group of Hutu intellectuals ..., and the horrors of the Pol Pot regime were guided by former students of French universities.”11

2. - a bureaucracy
that administered orders ‘without scorn or bias’; (a bureaucracy that allowed individuals to abdicate personal moral responsibility, that not only did what it was asked of it & but which showed initiative within the consensus to advance the actions against the Jews, even further than may have been anticipated.

3. - an advanced technology, which made whatever was demanded of it a possibility (the application of the techniques of industrial management to mass murder, thus creating factories of death)”12

“While not ignoring antisemitism, Hannah Arendt pondered the way in which modern industrial society developed terrible new means of domination, drove entire peoples outside the framework of humanity, routinized terror, and conducted massive assaults on human individuality. For Arendt, what was remarkable about Nazism was not its antisemitism but the machinelike processes of persecution and murder it created, inspired not only by the project of robbing Jews of their life but of stripping them of their human individuality as well.

Karl Dietrich Bracher ... studied the way in which Nazism perpetrated the ‘impersonal,bureaucratic ‘extermination’ of a people classified as a species of inferior subhumans, as ‘vermin,’ a problem which the farmer Himmler handled as though it were a biological disease.’13 ... For Hilberg, the central image of the Nazis apparatus is also a machine -the European-wide ‘machinery of destruction’ which treads upon its victims, following its own logic of expropriation, concentration, deportation, and, finally, mass murder. Antisemitism plays a role in the process but does not serve as a full explanation for the events which unfolded. Study of the Holocaust demands a sense of balance, proportion, and due weight to the various factors involved. ”14

The Nazis rallied the support and participation of ordinary Germans, as well as those who profited from Jewish victimization. They were called on to engage in the wholesale slaughter of a people who had been demonized by Nazi propaganda. Both Christopher Browning and Daniel Goldhagen have shown that ordinary Germans became killers, as did many in the medical & other professions, not because they were necessarily antisemitic, although that was a factor, but because of complex circumstances, including the willingness to believe that, in murdering Jews, one was defending the fatherland.”15

- a warlike atmosphere in Europe,
which made it possible for Germany’s leaders to
declare war powers, thus subverting all laws regarding civil rights.

- international indifference

Not something that had to happen.
Just because the Holocaust did happen doesn't mean that there was no other way. World powers chose to look the other way and their silence essentially condoned the Nazis behavior. Had the Allies chosen to fight earlier, it is certainly possible that millions of deaths could have been averted.

The indifference of the governments and peoples of the world to the fate of the Jews and the other victims of the Third Reich is a stain on the collective conscience of mankind. The ease with which they accepted the fundamental breaches of human and civil rights by an antisemitic and racist regime should stand as a warning to us all. Therefore the intensive study of this historical event should be a high priority for everyone everywhere
(Yad Vashem)

All the above contributed to the eventuality of the Holocaust." (USHMM Teaching Guidebook). What exactly does that all mean? Let's find out.

Here you can find out what combination of events lead to the tragic genocide.

Hopefully you realize that it was not one set condition, not one set event, but a combination of things led to the Holocaust

“Holocaust was produced by factors that still exist in the world ... such as deep hatreds, bureaucracies capable and willing to do the bidding of their superiors, modern technology devoid of moral directions, brutal dictatorships, and wars. ...”16

“It may be well that one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances are capable of excessive cruelty. ... It is unlikely that the Aryan Nation or its Nazi equivalent could ever enter the mainstream of American politics or that the American people would elect a David Duke as president. Nevertheless, the history of Nazi Germany and its special treatment of the Jews warns us about the dangers of antisemitism and racism and their deadly consequences. What occurred to the Jews between 1933 and 1945 can happen to any people if society chooses to ignore the spread of bigotry. In Germany, there was no massive agitation that something be done about the Jews. There was neither a demand that the Jews be expelled nor support for violence against them. Yet, the majority of Germans accepted the steps taken by the government against the Jews and looked the other way as discriminatory laws evolved into a policy of genocide. To mitigate, trivialize, or diminish the centrality of the special circumstances that led to the murder of European Jewry is to ignore the possibility that they can reoccur with another group replacing Jews as the victim.”17

Legacy of WW II Global impact of the war Outcomes

- The Holocaust

Millions died in concentration camps & gas chambers during the Holocaust.
“Consequences of the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, probably 5.8 million Jewish people died ... more than one-third (about 34%) of the Jewish population. From the liberated Nazi camps ... were 200,000 Jews ... about 3 million Jews were left in Europe out of the original 9 million Jews before the war. ... Loss of Jewish cultural centers during the Holocaust ... survivors rebuilt their lives ... ...”18

- Massive war casualties & destruction

War the most destructive in history with more than 50 million people, including 35 million civilians died & more than 34 million wounded. Around 71/2 million Soviets died, more war casualties than the US, Great Britain, & France combined. More than 40 million people were left homeless - civilians were uprooted by the war. Bombs had reduced much of Europe to rubble. New weapons & military tactics, which included the atomic bomb, the German blitzkrieg, & the Japanese kamikaze attacks, had a devastating effect. A major cost of the war was the change in people’s attitude toward death & destruction, especially as it pertained to civilians. By 1945 people accepted the killing of 1000s of civilians as a normal practice of war

- formation of the United Nations;

- *1945 Nuremberg Trials -held to prosecute Nazi leaders for war crimes, pronounced Nazi leaders responsible for crimes against humanity.
In 1948, genocide -extermination of an entire people, has been condemned and declared illegal “crime under international law,”by the UN Commission on Human rights

- Germany was occupied & divided.
- Politically continent cut in half,
with eastern Europe dominated by Soviet military power.

- Shift in power to USA & USSR: for centuries west. Europe had controlled much of world.
After WWII, 2 new superpowers -military, political & economic giant, emerged: US & Soviet Union (SU).
World polarized between these 2
, who for next 45 yrs would dominate world affairs becoming locked in cold war. SU dictatorship in east. Europe while US became guardian of Western tradition

- Many of the colonies gain independence
during the post-war period; war accelerated breakup of Europe’s overseas empires.

*The Hitler years demonstrated
anew the power of the irrational & the precariousness of civilization.


*Personal accounts
by survivors of the Holocaust are powerful. They connect us, person to person, with an era in history that is difficult, yet necessary, to comprehend. Survivor testimony translates the countless unimaginable victims into a single person's feelings and thoughts. Today, survivors who can remember stories of that time are in their sixties, seventies, and eighties. As a group, they are getting older, and fewer and fewer are with us to personally chronicle life under the Nazis. Their testimony is profoundly valuable.

My Holocaust Experiences by C. V. Ferree

There are 350,000 survivors of the Holocaust alive today...
There are 350,000 experts who just want to be useful with the remainder of their lives. Please
listen to the words and the echoes and the ghosts. And please teach this in your schools.
--Steven Spielberg, Academy Award acceptance speech

Survivor Testimony & Literature

Much of what occurred during the Holocaust seems too horrible to imagine.
Indeed, for many years following the end of World War II, survivors were extremely hesitant to speak of their personal experiences. They focused instead on rebuilding their lives. Following Adolf Eichmann's trial in the 1960s, Holocaust survivors finally began to speak and write about their traumatic ordeals. For each survivor, the act of recounting the Holocaust experience is a personal internal struggle. Many share their painful memories in an effort to understand or accept the Holocaust and with the urgent hope that such a dark age of human history will never be repeated. The content of a written survivor memoir, whether presented as fact or transformed into fiction, is often harrowing and gruesome. Still, biographies and personal narratives can help to personalize historical events and to establish real faces in the overwhelming sea of facts and statistics.

*Elie Wiesel has been credited as the 1st to break the nearly 20 years of silence with his remarkable semi-fictionalized memoir, Night, a work inextricably associated with Holocaust literature.

*Night by Elie Wiesel

This highly regarded novel tells of Wiesel's teenage experiences at various Nazi camps. At Auschwitz, Elie and his father were separated forever from his mother and sister. Young Elie struggles to maintain his religious faith in the face of Nazi brutality and finally despairs of both God and humanity, yet juxtaposed against the atrocities is the story of his enduring relationship with his father. This emotional, imaginative, and thought-provoking memoir deals at a mature level with the issues of survival, loss, death, and faith.

Never shall I forget that night, that first night in the camp, which has turned my
life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I
forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the faces of the children, whose bodies I
saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of
the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God
and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget those things, even
if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.


Jan 14 - Casablanca Conference begins - Roosevelt demands "Unconditional Surrender".
Jan 28 - British 8th Army captures Tripoli.
Jan 31 - German surrender at Stalingrad
Feb 1943: frozen German army on Eastern front surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad
Nov. 3, Germans exterminate 40,000 Jews, most of them at Majdanck, during Erntefest
(Harvest Festival)
Apr 8-9, 1000 Jews murdered near Ternopol
Apr 13 mass graves discovered at Katyn, Poland, site of Polish officers’ massacre by Soviets
Apr 19-30 Bermuda conference; British & Americans; no rescue proposals
Apr. 19-May 16, Armed resistance & uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto which was destroyed
May 8, Mordechai Anielewiz & others of Warsaw ghetto, killed in bunker at 18 Mila Street
May 5-10, last 2 transports of Jews sent from Croatia to Auschwitz
May 11-27 Churchill & Roosevelt confer in Washington
May 12, Samuel Zygelboim killed himself -solidarity with Warsaw ghetto fighters, & in
protest against the world’s silence regarding the fate of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe

May 12th - Surrender of Axis forces in North Africa.
May13, Tunisia liberated by the Allies
Jun 1, final liquidation of Lvov ghetto begins; Jews resist, 3000 killed; 7000 to Janowska
Jun 20, except for handful of workers, the Ternopol ghetto is liquidated; Jews killed
Jun 25, Jews in Czestochowa resist the Germans with arms
Jul 5, Himmler orders that Sobibor, extermination camp, be made a concentration camp
Jul 9-10, Allied forces invade Sicily
Jul 21 Himmler orders liquidation of the Reichskommissariat Ostland ghettos by sending
Jewish workers to labor camps & killing the rest of the Jews
Jul 22-early Aug. the remaining Jewish workers from Ternopol are killed
Jul. 25, Mussolini overthrown; Fascist party dissolved; Pietro Badoglio forms new govment
Aug 1, final liquidation of Bedzin & Sosnowiec ghetto is begun;
most Jews deported to Auschwitz; Jewish armed resistance
Aug. 2, Revolt in Treblinka death camp
Aug. 4-sept 4, 7000 Jews deported from Vilna to Estonia for forced labor

September 3rd - Italy signs armistice.
September 10th - Germans occupy Rome.
September 23rd - Mussolini declares Fascist government in Northern Italy.
September 25th - Soviets re-take Smolensk.

Oct. 7, Hitler ordered that all Denmark Jews to be deported to death camps
Danish underground saves more than 7000 Jews
October 13th - Official Italian Government declares war on Germany.
Oct. 14, over 300 Jewish prisoners escape from sobibor
*Nov. 3, Germans exterminate 40,000 Jews
, most of them at Majdaneck, during Erntefest
Nov. 6th - Soviets recapture Kiev.

1944-45 last phase of the Final Solution; Soviet armies approach from the east; allied from west; death camp speed up operations and are then evacuated; death marches from the camps to Germany take place. Few prisoners survived

1944 January 6th - Soviets advance into Poland.
Jan. 22nd - Allied landings in Anzio.
Jan. 27th - End of siege of Leningrad.
Jan. 29, Germans announce plan to breed an Aryan elite by encouraging unmarried women to bear children of German SS officers
Mar. 18, Hitler’s armies invade Hungary; deportations of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz
under direction Adolf Eichmann; most of 1/2 million to gas chambers
Mar 19th - Hungary occupied by German Army; Hungarian Jews moved to Auschwitz as
Russian army approaches
May-Jun, Nazis sent 380,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz
April 10th - Soviets capture Odessa.
May 9th - Sevastopol falls to Soviets.

June 4th - Rome captured by Allies.
**June 6, D-Day - Operation Neptune/Overlord - Allied invasion of Normandy
June 1944 American capture of Okinawa
June 27th - US Army captures Cherbourg.
*Jul. 20, German generals plot to assassinate Hitler and are unsuccessful
Jul. 24, Russians liberate Maidanek camp
Aug. 23, last gassing at Auschwitz
Aug. 27 reporters visit liberated camps at maidanek
October 4th - Allies land in Greece.
*Autumn, Himmler suspends extermination of Jews
**Nov. 24, Himmler orders crematoria at Auschwitz destroyed, fearing the Allied advance
camp evacuations & death marches
December 16th - German attack through Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge begins.


Jan. 17 Evacuation of Auschwitz-Birkenau; beginning of death march
Jan. 17, Raoul Wallenberg, savior of 1000s of Jews, prisoner by the Soviets, Budapest,
Soviets liberate Warsaw
Jan. 25 Beginning of death march for inmates of Stutthof
**Jan. 27 Soviet Red Army enters Auschwitz; ‘liberation’ of concentration camps begins
Jan. - May ‘45, other camps are liberated by allies, soviet in east, Allies in west
Feb. 4-11, Yalta Conference; Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill meet discuss victory, postwar world
Mar Anne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen
April 6-10 Death march of inmates of Buchenwald
Apr. 11, US troops liberate Buchenwald
*Apr. 12
, US President Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage. Truman, President
April 23rd - Soviets enter Berlin.
Apr. 25, Berlin surrounded by Soviet army
*Apr. 28, Mussolini shot by Italian partisans in Milan
*Apr. 30, Hitler commits suicide
*May 7, Germany surrenders unconditionally
, after Russian forces entered Berlin
V-E Day -Victory in Europe; end war in Europe; Cease-fire announced
Holocaust end
June 1945 Founding of the United Nations
*Aug. 6,
Harry Truman ordered atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan;
*Aug. 9, 2nd bomb dropped on Nagasaki
Aug. 8, Soviet Union enters the war against Japan, invading Manchuria.

*Aug. 15, 1945 Japan surrenders unconditionally
; end of World War II
*Nov 22-Nov. 46, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

Main sites.

Resisters, Rescuers, and Bystanders:

Copyright Fall 1999, November 2003, January 2004 Edith Shaked
Credit/source: Gary M. Grobman, The Holocaust - A guide for Teachers, 1990

1 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, p. 332

2 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, p. 356


4 ibid, p. 28-9

5 Y. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust: Yale University Press, 2001

6 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, p. 361

7 Y. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001; p. 36

8 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, p. 361

9 Y. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001; p. 29

10 Y. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001; p. 29-30

11 Y. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001; pps. 31-7

12 Jack R. Fischel, The Holocaust. p. 12. Wesport, Connecticut. London: Greenwood Press, 1998, 120

13 Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure, and Effects of National Socialism, tran. Jean Steinberg (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 431.

14 Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust: Where we are, where we need to go - A comment, in The Holocaust and History - The Knowon, the Unknown, the Disputed and the Reexamined; eds: Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck; published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; 1998

15 Jack R. Fischel, The Holocaust. p. 12. Wesport, Connecticut. London: Greenwood Press, 1998, 120

16 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, pp. 366-369

17 Fischel, p. 120

18 Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, pp. 366-369