Part II. The 3rd Reich & the Holocaust Era, Jan 1933-May 1945
Murderous Racism and Antisemitism - Bureaucracy of Evil
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

World War II. Euthanasia. Poland - The Turn to Genocide, 1939-41

Bauer 147-50; Nazi Antisemitic Policy & German Jewry:106-120; 122-142
The Holocaust timeline: (excellent); (excellent)
Timeline: WWII.
Map Album.

Supplemental Readings



B. World War II, Sept. 1939-May, 1945: “New Order” & Holocaust

When persecution became the Holocaust.
At the core of the Holocaust Era was the ideology of hatred. This dogma was translated into genocide & ‘Final Solution.’ Approximately 11.5 million people were killed because of Nazi genocidal ideology. It was the explicit aim of Hitler’s regime to create a European word both dominated and populated by the ‘Aryan’ race. The Nazi machinery was dedicated to eradicating millions of people it deemed undesirables.

By 1942 the Nazis had temporarily conquered a great empire -most Europe from Atlantic Ocean almost to Moscow. They instituted Hitler’s master plan for a ‘New Order’ -plan to organize the continent into a single political & economic system ruled from Berlin & dominated by the ‘Aryan’ race, based on exploitation, terror, & extermination. German resettlement & exploitation of agricultural areas by ‘inferior’ people who would be treated harshly (Lebensraum - living space, refers to a program of German expansion). Hitler’s grand plan would have made the Slavic people, slaves to the triumphant Germans. Special prisons -concentration camps, were built to keep these people separate. Many prisoners were used as slave labor. Some were used in medical experiments; many starved to death.

“The preparations for mass murder were made possible by Germany’s military successes in the months following the invasion of Poland in 1939. But from the moment that Adolf Hitler had come to power in 1933, the devastating process had begun. It was a process which depended upon the rousing of historic hatreds and ancient prejudice, and upon the cooperation or acquiescence of many different forces: of industry, science and medicine, of the Civil Service and bureaucracy, and of the most modern mechanisms and channels of communication. It depended also upon collaborators from countries far beyond the German border; and it depended most of all, one survivor has remarked, ‘upon the indifference of bystanders in every land’.”1

With Hitler’s invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the 2nd period of the Holocaust Era, & of Nazi anti-Jewish policy & practice started -& Nazi policy shifted from forced emigration to extermination. The 2nd period of the Holocaust Era was characterized by accelerated lawlessness, pauperization, harassment, & ultimately mass murder of the ‘Others’ & of the Jews, in ‘Greater Germany’ as well as in Nazi-occupied and -influenced areas.

The onset of war served as a smokescreen for the evolution of deportations, ghettos, and concentration camps, & sealed the fate of Jews & other ‘undesirables,’ under Nazi regime and its collaborators. The entire program was accompanied by vicious propaganda and acts of violence. It culminated during the 1941-44 period in mass extermination of millions by shooting & gassing, followed in 1945 by starvation, forced labor, and death marches of the miserable remnants, under the German code name “Final Solution.”

By the end of the 2nd World War, which marks the end of the Holocaust Era, the Nazi regime & its accomplices had annihilated approximately 6 million Jews & 5.5 million ‘others’ -Slavs, gypsies, ‘Blacks,’ homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mental defectives, socialists, communists and ‘others’ -who were described as enemies of the German state or as social or racial ‘inferiors,’ all to be murdered, in equally horrible circumstances.2

Hitler and the Nazi Party gained power in Germany in 1933 and lost power in 1945 -- only 12 years. And yet, by the end of the Hitler regime, the world had been plunged into a global world war, Europe was in shambles and nearly 30 million died.

Two major periods of the World War II can be discerned:
1. 1939-41: Exporting Nazism - Lebensraum, Racism, Antisemitism & Dehumanization
2. 1941-45: Death by Design & Shoah


Students will gain a better understanding of WWII & its significance to the mass murder. We will explore: What were the successive steps in the mass destruction of the Jews;
how the Nazis came to exterminate many peoples, & the bulk of the Jewish population of Europe? Roles of the perpetrators -who was doing the killing? What were the methods for mass annihilation; victims, resisters -what kinds of resistance were possible? bystanders, collaborators -world wide complicity in that extermination; rescuers during this horrific period in the 20th century -who did help? Jewish responses to the Nazis; the aftermath of the war including the war crimes trials, the UN Genocide Convention, & lessons and legacy of the Holocaust era.


1. 1939-41: Exporting Nazism - lebensraum, racism, antisemitism- & Dehumanization

NINE World War II. Euthanasia. Poland - Turn to Genocide, 1939-41


Students will be able to describe the events of World War II (WWII), discuss the purpose and functioning of the T-4 project (the euthanasia project) in Nazi Germany, and evaluate the impact of the German occupation of Poland on the Catholic Poles.

Focus/Study Questions

1. Why were people with hereditary illnesses considered a racial threat to Germany? How deos it reflect Nazi ideology? What steps were taken against them? What is T-4? What does the term “euthanasia” means in this context? Why did the Nazis murder over 200,000 physically and mentally handicapped German men, women, and children? How did the Churches, the doctors and nurses, and the German people respond to the mass murder of the handicapped?

2. What was the “New Order?” Discuss Nazi plans and policies for the conquered Polish people. What were the persecutions against the Poles?


Chapter Content

Course of the war, 1939-41: Nazi Triumph, Conquest of Europe Hitler’s empire,

Early Victory & Stalemate - Phony War 1939-1941
1. The War begins, the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Germany looks West. British at Dunkirk
2. Fall of France & Vichy Government
3. Churchill & the Battle of Britain Aug.-Sept.1940
4. Germany & its ally, Italy, turned toward eastern Europe

Hitler Launches the 2nd World War (WWII)

Hitler's preoccupation with lebensraum (meaning "living space," it was a basic principle of Nazi foreign policy. Hitler believed that eastern Europe had to be conquered to create a vast German empire for more physical space, a greater population, and new territory to supply food and raw materials) became patently obvious with the German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, sparking France and England to react, because they had agreed to defend Poland. World War II begins as Britain and France declare war on Germany, on September 3rd, ‘39.

The Blitzkrieg & the fall of Poland

Using the Blitzkrieg tactic, Germany defeated Poland. The Germany blitzkrieg or "lightning war" strategy owed much to young General Heinz Guderian who commanded the XIX Armored Corps during the invasion. It called for a quick breakthrough of border defenses by two "steel pincers" made up of mechanized armored units that would trap, surround, and destroy the Polish Army around Warsaw. Blitzkrieg involved the massing of planes, tanks, and artillery. These forces would break through enemy defenses along a narrow front. Air power prevented the enemy from closing the breach. The Poles unintentionally cooperated by thinly spreading their forces along the western frontier rather than concentrating them along the Narew - Vistula - San interior defense line.

German forces encircled opposing troops, forcing them to surrender, on the 17th, the same day that the Red Army invaded from the east in accordance with a secret agreement between Hitler and Stalin. Under continuous air bombardment, Warsaw surrendered 10 days later, ending effective Polish resistance though sporadic fighting continued until October 5th.

Hitler’s invasion of Poland began WW II: Britain & France who had agreed to defend Poland, had to react. The British & the French had declared war on Germany on September 3rd, but failed to provide any effective military aid for their Polish allies. The battlefields were beyond the range of British airpower, and the French refused to relieve pressure on Poland by attacking Germany's weakly - defended western border across the Siegfried Line.


Hitler and Stalin divided up the spoils of victory. Germany received two thirds of the populated areas as well as the richest agricultural and industrial regions. The Soviet Union took over half of prewar Polish territory including the southeastern oil region. The Germans put the bulk of the conquered population under Governor General Hans Frank with orders that "the Poles will be slaves of the Greater German World Reich." An even grimmer fate was reserved for the Polish Jews.

"Phony War" in Western Europe, September 1939-April 1940

On western front, about 6 months of relative military inactivity, or Phony War: bad weather prevents attacks instead propaganda pamphlets are dropped behind the German lines.

1. The German Sitzkrieg

Unlike World War I-which began with a massive German attack on France-World War II was strangely quiet on the Western Front from September 1939 until May 1940. This eight - month interlude-called by American journalists the "phony war" -was known derisively among Germans as the Sitzkrieg or "sitting war, " in contrast to their decisive blitzkrieg or "lightning" triumph over Poland. It began with a furious debate between Hitler and his Generals over when to launch a full - scale invasion through Belgium and Holland of France. Hitler issued written orders in October for a quick attack, possibly within a month. Afraid to move before spring, his Generals were angry enough at the decision to resume their plot to replace the Fuhrer. A crisis was averted when the date of Fall Gelb ("Plan Yellow") was repeatedly postponed, first by year - end bad weather and then because of a January 1940 plane crash that placed German battle plans in the hands of the Belgians. Settling on an expanded Norwegian campaign to fill the time, Hitler in February agreed to a new target date of May 10th for the major push in the West.

2. England's "Twilight War"

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was greatly pleased with the military progress-or lack of it-during what he named "the twilight war." He took pride in the successful transfer of four divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to the Continent where they were kept out of harm's way by the Allied Supreme Commander, ... French General Gamelin. Another cause for satisfaction was the Royal Navy's blockade of Germany which was supposed to slowly strangle Hitler's Reich despite the fact that a still - friendly USSR was supplying the German economy with abundant raw materials. ... Yet as late as April 1940, Chamberlain assured the British people that "Hitler had missed the bus, " i.e., that the danger of a decisive Nazi attack against France had passed and the future held the promise of a quick and cheap Allied victory.

3. France's Maginot Line

France had 90 Army divisions-65 active and 25 reserve-available compared to Germany's 106. Its main reliance was on five million citizen soldiers mobilized defensively behind the "supertrench" called the Maginot Line. This was an 87 - mile long barrier facing Germany that consisted of barbed wire, tank traps, gun emplacements, and underground forts. Unfortunately for the French, this fearsome wall-rather than extending all the way to the Atlantic Coast ended at the border with Belgium. It provided psychological security to a people and a military-almost bled dry in World War I-who were unwilling to take the offensive in a new war. But it proved no barrier at all to the highly mobile Germany Army that in May 1940 ended the "phony war" by making an "end run" around the Maginot Line and France's static defense positions.

Blitzkrieg in Western Europe: occupation of the West - Early German victory 1940-41 (.com/resources/courage/p19.html)

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all of the odious apparatus of Nazi rule we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end." Winston Churchill, House of Commons, June 4, 1940

In May 1940, when Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium, and France, the result hinged on German superiority-not in the number of soldiers, tanks, or planes-but in organization and planning. German armies conquered & occupied one country after another in rapid succession: Germany overran much of Europe, using Blitzkrieg (lightning war).

9 April, 1940, Hitler’s forces overrun Denmark and Norway in 2 days. *On May 10, 1940, German forces swept westward. Holland surrendered on the 14th; (on the 13th, Queen Wilhelmina left for London). Belgium, on the 27th, King Leopold surrendered the entire Belgian Army to the German conquerors; & Luxembourg -defeated within 2 weeks, and by June, France had collapsed. More than half a million additional Jews were thus swiftly trapped in the Nazi orbit.*

Breakthrough Into France

Italy entered the war as an ally of Germany -the 2 allies called themselves the Axis powers. Italy declared war on both France & Britain. Pushing through the Ardennes, von Rundstedt's Army crossed into France the evening on May 12th. French & British armies rushed to meet the Germans. They were trapped in Belgium, however. Instead of moving in quickly against the French & British, Germans made mistake; it waited.


This gave British & French troops time to escape across the English Channel. May 27-June 4, 1940 evacuated from Dunkirk over a 1/4 of a million British & French soldiers:
On May 28th, an unlikely Armada of 900 ships and boats-including sloops, fishing trawlers, and schooners-began evacuating Allied soldiers from the French port of Dunkirk. Hitler's hope that the Luftwaffe alone could defeat the rescue efforts was foiled by the RAF which provided vital air cover not only on Dunkirk's beaches but back and forth across the Channel to Dover. By June 3rd "the Miracle at Dunkirk" code - named Operation Dynamo-had saved to fight again another day 220,000 British and 120,000 French and Belgian fighting
The survivors formed the basis for a new army.

Fall of France

Having put two million Allied soldiers-Dutch and Belgian as well as British and French-out of commission during three weeks in May, the German High Command concentrated in June on delivering a knockout blow to France. ... Already declared "an open city" on the 11th, Paris was evacuated by the French government on the 13th, only one day ahead of the German occupiers. A new government under Prime Minister Marshal Petain sought an Armistice on the 16th, two days before General de Gaulle made his first broadcast from London seeking to rally "the Free French" behind his government - in - exile.
Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French government & forces in England, started resistance. Maquis: nickname for the French Resistance.

Through the Ardennes Forest around the Maginot Line, France was defeated & surrendered. On the 22nd, the Petain regime, with its capitol in the small town of Vichy, agreed to humiliating peace terms placing almost two thirds of all French territory-including "the City of Light" -under German military administration. On June 25th, the last sporadic hostilities between French and German forces ended. Except in England-which now stood alone. June 1940: US commit its resources to aid England. Western Europe's long night of Nazi domination had begun.

Divided France. Vichy Government

Defeated France was split into 2 regions
: the larger, northern was ruled directly by Germany (Germany occupied 3/5 of France); the southern sector, was unoccupied & known as Vichy France - a puppet, under collaborationist Marshall Petain. Germany permitted Marshal Philippe Petain, who signed armistice with Hitler & Mussolini, to establish a government in unoccupied France with a capital at Vichy,

Aug.-Sept.1940: Churchill & the Battle of Britain

Germany was unable to overcome stout British resistance, despite massive and intimidating aerial bombardment: Having said of himself- "On land, I am a hero. At sea, I am a coward" Hitler did not look forward to the prospect of invading the British Isles. Germany began to plan Britain’s invasion. British navy ruled the sea. It was German air superiority over the English Channel & southeastern England. This was the issue decided in the Battle of Britain.

Contrary to much mythology about "the invincible Luftwaffe," the German Air Force and the British Royal Air Force or RAF were well - matched. Luftwaffe -German bombers, daily aerial attacks on British cities which held firm - attempt to break British morale did not succeed. Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied British to continue to fight with inspiring speeches stating: ‘Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.’ In addition to the intangible advantage of fighting on its "home ground, " the RAF enjoyed the technological plus of the world's first radar - directed ground control system of fighter defense that targeted its planes on incoming German formations up to 120 miles away.

The London "Blitz"

The Germans launched a massive air campaign against London on September 7th. Hitler's motivation was revenge on the British "night pirates" who bombed Berlin on the 6th, in reprisal for an earlier, apparently accidental German attack on the British capital. Goering had the additional strategic purpose of experimenting with a new means-terror bombing-to crush British morale. Starting with a massive attack by 1,000 bombers and 700 fighters, the Luftwaffe mounted daylight raids through the end of September and then shifted in October to night attacks that were less accurate but harder to defend against. In November, the arc of destruction was extended to other cities in the industrial Midlands including the cathedral town of Coventry. But London-especially the East End where much of the poor Cockney population had to seek safety and shelter in subway tunnels-remained the favorite target through the winter raids culminating on December 29th and the periodic spring attacks that continued until May 11, 1941.

A Decisive British Victory

On September 13th - 14th, RAF bombers attacked French and Belgian ports where they destroyed or damaged much of the armada of landing craft which the Germans had planned to use for a cross - Channel invasion. On September 17th, the date of the invasion was postponed for the last time, and on October 12th "Operation Sea Lion" was permanently canceled as Hitler's attention turned east toward the prospect of a 1941 attack on the USSR. ... The German decision to shift focus to attacks on population centers had given the British "breathing space" in which to rebuild aircraft plants, repair airfields, and-most important-regroup the elite corps of fighter pilots of whom British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." But the Blitz had also given the mass of ordinary Britains the grim opportunity to prove to themselves and the rest of the world that "London can take it" -and so, too, could they.

British survived air assault against London ‘blitz with radar, skill, courage; despite massive aerial bombardment, Germany did not defeat Great Britain, which was protected from ground attack by the English Channel. British were able to protect themselves from invasion by the Germans because of
a) Britain’s ability to maintain its morale even after months of bombing;
b) the inability of the Germans to replace aircraft that they lost over England

No Escape: Greece & Yugoslavia Fall

"This State, our country is only for Croatians, and not for anyone else. There are no ways and means which we Croatians will not use to make our country truly ours and to clean it of all Jews and orthodox Serbs. All those who came to our country 300 years ago must disappear. We do not hide this our intention." Milovan Zanic, Minister of Justice, Croatia

"They started with one huge husky peasant who began singing an old historical heroic song of the Serbs. They put his head on the table and as he continued to sing they slit his throat and then the next squad moved in to smash his skull. 'This is what you are all getting' an USTASA (Croatian Nazi) screamed. USTASE surrounded us. ...Then the slaughter began...Within a matter of minutes we stood in a lake of blood." Ljubo Jadnak, Survivor, Yugoslavia

*In the spring of 1941, German army under General Rommel, captured much of North Africa. Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia & Greece were either taken over or forced to join the Axis powers: in the Balkans, they overran both Greece (April 6, 1941), & Yugoslavia (April 1941). In less than two years, the Nazis had overrun most of Europe including France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Furthermore, the southeastern countries of Hungary, Bulgaria, and Rumania were controlled as Axis satellites; Italy was, at first, Germany’s principal European ally.

This rapid military success convinced the Nazis that the time was at hand to impose their "new order."* The fate of the “others” & of the Jews was directly linked to Hitler's war -World War II.

Murder of the Handicapped & the ‘useless unfit’ - Euthanasia, T-4

*The Nazis believed that the "useless mouths" (the chronically ill and the physically and mentally defective) had no right to live. “The turn to genocide began in Germany under the cover of war. After many years of sterilizing entire categories of people deemed unworthy of life, the Nazis turned to euthanasia as a means of eliminating the “unfit” from Germany. The euthanasia program coincide with the outbreak of the war, when Hitler authorized doctors & medical aides to participate in the murder of their incurably ill patients.3

On September 1, 1939, Hitler signed an order ‘granting’ such individuals the right to die
-an order to kill institutionalized, handicapped patients deemed ‘incurable’ -chronically ill people, habitual criminals, mental patients -helpless, social misfits- the grace of death. Wartime, Adolf Hitler suggested, "was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill." Many Germans did not want to be reminded of individuals who did not measure up to their concept of a "master race." The physically and mentally handicapped were viewed as "useless" to society, a threat to Aryan genetic purity, and, ultimately, unworthy of life.

So, at the beginning of WW II, individuals who were mentally retarded, physically handicapped, or mentally ill were targeted for murder in what the Nazis called euthanasia.‘The operation, known in code as the T-4 program (T-4 refers to the street address -4 Tiergarten Strasse- where the headquarters of the euthanasia program was located) gassed its victims in rooms camouflaged as shower chambers. The bodies were then cremated.’4 The so-called euthanasia (mercy-killing) program of the Nazis killed about 100,000 individuals by gas or lethal injection.*

The ‘euthanasia’ program required the cooperation of many German doctors, who reviewed the medical files of patients in institutions to determine which handicapped or mentally ill individuals should be killed (State hospitals filled out questionnaires on their patients, which were then reviewed by a special commission of physicians who would simply decide if the subject lived or died). The doctors also supervised the actual killings; they believed that they were ‘cleansing the Fatherland’ of disease.

*In 1940-41 special liquidation centers were established throughout Germany to eliminate the mentally or chronically ill.* Those patients marked for death were sent to one of six death camps in Germany & Austria, where they were killed in specially constructed gas chambers - *In these centers, the first hermetically sealed gas chambers were developed. These deadly chambers, disguised as showers, were the prototypes for the mass extermination chambers later used in the Nazi extermination camps.* Handicapped babies and small children were also killed by injection with a deadly dose of drugs, pills, or by forced starvation. The bodies of the victims were burned in large ovens called crematoria.
Pictures Group portrait of the nursing staff at the Hadamar Institute, where handicaps were murdered. A cemetery of Hadamar "euthanasia" victims .

Public protests in 1941, by loved ones, clergy of both the Protestant & Catholic churches, forced the Nazis to continue this ‘euthanasia’ program in secret, throughout the war. More than 200,000 handicapped people were murdered between 1940 & 1945. The T-4 program became the model for the mass murder of Jews, Roma (Gypsies), & others in camps equipped with gas chambers that the Nazis would open in 1941 & 1942. Many who participated in the implementation of the euthanasia program were members of the SS; the program served as a training ground for SS members who manned these camps. These veterans of the T-4 program would later bring their experience to the death camps.

The mass murder of the European Jewry & other persecuted groups was thus preceded by the ‘euthanasia’ program, which had all the elements needed for the later genocides in Nazi death camps: an express decision to kill, specially trained personnel, equipment for the deadly gas, & the use of the euphemistic terms like ‘euthanasia’ which psychologically distance the killers from their victims & hid the criminal character of the killings from the public

Poland & The Turn to Genocide - A new racial order

On the eve of the invasion of Poland, Hitler made a speech to his generals in which he said, ‘Genghis Khan had millions of women and men killed by his own will & with a gay heart. History sees in him only a great state builder... I have sent to the 'Death's Head Units,' with the order to kill without mercy men, women & children of the Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the 'lebensraum' that we need. Who, after all, talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians? (Helen Fein, Accounting for Genocide, The Free Press, 1979:4).

Division of Poland

*On September 27, 1939, the Polish capital of Warsaw fell and the conquest of Poland was completed within four weeks. Sept. 29 Nazis & Soviets divide up Poland - for the 4th time in its history Poland was divided between the Soviet Union & Germany. Under German occupation, Poland was divided into 10 administrative districts. The western and northern districts (Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony, Upper and Lower Silesia and Danzig) were annexed to the Greater German Reich, and the eastern districts with its 1.5 million Jews, were ceded to the Soviet Union, as agreed in the Molotov-Ribbenstrop Pact. The largest district, the central section including the cities of Lublin Krakow & the Polish capital Warsaw, was set aside to become a German colony -a protectorate, known as the ‘General Government,’ under control of Nazi governor, Hans Frank; 1.3 million Jews lived there.

The General Government of occupied Poland headed by Governor Hans Frank, seemed to offer the greatest potential for lebensraum. First, however, there was the problem of clearing the area of Polish nationals and the million Jews who lived in the area. So, the first task in the transformation of Poland into German "living space" was to remove Poles and Jews from the Polish countryside.

Persecution, deportation & mass murder of Poles - the Slavs as inferior

“Before the tide of the war was turned in 1942, it appeared that the Nazis would achieve their dream of creating a ‘New Order’ in a vanquished Europe. This ‘New Order’ was perceived not only in terms of territorial conquests but of the introduction into all Nazi-dominated lands of a social, political & philosophical system that in large measure stemmed from Nazi racial ideology. This would guide their moral conduct during the war ... From the moment the Nazis conquered Poland, the Polish population fell victim to an inhuman policy of mass deportation & the wholesale confiscation of property.”5

“The invasion of Poland ... was quickly transformed into a genocidal struggle against the entire population. ... the Nazi objective of acquiring lebensraum, or living space, was combined with a racial ideology that viewed the Slavic peoples as inferior to the Aryan race. ... Poland ... conquered, a process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ occurred in which Poles were displaced from their homes, & ethnic Germans were resettled in their place.”6 Many were resettled to make room for the ‘superior’ ‘Aryans.’ German families moved in to the newly annexed land

Terror was the basis of Nazi policy in occupied Poland. Nazis began to destroy Polish culture, & enslave the Poles, whom they viewed as ‘inferior Slavs - ‘subhuman.’ A rigid separation was established between the German master race & the Poles, ‘subhumans,’ to be slaves. At 1st, Nazis focused on eliminating the Polish intellectual elite - the leaders. The A -B Aktion was the code name for the mass destruction of the Polish intellectual elite. Over 10,000 Polish Catholic priests, teachers, university professors, artists, writers, politicians, technicians & political leaders were murdered in the 1st months of occupation. 1000s sent to concentration camps. *

About 6 million Poles were sent to Germany as slave-workers. Thousands of Poles and Polish Jews were imprisoned in concentration camps (The model concentration camp was Dachau, which was established March 20, 1933 in an abandoned munitions factory). About 50,000 ‘Aryan-looking’ Polish children were kidnapped from their parents, and taken to Germany to be adopted by German families. Many of theses children were later rejected as incapable of "Germanization" and send to special children's camps, where some died of starvation, lethal injection, and disease. ‘The Polish spiritual & intellectual leadership was decimated not only by the Nazi invader but also, during the period 1939-41, by the Russians in the eastern sector.

Above all, in an atmosphere of general barbarity & isolation, the war in the east created the physical & emotional conditions which would make possible the radicalization of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish campaign.”7


Complete the sentences

1. The _______________ describes the period of military inactivity, Sept. ‘39-Apr. ‘40

2. After several months of military inactivity, following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, Hitler used ‘lightening war’ ________________, to conquer 6 countries: on April 1940: Denmark, Norway, on May 1940: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, & finally ______

3. By July 1940 the Nazis ruled nearly all of Europe except ________.
4. Germany occupied 3/5 of France but permitted Marshal _____________ to establish a government in the rest, with a capital at ___________

5. The Vichy government of 1940 was established in ___________
6. Head of the collaborationist government at Vichy was ___________________
7. Nickname for the French Resistance __________________
8. British survived German air assault against London - ‘_______________

Copyright Fall 1999, November 2003, January 2004 Edith Shaked

Sept. 1, 1939
German invasion of Poland WWII begins
Sept. 3rd, the British & the French declare war on Germany
Sept. 1939-April 1940, "Phony War" in Western Europe
Sept. 21: Heydrich issues directives to establish ghettos in German-occupied Poland.
Sept. 27: Warsaw surrenders to Nazis -within 3 weeks, Poland succumbed to H.'s Blitzkrieg.

Reinhard Heydrich becomes the leader of new Reich Main Security Office - RSHA

Sept 29, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets divide up Poland.
Sept. ‘39 Mental patients first shot to make room for soldiers throughout Greater Reich
Oct 1939 (back-dated to Sept 1) "Fuhrer Decree - medical killing became official policy
An estimated 275,000 people become victims of "euthanasia"
Oct 1939 Children's Specialty Institution (euthanasia center) at Gorden established

Nov. 8: Assassination attempt on Hitler fails
Oct. - Nazis begins euthanasia on sick and disabled in Germany
Oct. 12, Germany begins deportation of Austrian and Czech Jews to Poland
Oct 1939 T-4 Project for adult "euthanasia" established
Oct 15 First gassing of Polish mental patients at Posen
April 9, 1940 - Nazis invade Denmark and Norway.
May 10, 1940 - Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands;

Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.

May 26, 1940 - Evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk begins.
June 10, 1940 - Norway surrenders to the Nazis; Italy declares war on Britain and France.
June 16, 1940 - Marshal Pétain becomes French Prime Minister.
June 18, 1940 - Hitler & Mussolini meet in Munich; Soviets begin occupation of Baltic States
June 22, 1940 - France signs an armistice with the Nazis.
June 28, 1940 - Britain recognizes Gen. Charles de Gaulle as the Free French leader.
July 5, 1940 - French Vichy government breaks off relations with Britain.
July 10, 1940 - Battle of Britain begins.
Sept 7, 1940 - German Blitz against England begins.
Sept 27, 1940 - Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.
Oct 28, 1940 - Italy invades Greece.
Nov 5, 1940 - Roosevelt re-elected as U.S. president.
Nov 20, 1940 - Hungary joins the Axis Powers.
Nov 23, 1940 - Romania joins the Axis Powers.
Dec 9/10 - British begin a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.
Jan 22, 1941 - Tobruk in North Africa falls to the British and Australians.
Feb 12, 1941 - German General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli, North Africa.
April 6, 1941 - Nazis invade Greece and Yugoslavia.
April 17, 1941 - Yugoslavia surrenders to the Nazis.
April 27, 1941 - Greece surrenders to the Nazis.
May 27, 1941 - Sinking of the Bismarck by the British Navy.
June 22, 1941 - Germany attacks Soviet Union as Operation Barbarossa begins.

*The Holocaust & WEBliography:

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

1 Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, 1985, p. 18

2 Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, p. 116

3 Jack Fischel, The Holocaust, 1998, p. 31

4 ibid, p. 32

5 Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, p. 150

6 Jack Fischel, The Holocaust, 1998, p. 32

7 Landau, p. 150