Learning About the Holocaust: A Student's Guide

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Learning About the Holocaust: A Student's Guide

Editorial Board Editor in Chief Ronald M. Smelser University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah Advisory Board Jeff Boyd West

2,421 537 23MB

Pages 827 Page size 602 x 791 pts Year 2009

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Editorial Board Editor in Chief Ronald M. Smelser University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah

Advisory Board Jeff Boyd West Essex Regional High School North Caldwell, New Jersey Paul Fleming Hume-Fogg Magnet High School Nashville, Tennessee Saul David Fript Latin School of Chicago Chicago, Illinois Carl Schulkin Pembroke Hill School Kansas City, Missouri

Editorial and Production Staff Pamela Willwerth Aue Project Editor Lisa Clyde Nielsen Research and Editorial Consultant Christine Slovey, Lawrence W. Baker Contributing Project Editors Nancy K. Humphreys Indexer Deanna Raso Photo Researcher Evi Seoud Assistant Manager, Composition Purchasing and Prepress Stacy Melson Buyer Randy A. Bassett Image Database Supervisor Robert Duncan Senior Imaging Specialist Kenn Zorn Product Design Manager Tracey Rowens Senior Art Director

Macmillan Reference USA Elly Dickason, Publisher Jill Lectka, Associate Publisher

Learning About the Holocaust Copyright (c) 2001 by Macmillan Reference USA All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Macmillan Reference USA 1633 Broadway New York, NY 10019

Gale Group 27500 Drake Road Farmington Hills, MI 48331

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00–062517 Printed in the United States of America Printing Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Learning About the Holocaust: a student’s guide / Ronald M. Smelser, editor in chief. p. cm. Includeds bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN: 0-02-865536-2 (set) – ISBN 0-02-865537-0 (v. 1) – ISBN 0-02-865538-9 (v. 2) – ISBN 0-02-865539-7 (v. 3) – ISBN 0-02-865540-0 (v. 4) 1. Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945)–Study and teaching (Secondary) I. Smelser, Ronald M., 1942D804.33 .L4 2000 940.53’18—dc21


Contents VOLUME 1 List of Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii Recent Publications and Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvii

A Aid to Jews by Poles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Aktion (Operation) 1005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Aktion (Operation) Reinhard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Aliya Bet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 American Friends Service Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 American Jewish Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 American Jewry and the Holocaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 American Press and the Holocaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Anielewicz, Mordecai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Anti-Jewish Legislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Antisemitism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Arrow Cross Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Aryanization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Atlas, Yeheskel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Auerswald, Heinz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Auschwitz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Austria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

B Babi Yar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Bach-Zelewski, Erich von dem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Badge, Jewish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Barbie Trial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Baum Gruppe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Belgium. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Belorussia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Bel⁄z˙ec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Benoît, Marie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Bergen-Belsen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Best, Werner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87



Bial⁄ystok . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Biebow, Hans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Bielski, Tuvia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Blobel, Paul. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Blum, Abraham. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Bogaard, Johannes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Bohemia and Moravia, Protectorate of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Bormann, Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Bothmann, Hans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Boycott, Anti-Jewish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Buchenwald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 Budapest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Budzyn´ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

C Central Office for Jewish Emigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Chel⁄mno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Choms, Wl⁄adysl⁄awa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Christian Churches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Clauberg, Carl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Cohn, Marianne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Concentration Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Crimes Against Humanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 Croatia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Czerniaków, Adam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

D Dachau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Dannecker, Theodor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Darquier de Pellepoix, Louis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Death Marches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Deffaugt, Jean. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Denazification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Denmark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Deportations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 Dirlewanger, Oskar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Displaced Persons, Jewish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Dora-Mittelbau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 Drancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 Dvinsk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174

E Economic-Administrative Main Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 Edelstein, Jacob . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Eichmann, Adolf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Eicke, Theodor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181 Elkes, Elchanan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 Endre, László . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Erntefest (“Harvest Festival”) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184 Euthanasia Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 Evian Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 Extermination Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193



Contents VOLUME 2 Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x i i i

F Fascism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Feiner, Leon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Fighting Organization of Pioneer Jewish Youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 “Final Solution” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Forced Labor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Frank, Anne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Frank, Hans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 French Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Freudiger, Fülöp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

G Gas Chambers/Vans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Generalgouvernement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Generalplan Ost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Genocide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Gens, Jacob. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Gestapo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Getter, Matylda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Glazman, Josef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Globocnik, Odilo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Goebbels, Joseph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Great Britain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Grodno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Grosman, Haika . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Gross-Rosen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Grüninger, Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Gurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Gypsies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

H Heydrich, Reinhard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Himmler, Heinrich. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Hirsch, Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Hitler, Adolf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Hitler Youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Holocaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Holocaust, Denial of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Homosexuality in the Third Reich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 Horthy, Miklós . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Höss, Rudolf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Hungarian Labor Service System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Hungary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

I I. G. Farben . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Italy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118



J Jäger, Karl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Janówska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Jeckeln, Friedrich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 Jewish Brigade Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 Jewish Fighting Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Jewish Ghetto Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 Jewish Law (Statut des Juifs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Joint Distribution Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 Judenrat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139

K Kaltenbrunner, Ernst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Kamenets-Podolski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Kaplan, Josef. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 Kapo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Kasztner, Rezso˝ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Kharkov . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Kherson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 Kielce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Kistarcsa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Koch, Karl Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Kolbe, Maximilian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 Kommissarbefehl (Commissar Order). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Koppe, Wilhelm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Korczak, Janusz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Korherr, Richard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Kovno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Kowalski, Wl⁄adysl⁄aw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Kraków . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Kramer, Josef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Krüger, Friedrich Wilhelm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Krumey, Hermann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177

Contents VOLUME 3 Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

L Latvia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Laval, Pierre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Levi, Primo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Liebehenschel, Arthur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Liebeskind, Aharon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Literature on the Holocaust. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Lithuania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 L ⁄ ódz´ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19



L ⁄ ódz´ Ghetto, Chronicles of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Lohse, Hinrich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Lösener, Bernard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Lublin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Lutsk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Lutz, Carl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Lvov . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

M Madagascar Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Majdanek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Mauthausen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Mayer, Saly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Medical Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Mein Kampf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Mengele, Josef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Minsk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Mischlinge (Part Jews) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Mogilev-Podolski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Morgenthau, Henry, Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Müller, Heinrich. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Muselmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Museums and Memorial Institutes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Mushkin, Eliyahu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

N Natzweiler-Struthof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Nazi Party. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Nebe, Arthur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Netherlands, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Neuengamme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Nisko and Lublin Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Novak, Franz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Nuremberg Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

O Oberg, Carl Albrecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Office of Special Investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Ohlendorf, Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Operational Squads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Oradour-sur-Glane. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Organisation Schmelt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

P Paris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Partisans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Pechersky, Aleksandr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Pl⁄aszów . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Plotnicka, Frumka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 Pohl, Oswald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Poland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Ponary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Prisoners of War. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 Protocols of the Elders of Zion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 Prützmann, Hans-Adolf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148



R Racism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Rasch, Emil Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Rauff, Walther . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Ravensbrück . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Rayman, Marcel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 Refugees, 1933-1945 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Reichenau, Walter von . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 Reich Security Main Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Rescue Committee of United States Orthodox Rabbis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 Rescue of Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Resistance, Jewish. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 Riegner Cable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Riga. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 “Righteous among the Nations” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Ringelblum, Emanuel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Robota, Roza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 Rosenberg, Alfred. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Rovno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184 Rumbula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189

Contents VOLUME 4 Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

S Sachsenhausen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Schindler, Oskar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 SD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Sendler, Irena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Seyss-Inquart, Arthur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Simferopol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Skarz˙ysko-Kamienna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Slovakia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Sobibór . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Sousa Mendes, Aristides de . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Soviet Union. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Special Commando . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Sporrenberg, Jacob. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Sprachregelung. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 SS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 SS Death’s-Head Units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Stahlecker, Franz Walter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Stangl, Franz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Starachowice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 St. Louis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Streicher, Julius. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Stroop, Jürgen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Stuckart, Wilhelm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Stutthof. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42



Sugihara, Sempo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Survivors, Psychology of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Szenes, Hannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

T Tarnów . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Tenenbaum, Mordechai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Ternopol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Theresienstadt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Transfer Point (Umschlagplatz) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Trawniki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Treblinka. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Trials of the War Criminals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

U Ukraine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Ukrainian Military Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 United Partisan Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 United States Army and Survivors in Germany and Austria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 United States Department of State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 United States of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

V Vallat, Xavier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Vienna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Vilna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Vitebsk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Volksdeutsche . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106

W Wallenberg, Raoul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Wannsee Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 War Refugee Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Warsaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Warsaw Polish Uprising. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 Westerbork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Wiesel, Elie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Wiesenthal, Simon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 Wirth, Christian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 Wise, Stephen Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 Wisliceny, Dieter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Wolff, Karl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 World Jewish Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143

Y Yelin, Haim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Youth Movements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

Z Zamos´ c´ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Ziman, Henrik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Zuckerman, Yitzhak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Zyklon B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155



Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Primary Source Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Nazi Party Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Official Laws, Orders, and Regulations of the Third Reich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 Secret Nazi Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 Nazi Correspondence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 Jewish Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Life in the Ghettos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Testimony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Resources for Further Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Photo Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Text Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215


List of Contributors The text of Learning about the Holocaust is based on the Macmillan Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, which was published in 1990. We have updated the material where necessary and added new entries, resource lists, and feature material. Here we wish to acknowledge the authors of the original and new material: Uwe Adam Jacques Adler Mikhael Agursky Gabriel E. Alexander Yitzchak Alperowitz Mordechai Altshuler Jean Ancel Yitzhak Arad Shlomo Aronson Pamela Willwerth Aue Gerry Azzata Zvi Bacharach David Bankier Avraham Barkai Yehuda Bauer Moshe Bejski Sarah Bender Michael Berenbaum Randolph L. Braham Christopher R. Browning Yehoshua R. Büchler Josef Buszko Daniel Carpi Constance Clyde Shalom Cholawski Yehoyakim Cochavi Asher Cohen Nava Cohen John S. Conway

Abraham Cooper Leonard Dinnerstein Barbara Distel Krzysztof Dunin-Wasowicz Benyamin Eckstein Leo Shua Eitinger Andrew Ezergailis Sidra DeKoven Ezhahi Henry L. Feingold Jörg Friedrich Yoav Gelber Haim Genizi Israel Gutman Esther Hagar Esriel Hildesheimer Ariel Hurwitz Eberhard Jäckel Yeshayahu Jelinek Patricia Dale Jones Felicja Karay Menahem Kaufman Hillel Klein Bronia Klibanski Joke Kniesmeyer Lionel Kochan Alfred Konieczny Deborah Kops Ryszard Kotarba Shmuel Krakowski Otto Dov Kulka Leszek Kubicki Zbigniew Landau Hagit Lavsky Lucien Lazare Sinai Leichter Dov Levin Deborah E. Lipstadt



Franklin H. Littell Yaacov Lozowick Czesl⁄aw Luczak Czesl⁄aw Madajczyk Zygmunt Mankowski Michael R. Marrus Meir Michaelis Dan Michman Jozeph Michman Judith Millman Christine Miner Minderovic George L. Mosse Marian Mushkat Tikva S. Nathan Lisa Clyde Nielsen Akiva Nir Dalia Ofer Mordecai Paldiel Yael Peled (Margolin) Eli Pfefferkorn Falk Pingel Dina Porat Teresa Prekerowa Tsvi Raanan Joseph Rab Györy Ranki Shalom Robinson Jacqueline Rokhsar


Herbert Rosenkranz Livia Rothkirchen Robert Rozett Adalbert Rückerl Adam Rutkowski Chaim Schatzker Karl A. Schleunes Gerard J. Senick Gitta Sereny Elisheva Shaul Menachem Shelah Victoria Sherrow David Silberklang Shmuel Spector Zeev Sternhell Christian Streit Uriel Tal Judith Tydor-Baumel Michal Unger Jehuda L. Wallach David Weinberg Aharon Weiss Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm David S. Wyman Leni Yahil James E. Young Efraim Zuroff

Preface Learning about the Holocaust: A Student’s Guide offers an introduction to the people, places, and politics of one of the darkest moments in twentieth-century history. Nearly 300 entries in four volumes cover topics that include the countries most involved in and affected by the Holocaust; the primary concentration and extermination camps in which millions of Jews and others were incarcerated and murdered; and the major political, ethical and moral themes that arise from the study of these events. More than 100 of the articles collected here focus on people—victims, survivors, perpetrators, resc uers. Some are famous; others are little known. Together, they represent the people whose lives were dramatically altered by a dangerous confluence of political, sociological, psychological, and economic forces. The entries are arranged alphabetically. Blind entries also appear alphabetically throughout the book to direct readers to topics sought. Entry titles usually appear in English with foreign-language terms appearing as blind entries. Margin definitions are provided for some terms that may be unfamiliar to readers just beginning their study of the Holocaust. Highlighted quotes are provided to draw reader attention to specific concepts, facts, or details within the main text. Framed margin text provides short sidebar information to supplement or complement the main entry. Longer sidebar features, including personal testimony, poetry, and explanatory material, appear within the main margin, set apart by a different type color and style. These important elements of the text are provided to help readers discover the human lives and experiences behind the historical facts of the time period. Wherever possible, the stories are told by the people themselves—victims, survivors, perpetrators, rescuers. Each entry includes embedded cross-references—terms that appear in bold small caps—to alert readers to other articles in Learning about the Holocaust which may be relevant to their study. In some cases, additional cross-references appear at the end of the articles. When foreign-language names and terms appear in the text, English translations are provided in parentheses. Each entry concludes with suggestions for further study. These include books, audiovisual resources, and internet sites, each of which has been carefully selected by editors familiar with the resources students need to complete multimedia presentations and research assignments. Students will also find several features designed to enhance their research experience. A timeline appears in the front of each volume that places key events of the Holocaust within the context of world events before, during, and after the years known as the Holocaust. A glossary appears in the appendix section of volume 4



that provides quick reference to names, places, and other terms found throughout the entries. Students will also find a comprehensive list of resources suggested for further study in at the end of Volume 4. Finally, students will find examples of primary source documents from the Holocaust years, reproduced (in English translations) at the conclusion of Volume 4. These items represent a wide range of printed material that survived the war: Nazi reports that demonstrate an incredible propensity for keeping detailed records of horrific actions; diary entries written in Jewish ghettos that illuminate the courage of the persecuted; and excerpts from laws and other legal documents that exemplify the Nazis’ deliberate and unrelenting drive to “Aryanize” Europe. It is the hope of the editors and publishers that teachers and students will find Learning about the Holocaust: A Student’s Guide to be a balanced, accessible, valuable tool in their efforts to understand the lasting impact of the Holocaust.


Introduction The twentieth century has been arguably the most violent in human history in terms of loss of lives. Millions of human beings have perished in the context of world wars, civil wars, and revolutions. Emblematic of this destructive century has been the Holocaust: the mass murder of millions at the hands of the Nazi regime during World War Two. This genocide would be shocking enough in any age, but it transpired in a modern era in a Western world, which viewed itself as civilized and evolved beyond such barbarity. Hence the often-raised question: how could it have happened? As the question suggests, many see the Nazi Holocaust as a throwback to barbarism in an otherwise civilized world, one in which we feel comfortable; one which is familiar. In this view, the Nazis were crazed villains venting their hatreds on helpless victims, men, women and children. The Nazis were, in a sense, latter day Huns. Virtually all scholars of the Holocaust, however, disagree. The opposite is true. The Holocaust was not an emotional pogrom. It was systematic, clinical, assembly line murder. The Nazis invented that most modern of sciences: thanatology—the science of producing death. The Holocaust is thus symptomatic of modern society itself and not of some earlier “uncivilized” world. Without the modern world and its essential characteristics the Holocaust is unthinkable. What are those characteristics? They include: the expanded powers of governments to undertake vast projects in the area of public policy; the rise of bureaucracy which is impersonal and routinized; and the emergence of the twin gods of science and technology, which have increasingly become divorced from moral and ethnical considerations. These were the prerequisites for the Holocaust. The major target of the Nazis—although by no means the only one—was the Jews. The ideological basis for the Nazis’ hatred for the Jews was the modern doctrine of antisemitism. Certainly, an important foundation for modern antisemitism was the centuries of Christianity, which in its popular hostility to the Jews developed a series of stereotypes and accusations which were deeply etched in the mass Western mind: the Jew as unbeliever, as moneylender, as well-poisoner, as ritual murderer, as Christ killer. The Nazis did not have to develop any stereotypes of their own. Western society had already done so for them. But for all that, the attitude of Western Christendom toward the Jews had always been profoundly ambivalent. The Jew might be hated, but he was also necessary. Part of the Christian mission was to need the Jew, who would hopefully one day convert and demonstrate



that Christ’s own people accepted him as messiah—the ultimate act of legitimization. So, Christian moral strictures prevented an earlier annihilation of the Jew, despite deeply rooted antipathies. This ended in the modern world. In a secular age the legitimizing factor was no longer necessary. The Jew could disappear with impunity. Moreover, modern bureaucracies were increasingly impersonal and logical anyway; moral concerns were viewed as subjective and irrelevant. What was important were routine tasks carried out conscientiously with strict regard to efficiency and observation of rules of conduct. “Scientific management” became the watchword. And so it was that the Nazi mass murderer, far from being a crude throwback to barbaric times, a sadistic beast in black uniform, was, in reality, the buttoned-down collar organization man. The Nazi SS men were not a bunch of thugs; they were the university-educated elite of the country: businessmen, lawyers, doctors, academicians, engineers. The leaders of three of the four Einsatzgruppen (operational squads), which shot and killed a million people, held PhDs! Nor were they all sadists. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, intentionally weeded out those who approached the task of mass murder with sadistic or pathological tendencies. And those who stole gold teeth from their victims for personal gain were ruthlessly punished. A task of such historic dimensions had to be carried out cleanly and above reproach. It was a task in which nearly every agency in the Nazi party, the German government, and the German economy was involved. It is profoundly disturbing to comprehend the extent to which executives in all three areas were intertwined in the system of terror. They were virtual carbon copies of each other in the German corporate economy, the slave labor camps, and the death camps. These men graduated from the same schools; they went on in-service seminars together; they collaborated in the same boardrooms and ran their enterprises by the same rules. I. G. Farben, the giant chemical combine, invested over a billion dollars in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps alone and hired 170 contractors to build a manufacturing plant to produce synthetic rubber at Auschwitz-Monowitz. It did so with the same logical reasoning that an executive today might use to consider transferring operations from Stuttgart to Singapore or from Philadelphia to Taiwan. Many other quite respectable firms were involved in the same process, as indicated by the recent compensatory agreement between German corporations and surviving slave laborers. During all this, scarcely a soul gave a second thought to the ethical implications of either slave labor or mass murder, or indeed, to any of the ends of the bureaucratic process in which they were involved. All that was necessary was that the task had been authorized; that the process had become routine; the victims dehumanized. All very modern. One observer has called this combination a “moral sleeping pill.” This last factor—dehumanization—is of particular importance, because who can imagine incarcerating and murdering a young girl—Anne Frank, for example— unless she had been made into something other than a delicate, precious human being with the promise of life before her. The Western world had long since created a Jewish “type, a “conceptual Jew.” This meant a set of characteristics which, lumped together, was called “Jewishness.” Such a powerful hold did this “conceptual Jew” have on the popular imagination, that antisemitism was possible in areas which had no Jews, among people who had never seen a Jew, but had a clear idea of what “Jewishness” was supposed to be. Thus, in their own minds, the Nazis, and their collaborators in other countries, were not exterminating sixteen-year-old Anne Frank, but world “Jewishness.” The terrifying lesson of the Holocaust, which we must ponder, is that, in the twenty-first century, powerful governments may separate a group of people from



mainstream society as a matter of public policy, remove them from the circle of common humanity, deem them superfluous or dangerous, deprive them of their rights and citizenship, then their property, then their freedom and their dignity and, finally, their very lives, without setting off any moral alarm clocks. This would be possible, because these entirely modern methods separate, both psychologically and physically, perpetrator from victim. Nor is there any evidence that the perpetrators of such an enterprise, even if the enterprise goes awry, will ever pay much of a price for their actions. Executive and managerial skills are at such a premium in modern society that countless perpetrators were able to go on with business as usual. Only a small minority of Nazi war criminals had to face justice. Thousands were able to continue successful careers, then retire on full pensions with the respect of associates and neighbors. Could it happen again? It certainly could, because circumstances have not changed that much. Modern governments with huge bureaucracies still exist; communication and transportation technologies have only improved (remember the significance of trains in the Holocaust); chemical technology has proceeded apace (Zyklon B gas was vital in the killing centers); secular ideologies functioning as surrogate religions have survived to lend legitimacy to the killing. Future genocides will probably not involve Nazis and Jews. There are potential victims much closer than that in the Western world: the elderly, AIDS victims, ghettoized minorities. As you read and ponder the entries in these volumes, it would be useful to remember that the Holocaust took place long ago in far away places involving people who, for the most part, are no longer with us. Its lessons, though, are with us always. The material in these volumes cannot answer all the questions involved in examining a tragedy of this magnitude, of which it has been said that in the face of the Holocaust we can only stand silent and paralyzed. But we can offer the raw materials—factual entries, a sample of primary sources and photographs—which will enable the student to embark on the long journey of confronting man’s inhumanity to man.

METHODOLOGY AND CRITERIA These volumes have their origin in part in an Encyclopedia of the Holocaust published more than a decade ago. In revising that publication for a public school audience, it has been necessary to make substantial cuts in the original entries, involving both paring and elimination, in order that other features, including sidebars, might be added. It has been one of my tasks as editor in chief to make these hard decisions. In so doing, I have been mindful of the necessity of offering as comprehensive and balanced a coverage of the Holocaust as the reduced number of entries permits. Here I have been guided in part by that old journalistic maxim of providing the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and “why” of the matter. The criteria which I have chosen and about which the board of advisors largely agrees reflect these principles and I have tried to maintain balance and broad coverage within and among these criteria. First, since the general public—and especially young people— gain their initial access to history through biography, I have tried to preserve as much of this component as I could. Students will be able to familiarize themselves with a wide range of actors in this tragedy, including political leaders, Nazi managers of destruction, victims, Jewish and other resistance fighters, collaborators, and “righteous gentiles.” Thus, a number of names have been preserved which will not immediately ring any bells, but which are important to include as representative of these various groups. On the other hand, I have eliminated some names which are household words and this may cause some perplexity. Among the entries, for example, the reader will not find Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, DeGaulle, or Eisenhower, even though in many respects these men tower over this time period. My reasoning is, first of all, that this



is not an encyclopedia of World War Two or of the Twentieth Century, but rather an encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Moreover, these leaders often appear within the limited role they played with respect to the Holocaust in other entries. Given their fame, there are also plenty of other reference works in which students can look up these historic personages. Secondly, I have tried to preserve entries on topics that are important as concepts, principles, and symbols. One of the tasks teachers undertake is getting students to grapple with moral, ethical, and legal problems which arise out of the Holocaust, including justice, injustice, discrimination, racism and racial violence, hate crime, and stereotyping. Thus, I have kept conceptual entries covering topics such as Antisemitism, Fascism, Christian Churches, Crimes Against Humanity, Forced Labor, Displaced Persons, and the Jewish Badge. Thirdly, I have carefully selected geographic sites of the Holocaust, also for balance and comprehensive coverage. My rule of thumb here has been: when a particular place—be it town, province, or country—is central to the Holocaust, I have left it in. When any of these are peripheral to the Holocaust, I have excluded them. These choices have been very difficult. Some very familiar places are not included (Bulgaria, Romania); some less familiar places are included (Bohemia-Moravia, Croatia) because of their centrality to the process. The same holds for cities (Bucharest and Brussels are out, Budapest and Berlin are in) and smaller places (Corfu is out, Budzyn´ is in). Overlapping this pattern of priorities is another one. That is, I see several countries as being of special importance both in being central to the Holocaust and in the emblematic role that they play in its complexity. These include France, Croatia, Poland, and the German-occupied parts of the Soviet Union and Hungary. In these cases I have not only preserved the main entry, but also other entries which relate to these countries. In this fashion, I have tried to achieve geographic breadth but also some depth. With respect to the main loci of the killing process in the Holocaust, I have tried to preserve the names of different kinds of camps, which give us a sense of their variety. Thus, I have included representative examples of killing centers, concentration/death camps, labor camps, assembly camps, and holding centers. Several camps were not central to the genocide but are household words and important symbols. For example, I have kept Dachau. Finally, because the vast majority of students who will be reading the encyclopedia are Americans, I have tried to preserve as many entries as possible which bear on this country’s reaction to the Holocaust, even though the “action,” as it were, takes place overwhelmingly in Europe. In some cases, though, I have bundled several entries into one and called for their abbreviation; American Jewish Organizations is such an entry. —Ronald M. Smelser Salt Lake City, Utah


Recent Publications and Issues Since the publication of the original encyclopedia, a great deal has been published on the Holocaust as public interest in this tragedy has grown over the last decade. It would be impossible—and indeed inadvisable—to try to list all these more recent publications as part of this encyclopedia. However, it is important for the student who wants to read more widely and deeply, or who is undertaking a research project, to be aware at least of the most important works of recent years as well as of the major problems and issues which have caused debate among scholars of the Holocaust during that time. These works include translations of some important studies done abroad. Since new works are being published at a prodigious rate, what follows should be viewed as a snapshot in time. Some important general studies of the Holocaust include: Götz Aly, “Final Solution”: Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews (London, Arnold, 1999); David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1992); Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck (eds.), The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed and the Reexamined (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1998); Wolfgang Benz, The Holocaust (New York, Columbia University Press, 1999); Christopher Browning, The Path to Genocide: Essays on the Launching of the Final Solution (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992); Phillippe Burin, Hitler and the Jews: the Genesis of the Holocaust (London, 1994); David Cesarani (ed.), The Final Solution: Origins and Implementations (London, Routledge, 1994); John Dippel, Bound upon a Wheel of Fire: Why so many German Jews made the Tragic Decision to Remain in Nazi Germany (New York, Basic Books, 1996); Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939 (New York, Harper Collins, 1997); Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders (Harper Perennial Library, 1993); Marian Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998); John Roth, The Holocaust Chronicles: A History in Word and Pictures (Publications International, 2000); John Weiss, Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany (Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 1996). Three works which deal with the ideological background of the Holocaust are: Klaus Fischer, The History of an Obsession: German Judeophobia and the Holocaust (New York, Continuum, 1998); Milton Shain, Antisemitism (London, Bowerean, 1998); Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (New York, Schocken, 1991).



At the heart of the Holocaust lie the perpetrators, who, with a mixture of motives, unleashed the murderous genocidal policies of the Nazi regime. The prime perpetrator, of course, was Adolf Hitler. Although an enormous amount has been published on the dictator, several publications of recent years have added new dimensions to our understanding. Ian Kershaw’s two volume biography of Hitler is likely to become the definitive one: Hitler 1889–1936: Hybris (New York, Norton, 1998) and Hitler 1937–1945: Nemesis (New York, Norton, 2000). Hitler’s allimportant formative years are scrutinized in Brigitte Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna: A Dictator’s Apprenticeship (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998). Several authors who attempt to view Hitler from a number of intellectual and moral vantage points are: John Lukacs, The Hitler of History (New York, Alfred Knopf, 1997) and Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler (New York, Random House, 1998). Hitler’s main henchmen have not been neglected in recent publications. Heinrich Himmler’s role in the Holocaust is examined by Richard Breitman in The Architect of Genocide (New York, Knopf, 1991). The most recent biography of Hitler’s Propaganda Minister is by Ralf Georg Reuth, Goebbels (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1993). Hitler’s armaments minister is examined in Dan van der Vat, The Good Nazi: The Life and Times of Albert Speer (New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1997). A collection of biographical sketches of 23 top Nazis can be found in Ronald Smelser and Rainer Zitelmann (eds.), The Nazi Elite (London, Macmillan, 1993). No overview of the perpetrators would be complete without the organizations in which Hitler’s agents functioned. The Holocaust, after all, was bureaucratic death. A number of important works on perpetrator organizations have appeared in recent years. George Browder has written two important studies on the development of the Nazi police system: Foundations of the Nazi Police State (Lexington, University of Kentucky Press, 1990) and Hitler’s Enforcers (New York, Oxford University Press, 1996). Two other studies focus in particularon the Gestapo, the muchfeared secret police: Robert Gallately, The Gestapo and German Society (Oxford, Clarendon, 1990) and Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans (New York, Basic Books, 1999). Valdis Lumans in Himmler’s Auxiliaries (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press) examines the SS organization which tried to infiltrate, organize and resettle millions of ethnic Germans scattered over eastern Europe. Needless to say, the perpetrators have been less than forthcoming about their role. Exceptions are to be found in Rudolf Höss, Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz (Buffalo, Prometheus Books, 1992) and Ernst Klee, Willi Dreesen and Volker Riess (eds.), “The Good Old Days”: The Holocaust as seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders (New York, The Free Press, 1991); a translation of many German documents and eyewitness accounts can be found in Danata Czech and Walter Laqueur (eds.), The Auschwitz Chronicles 1939–1945 (New York, Henry Holt, 1997). Classic studies of the perpetrators include Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York, Harper Collins, 1992) and Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000). A number of young German scholars, like Christoph Dieckmann, Christian Gerlach, Karin Orth, Dieter Pohl, Thomas Sandkuehler and Gudrun Schwarz have made effective use of the wealth of documentation coming out of the former Soviet Union to produce first rate case studies of the Holocaust in German occupied territories in the East. Most of these have not yet been translated, but a sampling is available in Ulrich Herbert, National Socialist



Extermination Policies: Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies (New York, Basic Books, 1997). These works are a reminder that the Holocaust took place against the background of one of the most barbarous wars in history—that between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union—and that it was not just Nazi party officials who were involved in carrying out the Holocaust, but the German military as well. Important in bringing this story to light are the works of Omer Bartov, which include Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992); Murder in Our Midst: the Holocaust, Industrial Killing and Representation (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996); and The German Army and Genocide: Crimes Against War Prisoners, Jews and Other Civilians in the East (New York, New Press, 1999). Also important in this regard is Lucjan Dobroszycki and Jeffrey S. Gurock (eds.), The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (New York, M.E. Sharpe, 1993). The primary site both for exploitation of slave labor and for mass murder was the concentration camp, which came in a wide variety of forms, including killing centers, death camps, concentration camps, labor camps, and internment camps. Recent works which illuminate the sites of destruction include: Yitzak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1999); Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present (New York, Norton, 1996); Israel Gutman, Michael Berenbaum, Raul Hilberg (eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp (Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1998 reprint); David Hackett (ed.), The Buchenwald Report (Boulder, Westview, 1995); Wolfgang Sofsky, The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1993); Tzvetan Todorov, Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camp (New York, Henry Holt, 1996); and Norbert Troller, Theresienstadt: Hitler’s Gift to the Jews (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1991). On the theme of slave and forced labor, see Ulrich Herbert, Hitler’s Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labor in Germany under the Third Reich (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997). While the vast majority of the victims of the Holocaust were Europe’s Jews, recent work has reminded us that the Nazis’ racism was imbedded in a vast biomedical vision of cleansing destruction which involved other groups as well, especially the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) and the mentally ill and handicapped. General works on the bio-medical vision and its implementation by the Nazi regime include: Götz Aly, Peter Chroust and Christian Pross (eds.), Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: ‘Euthanasia’ in Germany 1900–1945 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994); Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann (eds.), The Racial State: Germany, 1933–1945 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991); James M. Glass, “Life Unworthy of Life”: Racial Phobia and Mass Murder in Hitler’s Germany (New York, Basic Books, 1997). Victimization studies include Henry Friedlander’s classic study of the Nazi war on the handicapped The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill, North Carolina University Press, 1995). The murder of the “gypsies” is chronicled in Radu Ioamid, The Holocaust in Rumania: the Destruction of Jews and Gypsies under the Antonescu Regime, 1940–1944 (Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 2000); Guenther Lewy, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000); Sybil Milton, “The Gypsies and the Holocaust” in The History Teacher Vol. 24, #4 (May 1991); Erika Thurner et al (eds.), National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria (Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 1998). On Nazi persecution of homosexuals see Gad Beck et al. (eds.), An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew



in Nazi Berlin (Living Out) (New York, Henry Holt, 1999); Richard Plant, The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals (New York, Henry Holt, 1988). Recently scholars have also pointed out the qualitative differences in male and female experiences during the Holocaust. Several accounts which focus on women’s experience are: Brana Gurewitsch (ed.), Mothers, Sisters, Resisters: Oral Histories of Women Who Survived the Holocaust (Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 1998); Dalia Ofer and Lenore J. Weitzman (eds.), Women in the Holocaust (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998); Roger Ritvo and Diane Plotkin (eds.), Sisters in Sorrow: Voices of Care in the Holocaust (College Station, Texas A&M Press, 1998) and Carol Rittner and John Roth (eds.), Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust (New York, Paragon House, 1993). An important question in connection with the Holocaust remains that of resistance and collaboration. With the Nazis holding a virtual monopoly of force in occupied Europe, resistance was extremely difficult and often virtually impossible. One reason for this difficulty lay in the fact that very often in occupied countries, particularly until it became clear that the Germans were going to lose the war, the vast bulk of the population chose the path of accommodation, and occasionally, active collaboration with the Germans. Recent treatments of resistance, especially where it was the most difficult—among Jews in the East—include: Israel Gutman, Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1994); Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen, Surviving the Holocaust with the Russian Jewish Partisans (London, Valantine Mitchell, 1998); Dan Kurzman, The Bravest Battle: The Twenty Eight days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (DaCapo Press, 1993); Hermann Langbehn, Against All Hope: Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps 1938–1945 (New York, Paragon House, 1994); Ruby Rohrlich (ed.), Resisting the Holocaust (Oxford, Berg, 1998); Nahama Tec, Defiance: the Bielski Partisans: The Story of the Largest Armed Resistance by Jews during World War Two (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993). On the theme of collaboration see: Martin Dean, Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941–1944 (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Richard Golsan, Memory, the Holocaust and French Justice: the Bousquet and Touvier Affairs (Hanover, University Press of New England, 1996); Isaac Levendel, Not the Germans Alone: A Son’s Search for the Truth of Vichy (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1999). One of the very few bright lights in the Holocaust is the story of those who at great risk chose to save Jews. Their story—both on an individual as well as national level is told in: Gay Block et al. (eds.), Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust (New York, TV Books, 1998); Michael Bar–Zohar, Beyond Hitler’s Grasp: the Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews (Adams Media Corporation, 2000); Eva Fogelman, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust (New York, Anchor, 1994). One of the great contemporary issues is that of compensation: for lost life insurance policies and bank deposits of Holocaust victims; the attempts to rescue and restore to the families of original owners art which was looted by the Nazis during the war; and financial compensation to former slave laborers, whom the Nazis exploited in their war economy. Efforts in all three areas have taken the form of high profile international law suits and negotiations among governments and large corporations. There has been a sense of urgency in light of the swift passing of the generation of victims. In the area of art treasures see Hector Feliciano, The Lost Museum: the Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art (New York, Basic Books, 1997); Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europe: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (New York, Vintage, 1995); and especially the two studies by Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich



(Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1996) and The Faustian Bargain: the Art World of Nazi Germany (San Francisco, Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 2000). For the background of the gold and money question see Tom Bower, Nazi Gold (New York, Harper Collins, 1997); Adam LeBor, Hitler’s Secret Bankers: The Myth of Swiss Neutrality during the Holocaust (Secaucus, NJ, Birch Lane Press, 1997); Jean Ziegler, The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead: How Swiss Bankers Helped Finance the Nazi War Machine (New York, Penguin, 1998). A sensitive and controversial issue to this day, especially for Americans, is whether more could have been done to prevent the deaths of so many victims at the hands of the Nazis. Part of the response hinges on what the Allies knew about what the Nazis were doing and when they knew it. In addition, there is the question of what was politically and technologically possible had the Allies attempted to intervene in the killing process. The classic case for the failure of the Allies to intervene was made by Richard Wyman in his The Abandonment of the Jews. America and the Holocaust 1941–1945 (New York, Pantheon, 1984); see also Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (London, Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1994); the counter case, that the Allies had done all that was feasible is represented in the recent study by William Rubenstein, The Myth of Rescue. Why the Democracies could not have Saved more Jews from the Nazism (New York, Routledge, 1997); the issue is explored by a number of scholars in Michael Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum (eds.), The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies have attempted it? (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2000.) On what the Allies knew about German activities see Richard Breitman, Official Secrets. What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew (New York, Hill and Wang, 1998). See also, Jean–Claude Favez, The Red Cross and the Holocaust (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000). Probably the most acrimonious debate among scholars in recent years concerning the Holocaust has centered around the work of Daniel Goldhagen. In his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York, Knopf, 1996), he asserted a collective guilt on the part of the German people for the death of the Jews, a guilt derived from a uniquely German kind of “eliminationist” antisemitism, deeply embedded in modern German culture, which caused ordinary Germans to take part with great enthusiasm in the task of mass murder of the Jews. His case study involved, interestingly enough, the same German police detachment which Christopher Browning had examined for his book Ordinary Men and about which he had derived totally different conclusions about motivation than did Goldhagen. Most scholars rejected Goldhagen’s conclusions as too simplistic, but the book resonated with a larger reading public. For a sober examination of the question see Robert Shandley (ed.), Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1998); also Norman G. Finkelstein and Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: the Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (New York, Owl Books, 1998). Among the most important sources for the student seeking insight into the Holocaust are diaries and memoirs, for they provide the unmediated voices of the victims both contemporaneously and retrospectively. Both have been appearing in ever increasing numbers in recent years and what follows is an important, but limited selection from their ranks. Among the diaries of paramount importance are Adam Czerniakow, The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow: Prelude to Doom, edited by Raul Hilberg (Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 1999); Chaim Kaplan, Scroll of Agony: the Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan, edited by Abraham Katsh (Bloomington, Indiana University Presss, 1999); Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: a Diary of the Nazi Years, vol. I 1933–1941 and vol. II 1941–1945 (New York, Random House, 1998,



2000); also The Diary of David Sierakowiak, edited by Alan Adelson (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996). The voluminous memoir and autobiographical literature includes; Alicia Appleman-Jurman, Alicia, My Story (New York, Bantam, 1990); L. Berk, Destined to Live: Memoirs of a Doctor with the Russian Partisans (Melbourne, Paragon, 1992); Sara Bernstein-Tuvel, The Seamstress (New York, Putnam, 1997); Helene Birenbaum, Hope is the Last to Die: A Coming of Age under Nazi Terror (Armonk, M.E. Sharpe, 1996); Livia Bitton-Jackson, I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust (New York, Scholastic, 1997); Genevieve DeGaulle-Antonioz, A Dawn of Hope: A Memoir of Ravensbruck (New York, Arnold, 1999); Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997); Magda Denes, Castles Burning (New York, Norton, 1997); Olga Drucker, Kindertransport (New York, Henry Holt, 1995); Lucille Eichengreen, From Ashes to Life: My Memories of the Holocaust (San Francisco, Mercury House, 1994); Ida Fink, A Scrap of Time and Other Stories (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1995); Josey Fisher (ed.), The Persistence of Youth (Greenwood Press, 1991); Helen Fremont, After Long Silence: A Memoir (New York, Dell, 1999); Jana Renee Friesova, Fortress of My Youth (Tasmania, Telador, 1996); Richard Glazer, Trap with a Green Fence: Survival in Treblinka (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1992); Gerda Weissmann Klein, All But My Life (New York, Hill and Wang, 1995); Etty Hellesium, An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork, 1941–1943 (New York, Henry Holt, 1996); Isabella Leitner, From Auschwitz to Freedom: Saving the Fragments (A Sequel) (New York, Anchor Books, 1994); Olga Lengyel, Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz (Chicago, Academy, 1995); Anita Lisker-Wallfish, Inherit the Truth: A Memoir of Survival and the Holocaust (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Kurt Grübler (ed.), Journey through the Night: Jakob Littner’s Holocaust Memoir (New York, Continuum, 2000); Gerty Spies, My Years in Theriesenstadt (Amherst, NY, Prometheus, 1997); Harold Werner, Fighting Back: A Memoir of Jewish Resistance in World War Two (New York, Columbia University Press, 1992); Elie Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs and And the Sea is Never Full: Memoirs 1969 (New York, Alfred Knopf, 1995 and 1999 respectively); Binjamin Wilkornivsk, Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood (New York, Schocken, 1997). And finally, one must also mention the art, particularly children’s art, which came out of the camps. See Hana Volovkova (ed.), I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942–1944 (New York, Schocken, 1994). It has not been lost on scholars that over the years the Holocaust has been used in many ways for political and pecuniary purposes. Two authors who have pointed this out most dramatically are Tim Cole, Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler; How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold (New York, Routledge, 1999) and Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (New York, Verso, 2000). Finally, Peter Novick, in The Holocaust in American Life (New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1999), has demonstrated the importance of the Holocaust both as a defining moral symbol in American discourse and as a tool in shaping the identity of modern American Jews. —Ronald M. Smelser Salt Lake City, Utah


Timeline: The Holocaust in the Context of World Events 1918 November 9: The Weimar Republic is established in Germany. November 11: The war that would come to be called World War I ends after four years. Germany is defeated. 1919 June 28: The Treaty of Versailles is signed. It establishes the League of Nations and punishes Germany for its aggression in World War I. September 16: Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers’ Party, precursor of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party. 1920 January 16: The League of Nations convenes for the first time. August 8: National Socialist German Workers’ Party (known as the Nazi party) is founded. 1921 Adolf Hitler takes control of the National Socialist party. 1922 October 27: Benito Mussolini is appointed the premier of Italy. 1923 November 11: Adolf Hitler is arrested for his attempt to overthrow the German government in Bavaria in the Beer Hall Putsch. 1924 April 1: Adolf Hitler is sentenced to five years in prison for the Beer Hall Putsch. While there, he writes Mein Kampf. December 20: Hitler is released from prison after only eight months. 1925 April 26: Paul von Hindenburg is elected president of Weimar Republic (Germany). November 11: Adolf Hitler’s personal guard, the SS (Schutzstaffel), is founded. 1926 September 8: Germany joins the League of Nations. 1929 January 6: Heinrich Himmler appointed Reichsführer-SS. October 24: “Black Tuesday”—the U.S. stock market crash on Wall Street. The Great Depression begins and spreads around the world. 1930 September 14: In Reichstag (Parliament) elections, the Nazi party emerges as a serious new force in German politics, earning 107 seats in the 577-member Reichstag. In the face of massive unemployment, antisemitism in Germany intensifies and spreads throughout Eastern Europe.



1932 April 10: Paul von Hindenburg is re-elected president of Germany, defeating challenger Adolf Hitler. July 31: In Reichstag elections, National Socialists (Nazis) become the largest party in Germany, taking 230 of 608 seats. November 8: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president of the United States. November 9: In Reichstag elections Nazis lose 2,000,000 votes and drop to 196 seats 1933 January 30: Adolf Hitler becomes the chancellor of Germany. February 28: After a fire in the Reichstag on February 27, the Nazis declare a state of emergency, suspending freedom of speech, restricting freedom of assembly, and ending freedom of the press. March 4: Franklin D. Roosevelt takes office for his first term as U.S. president. In his inaugural address, he says, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” March 23: Political prisoners arrive at Dachau. March 24: The Reichstag approves the Enabling Act, giving Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers. April 1: Nazis unleash a nationwide one-day boycott of Jewish businesses. April 7: Jews are expelled from the German civil service. April 11: Nazi definitions of “Aryan” and “non-Aryan” are adopted. April 26: The Gestapo is established. May 10: Nazis begin staging public book burnings, targeting works by political opponents and Jews. Eventually millions of books will be destroyed. July 14: The Nazi Party is named the only legal political party in Germany. July 20: An agreement (concordat) is signed between the Vatican and Nazi Germany. October 14: Germany leaves the League of Nations. 1934 January 26: Germany and Poland sign a ten-year pact of non-aggression. June 30–July 2: The Night of the Long Knives—also known as the Röhm Purge. Under Adolf Hitler’s orders, the SS purges the SA (Storm Troopers); many SA leaders are killed. July 20: The SS becomes an independent organization, with Heinrich Himmler as its chief. August 2: German president Paul von Hindenburg dies. August 3: Adolf Hitler becomes both president and chancellor. Soon all German officials and soldiers are required to swear allegiance to Hitler personally, not to the people or the country. At the September Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, Hitler proclaims his “Third Reich,” which he says will last for one thousand years. 1935 January 13: A plebiscite in the Saarland overwhelmingly favors returning to Germany. March 16: Hitler announces reintroduction of military conscription in violation of the Versailles treaty.



September 15: The Reichstag passes the first two “Nuremberg Laws,” the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which prohibit marriage and sexual intercourse between Germans and Jews and strip Jews of their remaining civil rights in Germany. These later serve as a model for the Nazis’ treatment of Gypsies. December 31: Jews are dismissed from the civil service in Germany. 1936 March 7: Germany sends troops into Rhineland, breaking the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. May 9: Italy defeats Ethiopia, which it invaded in October, 1935. July 18: A civil war erupts in Spain which will last for three years and foreshadows World War II. August 1: The Summer Olympic Games begin in Berlin. African American runner Jesse Owens wins four gold medals during the games, but Adolf Hitler refuses to recognize the spectacular achievement. October 25: The Rome-Berlin Axis Pact is signed, cementing an alliance between Adolf Hitler and Italian fascist leader Mussolini. 1937 March 14: In the face of increasing violence toward Jews in Europe, Pope Pius XI condemns racism and extreme nationalism in his encyclical “With Burning Concern.” July 16: Buchenwald concentration camp is opened. September 7: Hitler declares the end of the Treaty of Versailles. November 25: Germany and Japan sign a military and political pact. 1938 March 12–13: The Anschluss—Germany invades and annexes Austria. April 26: Jews are required to register their property and financial holdings. It is now illegal for Aryans to pretend to own businesses still run by Jews; the push for “Aryanization” of businesses and property increases. June 14: Jewish-owned businesses are forced to register with Nazi authorities. June 15: Fifteen hundred German Jews are put into concentration camps. July 6–13: Representatives of 32 countries meet at the Evian Conference in France to discuss the Jewish refugee and immigration problem. No solution emerges because virtually every country refuses to increase immigration quotas for Jews. July 25: Jewish physicians are limited to treatment of Jewish patients. August 17: Male Jews are required to add “Israel” to their names; female Jews must add “Sarah.” September 27: Jews may no longer work as lawyers. September 29: At the Munich Conference, the Allies appease Adolf Hitler, granting Sudetenland—part of Czechoslovakia—to Germany. October 15: Germany occupies Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. October 20–21: Jews are first deported to Poland from Vienna, Hamburg, and Prague.



November 9–10: The massive pogroms known as Kristallnacht explode across Germany and Austria. Synagogues are defaced and destroyed; Jewish homes and businesses are looted and vandalized. November 15: Jewish children may no longer attend German schools. December 3: Aryanization of Jewish businesses is mandated by law and carried out by force and intimidation. 1939 March 15–16: Germany invades Czechoslovakia. April 22: Italy and Germany cement their alliance by signing the Pact of Steel. May 15: The Ravensbrück concentration camp for women is established. May 19: The MacDonald White Paper issued by the British government strengthens limits on Jewish emigration to Palestine. August 23: The Germans and Soviets sign a non-aggression pact. September 1: Germany invades Poland. Within the month, Poland falls. September 2: Stutthof camp is established. September 3: Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. September 17: The Soviets invade eastern Poland, challenging the Germans. September 21: SS official Reinhard Heydrich orders the creation of Jewish ghettos and Judenrate (Jewish Councils) in occupied Poland. October 8: The first ghetto for Jews is established in Poland, in Piotrkow. October 12: The Germans establish the Generalgouvernement in Poland. November 23: Jews in occupied Poland are required to wear badges in the shape of the Star of David. December 5–6: Jewish property in Poland is seized by German authorities. 1940 January 25: Nazis select the town of Auschwitz as the location for a new concentration camp. February 12: The Nazis begin deporting Jews from Germany to occupied Poland. April 9: Denmark and Norway are invaded by the Germans. April 30: L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto, established in February, is sealed; more than 200,000 Jews are not able to leave. May 10: Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France. May 10: Winston Churchill becomes the prime minister of Great Britain. May 20: Auschwitz concentration camp is established. July 10: The Battle of Britain begins, with a major dogfight over the English Channel, and Germany’s blitzkrieg bombing of London. September 15: Battle of Britain Day—London is heavily blitzed by German bombers and fighter planes. The Luftwaffe meets with stiff resistance in the English Channel, resulting in an important Allied victory and turning point in the war.



September 27: The Tripartite Pact—Japan joins Germany and Italy in the Axis alliance. October 16: Warsaw ghetto is established; the following month, it is sealed, holding in 400,000 Jews. 1941 March 1: Heinrich Himmler visits Auschwitz and orders an expansion that will increase capacity by at least 100,000 prisoners. March 3: Krakow ghetto is established. April 6: Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece. May 27: The German warship Bismarck is sunk by the British. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a national emergency in May because of events in Europe and Asia. June 22: Operation Barbarossa—the Germans invade the Soviet Union. July 8: Jews in the German-occupied Baltic countries are ordered to wear the Star of David badge. July 21: Hermann Göring appoints Reinhard Heydrich to develop a plan for carrying out the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”—the extermination of European Jews. August 14: The Atlantic Charter is signed by Great Britain and the United States; the document outlines basic principles of postwar global rights and responsibilities and forms the beginnings of what will one day be the charter of the United Nations. September 3: Zyklon B is first used in experiments at Auschwitz. September 6: The Vilna ghettos are established with 40,000 Jews. September 29–30: More than 33,000 Jews are massacred at Babi Yar. October 23: Jewish emigration from Germany is prohibited. November 24: Theresienstadt ghetto is established in Bohemia-Moravia as the Nazis’ “model” Jewish ghetto. Also this month, construction begins on Bel⁄z˙ec extermination camp. December 7: Japan attacks the United States at Pearl Harbor. Four days later, Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The United States reciprocates by declaring war on the Axis powers. December 8: The Chel⁄mno extermination camp opens. Among its first victims are 5,000 Gypsies. 1942 January 20: At the Wannsee Conference, the Nazis coordinate plans for the “Final Solution.” January 21: The United Partisan Organization forms in Vilna. February 23: The Struma, an unsafe cattle boat carrying more than 700 Jewish refugees from a port in Romania, sinks after being refused entry into Palestine. June 1: Jews in the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Slovakia, and Romania are ordered to wear the yellow Star of David badge. March: Sobibór and Bel⁄z˙ec camps are established. The first transfer of French Jews to Auschwitz occurs. Marshal Petain approves French collaboration with



the Nazis. The United States starts supplying the Allies with war materials through the Lend-Lease Bill. May 27: SS official Richard Heydrich is wounded; he dies early in June. A week later, the Nazis avenge his death by destroying the town of Lidice, in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (formerly Czechoslovakia). June 4–6: The Allies win the Battle of Midway. Japan’s eastward thrust is decisively thwarted. June 23: Systematic gassing begins at Auschwitz. July 19: Heinrich Himmler orders the start of Operation Reinhard. July 23: Treblinka camp opens. The first victims and prisoners are from the Warsaw Ghetto. The Jewish Fighting Organization (Z˙OB) is established in Warsaw. August 23: The battle for Stalingrad begins. Three months later, the Soviets launch a successful counteroffensive against the Germans. October 5: All Jews in concentration camps in Germany are to be sent to Auschwitz and Majdanek, on orders of Heinrich Himmler. November 11: In a crucial turning point victory for Allied forces, the Germans are defeated at El Alamein, Egypt. 1943 January 18–21: A major, armed act of resistance occurs in the Warsaw ghetto. January 29: All Gypsies in German-occupied territories are ordered arrested and sent to concentration camps. February 26: The first transport of Gypsies is placed in the “Gypsy Camp” at Auschwitz. March 5: Allied forces begin bombing Ruhr, a region central to Germany’s coal, iron and steel industries. April 19–30: At the Bermuda Conference, the Allies discuss the rescue of Jews in occupied Europe, but the talks are fruitless. Also this month, the BergenBelsen camp is opened. April 19: The Warsaw ghetto uprising erupts and continues through May 16. May 19: The Nazis declare Berlin Judenfrei (free of Jews). June 11: Heinrich Himmler orders the liquidation of the Jewish ghettos of Poland and the Soviet Union. June 22: German U-boats are withdrawn from the North Atlantic; the Allies win the Battle of the Atlantic. July 5: The Sobibór extermination camp is made a concentration camp. August 2: Prisoners at the Treblinka camp revolt; 200 escape, but the Nazis hunt them down. October 2: The Danes rescue more than 7,200 Jews from the Nazis. October 14: Prisoners at the Sobibór camp revolt; 300 escape. Of these, 50 survive. November 3: Erntefest (“Harvest Festival”) begins, in which 42,000 Jews are killed.



1944 January 24: War Refugee Board is created in the United States. March 19: Germany invades Hungary; Hungarian Jews are required to wear the Star of David badge. During the next several months, more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews are deported to Auschwitz. June 6: D-Day: The Allies land in Normandy, France. Throughout the year, Allied forces penetrate into more and more parts of Europe. July 20: German officers fail in an assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler. July 24: Soviet troops liberate the Majdanek camp. July 28: The first major death march begins: Warsaw to Kutno. August 4: Anne Frank and her family are arrested in Amsterdam and sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister are later sent to Bergen-Belsen. September 1: Warsaw Polish Uprising begins and lasts until October 2 when the Polish Home Army is defeated by the Nazis. October 6–7: Prisoners in Special Commandos (Sonderkommandos) at Auschwitz stage an uprising. October 23: The Allies recognize Charles de Gaulle as the head of the provisional French government. October 30: The last gassings at Auschwitz-Birkenau take place. December 16–27: The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg and Belgium—the Germans are defeated. 1945 January 1: Germans begin full retreat on the Eastern Front. January 17: Soviet troops enter Warsaw. January 18: Death March from Auschwitz begins. January 27: Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz-Birkenau. February 4–11: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta as the Allied forces meet with increasing success worldwide. April 12: U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt dies and is succeeded by Harry S Truman. April 12: Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen camps are liberated. As more camps are released from Nazi control, the number of displaced persons (DPs) rises dramatically throughout Europe. April 28: Benito Mussolini is shot by Italian partisans. April 29: Dachau camp is liberated by American troops. April 30: In his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler writes his Last Will and Testament, then commits suicide. April–May: Allied troops liberate Dachau, Ravensbrück, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Theresienstadt camps. With liberation and the end of war in Europe, Displaced Persons (DP) camps are inundated. May 7: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies. May 8: V-E Day—Victory in Europe.



June 5: The victorious Allies divide Germany into four occupation zones. July 16: The first atomic bomb is tested, at Alamogordo, New Mexico. July 17–August 2: Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and Joseph Stalin meet in Potsdam. August 6: The United States drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and, three days later, on Nagasaki. August 14: Japan surrenders. World War II is over. November 20: The Nuremberg War Trials begin in Germany. 1946 January 7: The United Nations holds its first meeting, in London. January 20: President Charles de Gaulle of France resigns. October 1: The Nuremberg War Trials conclude. October 16: The first convicted Nazi War criminals are executed by hanging at Nuremberg. December 9: Twenty-three former Nazi doctors and scientists are tried at Nuremberg. Sixteen are found guilty; seven are executed by hanging. 1947 June 5: The Marshall Plan is instituted, to help Europe rebuild. September 15: Twenty-one former SS Operational Squad leaders are tried at Nuremberg. Although fourteen of them are sentenced to death, only four who were group commanders are executed. 1948 May 14: The State of Israel is proclaimed. June 25: The U.S. Congress creates a Displaced Persons Commission. October 30: The first boatload of war refugees arrives in the United States. 1949 April 4: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization—NATO—is formed. May 23: West Germany becomes a separate state, under occupation forces. East Germany becomes a Soviet-bloc state later in the year. December 9: The United Nations approves the Genocide Convention. 1957 The last Displaced Persons (DP) camp closes. 1960 May 11: Adolf Eichmann is captured in Argentina. He is tried in Jerusalem starting on April 11, 1961. Found guilty, he is executed by hanging on May 31, 1962.


Aid to Jews by Poles A number of factors made it extremely difficult for Poles to come to the aid of the Jews in P O L A N D during World War II, including the lack of contact between the Jews and the Polish environment; the longstanding A N T I S E M I T I S M that spread in certain circles of Polish society; the regime of terror in Nazi-occupied Poland, which was aimed at Jews and non-Jews alike; and the death penalty the Nazis applied in Poland for giving aid to Jews.

Forms of Help The most dangerous, and yet most frequent, form of help given to the Jews was the offering of refuge in private dwellings. Most people who gave refuge to Jews also provided them with financial assistance. The primary motivation for providing help was that of human compassion; devout Catholics felt obligated to abide by the commandment to “love thy neighbor.” Others acted out of ideological and political considerations. Some of those who helped Jews did so in return for financial reward, which was very high in certain cases. Those who gave help came from all walks of life. There were even a few cases in which antisemites helped Jews. Aid to Jews was extended mainly in two centers—W A R S AW (where 20,000 to 30,000 Jews were in hiding) and K R A K Ó W . At a later stage, aid in organized form was given by underground (that is, secret and non-government sanctioned) organizations, trade unions, and political parties—Democrats, Socialists, and Communists. In most of these cases, the beneficiaries of the aid were Jews who were members, or relatives of members, of one of these organizations. Some monasteries took in Jewish children; the Benedictine monastery near Vilna even extended aid to Jewish fighters. Some assistance was also provided by the Armia Krajowa, an underground military organization that operated throughout Poland while the Germans were in control. Individuals affiliated with the Armia Krajowa acted as intermediaries between Jewish and Polish military groups, centralizing contacts, smuggling arms, and providing limited military support during the W A R S AW G H E T TO U P R I S I N G . It is difficult to estimate how many people participated in and were saved by these types of aid. Historians estimate that tens of thousands of Jews were saved by the local population. Poles and, in eastern Poland, Belorussians and Ukrainians were among the “Aryans” who helped Jews; their numbers were estimated as ranging between



160,000 and 360,000, that is, 1 percent to 2.5 percent of the population. A list drawn up by the Main Commission for Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland puts the number of non-Jews executed individually by the Germans for aiding Jews at 872, with several hundreds more murdered in mass executions (as when the Nazis burned down entire villages). Military aid given to Jews was minimal. The Jewish Military Union (Z˙ydowski Zwia˛zek Wojskowy), one of the Jewish fighting organizations in the Warsaw ghetto, and the larger J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A N I Z AT I O N , known as Z˙ OB, established connections with Armia Krajowa headquarters, hoping for help in the form of weapons. The Armia Krajowa planned an uprising against the Nazis that would take place only when the front line of battle was drawing near, since it did not believe that an earlier attempt stood any chance of success. The Z˙OB, on the other hand, felt that the Jews had no time to lose and that a revolt had to be attempted even if it was hopeless. The Armia Krajowa was also not convinced that the Z˙ OB really intended to fight against Nazis. For these two reasons, despite sharing the same ultimate goals, the Armia Krajowa did not provide the Z˙OB with much support.

partisan units

Groups who resist an invading army within the occupied territory.

During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a number of groups, including the Armia Krajowa, the Gwardia Ludowa (later called the Armia Ludowa, or Polish People’s Army), and the Socialist Fighting Organization carried out several actions to indicate solidarity with the Jews. They attacked German positions and helped several groups of ghetto fighters to make their way through the Warsaw sewers to the city’s “Aryan” side. At a later stage, when Jewish partisan units began to form, the Armia Krajowa refused to cooperate, believing that such units would have a pro-Soviet orientation. A constant source of danger to the Jews who had gone into hiding came in the form of blackmailers—gangs of robbers who roamed the countryside, blackmailing the Jews in hiding, extorting ransoms from them, and frequently also informing on them to the Germans. Poles who looked like Jews or gave help to Jews were also persecuted and turned in by the blackmailers. These blackmailers generally came from the lower strata of the population. It was difficult to fight them, since their victims could identify them only in rare instances. They were also despised by the Polish underground because they worked for the German police; underground tribunals often sentenced blackmailers to death for their activities. Several dozen such death sentences were carried out in 1943 and 1944, and as a result, the activity of the blackmailers diminished considerably.

Contacts Abroad The Jewish underground’s efforts to establish its own contacts with the outside world were generally unsuccessful. Beginning in 1942, however, two organizations received help from the Delegatura—the representatives, in Poland, of the Polish government-in-exile. One of these groups was the Bund, which was the League of Jewish Workers in Russia, Lithuania and Poland; the other was the Jewish National Committee, the political arm of the Z˙OB, whose couriers carried letters between Poland and England. The two Jewish organizations were able to transmit current affairs messages by radio to Jewish representatives on the Polish National Council. Funds contributed in London by international Jewish organizations were transmitted to Poland via parachute drops, along with funds for the Armia Krajowa and the Delegatura. In 1940 the Polish underground also began transmitting reports to London on the situation of the Jews. Some historians believe that these reports were deliberately delayed, especially those concerning the deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the extermination camps. Other historians claim that the reports were transmitted



TWO POINTS OF VIEW Poles were primarily persecutors of the Jews... Thousands of Polish Gentiles became involved in varying degrees in efforts to save Jews. We know that many Poles—hundreds apparently— lost their lives because of their actions on behalf of Jews. But the gallant record of those Poles who came to the assistance of Jews does not alter the fact that there also existed a malignant element in Polish society that was responsible for creating a hostile climate of opinion among broad sections of the Polish public concerning the rescue of the Jews. The[se] schmaltsovniks were a relatively large group in Poland. They operated on an organized basis and made a profession of the betrayal of Jews. —YISRAEL GUTMAN AND SHMUEL KRAKOWSKI, “THE POLES HELPED PERSECUTE THE JEWS”

Poles were victims along with the Jews... It is not known how many Poles actually aided Jews during the German occupation. For that reason, glib generalizations on the subject must be suspect. What is known, however, is that after the Germans ordered the Jews to live in ghettos, and especially after they unleashed the so-called “Final Solution,” Poles increasingly responded to the Jewish plight not only as an expression of pity for the Jews but also as an action of resistance against the hated Germans. Poles of all classes gave a variety of assistance to the persecuted Jews; food, shelter, and false documents were some of the more common types of aid... —RICHARD LUKAS, “THE POLES WERE FELLOW VICTIMS”

The Holocaust: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, Donald L. Niewyck, editor (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath), 1992, p. 166 and p. 180.

promptly, and that it was the governments of the Allied forces who held them back. Ultimately, public statements made by the Polish government-in-exile and the testimony of emissaries from Poland played an important role in convincing the free world that the Germans were aggressively pursuing the annihilation of European Jewry.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Keneally, Thomas. Schindler’s List. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Lewin, Kurt I. A Journey Through Illusions. Santa Barbara: Fithian Press, 1993. Opdyke, Irene Gut. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Schindler’s List [videorecording]. MCA Universal Home Video, 1993. Tec, Nechama. When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.



AKIVA. SEE YOUTH MOVEMENTS. AKTION “ERNTEFEST.” SEE ERNTEFEST (“HARVEST FESTIVAL”). Aktion (Operation) 1005 When news of the Nazis’ mass killings of Jews began to emerge in the Allied countries, and when hastily buried corpses in the occupied S OV I E T U N I O N began to pose a serious health hazard in the early summer of 1942, officials in Berlin decided that an alternative plan must be devised to dispose of the thousands of bodies of victims; burying them in mass graves and open pits would no longer suffice. Aktion (Operation) 1005 was the code name for the large-scale plan that emerged. Aktion 1005 was intended to erase evidence of the murder of millions of human beings by the Nazis in occupied Europe. The units that carried out the plans were called Sonderkommandos (Special Commandos) 1005. Paul B LOBEL was appointed head of Aktion 1005. An architect by profession, and a member of the engineering corps in World War I (1914–18), Blobel developed systems for burning bodies on pyres, crushing the bones, and scattering the ashes. The operation began in June 1942 with attempts to burn the corpses in the C H E L⁄ M N O extermination camp. In the initial stage, Blobel supervised the burning of bodies in the A KTION R EINHARD extermination camps (B EL⁄ Z˙ EC , T REBLINKA , S OBIBÓR , in the Chel⁄mno camp, and at A USCHWITZ , until the crematoria were installed there. The second stage began in early June 1943. Aktion 1005 began eliminating evidence of mass graves in areas of the occupied USSR and Poland. The first site seems to have been the J A N Ó W S K A camp. The Sonderkommandos 1005 used this site as a training center to study and learn the methods which would be applied elsewhere. Each Sonderkommando 1005 consisted of several SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or Security Service) and Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) officers, who supervised the work, and several dozen policemen from the German regular police who were charged with guarding the workers and the area. Pyres were built with thick wooden beams 23 to 26 feet (7 to 8 meters) long. The beams were soaked with a flammable liquid, and the exhumed corpses were placed in layers between them. In the extermination camps, railway tracks were used for the foundation of the fire. The labor was carried out by hundreds of prisoners, mainly Jews. The prisoners were divided into three groups: one group opened the graves and exhumed the bodies, the second group brought the corpses on stretchers and arranged them on the pyre, and the third group sifted the ashes, crushed the bones, collected any valuables overlooked earlier, and scattered the ashes. One or two prisoners were responsible for kindling the pyre and counting the corpses burned. One pyre at Janówska could burn about 2000 bodies a day. When work was completed at a site, the ground was plowed and replanted. Since Aktion 1005 was defined as a “Reich secret,” Germans in the unit had to sign declarations promising secrecy. Prisoners were killed upon completion of their work, unless they managed to escape. In early November 1943, the prisoners of the Sonderkommando 1005 in Janówska saw that their work was nearly done, so they planned an escape. On November 19, their plan was partially carried out. Of the scores of Jews who fled, a few individuals survived, including Leon Weliczker, who later published memoirs about the experience. When the Germans were defeated at Stalingrad and the retreat from the Ukraine began in 1943, Blobel sped to Kiev to organize the eradication of mass



graves in that area. On August 18, Sonderkommando 1005-A began to remove the bodies at B A B I Y A R , aided by 327 prisoners, including about 100 Jews. On September 29 the prisoners learned that they were to be put to death the next day. Prisoners had already fashioned saws to cut their chains and made a key to open the gate behind which they were locked; an escape was planned for that night. At midnight, a group of 25 shouting prisoners stormed the guards; about 15 men reached freedom.

Centers of Aktion 1005 activity in German-occupied territories.

After Kiev, Sonderkommando 1005-A continued to burn bodies. The unit worked at K A M E N E T S - P O D O L S K I , until the approach of the Red Army. It transferred to Z A M O S´ C´ in the Lublin area, and finished in L⁄Ó D Z´ , then accompanied the last of the Jews from the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto to Auschwitz. Sonderkommando 1005-B supervised the burning of bodies in Dnepropetrovsk, in Krivoi Rog, and in Nikolayev and the surrounding area. On April 9, 1944, the unit was sent to R I G A . Aktion 1005 operations took place throughout occupied territories in the USSR and in the Baltic regions, including Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine. In Estonia bodies were burning at the Klooga camp and its subcamps as the Red (Soviet) Army approached. The Germans did not have time to set fire to all the pyres, and Soviet photographers were able to capture images of a pyre prepared for burning.



Aktion 1005 operations took place in the Bial⁄ystok district from mid-May until mid-July 1944. By mid-1944, as the Soviet army approached, Aktion 1005 operations were initiated in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , which covered occupied areas of Poland that had not already been incorporated into the Reich. Aktion 1005 activity in Yugoslavia was focused on the elimination of 80,000 corpses, including those of about 11,000 Jews. The operation began on November 6, 1943; about 68,000 bodies were burned before a prisoner escaped and word spread about the secret activities. Although Aktion 1005 did not completely erase evidence of the Nazi crimes, it did create an obstacle to determining the facts of those crimes, especially in drawing up statistics on the number of victims.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Drix, Samuel. Witness to Annihilation: Surviving the Holocaust, A Memoir. Washington: Brassey’s, 1994. “FAQs About the Holocaust—Shoah.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www. yad-vashem.org.il/holocaust/faq/gapfaqs.html (accessed on August 21, 2000). Schoenfeld, Joachim. Holocaust Memoirs. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 1985.

Aktion (Operation) Reinhard Aktion Reinhard was the code name for the Nazi plan to eliminate all the Jews in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T (occupied Poland), as part of the “F I N A L S O L U T I O N .” The word “Aktion” may be translated in English as “Operation.” Aktion Reinhard was named after Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , the chief planner of the “Final Solution” in Europe, who was shot by members of the Czech underground on May 27, 1942; he died on June 4 of that year. As recorded in the minutes of the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E of January 20, 1942, the objective of Aktion Reinhard was to kill the 2,284,000 Jews then living in the five districts of the Generalgouvernement—W A R S A W , L U B L I N , Radom, K R A K Ó W , and L VOV (Eastern Galicia). Preparations for Aktion Reinhard began in October and November 1941. Odilo G L O B O C N I K , SS and Police Leader in the Lublin district, was appointed by Heinrich H I M M L E R to head the program, with Hans Höfle as chief of operations in charge of organization and manpower. The operational headquarters was in Lublin, and its tasks included: 1. Overall planning of the deportations 2. Construction and operation of extermination camps 3. Coordination of deportations from each of the five districts 4. The extermination process in the camps 5. Confiscation of the victims’ possessions and valuables and appropriate disbursement of these items.

Aktion Reinhard Extermination Camps Three E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S were established to implement Aktion Reinhard: B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , S O B I B Ó R , and T R E B L I N K A . The camps had to be close to railways to facilitate transportation. For secrecy, they had to be in areas as remote as possible



from population centers. Also, in order to support the cover being used for the operation—that the Jews were being transferred to work “somewhere in the east,” in occupied Soviet territory—the camps had to be near the eastern border of the Generalgouvernement. The camps were constructed by Polish workers living in the area, augmented by Jews on forced labor. Those Jews became the first victims. The first camp to be set up, between November 1941 and March 1942, was in Bel⁄ z˙ec, on the Lublin-Lvov railway line. The killings there began on March 17, 1942. The camp at Sobibór, east of Lublin, was constructed in March and April 1942; the first Jews were killed there in early May 1942. The Treblinka camp, 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Warsaw, was established in June and July 1942; murder operations there began on July 23, 1942, coinciding with the start of the mass deportation from Warsaw. Carbon monoxide was used in all three camps, generated by gasoline or diesel engines placed outside hermetically sealed gas chambers. The toxic gas entered the chambers through a system of pipes. The Aktion Reinhard camps were not equipped for the cremation of bodies, so the victims were buried in huge pits. At the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943 the Nazis began burning the bodies in huge pyres through the operations of A K T I O N (O P E R AT I O N ) 1005, the purpose of which was to erase evidence of the murders committed in the camps. Hundreds of Jewish prisoners provided the manual labor necessary to maintain operations. As a rule, these prisoners were killed after working in the camps for several weeks or months; they were replaced by new trainloads of Jews being deported from their communities.

Aktion Reinhard Deportations D E P O R TAT I O N S to the extermination camps were based on the division of the Generalgouvernement into five districts. Where Jews ended up was determined in large part by their proximity to a given camp and to the railway line that led there. Jews from the Kraków and Lvov (Eastern Galicia) districts were sent to Bel⁄z˙ec; Jews from the Warsaw and Radom districts were sent to Treblinka; and from the Lublin district they were sent to Sobibór. This pattern, however, was subject to change; some of the Jews from the Lublin district were sent to Bel⁄z˙ec and Treblinka. The Nazis used uniform deportation methods throughout eastern Europe. Because the Jews were already concentrated in ghettos controlled by the Nazis, there was a structure in place to support the deportation efforts. The principal elements were surprise, speed, terrorization, and keeping the victims unaware of their real destination. In the large ghettos, many deportation operations took place over a period of weeks and months, for as long as was necessary to clear the ghetto of all its inhabitants. In the small ghettos, the Aktion Reinhard deportations were a one-time operation, taking a day or two. In either case, Jews who were elderly, sick or otherwise too feeble to walk were shot inside houses, in the street, or in hiding places where they had taken refuge. Anyone who offered resistance was also shot. The Jews who were removed from the ghetto were marched to the railway station, usually by foot, and loaded into freight cars. The cars were extremely crowded, sometimes containing as many as 150 persons each. Due to miserable conditions—overcrowding, lack of water and sanitation, intense heat in the summer and cold in the winter—many died on the way to the camps.

Aktion Reinhard and the War Effort When the Treblinka camp was put into operation in July 1942, deportations proceeded so rapidly that there were not enough trains available for both transports



and military requirements. The German army on the Russian front was in urgent need of all available train cars. However, Heinrich Himmler intervened to secure enough trains to continue deporting Jews from the Generalgouvernement.


eportations were announced shortly before they were to

take place. Judenrat leaders were

ordered to recruit a quota of Jews to be transferred to work camps in the east. The ghetto was encircled with a heavy guard of German security units, to prevent anyone from escaping. If the required quota was not met, German

In mid-July 1942, Himmler issued an order stating that the deportation of Jews from the Generalgouvernement was to be completed by December 31, 1942. The order, which required removing all the Jews from the ghettos, threatened to cause manpower problems for factories and workshops engaged in the war effort. Military officials in charge of war production objected to this plan because Jewish laborers were crucial to maintaining the output of essential supplies needed by the armed forces. According to data submitted by the army, out of the 1 million workers employed in its plants in the Generalgouvernement, 300,000 were Jews, and of these one-third were skilled craftsmen. As a result of the army’s appeal, some Jewish workers were allowed to remain in several of the large ghettos, at least temporarily.

and Ukrainian police broke into houses and courtyards where the Jews were hiding and dragged them out.

Results of Aktion Reinhard The deportations continued, and, according to German data, by the end of December 1942, fewer than 300,000 Jews remained in the five districts of the Generalgouvernement. The ghettos in these districts were liquidated—that is, all residents were removed and killed or sent to concentration camps—between January and June 1943. In the last few months of 1942, as deportations from the Generalgouvernement were coming to an end, the operation’s scope was extended to include Jews from the B I A L⁄ Y S T O K district, numbering some 210,000. Most of the Bial⁄ ystok Jews were deported to Treblinka, and several transports went to A U S C H W I T Z ; by August 1943 all the Jews of the Bial⁄ ystok district had been sent to extermination camps. From the Kraków district, the Jews were deported to Bel⁄ z˙ec until October 1942, and afterward to P L⁄ A S Z Ó W and Auschwitz. Not all of the murdered Jews in the Generalgouvernement died in the concentration and extermination camps; thousands were shot on the spot during deportation efforts. In the Lvov district alone, over 160,000 Jews were killed in their homes or on ghetto streets. In the course of Aktion Reinhard, the Germans seized a huge amount of property once owned by Jews. This included real estate—houses, buildings, industrial plants, and land. In addition, an enormous amount of personal and commercial property was left behind in homes and factories. The Jews being deported were allowed to bring with them certain items, including cash and valuables. All of these possessions were confiscated in the camps where the Jews were killed. In these and other ways, the vast majority of the earthly goods owned by Polish Jews passed into German hands. The Aktion Reinhard headquarters set up a special camp in Lublin as a warehouse for the possessions left behind by the victims of Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bel⁄ z˙ec. Jewish prisoners, mainly women, were employed in the warehouses. On December 15, 1943, the Aktion Reinhard headquarters submitted a report the set the value of confiscated Jewish possessions at more than 178 million reichsmarks, the equivalent of more than 71 million dollars. This does not include the value of the possessions appropriated by German officials, SS men, Ukrainian camp guards, police, and local residents. Aktion Reinhard began in mid-March 1942 and continued until early November 1943, when the last Jews in the M A J DA N E K , Poniatowa, and T R AW N I K I camps were murdered in an operation that was given the name E R N T E F E S T (“Harvest Festival”) by the Nazis. In all, more than 2 million Jews of the Generalgouvernement were killed in Aktion Reinhard.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Blatt, Thomas Toivi. From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1997.

Escape from Sobibor [videorecording]. Live Home Video, 1991. Goldstein, Arthur P. The Shoes of Maidanek. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992.


Aliya Bet Aliya Bet is a Hebrew term used to describe the entry of persons into Palestine, during the first half of the twentieth century, without the legal means to enter. Aliya means “immigration”; Bet is the name of the letter “B,” and in the phrase Aliya Bet, the “B” represents the alternative to “A” (as in American speech one might refer to Plan A or Plan B). Although the literal translation is not “illegal immigration,” in this case the “A,” stands for the legal means of immigration, and the “B” stands for the alternative. This phrase was used colloquially to refer to both organized and independent efforts on the part of Jews to enter Palestine while it was under nonPalestinian and non-Israeli control—i.e., during the years preceding World War I and the following years, when Palestine had come under the control of Great Britain, which lasted until the birth of Israel in 1948. Prior to World War I, Jews tried to settle in Palestine, which was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Official entry was denied, but many Jews found alternate routes, by land and by sea, and Aliya Bet, in spirit though not yet in name, was born. In the years after the British military authorities took control of Palestine in 1917, new criteria were established for immigration. Between 1922, when the first definitive regulations were enacted, and 1939, when newly established criteria severely restricted Jewish immigration, the number of requests for admission far outnumbered the number of approvals. All Aliya Bet movements shared a common element: in all cases, large numbers of Jews felt a growing urgency to leave the countries of their residence, at a time when the rate of authorized immigration did not keep up with the demand. Whether the particular cause was economic, ideological, religious, or political, the pressures were so strong that people were willing to take enormous risks for the chance of safe (though illegal) arrival in Palestine. Throughout Europe, Zionist groups—whose primary goal was to see the creation of a homeland for Jews— encouraged Jews to relocate in Palestine. The established Zionist groups lobbied for increased immigration quotas, preferring to work only through legal channels. Gradually, however, newer Zionist groups began to assist Jews in relocating by “alternative” means. Many Jews attempted to enter Palestine on their own. In some cases, they entered legally, as tourists, and stayed on without official papers. Some took advantage of fictitious marriages, or used forged entry visas. Zionist groups often helped by arranging for the necessary documents. Some Jews tried to get to Palestine through eastern Europe by entering neighboring countries and crossing



PALESTINE: DESTINATION FOR ZIONISTS AND OTHERS The Middle Eastern region known for many centuries as Palestine—and, since 1948, the State of Israel—is the Holy Land of three major world religious traditions. Judaism, the first known monotheistic religion, began there 3,700 to 3,800 years ago. Christianity arose 2,000 years ago. Islam appeared to the southeast, in Arabia, more than 1,400 years ago. For most Jews, modern Israel is the result of the fulfillment of God’s covenant to Abraham to grant them a homeland in Palestine. The Jews have held fast to this covenant during the centuries of their diaspora (“dispersion”) in foreign lands. The organized movement for a Jewish return to Palestine to fulfill the biblical promise is termed Zionism. The movement for a Jewish homeland was both spiritual and political. It was founded in the late 1800s by Theodore Herzl, a Jewish journalist from Vienna, Austria, who believed that the only hope for Jews to be free of persecution was to live together, separate from non-Jews. He proposed the establishment of a Jewish state. The Zionists hoped to buy land for Jewish settlement, but the Ottoman Turkish government then in control of Palestine would not allow them to do so. Still, small groups of Eastern European Jews managed to settle there. They formed communal agricultural settlements called kibbutzim out of the belief that hard work was essential to the Jewish return to the homeland, a “betrothal of toil.” This became a founding principle of the Jewish state. The British governed Palestine after World War I ended in 1918. The Zionists believed that the British would allow them to begin building a Jewish national home in Palestine. But the British feared Arab rebellion resulting from Jewish immigration, and they were unable to strike a com-

the borders illegally. There were also Aliya Bet group immigration efforts. These especially included entry by boat on unpatrolled shores, using old freighters. Conditions on these trips were generally difficult, and often dangerous, as well. Organized Aliya Bet efforts were made by Jewish groups, but they were also undertaken by private organizers who charged fees. The 1930s saw an explosion in the numbers of Jews wanting to enter Palestine as refugees and immigrants. In 1934, the first organized Aliya Bet voyages were undertaken by members of Zionist youth organizations who dreamed of establishing the Hebrew state in Palestine and who were unwilling to postpone their dreams while waiting for official paperwork. By 1937 and 1938, Nazi persecutions in Germany and Austria drove growing numbers of the general Jewish population, as well as Zionists, to participate in Aliya Bet.



promise ground between the desire of two peoples—the Jews and the Arabs—for the same land. The Zionists’ quest became urgent when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party came to power in Germany—especially when the “Final Solution” was put in place during World War II. Zionist leaders called for unrestricted Jewish immigration into Palestine. Yet the British blocked Palestinian harbors and actually turned back crowded, leaking ships carrying desperate Jewish refugees from Europe. After the war, the British asked the United Nations to find a solution to the Palestine problem—a problem of “one land, two peoples.” A UN partition plan divided the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state, but Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it. The Jewish delegation approved the plan and, on May 15, 1948, announced the “birth of the new Jewish State of Israel.” The United States and Soviet Union recognized the new state, renamed Israel, even as the armies of five Arab states converged on it to “push the Jews into the sea.” Today Israel—about the size of New Jersey—has a population estimated to be around 6 million, including settlers in areas that were not part of the original UN plan. Most of the Israelis are Jewish—82 percent. Fourteen percent are Muslims, while 2 percent are Christians. It is a modern country with a uniquely rich history. The land has flourished. Due to their “betrothal of toil,” the Jews have made the desert bloom, and the country has a strong, diversified economy and a vibrant culture. The establishment of Israel has been a profound victory for the Jewish people—but not a peace. More than half a century after the birth of Israel, Jews and Palestinian Arabs have not yet found a workable, lasting solution to their differences.

During World War II, as demand for immigration to Palestine increased, the resources available for Aliya Bet diminished. Ships were more expensive, since the war provided ship-owners more lucrative business opportunities, and government ships were rarely available, and their use was more heavily restricted. Aliya Bet efforts also suffered from dissension within the Zionist movement, due to ongoing complaints that some organizers of Aliya Bet transports were exploiting the Jews’ circumstances in order to make large profits. Between 1941 and 1942, the Aliya Bet came to a complete halt. In 1943, as the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry became clear, the British authorities agreed to issue immigration permits to Palestine to any Jewish refugees who could reach Turkey. While this was not a solution for all potential immigrants, it did reduce the need for alternative immigration efforts. In 1944, new Aliya Bet efforts resumed, but public opinion was now on the side of those seeking refuge, so the efforts met with less resistance.



British soldiers stand guard as Exodus 1947 passengers disembark from a damaged ship, Haifa, Palestine, 1947.


In the years immediately following the end of World War II in 1945, Aliya Bet reached record numbers, in large part because of the numbers of Holocaust survivors who decided to relocate to Palestine. The operation was now well organized and enjoying political support from the world’s Jewish community. Ships were safer and staffed by Aliya Bet volunteers; experienced people were available to quickly move refugees from ships and into Jewish communities, where they could be assimilated, undetected by British authorities. Of the 530,000 immigrants who entered Palestine until the establishment of the state of Israel, 25 percent—130,000 people—came by way of Aliya Bet. Most (104,000)


arrived by sea, in 136 boats; 52,000 of these were caught by the British and deported. Aliya Bet became the very heart of Zionist activity in the post-war years, focusing attention on the need to assure a safe future for Holocaust survivors and other Jews in a homeland of their own.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Gruber, Ruth. Exodus 1947: The Ship That Launched a Nation. New York: Times Books, 1999. Kaniuk, Yoram. Commander of the Exodus. New York: Grove Press, 1999.

American Friends Service Committee The Society of Friends, or Quakers, is a small religious group in the United States. The Quakers believe that God is within every person; this leads to a respect for all people that precludes participation in violence and war. Quakers also believe that religious experience and social concern are inextricably related. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was established by the Quakers in 1917 to provide the Society of Friends with a way to serve to humanity and a moral alternative to military service during World War I. Members of the AFSC in Quaker centers throughout the world engaged in relief work, community development, educational programs, and social-action projects. As its first project, the AFSC conducted a feeding program for 1.2 million German children suffering in the aftermath of World War I. As a result of this relief work, the Friends gained German goodwill, which, along with their non-partisanship and dedication to human need, later made it possible for them to intervene on behalf of victims of persecution during and preceding World War II. Even the Nazis treated them with respect. During the first years of Adolf Hitler’s regime, the scope of the AFSC’s work on behalf of refugees was surprisingly small, unlike that of the European Quakers. This was caused in part by fears that supporting the Jewish cause would seriously compromise the Quakers’ reputation in Germany. Their close relationship with Friends in Germany, whom they did not wish to offend or harm, also led to inaction. Therefore, American Quakers generally maintained public silence with regard to the Nazi anti-Jewish policy during the early years of Hitler’s rule. The institutionalized help of the AFSC began only after the K R I S TA L L N AC H T pogrom of November 1938. A Refugee Division was established, with headquarters


in New York City, which offered services not already being provided through other agencies. Through hostels, American seminars, college workshops, and other educational projects, the AFSC concentrated on orientation and Americanization of refugees from Europe. These were only small pilot projects that demonstrated to the large relief agencies “the Quaker way” in which refugees should be treated. Although members of the AFSC enthusiastically labored on behalf of refugees, the rank and file of Quaker communities in the United States failed to contribute to the cause either financially or by absorbing refugee families.

A Russian word meaning “devastation” that came to be applied to organized violence against Jews, which was often encouraged and supported by government authorities.

For the AFSC operations abroad, the picture was quite different. As a “foreignminded” organization, the Foreign Service Section was much more effective than the Refugee Division. In response to a request from the American Jewish J OINT D ISTRIB -



U T I O N C O M M I T T E E (JDC), the Quakers sent a commission to Germany in 1939 to explore the conditions under which Jews and anti-Nazi Christians were then living and to provide help if necessary. Indeed, from 1933 through the war, the warm relationship between the AFSC and Jewish agencies such as the JDC, and the Ouevre de Secours aux Enfants (Children’s Aid Society) in France was an example of interfaith and international cooperation on refugee matters. Although the AFSC devoted its major efforts to helping Christian refugees, Quaker assistance to Jewish refugees in Paris, Marseilles, Lisbon, and Madrid was significant, as well. The AFSC’s Foreign Service Section helped feed and rescue children in France, assisted refugees in neutral Portugal, and coordinated the work of relief agencies in Spain. Over the course of a decade the scope of its services for victims of Nazi persecution expanded from an expenditure of $17,000 in 1934 to $1,911,300 in 1944, with more than 200 paid workers and many volunteers.

During the Hitler era, Jews and “non-Aryan” Christians were the main beneficiaries of AFSC help, but after 1945 the Quakers focused their attention on helping Germans, Japanese, Indians, and Chinese, among others. In appreciation of its relief work for refugees during and after World War II, the AFSC, along with the British Service Council, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES American Friends Service Committee. http://www.afsc.org/ “Quakers.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t063/t06320.html (accessed on August 21, 2000). “Quakers’ Humanitarian Efforts Assisted Thousands of Refugees.” Holocaust Heroes. [Online] http://www.holocaust-heroes.com/quakers.html (accessed on August 21, 2000).


American Jewish Organizations In the years prior to World War II and during the war itself, Jewish organizations in many countries used their resources to try to support the Jews in Europe. Some groups provided refugee assistance; others engaged in political and public information activities to focus the world’s attention on the plight of European Jewry. Among the Jewish organizations with headquarters in the United States, three are particularly notable for their efforts and interactions: B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Conference. Another group active in the United States during those years, the American Jewish Congress, was an affiliate of an international organization (see W O R L D J E W I S H C O N G R E S S ).

B’nai B’rith B’nai B’rith, which has become an international Jewish organization, was founded in New York in 1843. It is the oldest secular Jewish organization in the



United States. Its original mission was to blend humanistic Judaism with general human ideals. B’nai B’rith lodges and chapters sprang up in other countries, including Germany, where a B’nai B’rith order was established in 1882, in reaction to growing A N T I S E M I T I S M in that country. Reacting to signs of rising antisemitism in Europe, B’nai B’rith in the United States decided in 1913 to establish the AntiDefamation League (ADL), a body that is still in existence. During the pre-war years of the 1920s and early 1930s, the leadership of B’nai B’rith generally rejected public demonstrations and pronouncements against antisemitism, preferring to gain public support through less controversial activity. Even after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, B’nai B’rith president Alfred Cohen continued his policy of quietly seeking diplomatic and political assistance on behalf of the Jews, concerned about possible Nazi response to a threatened economic boycott against Germany by American Jews. However, this approach was rarely successful.


n early B’nai B’rith appeal asking the United States government to

protest against the persecution of Jews in Germany was rejected by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said he was not prepared to interfere in Nazi Germany’s internal affairs.

On April 9, 1937, the Gestapo seized all the B’nai B’rith chapters in Germany, arresting the officers and conducting searches of their residences, confiscating the order’s assets, and liquidating its welfare institutions. A shocked Alfred Cohen appealed to Secretary of State Cordell Hull to protest to the German government on humanitarian grounds, but his appeal was turned down. Even then, Cohen remained opposed to public protest and boycott, still believing that “quiet diplomacy” could help the Jews of Germany. In May 1938 the election of Zionist Henry Monsky as president of B’nai B’rith signaled a change for the organization. Zionists supported the establishment of a homeland for Jews. Monsky supported assertive action; he endorsed a boycott of Germany and made it his policy to transform B’nai B’rith into a large-scale organization. A few months later, after the K R I S TA L L N AC H T pogrom took place in Germany (November 1938), Monsky took action to unite American Jewish leadership against the growing Nazi threat to European Jews. With the support of the Zionists, he established the American Jewish Conference; the rescue of European Jews became one of its primary goals.

American Jewish Committee The American Jewish Committee was founded in 1906 with the aim of protecting the civil and religious rights of Jews anywhere in the world. Although the group was originally limited to 60 members, membership was expanded to thousands between 1931 and 1944. The American Jewish Committee’s approach, similar to that of B’nai Brith under Alfred Cohen, was one of quiet diplomacy. It opposed open negotiations or criticisms of the government policy and refrained from joining rallies or demonstrations of protest. During World War II, the committee maintained its prewar diplomatic policy, but its willingness to participate in joint protests with other organizations increased after the United States entered the war in December 1941. From the late fall of 1942 to the early fall of 1943, the committee cooperated with the American Jewish Congress (an affiliate group of the World Jewish Congress) and other organizations to present rescue projects and postwar proposals to the government. The committee was among several groups that joined forces with one another as the American Jewish Conference in early 1943. However, the American Jewish Committee ended its involvement with the conference in October of that year, after the American Jewish Conference passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Zionist leanings of the American Jewish Conference proved too dominant for the members of the non-Zionist American Jewish Committee.



American Jewish Conference The American Jewish Conference was established as an umbrella organization in August 1943 to unite American Jewry for planning Jewish postwar policy. At the initiative of B’nai B’rith’s Henry Monsky, representatives of 32 national Jewish organizations resolved to convene a conference, to be named the American Jewish Assembly, with 500 delegates—375 elected and 12 appointed by cooperating organizations. A three-part agenda was to be addressed: (1) Jewish rights and status in the postwar world, (2) the implementation of Jewish rights regarding Palestine, and (3) the election of a delegates to carry out the assembly’s program in cooperation with Jewish representatives around the world. The rescue of European Jewry was added to the agenda in late July 1943, in response to reports of mass murders of Jews in Poland. The assembly was renamed the American Jewish Conference, in order to avoid Jewish nationalist overtones. However, non-Zionist groups such as the American Jewish Committee eventually resigned from the Conference because the group’s direction remained nationalistic in both theory and practice. The American Jewish Conference was never fully effective in its efforts to unite the diverse organizations of American Jewry in coordinated action on behalf of European Jews. Nor did it gain acceptance by the United States government as the representative of American Jewry on rescue, postwar, and Palestine issues. After the war, B’nai B’rith played an active role in addressing the problem of the Holocaust survivors. The American Jewish Conference and the American Jewish Committee remained influential in government circles for a time, as well. Both were designated by the State Department as consultants to the United States delegation attending the San Francisco Conference, at which the United Nations was founded in April 1945.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “American Jewish Committee.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t000/t00049.html (accessed on August 21, 2000) “American Jewish Conference.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t000/t00051.html (accessed on August 21, 2000). Bauer, Yehuda. American Jewry and the Holocaust: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1939–1945. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981. “B’nai Brith.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t004/t00408.html (accessed on August 21, 2000). Feingold, Henry L. Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1995.

American Jewry and the Holocaust During the 1930s, when American Jewry became aware of the need to act on behalf of the Jews of Europe, it lacked organizational cohesiveness and could not speak with one voice to those with political and social power. Internal divisions among Jewish American organizations partly account for their political ineffectiveness during the years of the Holocaust. But even unified, American Jews probably would not have been able to drastically alter the wartime priorities of the United States, which did not include the rescue of European Jewry.



Disunity within American Jewry was first reflected in the diverse constituencies represented by two major American Jewish organizations: the American Jewish Committee—which represented the more Americanized, affluent, elements of the Jewish community, and the American Jewish Congress, which was more representative of the eastern European Jewish immigrants. The Committee was composed of wealthy, assimilated German Jews, who saw Judaism as a religion only. The Congress was composed of poor and middle-class, eastern European Jews who, though no longer Orthodox, still saw Judaism as a cultural and “national” community. These disparities characterized the entire spectrum of American Jewish organizations, so there was no true “American Jewish community” in the 1930s and 1940s. The common base in culture, language, and experience that might have evoked such a sense of communalism was not yet in place. Instead, there were small communities loosely grouped together as Jewish. Only in the eyes of American antisemites and in their rhetoric, which was strident during this period, were Jews in the United States a single unified entity. The organizations representing these two main groups of American Jews could not agree on how to interpret and respond to the threat posed to European Jewry by the National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany in 1933. The American Jewish Committee shared the widespread but erroneous idea that the responsibilities of power would tame Hitler and that the German population would provide a counterbalance to his ferocious A N T I S E M I T I S M . The committee advocated quiet, behindthe-scenes diplomacy to address the deteriorating condition of German Jewry.


ecause it determined that Arab support, or at least neutrality, was

necessary for Great Britain to wage its fight against Hitler, the British government modified its immigration policies and published the new policy in the so-called White Paper of 1939. This limited immigration to 15,000 Jews per year and established other obstacles to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine during the World War II years.

In contrast, the American Jewish Congress advocated a more activist position, convinced that arousing public opinion could improve the situation. The Congress called for a continuing round of protest rallies. Neither agency’s strategy proved effective. The German Nazi regime was immune to moral persuasion and diplomatic reasoning, and American Jewish disapproval was of no concern to Nazi leaders. The Jewish communities represented by the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee differed not only in their approaches to Jewish faith and culture, and their responses to the rise of National Socialism in Europe; they disagreed on all major issues of political, cultural, and economic interest to American Jews during the Holocaust years. From the quest for a Jewish community in Palestine, to the distribution of philanthropic funds; from the dilemma of how to respond to the British White Paper of 1939 that severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine, to the question of whether or not a Jewish army should be established, American Jews did not share common views.

American Jews in Leadership Roles In the first part of the century, men like Louis Marshall, Jacob Schiff, and Justice Louis Brandeis assumed mainstream leadership positions in American society through the support of various Jewish organizations. They accepted their role as “prominent Jews” and served as spokespersons both for their Jewish communities and for the mainstream culture of which they had become a part. During the 1930s this pattern changed, as many American Jews were appointed in the Roosevelt administration. These newly appointed Jewish officials, who came from the legal establishment, organized labor, the business community, the news media, the universities, and the political parties themselves, included Sidney Hillman, a labor leader; Samuel Rosenman, a lawyer involved in Democratic politics; Justice Felix Frankfurter; Henry M O R G E N T H AU , Jr., who began his career with Franklin D. Roosevelt in New York state politics; and Herbert Lehman, an investment banker and governor of New York. Although these men were Jewish by heritage, they did



not generally practice the Jewish faith and they felt little obligation to represent American Jewry in word or deed.


he strident antisemitism of the 1930s traumatized the Jews

of America. Even the new visibility of Jews in high places in the Roosevelt administration could not counteract its effect on American Jews.

Earlier leaders, raised in a more culturally Jewish environment, had no doubt about their responsibilities to the Jewish interest. Those who reached the top during the Roosevelt period considered themselves Americans who happened to be Jewish. They would not risk their careers for a Jewish need. Yet it was through these people, who were only tenuously connected to the Jewish community, that the government addressed the needs of American Jewry. Since the support of these people was modest at best, the American Jewish community was essentially leaderless. Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Stephen S. W I S E could speak to the Roosevelt administration only through these nominal spokespersons. Not until Henry Morgenthau became convinced of the need for an official American response did he use his influence to establish the W A R R E F U G E E B OA R D ; this was the peak of the American rescue effort, and it didn’t occur until 1944. Despite its low level of leadership, the community was able to unify for limited objectives. The concerns of American Jews were eventually made known to Roosevelt, and in the area of philanthropy a tenuous unity was achieved when the United Jewish Appeal was established in 1939. Most importantly, the American Jewish J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E , known in the Jewish world as “the Joint,” served the beleaguered Jewish community, even providing supplemental allotments of kosher food for Palestinian Jews serving in the British army. At the same time the Joint, working through proxy agencies in Europe, financed the rescue and sheltering of thousands of Jews in the neutral countries. The Joint was successful because it maintained the apolitical character mandated in its charter and was thereby able to avoid the conflicts dividing the otherwise highly politicized Jewish community. The true strength of American Jewry existed in philanthropy and rehabilitation, which united, rather than in politics and power, which divided.

Economic Depression and Social Discontent The Great Depression and its resulting domestic conditions were the principal factors in the Roosevelt administration’s response to the Holocaust. Recovery from the depression was the major preoccupation of government during the 1930s. During the critical years between 1937 and 1941, just before America entered the war, the economy was still in decline. Due to slow economic recovery, policymakers refused to rewrite restrictive immigration laws, which were administered to curtail the flow of refugees. These limited immigration policies made the role of rescue advocates more difficult. Many believed that the antisemitic rantings of demagogues like Gerald L. K. Smith and Father Charles Coughlin, who spoke to millions over the radio airwaves, were an omen that “it could happen here.” Although Jews had been welcomed into the ethnic urban coalition on which the strength of the Roosevelt administration was based, all was not well within that coalition. As a group, the Jews were emerging rapidly from the economic depression. This rapid recovery generated envy and resentment, further limiting the influence of Jews in leadership positions to advocate for Jewish interests that seemed to be in conflict with the interests of other Americans. The antisemitism of the 1930s in America also awakened the defensive instincts of many Jewish organizations. Much energy and money went into fighting domestic antisemitism, leaving proportionately less to use in alleviating the danger faced by European Jewry.



Intracommunity disunity and strife were partly set aside when news of the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” was received in the fall of 1942. But the American Jewish Conference, which was organized in 1943 by the major Jewish organizations to pursue a policy of unified action, was largely unsuccessful in bridging the political and cultural divisions within American Jewry. The role of the Bergson Group, an independent political Zionist organization, became a focal point of subsequent Holocaust dialogue.

The Bergson Group The “Bergson boys,” so called after their leader, Peter Bergson (a pseudonym of Hillel Kook), differed from other organizations. They were a group of Zionist Revisionists who came to the United States from Palestine, rather than a native product of the American Jewish community. Under several different names, the group variously advocated the creation of a Jewish army of stateless and Palestinian Jews and a militant rescue program based on the strategy of separating the rescue issue from the issue of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Bergson group never became a mass organization, but it skillfully utilized the media and cultivated political leaders to promote its agenda. It demonstrated a flair for publicity that annoyed mainstream organizations that tried to silence the new organization, and in one instance, a proposal was made to government officials that the Bergson group be deported to Palestine. The Bergson Group’s rescue program was beyond the realm of political possibility. In retrospect, however, it is clear that the Bergson group had a realistic understanding of the disaster taking place in Europe. They understood that a “business-as-usual” attitude was not appropriate, given the scale of the catastrophe. Virtually every step of what turned into America’s policy toward rescue of European Jews, including the eventual creation of a special government agency with the specific objective of rescuing Jews (the War Refugee Board), had been proposed and then initiated by the Bergson group. During the years between 1933 and 1945, American Jewry’s message to decision makers was sometimes muddled, but the fact that it desperately wanted its European brethren to be saved was understood. The steps proposed were repeatedly rejected. They were interpreted as an interfering with the major American aim, which was to win the war.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bauer, Yehuda. American Jewry and the Holocaust: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1939–1945. Detroit: Wayne State University, 1981. Feingold, Henry L. Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1995. Feingold, Henry L. A Time for Searching: Entering the Mainstream, 1920–1945. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Morrison, David. Heroes, Antiheroes, and the Holocaust: American Jewry and Historical Choice. New London, NH: Milah Press, 1995.




American Press and the Holocaust

Ironically, news released by the perpetrators [Germans] was given far greater prominence than the firsthand information being released by the victims.

The treatment given by the American press to the destruction of the Jews during World War II can best be described as a “sidebar.” This is the name given by journalists to a story that is secondary to the main story. The press coverage of the Nazi persecution of the Jews paralleled United States policy regarding refugee rescue. It simply was not an issue of primary importance. The press’s behavior reflected the United States’ attitude of “rescue through victory.” It was rare for more than an isolated newspaper to call for action to assist Jews. A great deal of information, including that about the “F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” and the systematic destruction of the Jews, was available long before the end of the war. Practically no aspect of the Holocaust remained unknown by 1945. However, significant information was often buried on the inside pages of newspapers. For instance, the June 1942 announcement that two million Jews had been killed as a result of planned annihilation was placed at the bottom of page 6 of the Chicago Tribune and given thirteen lines. Other major papers treated the story similarly. Many readers probably missed this story and similar ones published well inside the paper. Those readers who did see it probably assumed that the editors did not really believe it; had it been believed, a reader might have reasoned, it would have been more prominently placed. From the beginning of the Nazi regime, the press in the United States generally failed to take Hitler’s prewar and wartime threats against Jews seriously. Journalists, editors, and publishers generally did not recognize or acknowledge that A N T I S E M I T I S M was a keystone of Nazism. Consequently, what was done to the Jews was often attributed to opportunistic and political motives or to war-related privations. American reporters in Germany could transmit reports until December 1941. Although their movements in Germany were tightly controlled, they were still able to send out significant information. Some reporters pushed against the limits and went to the railway stations in order to listen to the conversations of soldiers on their way home from the front. These reporters always faced the threat of expulsion. After the United States entered the war, news of the fate of European Jewry was released primarily by governments-in-exile or Jewish sources. The press was inclined to discount this news because it came from “interested parties,” that is, the victims. Ironically, news released by the perpetrators was given far greater prominence than the first-hand information being released by the victims. During World War I, reporters had been told horror stories about the Germans. These propaganda-filled stories had left their legacy. In World War II, reporters doubted the reports of German atrocities because they seemed too similar to those exaggerated World War I reports. Sometimes reporters in Europe believed the news, while editors and publishers in the United States did not. Moreover, the number of victims made it more plausible for the press to dismiss the news as “beyond belief.” Stories detailing the deaths of several hundred people were sometimes given more credence than reports of the deaths of millions. The press’s behavior can be explained partly by the magnitude of the numbers, the absence of “independent” eyewitnesses, the inability to obtain confirmation from “impartial” sources, and the memory of World War I anti-German propaganda stories. Even when the Allies confirmed the news, reports were still buried in small articles on inside pages. The government’s desire to ignore the story also aided the press in suppressing the facts.



While the unprecedented nature of the events made it easier, particularly at the outset, to discount this kind of news, by 1943 and certainly by the time of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry in 1944, a great deal of evidence had become available. Most reporters seemed to know about the Holocaust, and some papers published editorials lamenting what was happening. But they generally maintained their practice of placing the stories in inconspicuous places and reacting with minimal comment. It is impossible, of course, to determine whether increased press attention would have prompted the government to follow a different policy. There were, however, some newspapers and magazines that pursued the story of the fate of the Jews with persistence and energy. Among them were a disproportionate number of liberal publications, including P.M., The New Republic, The Nation, Commonweal, and the New York Post. Liberal journalists such as Dorothy Thompson, William Shirer, and Arthur Koestler paid attention, as well. The Hearst papers also focused on the story when they became strong supporters of a Zionist political organization (the Bergson Group; see A M E R I CA N J E W RY A N D T H E H O L O C AU S T ), which repeatedly demanded action on behalf of the Jews. In marked contrast to the behavior and reaction of the general press, the Jewish press in the United States believed the stories that were coming from Europe and treated the news with urgency and concern.


arly reports from the Nazi years sometimes received more

attention than did later, more horrifying news of death and atrocities. By mid-1943 the news of the persecution of the Jews was regarded as an “old story,” and therefore most newspapers carried it on inside pages.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1994. Lipstadt, Deborah E. Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933–1945. New York: Free Press, 1986. Wyman, David S. The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941–1945. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984. Wyman, David S., ed. America and the Holocaust. New York: Garland, 1989.

Anielewicz, Mordecai (1919 or 1920–1943)

Mordecai Anielewicz was a Jewish underground activist and the commander of the W A R S AW G H E T TO U P R I S I N G . He was born into a poor family living in a W A R S AW slum quarter of P O L A N D ; he graduated from the Laor Jewish secondary school and joined the Zionist Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir movement, where he distinguished himself as an organizer and a youth leader. On September 7, 1939, a week after the outbreak of World War II, Anielewicz fled Warsaw and, with the senior members of his movement, traveled to eastern Poland, assuming that they would join the Polish underground forces there. On September 17, however, the Soviet army occupied eastern Poland. Anielewicz reached the southern part of the Soviet-occupied area and tried to cross into Romania and establish a route for Jewish youth trying to get to Palestine. He was caught by the Soviets and jailed. When he was released, he decided to return to Warsaw— by then under German occupation. He stayed in Warsaw briefly and left for Vilna, which by then had been incorporated into Lithuania. It contained a large concentration of refugees from Warsaw, among them members of the youth movements and political parties. Anielewicz called on his fellow Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir members



Mordecai Anielewicz (standing, right) with members of Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir.

to send a team of instructors back to German-occupied Poland, where they would resume the movement’s educational and political activities in the underground. He was the first to volunteer for this assignment. By January 1940, Anielewicz had become a full-time underground activist. As the leader of the Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir underground movement, he set up cells and youth groups, organized their activities, helped publish an underground newspaper, arranged meetings and seminars, and made frequent illegal trips outside Warsaw, visiting other communities and his movement’s chapters in the provincial ghettos. He also found time to study, especially Hebrew, and read history, sociology, and economics. During this period he began to express his views in lectures and in articles that he published in the underground press. Responding to the first reports of the mass murder of Jews in the east, in June 1941, Anielewicz began to concentrate on the creation of a self-defense organiza-



tion in the ghetto. His first efforts to establish contacts with the Polish underground forces that were loyal to the Polish government-in-exile in London were unsuccessful. At the time of the mass D E P O R TAT I O N from Warsaw in the summer of 1942, Anielewicz was in the southwestern part of Poland, which had been incorporated into Germany. While there, he transformed the underground youth movements into an armed resistance movement. On his return to Warsaw after the mass deportation, he found that only 60,000 of Warsaw’s 350,000 Jews were left in the ghetto, and that the J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A N I Z AT I O N (Z˙ OB) in the ghetto lacked weapons and was in a dire situation, having suffered failures and lost members. Anielewicz quickly reorganized and reinvigorated the group. Following the mass deportation, there was far more support in the ghetto for the idea of armed resistance and its practical organization. Most of the existing Jewish underground groups now joined the Z˙OB. A public council, consisting of authorized representatives, was established in support of the Z˙ OB. In November 1942 Anielewicz was appointed commander of the Z˙OB. By January 1943 several groups of fighters, consisting of members of the pioneering Zionist youth movements, had been consolidated; contact had been established with the Home Army Command (Armia Krajowa), and a small quantity of guns and ammunition had been smuggled from the Polish side of the city.

“My life’s dream has come true; I have lived to see Jewish resistance in the ghetto in all its greatness and glory.” —Mordecai Anielewicz

On January 18, 1943, the Germans launched the second mass deportation from the Warsaw ghetto. Surprised by this action, the Z˙ OB staff was unable to plan a revolt. However, in one part of the ghetto the armed groups of Z˙OB fighters decided to act independently. There were two areas of Z˙OB resistance, with Anielewicz commanding the major street battle. The fighters deliberately joined the columns of deportees and, at a planned signal, attacked the German escorts at the corner of Zamenhofa and Niska streets, while the rest of the Jews fled from the scene. Most of the fighters belonging to the Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir group died in that battle, but Anielewicz survived. The resistance action taken on January 18 was significant, because four days later the Germans halted the deportation. The ghetto population interpreted this to mean that the Germans were drawing back in the face of armed resistance by the Jews. The following three months, from January to April 1943, were used by the Z˙OB for intensive preparations for the decisive test ahead, under the supervision of the organization’s headquarters, led by Anielewicz. On April 19, the eve of Passover, the final deportation of Warsaw Jews was launched, signaling the start of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In the first few clashes, the Jewish resistance fighters held the upper hand and the Germans suffered losses. Clashes and street fighting in the ghetto lasted for three days. Once the Germans brought in a large military force, the few hundred Jewish fighters, armed only with pistols, had no chance of victory. They did not surrender, however. Neither, for the most part, did the Jews who were in the bunkers. The Germans resorted to burning down the ghetto, house by house, in order to destroy the bunkers. The fighting in the ghetto went on for four weeks. The Germans suffered constant losses. It wasn’t until May 16 that Jürgen S T R O O P , the commander of the German force, was able to report that the Grossaktion (“major operation”) had been concluded and the ghetto conquered. In the first days of the fighting, Anielewicz was in command, in the midst of the main fighting forces of the ghetto. When the street fighting was over, Anielewicz, his staff, and a large force of fighters retreated into the bunker at 18 Mila Street. When this bunker was destroyed on May 8, most of the members of the Z˙ OB, including Anielewicz, were killed. In his last letter, of April 23, 1943, to Yitzhak



Z U C K E R M A N (a member of the Z˙OB staff who was then on assignment on the Polish side), Anielewicz wrote: What has happened is beyond our wildest dreams. Twice the Germans fled from the ghetto. One of our companies held out for forty minutes and the other, for over six hours....; I have no words to describe to you the conditions in which the Jews are living. Only a few chosen ones will hold out; all the rest will perish sooner or later. The die is cast. In the bunkers in which our comrades are hiding, no candle can be lit, for lack of air....; The main thing is: My life’s dream has come true; I have lived to see Jewish resistance in the ghetto in all its greatness and glory. Kibbutz Yad Mordecai in Israel has been named after Mordecai Anielewicz, and is the site of a memorial in his honor.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Gutman, Israel. Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. Landau, Elaine. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Shoah [videorecording]. New Yorker Video, 1999. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: An Audio-visual Program from the Exhibition at Ghetto Fighter’s House [videorecording]. Ergo Media, 1993.

ANNE FRANK HOUSE. SEE FRANK, ANNE Anti-Jewish Legislation The Nazi party program adopted in Germany in February 1920 contained four anti-Jewish objectives: 1. Jews should not be citizens, and should have the legal status of foreigners; 2. Jews should not be public officials; 3. Jews should be barred from immigrating into Germany; 4. Any Jew who is the owner or editor of a German newspaper should be removed from that position. At the time, these demands were not new, nor could they be regarded as particularly radical. These views had been advocated by all pre-1914 anti-semitic parties and political groups, and they corresponded to the ideas widely held by the German population.

First Laws: 1933 There were three distinct and separate waves of anti-Jewish legislation. The first welled up in March 1933, and by April 7 had culminated in one of the major Nazi objectives—the enactment of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. This law authorized the dismissal of “non-Aryan” civil servants, except for those who had held that status since August 1, 1914, who had fought at the front for Germany in World War I, or whose father or son had been killed in action in that war. A “non-Aryan” was defined as a person “descended from non-



Aryan, and especially from Jewish, parents or grandparents,” even if only one parent or grandparent fit that category. This law became the model for measures excluding Jews from other occupations—for example, lawyers and tax consultants—and dismissing all “non-Aryan” employees. Doctors and dentists were barred from the panels of social-medicine institutions. Under a law that was passed on September 22, 1933, reestablishing a Reich Chamber of Culture, “non-Aryans” were removed from organizations and enterprises related to literature, the press, broadcasting, the theater, music, and art. The legislation barring Jews from certain professions and occupations was augmented by measures designed to make these occupations inaccessible to Jews in the first place. The first such measure was the Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning (April 7, 1933), which restricted the admissible number of “non-Aryan” students to a certain percentage of the total. All regulations governing training and examinations for state-controlled occupations contained an “Aryan clause,” which prohibited “non-Aryans” from sitting for final state examinations. This closed all such occupations to them. The “Aryan clause” was also introduced into the bylaws of professional organizations, societies, and clubs, and as a result it became increasingly difficult for Jews to protect their interests or take part in social activities.


erman Jews became trapped in a legislative net that, by the sheer

number of its rules as well as by its limited focus, had no precedent in the history of the treatment of minorities.

Financial aid was denied to Jews: Jewish high school and university students were no longer eligible for reductions of school fees, scholarships, or any other kind of assistance; and newly married couples were not granted the usual matrimony loans if one of the partners was “non-Aryan.” Another category of laws and regulations was designed to discriminate against the Jewish religion and hamper observance of its practices and customs. Jewish ritual slaughter of meat and poultry was outlawed as early as April 1933. Jewish judges could at any time be rejected, on grounds of bias. Increasing numbers of local authorities prohibited Jews from visiting public baths; Jewish students who did not attend classes on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays were penalized; and Jewish prisoners no longer had the right to receive kosher food. By mid-1935 these measures had severely restricted Jewish life in Germany. Jews, for the most part, maintained contact only with other Jews.

Nuremberg Laws: 1935 The second major wave of anti-Jewish legislation came on September 15, 1935, when the Reichstag, meeting in Nuremberg, passed two laws that provided for the final legal and social separation between German Jews and other Germans. Under the Reich Citizenship Law, the Jews were deprived of all voting rights and became Staatsbürger 2 Klasse (second-class citizens). One immediate effect of this law was the dismissal, by December 31, 1935, of all the Jewish civil servants, employees, and workers who still held their jobs. The broader function of the citizenship law was to serve as the legal basis for no fewer than thirteen additional decrees, each relating to a different set of circumstances. The other law passed that day was the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which forbade marriage between Jews and nationals of German or kindred blood. In the wake of that law, a complicated classification system was created to define various degrees of Jewishness. These ranged from Volljude (full Jew) to Geltungsjude (person regarded as a Jew, even though he or she had two “Aryan” grandparents) to M I S C H L I N G E (partial Jew, i.e., a person of mixed blood). Mischlinge were further divided in turn into first and second degrees, with each degree having its own specified privileges, rights, and disabilities.



Sweeping Laws: 1938–1943


ore than 2,000 anti-Jewish measures were enacted in

Nazi Germany prior to January, 1937. This figure refers only to laws passed by the Reich and the larger states and provinces, and represents only a part of the total number of anti-Jewish regulations. When smaller political units and autonomous bodies are taken into account, the total number of anti-Jewish measures exceeds 3,000.

The third wave of anti-Jewish legislation concerned the remaining sphere of Jewish activity in German society: the economy. Though these laws began appearing during 1936 and 1937, the most extreme legislation followed the Nazi-sanctioned destruction of Jewish property and assets during K R I S TA L L N AC H T (November 9–10, 1938). On November 12, 1938, Nazi anti-Jewish legislation entered its final phase. A collective fine of 1 billion reichsmarks was imposed on the Jews as a body, as a penalty for the murder of a German diplomat in Paris, which was the feeble excuse given for the riots of Kristallnacht. Additionally, the Jews had to use their own resources to repair all damage they suffered in the rioting. The Measure for the Elimination of Jews from the German Economy completed the list of occupations from which Jews were barred; as of January 1, 1939, there was no occupation a Jew could join or practice unless he dealt only with Jews. In the period following November 9, 1938, more legislation was passed, in three different areas: 1. The first law allowed the seizure and confiscation of Jewish-owned assets (A R YA N I Z AT I O N , or “arisierung”), which was a legalized form of plunder by the state. 2. The separation of Jews from other Germans, in both location and time: Jews were forbidden to enter specific places or show themselves in public at certain times. Between February 1939 and April 1939 for example, they could no longer enter railway sleeping or dining cars; from April 1939 onward, local authorities were permitted to restrict Jews to specific houses or residential districts. 3. The concentration of all significant political affairs relating to “Jewish questions” in the hands of the SS organs, and the liquidation of Jewish institutions. On November 9, 1938, Hermann Göring received Hitler’s authorization to deal with all Jewish political affairs. This enabled him, on January 24, 1939, to appoint Reinhard H E Y D R I C H as chief of the C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N (Zentralstelle Für Jüdische Auswanderung), which in practice gave the S S the power of decision on all matters affecting the Jews. In legislative terms, this situation was expressed in the Tenth Implementation Decree under the Reich Citizenship Law of July 4, 1939, which provided for the establishment of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Association of Jews in Germany). This organization, responsible for the organization and implementation of emigration and all related matters, as well as for separate Jewish education and social welfare, was under the supervision and control of Heydrich in his capacity as chief of the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) and SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service). Even prior to the outbreak of war, German Jews were trapped in a legislative net that, by the sheer number of its rules as well as by its limited focus, had no precedent in the history of the treatment of minorities. When war broke out, the existing regulations were extended in every possible direction and tightened. Jews were forbidden to leave their residences after 8:00 p.m. (September 1, 1939); their radio sets were confiscated (September 20, 1939); their food rations were reduced (December 7, 1939), as were their other rations (January 23, 1940); their purchases were restricted to limited hours and to certain stores; their telephones were taken away (July 19, 1940). From the beginning of the war, the Jews were put on forced labor. As of September 19, 1941, they had to wear a sign of their Jewishness in public (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ) and, with few exceptions, they were not permitted to use public transportation. On October 23 of that year, Jewish emigration was prohibited.



The “F I N A L S O L U T I O N ”—launched in Germany with two transports of Jews to the east in October 1941—was reflected inside the Reich by the enactment of regulations that had the sole purpose of depriving the Jews of the last of their possessions, of discriminating against them in every possible way, and of taking from them whatever rights they still had left. The Jews who were deported to the east automatically lost their German citizenship (November 25, 1941). At the end of June 1942, the remaining Jewish schools were closed down. Germans who maintained friendly contacts with Jews ran the risk of having to spend three months in a concentration camp (October 24, 1941); German hairdressers were no longer permitted to have Jewish clients (May 12, 1942); and Jews were no longer allowed to keep “German” house pets. The final anti-Jewish law, dated July 1, 1943, stipulated that when a Jew died, his estate would be forfeited to the Reich.

Throughout Eastern Europe In the countries allied with Germany, or conquered and occupied by it, the extent and severity of anti-Jewish legislation depended on the regime and on the political and military pressure exerted by Germany—or, conversely, on the degree to which the country could convince Germany to respect its status under international law. Thus, after the annexation of Austria on March 13, 1938, no time was lost in applying Nazi racial legislation to Austria. The same applied, even more ruthlessly, to the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A . The G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T (occupied Poland) enacted the harshest and most brutal anti-Jewish measures, which were passed months and even years before they were applied in the Reich itself. In the countries that were militarily defeated—France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Croatia), and Greece—the local German military commander or the puppet regime generally introduced legal measures defining who was to be regarded as a Jew and eliminating Jews from economic life. This also occurred in the states allied with Germany (Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary), although in such cases the Reich had to exert varying degrees of pressure to overcome the resistance shown by most of these governments. The only country under German control that enacted no anti-Jewish legislation was Denmark. They succeeded in saving most of their Jewish population when the Germans finally moved to deport Danish Jews in July 1943.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Hecht, Ingeborg. Invisible Walls: A German Family Under the Nuremberg Laws. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985.

The Nazis, a Warning from History [videorecording]. A&E Home Video, 1999. Newman, Amy. The Nuremberg Laws: Institutionalized Anti-semitism. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1999.

Antisemitism The term “antisemitism” refers to the opposition to and hatred of Jews throughout history. Its causes and its enduring nature are related to both Jewish beliefs and to the role played by Jews in the Western world.



Religious Conflict Many think that the principal roots of antisemitism are found in the conflicts between Christianity and Judaism. According to this view, antisemitism derives its force and continuity over the centuries from Christianity. The conflict between the two religions is grounded in the issue of Jesus as the Messiah, and in the place of Judaism and the Jews in the Old and New Testaments. The Christian church accused Jews of deicide, the murder of a divine being. This guilt was considered collective; not only the Jews who lived at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion were considered guilty, but all the children of Israel, forever and ever. Christians were seen as personifying God’s truth and mercy, and Jews were perceived as sinful nonbelievers. Anxieties about Jews and negative images of them entered the folklore and culture of Christian peoples. Jews were negatively characterized as despising physical work, especially farming. Instead, they were alleged to prefer to make a living by loaning money and charging interest. (In some European languages the term “Jew” is synonymous with cheating and charging excessive interest.) Other erroneous stereotypes emerged, as well, which transcended religious differences and had no grounding in reality.

1789–1870 Enlightenment

A period during the 18th century when philosophers, writers, and other intellectuals questioned all aspects of knowledge and social discourse, seeking to understand the world through reason and scientific observation.

Modern antisemitism grew out of ideological and social developments during the period of the Enlightenment. In F R A N C E around the time of the French Revolution (1789), the “Jewish question” arose in connection with the principle that equal civil rights should be granted to all men, regardless of religion or origin. In the French National Assembly, the argument was made that these rights should be denied to the Jews because they were a nation, and not just a religious group. At the same time, the United States was a young nation founded under the principles of equality and the separation of church and state. Different ethnic and national groups lived in a society that tolerated pluralism—a diversity of religious and ethnic groups. This pluralism did not mean a partnership among equals, however. The white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who founded the United States, and their descendants, remained in positions of authority and they held key economic positions. In later years, during times of turmoil such as the Civil War and the period between the two world wars, restrictions on immigration and other forms of antisemitism were noticeable. American antisemitism often took the form of social rejection—a refusal to accept Jews into exclusive clubs and hotels. In the business world, some companies did not allow Jews to rise to senior positions. Antisemitism was keenly felt in the United States during the twentieth century until after the end of World War II. It was generally not brutal or violent, however, and never led to the passage of restrictive national laws specifically against Jews. Even at the height of the Great Depression in the United States, Jews were never blamed by the government for the financial crisis and massive unemployment as they were during economic hard times in Germany. Unlike the United States and France, the German nation was not established in order to further revolutionary ideals. It was founded in order to unite the German people into one strong national body. G E R M A N Y drew some of its inspiration and ideals from the German past and from spiritual and literary movements such as Romanticism, which embraced the traditions of medieval Germany. While the character of the French and American revolutions meant increased opportunities for people, in Germany, individualism and ambition were suppressed. It took several genera-



tions before equal rights were granted to all Germans. As a result, Germans were unwilling to accept the equality of the Jews, even when it had been legally granted. From the early nineteenth century until the granting of full emancipation to the Jews in 1871, expressions of antisemitism never disappeared in Germany. Violent anti-Jewish writings continued to be published, such as those of Hartwig Hundt, who called for the deportation or destruction of the Jews. Even among the liberals who advocated changes in government and in society, there were severe critics of Jews. However, this period was marked by a continuous evolution toward emancipation. Jews who left the ghettos achieved success in finance (the best-known example is the house of Rothschild) and in intellectual endeavors. The poet and critic Heinrich Heine and the essayist Karl Ludwig Borne, although converts to Christianity, were influenced by their former Judaism. Equality evolved only as various prohibitions, such as those that forbade Jews to live in certain places or that limited them to certain professions, were eliminated. During the 1870s the granting of equal citizenship and legal rights to Jews was achieved throughout western and central Europe. In this hopeful period for Jews, antisemitism paradoxically appeared in a new form, and eventually it would bring disaster upon the Jews.

The New Antisemitism The new antisemitism was an ideology, or an integrated body of ideas. There was often no real connection to Jews or Jewish society. The new antisemitism was used to explain the complex and troubling problems of modern man and to reveal the sources of economic crises, political conflicts, war, and, in fact, all societal ills. This new form of an old prejudice was supposedly rational, based on objective scientific analysis of the Jewish role in society. The word “antisemitism,” which advocates chose as a label for their ideology, was meant to emphasize its difference from earlier Jew-hatred. The name “antisemitism,” which was taken from the Greek, was also intended to endow the ideology with a scientific basis. In actuality, antisemitism was never directed against other “Semites,” such as the Arabs, but only against the Jews. The new version of antisemitism was destined, in the twentieth century, to play a major and destructive role in the lives of Jews and all mankind. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, tried to understand the meaning of the new antisemitism that played itself out between 1870 to 1944. He set forth his ideas in Antisemite and Jew (Réflexions sur la question juive), published in France in 1946. Sartre emphasized that it is not the antisemite’s personal experience with Jews that evokes his hatred toward them, but rather his tendency to see the source of his own personal failings in his abstract perception of Jews. The Jew is the available scapegoat. In the new antisemitism, Jews were identified with capitalism, modernism, and urbanization, all of which were economic and societal changes that seemed to threaten traditional ways of life. In Germany, Jews were regarded as the instigators and the beneficiaries of these disturbing changes. The new antisemitism in Germany found expression in the nationalist political völkisch movement, whose leaders believed that industrialization and modernism were undermining the spiritual and cultural uniqueness of the German people. Advocates of the völkisch movement specifically blamed Jews for undermining the German way of life. Those who challenged the emancipation of German Jews perpetuated negative stereotypes. It was said that Jews were not satisfied with equality and did not integrate quietly into a working society. They were accused of wanting to take over


Granting of full rights.



important but nonproductive branches of the economy. They were accused of “causing damage” in the fields of science, art, literature, and the press. According to their critics, the Jews destroyed good taste in Germany by engaging in imitation and superficial creativity. The composer Richard Wagner in his essay Das Judentum in der Musik (The Jews in Music), accused the Jews of lacking original creativity and destroying artistic taste. Other notable men contributed to the ongoing racist discussions. The Nobel prize-winning physicist Philipp Lenard distinguished between “German physics” and “Jewish physics”; the latter was represented by Albert Einstein and his theories. The new antisemites expanded the old claim that the Jews were “a nation within a nation.” Moderates complained that Jews had not ended their national separatism. They did not completely identify with the European nations in which they lived, and they continued to maintain ties of communication and solidarity with Jews in other lands. According to the extreme antisemites, this was evidence that the Jews had a secret international leadership that was plotting to take over the entire world. In pursuit of this goal the Jews supposedly promoted capitalism and liberal political ideologies that would destroy European nations.

Literary Expressions of Antisemitism In 1868 a novel, Biarritz, was published by Hermann Goedsche, under the pseudonym Sir John Redcliffe. Its first chapter described a secret meeting of the original twelve Jewish tribes at night in the Prague Jewish cemetery. There, during a strange ceremony accompanied by prayer, oaths, and fire, participants examined the progress made by the Jews in their efforts to take over the Christian world. Although this was a piece of fiction, Redcliffe (actually Goedsche), who in reality was a post office clerk, was lauded by antisemites as a courageous man who had uncovered a Jewish plot that threatened the entire Christian world. Other variations on Redcliffe’s story appeared in different forms, but the version that became most important and influential was the P R O T O C O L S O F T H E E L D E R S O F Z I O N . The Protocols had been disseminated in Russia since the beginning of the twentieth century. They were a transparent plagiarism of a parody of the French dictator Napoleon III written by Maurice Joly, a long-forgotten French author. The Protocols were initially used by the Russian secret police to redirect political unrest toward the Jews. The work was taken to the West by Russian emigrés at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. When it reached Germany and other lands, the tales were accepted by many as the truth. Even the London Times seemed to believe the Protocols, although later it exposed them as a forgery. The Protocols and similar works found a receptive audience after a wave of revolutions that swept Europe during and after World War I. Jews were widely accused of leading those revolutions, especially the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. In fact, some prominent Jews did play important roles, including Leon Trotsky in Russia, Béla Kun in Hungary, and Rosa Luxemburg and Kurt Eisner in Germany. Their Jewish origins and those of other revolutionaries were emphasized, arousing suspicions among Europeans who had not previously been antisemitic.

Antisemitism in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia During the last decades of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the Jewish issue was part of the long debate between the republicans and royalists in France. The extremist author Eduard Drumont, who wrote prolifically,



published antisemitic books and newspapers, and was widely read, raised the cry, “France for the French.” Racial ideas against Jews were never widely accepted in France, however. The “Jewish question” in France often focused on the differences between Jews who had been in France for a long time, were rooted in its culture, and had contributed to the French war effort, and foreign Jews who had arrived more recently. The latter were targets of discrimination and antipathy, especially in the time between the two world wars. The situation of Jews in states with one dominant national group, like Germany and France, differed from states where the Jews were one of many large minorities. In A U S T R I A , where Germans lost their dominant position after World War I, antisemitism was strong. In his book M E I N K A M P F , Adolf H I T L E R claimed that the Austrian city of V I E N N A was for him a school in antisemitism. The popular mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, openly expressed antisemitic ideas and knew how to sell them to the Catholic majority. Although antisemitism increased and was directed primarily toward Jews who came to Vienna from eastern Europe, it never played an important role in internal Austrian politics or Austrian foreign relations between the two world wars. When Austria was annexed to Germany in the Anschluss in 1938, however, anti-Jewish expression became commonplace. Numerous Nazi leaders who were extreme in the persecution and murder of the Jews were of Austrian origin. In H U N G A R Y , and in P O L A N D political antisemitism with an ideological tone increased in the late 1800s. Both countries had long-standing, brutal, and vulgar antisemitic traditions. In both countries, Jews, as a relatively high percentage of the urban population, controlled a high proportion of trade, finance, and the professions. Jews were still considered outsiders, and their attempts to preserve their cultural identity caused problems for them. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, harsh public antisemitism became more acceptable. In Hungary and Romania fascist parties with clear antisemitic agendas were active. In Poland the right-wing parties and, eventually, the political camp in power, supported a mass exodus of Jews. The most extreme movements wanted to speed up such an exodus through violence and pogroms. The governing bloc, on the other hand, wanted to achieve this goal by political means. Hungary saw itself as an ally of Germany and in 1938 and 1939 it passed antisemitic and racial laws. In Romania pillaging, violence, and pogroms took place with the tacit approval of the government. What was the role of the people of the European nations, as compared to that of their leadership? In Poland, the general population did not take an active part in the annihilation of the Jews. The dominant attitude of the Poles, however, including those who resisted Nazi control, was one of indifference toward the murder of the Jews. Through no fault of the Polish people, most of the slaughter was carried out on their soil. Romanians participated actively in the mass murder, but in the last stages of the war they recoiled from handing over Jews for total destruction. In Hungary the situation for Jews during most of the war years was relatively tolerable until the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944, and the beginning of deportations of Jews to extermination camps. The Hungarian authorities helped in the work of annihilation, and much of the Hungarian population also played a shameful role.


A Russian word meaning “devastation” that came to be applied to organized violence against Jews, which was often encouraged and supported by government authorities.

Russian antisemitism had special characteristics. For a long time antisemitism in Russia was government policy, and only small groups of Jews were permitted to play any part in the nation’s economic development. Waves of pogroms swept Russia during the 1880s, some of them initiated by the government. After the February 1917 revolution, however, Russian Jews were granted equal rights. Between the two



This is an illustration from Trau keinem Fuchs auf grüner Heid und keinem Jud bei seinem Eid (Don’t Trust a Fox in the Chicken Coop or a Jew at His Word), a children’s book by Elvira Bauer published in Germany in 1936.

world wars, antisemitism in the Soviet Union was illegal, and therefore hidden. The roles filled by individual Jews in the Soviet regime contributed to a new kind of antisemitism, which during World War II and the Holocaust had a deadly effect in the Nazi-occupied areas of the Soviet Union.

Antisemitism in Germany Racial ideas were an important element of secular and political antisemitism in Germany. A racial label could be placed on the Jew after all the other obvious differences had disappeared: a Jew who dressed like a German or Frenchman, behaved like a German or Frenchman, spoke impeccable German or French, and became a patron of music, art, and literature could still be a target of hatred based on the unchangeable characteristic of race. In Germany, political antisemitism was first and foremost ideological in nature. It was claimed that Jews played a key role in social and political conflicts in Europe in the early 1900s. The brutality and violence of pogroms and persecutions that marked antisemitism in eastern Europe were not, at the beginning, part of German



political antisemitism. In the future, however, Germany would disseminate a theory of racial antisemitism that would ignite a raging fire. The division of people into races seemed to agree with the famous naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The development of racism in Germany resulted in part from Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Darwinist theories. Chamberlain was an Englishman who became Germanized and believed that he had a mission to the German people. According to Chamberlain’s interpretation of Darwin, the Jews had declined over time. Based on his theory, neither King David nor Jesus was Jewish, and the great achievements ascribed to the Jews had actually been accomplished by gentiles. On the other hand, Chamberlain said, the Germans had developed into the elite Aryan race, and they enjoyed a spiritual superiority that enabled them to create great achievements. In Germany, racism, more than any other theory aside from nationalism, was the focus of National Socialism (Nazism). Anti-Jewishness in the Nazi period followed the directives laid down by Hitler in the 1920s. It was a consistent “rational” policy, supported by legislation. The Nazi anti-Jewish policies and propaganda relied on and perpetuated generations of erroneous but culturally accepted myths and fears about Jews. Nazism came to power as a form of German nationalism, rather than a platform for antisemitism, following Germany’s defeat in World War I and the crisis that followed. Yet antisemitism helped Nazis to gain power and win the hearts of the German masses. Even though the Nazis did not particularly emphasize antisemitism on the eve of their rise to power, it was a well-known element in their system of beliefs, and it was a critical factor in the lasting legacy of death and hatred left by the Hitler years.


olitical antisemitism existed throughout Europe before Hitler

introduced his brand of racist antisemitism. Poland and Hungary both had long-standing, brutal, and vulgar antisemitic traditions. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, harsh public antisemitism became more acceptable everywhere. Political antisemitism did not lead directly and inevitably to Nazism, and the Nazi takeover of Germany was not mainly a result of antisemitism. However, the antisemitism that already existed in Europe was used by the Hitler to gain acceptance of his regime.

The “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ” grew directly out of the Nazis’ racist anti-Jewish ideology. The Nazis ultimately regarded the “Jewish question” as having only one answer: the total destruction and elimination of all Jews. As persecution by the Nazis against Jews continued, it reached the point of indiscriminate mass murder. Undoubtedly, this plan to eliminate the Jews was facilitated by the apathy, approval and collaboration that the Nazis found throughout Europe, even during the years of the “Final Solution” itself.

Postwar Antisemitism After World War II antisemitism was greatly weakened in the West, and the Western churches began to acknowledge the fatal mistake they had made in encouraging the Christian aspects of antisemitism. In the Soviet Union and its satellites, however, strong expressions of antisemitism recurred a few years after the end of the war, and in times of crisis and change antisemitism was once again employed as a tactical tool. Over the years antisemitism began to appear under the guise of “antiZionism.” Zionism was a movement that supported the establishment of a homeland for Jews. There are those who actively deny that the Holocaust occurred (see H O L O D E N I A L O F T H E ). This is certainly a form of antisemitism. Supporters of this movement try to eradicate or manipulate the truth in order to permit the resurrection of Jew-hatred as it existed in the past. There have been expressions of antisemitism in countries that have few Jews living in them; one such example was the widespread dissemination of antisemitic literature in Japan in the 1980s.

C AU S T ,

It is clear that the struggle against antisemitism requires constant vigilance to permanently remove this disease from the body of mankind.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.

Europa Europa [videorecording]. Orion Home Video, 1992. Goldhagen, Daniel. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. Weiss, John. Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany. Chicago: I.R. Dee, 1996. Wistrich, Robert S. Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.


Arrow Cross Party fascist

Describes political systems in which power rests not with citizens but with the central government, which is often run by the military or by a dictator.

opposition party

A political party that does not have a majority in government representation, and is not in power.

The Arrow Cross Party (Nyilaskeresztes Párt) was a Hungarian fascist party and movement created by Ferenc Szálasi in 1937. Like all fascist organizations, the Arrow Cross Party was in favor of a dictatorship rather than a democractic government. The name Arrow Cross is also incorrectly used to refer to other parties (such as the party of the National Will and the Hungarian National Socialist party) that were also founded and led by Szálasi. Szálasi labeled his theories Hungarizmus. They were a hodgepodge of ideas— anticapitalist, anti-Marxist, nationalist (placing one nation above all others) and, most of all, aggressively antisemitic (see A N T I S E M I T I S M ). The movement’s leaders were ex-army officers, journalists, and middle-ranking government and county officials. Popular support for the party came mainly from officers, students, impoverished intellectuals, and urban and rural working class and poor people. In the 1939 national election, the only election in which the party took part, the Arrow Cross received over 25 percent of the vote and became the most important opposition party. Although the Arrow Cross advocated a pro-German foreign policy, the party was not included in Hungary’s pro-Nazi government, even after the German occupation of H U N G A R Y on March 19, 1944. In the fall of 1944, however, G E R M A N Y pressured Hungary to form a coalition government—one that consists of more than one party—led by the Arrow Cross Party. During the short Arrow Cross rule, eighty thousand Jews were expelled from Hungary. Most of them were women, and they left Hungary in a march to the Austrian border under harsh conditions. Many of the deportees died en route. During this time, several thousand Jews were murdered in the Hungarian city of Budapest, and their bodies were thrown into the Danube. The coalition government, and with it the influence of the Arrow Cross party, came to an end when the Soviet Union’s Red Army took Budapest in January 1945. After the war, Szálasi and most of the prominent Arrow Cross leaders were tried as war criminals by the Hungarian courts. The majority of the party members who had not been in leadership positions were reintegrated into civilian life.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Anger, Per. With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Memories of the War Years in Hungary. Washington, DC: Holocaust Library, 1995.



Karsai, Laszlo. “Photographs Documenting the Holocaust in Hungary.” Holocaust History Project. [Online] http://www.holocaust-history.org/hungarian-photos/ (includes text; accessed on August 22, 2000) Lacko, M. Arrow-Cross Men and National Socialists, 1935–1944. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1969.

Aryanization “Aryanization” (Arisierung) was the term used to denote the transfer of Jewishowned independent economic enterprises to “Aryan” German ownership throughout the Third Reich and the countries it occupied. The process had two stages: “voluntary” sales of Jewish-owned businesses, in the period from 1933 to 1938, which was a by-product of the exclusion of Jews from the economic life of the country; and forced transfer, under law, in the final phase of the “de-Judaization” of the German economy, following K R I S TA L L N AC H T (“Night of the Broken Glass”), the November 1938 pogroms.

“Voluntary” Stage At the beginning of 1933, there were some 100,000 Jewish-owned enterprises in Germany. About half of them were retail stores, dealing mostly in clothing, footwear, or furniture. The rest were factories and workshops, publishing firms, newspapers, and independent practices of medicine, law, and other professions. The “free professions” (those requiring higher education) were targeted as early as April 1933. The Nazi law “for the restoration of the career public service” (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums) was the first to make Aryan descent a condition for public employment, and the condition also came to be applied to selfemployed doctors and lawyers. The campaign against the Jewish-owned retail trade consisted mainly of boycotts and intimidation, and was often accompanied by violence (see B OY C OT T, A N T I -J E W I S H ). In the early years of the Nazi regime, the economic boycott and exclusion process was less likely to affect Jewish firms that had international contacts and prestige, but this did not last. The process went on relentlessly, so that by the spring of 1938, nearly 70 percent of the Jewish enterprises in Germany had been liquidated.


A Russian word meaning “devastation” that came to be applied to organized violence against Jews, which was often encouraged and supported by government authorities.

The “creeping” boycott actions affected mainly the Jewish retail trade. Of the more than 50,000 Jewish retail stores that existed in 1933, only 9,000 were left in 1938. On the other hand, factories and workshops, especially those that were laborintensive or export-oriented, were able to sustain themselves during the first few years of the Nazi regime and even to some extent to thrive on the general boom of the German economy. This was also true of the private Jewish banks, even though they had long been the centerpiece of derisive Nazi propaganda. Some Jewish enterprises continued relatively untouched for a number of reasons: the Nazi regime was concerned about unemployment; large industrial plants and stores were able to counteract the pressure; and the banks had international connections, which had to be maintained to protect German exports and the influx of foreign currency (of which there was a shortage). Jewish business owners were strongly pressured to sell their enterprises at a fraction of their value; they were threatened with economic boycott, physical attacks, even imprisonment in concentration camps and accusations by the G E S TA P O of hav-



An SA member stands in front of a Jewishowned department store. The sign next to him reads “Germans defend yourselves; don’t buy from Jews!”

ing committed various crimes. These measures were generally used against small and medium-sized enterprises. More sophisticated means were used on the owners of large businesses, but there were also cases of wealthy owners being jailed or put in concentration camps and held until they agreed to give up their enterprises.

Compulsory Stage and Final Liquidation Compulsory Aryanization began immediately after the November 1938 pogroms. In large measure, it was the result of political developments and German war preparations. In 1938, legislation prohibited all independent economic activity by Jews, except for certain services that they could continue to render to Jews only. Jewish enterprises that had not yet been sold were put under a governmentappointed trustee, who was to “Aryanize” the enterprise. Compulsory Aryanization was applied to all Jewish businesses, factories, and workshops that were still in existence at the time. Apartment houses, however, were explicitly postponed to a later



date, apparently because Jews would soon be restricted to living in Jewish-owned apartment houses (later known as judenhäuser). By the time Aryanization became compulsory, the process of eliminating the independent economic activity of Germany’s Jews had been underway for years. Compulsory Aryanization managed to liquidate the little that was left within the space of a few weeks. During 1938, pressure on Jewish enterprises, by boycott and harassment, intensified and was extended to include industrial manufacturing enterprises. The process of “voluntary” Aryanization and liquidation of Jewish enterprises was correspondingly accelerated. The more profitable and well-established of Jewish enterprises were highly attractive prizes to large, well-known German firms, as well as to individual Nazis intent on getting rich, and ordinary Germans. Reinhard H E Y D R I C H was put in charge of the Devisenfahndungsamt (Foreign Currency Investigation Bureau). He introduced special blocked accounts (Sperrkonten) for Jews, to make it easy to supervise these accounts and restrict their use.

Between 1933 and 1945, the vast majority of earthly goods owned by eastern European Jews passed into German hands.

The final liquidation of economic activity by German Jews had been carefully prepared to go into effect immediately after the November 1938 pogroms. The first step was to impose a collective contribution, the so-called Sühneleistung (“atonement payment”) in the amount of 1 billion reichsmarks (RM). This penalty payment took the form of a direct individual tax, in the amount of 20 percent of the declared capital, to be paid by every Jew who had assets of over 5,000 RM. In actuality, the rate was raised to 25 percent, and 1.25 billion RM were collected. In addition, the Reich authorities confiscated 250 million RM in insurance money due to Jews as compensation for the material damage caused to them in the pogroms. In the period from 1938 to 1941, 140,000 Jews were able to emigrate from Germany, leaving behind most of their property, most of which fell into the hands of the authorities on the spot, in the form of the Reichsfluchtsteuer (“escape tax”). The rest was kept in special blocked accounts in the name of the depositors. Jews who chose not to emigrate found their private assets, from early 1939, were kept in blocked accounts in special banks, from which the owners could draw only a fixed monthly sum, the minimum they needed for their living expenses. From 1939 until the summer of 1943, when the deportations to the extermination camps were completed, all the assets of Jewish communities that had been liquidated, or the proceeds from the sale of such assets, were turned over to the Reichsvereinigung (Reich Association of Jews in Germany). As long as emigration from Germany continued, the Jews who left the country were in effect forced to “donate” all their remaining property to the Reichsvereinigung. These funds were kept in a special “emigration account” that was under Gestapo control, and any withdrawal from it required Gestapo approval. On orders of the Gestapo, the German Jews selected for deportation also had to “donate” their remaining assets to the Reichsvereinigung, which in turn put the assets into a special account. Jews who were chosen for deportation to T H E R E S I E N S TA D T had to sign a Heimeinkaufsvertrag (“home purchase agreement”). According to this agreement, the Reichsvereinigung “promised” to take care of the deportees for the rest of their lives, in exchange for the deposit of a minimum of 1,000 RM, or, alternatively, their entire remaining assets. During the deportations to the east, all property of the deportees, as well as the money held in the special blocked accounts of emigrants, was to be confiscated (see N U R E M B E R G L A W S ). In actuality, this was one of the Gestapo’s manipulations to acquire the remnants of Jewish property in the country. The proceeds of this prop-



erty were to finance the costs of the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N .” It was also clear that the Reichsvereinigung’s ownership of these accounts was a fiction and that in practice it could not withdraw the smallest amount without the special permission of the Gestapo representative. The deportees’ apartments were handed over to the city governments, while the contents of the apartments and the valuables of the former owners were passed on to the Finance Ministry. Works of art, libraries, and especially Jewish traditional items were forwarded to the collection that Alfred R O S E N B E R G had set up. Ultimately, most of what had been owned by eastern European Jews ended up under Nazi control, used to carry out Nazi policies.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “They’ve Decided It’s Better to Tell the Whole Truth Now.” Business Week, Feb. 22, 1999. Weisberg, Richard. “The Role of French Banks During WWII and Its Aftermath.” Testimony Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Financial Services, Sept. 14, 1999. [Online] http://www.house.gov/banking/91499rhw.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Atlas, Yeheskel (1913–1942)

A physician and partisan commander, Yeheskel (Yehiel) Atlas was born in Rawa Mazowiecka, in the W A R S AW district. Atlas studied medicine in France and Italy. When war broke out in 1939, he was in Kozlovshchina, near Slonim, Poland, in the area occupied by the Soviet army. His parents and sister died in the ghetto there on November 24, 1941, five months after the Germans had conquered the area. Atlas stayed on, serving the farmers of the neighborhood as a physician and giving medical assistance to Soviet troops that had survived in the forest. When the Derechin ghetto was liquidated, on July 24, 1942, Atlas organized escapees into a Jewish partisan company under his command. On August 10, Atlas initiated an attack on Derechin in which 44 German policemen were captured and executed. The Soviet authorities wanted the “fighting doctor” to practice medicine for the partisans. However, after the Derechin attack the partisan leadership, recognizing his gifts as a tactician, did not want to lose him as a combat commander. Atlas and his men blew up a train on the Lida-Grodno line, burned down a bridge on the Neman River, and, on September 5, launched an attack on Kozlovshchina in which more than 30 Germans were killed.

Yeheskel Atlas

partisan company

A group of resistance fighters who used guerrilla tactics against the Nazis and operated in enemy-occupied territory.

The company of partisans gained fame throughout the region for its daring exploits and was mentioned in reports for its role in the Ruda-Jaworska battle of October 10, during which 127 Germans were killed, 75 captured, and a considerable amount of much-needed war material seized. Atlas also assisted a family camp that housed escapees from nearby ghettos and was known for assisting refugees in the wake of German atrocities. His personality, military exploits, and acts of revenge made a profound impression on both the Jewish and non-Jewish partisans in the region. On December 5, 1942, Atlas was wounded in a battle at Wielka Wola; after handing the command over to Eliyahu Lipshowitz, he died from his wounds.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Levine, Allan. Fugitives Of The Forest: The Heroic Story Of Jewish Resistance During The Second World War. New York: Stoddart, 1998.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Auerswald, Heinz (b. 1908)

Nazi official Heinz Auerswald was the German commissar of the W A R S A W ghetto from May 1941 until November 1942. Auerswald was one of the “ghetto managers” in eastern Europe who worked to maintain the ghettos as a source of cheap Jewish labor during the period of time before the Nazi regime began to pursue the ultimate destruction of the Jews. Auerswald was a lawyer. He joined the SS in June 1933 but gained party membership only in the late 1930s. Performing his military service with the Schutzpolizei (the regular police), Auerswald was sent to WARSAW with a police battalion in the fall of 1939. He was soon transferred to the civil administration that was established to govern the occupied city. His first task was to oversee interactions with the VOLKSDEUTSCHE (ethnic Germans) of the city. He was later appointed commissar of the Warsaw ghetto, which had a population totaling at least 400,000 people. In his new capacity, Auerswald sought to foster a growing ghetto economy while simultaneously reducing the spread of epidemics. His first objective resulted in a more rational use of Jewish labor and marginally better conditions for Jewish workers. In the pursuit of his second objective, however, he enforced more restrictive ghetto boundaries, which intensified overcrowding, and he imposed the death penalty for Jews caught outside the walls. The diary of Adam C Z E R N I A K Ó W , Jewish leader and the head of the Warsaw J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council), reveals that on at least one occasion Auerswald spoke with Czerniaków as a fellow human being— treatment virtually without parallel in the history of the Holocaust. In the days immediately before the deportations began, however, Auerswald cynically denied to Czerniaków that any danger threatened the ghetto. Following the mass deportations from Warsaw to T R E B L I N K A between July and September 1942, Auerswald became the district administrator (Kreishauptmann) in the Ostrów area in November 1942 and was drafted into the army the following January. He was investigated by German judicial authorities in the 1960s but was not indicted as a Nazi war criminal.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Roland, Charles G. Courage Under Siege: Starvation, Disease, and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Perpetrators. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/perps.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000)



“This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions”

Auschwitz Auschwitz (in Polish, Os´wie˛cim), was the largest Nazi C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P and E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P. Located 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of K R A K Ó W , Auschwitz was both the most extensive of some two thousand Nazi concentration and forced-labor camps, and the largest camp at which Jews were exterminated by means of poison gas (see Z Y K L O N B). On April 27, 1940, the head of the SS and German police, Heinrich H I M M L E R , ordered the establishment of a large new concentration camp near the town of Os´ wie˛ cim in Polish Eastern Upper Silesia, which had been annexed to the Third Reich after the German defeat of Poland in September 1939. The building of the camp in Zasole, the suburb of Os´ wie˛ cim, was started a short while later. The first laborers forced to work on the construction of the camp were three hundred Jews from Os´wie˛cim and its vicinity. Beginning in June 1940, the Nazis brought transports of prisoners into the camp. During the first period, most of them were Polish political prisoners. On March 1, 1941, the prison population was 10,900, most of it still Polish. Very soon Auschwitz became known as the harshest of the Nazi concentration camps. The Nazi system of torturing prisoners was implemented here in its most cruel form. In one of the camp’s buildings, the so-called Block 11, a special bunker was built for the severest punishments. In front of that building stood the “Black Wall,” where the regular execution of prisoners took place. Ironically, above the main gate of the camp was a large inscription that declared: “Arbeit macht frei” (Work leads to freedom). In March 1941, Himmler ordered the construction of a second, much larger section of the camp, which was located at a distance of 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) from



to be separated, to be orphaned, to be shaved, to be degraded, to be humiliated, to be abandoned, to be intimidated, to be tortured, to be starved, to be dehumanized, to be worked to death, to be gassed, to be burned, to be annihilated . . . . —JUDY (WEISSENBERG) COHEN

Women & the Holocaust: Personal Poetry, http://interlog.com/~mighty/poetry/ poetry5.htm

the original camp. This was called Auschwitz II, or Birkenau. The original camp became known as Auschwitz I—the main camp (Stammlager). About two thousand Poles from the nearby villages were expelled from their homes, which were destroyed in order to build these two parts of the Auschwitz camp. A large expanse of about 15.5 square miles (40 square kilometers) was declared a prohibited area. In October 1941, the construction of barracks and other camp installations began in Auschwitz II. In the final stage, Auschwitz II was composed of nine subunits, which were isolated from one another by electrically charged barbed-wire fences. These components were designated as camps BIa, BIb, BIIa, BIIb, BIIc, BIId, BIIe, BIIf, and BIII. In March 1942 a women’s section was established in the main camp, Auschwitz I, but this was moved on August 16, 1942, to a section of Birkenau. The first groups of women to be imprisoned in the section in Auschwitz I were 999 German women from the R AV E N S B R Ü C K camp, and an equal number of Jewish women from Poprad, S L OVA K I A . By the end of March more than 6,000 women prisoners were being held in the new section. In nearby Monowitz a third camp was built, which was called Auschwitz III (Buna-Monowitz). The name Buna derived from the Buna synthetic-rubber works in Monowitz. Other subcamps affiliated with Monowitz were set up, and they too were included as part of Auschwitz III. In the course of time, another forty-five subcamps were built. Auschwitz II (Birkenau), which was the most populated camp of the Auschwitz complex, also had the most cruel and inhuman conditions. The prisoners of the Birkenau camps were mostly Jews, Poles, and Germans. For a time, the Gypsy family camp and the family camp of the Czech Jews were located there, as well. The G A S C H A M B E R S and the crematoria of the Auschwitz killing center operated in Birkenau. Auschwitz III (Buna-Monowitz and the other forty-five subcamps)



Two boys, survivors of Auschwitz, display their tattooed arms in Haifa, Palestine, July, 1945.

were mainly forced-labor camps; the most important were Budy, Czechowitz, Gleiwitz, Rajsko, and Fürstengrube. The inmates, chiefly Jews, were worked to the point of total exhaustion for German business including I.G. F A R B E N , Oberschlesische Hydriewerke, Deutsche Gasrusswerke, and Erdöl Raffinerie.

The Process As the trains stopped at the rampa (railway platform) in Birkenau, the occupants were brutally and rapidly forced to leave the cars. They had to leave behind all their personal belongings and were made to form two lines, men and women separately. These lines had to move quickly to the place where S S officers were conducting the Selektion, directing the people either to one side for the gas chambers (the majority were sent there), or to the other, which meant designation for forced labor. Those who were sent to the gas chambers were killed that same day and their corpses were burned in the crematoria, or, if there were too many for the crematoria to process, they were burned in an open space. The belongings left in the cars by the incoming victims were gathered by a forced-labor detachment ironically called “Kanada” (so termed because Canada was a symbol of wealth to the prisoners). Under the strict supervision of the SS, those prisoners had to store the property in specially built warehouses, to be shipped later to Germany. Victims not sent to the gas chambers were sent to a part of the camp called the “quarantine.” But first they were taken to the camp’s bath, the “sauna.” There their clothes and every last personal belonging were taken from them, their hair was shaved off—men and women alike—and they were given striped prisoners’ garb. A prisoner in the quarantine, if not soon transferred to slave labor, could survive only for a few weeks. In the forced-labor camps the average life expectancy was extended



A NAZI VIEW OF DEATH AT AUSCHWITZ In his autobiography, which was published in the United States as Commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss detailed the extermination system at

Auschwitz. Describing the gassing process in an unemotional, detached manner, Höss wrote, “It could be observed through the peephole . . . about onethird died straight away. The remainder staggered about and began to scream and struggle for air. . . . The time required for the gas to have effect varied according to the weather, and depended whether it was damp or dry, cold or warm. It also depended on the quality of the gas, which was never exactly the same, and on the composition of the transports which might contain a high proportion of healthy Jews, or old and sick, or children . . . those who were old or sick or weak, or the small children, died quicker than those who were healthy or young.”

to a few months. After that time, many of the prisoners became what was called in the camp jargon a M U S E L M A N N , a person so emaciated and weak that he could hardly move or react to his surroundings. It was no wonder that every prisoner tried to get out of quarantine as soon as possible. Most of the prisoners were sent to Auschwitz subcamps or other concentration camps; some were directed to different work in Auschwitz I or III. One of the most dreaded institutions in Auschwitz was the roll call (Appell), which occurred early in the morning and in the late afternoon after the inmates had returned from their places of work, but sometimes also in the middle of the night. The inmates were made to stand at attention, motionless, usually sparsely dressed, for many hours in the cold, in rain and snow. Whoever stumbled or fell was sent to be gassed. One of the most terrible tasks was that of the prisoners assigned to a special working group called the S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando). They were forced to work in the crematoria, burning the corpses of the victims who had been killed in the gas chambers on that day. Upon leaving the quarantine in Birkenau for forced labor in Auschwitz or in one of the subcamps, prisoners were registered and received numbers tattooed on their left arm. The same procedure applied to those prisoners who were directed straight to Auschwitz I; 405,000 prisoners of different nationalities were registered in this way. The vast majority of the Auschwitz victims, those who, upon arrival in Auschwitz II, were led to the gas chambers and killed there immediately, were not registered or accounted for in any way. Also not included in the registration were prisoners who were sent to work in other concentration camps not belonging to the Auschwitz system, such as G R O S S - R O S E N or S T U T T H O F . Still another group of unregistered prisoners were those who were designated for execution after a short stay in the camp. That group consisted mainly of hostages, Soviet army officers, and partisans. A day in the life of a prisoner, as many authors of concentration camp memoirs have so aptly described, was divided into a lengthy series of duties and commands. Some were dictated by camp routine, whereas others were unforeseen, a result of an order from above or an arbitrary outburst of violence on the part of the




oncentration camp survivor Victor Frankl noted, “In

camp, a small time unit, a day, for example, filled with hourly tortures and fatigue, appeared endless.”

camp commandant. Some were directed against all the prisoners; others were aimed at an individual prisoner or a particular group of prisoners. All of the inmate’s physical and mental capacities were taxed in an effort to get through the torturous stages that constituted an ordinary day: waking at dawn, straightening one’s pallet, standing for morning roll call, traveling to work, hours of hard labor, standing in line for a meal, returning to camp, block inspection, and evening roll call. Any aberration or slip on the part of the prisoner—as a result of an incident in the work battalions or in the block, or a personal weakness or disease—very often meant death. Besides those who were selected for forced labor upon arrival at Birkenau, there was another, much smaller, group that was spared for the time being and not sent to the gas chambers. These were the people who were selected for pseudoM E D I C A L E X P E R I M E N T S . Many of these “experiments” were carried out on young Greek Jewish men and women. They underwent unbelievable suffering and torture. In July 1942, Himmler proposed instituting sterilization of Jewish women in Auschwitz. A German physician, Professor Carl C L AU B E R G , an SS officer who had initiated such experiments with Himmler’s permission at Ravensbrück, was given the task of establishing a similar experimental station for sterilizing women and for other criminal pseudo-medical experiments in Block 10 of Auschwitz I. Among the victims selected for these experiments were groups of twins (including children) and dwarfs. Clauberg was assisted by a group of Nazi physicians who also usually conducted the Selektionen on the railway platform in Birkenau. The best known of this group was Josef M E N G E L E , who earned the notorious nickname “the Angel of Death” in the camp. His own barbarous experiments were mainly carried out on infants and young twins and on dwarfs. On January 20, 1944, the total number of prisoners in Auschwitz was 80,839:18,437 in Auschwitz I; 49,114 in Auschwitz II (22,061 in the men’s section and 27,053 in the women’s section); and 13,288 in Auschwitz III (of whom 6,571 were in Monowitz). By July 12, 1944, 92,208 prisoners were being held, and by August 22, that number had risen to 105,168. In addition, 50,000 other Jewish prisoners were held in the satellite camps. The total number of prisoners in that period was 155,000. The prison population was constantly growing, despite the periodic changes resulting from mass deaths, and despite the high mortality rate caused by starvation, hard labor, contagious diseases, and the total exhaustion of the prisoners.

From Concentration Camp to Death Camp In his memoirs, Rudolf H Ö S S explained how Auschwitz was established as a killing center: In the summer of 1941, I cannot remember the exact date, I was suddenly summoned to the Reichsführer-SS, directly by his adjutant’s office. Contrary to his usual custom, Himmler received me without his adjutant being present and said, in effect: “The Führer has ordered that the Jewish question be solved once and for all and that we, the SS, are to implement that order.” “The existing extermination centers in the east are not in a position to carry out the large actions that are anticipated. I have therefore designated Auschwitz for this purpose, both because of its good position as regards communications and because the area can easily be isolated and camouflaged.” We discussed the ways and means of effecting the extermination. This could only be done by gassing, since it would have been absolutely impos-



Prisoners’ orchestra performing for the SS-men in Auschwitz, Poland, 1941.

sible to dispose by shooting of the large numbers of people that were expected, and it would have placed too heavy a burden on the SS men who had to carry it out, especially because of the women and children among the victims. (Höss, pp. 183–184)

Building the Gas Chambers The first, relatively small gas chamber was built in Auschwitz I. Here the experimental gassing using Z Y K L O N B gas first took place, on September 3, 1941. The victims were 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 other prisoners chosen from among the sick. After that experiment, the firm J. A. Topf and Sons received a contract to build much larger, permanent gas chambers connected with very large crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the mass exterminations were mainly carried out. Altogether four such installations—II, III, IV, and V—were built in Birkenau. Each had the potential to kill 6,000 persons daily. Electrically charged barbed-wire fences 13 feet (4 meters) in height were erected around both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II. They were guarded by SS men, who staffed the many watchtowers and were equipped with machine guns and automatic rifles. In addition, Auschwitz II was surrounded by a network of canals 8 miles (13 kilometers) in length. The whole complex of Auschwitz I and II was, moreover, enclosed by a chain of guard posts, two-thirds of a mile (1 kilometer) out from the system of barbed-wire fences. The chain, called the cordon (Postenkette), was guarded by SS men with dogs; this unit was known as the dog battalion (Hundestaffel).

Staffing the Camps Auschwitz I, II, and III and the forty-five subcamps were overseen by one staff residing at the main camp, Auschwitz I. The commandants of the camp were, in turn, Rudolf Höss, Arthur L I E B E H E N S C H E L , Richard Baer, and again Rudolf Höss. They had the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel). The most important division, noted for the cruelty of its command, was the Political Division. The whole system was guarded by a specially organized regiment of the S S -



D E AT H ’ S H E A D U N I T S , an SS Death’s Head battalion consisting of twelve guard companies, numbering at different times betweem 2,500 and 6,000 SS men.


he gas chambers were built to resemble shower rooms. The

arriving victims were told that they

would be sent to work, but that they first had to undergo disinfection and

The Nazi staff of the camp was aided by a number of privileged prisoners who were offered better food and conditions and more chances to survive, provided they helped to enforce the regime of terror on their fellow prisoners. These prisoners were K A P O S (prisoner orderlies), Blockälteste (block elders, responsible for a certain block of prisoners’ barracks), and Vorarbeiter (foremen, responsible for a group of prisoner workers).

to shower.

Mass Extermination As of March 1942, special trains organized by the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) began arriving in Auschwitz-Birkenau almost daily, containing Jews from the occupied countries in Europe. Sometimes several, usually freight trains, arrived on the same day. In each of these trains, betwee one thousand and several thousand Jewish victims were forcibly brought in by the Nazis from the liquidated ghettos in Poland and other eastern European countries, as well as from countries in the west and south. The first victims of the mass murder in Birkenau were Jews from Silesia. At the end of March 1942, transports of Jews started arriving from Slovakia and F R A N C E ; in July, from the N E T H E R L A N D S ; and in August, from B E L G I U M and Y U G O S L AV I A . In October, transports from the T H E R E S I E N S TA D T ghetto began arriving; in November, transports from Greece and from the Ciechanów and B I A L⁄ Y S T O K regions of Poland followed. The first transport from B E R L I N arrived in January 1943. Throughout 1943, transports continued to arrive from various countries under Nazi rule. One transport, of September 8, 1943, contained over 5,ooo inmates from the Theresienstadt ghetto who, surprisingly, arrived as entire families; they were not led to the gas chambers but were interned in a section of Birkenau that came to be known as the Theresienstadt family camp. After a stay of six months in this camp the inmates were suddenly driven out to the gas chambers and killed. On May 2, 1944, the first transport of Jews from Nazi-invaded Hungary arrived, presaging the large wave that would begin arriving on May 16 and would continue until the second week of July. The transports from Hungary were followed by transports from L⁄Ó D Z´ , the last ghetto to be liquidated in Poland, which came to Birkenau throughout August 1944. Not only Jews but also about 20,000 G Y P S I E S were deported to AuschwitzBirkenau by the RSHA’s order of January 29, 1943. The vast majority of them were killed in the gas chambers. A few hundred Polish political prisoners were also murdered in the gas chambers.

Resistance Despite the severe conditions, the prisoners offered constant resistance to their oppressors. It took various forms, the most common being mutual help. However, there were also instances of physical resistance and sabotage. One unidentified Jewish woman, on arriving on October 23, 1943, in a transport from B E R G E N -B E L S E N together with women who were led to the gas chambers, pulled a pistol out of the hands of an SS man and shot two others. The other women also resisted; all of them were killed by the SS reinforcement that arrived immediately. A very common form of resistance was escape; 667 prisoners, most of them Poles, Russians, and Jews,



NO AIR RAID ON AUSCHWITZ Jewish leaders in the free world demanded that the Allied powers bomb Auschwitz. This could well have stopped the continuation of the mass murders. As early as the fall of 1943, the Allied air forces could have destroyed the death installations in Auschwitz without much difficulty, from their newly conquered bases in Italy. In fact, they conducted bombardments of industrial targets in the vicinity of the camp. The destruction of Auschwitz by the Soviet forces would have been even easier. From July 1944, the Soviet front line was no more than 93 miles (150 kilometers) from Auschwitz. However, none of the Allied powers did anything to stop the mass murder in Auschwitz. No gas chamber was destroyed by the Allied air forces. Until soldiers helped liberate the camps, military personnel and equipment were not used in rescue efforts.

escaped under the most difficult conditions. However, 270 of the escapees were caught not far from the camp and afterward executed. Two young Jews, Alfred Wetzler and Walter Rosenberg (Rudolf Vrba), escaped on April 7, 1944. The two managed to reach Bratislava and contact some of the Jewish leaders still remaining there. They wrote a very detailed report on Auschwitz that was smuggled out to the free world. In 1943 a multinational resistance organization, called the Auschwitz Fighting Group, was formed by a group of Austrian prisoners. This group operated in the main camp and in Birkenau; Monowitz had a group of its own, and the two were in contact with each other. The resistance movement in the camp was active in many spheres: helping the prisoners with medicines and food; documenting the Nazi crimes against the prisoners; organizing escapes, sabotage, and political action; seeking to place political prisoners in positions of responsibility; and preparing for an uprising in the camp.


he platform at Auschwitz became the busiest railway station in all of

Nazi-occupied Europe, with one particular difference—namely, that people only arrived there, and never left again.

The prisoners that were part of the Special Commando (Sonderkommando) organized an uprising that took place on October 7, 1944, and destroyed at least one of the gas chambers. All the participants of that uprising died in battle. After the uprising, the SS discovered that a group of young Jewish women from the Monowitz camp, led by Roza R O B OTA , had smuggled out and supplied to the Special Commando the gunpowder that had been used in the uprising. Four of these women, including Robota, were executed on January 6, 1945. Prior to the uprising, the prisoners of the Special Commando accomplished another very important act of resistance: some of them managed to keep diaries, in which they described in detail the events at Auschwitz. These diaries were hidden in the ground. Discovered after the war, they provide the most significant, terrible, and authentic documents on Nazi barbarity in Auschwitz. The most important of these diaries are those of Zalman Gradowski and Zalman Levental.

Last Months Immediately after the Special Commando uprising ended in the fall of 1944, the killing in the gas chambers came to a halt, and Himmler gave orders to demol-




ne of the best-known and most dramatic escapes from

Auschwitz was that of a Polish-Jewish couple, Mala Zimetbaum and Edward Galinski. They were caught and executed on September 15, 1944, in front of other prisoners who were forced to watch.

ish the crematoria. During November and December 1944, the technical installations of the gas chambers and crematoria I and II were dismantled, so that they could be transferred to the Gross-Rosen camp. Groups of Special Commandos, male and female prisoners alike, were assigned to clean up the crematoria pits. They were ordered to fill the pits with the human ashes from the crematoria, cover them with earth, and plant grass. Some of the warehouses containing the goods stolen from the Jews were hastily emptied. The valuable items were sent to Germany by train, and the rest was destroyed. Between December 1, 1944, and January 15, 1945, at least 514,843 items of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and underwear were shipped from the camp. In mid-January 1945, the Soviet army began to move toward Kraków and Auschwitz. The Nazis began a hasty withdrawal. The 58,000 prisoners, most of them Jewish, were driven out of the Auschwitz camps and put on D E AT H M A R C H E S . Most of them were killed during these marches; others were murdered even before the camps were evacuated. On the afternoon of January 27, Soviet soldiers entered Auschwitz. In Birkenau they found the bodies of 600 prisoners who had been killed by the Nazis hours before the camp was liberated. However, 7,650 sick and exhausted prisoners were saved: 1,200 in Auschwitz I, 5,800 in Auschwitz II—Birkenau, and 650 in Auschwitz III—Buna-Monowitz. The Germans had to withdraw so hastily that they could not force these last prisoners on the death marches. Their hurried retreat also prevented them from emptying the rest of the warehouses of the victims’ plundered property.

Conclusion Auschwitz was the largest graveyard in human history. The number of Jews murdered in the gas chambers of Birkenau is estimated at up to 1.5 million people: men, women, and children. Almost one-quarter of the Jews killed during World War II were murdered in Auschwitz. Of the 405,000 registered prisoners who received Auschwitz numbers, only about 65,000 survived. Of the 16,000 Soviet prisoners of war brought there, only 96 survived. According to various estimates, at least 1.6 million people were murdered in the killing center at Birkenau. After the war, several of the Nazis who had committed crimes in Auschwitz were put on trial in Poland and West Germany (see T R I A L S O F T H E W A R C R I M I N A L S ). The former camp commandant, Rudolf Höss, was tried in March 1947 in Auschwitz before a Polish court and sentenced to death on April 2, 1947. While in the Polish prison, Höss wrote his memoirs, which were published in Poland in 1956; they appeared in English in 1959. In November and December 1947, another trial took place in Kraków before a Polish court. Of the forty Nazis from Auschwitz indicted, twenty-three were sentenced to death and sixteen were sent to prison. Between 1963 and 1966 the so-called Auschwitz Trials I, II, and III took place in Frankfurt am Main before a court of the German Federal Republic. These ended with prison sentences for the twenty-two defendants accused of committing crimes in Auschwitz. Nine were sentenced to life imprisonment, and the others to terms ranging from three to nine years. The horrors of Auschwitz have become legendary, and the name itself has passed into international usage as a byword for all that is the worst in humankind.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Czech, Danuta. Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945. New York: Henry Holt, 1997.



“Image not available for copyright reasons”

Höss, Rudolf. Commandant of Auschwitz. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1959. Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Memory of the Camps [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1989. Weiss, Ann, ed. The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000. Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam Books, 1986.


n the warehouses, the Soviets found 350,000 men’s suits, 837,000

outfits for women, and large amounts of children’s and babies’ clothing. In addition, they found tens of thousands pairs of shoes and more than seven tons of human hair in paper bags, packed for shipping.

Austria Austria became an independent republic in 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up into its national components and the rule of the Habsburgs came to an end. Austria has an area of 32,432 square miles (84,000 square kilometers). Its population in 1937 was 6,725,000. Jews are believed to have lived in Austria for many centuries, since Roman times (c. 14 BC– c. second century AD). In the Middle Ages, there were periods when Jews enjoyed material and cultural prosperity. Those periods alternated with times of persecution and expulsions. In the modern era, Austria was one of the centers of the Jewish modernization process. Jews were integrated into the country’s overall culture. In 1867, they were granted equal rights. In the next decades, the Jewish population of Austria grew rapidly as a result of immigration from all parts of the empire. Newcomers converged on the capital, V I E N NA . Austria became a center of Jewish culture and the cradle of Zionism, a movement that sought a homeland for Jews in Palestine. At the same time, the country was one of the most intense centers of modern A N T I S E M I T I S M . The Jewish population in Austria reached its height during World War I (1914–1918), approaching 250,000, as a result of the influx of war refugees. After the war, the Jewish population declined, to 191,000 in 1934, and 185,000 in 1938.



The Anschluss On March 11, 1938, the Nazi leader of G E R M A N Y , Adolf H I T L E R , sent his army into Austria. Two days later, the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria to Nazi Germany was announced in Vienna. Most of the population welcomed the Germans and the new political partnership. Their enthusiasm expressed itself in widespread rioting against Jews, and an almost total absence of resistance to the Nazis. The Austrian Nazis lost no time in following and exceeding the pattern, established by their fellow Nazis in Germany, of attacking Jews and expelling them from the country’s economic, cultural, and social life.

Map of Austria as annexed to Germany, November 1938.

This greater scope of Nazi violence and brutality in Austria was inspired by the top Nazi leadership. On March 18, 1938, the German minister of the interior, Wilhelm Frick, gave Heinrich H I M M L E R extraordinary powers. Himmler was allowed to operate in Austria beyond the limits set by law, in order to “preserve order and security.” The Jews were the focus of this attention. Himmler immediately set up a G E S TA P O headquarters in Vienna. He gave the Gestapo political and police authority in the regions of Vienna and Lower Austria. Chief of Police Reinhard H E Y D R I C H authorized Franz Josef Huber, the head of the Gestapo headquarters in Vienna, to establish Gestapo headquarters in other parts of Austria. In the following weeks, offices of the Jewish community and Zionist institutions in Vienna were closed down, and their officers were put in jail. More than 100 prominent Jews, including bankers and businessmen, were arrested and deported to D AC H AU . They were among the first two groups to be sent there from Vienna. In the first night following the Anschluss, the Gestapo launched an organized campaign of looting Jewish apartments and stealing anything of value. Soon after the Anschluss, Jews were dismissed from their jobs in theaters, community centers, public libraries, universities and colleges, and eventually in markets and slaughterhouses. On March 14, three Jews serving in the Austrian army refused to take an oath of loyalty to Hitler. As a result, all Jews were dismissed from the army. Jews still had to go through the humiliating process of reporting for the draft when they reached conscription age. They had to endure the army’s medical examination before they were publicly rejected for service because they were Jewish. In Graz, the Jewish synagogues were desecrated. In Vienna, the main synagogue was used as a place where Jews were subjected to torture. All over Austria, Jews were arrested and held in jail until they were ready to “voluntarily” sign over their property to the Nazis. In Graz, Jews were tortured and kept in jail for two months. The number of monthly suicides among Jews jumped from four in February 1938, to seventy-nine in March, and sixty-two in April.


estapo forces took artworks, rugs, furniture, and other

valuables from Jewish homes, and shipped them to Berlin. When their owners were arrested, the Gomperz and Rothschild art collections were sent to a museum in Linz, and to the private collections of Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring.


Offices were set up for the seizure of Jewish property. Most of the 26,236 Jewish-owned businesses existing in Austria in March 1938 were modest enterprises. Still, they did not escape the furious drive for A R YA N I Z AT I O N (Arisierung) that marked the first few weeks of the Nazi takeover. Nor did they escape the robberies that took place in full daylight, often with police protection. According to figures published on July 21, 1938, almost all the Jewish-owned property in the provinces and 30 percent of the property in Vienna had already been seized. On June 29, all Jews and all partners in “mixed” marriages who were employed in private businesses—40,000 people—were dismissed from their jobs. The number of German “supervisors” of Jewish property rose from 917 in July 1938 to 2,787 that November. The number of businesses they were “supervising” rose from 1,624 in July to 5,210 in September. By the summer of 1939, some 18,800 Jewish enterprises had been closed down. According to Nazi estimates, the difference between the real value


of the large Jewish-owned businesses and the total sum that their Jewish owners were paid for them amounted to more than 35 billion reichsmarks (RM). In one instance, a business valued at 500,000 RM, with debts of 50,000 RM, was “bought” for 20,000 RM. The Jewish owner was arrested on a charge of negligence in running the business, since he was unable to come up with the 30,000 RM needed to cover the debt.


n the first two months after the Anschluss, around 7,000 Jews

crossed the border to Switzerland or


Italy. When these borders were closed

The emigration of the Jews from Austria was handled by Adolf E I C H M A N N . The executive director of the Vienna Jewish community, Dr. Josef Löwenherz, reorganized the work of the Jewish Community Office, on instructions from Eichmann. The office was reopened on May 2, 1938. The Vienna Jewish Community Office, the Palestine Office, and the provincial communities all had to submit periodic reports to Eichmann —biweekly, monthly, and bimonthly—with the emphasis on the progress being made in the emigration of the Jews.

to them, the Jews tried to go to countries in Western Europe. Sometimes border police forced the Jews back into Germany.

In addition to pressure from the top, there was terror in the streets. Efforts toward emigration from Austria were centered in Vienna. Community representatives and individuals trying to obtain necessary documents had to stand in long lines, night and day, in front of the municipal and police offices. There they were exposed to humiliation and tortures by N A Z I PA R T Y thugs, the H I T L E R Y O U T H (Hitlerjugend), and brutal security men. The Jews of Austria were not allowed to share in the arrangements made with the Jews of Germany—for a time the German Foreign Office allowed the German Jews to emigrate in an orderly fashion to Palestine and other countries, taking with them a portion of their assets. In August 1938, the C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N (Zentralstelle Für Jüdische Auswanderung) opened offices in the Rothschild palace, which the Nazis had confiscated. Eichmann was in charge. By systematic bureaucratic methods, all the assets of Jews emigrating from the country were taken by the state. Most of the financing of the emigration was funded by the fees that every emigrant had to pay, in proportion to the assets that he or she declared. The American Jewish J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E and Great Britain’s Council for German Jewry agreed to provide the foreign currency needed for travel expenses, and for the money that emigrants had to have upon arrival at their destinations. This was on condition that Eichmann provide an equal amount from the blocked account of the Jewish community, to be used for welfare services and for assistance to emigrants who did not have enough means of their own. In the period from May to July 1938, about 25 percent of the emigrants required full or partial assistance from the community. Between February and May 1939, fully 75 percent of Jewish emigrants needed this help. In the violent November 1938 K R I S TA L L NAC H T attacks on Jews and their property, Eichmann imprisoned Jews in C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S . This was a way to take money from them and to force them to speed up their emigration. When such people were released from the camps, they were given a time limit in which to make their emigration arrangements. If they were still in Austria after the limit had passed, they were imprisoned again. As a result, there was a growing number of instances when adults or heads of families emigrated and left behind elderly parents and children. The number of old or sick people who had no relatives to care for them grew to 25,000, and there was a comparable rise in the number of abandoned children. Following Kristallnacht, countries of Western Europe agreed to accept 10,000 children. But only 2,844 children, in forty-three groups, were able to make use of this offer from December 1938 to August 1939. Some of the children were later seized by the Germans when they occupied those countries, and died. Most of the children—2,262 of them—went to Britain.



Styria Special treatment was granted by Eichmann to the Jews of Styria. The capital of Styria, Graz, was declared the capital of the Nazi uprising in Austria. Graz aspired to be the first Austrian city to become judenrein (“cleansed of Jews,” or “Jew-free”). In order to achieve this by April 20, 1939 (Hitler’s birthday), the chairman of the Zionist organization in Graz, Elias Grunschlag, was allowed to work closely with the Gestapo and the customs authorities to speed up the liquidation of debts owed by would-be emigrants and to deal with the passports and other documents required for emigration. Eichmann also agreed to allow the Jews of Styria to export property and machinery to Palestine. This arrangement, though, was not put into effect before November 1938, and thereafter its scope was greatly reduced.

Persecutions In the city of Wiener Neustadt, all non-Jewish landlords were ordered to evict Jewish tenants from their apartments. In Horn, the tombstones in the Jewish cemetery were desecrated in May 1938; and on September 18, the Jews had to leave the city without a day’s notice. The Jewish communities were impoverished to the extent that they had to close their rented prayer-houses. On August 7, they told the Vienna community that they were no longer able to take care of their needs. pogrom

A Russian word meaning “devastation” that came to be applied to organized violence against Jews, which was often encouraged and supported by government authorities.

In the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938 it was primarily the synagogues and the purification rooms (for washing the dead before burial) that were desecrated. In Klagenfurt the synagogue furnishings were destroyed by axes and Jewish apartments were vandalized. The impressive Graz synagogue with its cupola was blown up, as was the purification room, and 300 Jewish males were deported to Dachau. The worst pogroms took place in Innsbruck, where all the Jews were beaten up, an elderly Jewish couple were drowned, and the Zionist organization chairman and a wealthy merchant were murdered. Kristallnacht sped up the liquidation of the Jewish communities. By May 1939, twenty-seven out of thirty-three communities had been closed down. The Jews’ property was confiscated by the Nazis and sent to the Emigration Office in Vienna. On February 23, 1940, the authorities officially withdrew their recognition of the provincial Jewish communities. Before World War II began in 1939, with Germany’s invasion of Poland, 126,445 Jews emigrated from Austria. Of the 58,000 who were left, 32,000 required welfare assistance. Approximately 2,000 Jews managed to emigrate after the outbreak of war to other European countries until November 10, 1941. At that time, emigration of Jews was banned. Of the 55,505 Jews who had managed to emigrate from Austria to other European countries, 30,850 went to Britain. Fifteen thousand were caught by the Nazis in their Western European conquests, and deported to E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S . The number of emigrants to North America was 28,700 (82 to Canada); to Central and South America, 11,580; to Asia, 28,700 (18,120 to China, mainly Shanghai); to Palestine, 9,190; to Australia and New Zealand, 1,880; and to Africa, 650. All in all, approximately 128,500 Jews emigrated from Austria, to eighty-nine countries. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, preparations for emigration from Austria continued and technical training in anticipation of a new life was maintained. More than 5,000 children studied in educational institutions under the auspices of the Jewish communities. Care was planned for some 24,000 aged and ailing people for whom emigration would not be possible. At the beginning of October 1939, after the conquest of Poland, 1,048 young and elderly people, some stateless



Viennese pedestrians view a large Nazi sign posted on a restaurant window informing the public that this business is run by an organization of the National Socialist Party and that Jews are not welcome.

and some with Polish nationality, were deported to B U C H E N WA L D , where they were killed. Later in October, two more transports, totaling 1,584 people, were sent to Nisko (see N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N ) from the vicinity of the Protectorate of B O H E M I A and M O R AV I A . Most of the deportees were expelled across the San River into the area conquered by the Soviet army. In February and March 1941, about 5,000 Austrian Jews were deported to the K IELCE district in Poland. They were murdered in 1942 in the B EL⁄ Z˙ EC and C HEL⁄ MNO camps. With the onset of mass expulsions in October 1941, 5,000 Jews were deported to L ⁄ ódz´, together with 5,000 G YPSIES (Romani) from the Burgenland district of Austria. Later that year, more than 5,000 were sent to the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto and another 3,000 to ghettos in the Baltic area. Following the W ANNSEE C ONFERENCE in January 1942, the deportations were accelerated: 3,200 Jews were sent to R I G A , 8,500 to M I N S K , and 6,000 to the Lublin region. In the second part of 1942, almost 14,000—nearly all of them aged—were deported to T H E R E S I E N S TA D T . When the Vienna community was dissolved in November 1942, only 7,000 Jews remained in Austria, most of them married to non-Jews. All those who were physically fit were put on forced labor. Deportations continued on a smaller scale, and Austria’s Jewish community virtually disappeared. In the second half of 1944, tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were deported to Vienna and Lower Austria for forced labor. About 8,000 Jews, scattered among small labor camps in Vienna, were assisted by the remaining staff of the Vienna Jewish Hospital, which even opened a maternity ward. It also maintained the last traces of organized Jewish religious ritual in Vienna. At the end of



the war in 1945, only about 1,000 Jews survived in Vienna. Some were partners of mixed marriages. The Gestapo used a number of their children in sorting out the vast quantities of confiscated Jewish property. About one-third of the survivors remained alive by living under cover. More than 65,000 Austrian Jews died in the ghettos and Nazi camps of Eastern Europe. Only 1,747 returned to Austria at the end of the war. They were eventually joined by some of the Austrian Jews who had emigrated before the war. Most of the post-war Austrian community consisted of Jews who arrived from other countries, mainly from Eastern Europe, after the end of the war.

SEE ALSO YOUTH MOVEMENTS. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bukey, Evan Burr. Hitler’s Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938–1945. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Kristallnacht: The Journey from 1938 to 1988 [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1988. Newman, Richard. Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 2000. Weiss, David W. Reluctant Return: A Survivor’s Journey to an Austrian Town. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Babi Yar Babi Yar (also spelled Babii Yar) is a ravine located in the northwestern part of Kiev, where the Jews of the Ukrainian capital were systematically massacred. At the southern end of the ravine were two cemeteries, one of which was Jewish. Kiev was captured by the German Army on September 19, 1941. Of its Jewish population of 160,000, some 100,000 had managed to flee before the German takeover. Shortly thereafter, from September 24 to 28, numerous buildings in the city center, which were being used by the German military administration and the army, were blown up. Many Germans (as well as local residents) were killed in the explosions. After the war, it was learned that a Soviet security police detachment that had been left behind in Kiev for the purpose of sabotage had carried out these operations. On September 26, the Germans decided that the Jews of Kiev would all be put to death in retaliation for the attacks on the German-held installations. The military governor, Major General Friedrich Georg Eberhardt and other high-ranking SS officers, including Friedrich J E C K E L N ; Dr. Otto R A S C H ; and Paul B L O B E L participated in making this decision. Blobel was in charge of S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O 4a, the unit that was assigned to implement the extermination of the Jews of Kiev. This unit consisted of SD Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst) and Security Police, or Sipo (Sicherheitspolizei) men; the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion; and a platoon of the No. 9 police battalion. Police battalions Nos. 45 and 305 and units of the Ukrainian auxiliary police reinforced the unit. On September 28, notices were posted in the city ordering the Jews to appear the following morning, September 29, at 8:00 a.m. at the corner of Melnik and Dekhtyarev streets. The notice claimed they were being assembled there for their resettlement in new locations. The next morning, masses of Jews reported at the appointed spot. They were directed to proceed along Melnik Street toward the Jewish cemetery and into an area comprising the cemetery itself and a part of Babi Yar. The area was cordoned off by a



barbed-wire fence and guarded by Special Commando police, Waffen-SS men, and Ukrainian policemen. As the Jews approached the ravine, they were forced to hand over all the valuables in their possession, to undress, and to advance toward the ravine edge, in groups of ten. When they reached the edge, they were gunned down by automatic fire. Several squads of SD and Sipo personnel, police, and Waffen-SS men of the Special Commando unit did the shooting. The squads relieved one another every few hours. When the day ended, the bodies were covered with a thin layer of soil. According to official reports of the O P E R AT I O NA L S QUA D S (Einsatzgruppen), in two days of shooting (September 29 and 30), 33,771 Jews were murdered. In the months that followed, many more thousands of Jews were seized, taken to Babi Yar, and shot. Although some Ukrainians helped Jews go into hiding, a significant number informed on them to the Germans and gave them up. After the war, the officer in charge of the Sipo and SD bureau testified that his Kiev office received so many letters from the Ukrainian population informing on Jews “by the bushel” that the office did not have enough manpower to deal with them all. Jewish survivors and the Soviet writer Anatoly Kuznetsov also offered testimonial evidence of the betrayal of Jews by the Kiev population. Babi Yar served as a slaughterhouse for non-Jews as well. G Y P S I E S and Soviet were also murdered there. The Soviet research commission on Nazi crimes later estimated that 100,000 persons were murdered at Babi Yar.


In July 1943, by which time the Soviet Union’s Red Army was on the advance, Paul Blobel came back to Kiev. He and Dr. Max Thomas, the SS officer commanding the SD and Sipo in the Ukraine, were assigned to erase all evidence of the massacres that the Nazis had perpetrated. The code name of this activity was A K T I O N ( O P E R AT I O N ) 1 0 0 5 . For this purpose, Blobel formed two special groups. Unit 1005-A was made up of eight to ten SD men and thirty German policemen, and was under the command of an SS officer named Baumann. In mid-August the unit began exhuming the corpses in Babi Yar and systematically cremated them. The Germans brought in 327 men, including 100 Jews, from the nearby Syretsk concentration camp to carry out this ghastly job. The prisoners were housed in a bunker carved out from the ravine wall. It had an iron gate that was locked during the night and was watched by a guard with a machine gun. The prisoners had chains bolted to their legs, and those who fell ill or lagged behind were shot on the spot. Bulldozers opened up the mass graves, and the prisoners were ordered to drag the corpses to cremation pyres, which consisted of wooden logs doused in gasoline on a base of railroad ties. The bones that did not burn were crushed, using tombstones the Nazis seized from the Jewish cemetery. The ashes were sifted to retrieve any gold or silver they might have contained. The cremation of the corpses went on for six weeks, beginning on August 18, 1943, and ending on September 19. When the Nazis were finished, no trace was left of the mass graves. On the morning of September 29, the prisoners learned that they were about to be put to death. They already had a plan for escape, and resolved to put it into effect that same night. Shortly after midnight, under cover of darkness and the fog that enveloped the ravine, twenty-five prisoners broke out. Fifteen escaped, but the others were shot during the attempt or the following morning. It took nearly twenty years after World War II ended for a memorial to be erected at Babi Yar. The demand for a memorial was first voiced after Nikita Krushchev became the premier of the Soviet Union in 1955. By that time, Babi Yar had become a place of pilgrimage. Among those who demanded a memorial were writers Ilya Ehrenburg and Viktor Nekrasov, but nobody took action. In 1961, the poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko published a poem, “Babi Yar,” which begins with the lines:



BABII YAR No monument stands over Babii Yar. A drop sheer as a crude gravestone. I am afraid. Today I am as old in years as all the Jewish people.... The wild grasses rustle over Babii Yar. The trees look ominous, like judges. Here all things scream silently, and, baring my head, slowly I feel myself turning gray. And I myself am one massive, soundless scream above the thousand thousand buried here. I am each old man here shot dead. I am every child here shot dead. YEVGENI YEVTUSHENKO

Early Poems, translated by George Reavey (London: Marion Boyars), 1989.

No gravestone stands on Babi Yar; Only coarse earth heaped roughly on the gash: Such dread comes over me. A year later, Dmitri Shostakovich set the poem to music, incorporating it into his Thirteenth Symphony. (Under pressure from the Soviet authorities, changes were made in the original text, and the amended text was used when the symphony was first performed in the Soviet Union.) Both the poem and the musical setting had a tremendous impact in the Soviet Union and around the world. More people demanded that a memorial be built at Babi Yar. But it was not until 1966 that architects and artists were invited to submit proposals and it took eight more years for the memorial to be built. Since 1974 a monument has stood in Babi Yar, but the inscription does not mention that Jews were among the victims there.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Anatolii, A. Babi Yar. Cambridge, MA: Robert Bentley, 1979. Melnyk, Eugenie. My Darling Elia. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Bach-Zelewski, Erich von dem (1899-1972)

Born in Lauenburg in Pomerania, Bach-Zelewski was an SS commander in the N A Z I PA R T Y . He served as a private during World War I (1914–1918) and then



joined the police. He became a member of the Nazi party in 1930 and the following year enrolled in the SS. After the Nazis’ rise to power, Bach-Zelewski’s career progressed rapidly. In 1938 he was appointed SS commander in Silesia, with headquarters in Breslau. After September 1939, the Polish part of Silesia was incorporated into his district of command and he was responsible for removing tens of thousands of Jews from the area. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, BachZelewski became the Higher SS and Police Leader in central Russia, attached to the Central Army Group; in November of that year he was promoted to the rank of SSObergruppenführer (general) and general of police. His duties also included command of Einsatzgruppe B, which mass-murdered Jews in B E L O R U S S I A . In 1942, Bach-Zelewski was appointed Heinrich H I M M L E R ’s representative in the fight against the PA RT I S A N S , and from January 1943 he was the commanding officer of all the forces fighting the partisans in eastern Europe. Between August and October 1944 he commanded the forces that suppressed the W A R S AW P O L I S H U P R I S I N G . Bach-Zelewski’s police units became infamous for the mass murder of civilians and for the destruction of numerous villages and towns throughout P O L A N D and large parts of W A R S AW. From the end of 1944 he was in command of various army corps. After the war Bach-Zelewski appeared as a prosecution witness before the American military tribunal at the Nuremberg Trial, as well as at the Einsatzgruppen trial, at the trials of senior SS and army officers, and at the Warsaw trial of Ludwig Fischer, who had been governor of the Warsaw district. Bach-Zelewski was held in prison and in 1951 he received a ten-year sentence in a trial held in Munich, but was released after serving five years of his sentence. Re-arrested in 1958, he was sentenced at Nuremberg in 1961 to an additional four and one-half years.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Harris, Whitney R. Tyranny on Trial: The Evidence at Nuremberg. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995. Landau, Elaine. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Badge, Jewish The Jewish badge was a distinguishing sign that Jews in Nazi G E R M A N Y and in Nazi-occupied countries were forced to wear to identify them as Jews. This was not the first time in history that Jews were singled out for such identification and discrimination. Jews in ancient times were required to wear certain colors or shapes of clothes, shoes, hats, or scarves in order to humiliate them and to differentiate them from the rest of the population. The first to introduce such a sign were the Muslims, who in the eighth century decreed that all Christians, Jews, and Samaritans living in Muslim countries must wear clothes that set them apart from the Muslims. In Yemen such clothes were obligatory for Jews until the twentieth century. In Christian countries, distinctive signs for Jews were introduced in 1215. The idea of making Jews wear clothing or other items to identify them spread, and it became a means of shaming and humiliating Jews. The pointed hat, as a distinctive sign for Jews, is known to have been in use from the thirteenth century in various Germanic countries. Yellow as a distinguishing color for Jews had been



decreed earlier, in Muslim countries, and the practice may have been taken over by Christian countries, though the reason for choosing this particular color is not clear. In modern times the Jewish badge was gradually abolished, disappearing altogether during the nineteenth-century Emancipation. Under the Nazis, the term “yellow badge” first appeared in an article written in reaction to the anti-Jewish boycott of April 1, 1933 (see B OY C O T T , A N T I - J E W I S H ). The article apparently referred to the slanderous and abusive inscriptions painted on the windows of Jewish-owned stores and businesses in “Operation Boycott” of April 1, and the relapse to medieval times that it signified. In the wake of the K R I S TA L L N AC H T pogrom of November, 1938, Reinhard H E Y D R I C H officially proposed that Jews be required to wear a badge or other a distinctive mark.

“The authorities have warned that severe punishment—up to and including death by shooting—is in store for Jews who do not wear the yellow badge, on back and front.” Bial⁄ystok Judenrat, July 26, 1941

Jewish Badge during World War II After Germany took control of P O L A N D in the fall of 1939, it was announced on December 1, 1939, that all Jews over the age of twelve living in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T (occupied Poland) were to wear a white band at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) in width, with a blue Star of David inscribed on it. Ultimately, Jews were required to wear a yellow badge throughout Poland. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, in June 1941, they quickly introduced the Jewish badge into the newly occupied areas. In B I A L⁄ Y S TO K , a city in Poland that had its own civil administration, the first announcement made by the J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council), on German orders, stated that all men, women, and children aged 14 and over must wear a yellow badge. Forcing the Jews to wear a distinctive sign enabled the Germans to recognize and harass Jews on sight, and was designed to create a gulf between the Jews and the rest of the population. The Jews were responsible for acquiring the badges and distributing them. In W A R S AW , warnings were posted in apartment buildings, reminding Jews not to forget the badge when they went out. An announcement by the Bial⁄ ystok Judenrat of July 26, 1941, stated: “The authorities have warned that severe punishment—up to and including death by shooting—is in store for Jews who do not wear the yellow badge, on back and front.” An amendment was added to the decree stipulating that the decree applied to Jews by “race” and was therefore also binding on converts to Christianity and their children. The converts living in Warsaw appealed to the Germans to be exempted from this shameful obligation. The Germans demanded a list of the persons requesting exemption, but on receiving it, they rejected the request. In October and November 1940, when the Warsaw ghetto was set up, the Germans used the list to round up the converts and force them to enter the ghetto with the Jews. Even when Jews were separated from the general population by confinement in ghettos, they were still required to wear their badges. In some ghettos distinctive badges were introduced for identifying Jewish police, doctors, Judenrat employees, and people who held jobs in one of the many official factories. The purpose of these additional badges was to replace the Jewish badge and give the bearer a sense of being better protected and more favored than the anonymous masses in the ghetto. But in May 1942 Jews in Warsaw were forbidden to wear additional badges and the use of special badges was confined to the Jewish police. Inside the Third Reich, the regulation requiring a yellow badge (a Judenstern, or “Jewish star”) to be worn by the Jews was enacted in September 1941, nearly two years after it had been imposed on the Jews of Poland. The regulation also applied to the Protectorate of B O H E M I A - M O R AV I A and officially also to the Polish areas



In France the Yellow Star of David had the word “Juif” in Hebraic-looking letters at the center.

that had been incorporated into the Reich. The September 1941 regulation required all Jews over the age of six to wear a yellow six-pointed star, on the left side of the breast. The distinctive mark imposed on the Jews in Germany became an integral part of the preparations for the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N .” The Jewish badge was also adopted by Germany’s satellite states. In September 1941 a “Jewish code” became law in S L OVA K I A . Jews were required to wear a yellow badge, and only the president of the country could exempt anyone. German authorities ran into opposition when they tried to introduce the wearing of the badge in the occupied countries of western Europe and Vichy France. In December 1942 the Germans began pressuring the Vichy regime to impose the wearing of the yellow badge on the Jews of France—a preparatory step for the planned deportation and annihilation of the Jews of German-occupied western Europe. The Vichy government rejected the German proposal, arguing that the anti-Jewish measures being applied were adequate and that a distinctive sign for Jews would come as a “great shock” to the French people.

Vichy France

The region of France not occupied by Germany that was governed from the spa town of Vichy.

In the Netherlands Jews were required to wear a yellow star on the left side of their breast. In Belgium the same decree was issued. In occupied France the decree was issued, ordering all Jews aged six and over to wear a yellow star, but in the unoccupied zone of France the wearing of the yellow badge was not introduced, since the Vichy government continued to oppose the measure.



In Bulgaria a yellow and black button was sewn on clothing to identify Jews.

Jews who left the badge at home when they went out or whose badges did not meet the regulations were subject to fines and prison sentences.

In the satellite states and states that were otherwise dependent on Germany, the Nazis used their power and influence to enforce use of the Jewish badge. In H U N G A R Y such pressure was applied in December 1942, but the government there was able to resist it. In March 1944, however, when the German army occupied Hungary, the first decision on Jewish affairs adopted by the new government was to impose the yellow badge on the country’s Jews. Romania applied the yellow badge in the new territories that it occupied. In Bulgaria, where there was strong opposition to anti-Jewish legislation and the persecution of the Jews, the government, in August 1942, decided to introduce a distinctive sign for Jews, in the form of a small yellow button. Even the wearing of that sign, however, was not strictly enforced, and most of the Jews in the country did not observe the order. In D E N M A R K the German authorities considered introducing the yellow badge, but they were well aware of the Danes unconditional resistance to anti-Jewish measures, and they did not risk making it mandatory.

Reaction to the Badge Reactions by Jews and non-Jews alike varied from country to country. In Poland, where a distinctive sign for Jews was first introduced, there was initially a considerable psychological impact, but this lessened as more severe measures were introduced. The threat of severe penalties accounted for the almost uniform observance of the wearing of the Jewish badge. The introduction of the Jewish badge in Germany was followed by a wave of suicides. Some Jewish sources report that there were a few instances of Germans’ dis-



playing solidarity with the Jews in the matter of the yellow badge. An internal report mentioned the special problem of persons classified as Jews under the Nazi racist legislation who were Christians by religion. Congregants attending church services allegedly complained of having to sit next to persons wearing the yellow badge. In western Europe many Jews defied orders and did not wear the yellow badge. In occupied France more than 100,000 Jews were expected to wear the badge, but weeks after the order was issued, only 83,000 persons had came to pick up the badges. The French population opposed the yellow badge and found creative ways to dilute its negative power. For example, yellow became a fashionable color, and some people wore stars or other items to express solidarity with the Jews. Even the French police, which had a poor record in its treatment of Jews, either found it difficult to overcome the defiance of the order to wear the yellow badge, or did not care to collaborate in this effort. In the Netherlands there were many instances of demonstrative solidarity with the Jews. A Dutch underground newspaper printed 300,000 stars bearing the inscription “Jews and non-Jews are one and the same.”

Other Badges In the Nazi concentration camps, prisoners were marked by triangular patches in various colors (in the case of Jews, by a Star of David consisting of two triangles in different colors) and by letters, the purpose being to indicate the ethnic and national identity of the prisoner and the prisoner’s particular “offense.” Pink triangles were worn by those imprisoned on suspicion of homosexuality. Outside the camps, laws decreeing special distinguising marks applied only to Jews.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Keller, Werner. Diaspora: The Post-Biblical History of the Jews. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1969.

Barbie Trial Klaus Barbie (1913-1991), former head of the G E S TA P O (German Secret Police) in Lyons, F R A N C E , during World War II, was tried on criminal charges in Lyons, between May 11 and July 4, 1987. Barbie joined the Nazi party in 1932 and the S S , the elite guard of the N A Z I in 1935. He began working for the Gestapo in 1942, and in November of that year was posted to Lyons, where he served as the Gestapo chief for the next 21 months. During that period he personally committed or was responsible for numerous acts of violence, earning him the nickname “the Butcher of Lyons.” Among his most infamous acts was the torture of Jean Moulin, a hero of the French Resistance fighters who operated in secret against the Nazis. “Image PA R T Y ,

not available for copyright reasons”

After the war Barbie became a counterintelligence agent for the U N I T E D S TAT E S in Germany, working to prevent Germans from acquiring confidential information about the United States. In 1951 he emigrated to Bolivia, settling in La Paz. He acquired Bolivian citizenship in 1957, under the false name Klaus Altmann. In 1952 and again in 1954 Barbie was tried in absentia (in his absence) in France. Both times he was convicted of specific war crimes and sentenced to death. He was discovered in La Paz by the Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld in 1971. In the fol-



lowing years the French government requested his extradition (surrender and deportation) many times. In 1983 the Bolivian government finally expelled Barbie and he was brought to France to stand trial.

French Resistance

A well-organized network of people in occupied and Vichy France who worked secretly against the German occupation forces

Barbie was charged with crimes against humanity. The charges included responsibility for a raid on the headquarters of a Jewish organization in Lyons, where about 85 Jews were arrested and later sent to A U S C H W I T Z and responsibility for the deportation of 44 Jewish children in hiding in the village of Izieu, east of Lyons. In all, Barbie was charged with responsibility for the deportation of 842 people from Lyons, about half of them Jews and half of them members of the French Resistance.

The Barbie trial was followed closely throughout the world. It aroused much controversy in France. Some Frenchmen feared it would raise questions about the French collaboration with the Nazis, especially regarding the arrest and killing of Jean Moulin. Others feared it might cause a new wave of A N T I S E M I T I S M . In connection with the trial some activists in Holocaust denial (see H O L O CAU S T, D E N I A L O F T H E ) tried to claim that Barbie’s behavior was no different from that of many of the Allied forces during the war and of a number of nations after the war. On July 4, 1987, Barbie was found guilty of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to life imprisonment, the maximum penalty under French law at the time.

SEE ALSO TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bower, Tom. Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyons.” Pantheon Books, 1984. Finkielkraut, Alain. Remembering in Vain: The Klaus Barbie Trial and Crimes Against Humanity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie [videorecording]. Video Treasures, 1995. Kahn, Annette. Why My Father Died: A Daughter Confronts Her Family’s Past at the Trial of Klaus Barbie. New York: Summit Books, 1991. Morgan, Ted. An Uncertain Hour: The French, the Germans, the Jews, the Klaus Barbie Trial, and the City of Lyon, 1940-1945. New York: Arbor House/Morrow, 1990.

Baum Gruppe The Baum Gruppe (Baum Group) was an anti-Nazi organization in Berlin, Germany. It was made up mainly of Jews who belonged to YO U T H M OV E M E N T S and who, during the N A Z I PA R T Y rule of Germany, joined the German Communist party or its youth organizations. Most of the group’s members were Communists, but there were also Zionists—those who advocated the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine—including members of the Youth Movements known as Werkleute, Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir, and Ha-Bonim. Out of thirty-two militant members, only four were over the age of 19 in 1933. The leaders of the group, Herbert Baum and his wife, Marianne, started their underground activity at the beginning of the Nazi regime in 1933.

Monument to the Baum Gruppe in the Weissensee cemetery, Berlin.


In 1936, the Jewish members of the Baum Gruppe were instructed by the leadership of the Communist underground to set up an independent group and to start Communist “cells,” or small groups, in Jewish youth organizations. Between 1937 and 1942, the Baum Gruppe maintained links with all major similar groups in


Berlin. Their activities included distributing illegal brochures and organizing educational evenings, political training courses, and cultural events. The group also worked to strengthen the morale of Jews due to be deported to the East. On May 18, 1942, several members of the group set fire to different areas of “The Soviet Paradise” (Das Sowjetparadies), an anti-Communist exhibit set up in Berlin by the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda. The group’s action was considered a major anti-Nazi event. Most members of the group were caught—either betrayed by an informer planted by the Gestapo or because of their lack of experience in underground work. Five hundred Berlin Jews were also arrested in revenge. Half of them were shot, and the others were sent to S A C H S E N H AU S E N , a concentration camp, and killed in the fall of 1942. Herbert Baum was tortured to death. The other members were arrested and put on trial between July 1942 and June 1943; most of them were executed. Nearly all the other members were later deported to the East and died in A U S C H W I T Z .

SEE ALSO RESISTANCE, JEWISH. SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Herbert Baum.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t005/t00573.html (accessed on August 25, 2000).

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/ holocaust/people/resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Belgium The area that is now Belgium had no stable Jewish communities until the sixteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, Jews in Belgium had achieved equal rights. In 1830, when Belgium became an independent country, the Jews numbered just over 1,000. That number continued to grow, but most Jews were refugees, en route to overseas destinations, and not permanent residents. From the early 1920s, Belgian Jewry steadily grew in size as more Jews came from Eastern Europe, and, in the 1930s, from Nazi G E R M A N Y . On the eve of the Nazi invasion 66,000 Jews lived in Belgium (out of a total population of 8.3 million), but only ten percent of the Jews were Belgian citizens. The Jewish population was concentrated in four cities, Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, and Charleroi, but mostly in the first two. The immigrants spoke Yiddish, but French became the predominant language, especially among the younger generation. Among the Jewish political viewpoints in Belgium were the socialist trends—Zionist and non-Zionist, including the Bund —and other, more radical leftist ideologies. As a result, very close ties formed between the Jews and the Belgian leftist movements, a factor that greatly influenced the rescue efforts and the resistance during the Holocaust.


Jewish Socialist Party, dedicated to gaining equal rights for Jews.

German Occupation German forces invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940, and on May 28, the Belgian army surrendered. King Leopold III stayed in Belgium, but the prime minister and some of the cabinet members fled to London, where they established a government-in-exile on October 31, 1940. There were now two centers of official Belgian




NETHERLANDS North Sea Antwerp Overpelt


Breendonck Mechelen



Dossin Camp























© Martin Gilbert 1982


The countries that fought against Germany during World War II.


he Jewish population of Belgium at the time of

the German invasion was 65,696; 34,801 Jews were imprisoned or deported, and of these, 28,902 perished, representing 44 percent of the total Jewish population.

authority, and neither recognized the authority of the other. The king, recognizing the new balance of power in the country, was inclined to cooperate with the Germans, and on one occasion even met with Adolf H I T L E R , but he refrained almost totally from overt activity. The government-in-exile supported the Allies. The Germans first set up a military administration, under General Alexander von Falkenhausen. In July 1944 a civil administration took its place. In early September 1944, Brussels and Antwerp were freed from Nazi control by Allied forces, and by early November all of Belgium was set free. However, when the Germans launched a new offensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, they reoccupied areas in the southeast. Finally, in January 1945, the last German troops were driven out. In Belgium, as in other places, the Germans enforced Nazi anti-Jewish policy: eliminating Jews from all influential positions, depriving them of their possessions and livelihood, putting them on F O R C E D L A B O R , isolating them from the rest of the population, and, finally, deporting them to their death. Here, however, the German administration served as a restraining factor on the volume, intensity, and tempo of the anti-Jewish measures. In the first two years of the occupation, before the deportations began, 18 antiJewish decrees and regulations were issued, at relatively long intervals, creating the impression that the measures were on the whole quite moderate. Two decrees announced October 28 defined who was to be regarded as a Jew under the law, ordered the Jews to conduct a census and draw up a list of all their enterprises and occupations, and eliminated Jews from the public administration, the legal and teaching professions, and the media. On May 31, 1941, Jews were ordered to display signs identifying their enterprises as Jewish and to declare their capital and other assets (including real estate). Limits were set on how much money they could withdraw each month from their bank accounts. Later that year, Jews were told they could only reside in the four major cities, and they were subject to a nightly curfew, from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. A decree issued on November 25, 1941, established the Association of Jews in Belgium (AJB), to which every Jew had to belong. Within a week, all Jewish children were banned from the public schools, and the AJB was required to set up its



own elementary and secondary schools. On January 17, 1942, Jews were forbidden to leave the country. In March, new decrees imposed special forced labor on the Jews. On May 27, Jews were ordered to wear the yellow badge that would identify them as Jews (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ).

Deportation In the summer of 1942 the deportation of Jews from Belgium was launched, in coordination with D E P O R TAT I O N S from the N E T H E R L A N D S and F R A N C E . Adolf E I C H M A N N ’ S section in the RSHA had made the preparations. The deportations continued for over a year, ending in September 1943. A small staff in the Bureau of Jewish Affairs in Brussels handled the deportations; the roundup of Jews and their actual deportation was carried out, for the most part, by the German field police. The vast majority of the deportees perished in A U S C H W I T Z ; some small groups were also sent to B U C H E N WA L D , R AV E N S B R Ü C K , and B E R G E N -B E L S E N .

Economic Measures Economic measures against the Jews were introduced toward the end of 1940. In November, Hermann Göring ordered the Belgian economy to be “Aryanized,” which meant that Jewish-owned businesses and assets had to be transferred to Aryan (non-Jewish) ownership. A R YA N I Z AT I O N was launched only in late 1941. In spring 1942, the systematic liquidation of Jewish businesses in the textile, leather, and diamond industries was set in motion. However, some large Jewish enterprises stayed in existence and kept their assets intact. A similar situation prevailed with Jewish-owned real estate.

The amount of property the Germans seized from Jewish homes covered about 3,531,450 cubic feet.

In 1942, during the period when Jews were being deported to C O N C E N T R A new decrees required the confiscation of property owned by German Jews and forbade the sale of real estate without special permission. T I O N CA M P S ,

The Germans confiscated the property of Jews who did not return to their homes or were deported, and plundered Jewish institutions and art collections, focusing on fine art and items of “ideological value” (such as Jewish religious and folklore objects and libraries). The seizure of personal property “for the good of the German people” was left to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and to the military administration in Belgium. According to one figure given in August 1944, the amount of property the Germans seized from Jewish homes covered about 3,531,450 cubic feet. Jews were also stripped of any remaining valuables in the Mechelen assembly camp, just before boarding the deportation trains.

Forced Labor Beginning in June 1942, Belgian Jews were exploited as a cheap source of labor, as part of a drive that the Germans were carrying out in all the occupied countries of Europe. Belgian Jews were employed primarily in the construction of fortifications along the coast of northern France; 2,252 people were put to work there. Other Jews were forced to work on German army construction projects, in clothing factories, at an arms factory, in stone quarries, and on agricultural projects.

Relations between the Jews and the General Population Relations between Jews and non-Jews in Belgium were complicated, even before the occupation. Certain factors made these relations more difficult: most



Belgians were Catholic; there was a language war between the Flemings and the Walloons; and most Jews were recent immigrants whose outlook differed greatly from that of native Belgians. These factors were offset by the democratic character of the Belgian regime and by the rapid integration of the Jews in the economic life of the country and in some of its political movements. On January 10, 1941, the government-in-exile issued a statement that declared all the decrees of the German administration null and void and committed itself to restoring the stolen property to its rightful owners and to punishing Belgians collaborating with the Germans. Belgian officials refused to issue German orders to remove Jews from the economic life of the country, citing legal grounds. The Germans published the antiJewish decrees on their own, with the Belgian administrative staff cooperating in their implementation. In general, most Belgians reacted with apathy to the antiJewish legislation during the first two years of the occupation. But certain anti-Jewish decrees aroused a negative reaction among the population, and some official protests were even lodged. The protests did not affect German policy. Some radical right-wing Belgian organizations cooperated with the Germans, providing 400 volunteers for the SS who spread antisemitic propaganda and helped the authorities to implement their policies. In addition, Radio Bruxelles often broadcast anti-Jewish propaganda. On April 14, 1941, during Passover, a small group of Flemish antisemitic nationalists staged an anti-Jewish attack that became known as the Antwerp pogrom. Two synagogues and a rabbi’s house were damaged. The introduction of the yellow badge on May 27, 1942, led to numerous protests. City officials in Brussels refused to distribute the badge, as did the AJB. But officials in other cities, such as Antwerp, did not react in the same way. Most of the underground newspapers sharply denounced the decree and urged the population to show solidarity with the Jews. A number of people expressed sympathy for the Jews and many Belgians wore badges similar to the Jewish badge. These events may have been a turning point, as a result of which the Belgian population was more inclined to help the Jews when the deportations were launched. When the deportations began, in the summer of 1942, the Belgian resistance movement was not united and consisted of several groups, but there was wide support for resistance as such. As a result, as many as 80,000 persons (non-Jews) were able to go into hiding and avoid forced-labor. An illegal press existed with a wide circulation. An estimated 70,000 people, including many Jews, were organized in the resistance, out of a total population of 8 million. Despite its small size, the Communist party played a key role in resistance operations. Large sectors of the population, especially leftist party activists and church institutions (as well as individual Belgians not affiliated with any group), helped to conceal some 25,000 Jews from the Germans. Belgian Jews and Jews passing through Belgium were helped to flee to France and Switzerland. The Belgian Red Cross assisted many Jews by providing them with food parcels; in 1943, half the quantity of parcels earmarked for this purpose went to the Jews who were in hiding. The Catholic church helped to provide hiding places for Jews. Father Joseph André of Namur, of the regional seminary in Bastogne, and Bishop Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs of Liège; the bishop of Mechelen were particularly active as rescuers. Cardinal Joseph-Ernst van Roey, the highest church authority in Belgium, took certain cautious actions on behalf of Jews. When the deportations began, van Roey mediated for Jewish converts and the Jewish partners of mixed marriages, as well as on behalf of Jews who were Belgian nationals, and obtained their release. A few weeks later van Roey acted similarly on behalf of Rabbi Salomon Ullmann and AJB leaders who had been arrested and imprisoned. The queen of England, Elizabeth, also



intervened on behalf of the Jews of Belgian nationality. In August 1942, she appealed to Hitler himself, through General von Falkenhausen. These kinds of efforts postponed the deportation of Jews who were Belgian nationals. However, as various government and church officials, including van Roey, restricted protection to Belgian nationals, it implied that the rest of the Jews (meaning most of the Jews of Belgium) could be abandoned. And although many people aided Jews in the deportation period, some Belgians turned them in to the authorities, and some radical right-wing organizations actively searched for Jews in hiding.

The Jewish Community During the fighting in May 1940, many Jews tried to escape to France and to Britain. Some reached southern France or even Spain; many others returned to Belgium after weeks of wandering. In the early months of the occupation, when no anti-Jewish action was taken, the Jews tried to rehabilitate their communal life and they formed aid committees in Brussels and Antwerp. For a while, the ousting of Jews from jobs in the public administration had little effect; few Jews had held such positions. The same applied to the initial anti-Jewish economic decrees. However, when the general economic situation deteriorated and Aryanization was launched in 1941, Jewish organizations found it difficult to meet the community needs, especially for welfare. The American Jewish J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E sent some financial aid to the AJB, and, later, to the Jewish Defense Committee.


ost Jews living in Belgium were able to maintain a

tolerable standard of living up until the time of the deportations. At that point, a wide gulf opened between the Jews who were protected by their Belgian nationality and all the other Jews in Belgium.

Initially, education remained unchanged. Most young Jews attended public schools and remained in that system until April 1942, when Jews were expelled from the general school system. The community immediately established several schools and kindergartens, using the Brussels Central Synagogue, among other places. In the 1942–1943 school year, which opened after the deportations had started, the AJB-maintained school network shrank considerably in size. Outstanding religious schools, such as the yeshiva (rabbinical academy) at Heide, near Antwerp, remained open until the beginning of the deportations. Zionist YO U T H M OV E M E N T S in Brussels and Antwerp resumed their activities, albeit on a more modest scale, concentrating on educational training, cultural work, and mutual help, in cooperation with the official political parties and organizations. The various youth movements cooperated with one another and with other Jewish organizations in obtaining food in the vicinity and distributing it, and in running an agricultural training farm.

Rescue Operations and the Underground The Jews of Belgium were actively engaged in underground operations and efforts for their own rescue, often coming up with original ideas. By 1940 and 1941 the Germans were arresting Jews active in Communist organizations. Numerous Communists were seized by the Germans in June 1941, following the German attack on the S OV I E T U N I O N , and a considerable number of them were Jews. Also arrested, in 1941 and 1942, were Jews who had worked in the general underground press. Jews also operated and worked for underground newspapers published in Yiddish, French, and Dutch. Jews played a dominant role in the “Red Orchestra,” the spy ring operating for the Soviet Union, and they were among the members of the Front d’Indépendance, a Belgian organization, representing various groups, that called for armed resistance.



Rescue initiatives on the part of Jews enabled a relatively large proportion of the Jews of Belgium to be saved.

In July 1942, a joint underground Jewish defense organization called the Jewish Defense Committee (CDJ) was formed to address the worsening situation of the Jews. A coalition of Jewish Communists and Zionist activists, among others, created the CDJ, which had important ties with the general resistance organizations as well as with the AJB. From 1942 to 1944, it played a central role in rescue and resistance operations. It also had contacts with the Catholic church and various other bodies, and engaged in fundraising. The organization’s main purpose was to find hiding places for Jews; its children’s section, in cooperation with the National Children’s Committee, headed by Yvonne Nèvejean, succeeded in hiding four thousand children. Large numbers of Jewish adults also had the CDJ’s help in finding a place to hide. Jewish armed resistance operations (some of which had no connection with the CDJ) had some impressive successes. In the summer of 1942, one operation aimed to seize the card index that the AJB maintained in its office. Resistance fighters then targeted Robert Holcinger, the official in charge of sending out the call-ups for deportation. The single most significant resistance operation carried out by the Jewish underground was the attack on a deportation train, on the night of April 19–20, 1943, containing a transport of Jews from the Mechelen camp headed for A U S C H W I T Z . This is the only recorded instance of an armed attack in Europe on a train taking Jews to their death. Individuals frequently escaped from deportation trains originating in the Mechelen camp. Such an escape first occurred on October 31, 1942. Of the 26,500 Jews who were deported from Mechelen, the total number of escapees was 571. In the April attack on Transport No. 20, 231 Jews escaped, of whom 23 were shot to death by the train guards. Most of the escapees jumped from the train as soon as they could. One group of 17 Jews was saved by the outside help of three persons— none of them affiliated with any organization—headed by a Jew. In addition, hundreds of Jews attempted to flee to Switzerland and southern France, and from there to Spain. Many dozens of Zionist youth movement members succeeded in such attempts.

After Liberation The rehabilitation of Belgian Jewry was a difficult and painful process. At first, Belgian authorities did not want the Jews who had not been Belgian nationals before the war to remain there. The restitution of Jewish property also ran into difficulties. Various Jewish organizations disagreed about the guardianship of the war orphans and what kind of upbringing they should have. Jews who came out of hiding after liberation attempted to reorganize the Jewish community. They formed the Central Jewish Committee for the Reconstruction of Religious Life in Belgium. Jewish chaplains in the Allied forces and the J E W I S H B R I G A D E G R O U P , which was posted to Belgium in early August 1945, played an important role after liberation. Soldiers of the brigade were involved in the renewal of Zionist activity and in the search for Jewish orphans and their return to Jewish life in Belgium. The Zionist parties and youth movements were reestablished after the war. Hundreds of war orphans and members of the Zionist youth movements left for Palestine, while others emigrated elsewhere. In Antwerp and Brussels, Jewish community life was restored, although on a much smaller scale than in the past.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Defonseca, Misha. Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years. Boston: Mt. Ivy Press, 1997.



Isaacman, Clara. Clara’s Story. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1984. Loebl, Suzanne. At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust. Pacifica, CA: Pacifica Press, 1997. Rosengarten, Israel J. Survival: The Story of a Sixteen-year-old Jewish Boy. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999. Worch, Renee. Flight: A Jewish Family’s Valiant Struggle to Escape Nazi Occupation. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1988.

Belorussia Independent since 1991, Belarus was formerly known as Belorussia, or the Belorussian SSR, one of the four founding entities of the S OV I E T U N I O N . Belorussia shared borders with P O L A N D , L I T H UA N I A , and L AT V I A . Belorussia’s people and culture had long been influenced by the military invasions and annexations of more powerful neighbors. During World War I (1914–1918), Belorussia was a battle zone, and after the war it was the scene of fighting between the Soviets and the Poles. In 1921, Belorussia was split up: the western part went to Poland and the eastern part became one of the Soviet Union’s socialist republics. On September 17, 1939, the Soviet Red Army entered western Belorussia and incorporated it into the Belorussian SSR.

Jewish Culture in Belorussia Jewish communities were founded in Belorussia as early as the fourteenth century, in Brest-Litovsk and G R O D N O . After the unification of Lithuania and Poland, the authorities encouraged the settlement of Poles and Jews in Belorussia. When Belorussia was incorporated into tsarist Russia, it was included in the Pale of Settlement, the area where Jews were permitted to reside. Belorussian Jews suffered from all the tsarist anti-Jewish decrees and from persecution and pogroms. In the wake of the 1881 pogroms and the subsequent anti-Jewish measures, Belorussian Jews emigrated to the West in large numbers. Belorussia was a center of Jewish religious studies, as was Lithuania. The two Jewish communities were very similar in their way of life and creativity. Renowned rabbinical academies (yeshivas) were established in Volozhin, Mir, and other centers. Belorussia was a center of the Hasidic pietistic movement, which stressed Bible study and personal religious experience, and of the opponents of the Hasidim, known as the Misnagdim. A high proportion of Belorussia’s Jews were manual workers, and a broad network of educational and mutual-aid institutions existed.


A Russian word meaning “devastation” that came to be applied to organized violence against Jews, which was often encouraged and supported by government authorities.

Western Belorussia During the period following World War I, the Jews of the western part of Belorussia, then under Polish rule, were hit hard by the anti-Jewish policies of the Polish government. The economic well-being of the entire Jewish community was affected, which caused wide-spread poverty among Belorussian Jews. The entry of Soviet forces into western Belorussia on September 17, 1939 was a relief for the Jews, in view of the Nazi threat they had been facing. However, in 21 months of Soviet rule, the situation of the Jews deteriorated rapidly, undermining the very basis of Jewish existence. Many Jews lost their livelihood, Jewish public



Belorussia during World War II.

institutions were dissolved, and the anti-Jewish animosity of the population grew to unprecedented dimensions. On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), 670,000 Jews were living in western Belorussia, including the Jews from western Poland who had taken refuge there. The German army advanced at lightning speed, occupying western Belorussia and reaching the old Polish-Soviet border within a week. A wave of pogroms, staged by the local population, swept over large parts of the region, much to the satisfaction of the Germans. From the very beginning, the Germans themselves launched one campaign after another in which 40 percent of the Jews of the Vilna, Novogrudok, and Polesye districts were murdered. The first wave of killings lasted until December 1941 and, as in other parts of the Soviet Union occupied by the Germans, they marked the beginning of the Nazi “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” . The mass murder came to a standstill during the winter of 1941–1942 because the Germans needed Jews as manpower in factories for warrelated labor. The economic situation in Belorussia and the harsh winter weather also obstructed the extermination program.

partisan operations

Underground resistance groups fighting against the Nazi regime.


The second wave of mass murder began in the spring of 1942 and ended with the total annihilation of the Jews of western Belorussia. A rise in partisan opera-


tions during that period prompted the Germans to accelerate the pace of extermi-

nation. According to German data, by the end of 1942 only 30,000 Jews were left in Belorussia (excluding the B I A L⁄ Y S T O K district). In the course of that year, most of western Belorussia’s ghettos—the restricted sections of cities in which Jews were forced to live—were liquidated; the inhabitants were forcibly removed to concentration camps. The last to suffer this fate were the ghettos of Glubokoye (August 20, 1943) and Lida (September 18, 1943).

The Jewish Underground The Jews of Belorussia responded to their oppression in various ways: exerting a daily effort to stay alive in the ghettos, going into hiding, escaping from the ghetto, and joining armed underground fighting units as PA R T I S A N S . Thousands of Jews went into hiding in bunkers and other secret places; 12,600 were known to have hidden in the sixteen ghettos for which data exist. Following the first wave of killings, underground organizations were set up. Some of these organizations were the continuation of the Zionist pioneering underground that had operated under the Soviet regime from 1939 to 1941. Members of the underground included adults, members of various Zionist youth movements, and students of the Hebrew Tarbut (Zionistoriented) schools and Yiddish schools. It is estimated that at least 25,000 Jews from the Vilna, Novogrudok, and Polesye districts fled to the forests to live in such partisan resistance groups. Forty-two of these underground groups had in their possession an arsenal of 500 rifles, 150 pistols, 35 machine guns, and 20 submachine guns.

Most of the Jews of Belorussia were murdered in pits near the towns where they had lived and were buried in mass graves on the spot.

The Jews of the Bial⁄ystok District The Bial⁄ystok district was incorporated into East Prussia on July 17, 1941, thus becoming part of the Reich. Bial⁄ ystok itself had a Jewish population of 60,000 to 70,000. When the Germans took the city in June of that year, they murdered two thousand Jews; several thousand more were killed in July. This was followed by a period of relative quiet in Bial⁄ystok. In the provincial towns of the Bial⁄ystok district, large-scale killings took place. Those who managed to escape from them took refuge in the city of Bial⁄ystok. The extermination of the surviving Jewish population of the Bial⁄ystok district began on November 2, 1942. At that point, the number of Jews was still quite substantial. They were rounded up and put in transit camps, and in November and December were taken to the T R E B L I N K A E X T E R M I NAT I O N CA M P . In early February 1943, a week-long extermination campaign was conducted in Bial⁄ystok. During this wave of killing, 12,000 Jews were murdered. Efraim Barasz, the J UDENRAT (Jewish Council) chairman, continued to believe that the ghetto would not be liquidated because the Germans needed the manpower it provided. On August 16, 1943, the Germans surrounded the ghetto. The uprising in the ghetto, commanded by Mordechai T ENENBAUM , with the participation of the Dror, Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir, Communist, and Betar resistance movements, went on for several days until the last of the fighters fell. More than 25,000 Bial⁄ystok Jews were transported to Treblinka, and 1,200 children from Bial⁄ystok were sent to A USCHWITZ . Another 2,000 Jews who had been in the “Small Ghetto” were sent to M A J DA N E K . A few Jews from Bial⁄ystok managed to escape and join the partisans; of these, 60 survived.

Eastern Belorussia Large Jewish communities existed in the cities of eastern Belorussia; indeed, in 1897, Jews had formed the majority of the population in these locations. However,



The Jews were left without water, food, fuel, and warm clothing, and in a temperature of minus 25 degrees centigrade.

because of integration and because Jews moved to other cities (including Moscow and Leningrad), the proportion of Jews in these cities decreased, and in the 1926 census they no longer constituted the majority of these urban populations. The October Revolution of 1917 posed new and basic problems for the Jews in eastern Belorussia. As members of the middle class they found themselves deprived of their sources of livelihood, their employment and social status, and their traditional way of life. Jewish culture and education came under sharp attack. The autonomous Jewish community framework was dissolved, and the only official Jewish body permitted was the Communist party’s “Jewish Section” (Yevsektsiya), which conducted an aggressive propaganda drive against traditional Jewish religious life. Jewish schools, academies, and synagogues were closed down. However, many Jews continued to observe traditional customs in the privacy of their homes, and the Zionist youth movements Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir and He-Haluts maintained their operations, clandestinely, until the late 1920s. M I N S K was the center of Yiddish culture and literature, and in the 1932–1933 school year, 36,650 Jewish children attended Yiddish schools. As Soviet purges were launched, however, the number of Jewish schools declined rapidly. Hundreds of secret Jewish schools were discovered and shuttered, and Jewish intellectuals were imprisoned, exiled, or executed. With the outbreak of World War II, the Germans speedily conquered eastern Belorussia. Minsk was taken on June 28, 1941. V I T E B S K fell on July 11. By July 16, German forces had reached Smolensk. Many Jews fled eastward to save their lives, but German parachute forces barred the roads, and most of the refugees who had gone in the direction of Orsha and Moscow were intercepted and had to turn back. Nevertheless, an estimated 120,000 Jews living in eastern Belorussia succeeded in escaping to the Soviet interior. The Germans immediately began a program of mass murder. The indifference of the population to the fate of the Jews encouraged the Germans to accelerate the massacres, and the difficulties they came to encounter on the front also served to increase the rate at which the extermination proceeded. Jews living in small towns and villages were moved into larger ghettos. In some places, such as Bobruisk and Slutsk, the ghettos were set up in the open country. In Lepel, Jews had to vacate their homes and move into the ghetto with only two hours notice. Each house, all without windowpanes, held thirty to forty persons. The Jews were left without water, food, fuel, and warm clothing, and in a temperature of minus 25 degrees centigrade. Similar conditions prevailed in other ghettos in the area. Reports submitted by the O P E R AT I O NA L S QUA D S (Einsatzgruppen) accused the Jews of “maintaining contact with the partisans.” Some reports cited reasons for killing the Jews such as “acts of sabotage,” “refusal to obey orders,” “offering resistance,” and so on. The reports also detailed the numbers of both Jews and partisans killed by the Operational Squads. By the end of 1941, the Jews of thirty-five ghettos had been murdered, including those in the major cities, where the Jewish population was concentrated. Together, they accounted for a third of the entire Jewish population of eastern Belorussia. The mass murder of Jews was carried out in huge pits that were prepared close to the ghettos. In the ghettos at Minsk, Pleshchenitsy, Gomel, Vitebsk, and Mogilev, the Germans used dushkovki—extermination vans (see G A S C H A M B E R S / V A N S ). In the Minsk ghetto, some ninety thousand Jews were murdered in ongoing killing sprees, including some at night. Between November 1941 and October 1942, 35,442 Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A were also brought to Minsk to be killed.


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Belorussian Jews offered resistance in the various ghettos, and some fighters escaped to the forests. The Minsk ghetto had an underground organization that operated up to the very end. Approximately 10,000 Jews escaped from Minsk into the forest; at the end of the war, some 5,000 Jews went back to Minsk, most of them from the forest. They were later joined by Jews who, in the first few days of the war, had fled to the Soviet interior, and by Jews from other parts of the country. Throughout the war, the majority of the local population in all parts of Belorussia displayed an unfriendly attitude to the Jews; some, including Communist party activists, were extremely hostile. A very small minority showed a humane attitude, and some of these saved a few Jews.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Eckman, Lester Samuel. The Jewish Resistance: The History of the Jewish Partisans in Lithuania and White Russia During the Nazi Occupation, 1940–1945. New York: Shengold, 1977. Gitelman, Zvi, ed. Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. Radin, Ruth Y. Escape to the Forest: Based on a True Story of the Holocaust. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. Tec, Nechema. Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Bel⁄z˙ec Bel⁄ z˙ec was an E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P in Poland. It was named for the small town in which it was located, in the southeastern part of the L U B L I N district. In early 1940, the Germans set up a camp there for Jewish F O R C E D L A B O R . These prisoners were used to build fortifications and dig anti-tank ditches for the German war effort. That camp was closed down at the end of the year. On November 1, 1941, as part of A K T I O N (O P E R AT I O N ) R E I N H A R D , the Germans began building an extermination camp at Bel⁄ z˙ec. The site they chose was near the railway station— about 1,620 feet (500 meters) away on a railway siding. It contained some of the anti-tank ditches that had been dug the previous year. These were destined to become mass graves for the Jews who were to be murdered in the camp. At first, the construction work was carried out by Poles from Bel⁄ z˙ec. These workers were later replaced by Jews who had been forced from ghettos in the neighboring towns. Of the S S men who were in charge of the camp construction and operation, most had taken part in the E U T H A N A S I A P R O G R A M , including the camp’s first commandant, Christian W I RT H . The staff included 20 to 30 German SS men. They held the command and administration positions and oversaw the extermination program. There were also between 90 and 120 Ukrainian men from the T R AW N I K I camp—all of them Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R who had volunteered to serve the Germans. It was the Ukrainians’ job to stand guard over the camp and the extermination process. They were also to put down any resistance from Jews being taken off the incoming rail transports, and prevent any attempts at escape. Among the Ukrainian group there were also Soviet V O L K S D E U T S C H E (ethnic Germans) who held lower command posts. The German staff had their quarters outside the camp, while the Ukrainians were housed inside. The camp also used Jewish prisoners for various local jobs and services.


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Plan of the Belzec concentration camp.

First Stage In its first stage the Bel⁄z˙ec camp had three G A S C H A M B E R S . They were located in barracks measuring 26-by-40 feet (8-by-12 meters). The structure had double walls, with sand in between them for insulation. It was divided into three rooms, each 13 by 26 feet (4 by 8 meters). The floor of the gas chambers and the walls, up to a height of over 3 feet (1 meter), were covered with tin sheets. A corridor led to the three doors of the gas chambers. Each door was 5 to 6 feet (1.8 meters) high and 3.5 feet (1.1 meters) wide; rubber strips were fastened to its sides so that it sealed hermetically when it was closed. The doors were made of hard wood, to resist pressure from inside the chambers, and could be opened only from the outside. Each gas chamber had an additional opening, for the removal of the corpses. There were pipes in the chambers through which the poisonous gas was pumped in. (See also G A S C H A M B E R S /V A N S .) By the end of February 1942, the gas chambers at Bel⁄z˙ec were ready for a test. Several groups of Jews were brought in from Lubycze Królewska for this purpose and put into the chambers. In addition to the Jews brought in from the outside, the


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Jewish prisoners who had been working on the construction of the camp were also gassed in this trial run. A 250-horsepower diesel engine was installed outside the gas chambers to generate the carbon monoxide gas and pump it into the pipes. This method came to be used throughout the period of the camp’s operation. By March 17, 1942, the main installations had been constructed and tried out, and the mass extermination program was launched.

The system was based on subterfuge and deception.

The Bel⁄ z˙ec camp was relatively small. It was square in shape, with each side measuring 886 feet (270 meters), and enclosed by a barbed-wire fence. Tree branches were attached to the fence to hide the inside of the camp from passersby, and trees were planted along the perimeter. There was a watchtower in each corner and one in the center of the camp, near the gas chambers. On the north side of the square was the gate through which the trains entered the camp.

From the time the prisoners

The camp was divided into two sections. The larger one was in the northwestern part, and the smaller in the eastern part. The larger one, Camp I, held the administration buildings, the staff quarters, the railway platform, and the track leading to it (which was long enough to hold twenty freight cars). The Jews who were taken off the freight cars were first assembled in an adjacent lot in which there were two barracks. In one of them the prisoners had to take off their clothes, while the other served as a storeroom. The smaller section of the camp, called Camp II, contained the gas chambers and the anti-tank ditches. This extermination area was separated from the rest of the camp by a fence. Between the barrack in Camp I (where the Jews undressed) and the gas chambers in Camp II, there was a path known as the “tube” (Schlauch). The path was 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide and several dozen yards long, fenced in on both sides. Along this path the Jews, now naked, were led to their death.

they were told that they

boarded the train to the moment the gas chamber doors closed behind them, were on their way to a labor camp.

Mechanics of Extermination Some young, physically fit males who arrived in the camp were put to work. In the early stage of the camp, this break delayed their death by a few days at the most. Then they, too, were sent to the gas chambers, and their places as workers were taken by new arrivals. Later on, for the sake of greater efficiency, groups of men numbering from 700 to 1,000 were kept alive for a longer period and forced to work in the extermination area. They were split up into work teams of various sizes, ranging from a few dozen to several hundred. One of the teams worked on the railway platform. These workers had to clean the freight cars that had carried the Jews, take down those people who were unable to get off on their own, and remove the bodies of those who had not survived the train ride. Another team was assigned to the area where the victims had to undress and leave their clothes and other belongings behind. This team was divided into several sub-groups for specific tasks, such as collecting the discarded items or sorting them. Others removed the yellow badges (identifying the wearers as Jews) from the clothes, and searched for money or valuables hidden in the clothes and other belongings. Another job for this team was to prepare all the clothes and other items for shipment to an outside destination. After a few months had passed, a new practice was introduced in the procedure leading to extermination: the women’s hair was cut off. (It was to be used in the manufacture of felt footwear.) This task, too, was assigned to one of the teams. The prisoners who made up the work teams stayed in several barracks in Camp I. They were housed with a group of artisans— tailors, cobblers, carpenters, and so on—who worked for the camp staff. Several hundred Jewish prisoners were assigned to Camp II. Their job was to remove the corpses from the gas chambers and bury them in the burial pits. A spe-


˙ EC B E L⁄ Z

cial group, nicknamed “the dentists,” had the job of extracting gold teeth from the mouths of the dead. At all times, the prisoners working in the camp were treated cruelly, by both the Germans and the Ukrainians. They might also be taken in a “selection” (Selektion), which meant immediate death. Only a handful of prisoners survived for more than a few months. The murdered prisoners were replaced by other Jews chosen from the new arrivals. In the first four weeks of operation, in March and April 1942, a total of about 80,000 Jews were murdered in the Bel⁄ z˙ec camp. They came from ghettos in the Lublin district and Eastern Galicia, including 30,000 from L U B L I N and 15,000 from LVOV . The Bel⁄z˙ec extermination process, as devised by Commandant Wirth, worked in the following way. A train consisting of forty to sixty freight cars would arrive at the Bel⁄z˙ec railway station. By that time, the prisoners on board had endured a trip lasting several hours—sometimes several days—under horrible conditions. There were no water or toilet facilities, and 100 to 130 Jews were packed into each car. Many did not survive the trip. When the train came to a halt, twenty of the freight cars, with a total of 2,000 to 2,500 Jews aboard, were detached from the train. The cars were attached to a locomotive that pulled them into the camp. Once inside, the Jews were ordered out of the cars, and one of the German officers announced that they had arrived at a “transit camp.” From there, the Jews thought, they would be moved to various labor camps. They were also told that they would now be disinfected and washed, and that they had to hand over any money or valuables in their possession. The men were separated from the women and children, and both groups were ordered to undress. With the Germans and Ukrainians shouting, threatening, and beating them, the Jews were then rushed into the “showers”—that is, the gas chambers. As soon as they were locked in, the engine was started and the carbon monoxide began to flow into the gas chambers. All those inside were killed within twenty or thirty minutes. At first, the whole process, from the arrival of the cars in the camp to the removal of the corpses from the gas chambers, took three to four hours. As time went on, more efficient methods were used, and it took only 60 to 90 minutes. While the twenty freight cars that had entered the camp were being cleaned and pulled out of the camp, twenty other cars loaded with prisoners took their place inside. The system was based on subterfuge and deception. From the time the prisoners boarded the train to the moment the gas chamber doors closed behind them, they were told that they were on their way to a labor camp.

Second Stage In mid-April 1942, the camp stopped operating for a month when the transports were temporarily halted. The murder operation was resumed in May. The transports that came in now also included Jews from the ghetto and district of K R A K Ó W . The German officers had learned that three gas chambers would not be enough to kill all the victims scheduled to be brought to Bel⁄ z˙ec. A decision was therefore made to build larger gas chambers. In order for the construction work to be carried out, the transports were discontinued for a month as of mid-June. The existing gas chambers were demolished. In their place, a new building, made of brick and concrete and containing six cells measuring 13-by-16 feet (4-by5 meters), was erected. In its center was a corridor, with three doors on each side for entering the gas chambers. Each chamber had another opening on the outside wall,


˙ EC B E L⁄ Z

through which the corpses of the victims were later removed. The new gas chambers could process 1,000 to 1,200 victims at a time—about half the number contained in twenty freight cars. Over the entrance to the building was a sign reading “Showers and Disinfection Rooms.” The transports of prisoners began again in the second week of July. They kept arriving on a regular schedule until December. From July to October, about 130,000 Jews were brought to the camp from the Kraków district, and about 225,000 from the L V OV area. There were also transports from the Lublin and Radom districts. Some of the transports to Bel⁄z˙ec brought German, Austrian, and Czechoslovak Jews who had earlier been deported from their countries to ghettos in Poland. The Germans were also planning to bring 200,000 Romanian Jews to Bel⁄z˙ec. This plan was not carried out, however, because the Romanian government refused to surrender Jews to the Germans. The total number of murder victims in Bel⁄z˙ec was 600,000. They were virtually all Jews, with a few hundred (or at most a few thousand) G Y P S I E S (Romani). This figure was confirmed by the Main Commission for Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland and was accepted by the judicial authorities of West Germany.


ery few people were able to escape from Bel⁄z˙ec, and only

one survived to tell the gruesome tale. Rudolf Reder spent four months in the camp and escaped in November 1942. After the war, Reder gave written testimony on what he had witnessed there. Apart from this one source, information on Bel⁄z˙ec has been difficult to come by, compared with evidence on the other extermination camps.

Obliteration of the Camp In December 1942, the transports to Bel⁄z˙ec and the extermination operation there came to an end. By this time, most of the Jews of the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T had been killed, and the SS authorities shut down the camp. S O B I B Ó R and T R E B L I N K A , two extermination camps that had been built after Bel⁄z˙ec, continued to function, as did A U S C H W I T Z -Birkenau. Between December 1942 and spring 1943, the Germans opened the mass graves in Bel⁄z˙ec. The bodies of the murder victims were dug up and then cremated. A special structure was put up to serve as a crematorium, made out of iron rails used for railways. Bones that resisted the flames were crushed. These remains, together with the ashes, were buried in the ditches from which the corpses had been removed. When the cremation of the bodies was completed, the camp was dismantled. All remaining visible traces of the mass murder of which it had been the scene were removed. The 600 Jewish prisoners who had been kept behind to work were sent to Sobibór, to be put to death there. After the camp was taken apart, farmers in the area swarmed over the site, looking for money and gold that the Jews were rumored to have hidden there in the ground. To put an end to this, the Germans posted a Ukrainian guard, converted the grounds into a farm, and gave it to the guard. The area was plowed under and sown, and trees were planted on it. In the summer of 1944, the Bel⁄z˙ec area was liberated by the Soviet and Polish armies. It is now a national shrine.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Bahrampour, Tara. “History That’s Painful to Recall, Impossible Not to Tell.” New York Times, May 3, 2000.


B E N O Î T, M A R I E

Benoît, Marie (b. 1895)


The region of France not occupied by Germany and governed from the spa town of Vichy.

Father Marie Benoît in 1984.

Marie Benoît was a resident monk in the Capuchin monastery in Marseilles, F R A N C E , who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. In the summer of 1942, Benoît witnessed Vichy authorities rounding up thousands of non-French Jewish refugees and handing them over to the Germans for deportation to C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S (see D E P O R TAT I O N S ). He decided to devote himself to helping Jews escape from France to either Spain or Switzerland, both of which were neutral countries during the war. Under his guidance, the Capuchin monastery was transformed into the center of a widespread rescue network, turning out thousands of false baptismal certificates for fleeing Jews. The monastery worked with border smugglers and with various Christian and Jewish organizations. With the German occupation of Vichy France in November 1942, escape routes to Switzerland and Spain became more difficult to negotiate. The nearby Italian zone of occupation then became the principal escape haven. Journeying to Nice, France, Benoît met with General Guido Lospinoso, the Italian commissioner of Jewish affairs (sent to Nice by Benito Mussolini, under German pressure to institute anti-Jewish measures), and convinced him that the rescue of the 30,000 Jews in Nice and its surroundings was the divine order of the day. The general promised Benoît that the Italian occupation authorities would not interfere. Not satisfied with this commitment, and fearing the ultimate fate of the Jews in Nice, Benoît continued on to Rome for an audience with Pope Pius XII on July 16, 1943. Benoît outlined a plan for transferring the majority of the 30,000 Jews in the Nice region to northern Italy to prevent their falling into German hands. This plan was later expanded to provide for the Jews’ transfer to former military camps in North Africa, which was then in Allied hands. The new Italian government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio (Mussolini had been deposed on July 25, 1943) was prepared to help with this giant undertaking. However, the premature publication of the Italian armistice on September 8 and the immediate German occupation of northern Italy and the Italian zone of occupation in France spoiled the plan. Benoît then focused on helping Jews in Rome and its vicinity, using the Capuchin College inside the Vatican as his base of operations. He was elected a board member of Delasem (Delegazione Assistenza Emigranti Ebrei), the central Jewish welfare organization of Italy, to help provide food, shelter, and new identities to thousands of Jewish refugees in Rome and elsewhere. He extracted letters of protection and other important documents from the Swiss, Romanian, Hungarian, and Spanish diplomats and officials. These papers enabled thousands of Jews, under assumed names, to circulate freely in Rome. When Delasem’s Jewish president, Settimo Sorani, was arrested by the Germans, Benoît was named acting president. Even as his fame spread among Jews and non-Jews, Benoît himself had to escape several attempts by the G ESTAPO to arrest him. After Rome’s liberation in June 1944, Benoît was honored by the Jewish community at an official synagogue ceremony. France awarded him various military decorations and Israel, through Yad Vashem, bestowed on him the title of “R IGHTEOUS A MONG THE N ATIONS ” in 1966. After the war, Benoît returned to his religious duties.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Church More Vociferous in France.” Holocaust Heroes. [Online] http://www.holocaustheroes.com/church_in_france.html (accessed on August 26, 2000)

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000)



Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Bergen-Belsen Bergen-Belsen was a camp in the C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P system of Nazi G E R It was located in Lower Saxony, northern Germany, near the city of Celle. The camp was officially established in April 1943 as a detention camp (Aufenthaltslager) for holding persons who were designated for exchange with German nationals in Allied countries whom the Germans wanted to repatriate. A prisoner-of-war camp on the site, Stalag 311, was partially cleared to make room for the new camp.


From its inception, Bergen-Belsen was under the jurisdiction of the SS E CONOM M AIN O FFICE (WVHA), which was in charge of the administration of concentration camps. Its first commandant was Adolf Haas. Five hundred Jewish prisoners from the B UCHENWALD and N ATZWEILER camps were taken to BergenBelsen to work on the construction of the camp. They were not candidates for exchange and belonged to the construction detachment (Baukommando), whose task was to build facilities for the intake of the persons who, superficially at least, were candidates for exchange. In the course of the first eighteen months of the camp’s existence, five satellite camps were set up, unconnected with one another, as follows: IC -A DMINISTRATIVE

1. A “prisoners’ camp” (Häftlingslager) for the first 500 prisoners who had been brought in for construction of the camp. This was the first satellite camp to be built at Bergen-Belsen. Conditions in the camp were among the worst possible, and the mortality rate was very high. The camp was closed on February 23, 1944, and the few surviving prisoners were transferred to S ACHSENHAUSEN . 2. The “special camp” (Sonderlager). In mid-June 1943, two transports of Jews from P O L A N D (mainly from W A R S AW , L VOV , and K R A K Ó W ), totaling 2,400 persons, were taken to this camp; these were Jews who had protection papers (promesas) in their possession, issued by various—mostly South American— countries. In late October 1943, 1,700 of these Jews were deported to A U S C H W I T Z , where they were all immediately killed. Another 350 suffered the same fate in early 1944. This left 350 detainees in the camp, of whom 266 were in possession of immigration permits to Palestine, 34 were U N I T E D S TAT E S citizens, and 50 had South American papers. These prisoners were not assigned to work teams, and no contact was permitted between them and other groups of Bergen-Belsen prisoners. 3.The “neutral camp” (Neutralenlager). This camp contained two barracks in which 350 Jewish prisoners were housed from late July 1944 to early March 1945. The prisoners were nationals of neutral countries, among them 155 Spanish, 105 Turkish, 35 Argentine, and 19 Portuguese citizens. Conditions in this camp were better than in any other part of Bergen-Belsen. The prisoners here were not put to work, enjoyed better nourishment and sanitary conditions, and were treated by the SS with less cruelty than were prisoners in the other satellite camps. 4. The “star camp” (Sternenlager). This was the largest of the five satellite camps, containing eighteen barracks. It housed Jewish prisoners who ostensibly were designated for exchange (Austauschjuden, or exchange Jews). These prisoners did not wear the usual concentration camp uniform and were per-



Jewish survivors standing in line for rations provided by the British Army after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

mitted to wear their own clothes, but they had to wear a yellow badge—a Magen David, or Star of David, from which came the name “star camp.” (See B A D G E , J E W I S H .) Men and women lived in separate barracks, but members of the same family were able to meet. Most of the prisoners in the “star camp” were Jews from the N E T H E R L A N D S . In the period from January to September 1944, eight transports from the W E S T E R B O R K camp in the Netherlands arrived in Bergen-Belsen, made up of 3,670 persons who were classified as “designated for exchange” (Austauschjuden). In the first half of 1944, the “star camp” also took in small transports of Jews from various other countries. These included 200 Jews from Tunisia, Tripoli, and Benghazi who until then had been held in the Fossoli di Carpi camp in Italy; 200 Jewish women from the D R A N C Y camp in F R A N C E , whose husbands were French prisoners of war being held by the Germans; and several hundred Jews from Yugoslavia and Albania. According to a count taken on July 31, 1944, the “star camp” contained a total of 4,100 Jewish prisoners classified as Austauschjuden. 5. The “Hungarian camp” (Ungarnlarger), which was set up on July 8, 1944, and held 1,684 Jews from H U N G A RY —the transport organized by Dr. Rezsö (Rudolf) K A S Z T N E R . Here, too, the prisoners wore their own clothes but were forced to display the yellow badge. Only a few of the Jews who were brought to Bergen-Belsen as candidates for exchange were in fact set free in exchange deals. On July 10, 1944, 222 Jews with immigration certificates to Palestine landed at the Haifa port. A few weeks later, on August 21, 318 Jews from the “Hungarian camp” reached Switzerland, followed by another 1,365 in December; on January 25, 1945, 136 Jews with South American papers also reached Switzerland.

From Detention Camp to Concentration Camp Beginning in March 1944, Bergen-Belsen gradually became a “regular” concentration camp. Prisoners from other concentration camps who were classified as



Plan of the Bergen-Belsen camp. Headquarters of camp commandant and SS camp

Store house Latrine

Prisoners’ camp Vegetable storeroom Cistern Latrines

Kitchen 1


Prisoners’ camp II Main road


“Star camp”


Kitchen 2 Latrine


“Hungarian camp”


Shoe repair shop

Women’s large camp

Women’s small camp


ill and unfit to work were transferred to it. The first such group, 1,000 sick prisoners from the D O R A - M I T T E L B AU camp, came in late March. They were put into a new section of the camp where the sanitary conditions were extremely poor. They received no blankets, no medical attention, and only minimal food rations. Nearly all of them died within a short period; on the day of the camp’s liberation in April, 1945, only 57 of the original 1,000 were still alive. More transports of prisoners “unfit for work” kept arriving from various camps, up to the end of 1944, most of them made up of Hungarian Jews. The majority were housed in the former “prisoners’ camp,” where conditions were at their worst and the mortality rate was the highest. Of the several thousand prisoners brought to this section of the camp in 1944, 820 died in the period from April to June alone. Also transferred to this section of the camp were German convicts from the Dora camp, who were appointed




nne Frank and her sister Margot were among the Jews brought

to the Bergen-Belsen women’s camp after it opened in August 1944. In March 1945 both girls died of typhus, a severe bacterial disease spread by body lice, which was then uncontrollable in the camp.

“block elders” and Kapos (see K A P O ), and who treated the Jewish prisoners under their authority with great brutality, causing their situation to deteriorate sharply. The prisoners also suffered from the sadistic practices of the camp doctor, Dr. Karl Jäger, who forced them to keep running for long stretches of time. In summer 1944 some 200 prisoners were killed by phenol injections. In August 1944 a new section was added, to serve as a women’s camp, consisting of twelve barracks; 4,000 Jewish women prisoners from Hungary and Poland were brought there, but after a short stay they were sent on forced labor to the Buchenwald and Flossenbürg satellite camps. Most of the women were sent back to Bergen-Belsen, sick or exhausted by the hard labor that had been forced on them. In September and October of 1944, transports of Jewish prisoners from the P L⁄ A S Z Ó W camp, and 3,000 Jewish women prisoners from Auschwitz, arrived at Bergen-Belsen; they were housed in the “star camp” in new barracks put up for them, with no water, no beds, and no other facilities of any kind. On December 2, 1944, the camp commandant, Adolf Haas, was replaced by Josef K R A M E R . A census taken that day showed that the camp population was 15,257 persons, of whom some 8,000 were women. Kramer’s first step was to convert Bergen-Belsen officially into a concentration camp. The residues of self-administration that still existed in the “star camp” were abolished, and the internal management of the camp was put into the hands of block elders and Kapos, as was done in all the other concentration camps. A final and complete deterioration of the prisoners’ living conditions in the camp set in when tens of thousands of prisoners poured in—survivors of the D E AT H M A R C H E S of prisoners who had been evacuated from camps in the east. These included 20,000 women prisoners from the Auschwitz and Buchenwald satellite camps, some of whom had passed through the G R O S S -R O S E N camp on the death march to Bergen-Belsen. Between January and March 1945 there were more death marches, which brought thousands of male prisoners from the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald camps to Bergen-Belsen. The camp administration did not lift a finger to house the prisoners who were streaming in. Most of them had no shelter, and were without water and food. There was now total chaos in the camps, and a typhus epidemic was at its height; in the month of March alone, 18,168 prisoners perished in the camp, and the number of deaths for the period from January to mid-April was 35,000. On April 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the British army. There were 60,000 prisoners in the camp, most of them in a critical condition. Thousands of unburied bodies were strewn all over the camp grounds. The sight shocked the British soldiers. The British had not anticipated such grim conditions and were not prepared to rescue so many stricken people. In the first five days following liberation, 14,000 persons died; another 14,000 succumbed in the following weeks. After liberation, Bergen-Belsen became the site of a D I S P L A C E D P E R S O N S ’ camp. The British army medical corps helped in the physical rehabilitation of the former prisoners. The displaced persons’ camp was in existence up to 1951, and the inmates, under the leadership of Josef Rosensaft, managed to organize a lively social, cultural, and political life in the camp. Forty-eight members of the staff of Bergen-Belsen, among them sixteen women, were tried by a British military court held in Lüneburg, Germany, from September 17 to November 17, 1945. Eleven of the accused—including the camp commandant, Josef Kramer—were sentenced to death, and on December 12, 1945, they were executed.




Remains of a crematorium oven in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Photo taken after liberation of the camp, April 15, 1945.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Herzberg, Abel Jacob. Between Two Streams: A Diary from Bergen-Belsen. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. Lasker-Wallfisch, Anita. Inherit the Truth: A Memoir of Survival and the Holocaust. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals: The Belsen Trial. H. Fertig, 1983. Lindwer, Willy. Trans. Alison Meersschaert. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank. New York: Random House, 1991.

Memory of the Camps [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1989. Oberski, Jona. Childhood. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983. Reilly, Joanne. Belsen: The Liberation of a Concentration Camp. New York: Routledge, 1998.

BERGEN BELSEN TRIAL. SEE TRIALS OF THE WAR CRIMINALS. Berlin Berlin was the capital of Prussia and then, from 1871 to 1945, the capital of G E R M A N Y . On the eve of World War II, Berlin’s population was at its peak—4.34 million. It was the second-largest city in Europe. Jews had been living in Berlin since the end of the thirteenth century. In 1573 they were expelled, and one hundred years later, in 1671, they returned and settled in the city. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Jewish population in Berlin kept growing, despite efforts by the kings of Prussia to limit their number. By the middle of the nineteenth century there were two thousand Jews in Berlin. The



city was the first center of Haskalah, the Jewish cultural enlightenment movement; its most renowned exponent, Moses Mendelssohn, lived there.


nder Germany’s Weimar Republic (1918–1933),

Berlin was the center of culture. Many Jews became famous as actors, playwrights, film producers, musicians, artists, and journalists. In the professions, Jews distinguished themselves in medicine, and held posts in the city’s universities. Jews were also prominent as entrepreneurs.

In the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century, the Jewish population of Berlin increased greatly, reaching 142,000 in 1910. This rapid rise was the result of a mass immigration of Jews from the provincial towns and from Eastern Europe. A high percentage of the Berlin Jewish population was therefore made up of Jews from the east. The main offices of most of the national Jewish organizations in Germany were in Berlin. In 1923 Berlin’s Jewish community founded the Union of Jewish Communities in Prussia. The Jewish Berliners hoped this central organization would strengthen their community’s status and make it easier for German Jews to communicate with government authorities. By the late 1920s one-seventh of all the Jewish children were attending Jewish schools. For the Jewish students attending public schools, the community provided forty-eight Hebrew schools. The Jewish welfare office coordinated the operations of the various Jewish welfare organizations. The community maintained twentyfour regional welfare and youth offices, an office for aid to the disabled, twelve orphanages, dozens of day nurseries for the infants of working mothers, and a network of soup kitchens. The community also ran its own medical facilities, including a 350-bed hospital. In the early 1930s Berlin is estimated to have had 115 Jewish houses of prayer. While they enjoyed many successes, Jews also became the targets of antisemitic attacks (see A N T I S E M I T I S M ). In 1919 a wave of riots against Eastern Jews followed the murder of two leaders of a leftist organization: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Luxemburg was a Jew born in P O L A N D . In November 1923, an area of Berlin that was inhabited by Jews from eastern Europe was the scene of a pogrom, or organized violence. In 1926 Joseph G O E B B E L S was appointed the Nazis’ district party leader of Berlin. Goebbels exploited the February 1930 killing of Horst Wessel, a Nazi Storm Trooper in Berlin, to launch a campaign against the city’s Jews. On the Jewish New Year of 1931, Jews on their way home from synagogue were attacked in western Berlin. On the night of January 30, 1933, the SA celebrated Adolf H I T L E R ’s appointment as Reich chancellor by staging a torchlight parade in the streets of Berlin. Jews who had been active in anti-Nazi political parties and organizations fled the city. At this point the first wave of suicides hit the Jewish community, a phenomenon that was to repeat itself time and again for as long as the community continued to exist.

Anti-Jewish Activity, 1933–1939 The Jewish leadership of Berlin worked for the Jews’ continued existence as a religious minority within the framework of Nazi policies. At the end of 1933 an agreement was reached for the establishment of the Reich Representation of German Jews. Its head office would be in Berlin. The A RYA N I Z AT I O N of Jewish-owned businesses began in 1933. Business owners were systematically forced to turn over their assets and operations to non-Jewish ownership. This was accomplished through violence, threats, and legislation. On August 1, the Berlin-Lichtenberg municipality revoked trading licenses that had been granted to Jews. Until the K R I S TA L L N AC H T (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom,



Students and Nazis at a book-burning in Berlin.

however, it was mainly the salaried employees who bore the brunt of the Nazis’ discriminatory policy in Berlin, and not Jewish businesses. Like the rest of German Jewry, the Jews of Berlin suffered from the Nazi restrictions and persecution campaigns. On May 30, 1937, a raid against Jews took place in the streets of Berlin, for all passersby to see. Less than a year later, on March 5, 1938, the Berlin Jewish community was no longer recognized as a public body. From August 1939 on, the community was classified, in legal terms, as a “Jewish religious society.” It was administered by a five-man committee and was supervised by the G E S TA P O until February 1943, when the society was dissolved on Gestapo orders. Kristallnacht occurred on November 9 and 10, 1938. On those two nights, most of the synagogues of Berlin were burned down, and other Jewish institutions were attacked. Jewish department stores were stormed and ransacked, and the shop windows of Jewish clothing stores were shattered, giving the pogrom its name. Dozens of Jews were murdered, and several thousand were arrested and taken to C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S . In the wake of Kristallnacht, twelve hundred Jewish commercial enterprises in Berlin were put up for Aryanization. After Kristallnacht, dozens more Jewish institutions were burned or closed down, including the rabbinical seminary and the Jewish community library and museum. Jewish manuscripts, documents, and books were confiscated from the libraries of Berlin universities. In addition, religious services were permitted in only four synagogues, and only one Jewish newspaper was allowed to be published. As of December 3, 1938, Jews were no longer free to move about as they liked. They were prohibited from entering government office compounds and from using bathhouses and public swimming pools. During the war, the only place where the Jews were allowed to take walks was the Weissensee Jewish cemetery, but eventually, even that was out of bounds. December 1938 saw the evacuation of Jews from residences in the prestigious parts of the city. The official excuse was the government’s plan for the rebuilding of



Hundreds of Jews committed suicide rather than face deportation. In order to contain the panic, the publication of obituary notices was restricted.

Berlin. The Jewish community’s housing advisory office maintained records regarding the housing of Berlin Jews. Later, when the community was being liquidated, the data accumulated by that office was used to draw up the lists of Jews to be deported to their death (see D E P O RTAT I O N ). In the post-Kristallnacht period, the Jewish community leaders concentrated most on helping Jews emigrate from the Reich, and on keeping them safe until they could leave. There had been an upswing of Zionist activities since the start of the Nazi period; Zionists supported the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Zionist publication Jüdische Rundschau played a major part, and He-Haluts and other Zionist youth movements gained substantial strength. Zionist activists, aided by representatives from abroad, helped organize immigration to Palestine.

Jews in Berlin, 1940–1943 At the outbreak of the war in 1939, an estimated 75,500 Jews were living in Berlin. In early 1941 some 74,500 Jews were still there. By the fall, another 1,350 had emigrated. On October 23, 1941, further emigration of Jews from Germany was prohibited. By that time, Jews were required to wear a yellow badge (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ). On the Day of Atonement in 1941, while Rabbi Leo Baeck was preaching, three top officials of the Jewish community were called out of the synagogue and summoned to Gestapo headquarters. There they were told of an impending operation during which a substantial number of Jews would be evacuated from Berlin and deported, or sent out of the country. The community was ordered to immediately submit up-to-date lists of the city’s Jews, including their addresses, and to turn the Levetzow Street synagogue into a transit camp for one thousand evacuees. Later, other assembly points were established as well. Hundreds of Jews committed suicide rather than face deportation. In order to contain the panic, the publication of obituary notices was restricted. Some Jews tried to go into hiding (a number of them were helped by German organizations), and others tried to escape to neighboring countries. The Gestapo had a network of Jewish informants that succeeded in locating many Jews who had disappeared in order to avoid deportation. The first transport left Berlin on October 18, 1941, taking some 1000 Jews to the L⁄Ó D Z´ ghetto, and from there to their deaths. From that day until January 20, 1942, the day of the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E , 10,000 Jews from Berlin were ⁄ ódz´. deported to their deaths. Their destinations were R I G A , M I N S K , K OV N O , and L The first transport for the T H E R E S I E N S TA D T ghetto left Berlin on June 6, 1942; the first to go straight to A U S C H W I T Z left Berlin on July 11 of that year. In May 1942, Jewish Communist underground fighters exploded a fire bomb at the anti-Soviet exhibition “The Soviet Paradise.” set up in Berlin by the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda. In retaliation, 500 Jews were seized; 250 were shot to death on the spot and the other 250 were deported to the S A C H S E N H AU S E N camp. The Haluts underground in Berlin ordered its members to go into hiding. In June, the services provided by the Jewish community were curtailed; the schools were closed down, and some of the community staff were deported to the extermination camps. Alois Brunner, Adolf E I C H M A N N ’s deputy, was not satisfied with the rate at which the deportations were being carried out. He took personal charge of the deportations in November and December of 1942. In December, when some of the Jews summoned for deportation had not reported, a corresponding number of Jews were seized in the Jewish community offices and put on the deportation train or shot to


B E S T, W E R N E R

death on the spot. It is estimated that during 1942, the number of Jews in Berlin was reduced from 55,000 to 33,000. On January 28, 1943, the Gestapo ordered the Berlin Jewish community legally liquidated—utterly destroyed. The massive deportations of February and March 1943 had Auschwitz as their destination. The number of Jews left in Berlin in March of that year is estimated at 27,260, which by the following month had gone down to 18,300. Goebbels noted in his diary on April 11, 1943, that “Berlin’s liberation from the Jews” was one of the regime’s most important political achievements. By June, only 6,800 Jews were left in the city. On June 10, the offices of the Jewish community, as well as of all other Jewish organizations in Berlin, were closed down and the remaining employees were deported to their death. The capital of the Third Reich was declared judenrein (“cleansed of Jews”). Not all of Berlin’s Jews were killed, however. It is estimated that 4,700 Jews married to Aryans survived, plus another 1,400 Jews who had gone into hiding. In addition, 1,900 Jews returned to Berlin, having survived the extermination camps.

SEE ALSO GERMANY. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Gross, Leonard. The Last Jews in Berlin. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Kuehn, Heinz R. Mixed Blessings: An Almost Ordinary Life in Hitler’s Germany. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988.

The Lost Children of Berlin [videorecording]. A&E Home Video, 1997. Orbach, Larry. Soaring Underground: A Young Fugitive’s Life in Nazi Berlin. Washington DC: Compass Press, 1996.

The Wannsee Conference [videorecording]. Home Vision, 1987.

Best, Werner (1903–1989)

Nazi official Werner Best was a senior member of the SS and Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei, called Sipo), and a German government representative in occupied D E N M A R K from 1942 to 1945. Born in Darmstadt to a family of officials, Best studied law and in 1929 was appointed a judge in the Hessian Department of Justice. He entered the N A Z I PA R T Y in 1930 and the SS in 1931. In 1933, very soon after the Nazi seizure of power in Germany, he was appointed state commissioner for the Hessian police force and police president for the province. He was promoted rapidly in subsequent years, becoming legal adviser to the G E S TA P O and deputy to Reinhard H E Y D R I C H and Heinrich H I M M L E R . From 1935 to 1940 he was bureau chief in the head office of the S D (Security Service) in Berlin. From September 1939 to June 1940 Best headed Section II of the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). Then for two years (June 1940 to August 1942) he directed the military administration attached to the High Command in occupied France. His tasks included the suppression of the French Résistance and the “de-Judaizing” of France. From November 1942 until 1945, Best served in the powerful, diplomatic role of German plenipotentiary in occupied Denmark. There is some evidence that he tried to avert the impact of the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ” on the Danish Jews, almost all of whom escaped to Sweden.



In 1949 Best was sentenced to death by a Danish court, but this was commuted to twelve years’ imprisonment. He was in fact released in 1951, whereupon he returned to Germany and became legal adviser to the Stinnes group of firms. A Berlin D E NA Z I F I CAT I O N court fined him 70,000 marks in 1958 as punishment for his role in the leadership of the SS. In 1969 he was arrested on charges of mass murder in Poland, based on his role as head of the Reich Security Main Office, but he was released on grounds of health in 1972. The charges were never formally withdrawn.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “October 1943: The Rescue of the Danish Jews from Annihilation.” Royal Danish Embassy. [Online] http://www.denmarkemb.org/okt43.htm (accessed on August 26, 2000).

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Perpetrators. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/perps.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

BETAR. SEE YOUTH MOVEMENTS. Bial⁄ystok Bial⁄ystok is a city in northeastern PO L A N D , the seat of the district of that name. Records of Bial⁄ystok’s existence date back to the 1300s. In 1807, it was handed over to the Russians. Between the two world wars, from 1918 to 1939, it was part of independent Poland. The presence of Jews in Bial⁄ ystok is first mentioned in the mid-1600s. Bial⁄ ystok grew into a great regional center as a result of the growth of the textile industry in the 1800s. From a population of 400 at the beginning of the 1800s, the city had grown to 61,500 by 1913. Its Jewish community also flourished. Jews made up from 66 to 75 percent of the total population by 1913. In the inter-war period, the Jewish population dropped, to between 50 and 60 percent. The first Jewish factory was established in 1850; by 1912, almost 90 percent of the textile factories in the city were Jewish-owned. In World War I (1914–1918), most of the factories were destroyed. Of the new factories and stores opened between 1921 and 1939, Jews owned 75 percent. The Jewish community had an intensive educational and cultural network.

Bial⁄ystok Under Occupation Bial⁄ ystok was occupied by the Germans on September 15, 1939. Just a week later, on September 22, it was handed over by the Germans to the Soviet Union, which held it for the next twenty-one months. On June 27, 1941, Nazi Germany took Bial⁄ystok for the second time and 2,000 Jews were burned alive, shot, or tortured to death. That day, which the Jews came to call “Red Friday,” marked the beginning of the end for the Jews of Bial⁄ystok. In the first two weeks of the German occupation, Jews were attacked repeatedly, and another 4,000 were murdered in an open field near Pietraszek. They were members of the intelligentsia, Communists, and other political figures. Two days after the occupation, the military commander of the city summoned Bial⁄ ystok’s chief rabbi, Dr. Gedaliah Rosenmann, and the chairman of the Jewish Community Council, Efraim Barasz, to his office. He ordered them to form a


B I A L⁄ Y S T O K

J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council). This first Judenrat of Bial⁄ystok was made up of twelve members, all well-known public figures. A month later, a new Judenrat, twice the size, was established. Barasz was the acting chairman. A ghetto was set up and, on August 1, 1941, some 50,000 Bial⁄ystok Jews were confined there (including some from the Bial⁄ ystok district, outside the city itself). They were packed into a small area, a newly developed non-Jewish neighborhood. It was split into two parts: east and west, divided by the Bial⁄a River.

June 27, 1941, which the Jews came to call “Red Friday,” marked the beginning of the end for the

The Bial⁄ystok Ghetto

Jews of Bial⁄ystok.

The ghetto rapidly became a center of industry. It was a supply base for essential items required by the occupation authorities—and a constant target of German plunder and pillage. Most of the Jews worked in ghetto industries; a relatively small number worked in German establishments outside the ghetto. The ghetto had about ten factories and a large number of workshops, making a large variety of items. The Germans made up the orders for the items to be manufactured—the German army’s requirements figured prominently in these—and passed them on to the Judenrat for implementation. In addition to these “legal” manufacturing operations, the ghetto also had an underground, “illegal” industry, which turned out products for the use of the ghetto inhabitants themselves. There was an open trade in clothes, leather goods, and textile products, as well as other items, which were exchanged for food. Other kinds of transactions also took place, based for the most part on smuggling. The Judenrat had income from the tax that every shopkeeper had to pay it for goods sold. In mid-1942, though, the Gestapo ordered the Judenrat to put an end to such commercial activities in the ghetto. The German administration supplied the ghetto population with its meager rations, which were distributed through the Judenrat. The flow of supplies was uneven, except for bread, which did appear on a more or less regular basis. In order to increase the quantity of food, the Judenrat encouraged the residents to grow vegetables and fruit on plots of land it owned (the former sites of buildings that had been destroyed and cleared of their ruins). These plots were called “Judenrat gardens.” In the fall of 1941, on orders given by the German authorities, the Judenrat transferred 4,500 inhabitants of the ghetto to the town of Pruzhany, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Bial⁄ ystok. These were the sick, the unskilled, and the unemployed—the poorest among the ghetto population. Some of them made their way back to Bial⁄ystok, but most were killed when the Pruzhany ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis in January 1943. From the beginning, the Judenrat had to deal with many difficult and complex tasks. In the ghetto, there were several soup kitchens, two hospitals, two clinics, three pharmacies, a first-aid organization, two schools, a law court, and other institutions. A J E W I S H G H E T TO P O L I C E force (Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst) was also set up by the Judenrat. It was staffed by 200 men.

Resistance in the Ghetto Under the German occupation, the Jewish YO U T H M OV E M E N T S , whose activities had come to an almost complete stop under the Soviets, resumed their activities. By early 1942, active “cells,” or groups, of the various movements existed in the ghetto, including Communist and Zionist groups. They hoped to create a united front against the Germans, but these groups—which were often rivals—had trouble agreeing on direction and action.


B I A L⁄ Y S T O K

Deportation of Jews from Bialystok.

In August 1942, however, a headquarters was established for the first united “underground” in the Bial⁄ ystok ghetto. In November of that year, Mordechai T E N E N BAU M arrived in Bial⁄ystok, on behalf of the Zionist Dror movement. Efforts to create a single organization continued until shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto, but only in July 1943 did a united underground come into being, with Tenenbaum as its commander. On Tenenbaum’s initiative, a secret archive was established, on the model of the W A R S A W ghetto’s Oneg Shabbat. The archive was in operation until April 1943. It collected testimonies and descriptions of events, as well as announcements issued by the Judenrat and reports of its meetings. These documents were saved and they provide an invaluable source of information on life in the ghetto. From February 5 to 12, 1943, an SS “operation” (Aktion) was conducted in the ghetto. Two thousand Jews were shot on the spot, and 10,000 were deported to T R E B L I N K A . Fighters of the youth movements suffered many losses, and some were also sent to Treblinka. In August 1943, Berlin issued the final order for the end of the ghetto. Odilo G L O B O C N I K was assigned the task of liquidating it. On the nights of August 15–16, the Bial⁄ystok ghetto was surrounded by three rings of armed German soldiers and SS men, assisted by Ukrainians. One SS unit entered the ghetto and put the factories under guard. The previous night, Efraim Barasz, acting head of the Judenrat, had been summoned by the Gestapo. He was told that the ghetto inhabitants were going to be moved to L U B L I N . He was warned that the move had to proceed in an orderly fashion and that no resistance would be tolerated. Barasz tried in vain to have the order reversed. The next morning, August 16, 1943, the ghetto population awoke to find an announcement from the Judenrat posted on the walls—the Jews were ordered to report for imme-


B I A L⁄ Y S T O K

diate evacuation. The size of the ghetto population on the eve of liquidation was around 30,000. At this moment—when tens of thousands of confused and exhausted Jews, with as many of their belongings as they could carry, were making their way to the assembly point on Jurowiecka Street—the underground rose in revolt. According to a pre-arranged plan, at 10:00 a.m. the various cells of the underground took up their assigned positions, where they were to be issued weapons and launch an attack. The plan was for the main force to attack the Germans along the Smolna Street fence, in order to break the German lines and create a gap through which the fighters would make their escape to the forest. Diversionary attacks were to be made at four other streets, along the route where the Jews were making their way to the assembly point. The fighting was planned for the eastern side of the ghetto, where the command post of the revolt, as well as their supply of arms and the fighters’ bunker were located. Leaflets were passed out urging the population to disregard the evacuation order and not to go to the assembly point. The fighting in the ghetto went on for five days, from August 16 to 20. The main battle in the first two days was fought over the Smolna Street fence. The fighters had only a few arms at their disposal, and more than 300 died each day in battle. When the revolt was at its height, a large German force entered the ghetto, supported by armored cars and tanks. Realizing that the struggle inside the ghetto was lost, a group of fighters retreated into a bunker, planning to make their way to the forest and continue the battle from there. But on August 19, Germans came upon the bunker and surrounded it. All the seventy-two fighters in it, except for one, were shot to death. The next day, the fifth day of fighting, the ghetto fighters were defeated. Mordechai Tenenbaum and Daniel Moszkowicz, who had led the uprising, were forced to retreat from the fighters’ last stronghold. There is no definite information on how they met their death, but it appears that they committed suicide.


n December 1942, small groups of armed men had escaped from the

ghetto. By the summer of 1943, after the uprising, 150 fighters from the Bial⁄ystok ghetto had joined the partisan units and engaged the Germans in a long series of raids. A number of young Jewish women, who had remained in Bial⁄ystok posing as “Aryans” and had acted as messengers, kept in contact with these units. In some instances, partisan units made up of Bial⁄ystok Jews received aid from the Polish and Belorussian population.

The D E P O R T A T I O N S from the ghetto began on August 18 and went on for three days. During that time, most of Bial⁄ ystok’s Jews were deported. Some were sent to Treblinka, where they were murdered. Others were deported to M A J D A N E K , where they went through an immediate “selection” (Selektion). Those who were “selected” as physically fit were taken to the Poniatowa camp, Bliz˙yn, or A U S C H W I T Z . A train with 1,200 Bial⁄ ystok children aboard was sent to T H E R E S I E N S T A D T . One month later, these children ended up in Auschwitz. In Bial⁄ ystok itself, a “small ghetto” was left, containing 2,000 Jews. Three weeks later, it was liquidated. Its occupants were sent to Majdanek, among them Efraim Barasz. They were murdered in Majdanek, as were the remnants of Bial⁄ ystok’s Jews, in the mass killing that took place in that camp on November 3, 1943 (see E R N T E F E S T ). In December 1942, small groups of armed men had escaped from the ghetto. By the summer of 1943, after the uprising, 150 fighters from the Bial⁄ystok ghetto had joined the partisan units and engaged the Germans in a long series of raids. A number of young Jewish women, who had remained in Bial⁄ystok posing as “Aryans” and had acted as messengers, kept in contact with these units. In some instances, partisan units made up of Bial⁄ystok Jews received aid from the Polish and Belorussian population. Some 200 Jews from Bial⁄ ystok survived in the German camps, and several dozen were saved by hiding on the “Aryan” side of the city. Sixty fighters who had escaped to the forests and joined up with the partisans were also saved. Bial⁄ ystok was liberated by the Soviet army in August 1944.


B I E B O W, H A N S

Hans Biebow (center), Nazi head of the L⁄ódz´ ghetto administration.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Wisniewski, Tomasz. Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in Eastern Poland. Ipswich, MA: Ipswich Press, 1998. Zable, Arnold. Jewels and Ashes. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1991. Zabuski, Charles S. Needle and Thread: A Tale of Survival from Bialystok to Poland. Popincourt Press, 1996.

Biebow, Hans (1902–1947)

Hans Biebow was the head of the L⁄Ó D Z´ ghetto administration. Born in Bremen, ⁄ ódz´ ghetBiebow was a businessman and a member of the N A Z I PA RT Y. When the L to was established in the spring of 1940, Biebow was put in charge of the “ghetto administration” (Ghettoverwaltung), with a staff of 250 German officials. Thanks to his personal ties with Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , chief of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service), and with Arthur Greiser, governor of the Warthegau—the name by which western Poland was known after it was annexed by Nazi Germany, Biebow enjoyed wide powers in administering the ghetto. By exploiting the manpower in the ghetto factories he established and by robbing the Jews of their property, Biebow extracted great profits. He also personally made sure that the ghetto was sealed and that the inhabitants would starve. Then he set up special warehouses where the personal possessions and clothing of the victims of the C H E L⁄ M N O extermination camp were stored, sorted, and sent to Germany for use by the German population. Biebow helped organize the transports of Jews to Chel⁄ mno from L ⁄ ódz´ and from the ghettos in the provincial towns of the Warthegau. These deportations began in December 1941 and continued throughout 1942. However, to maintain the flow of profits from the ghetto factories, Biebow ensured the ghetto’s continued existence until the summer of 1944 when it was decided that the ghetto would be completely liquidated. Biebow then became very active in organizing transports to



the Chel⁄ mno and A U S C H W I T Z E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S and in the ghetto’s final destruction in August. After August 1944, Biebow remained in L ⁄ ódz´, through January 1945, to supervise the removal to Germany of possessions left behind by the ghetto inhabitants. Following the war, Biebow was tried by a Polish court in L ⁄ ódz´, sentenced to death, and executed.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Grossman, Mendel. My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto. San Diego: Gulliver Books, 2000.

Lodz Ghetto [videorecording]. PBS Home Video/Pacific Arts Video, 1992. Sender, Ruth Minsky. The Cage. New York: Alladin, 1997.

Bielski, Tuvia (1906–1987)

Tuvia Bielski was a Jewish partisan commander (see P A R T I S A N S ). Bielski came from a family of farmers in Novogrudok, P O L A N D . At the age of seventeen he joined the Zionist pioneering movement, whose primary goal was to see the creation of a homeland for Jews, and in 1928 he was drafted into the Polish army, where he rose to the rank of corporal. He married in 1930 and settled in the village of Subotnik, where he opened a textile store. In September 1939 the area was annexed to the S OV I E T U N I O N . With the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Bielski went into action. When the Germans invaded the region he fled to the forest, and from there to the village where he was born. After his parents and other members of their family were slaughtered in the Novogrudok ghetto, Bielski and his brothers Zusya, Asael, and Aharon, escaped to the forests. Securing arms, they created a seventeenmember partisan core consisting mostly of members of Bielski’s family. Elected as commander, Tuvia Bielski sent emissaries to the ghettos in the vicinity, inviting the members to join his group. Hundreds of the surviving Jews in the ghettos of the Novogrudok region—men, women, and children—streamed into Bielski’s camp, and his “family” of partisan guerilla fighters grew rapidly.

Tuvia Bielski.

For Bielski, the saving of Jewish lives was a supreme objective. His band of partisans inspired terror in the Novogrudok region as it took revenge on the Belorussian police and the farmers who massacred Jews. The German authorities offered a reward of 100,000 marks for assistance in capturing him. With the creation of the band of Jewish partisans in the Naliboki Forest, Bielski won the trust of the Soviet partisan unit in the vicinity, and particularly of its commander. Bielski opposed the Soviet unit’s plan to take away his 150 fighters, leaving him with a civilian camp of refugees, and in order to frustrate this aim he made his camp a maintenance base for the Soviet fighters. His group was not a partisan band in the regular sense but a Jewish community in the forest, with a synagogue, a law court, workshops, a school, and other community structures. In the summer of 1943, the Germans initiated a massive hunt through the Naliboki Forest in order to destroy the partisan forces, and in particular Bielski’s band. The partisans retreated to the densest part of the forest, and the commander of Bielski’s area ordered the reduction of the unit to include only single people with weapons; married men, women, and children were ordered to abandon the area where



the unit had been staying and not follow the fighters to the center of the forest. Knowing that this instruction was a death sentence for the civilians in his group, Bielski disobeyed, retreating deeper into the forest with his entire band. The fighters protected the civilians until they were able to emerge safely from the forest, evading the Germans who surrounded it. In the summer of 1944, with the liberation of the area, Bielski and his 1,230-strong partisan band, known as “Kalinin,” marched into the town of Novogrudok. Asael Bielski was killed in battle as a soldier in the Soviet army at Königsberg in 1944. After the war Bielski returned to Poland. That same year, in 1945, he immigrated to Palestine, and in 1954 he settled in the United States with his two surviving brothers.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Radin, Ruth Y. Escape to the Forest: Based on a True Story of the Holocaust. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). Tec, Nechema. Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.


Blobel, Paul (1894–1951)

Paul Blobel became an SS officer in charge of special killing forces during World War II. Born into a Protestant family, Paul Blobel attended a vocational school, where he learned construction and carpentry. During World War I (1914–1918) he volunteered for the army and served in the engineering corps. After the war he resumed his studies, became an architect, and settled in Solingen. In the economic depression that hit Germany in the early 1930s Blobel lost his job and could not find any other employment. He joined the Nazi party in October 1931, and in January 1932 enlisted in the SS. In March 1933 he entered service with the Stapo (Staatspolizei) in Düsseldorf, and on June 1, 1934, he transferred to the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service). with the rank of Untersturmführer and was appointed SD officer for the Düsseldorf area. He advanced rapidly in the SS hierarchy and became a Standartenführer on January 30, 1941.

Paul Blobel.


At the beginning of June 1941, Blobel was summoned to Pretzsch, a town on the Elbe northeast of Leipzig, where candidates for service in the O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen) gathering to be deployed in German-occupied territory in the S OV I E T U N I O N . Blobel was appointed commanding officer of Sonderkommando (S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O 4a of Einsatzgruppe C, which was assigned to the U K R A I N E . At the head of this unit Blobel went from Sokal to Kiev by way of Volhynia, killing Jews in towns and villages along the route. When Kiev was captured by the Germans, he entered the city with his unit and carried out the murder of Kiev’s


Jews at B A B I YA R , on September 29 and 30, 1941. His last major activity in that area took place in K H A R KOV . His unit murdered 21,685 Jews in Drobitski Yar at the end of December 1941. On January 13, 1942, Blobel was released from his post for reasons of health— he suffered from a liver ailment that was aggravated by his excessive drinking. When he recuperated he was called to the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) and put in charge of A K T I O N ( O P E R AT I O N ) 1005, the goal of which was to obliterate the traces of the mass murders committed by the Germans. Blobel established his headquarters in L⁄Ó D Z´ ; his direct superior was the Gestapo chief, Heinrich M Ü L L E R , in Berlin. Until the fall of 1943, Blobel cremated bodies on huge pyres to eradicate evidence of Nazi mass killings. The first experiments with this method were carried out in C H E L⁄ M N O . The permanent camps, such as A U S C H W I T Z , were later equipped with crematoria. In the fall of 1943 Blobel set up special units, the Sonderkommandos 1005, to dig up and cremate bodies from the mass graves in the German-occupied parts of the Soviet Union. The work was done by Jews and other prisoners who were killed when their work in a given place was done. Some of these prisoners, especially the Jews, succeeded in escaping, notably in Babi Yar, J A N Ó W S K A , the Ninth Fort in Kovno, P O N A R Y , and Grabowka, near B I A L⁄ Y S T O K . At the end of October 1944, when their tasks were completed, the German personnel who had served in the Sonderkommandos 1005—men of the SD and German regular police (Ordnungspolizei)—all joined Operational Squad “Iltis,” a new unit commanded by Blobel. It was posted to Carinthia, on the Austro-Yugoslav border, to take part in fighting against the Yugoslav PA RT I S A N S . Blobel was arrested after the war and was one of the principal defendants in The Einsatzgruppen Case (Trial 9) at the Nuremberg Hearings. He was sentenced to death in 1948 and hanged at the Landsberg prison in Bavaria on June 8, 1951.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Arad, Yitzhak. The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads. Washington, DC: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1989. Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. “What Were the Einsatzgruppen—FAQs About the Holocaust—Shoah.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www.yad-vashem.org.ilholocaust/faq/gapfaqs.html (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Blum, Abraham (1905–1943)

Abraham Blum (“Abrasha”) was a Bund leader and member of the J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A N I Z AT I O N (Z˙ ydowska Organizacja Bojowa; Z˙ OB) in W A R S A W . Blum was born in V I L N A into a middle-class family, attended a Yiddish secondary school, and graduated with a degree in construction engineering from a Belgian institute. As a young man he became active in the Bund’s youth movement. In 1929 he moved to Warsaw and became a full-time party activist. In the 1930s he was a member of the national board of the Bund youth movement, Zukunft (Future), and was active in the Bund-sponsored school network.


Jewish Socialist Party, founded in 1897 to seek equal rights for the Jewish population.



In the early days of World War II, Blum was one of the few Bund leaders who did not leave Warsaw. He played a central role in the Bund’s clandestine operations as soon as they were launched, and helped run the party’s soup kitchens, underground press, welfare services, and political indoctrination efforts. In the spring of 1942, Blum supported the idea of forming a united fighting organization that included cooperation between the Bund and the Zionist groups. In the report on the Bund’s underground operations, Getto Walczy (The Ghetto Fights), published in 1945, Marek Edelman described Blum as “the spiritual father of our resistance … the only person [in the Bund] able to control the situation [during the mass deportation from Warsaw].” Edelman wrote: “We owe it to him that we survived that terrible period.” In October 1942 the Bund joined the Z˙ OB, and Blum was appointed the party’s representative on the coordinating committee of the Bund and the Jewish National Committee, the two bodies that formed the political leadership of the Z˙ OB. He rejected an offer to cross over to the “Aryan” side, despite the fact that his wife and children had gone into hiding there. During the W A R S AW G H E T T O U P R I S I N G in April 1943, Blum was among a group of young people that succeeded in escaping from the ghetto and reaching the Polish side by way of the city sewage system. For several days he was in hiding in the Kampinos Forest, and from there he returned to Warsaw. When his hiding place there was discovered, he tried to escape through a fourth-floor window by tying bed sheets together and climbing down, but the sheets tore; Blum fell and was injured. He was seized by the Germans and taken to the G E S TA P O , and all further trace of him was lost.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Gutman, Israel. Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. Landau, Elaine. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Shoah [videorecording]. New Yorker Video, 1999. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: An Audio-visual Program from the Exhibition at Ghetto Fighter’s House [videorecording]. Ergo Media, 1993.

Bogaard, Johannes (1891–1974)

Johannes Bogaard was a Dutch farmer in Nieuw Vennep (Haarlemmermeer), southwest of Amsterdam, who was responsible for the rescue of some three hundred Jews. Bogaard, known locally as “Uncle Hannes” (“Oom Hannes”), hid fugitive Jews on his farm, as well as on the farms of relatives and friendly neighbors, for long periods of time. Born into a strict Calvinist family of limited means, he was taught by his father to respect the Jews as the people of the Bible. After the deportation of Jews from the N E T H E R L A N D S began in July 1942, the entire Bogaard family of farmers devoted themselves to helping Jews escape the Nazi dragnet. When Jews in need of help were referred to Bogaard, he traveled to Amsterdam once or twice a week to fetch the persons threatened with deportation and persuade them to follow him and place themselves in his care. Most were hidden in the vicinity of his farm, although at times there were up to one hundred Jews on



his family’s farm alone. He also collected money, ration cards, and identification papers from friends and acquaintances. In November 1942 the Dutch Nazi police raided the Bogaard farm, capturing three Jews. Two more raids followed in the succeeding months, in which several dozen Jews were apprehended and a policeman was killed. Johannes’s father, one of his brothers, and his own son Teunis were taken to a German concentration camp, where they perished. By the end of 1943, Johannes Bogaard, until then operating largely on his own initiative, was able to link up with underground organizations, but most of his help still came from his own family. As the danger of detection by the authorities increased, most of the Jews in his charge were moved to other locations in the countryside for safe refuge. Bogaard probably saved more Jews, almost single-handedly, than any other person in the Netherlands. He was recognized by Yad Vashem as “R I G H T E O U S A M O N G T H E N AT I O N S ” in 1963.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Moore, Bob. Victims and Survivors: The Nazi Persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands, 1940–1945. London and New York: Arnold, 1997.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Bohemia and Moravia, Protectorate of On March 15, 1939, the German armed forces occupied the Czechoslovak territories of Bohemia and Moravia; the next day, Adolf H I T L E R claimed the territories for G E R M A N Y , renaming them the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. These territories had been part of the First Czechoslovak Republic, established in 1918, following World War I, after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. They remained part of the Second Czechoslovak Republic during its short history from late September, 1938, until the German takeover in 1939. The territory surrounding Bohemia and Moravia was known as the Sudetenland. This region had been annexed to Germany in 1938, foreshadowing the Nazi actions of 1939 in the neighboring territories. Although the new Czech government was officially headed by Czech president Emil Hacha, all other government leadership posts were filled by Reich (German) officials, and the Czech government was subordinate in every way to the political, economic, and military interests of its German “protectors.”

Jews in Bohemia and Moravia On the eve of the German occupation, there were 136 Jewish religious congregations in the regions known as Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia (which lay to the northeast and bordering on P O L A N D ). The Jewish population, defined by “race” as outlined in the N U R E M B E R G L AW S numbered 118,310. Immediately after the occupation, a wave of arrests was launched. Targeted were Czech public figures, refugees from Germany, and Czech Jews. Anti-Jewish violence took place right from the start of the occupation; synagogues were burned and Jews were attacked and rounded up in the streets on various charges. Among



Bohemia and Moravia annexed March 15, 1939.

the instigators of vicious harassment against the Jews was an organization known as Vlajka (The Flag), a most extreme fascist group. In June 1939, Adolf E I C H M A N N arrived in Prague, the capital city, where he established the Central Office for Jewish Emigration to encourage Jews to leave the Protectorate. Before emigration was banned in October 1941, it is estimated that more than 26,600 Jews were able to leave the country-legally or illegally. Some escaped to P O L A N D , or emigrated to the U N I T E D S TAT E S or South America; 2500 managed to reach Palestine. Others moved to G R E AT B R I TA I N , D E N M A R K , or the N E T H E R L A N D S for agricultural training as part of a Zionist Y O U T H M OV E M E N T effort to prepare for life in a Jewish homeland in Palestine. As in other territories would later be occupied by the Germans, the Jews in the protectorate were required to relinquish their financial holdings and other assets such as jewelry, real estate, and business interests through the A RYA N I Z AT I O N . The total value of Jewish assets seized by the Germans in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia has been estimated at a half-billion dollars. By September 1939, the Germans were at war and conditions worsened dramatically for the Jews of the protectorate. Jobs were lost; curfews and restrictions on freedom of movement were imposed. Basic necessities available to the non-Jewish population, including food and clothing, were denied to Jews. Arrests increased, and hostages were sent to concentration camps. In October 1939, the first forced removal of large groups of Jews took place; around 3000 men were sent to “retraining centers” in the Nisko settlement in the Lublin area (see N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). Over the next months, Jewish children were banned from schools; Jews were not allowed to use telephones or public transportation; and the burden of providing for the welfare of the Jewish community fell upon the Jews themselves.



Deportations Under the Nazi authority of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, the Jewish Religious Congregation (JRC) of Prague served as the Jewish community’s administrative organization. Although the group was responsible for maintaining daily life among the Jews, it also, gradually, was forced to work on behalf of the German authorities. The JRC was forced to gather Jews for F O R C E D L A B O R , oversee the seizure of Jewish assets, and assist in D E P O R TAT I O N S of Jews headed for C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S . Any refusal to cooperate was punishable by death. Early in September 1941, the JRC was ordered to take a census of the Jewish population. The 88,105 Jews identified in this census were ordered to wear the yellow sign of their Jewishness (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ). They were isolated from the rest of the population. Before long, transports of Jews from the protectorate were being sent to the concentration camp at T H E R E S I E N S TA D T ; the Nazi plan was to send the Jews there until many of them died, after which time the remainder would be sent to their deaths at camps in the east. First, five transports were sent from Prague to L⁄Ó D Z´ ; other Jews went to M I N S K and R I G A . Most were annihilated in the camps of C H E L⁄ M N O , B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , T R E B L I N K A , and M A J DA N E K . Some were massacred in K OV N O . From November 1941 to March 1945, 122 trains carrying 73,608 persons were sent from the protectorate to Theresienstadt. A majority (60,399) were sent to A U S C H W I T Z and other extermination camps between 1942 and 1944; only 3227 were alive at war’s end. In retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard H E Y D R I C H in Prague in May 1942, a special transport of 1000 Czech Jews was sent to Poland on June 10. They were ordered to dig their own graves before they were killed. The final mass transport of “full” Jews left Prague in 1943. The only Jews who remained in the protectorate were members of the Jewish council and their families, as well as Jewish partners in mixed marriages; they numbered 6,795, as of the end of December 1944. In late January and early February of the next year, 4,243 were sent to Theresienstadt. The day Czechoslovakia was liberated (May 5, 1945), the number of registered Jews in the protectorate was 2,803. Of more than 92,000 Jews living in Bohemia and Moravia before deportations began, it is estimated that more than 78,000 perished during the Holocaust.

After the Holocaust Before their deportation to the extermination camps, Jewish community leaders managed to save from destruction numerous articles of the religious and cultural heritage of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia. The Nazis intended to display such items at a Central Museum of the Extinguished Jewish Race. Instead, it became a rich collection of Judaica at the Jewish Museum of Prague, a legacy of the 77,297 Jewish victims whose names are inscribed on the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Iggers, Wilma Abeles, ed. The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: A Historical Reader. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993. Keneally, Thomas. Schindler’s List. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Schindler’s List [videorecording]. MCA Universal Home Video, 1993.



Bormann, Martin (1900–1945?)

Martin Bormann was a Nazi leader and the close aide of Adolf H I T L E R . Born in Halberstadt, Bormann interrupted his high school studies to enlist in the artillery toward the end of World War I (1914–1918), but the war ended before he reached the front. Following the war Bormann joined the Deutsche Freikorps, a paramilitary organization of volunteer fighters, and carried out acts of violence along the Latvian border after Latvia declared itself independent. Subsequently, Bormann became active in the illegal, paramilitary nationalist Frontbann organization, created by Ernst Röhm, and participated in one of its political assassinations. In 1923 he was arrested for this, and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. In prison he became acquainted with Rudolf H Ö S S , future commandant of the A U S C H W I T Z extermination camp. After Bormann’s release in 1925, he joined the N A Z I PA R T Y and the SA (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) in Thuringia, and in 1926 was appointed head of Nazi press affairs and deputy SA commander of the region. In 1928 he rose to the rank of Gauleiter—district leader—of Thuringia. Known in the Nazi party as an active fund-raiser, he was appointed treasurer at the party center in Munich.

“Image not available for copyright reasons”

With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, Bormann was elected to the Reichstag (German parliament) and became head of the office of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy in the party. From this time on Bormann remained at the center of Nazi power around Hitler and was responsible for all financial and administrative affairs. He was always in the shadow of the Führer, excelling as a planner and a behind-thescenes man, but not as a public speaker.

In 1941, Bormann’s power increased and then in 1942 he was appointed head of the party secretariat and of the party staff, with the rank of Reichsminister, (Minister of the Reich). In 1943, when he became Hitler’s secretary, Bormann also controlled Hitler’s appointments calendar, sometimes preventing important figures such as Hermann Göring, Joseph G O E B B E L S , Heinrich H I M M L E R , and Albert Speer from approaching the leader. As the war continued and became Hitler’s principal occupation, Bormann’s status grew. He was charged not only with party affairs but also with the domestic affairs of Germany. In particular, Bormann was active in operations such as the E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M , the war against the church, the pillage of art objects in the occupied countries of eastern Europe, and the expansion of forced-labor programs (see F O R C E D L A B O R ) throughout Europe. Above all, Bormann was the zealous executor of the persecution and extermination of the Jews. He signed the series of anti-Jewish edicts ordering the deportation of the Jews to the east (see D E P O R TA T I O N S ), the concentration of power in Jewish affairs in the hands of the SS, and the concealment of the massacre as the “transfer of the Jews to labor in the east.” Bormann was appointed commander of the People’s Army (Volkssturm), a militia group created toward the end of the war, in October 1944. His desire for greater personal power did not cease even after Hitler entered his bunker in Berlin. In the last stage of Nazi rule, Bormann tried to have Göring executed, was a witness to Hitler’s marriage to Eva Braun a day before their suicide, and observed the suicide of Goebbels and his family. After Hitler’s death, Bormann allegedly tried to conduct negotiations with the Soviets, but after becoming convinced that these were hopeless he gave the order to escape from the bunker. With that he vanished. On October 29, 1945, Bormann was



indicted in absentia with the other Nazi leaders by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and on October 1, 1946, he was sentenced to death in absentia . Bormann’s fate is uncertain. According to unreliable testimony, he was killed by a Soviet shell or committed suicide, and according to rumors that spread in the 1960s he escaped to South America, perhaps to Paraguay. In early 1973 a West German forensic expert determined that one of two skeletons discovered in West Berlin during excavations in 1972 was that of Bormann. Despite some continuing doubt from scholars, on the basis of this determination, Bormann was officially declared dead.

in absentia

Without the defendant being present for trial or sentencing.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES The Disappearance of Martin Bormann [videorecording]. Set Productions, 1998. Farago, Ladislas. Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.

Hitler’s Henchmen [videorecording]. Windsong/La Mancha, 1991. Stevenson, William. The Bormann Brotherhood. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.

Bothmann, Hans (1911–1946)

Hans Bothmann was the commandant of the C H E L⁄ M N O extermination camp in central Poland. Bothmann joined the H I T L E R Y O U T H (Hitlerjugend) movement in November 1932 and the SS in June 1933. In September 1939, following the invasion of P O L A N D , he was assigned to the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) in Poznan´. He was appointed commandant at Chel⁄mno in the spring of 1942, replacing Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Herbert Lange. Bothmann directed the mass killing operations in the camp until March 1943, when the transports of Jews to Chel⁄mno were discontinued. The next month Bothmann, together with 85 members of the camp staff, was transferred to Yugoslavia, where he formed S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando) Bothmann, which participated in SS operations against the Yugoslav PA RT I S A N S —underground anti-Nazi fighting groups. In the late spring of 1944, Bothmann and his unit were ordered back to Chel⁄mno to renew the gassing operations (see G A S C H A M B E R /V A N S , which continued through June and July. In August, Special Commando Bothmann took part in the liquidation of the L⁄Ó D Z´ ghetto. It was then assigned to A K T I O N (O P E R AT I O N ) 1005, in which the corpses of the victims at Chel⁄mno were burned to wipe out evidence of the killings that had taken place there. In January 1945 Bothmann escaped to western Germany, where he was captured by the British. On April 4, 1946, he hanged himself in prison.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Perpetrators. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/ holocaust/people/perps.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). “What Was the First Extermination Camp?—FAQs About the Holocaust—Shoah.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/holocaust/faq/gapfaqs.html (accessed on August 22, 2000).


B OY C OT T, A N T I - J E W I S H

SA men distributing boycott pamphlets to German pedestrians in Berlin, Germany, April 1, 1933.

Boycott, Anti-Jewish The boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933, was the first national action against the German Jews after the Nazi seizure of power on January 30 of that year. The boycott was declared by the Nazi party on March 28, 1933. In the first months after the Nazi rise to power, the actions of the SA (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) had received extensive publicity and aroused public protests throughout the world. Although Jewish institutions and organizations generally took a cautious line, afraid that aggressive protests would harm Jews in Germany, the worldwide Jewish community openly objected to the Nazi platform of A N T I S E M I T I S M . In response, the 1933 economic boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany was described as an action of both reprisal and warning against world Jewry. The declaration opposed what the Nazis called Greuelpropaganda, literally “horror propaganda,” about the policies of the Third Reich, and demanded an end to an economic boycott abroad against the “New Germany.”

April 1, 1933 The anti-Jewish boycott was organized initially as a N A Z I PA RT Y operation initiated by Propaganda Minister Joseph G O E B B E L S . Julius S T R E I C H E R was designated head of the organizing committee. Despite a short period of preparation, everything was planned down to the last detail. At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, the boycott was to begin simultaneously in every city and town, down to the smallest village. In fact, actions started in several places on the previous day or evening—a direct continuation of the harassment and confiscation that had been going on continuously in the weeks preceding the official boycott. Following the party’s instructions, guards of uniformed, sometimes armed, Nazis were placed in front of every


B OY C OT T, A N T I - J E W I S H

store and business owned by Jews, and their clients were prevented from entering. Trucks patrolled the streets, carrying uniformed Nazis and Storm Troopers who bore signs and slogans proclaiming: “Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!” An effort was made to avoid open violence in the main streets of the large cities, but in more remote places there were many incidents, such as the shattering of store windows, the pillaging of stores, and physical assaults on Jewish businessowners. Despite the order not to harm the businesses of Jewish foreign nationals, many attacks did occur, especially on Jews of eastern European origin. Besides retail stores, the Jewish professionals were a specific target of boycott activities. Guards were placed at the doors of the offices of Jewish lawyers and doctors. In several cities, uniformed gangs of Nazis broke into law courts and forcibly expelled Jewish judges and prosecutors, both government employees and private lawyers. On the day before the boycott, the ministers of justice in Prussia and Bavaria had already sent the Jewish jurists “on vacation” and had forbidden them to enter the law courts “in order to guarantee their safety and to maintain public order.”

Pressure to Rescind the Boycott Attempts were made to annul the boycott declaration through international government and economic pressure. Jewish and non-Jewish organizations abroad published announcements rejecting the Nazi accusations of “horror propaganda” and proclaiming an economic boycott against German exports. In Germany, too, the declaration aroused concern in economic circles over possible harmful consequences, especially in light of high unemployment and economic depression there. On the afternoon of Friday, March 31, a meeting took place in Adolf H I T L E R ’s office in Berlin to discuss the possibility of canceling the boycott scheduled for the following day, on the condition that the governments of G R E AT B R I TA I N and the U N I T E D S TAT E S publish official announcements condemning the Greuelpropaganda. Possibly due to these pressures, the boycott—initially declared for an unlimited period—ended, by government decree, after just one day. In addition, the hope was expressed that those spreading Greuelpropaganda abroad had learned their lesson. There was no conflict between the intentions of the party, which declared the boycott, and those of the government, which announced its cessation. Joseph G O E B B E L S , a key supporter of the boycott, declared at a party mass meeting on the evening of March 31 that the boycott would be stopped after one day and would be renewed on April 4 if the Greuelpropaganda abroad did not cease. It is the opinion of some scholars that the Nazi leadership organized the boycott day as a “safety valve” for pressures from rank-and-file party members, particularly SA members, who demanded radical steps against the activity of the Jews in the economy, as promised in the Nazi party platform. According to this interpretation, the aim of the boycott was to allow postponement of these steps (1) until the stabilization of the Nazi regime and (2) because of Germany’s uncertain financial situation and international position. In fact, the boycott was a clear and explicit starting point for a process of harassment and oppression that was designed to undermine the basis of the economic existence of German Jewry. Acts of terror, discrimination, and forcible confiscation of property, which previously could have been interpreted as “individual” or “isolated” acts of violence, were sanctioned through the boycott by the highest party and government institutions. The boycott of April 1, 1933, led the way for legislation passed on April 7, 1933, against Jewish professionals and government employees. It also served as the official opening of the administrative and propaganda campaign against all economic activity among German Jewry.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Barkai, Avraham. From Boycott to Annihilation: The Economic Struggle of German Jews, 1933–1943. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1989. “Images: The Nazification of Germany, 1933–39.” A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/resource/gallery/NR1935.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Buchenwald Buchenwald C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P was one of the largest on German soil, with 130 satellite camps and extension units. The camp was situated on the northern slope of Ettersberg, a mountain 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Weimar, in Thuringia. It was established on July 16, 1937, when the first group of prisoners, consisting of 149 persons, mostly political detainees and criminals, was brought to the site. The name “Buchenwald” was given to it by Heinrich H IMMLER on July 28, 1937. Buchenwald was divided into three parts: the “large camp,” which housed prisoners with some seniority; the “small camp,” where prisoners were kept in quarantine; and the “tent camp,” set up for Polish prisoners sent there after the German invasion of P O L A N D in 1939. Besides these three parts were the administration compound, the S S barracks, and the camp factories. The commandants were SS officers Karl K O C H and Hermann Pister. Large groups of prisoners began to arrive in the camp shortly after its foundation, and by the end of 1937 there were 2,561 prisoners, most of them “politicals.” In the spring of 1938 the number of prisoners rose rapidly as a result of the operation against “asocial elements,” the victims of which were taken to Buchenwald. By July 1938 there were 7,723 prisoners in the camp. Another 2,200 from Austria were added on September 23, 1938, all of them Jews. An additional 10,000 Jews were imprisoned after K RISTALLNACHT (November 9–10, 1938), and at the end of November the camp prison population exceeded 18,000. By the end of the year, most of the Jewish prisoners were released, and the camp population had dropped to 11,000. The outbreak of war was accompanied by a wave of arrests throughout the Reich, which brought thousands of political prisoners to Buchenwald. This was followed by the influx of thousands of Poles, who were housed in the tent camp. As of 1943, following the completion of armament factories in the vicinity of the camp, the number of prisoners grew steadily: to 63,048 by the end of 1944 and to 86,232 in February 1945. In the eight years of its existence, from July 1937 to March 1945, a total of 238,980 prisoners from thirty countries passed through Buchenwald and its satellite camps; of these, 43,045 were killed or perished in some other fashion there (this figure includes Soviet prisoners of war).

Jews at Buchenwald The first transports of German Jews arrived in the spring of 1938, followed by Austrian Jews and the Kristallnacht prisoners. The Jews were treated with extraordinary cruelty, forced to work fourteen to fifteen hours a day, generally in the infamous Buchenwald quarry, and enduring abominable living conditions. The Nazis’ object at this point was to exert pressure on the Jews and their families to emigrate



Prisoners in their civilian clothes, standing at call in Buchenwald concentration camp.

from Germany within the shortest possible time. Thus, in the winter of 1938–1939, 9,370 Jews were released after their families, as well as Jewish and international organizations, had made arrangements for their emigration. In the short while that the Kristallnacht detainees were imprisoned at Buchenwald, 600 were killed, committed suicide, or died from other causes. The number of Jewish prisoners rose again after the outbreak of the war, when Jews from Germany and the Protectorate of B O H E M I A and M O R AV I A were brought to the camp; in September 1939, there were about 2,700 Jewish prisoners at Buchenwald. On October 17, 1942, an order was issued calling for all Jewish prisoners held in the Reich to be transferred to A U S C H W I T Z . The Jews in Buchenwald, except for 204 essential workers, were sent to that concentration and extermination camp. In 1944, transports of Hungarian Jews began coming to Buchenwald from Auschwitz; after a short stay in the main camp most of them were distributed among the satel-



Prisoners of Buchenwald.

lite camps, where they were put to work in the armament factories. Beginning on January 18, 1945, when Auschwitz and other camps in the east were being evacuated, thousands of Jewish prisoners arrived in Buchenwald. The Auschwitz evacuees included several hundred children and youths, and a special barrack, which came to be known as “Children’s Block 66,” was put up for them in the tent camp. This block housed more than six hundred children and youths, most of whom survived. The Jewish prisoners were deprived of the privileges and exemptions granted to the other inmates, and Jewish prisoners were used for M E D I CA L E X P E R I M E N T S .

Resistance at Buchenwald Resistance cells were formed in Buchenwald from the first years of its existence. In 1938, one was established by members of the German Communist party in the camp, among whom were some of that party’s most prominent figures. At first, the aim of the resistance cells was to plant their members in the central posts available to inmates, to support one another, and to have a say in developments in the camp. Up to the end of 1938 the internal administration of Buchenwald was, for the most part, in the hands of the criminal prisoners. When it was discovered that the criminals and some of the SS personnel were involved in corruption and stealing (from the Kristallnacht prisoners), the camp administration removed the criminal prisoners from most of their posts, and their influence gradually passed into the hands of the political prisoners. Some resistance cells, mainly those belonging to the Left, managed to plant some of their members in key positions held by prisoners in the internal camp administration, thereby facilitating their clandestine activities. Later, following the outbreak of the war and the influx into Buchenwald of political prisoners from the occupied countries, more resistance groups were formed, on the basis of nationality. The resistance movement in Buchenwald scored some impressive successes, primarily in the acts of sabotage it carried out in the armaments factories where Buchenwald prisoners worked. Underground members also smuggled arms and ammunition into the camp.



Liquidation of Buchenwald On April 6, 1945, as Allied forces continued to press toward victory, the Germans began evacuating the Jewish prisoners. The following day, thousands of prisoners of various nationalities were evacuated from the main camps and the satellite camps. Of the 28,250 prisoners evacuated from the main camp, 7,000 to 8,000 either were killed or died by some other means in the course of the evacuation. It is estimated that 25,500 prisoners from the satellite camps and the main camp died during the evacuation of Buchenwald. In the final days of the camp’s existence, resistance members who held key posts in the internal administration sabotaged SS orders for evacuation by slowing down its pace. As a result the Nazis failed to complete the evacuation. By April 11, 1945, most of the SS men had fled from the camp. The underground did not wait for the approaching American forces to take control but did so themselves, together with armed teams of prisoners, in the process trapping several dozen SS men left in the camp. On that day, some 21,000 prisoners were liberated in Buchenwald, with 4,000 Jews among them, including about 1,000 children and youths. In 1947, thirty-one members of the Buchenwald camp staff were tried for their crimes by an American court. Two of the accused were sentenced to death, and four to life imprisonment.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bender, Benjamin. Glimpses: Through Holocaust and Liberation. North Atlantic Books, 1995. Hackett, David A., ed. The Buchenwald Report. Westview Press, 1995.

Memory of the Camps [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1989. Werber, Jack. Saving Children: Diary of a Buchenwald Survivor and Rescuer. Transaction, 1995. Wiesel, Elie. Night. Bantam Books, 1986.

Budapest Budapest is the capital of H U N G A RY . It is situated on both banks of the Danube River and consists of the united cities of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. The first settlement on the site was the Roman colony of Aquincum. In 1872 the united city of Budapest was formed; it became the capital of independent Hungary in November 1918. In 1941, the population was about one million. A grave from the Roman period is evidence that there were Jews in Aquincum. From the twelfth century there was a constant Jewish presence in Buda, except for some short periods during the thirteenth century. Between the world wars, some 200,000 of Hungary’s 450,000 Jews resided in Budapest, making it one of the most important urban Jewish population centers in Europe. It was the center of Hungarian Jewish life, and Jews, in turn, made significant contributions to the cultural, political, and economic life of the city. Beginning in 1938, during the years when harsh, anti-Jewish laws were in force, the predominantly middle-class Jewish community suffered greatly, especially from unemployment. By 1940 the Jewish community of Budapest supported 17,000 of its members with $100,000 in aid. Nevertheless, although the situation of the rest of European Jewry deteriorated during the course of World War II, Budapest Jews lived in relative comfort until the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944.



A Budapest apartment designated for Jews is marked with a Star of David, 1944.

Some five thousand refugees from G E R M A N Y , A U S T R I A , and later P O L A N D began to arrive in Budapest in the late 1930s. A number of Jewish relief organizations, including the American Jewish J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E (JDC), assisted these refugees. The JDC provided $47,000 in aid during the first six months of the war. When Jews were deported (forcibly removed) from S L OVA K I A beginning in March 1942, large numbers of them began escaping to Hungary. Most of the 6,000 to 8,000 Slovak refugees eventually came to Budapest.

Under German Occupation Once the Germans invaded and occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, the situation of Budapest Jewry deteriorated drastically. A central Jewish council was established to govern Budapest Jews and to inform the provincial Jewish councils, beyond the city, about government orders. For the Jews, life was severely restricted



in Budapest, as it was throughout Hungary. On March 22, for example, there was an order calling for the closing of Jewish shops. This affected 18,000 Jewish stores in the city. Hundreds of Jews were rounded up and confined in the K I S TA R C S A camp. On April 12, after Allied air raids were conducted on the city, the deputy interior minister, László E N D R E , ordered the Jewish community to turn over, within twentyfour hours, 500 apartments to non-Jews who had been left homeless by the bombing. Before the day was over, the Nazi leader Adolf E I C H M A N N had raised that number to 1,500. The Jews from the provinces outside Budapest were gathered by the Nazis and deported between mid-April and July in 1944. The Jews of Budapest were not put into a ghetto during this first wave of deportations from Hungary. Instead, between June 17 and 24, the Hungarian authorities scattered the Jews around the city among 2,639 buildings, which were marked with a Star of David. Shortly thereafter, 17,500 Jews were sent from the outskirts of Budapest to A U S C H W I T Z . On July 7 the Hungarian head of government, Miklós H O RT H Y , ordered all further deportations to be stopped. For the time being, the remaining Budapest Jews were saved. During the lull in the deportations, the Jews of Budapest continued as best they could, struggling to keep alive. Many looked for ways to protect themselves from future deportations. Most often, they tried to acquire false certificates stating they were baptised. Or they applied for official government exemptions from all antiJewish laws in effect. Some groups, like the Relief and Rescue Committee and the Zionist YO U T H M OV E M E N T S , continued the rescue activities they had begun during the deportations. When Horthy announced that his government was withdrawing from its alliance with Germany on October 15, Budapest Jewry was exultant. Horthy’s regime fell immediately, however. In its place, a Nazi-backed government, dominated by the A R R OW C R O S S P A RT Y and led by Ferenc Sz´alasi was established. The Jews faced their gravest peril. During the first days of the new administration, some 600 Jews were murdered in Budapest. Soon afterward, Jews were drafted to build fortifications. On November 8, deportations were resumed. Over 70,000 Jews were taken to the Óbuda brickyards, and from there were marched out of the city on foot toward the Austrian border. The Foot March (Fussmarsch), as this deportation was known, continued through December. In the meantime, on November 13, the Arrow Cross ordered the establishment of a ghetto.

During December 1944 and January 1945, random acts of Arrow Cross Party violence increased. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Jews were shot along the banks of the Danube, their corpses making the river run red.

By December 2 most of Budapest’s unprotected Jews had been placed within the boundaries of the ghetto. It had four main entrances. The ghetto was divided into ten districts, each with a district commander. A ghetto police force was also established. Unlike other such forces under Nazi occupation, it never became involved in the process of deportation. Public kitchens and a hospital also served the ghetto residents. During December 1944 and January 1945, random acts of the Arrow Cross Party’s violence increased. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Jews were shot along the banks of the Danube, their corpses making the river run red.

Diplomatic Intervention During the Szálasi period, diplomats from neutral countries and organizations made great efforts to rescue Budapest Jewry. They included Friedrich Born (international Red Cross), Raoul W A L L E N B E R G (Sweden), Per Anger (Sweden), Carl L U T Z (Switzerland), Angelo Rotta (representing the Pope), Valdemar Langlet (Swedish Red Cross), and Asta Nilsson (Swedish Red Cross). They were joined in their efforts by members of Jewish relief organizations, members of the Zionist


B U D Z Y´ N

youth movement, and other non-affiliated Jews. Christian organizations and a number of convents and monasteries also aided Jews. The focus of these rescue efforts was to ensure that the Jews stayed out of the hands of the Nazis and Arrow Cross, and that they had sufficient food, shelter, and fuel. The goal was to keep help them stay alive until the expected arrival of the Soviet Union’s Red Army. The diplomats often protested to the government about the terrible treatment of the Jews. With the help of various Jewish rescuers, food, medicines, and fuel were obtained and distributed. In order to safeguard Jews from deportation, many were given protective documents in the name of neutral governments and agencies. The Swiss issued 7,800, the Swedes 4,500, the Vatican 2,500, the Portuguese 700, and the Spanish 100. About 100,000 documents were forged and distributed by the Zionist youth. Jews who were fortunate enough to receive protective documents were placed under diplomatic protection. Often they moved to embassies and in the city. The largest of these protected buildings was the “Glass House” on Vadasz Street and the building next door. These shelters were under the protection of the Swiss and housed over 3,000 Jews. Special houses were also set up for children. Between 5,000 and 6,000 Jewish children were saved from Arrow Cross rampages. In addition, the diplomatic documents were used to bring deportees back to Budapest before they reached the Hungarian border. In early November of 1944 a special international ghetto was set up for those who had protective documents and for their families. The protected status of the houses was not always honored, however, and many fell victim to Arrow Cross violence. By December 26, 1944, the army of the S OV I E T U N I O N had completely encircled Budapest. On January 18, 1945, Pest was taken, and on February 13 Buda fell to the Soviet Red Army. At that time, of the 120,000 Jews that remained, about 70,000 were in the ghetto, about 25,000 were under diplomatic protection, and another 25,000 were hidden, often with false papers. In the post-World War II period, Budapest remained the center of the diminished Hungarian Jewish community. As of the end of the 1980s, about sixty thousand of Hungary’s eighty thousand Jews resided in the capital.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Anger, Per. With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Memories of the War Years in Hungary. Washington, DC: Holocaust Library, 1981.

Good Evening Mr. Wallenberg [videorecording]. Orion Home Video, 1994. Handler, Andrew, ed. Young People Speak: Surviving the Holocaust in Hungary. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Budzyn´ Budzyn´ was a forced-labor and C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P in P O L A N D . It was named for a village and estate in the L U B L I N district, 3 miles (5 kilometers) northwest of the town of Kras´ nik. In the mid-1930s, Poland had established a militaryindustrial complex on the site, including an aircraft industry. G E R M A N Y took over these enterprises following its occupation of Poland in September 1939. A F O R C E D L A B O R camp was set up in Budzyn´ in the summer of 1942, and 500 Jews were taken there from the neighboring towns. In the fall, 400 prisoners of war were added from the Kon´ ska Wola camp and from the camp on Lipowa Street in



Lublin. In May 1943, after the W A R S AW G H E T TO U P R I S I N G had been put down, 800 Jews from Warsaw were brought in. By mid-1943, the camp had a prisoner population of 3,000, including 300 women and children. The inmates worked in the military factories, in construction, and in general services. The camp commandant, an S S officer named Feiks, mistreated the prisoners and from time to time killed some of them. In the fall of 1942, some 100 prisoners—sick or old people, and children— were taken to the B E L⁄ Z˙ E C extermination camp and murdered there. In August 1943, another 200 prisoners from Budzyn´, classified as sick and unfit for work, were sent away, this time to M A J DA N E K , to be killed. Two months later, in October, Budzyn´ became a concentration camp and was attached to Majdanek. On February 8, 1944, dozens of prisoners were killed when their Ukrainian guards opened fire on them. Conditions in the camp were relatively bearable, due in part to the influence of a prisoner of war named Noah Stockman, who was the “camp elder.” In one instance, several groups of children acquired weapons by stealing them from the military factories. They then escaped to the forests, where they joined the PA R T I S A N S . As camp elder, Stockman managed to persuade the camp administration to refrain from taking harsh retaliatory measures against them. For the Jewish religious holiday of Passover in 1944, again owing to Stockman’s influence, unleavened bread was baked in the camp and a Seder ceremony was held. At the beginning of May of that year, the evacuation of the camp began, and prisoners were sent in groups to Mielec, Ostrowiec, and Wieliczka, among other places.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Browning, Christopher R. Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Ferencz, Benjamin B. Less than Slaves: Jewish Forced Labor and the Quest for Compensation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979.

Voices of the Shoah: Remembrances of the Holocaust [sound recording]. Rhino Records, 2000.

BUNA-MONOWITZ. SEE AUSCHWITZ. CATHOLIC CHURCH. SEE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. Central Office for Jewish Emigration The Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Zentralstelle Für Jüdische Auswanderung), was established by the German Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei, or Sipo) and SD (Sicherheitsdienst, Security Service) to oversee the emigration and expulsion of the Jews of A U S T R I A and of the Jews of the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A . The V I E N NA office of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Zentralstelle) was established on August 26, 1938, by the Reich commissioner for Austria, Josef



Bürckel. It was headed by Adolf E I C H M A N N , who was posted to V I E N N A for this assignment. Eichmann introduced the methods that were later to be applied to the expulsion of Europe’s Jews. To carry out his task, Eichmann concentrated all the Jews of Austria in Vienna, fixed deportation quotas (and put the burden of filling them on the Jewish community leaders), and forced the wealthier Jews to finance the costs of expelling Jews who had no means of self-support. Following a recommendation made by Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , and approved by Adolf H I T L E R , a similar establishment was set up in Germany; this office was headed by Heydrich. On January 30, Heydrich advised that the new office, to be named the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Reichszentrale für Jüdische Auswanderung) would be headed by Heinrich M Ü L L E R , chief of Section II of the G E S TA P O . Heydrich originally planned to establish branch offices in B E R L I N , Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Breslau, but this was not carried out. After the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, a Zentralstelle on the model of the one in Vienna was set up in Prague, on July 26, 1939. The new office was run by Hans Günther, who had been Eichmann’s deputy in Vienna, but Eichmann was in charge of both the Vienna and the Prague offices. The new office followed the pattern worked out in Vienna, adapted to local conditions, and eventually handled the expulsion of the Protectorate Jews to T H E R E S I E N S TA D T . When P O L A N D was occupied by the Nazis, Heydrich charged Eichmann with the task of expelling the population of those parts of western Poland that were being annexed to Germany. On December 21, 1939, Heydrich appointed Eichmann “officer in charge of all Security Police affairs relating to the clearance of the eastern areas.” Eichmann was transferred to Berlin, where he was also put in charge of the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Reichszentrale) the offices in Vienna and Prague were put under the central office in Berlin. The staff Eichmann had recruited to implement Heydrich’s orders was incorporated into the Reichszentrale and became a regular section of the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). Its designation at first was Section IV D 4, later changed to IV B 4; this was the section that was to trap Europe’s Jews and deport them to extermination camps.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Calic, Edouard. Reinhard Heydrich: The Chilling Story of the Man Who Masterminded the Nazi Death Camps. New York: Morrow, 1985. Moser, Jonny. “Nisko: The First Experiment in Deportation.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. Translated by Hanna Gunther. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/resources/books/annual2/chap01.html (accessed on August 27, 2000)

Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith The Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Centralverein Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens; CV) was an organization that aimed to promote the political and social equality of the Jews of G E R M A N Y , while at the same time fostering their German identity. It was active between 1893, when an antisemitic movement was on the rise in Germany, and 1938. Initially, the Jewish community had some reservations about the organization, but not for long. The number of members rose from 2,000 in 1894 to 72,500 in 1924. At the peak of its activity the



CV, as it was called, was the largest organization of German Jews, and regarded itself as their representative. Until World War I (1914–1918) the organization worked mainly through legal channels and provided information in an almost apologetic manner. In the face of rising antisemitism after World War I, the CV did more work through political channels. Contacts were made with parties and organizations that supported the German republic, and opposed extreme German nationalism, especially the National Socialist ideals of the N A Z I PA RT Y . Alongside this political activity, the CV’s informational activity expanded. Its monthly journal, Im Deutschen Reich, which had been published since 1894, merged in 1922 with the long-standing Jewish journal Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums and was renamed Zeitung-CV. This was distributed to non-Jewish as well as Jewish subscribers. A political and literary biweekly, Der Morgen, served the intellectual community. In 1929, a special archive was established to collect information on Nazi activities and intentions. It became the most complete collection of its kind in Germany, and provided information to newspapers and political parties. Until September 1930 the CV worked in partnership with the Zionists, who wished to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. That alliance eventually ended due to philosophical disagreements. The CV encouraged Jews to identify themselves as Germans; it thought of Jewry as a religious and spiritual identity, and not a political one. As a result, it adopted a negative attitude toward Zionism. Some of the CV’s younger leaders, however, demanded that the CV approve of efforts under way to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Eventually most of the CV representatives at the head of the important institutions for German Jewry were pro-Palestine. As the Nazis rose to power, the CV’s “defense” activities were inadequate. The Zeitung-CV tried to protect German Jews by making declarations such as, “We shall be on our guard and firmly defend ourselves, in accordance with the constitution, against any effort to encroach on our rights.” It continually reminded President Paul von Hindenberg and the German conservatives participating in Hitler’s government of their duty to defend the rights of all citizens without regard to religion. At the same time, the CV established a legal office. The organization recognized that only through legal channels could the rights of the Jews truly be defended. The CV launched a major campaign to distribute information within its own organization and to Jewish communities. German Jews, eager for encouragement and guidance, paid attention to what they had to say. The CV leadership tried to soothe the community and encourage its attachment to the German homeland. But after the anti-Jewish boycott of April 1, 1933 (see B OY C OT T, A N T I -J E W I S H ), the CV adopted a new policy of encouraging independent Jewish organization and activity. CV members also helped sponsor the Reich Representation of German Jews, which encouraged cooperation between various Jewish organizations. The CV organized independent educational and religious activities. For a short time, it even hoped that it could persuade the the Nazi government to recognize the Jews of Germany as an independent group. These hopes were shattered by the new government’s unrelenting hostility. The CV’s change of attitude toward independent Jewish activity could be seen in the Zeitung-CV, which expanded, added sections, and began to publicize German Jewish activities. In the fall of 1935, the N U R E M B E R G L AW S were passed. Since German Jews no longer had civil rights, CV was obliged to change its name to the Central Union of



Jews in Germany. The organization began focusing on emigration and vocational training as its chief priorities. The CV ceased to exist as an independent group after the violent, antisemitic K R I S TA L L NAC H T disturbances in November 1938. Like other Jewish bodies, the CV was incorporated into the compulsory new central organization, the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, established on July 4, 1939. Its representatives continued to occupy central positions in the leadership of German Jewry.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “The Position of the German Jews, as Seen by Alfred Wiener, of the Leadership of the Centralverein.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www.yadvashem.org.il/holocaust/documents/16.html (accessed on August 27, 2000).


CHAMBON-SUR-LIGNON. SEE LE CHAMBON-SUR-LIGNON. Chel⁄mno Chel⁄mno (in German, Kulmhof) was an extermination camp (see E X T E R M I N A T I O N C A M P S ) located in the village of Chel⁄ mno, 47 miles (70 kilometers) west of L⁄Ó D Z´ , in German-occupied P O L A N D . Chel⁄mno was the first Nazi camp in which mass executions were carried out by means of gas. It was also the first site for mass killings within the framework of the “F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” outside the area of German occupation in the S OV I E T U N I O N . The camp was destined to serve as a center for the extermination of the Jews in the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto and the entire Warthegau region (of Poland), which had been annexed to G E R M A N Y . A total of 320,000 people were put to death in the Chel⁄mno camp. The camp was set up on two sites, 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) apart: (1) the camp in the Schloss, an old palace inside the village, which served as a reception and extermination center for the victims and as a residence for the camp staff; and (2) the Waldlager, a camp in the adjacent Rzuwowski Forest, in which mass graves and cremation ovens were later found. To administer and operate the camp, a special unit was set up, called S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando) Kulmhof. It was also known as Special Commando Lange and, later, Special Commando Bothmann. The unit was named after its first commandant, Herbert Lange and, from March 1942, Hans B OT H M A N N . Special Commando Kulmhof consisted of members of the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei; called Sipo) and the regular uniformed police (Schutzpolizei). Twenty members of Sipo held central posts in the camp. Around 120 of the regular uniformed police were divided into secondary units. Some of the regular police (the Transportkommando) operated mainly at the nearby Powiercie railway station, which is where most of the victims were brought. This group’s job was to reinforce the German guard that had accompanied the prisoners and to transport the prisoners in trucks to the Schloss camp.


C H E L⁄ M N O

Jewish deportees from the L⁄ódz´ Ghetto on their way to Chel⁄mno are being transferred from a closed passenger train to an open car train at Kol⁄o train station, c. 1942, Kol⁄o, Poland.

Another group (the Schlosskommando) guarded the Schloss camp and participated in the killing process. A third group of regular police (the Waldkommando) operated in the forest camp. It formed two barriers to make sure that no one approached the camp or saw what was happening inside. This unit also supervised the unloading of the victims’ corpses, their burial, and, later, their cremation. Special Commando Kulmhof was directly subject to the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) in B E R L I N . Several Nazi officials in the area were also involved with the affairs of the camp: these included the governor of the Warthegau region—the name by which western Poland was known after it was annexed by Nazi Germany—Arthur Greiser; the S S commander in the ⁄ ódz´ ghetto administration, Hans Warthegau, Wilhelm K O P P E ; and the head of the L B I E B OW . Members of the camp staff received a special increase in their wages. The prisoners were generally brought in freight trains, to the Kol⁄ o junction. From there they were transferred to another train. It ran on a narrow-gauge track that led to the Powiercie station. Sometimes the victims were taken in trucks straight from their homes to Chel⁄mno. The transports were always heavily guarded by German police; a twelve-car train of transports from the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto was accompanied by a special unit consisting of 155 German police. The victims were first assembled in the courtyard. They were reassured that they were being sent to a “work camp” and were to wash while their clothes were being disinfected. They were then taken in groups of 50—men, women, and children together—to the ground floor of the Schloss, where they were told to undress. Here their valuables were collected in baskets that would supposedly be marked with their names. The victims were then taken to the cellar, past signs reading “To the Washroom.” From there they were escorted to an enclosed ramp, made of boards, that slanted downward. At the end of the ramp stood a gas van with its doors open (see G A S C H A M B E R S /V A N S ). The moment the victims entered the ramp, the Germans forced them, with blows, to run toward the bottom and into the van. They had no choice but to enter it.


C H E L⁄ M N O


rom each batch of prisoners who reached Chel⁄mno, a few were

selected to replenish a group of thirty to forty prisoners who were forced to work as gravediggers. These men had

to take the fresh corpses out of the gas vans and bury them in mass graves.

Beginning in December 1941, three gas vans were operated in the Chel⁄ mno camp. They were Renault trucks, two of medium size and one larger. They were hermetically sealed inside and had double back doors. On the outside, they looked like furniture delivery vans. The space within the van was from 13 to 15 feet (4 to 5 meters) long, 6.75 feet (2.2 meters) wide, and 6.5 feet (2 meters) high. Fifty to seventy people were crammed into each van, which was lined inside with galvanized tin. A wooden lattice was laid on the tin floor. Under it, a hole had been drilled and a metal pipe was soldered into the hole. On the outside of the truck, the other end of this pipe was connected to a flexible exhaust pipe. Carbon monoxide was pumped into the van through this pipe. After the van had been filled with people, the driver closed and locked the doors, entered the truck’s cab, and switched on the motor. Within ten minutes, the victims inside suffocated from the gas. Once they were dead, the pipe was detached from its connection with the vehicle, which was driven to the Waldlager camp. Here there were three clearings, separated by avenues of trees, in which four mass graves were located. As of the summer of 1942, there were also two crematoria, 32.5 feet (10 meters) long and 16 to 19 feet (5 to 6 meters) wide. Once the crematoria were built, bodies were burned instead of buried. Until then, though, prisoners were forced to bury bodies daily. At night, the gravediggers were taken back to the Schlosslager and held in a locked room under heavy guard. These prisoners made many attempts to escape, and two of them succeeded: Moroka Podchlebnik and Jacob Grojanowski (this may have been a pseudonym). Grojanowski, who arrived at Chel⁄ mno on January 6, 1942, escaped on January 19. At the end of that month, he managed to reach the W A R S AW ghetto. Once there, he gave very detailed information on what was happening in the camp to a group headed by Emanuel R I N G E L B L U M . Grojanowski’s report was passed on to the Polish underground, which sent it to the Polish government-in-exile. In this way, all the details about the Chel⁄mno camp were known in London by June 1942. The first transports to Chel⁄mno began on December 7, 1941. The camp began to operate on the following day. The first victims were Jews from the communities in the area. The early victims also included 5,000 G Y P S I E S (Romani) who had been imprisoned in a separate section of the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto. ⁄ ódz´ ghetto began. Between In January 1942, the D E P O R TAT I O N S from the L January 16 and 29, 10,003 Jews were taken from the ghetto and killed at Chel⁄mno. From February 22 to April 2, another 34,073 were deported to Chel⁄mno. In May, 11,680 were sent; and in September, 15,859. These numbers included Jews from G E R M A N Y , A U S T R I A , Czechoslovakia, and Luxembourg who had first been relocated to the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto. In addition, 15,000 Jews sent from the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto to forced-labor camps in the Warthegau region—the name by which western Poland was known after it was annexed by Nazi Germany—were put to death. In the course of 1942, Jews from all the other 36 places of Jewish settlement in the Warthegau region were transported to Chel⁄mno for extermination. A few hundred Poles were also sent there, as well as Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R and 88 Czechoslovak children from the village of Lidice. The clothes and other possessions brought by the victims to Chel⁄ mno were shipped to warehouses in the town of Pabianice. These items were then distributed or sold to the German population of the Warthegau. In March 1943, the transports to Chel⁄ mno came to an end, since the entire Jewish population of the Warthegau, except in the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto, had been exterminated. The Nazi authorities dismantled the camp, and the Schloss was demolished.


C H E L⁄ M N O

“This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions”

The camp staff was transferred to Yugoslavia and incorporated into the “Prinz Eugen” Division of the Waffen-SS (the armed forces of the SS), which fought the Yugoslav partisans. In April 1944, in order to facilitate the liquidation of the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto, the Nazis renewed their extermination activities at Chel⁄ mno. Hans Bothmann and other members of Special Command Kulmhof were brought back from Yugoslavia for this purpose. They were joined by new camp staff, including deputy commander Walter Piller. The camp was re-created in the former Waldlager. Two huts were built to receive the victims. There were also two new crematoria. On June 23, 1944, transports to Chel⁄mno from the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto began anew. By July 14, another 7,176 persons had been killed. To speed up the liquidation of the L ⁄ ódz´ ghetto, the Nazis halted the transports to Chel⁄ mno and began to send the ghetto’s surviving residents to A U S C H W I T Z , where the pace of extermination by Z Y K L O N B gas was ten times faster. Special Commando Kulmhof was transferred to L ⁄ ódz´ to assist in the liquidation. In September 1944, the men of Special Commando Kulmhof returned to Chel⁄mno. With another unit, they oversaw the digging up and cremation of the corpses, since a decision had been made to obliterate all signs of the mass murders. The work was done by a group of fifty Jewish prisoners. On the night of January 17, 1945, as the S OV I E T U N I O N army was approaching, the Nazis abandoned Chel⁄mno. As they began executing the forty-eight Jewish prisoners remaining in the camp, the inmates resisted, and three managed to escape. The others were killed. From 1947 to 1950, trials were held in Poland of two staff members of the camp, Walter Piller and Hermann Gielow. Both were sentenced to death. Later, from 1962 to 1965, a trial of twelve of the camp’s staff was held in West Germany.



Three of them were sentenced to thirteen years of imprisonment, and one to seven years. The others received only light punishment.


fter the war, a detailed description of Chel⁄mno, what happened

there, and the daily life of the Nazi staff was given to the American

authorities by Heinrich May, a former Nazi who was a forest inspector in the

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Berland-Hyatt, Felicia B. Close Calls: Memoirs of a Survivor. Washington, DC: Holocaust Library, 1991. “What Was the First Extermination Camp?—FAQs About the Holocaust—Shoah.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/holocaust/faq/gapfaqs.html (accessed on August 22, 2000)

same region.


Choms, Wl⁄adysl⁄awa 1891–1966

Wl⁄adysl⁄awa Choms was a Polish rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust. Choms headed the L V OV branch of Zegota (the Polish Council for Aid to Jews), a Polish underground organization. Before the war, she headed the municipal welfare department in Drogobych, and was active in fighting A N T I S E M I T I S M in Lvov. When the Germans occupied Lvov in June 1941, she became very involved in charitable work on behalf of impoverished Jews. Collecting jewelry and money from wealthy Jews, she created a fund for extending aid to less fortunate Jews. Aid came in various form, including the forging of false documents for Jews living outside the ghetto boundaries and the provision of money, food, and medical care for Jews inside and outside the ghetto. Choms also rescued Jewish children and adults from the ghetto and transferred them to safe shelters in convents and with private families. About sixty Jewish children were under her personal supervision. Sought by the Germans, Choms was constantly on the move, always changing her name and address. In November 1942, while she was supervising a rescue network in Lvov, Choms was elected by the Warsaw-based Zegota to establish and head a local branch in Lvov. Choms was nicknamed the “Angel of Lvov” by her Jewish beneficiaries. She continued her charitable activities until November 1943. When her personal safety was increasingly in danger, she was sent to Warsaw by her underground superiors. After the war, Choms learned that her son, a pilot in the British Royal Air Force, had been shot down and killed in 1941. (Her officer-husband and son had fled to England to enlist in the struggle against Nazi Germany). She was recognized by Yad Vashem as “R I G H T E O U S A M O N G T H E N AT I O N S ”.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Photo Album.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/albums/palbum/p04/a0233p3.html (accessed on August 27, 2000). Tec, Nechama. When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.



Williams, Sara. “Remembering the Women Who Resisted the Third Reich.” Holocaust Remembrance Project. [Online] http://www.hklaw.com/holocaust/essays/1996/962. htm (accessed on August 27, 2000).


Christian Churches Christian-inspired anti-Judaism has historically created great hostility against the Jews. Early Christian theologians labeled the Jews Christ-killers. This and other misleading charges against the Jews became a part of Christian teachings for many centuries. They provided religious “justification” for repeated acts of persecution and violence against Jews. This religion-inspired prejudice led to the social and physical segregation of Jews in ghettos and as minorities throughout the early centuries of Christian Europe. It brought about widespread expulsions of Jews from Christian countries such as Spain and England. It also laid the groundwork for the repressive and often murderous policies of the Catholic Inquisition.

mong the few Christian protests against Adolf Hitler’s

persecution of Jews were the writings of the Protestant theologian Karl Barth and Pope Pius XI’s 1938 statement, “Antisemitism is inadmissible. We are all spiritually Semites.” Antisemitism endured, however, and Christian theology provided no adequate defense against the escalating violence and mass murders of the Holocaust.

In the 1500s, Protestantism was heavily influenced by the rabid anti-Judaism of German Reformation leader Martin Luther. This contributed to frequent persecution of Jews, and their expulsion from German territories and city-states. Some of the followers of French theologian and reformer John Calvin, however, showed more respect for the Jews, as the originators of the sacred scriptures. During the 1700s and 1800s, Western Europeans became more accommodating in their teachings and Christian attitudes toward Jews. But the old religious prejudices remained a powerful part of daily life, especially in Eastern Europe. Other forms of A N T I S E M I T I S M , based on social, economic, racial, or national ideas, began to replace the religious prejudices. The stereotypes of earlier centuries and the religious vocabulary of anti-Judaism became loaded with political and racist connotations. The antisemitic propaganda of the early twentieth century and the formation of openly anti-Jewish political parties in G E R M A N Y , F R A N C E , and A U S T R I A became visible demonstrations of these prejudices. Only a few Christian protests were voiced against the extremism of these racist views.

Roman Catholicism Catholic attitudes toward the Nazi persecution of the Jews were ambivalent throughout the rule of Adolf H I T L E R (1933–1945) in Germany. The Nazi regime signed an agreement with the Vatican—the seat of power of the Catholic church— in July 1933. This was called the Reich Concordat. This agreement limited German Catholic opposition to Hitler’s regime, even when the Nazis’ pursuit of their totalitarian goals led them to break with the Concordat and to persecute the church. Nazi ideology and racism in general were condemned in the papal encyclical “With Burning Concern” (Mit brennender Sorge) of March 1937. Still, German Catholic sympathy for the Jews was evident only in individual cases, notably for converted Catholics of Jewish origin. Opposition was expressed more toward the Nazis’ methods than toward their repressive policies. The attitudes of leading German Catholics were characterized by deep-rooted hostility to Jews, strong expressions of national loyalty, and the desire to protect their own church institutions. These attitudes led to silent submission in the face of the blatant antisemitism of the N U R E M B E R G L AW S of 1935 and the K R I S TA L L NAC H T pogrom of 1938.



A Jewish child in hiding (fifth from left) stands among a group of Polish children dressed up for their First Communion.

In general, the Protestant church was slow to respond to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

The Catholic church’s continued attempts to find common ground with the Nazi regime kept it from making any forcible protests against the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ”— the Nazis’ plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. During the war, the German Catholic bishops took no clear stand in support of the Jews. Reports of violence against Jews, and even mass murders, were disbelieved or were met with indifference. The Catholics did, however, strongly protest the Nazi E U T H A N A S I A P R O G R A M . They also complained about Nazi plans to annul marriages between Christians and Jews. These protests did provide protection for a few people in “mixed” marriages. During the war years, the Vatican’s policy under Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) was to pursue a peaceful settlement by diplomatic means. German bishops were reluctant to challenge the German government; this contributed to the Vatican’s passivity in face of the Nazi crimes. Stronger interventions were made on behalf of the victims of the war where other governments were more open to church pressure, such as in S L OVA K I A , H U N G A RY , and Romania. The Vatican condemned antisemitic laws passed in these countries, protested the deportations of Jews, and demanded that the rights of all Catholics be respected. These efforts helped to save a minority of the Jewish populations in those countries. Direct assistance by the Vatican in obtaining documents for people to emigrate to Catholic countries (in Latin America, for example) was only modestly successful. No efforts were made to work with other relief agencies, either Protestant or Jewish. In I TA LY , a Vatican protest against German deportations of Italian Jews was made only after the first roundup of Jews in Rome in October 1943. Similar interventions in Yugoslavia were limited in their success. Throughout German-occupied Europe, Catholic reactions were highly varied. In Italy, the Vatican and Catholic clergy played a significant role in helping and hiding Italian Jews. In France, long-standing antisemitism and hostility toward the influx of foreign Jews often resulted in indifference to the plight of the Jews. However, many younger French clergy regarded assistance to the Jews as part of their resistance to the Germans. The French Catholic leaders were divided in how to respond. More sympathetic attitudes came about after the first deportations of the Jews in the summer of 1942 and the occupation of southern France in November of that year. Many individual efforts were made to hide Jews, especially children, or to organize escape routes to Spain or Switzerland.



In P O L A N D , the Nazi campaign of terror included measures designed to take advantage of the widespread Catholic dislike of Jews. The Nazis first physically separated the Jews from the general population, then killed them. They also persecuted Catholic clergy and suppressed Catholic organizations. Taken together, these measures limited any public Catholic protest. Still, a number of rescue attempts were made, especially efforts by religious orders to save children. In Slovakia, the Parliament included many members of the clergy and the country’s president, Jozef Tiso, was a priest. Harsh antisemitic measures, including deportations, were approved by the government in 1941 and 1942. Not until later in 1942, under pressure from the Vatican, did Slovak Catholics show more sympathy for the plight of the Jews. In Hungary, widespread indifference marked the stance of the Catholic population, and no public protests from the Catholic hierarchy were issued. Some individuals were helped—mainly Jewish converts to Catholicism. By contrast, in the N E T H E R L A N D S and B E L G I U M , the Catholic clergy took many steps to help Jews. The long centuries of religious antisemitism had taught Catholics contempt for the Jews. Catholics viewed the Jewish people as being outside their circle of obligation. In the face of Nazi persecution and murder, assistance to Jews was prompted more by the dictates of Christian charity than of solidarity. The events of the Holocaust did not lead at the time to any revision of Catholic teachings. But the impact of the Holocaust was to produce major changes in Catholic attitudes toward the Jews from the Second Vatican Council Declaration on the Jews (1965) onward.


he young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was virtually alone

in recognizing Nazi persecution of the Jews as a central issue for Christians. He actively organized efforts to help a limited number of Jews escape into exile and was outspoken about Christianity’s responsibility to stand up against the Nazi regime. He was executed in 1944, charged with conspiring to assassinate Hitler.

Protestantism The main branch of Protestantism to support the Nazi campaign against the Jewish people was the German Christians movement. This group formed the radical wing of German Lutheranism, which supported Hitler personally and was victorious in the church elections of July 1933. However, the German Christians movement lost favor in the wider church, and it did not influence the implementation of the Nazis’ plans. In comparison to the German Christians, the rival Confessing Church rejected all Nazi efforts to control its teachings or to expel converted Jews from church office or membership. Still, leading figures of the Confessing Church, such as Martin Niemöller, exhibited the traditional Lutheran antisemitism, based on religious ideology. Most German Protestants did not challenge the right of the state to enact discriminating laws against the Jews. They also raised no objections to the initial Nazi measures taken against non-Christian Jews, though many shared the widespread public feelings of outrage against the excesses of the Kristallnacht pogrom. Their illusions about the nature of the Nazi regime, as well as their national and political loyalties, meant that protests were made solely in defense of the church’s autonomy, or on behalf of Jewish converts. During the war, these feelings were only heightened. The Confessing Church sponsored the work of Pastor Heinrich Grüber in setting up a relief organization, mainly to promote emigration of Jewish Protestants. This organization was tolerated, if not approved, by the Nazis. But in 1940, the Nazis sent Grüber to a concentration camp (see C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S , and further rescue efforts had to be made in secrecy. In Württemberg, a group of Confessing Church pastors offered sanctuary to Jews. In 1943, the bishop of Württemberg, Theophil Wurm, made a strong if belated series of protests against the mass murders of Jews and others. In particular, he urged the abandonment of plans to deport and murder those Jews who still remained in Germany as partners or children of



Christian Germans. The sense of moral outrage against these annihilations was a factor in the creation of the ill-fated German resistance movement, led mainly by Protestants. Above all, the absence of any widespread public protest against the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” indicated the success of the Nazi attempt to invalidate the Jews as an object of concern for German churches.


The region of France not occupied by Germany and governed from the spa town of Vichy.

The Reformed, or Calvinist, Churches of France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Hungary were more sympathetic to Judaism on religious grounds. In addition, their own history of resisting persecution helped them to identify with the Jewish victims of Nazism. Leading French Protestants objected to the anti-Jewish measures of the Vichy regime of southern France, which collaborated with the Nazis. Relief efforts in C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S , such as G U R S , and escape routes to Spain and Switzerland, were organized by CIMADE (Commission Inter-Mouvements auprès des Evacués), a French Protestant youth movement. Thousands of Jewish refugees were hidden in remote Protestant villages such as L E C H A M B O N - S U R LIGNON. In Switzerland, the Geneva headquarters of the World Council of Churches became a center for relief efforts to help Jews escaping from other parts of Western Europe. The council worked closely with Jewish organizations spread the word about the extent of Nazi atrocities. The Dutch and Danish Protestant churches also assisted in rescue efforts. In Britain, strong leadership was given by the archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, and by Bishop George Bell of Chichester. Both raised public concern for the Jews’ fate and urged the government to allow more refugees to enter the country, whether Christian or not. But the government maintained wartime restrictions on refugees, and it refused to change its policy on immigration into Palestine. Relief efforts were hindered by the failure of the German Protestants to take a stronger stand, and the absence of a well-organized international Protestant agency. Only after 1938 were effective international measures taken, and these were cut short by the outbreak of war the following year. The recognition that Protestant indifference was due largely to prejudicial stereotypes became the chief motivation in the post-war Protestant reassessment of Christian relations with the Jewish people.

After the Holocaust Since the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, Christian churches have become more sensitive to the problem of antisemitism. Modern antisemitism—that is, antisemitism used as a political and ideological tool—has been widely condemned by church assemblies and courts of justice. Since World War II ended, Nazism and political antisemitism have been readily condemned in most Western churches, along with other forms of racial prejudice. There has been no parallel development in the Eastern churches. But there is still little evidence that the churches’ officials and courts have come to terms with Christianity’s contribution to the attempted destruction of the Jews. The greatest progress has been made in local congregations and parishes. Even resolutions against “antisemitism” and “racism” are usually cast in such form as to make it clear that the unpleasant acts were something that was done by other people. Still unthreatened by any deep and insightful repentance, both theological and cultural antisemitism are alive in most of the Christian world—including circles that readily condemn what they call “racial prejudice,” “anti-Judaism,” or “anti-Semitism” (that is, political antisemitism).




SUGGESTED RESOURCES Cornwell, John. Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII. New York: Viking, 1999.

The Cross and the Star: Jews, Christians, and the Holocaust [videorecording]. First-Run Features, 1992. Ericksen, Robert P., ed. Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999. Weisbrod, Robert G. The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust: An Era in Vatican-Jewish Relations. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Weiss, John. Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1996.


Clauberg, Carl (1898–1957)

Carl Clauberg was the infamous SS physician remembered for his experiments in sterilizing Jewish women at the A U S C H W I T Z extermination camp during World War II. Clauberg was born at Wupperhof and served in the infantry during World War I (1914–1918). He later studied medicine at the German universities of Kiel, Hamburg, and Graz, qualifying as a doctor in 1925. He had a successful medical career and in 1937 was appointed professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Königsberg. At the same time he was chief doctor at a women’s clinic in Upper Silesia, and published numerous papers in his specialty. An enthusiastic Nazi, Clauberg joined the party in 1933 and rose to the rank of Brigadeführer (brigadier general) in the SS. The Nazi sterilization program was initiated in 1941, and in 1942 Heinrich H I M M L E R entrusted Clauberg with its experimental implementation at Auschwitz. He had the cooperation of internee doctors there (including the Polish camp doctor, Wl⁄adysl⁄aw Dering, whose experiments were later the subject of a famous libel case in England in 1964). The experiments at Auschwitz lasted until 1944. They involved sterilization by means of injections into the womb, which caused unimaginable suffering to the victims, who were Jewish and Gypsy women. Clauberg conducted similar experiments in the women’s concentration camp of R AV E N S B R Ü C K in 1945. Arrested by the Russians at the end of the war, Clauberg was tried in 1948 for his role in the “mass extermination of Soviet citizens.” He was sentenced to twentyfive years’ imprisonment, but was released in 1955 under the German-Soviet prisoner repatriation agreement. Clauberg showed no regrets for his experiments, and even boasted of his “scientific achievements.” At the initiative of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, an action to prosecute Clauberg was launched in the West German courts. The council accused Clauberg of “having caused severe bodily harm” to Jewish women. The Kiel police put him under arrest, but he died in a hospital shortly before the date of the trial.




SUGGESTED RESOURCES Aly, Gotz. Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine [videorecording]. First-Run Features, 1997.

Cohn, Marianne (1924–1944)

A French Jewish underground activist, Marianne Cohn was born in Mannheim, G E R M A N Y . Cohn was a member of the Eclaireurs Israélites De France (French Jewish Scouts) and in 1942 joined the Mouvement de la Jeunesse Sioniste (Zionist Youth Movement). She belonged to the underground network sponsored by both organizations, which smuggled into Switzerland Jewish children whose parents had been expelled from France. On June 1, 1944, Cohn was seized by a German patrol, together with a group of twenty-eight children, and all were imprisoned in the town of Annemasse. The underground succeeded in establishing contact with Cohn and devised a plan to get her out of jail, but she was not prepared to escape, fearing that the children would suffer if she were to do so. On July 8, two members of the Nazisponsored French militia broke into the prison, took Cohn out, and killed her with an ax. The children were all saved.


Berson, Robin Kadison. Young Heroes in World History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

COMMISSAR ORDER. SEE KOMMISSARBEFEHL. Concentration Camps Concentration camps are camps in which persons are imprisoned without regard to the accepted rules of arrest and detention. Although the term “concentration camp” is sometimes used as a generic term for Nazi camps, not all the camps eventually established by the Nazis were designated as concentration camps. The extensive Nazi camp system also included labor camps, transit camps, prisoner-ofwar (POW) camps, and E X T E R M I NAT I O N CA M P S . This entry focuses on the network of concentration camps. Political adversaries and persons considered socially or racially undesirable were imprisoned in such camps. F O R C E D L A B O R performed by the prisoners became a central element of the imprisonment. During World War II the concentration camps also played a part in the Nazi fight against the resistance movements,



and some camps (such as A U S C H W I T Z and M A J DA N E K ) were centers for the systematic extermination of Jews, G Y P S I E S , Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R (POWs) and other groups in the Reich and the occupied territories.

Main camps in the Third Reich and the Nazi occupied territories.

The history of the concentration camps can be divided into three periods: (1) 1933 to 1936; (2) 1936 to 1942; and (3) 1942 to 1944–1945.

From 1933 to 1936 In the earliest period, the concentration camps were used primarily to incarcerate internal political adversaries. Special places of detention for political prisoners



Concentration camps were an essential part of the Nazi regime of oppression.

were created following the raids that were carried out after the Reichstag (German Parliament building) fire of February 28, 1933, which marked the start of the Nazi dictatorship. Because the Nazi party blamed members of the Communist party for setting the fire that destroyed the Reichstag, the first prisoners to be housed in concentration camps were Communist Party members. They were joined by members of the trade unions and the Social Democratic party after these were outlawed on May 2 and June 21, 1933, respectively. At the end of July, when the first wave of arrests came to an end, a total of 27,000 persons were being held in “protective custody.” To cope with this large number of political detainees, Germany’s police and judicial authorities, as well as the S A (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) and S S , established special detention centers (their precise number cannot be determined). In Prussia alone there were twenty separate detention camps for “preventive protective custody” prisoners. In the spring of 1934 these camps were put under the authority of Heinrich H I M M L E R , who was also in charge of the political police in the various states of the Reich. This meant that the regular police, the courts, and the SA no longer exercised any control over the concentration camp prisoners, who were now under the control of the SS. On July 4, 1934, Himmler appointed Theodor E I C K E , the commandant of the D AC H AU concentration camp, as Inspector of Concentration Camps and SS Guard Units. These guard units became known as SS-D E AT H ’ S -H E A D U N I T S , so-named for the death’s-head symbol they wore on the collar of their uniforms. Eicke determined the prisoners’ daily routine, the methods of punishment, and the duties of the SS guards. He stressed what he considered to be the proper relationship between the guards and the prisoners, calling the latter “the enemy of the people.” Eicke’s system was accepted, with variations, in all the concentration camps, and in the course of time many of his subordinates occupied key positions in the camps. Most of the small “protective custody” camps established in 1933 were now abolished. In September 1935 the official concentration camps were Dachau, Lichtenburg (on the Elbe, in the Prussian province of Saxony), Sachsenburg (in the state of Saxony), Esterwegen (in eastern Friesland, Prussia), and Oranienburg and Columbia Haus (near B E R L I N ). A total of about 6,000 prisoners were held in these camps. Beginning in the autumn of 1933, persons other than “political” prisoners were also put into concentration camps. They included tramps and beggars, who in the Nazi jargon were dubbed “asocial elements,” as well as persons with several previous criminal convictions, the habitual criminals. This reduced the percentage of political prisoners in the camp system to about 75 percent by 1936. At a certain stage, a discussion was held in the Nazi hierarchy on whether the camp system should be continued, in light of the consolidation of the regime. Hitler decided the argument by supporting those who favored the continuation of the camps. The number of detainees fell in 1935 and 1936, but later grew again as new categories of prisoners, such as the asocials, were imprisoned.

From 1936 to 1942 The war preparations and the war itself led to an expansion of the concentration camp system. Except for Dachau, the camps established in the initial period were dissolved or put to other uses, and new and larger concentration camps were set up in their place: S A C H S E N H AU S E N (1936), B U C H E N WA L D (1937), M AU T H AU S E N and Flossenbürg (1938), R AV E N S B R Ü C K , the concentration camp for women (1939), Auschwitz (1940), and N AT Z W E I L E R (1941). In June 1940 N E U E N G A M M E , which until then had been a Sachsenhausen satellite camp, became an independent camp, and in May of 1941 G R O S S -R O S E N became independent as



Entrance to Auschwitz I featured the phrase, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work makes one free).

well. In February 1942, S T U T T H O F , which had been under the authority of the police and SS chief in Danzig, became a regular concentration camp. At the beginning of the second period, the Dachau camp’s capacity was enlarged to accommodate six thousand prisoners. In addition to these detention installations, which were officially designated as concentration camps, there were also hard-labor and “reeducation” camps, run by the Security Police (also called Sipo), the Ministry of Justice, and even private enterprises. Late in 1941 C H E L⁄ M N O began operating as an extermination camp, and in the spring of 1942 the extermination camps T R E B L I N K A , S O B I B Ó R , and B E L⁄ Z˙ E C were established as part of A K T I O N (O P E R AT I O N ) R E I N H A R D . AuschwitzBirkenau (Auschwitz II) and M A J DA N E K , which were existing concentration camps, had extermination centers established within them as well. These sites became the main places in which the Jews of Europe were killed. Chel⁄mno and the three Aktion (Operation) Reinhard camps were not part of the concentration camp system, whereas Auschwitz and Majdanek were both concentration camps and extermination centers. All the prisoners who were not killed immediately upon arrival in these two camps were considered concentration camp inmates.

Once liberated, many former prisoners were unable to free themselves from the anguish of their experience in the concentration camps.

In June 1936 Himmler assumed the newly created position of Reich Leader of the SS and Chief of the German Police. Three years later, in October 1939, the criminal police and the political police (the G E S TA P O , which was responsible—among other things—for making arrests and transferring concentration camp prisoners) were both incorporated into the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). In his capacity as chief of the German police, Himmler was able to increase the number of nonpolitical prisoners incarcerated in concentration camps, especially habitual criminals, tramps, beggars, and Gypsies, and also homosexuals (see H OMOSEXUALITY IN THE T HIRD R EICH ) and convicted prostitutes. In taking charge of nonpolitical prisoners in such large numbers, the SS chiefs also had economic considerations in mind. The implementation of the Four-Year Plan, the objective of which was to prepare the army and the economy for war, led to a labor shortage especially in the area of construction. For this reason the SS sought to exploit the concentration camp prisoners for military and civil construc-



tion projects, and thereby to reinforce its own standing. Camps that were established in 1937 or later had a quarry or brickyard near them, where the prisoners were put to work. The SS also set up its own factories for this purpose. Beginning in the summer of 1938, and reaching a peak in the wake of the K R I S TA L L N A C H T pogrom, Jews were interned in the camps solely because they were Jews. The rise in the number of nonpolitical prisoners, and the intensified level of persecution during the period of war preparations led to a constant increase in the number of concentration camp prisoners during the second period. When the war broke out there were about 25,000 prisoners in the camps; thereafter, there was a steep rise in their number, far exceeding the camps’ capacity. At the end of 1941 the concentration camps contained some 60,000 prisoners. In the wake of the Anschluss in March 1938—the annexation of A U S T R I A to G E R M A N Y —prisoners from Austria, and later from the annexed areas of Czechoslovakia, were sent to the concentration camps. Prisoners from all the occupied countries followed, although the great majority were from P O L A N D . These were primarily political and Jewish prisoners. However, the raids against actual or presumed resistance fighters (especially in Poland) were so sweeping that all segments of the population were affected. With the expansion of the war into the S OV I E T U N I O N , the concentration camp population was swelled by Russian POWs. Most of them were soon killed in the K O M M I S S A R B E F E H L (Commissar Order) extermination operations, for which special arrangements were made for carrying out prisoner executions. By the spring of 1942, in Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen alone, about 21,500 Soviet POWs had been shot to death. In the meantime a small gas chamber had been built in Auschwitz I (the main Auschwitz camp), and experiments with Z Y K L O N B gas were carried out in it. Some 600 Soviet POWs and 250 other prisoners were killed during the course of these experiments. All told, by May 1942 approximately 15,000 additional Soviet POWs had died in Auschwitz and in the SS POW camp at L U B L I N ; some were shot to death, while others perished from the intolerable conditions.

From 1942 to 1944–1945 In the third period, concentration camp prisoners were systematically drafted for work in the armaments industry. The Germans suffered great losses in the fighting, especially on the eastern front, which forced the Nazi leadership to draft growing numbers of Germans from the labor force into the army. Their places were mostly taken by F O R C E D L A B O R from the occupied territories and, to a lesser degree, concentration camp prisoners. Previously, forced labor in the concentration camps had been a method of punishment and persecution intended to humiliate the prisoners and lead to their deaths through overwork. Now, concentration camp prisoners were to be put at the disposal of state-owned and private companies that needed manpower for arms production. The newly created SS E C O N O M I C -A D M I N I S T R AT I V E M A I N O F F I C E (WVHA) established a large number of satellite camps in the vicinity of industrial plants, which were put under the control of the existing main camps. The reorganization of the armaments industry by Minister of Armaments Albert Speer also led to a corresponding change in the SS structure. Its two central departments, Budget and Construction and Administration and Economy were merged into the WVHA, with Oswald P O H L in charge. The oversight of concentration camps was also taken over by this office as its Section D, headed by Richard Glücks. Section D was largely independent of the WVHA.



CONCENTRATION CAMP EXISTENCE From having an identification number tattooed on one's arm upon arrival, as was the practice in Auschwitz, to sleeping in barracks filled to overflowing, which was common in many camps, life in a Nazi concentration camp was designed to be difficult and demoralizing. Jews and other prisoners were required to stand at roll calls that could last for hours. Survivors of most camps recall long days at hard labor, but in some locations and at some times, there was no work to do. Prisoners were required to stand all day long, doing nothing, unable to sit, walk, or return to their barracks. In A Time to Speak, Auschwitz survivor Helen Lewis tells how she and other prisoners “evolved a system of squatting down when and where we could, while some of us acted as lookouts.” Sometimes camp guards invented meaningless work for inmates to do, such as transferring rocks from one place to another by hand, and then moving them all back again. The smallest infraction of the rules could earn a beating—or death. Concentration camp inmates lived under the constant shadow of unpredictability.

In the third period the SS did not establish any additional central concentration camps. However a number of existing camps that had not yet been under the control of the concentration camp inspectorate were taken over and run as such. These included the small Niederhagen camp, whose inmates were drafted to enlarge the Wewelsburg assembly site for the SS elite; the Vught and P L⁄ A S Z Ö W camps; the Kaiserwald camp; Majdanek, which had previously been the SS POW camp in Lublin; and the B E R G E N -B E L S E N camp for Jewish internees. In October 1944 Dora, which had been a Buchenwald satellite camp, became an independent camp, D O R A M I T T E L B AU (Nordhausen). The prisoners in Dora were employed in the production of V-2 rockets. In the meantime, the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps were integrated, in 1942, into the systematic extermination of Jews. The SS oversaw the installation of gas chambers there, and most of the Jews deported to these camps were killed on arrival, especially children, women, the old, and the weak. Entire communities of Jews were brought to Auschwitz: from the N E T H E R L A N D S in 1942 and 1943, from S L OVA K I A between 1942 and 1944, from Greece in 1943, and from Hungary and various parts of Poland, Germany, F R A N C E , B E L G I U M , and other countries in 1944. In Auschwitz the Jews were sent to the new section, Birkenau, which originally had been planned to house Soviet POWs; a large area there was used for female prisoners. Only a few of the other concentration camps had gas chambers installed in them. These were used for a limited time only and on a much smaller scale than in Auschwitz and Majdanek. By far, most of the prisoners in the third period were Jews, Poles, and Soviets. A large proportion of the Soviets had first been drafted as forced foreign laborers (see F O R C E D L A B O R ). Their presence in the concentration camps was a punishment for violating the exceptionally harsh rules that were applied to the workers from the east. Next, by number, were the French, the Italians (after Italy’s surrender), and the Yugoslavs. In the fall of 1944, as the war fronts were drawing near, the camps were gradually closed and the prisoners sent on long D E AT H M A R C H E S to other camps still in existence.




Living conditions in the concentration camps varied greatly among the camps and from one period to another.

In the first period, prisoners were rarely incarcerated longer than a year, and the housing, food, and working conditions were tolerable, compared to the later years. The deaths that occurred were usually the result of deliberate maltreatment, or of SS and SA men shooting to death prisoners against whom they had a personal grudge. In the second period the mortality rate rose as a result of maltreatment, the kinds of work the prisoners were assigned, the more primitive working conditions that prevailed, and the physical exertion called for in the quarries, as well as undernourishment and overcrowding in the barracks. Most of the victims were Poles, Russians, and Jews, but the so-called Spanish fighters—men who had fought on the republican side in the Spanish Civil War—also had only a very slight chance of surviving between 1940 and 1942, especially in Mauthausen. Up to the outbreak of the war in September 1939 the best conditions (relatively speaking) were found in Dachau; the worst in Mauthausen. Between October 27, 1939, and February 18, 1940, Dachau was cleared of prisoners and served as a training camp for the Waffen-SS—the military branch of the SS. After that it took in chiefly prisoners from other camps who were in poor physical condition, and as a result the mortality rate rose rapidly there too. In 1943 living conditions for most concentration camp prisoners improved slightly, despite the large new intake, and the differences among the camps were less pronounced. The demands of the armaments industry and the wish to exploit the labor potential of the prisoners more rationally forced the SS, and the companies involved, to improve their treatment of the prisoners and provide them with adequate nourishment. Such improvement, however, applied only to places where the prisoners’ work required technical knowledge and skill; in the construction projects—of which there were many—the general decrease in the mortality rate was not felt. In Auschwitz and Majdanek, the decrease did not apply to every sector: at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which contained the Jewish prisoners, the mortality rate remained at an extremely high level, whereas in the Auschwitz camp as a whole it decreased from 15 percent in March 1943 to 3 percent in August. As the camps were liquidated in anticipation of a Nazi defeat, however, the rate rose again, to unbelievable heights. Historians can only estimate the total number of people who perished in the concentration camps, not including those sent directly to extermination centers. Existing documentation accounts for more than 450,000, but the real number may be assumed to have been from 700,000 to 800,000. Eugen Kogon’s estimate (in The Theory and Practice of Hell) of 1.2 million seems too high. On the other hand, his figure for the total number of concentration camp prisoners, 1.6 million, appears reliable. As far as is known, the highest total number of prisoners held at any given time was 714,211, the figure registered by the SS in January 1945.

Camp Routine The prisoners had little choice in their daily life. The SS dictated the day’s course of events, down to the smallest detail. Violations of orders in the camp were severely punished—by flogging, solitary confinement, withholding food rations, and so forth. Some prisoners were assigned positions supervising their fellow inmates and working in the camp administration, as room, block, and camp “elders” and as “kapos” (see K A P O ), who were in charge of work crews. Prisoners also worked in the camp kitchen, in the hospital, and in the office. The way these prisoners carried out their jobs was of great importance for the prison population as a whole.



Some were just as brutal as the SS and exploited their positions for their own benefit only. Others made efforts to mitigate the SS terror regime and to protect prisoners who were in danger. The prisoners were categorized by the SS according to their national origin and the grounds for which they had been put into the concentration camps. Each category had its own conditions of imprisonment, which in turn affected the chances of survival. The different categories were identified by the color of the badges worn by the prisoners on their clothes. The prisoners—especially the “politicals” (the “reds”) and the criminals (the “greens”)—competed with one another for the assignments that carried influence. As a rule, German prisoners held the top posts; in Auschwitz, the Polish prisoners also played an important role. Soviet prisoners and Jews (irrespective of their nationality) had very little chance of obtaining any appointment. The criteria applied by the SS to the different categories were determined by its racist ideology.

Composition of Prisoners In the first period the composition of the prison population was relatively homogeneous; most were anti-Nazis. It was therefore much easier for prisoners at that time to establish solidarity among themselves than in the following years. In the second period, the struggle for survival encouraged the emergence of cliques, who cheated and fought one another in efforts to obtain a share of the little food and inadequate accommodation available. On the other hand, there were also illegal groups of prisoners who organized mutual help; the first to do so were the German Communists in the camps. These illegal groups exercised more influence in the third period, during which living conditions in the camps underwent temporary improvement. They managed to smuggle their members into important assignments and into the camp administration. Other groups, especially those made up of Soviet POWs, engaged in sabotage in the arms factories. In some camps, underground “international” prisoners’ committees were set up; they made it their task to prepare for their self-liberation when the front line came closer.

The fate of the prisoners depended to a large extent on their practical skills, ideological views, and past social ties.

Most of the newly arrived prisoners had to fend for themselves. They could expect harsh punishment and maltreatment from the SS if they committed an error. Only in rare instances was it possible for the other prisoners to help the new arrivals, or even to sympathize with them. There was also a certain understandable tension between newcomers and old-timers familiar with the conditions, who had undergone a long period of adaptation and survival to attain a certain status in the camp. For the new prisoner the first shock was usually his (or her) total humiliation as a human being: prisoners relinquished all personal possessions, their hair was shorn, and they were given identification numbers in place of their names. At Auschwitz, this was tattooed permanently on their arms. This enormous psychological burden, added to the strenuous physical labor, the terrible living conditions, and the brutality of those in charge, made the danger to one’s life greatest in the first few months, when many perished. However, if a prisoner had skills that could be put to practical use and was therefore attached to a work gang with a relatively easy assignment, or if that prisoner belonged to a social or ideological group that kept together in the camp (such as the Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the conservative national resistance groups among the Polish prisoners), he or she might find protection, escape harassment, and learn basic camp protocol from experienced prisoners. Some camps, such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Stutthof, contained separate sections for women, and Ravensbrück was entirely a women’s camp. The humiliation,



loss of personal identity, absence of the most elementary sanitary conditions and of any privacy, and the cutting off of their hair had an especially damaging effect on the women prisoners, which led to a high rate of collapse and death among them. Sometimes there were children and youth in the camps. Their distress was especially intense, but often the hardest and most veteran prisoners took pity on them and tried to protect them.

From the very beginning, the treatment meted out to Jews was worse than that given other prisoners.

Jews in the Camps There were also tensions between the different ethnic groups, with Jews at the bottom of the ladder. During the first period the Jews were a relatively small group in the camps. In Dachau, for example, only 10 percent of the prisoners were Jews. Most of them belonged to the outlawed organizations of the labor movement or had been taken into “protective custody” because of their political activities. This situation changed in the second period, and as a result of the raids against “asocial” elements ordered by Himmler in 1936, as many as one-third of the persons taken to the camps were Jews. This was one of a series of intensified anti-Jewish measures introduced that year, resulting in a rapid deterioration of the situation of the Jews in Germany. Beginning with Dachau, the number of Jews in the concentration camps rose to between 15 percent and 20 percent of the camp population. A new height was reached in the wake of the November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht pogrom, when within a few days 36,000 Jews were detained in the Reich (including Austria). Of these, 11,000 were taken to Dachau, between 10,000 and 12,000 to Buchenwald, and about 6,000 to Sachsenhausen, creating catastrophic congestion in these camps. No single group endured such sufferings in the pre-war period as did the Jews on that occasion. As early as 1933, the Jewish share in the prisoners’ mortality rate at Dachau was disproportionately large. In the second period, conditions in the camps for Jewish prisoners deteriorated drastically. Following the mass influx of Jews in November 1938, the overall mortality in all the concentration camps multiplied rapidly, and most of the victims were Jews. The SS exploited the terrible conditions in the camps to force the Jews to emigrate from Germany. As a rule, at that time any Jewish prisoner who could produce an emigration visa was set free, and by the spring of 1939 most of the Jews who had been brought to the camps in November 1938 had been released. Once the war broke out, Jews taken to concentration camps had little chance of survival. The groups of Polish Jews imprisoned in Buchenwald and in Mauthausen were nearly all annihilated within a few months. In the fall of 1941, when a medical commission carried out a selection of certain categories of prisoners in the camps, weeding out the feeble, the sick, and the “politicals” (whom the SS particularly disliked) to send them to gas chambers under the E UTHANASIA P ROGRAM , the percentage of Jewish prisoners among those selected was extremely high. In the conditions prevailing during the second period, Jewish prisoners were rarely able to form groups of their own. Many, especially the German Jews, had the word Jude stamped on their clothes by the SS. For the individual Jewish prisoner this mark of identification had a variety of social and ideological meanings: some of the Jews among the prisoners were Social Democrats or Communists who had abandoned their Jewish religious practice and faith; others had been close to traditional right-wing parties and were rooted in national bourgeois ideology; still others were strictly Orthodox Jews. Even before the arrival of the Polish Jews, the German Jewish prisoners had a varied social background. This was now reinforced by the “national” differences between the two communities, the Polish and the German. At first the strongest



Prisoners of Auschwitz greet their Russian liberators in January 1945.

bond between them was the persecution from which they all suffered. The perilous conditions of life and the careful watch the SS kept over the Jewish prisoners during the second period as a rule precluded the emergence among the Jews of the kind of group cooperation and core associations that the “politicals” and the “criminals” had managed to create. Nevertheless, in some of the concentration camps, and also in Auschwitz, illegal Jewish groups engaged in mutual assistance and in activities of a political nature. Even among the S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando) prisoners in Birkenau, who were part of the concentration camp but worked in the extermination center, an underground group was organized, and in October 1944 a revolt broke out in the camp. In the third period, the deportation of the Jews from the Reich to ghettos and camps in the east also had consequences for the Jews in the concentration camps in Germany. An order issued by the WVHA on October 5, 1942, called for all the concentration camps on the soil of the Reich to be made judenfrei (“free of Jews”). The Jewish prisoners were deported mostly to Auschwitz and Lublin (Majdanek), where they suffered the same fate as the other Jews sent to those camps. It was not until 1944 that some of Hungary’s deported Jews, instead of being sent to extermination camps, were put on a march to the Reich for forced labor there. The majority of them were caught up in the chaos of the evacuation marches. Once liberated, many former prisoners were unable to free themselves from the anguish of their experience in the concentration camps. Months, and often years later, they still felt the detrimental effects on their mental and physical health, which in some cases was irreparably damaged. Among the symptoms were a frequent inability to establish close contact with others, to hold a regular job, or to sustain a marital and family relationship, in addition to sleep disorders, anxiety attacks, body tremors, and gastritis. Some of the more typical of these symptoms have been described in the medical literature as the “concentration camp syndrome,” although its precise manifestations and frequency of occurrence remain in dispute.



Effects of the Camps Research on the effects of imprisonment in concentration camps—some of it based on personal experience—has often taken the form of psychoanalytical studies. These seek to analyze the behavior of concentration camp inmates and to explain such phenomena as the formation of groups and the rivalry among them, emotional insensitivity, and the adoption of patterns of behavior that might aid in survival. Best known is The Informed Heart, by Bruno Bettelheim, who maintains that the prisoners adopted the standards of the SS, or at least had to build up a kind of schizophrenic conscience in themselves. While the rules laid down by the SS in the camps had to be observed by the prisoners to ensure their survival, there always existed groups of prisoners who adhered to their own set of standards and behaved accordingly. They often had to restrict such behavior to underground and “illegal” activities, with the result that not all their fellow prisoners were aware that such standards of behavior did indeed exist in the camps.

SEE ALSO MUSELMANN; SURVIVORS, PSYCHOLOGY OF. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Byers, Ann. The Holocaust Camps. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1998. Gilbert, Martin. The Boys: The Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors. New York: Henry Holt, 1997. Lace, William W. The Death Camps. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1998. Langbein, Hermann. Against All Hope: Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps, 1938–1945. New York: Paragon House, 1994.

The Nazis, a Warning from History [videorecording]. A&E Home Video, 1999. “Shadow of Fear: Concentration Camps.” ChannelOne.com. [Online] http://www. channelone.com/news/special⁄nazis/camps.html (accessed on August 27, 2000). Spielberg, Steven. The Last Days. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

CONFERENCES. SEE EVIAN CONFERENCE; WANNSEE CONFERENCE. CRACOW. SEE KRAKÓW. Crimes Against Humanity The major war criminals of the European Axis countries (including Germany, Italy, and Hungary) were charged with offenses in three categories of crimes: crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The main prosecuting entity was the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which conducted the Nuremberg Trials.

Three Categories of Crimes “Crimes against peace” is a category that includes not only the initiation and conduct of war, but also acts committed in times of peace, such as planning and preparation of aggression. Among the offenses defined as “war crimes” were violations of the laws or customs of war, such as murder, ill-treatment, deportation, forced labor, or wanton



These prisoners, standing in the forest handcuffed to each other, are about to be executed by German guards. Buchenwald, Germany.

destruction not justified by military necessity. The IMT found that such acts, including also ill-treatment of civilian populations and prisoners of war, had been committed by Adolf H I T L E R and his cohorts in total disregard of the fundamental principles of international law, and had been based instead on cold-blooded, criminal considerations. The IMT therefore decided to deal with the entire category of war crimes in great detail and to determine the individual defendants’ guilt for such crimes. Included in the tribunal’s deliberations were acts of murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and civilian populations, especially the persecution of Jews. “Crimes against humanity” were defined as applying to acts against any civilian population—including the population of the country that commits the acts, and commits them on its own soil—at any time, in times of peace as well as in times of war. Acts of persecution toward Jews and others were included in “crimes against humanity,” even if they were committed before the war but were connected to preparations for the war. Article 6(c) of the IMT charter defines crimes against humanity as “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecution on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.” Therefore, the IMT was empowered to try crimes against humanity only if they were perpetrated in the execution of or in connection with war crimes or crimes against peace. Some of the acts defined as war crimes—such as murder, ill-treatment, and deportation—were also defined as crimes against humanity. These acts, however, were deemed war crimes only when they were a violation of the laws and customs of war, affecting the rights of fighting forces and the civilian population in occupied territory or in the course of warlike actions.



Distinguishing Characteristics of Crimes Against Humanity Certain features distinguish crimes against humanity from other crimes. They include the extraordinary brutality and diversity of means that the Nazis used to commit these crimes, the unprecedented policy of persecution and extermination on which they were based, and the fact that while initially they were related to a policy of aggression, they exceeded by far the definition of war crimes in the traditional sense. The victims of the Nazi crimes against humanity included populations for which the laws and customs of war provide no protection—such as nationals of neutral countries, stateless persons, nationals of countries that were partners in the Axis, and, of course, nationals of Germany itself. Above all, most of the victims of the Nazi crimes against humanity were Jews, who, prior to the Nuremberg Trial, were not deemed to have protection based on international law. Every crime is an offense not only against the victim, but also against the established order of the country in which it takes place—the country as a social organization that includes all its citizens, irrespective of color, political views, and origin. Similarly, every international crime, especially when it is a crime against humanity, is an attack on the international community as a whole, threatening the safeguards of its peace, and indeed its very existence. Nevertheless, what distinguishes crimes against humanity from the other categories of crimes is their “inhumanity,” rather than the injury they inflict upon “humanity” as a worldwide community. This was why they were designated as crimes against “humanity” in the abstract sense of the term. However, acts defined as crimes against peace or war crimes can also be regarded as crimes against humanity, since the planning and carrying out of aggression prepares the conditions for inhumane offenses against human rights.


he victims of the Nazi crimes against humanity included

populations for which the laws and

customs of war provide no protection: nationals of neutral countries, stateless persons, and nationals of Germany itself. Above all, most of the victims were Jews, who, prior to the Nuremberg Trial, were not deemed to have protection based on international law.

Principles of International Law The dictates of human conscience have long been regarded as one source of international law. Thus, the Petersburg Declaration of 1868 stated that the dictates of humanity must take precedence over the needs of war; and the fourth Hague Convention (1907) specified that in situations not specifically provided for in the convention, the civilian population and the fighting forces would also be protected by the principles of humanity and the dictates of society’s conscience. This principle has since been reconfirmed time and again in various international treaties and conventions, such as the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1977 Supplementary Protocols. The IMT extended this principle to apply also to criminal acts that are not war crimes, in order to provide protection to every civilian population and to all individuals, irrespective of their nationality and their country’s policy and laws. Evidently, the principle is valid under all circumstances and takes precedence over every national law and every bilateral or multilateral international agreement. It is a universal and cogent principle, which is not subject to challenge and cannot be deviated from by unilateral decision. It can be changed or replaced only by a humanitarian principle that is of an even higher order (as stated in the 1969 Vienna Convention on Treaties). This means that, in formal terms, the definition of inhumane acts as being criminal in nature does not depend on the legal system or established policy of the country in which such acts occur.

Challenges to the Principle of Crimes against Humanity Some critics discount these aspects of crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. They have therefore challenged the justice and the very nature of the



Nuremberg Trial because it included these categories in the stated principles upon which it based the indictment. They argue that such acts were political acts, for which those who committed them cannot be held accountable, as heads of sovereign entities who were not subject to any other entity or to any law other than a law declared as valid by their own state. It is true that in a certain respect the crimes defined by the IMT charter are of a political character, since their planning, preparation, and execution were possible only in the framework of operations, guidelines, initiatives, and decrees emanating from and authorized by the political administration of a state. This, however, is no reason to treat the persons responsible for these crimes as political criminals in the accepted sense of that term, since their acts were linked to the theory of R AC I S M and to other inhumane concepts that have no precedent in the annals of mankind.

The dictates of human conscience have long been regarded as one source of international law.

One restriction that the IMT charter did impose was that in order for crimes against humanity to be tried, they had to be related to war crimes or crimes against peace, either as side effects of such crimes or in support of them. Many legal experts and human-rights activists seek to abolish this restrictive condition in the codification of international criminal law. They point out that while this condition applied to those tried at the Nuremberg Trial and the Tokyo trial of major Japanese war criminals, it should not be applicable to other criminals charged with crimes against humanity. Consequently their prosecution should not be linked to war crimes or crimes against peace. In most of the trials the Allies held in their zones of occupation in Germany, the judges generally held defendants responsible for crimes against humanity only when the acts were committed in the preparation of aggression or in violation of the laws and customs of war. This was so in the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings, held by the Americans, in which the Nuremberg Military Tribunals tried Nazi judges, industrialists, and O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen) personnel, among others. Those who call for the complete separation of the concept of crimes against humanity from war crimes and crimes against peace seek to endow this concept with the status of a human-rights principle that would protect all human beings at all times and under all conditions, completely independent of warlike events.

SEE ALSO BARBIE TRIAL; TRIALS OF THE WAR CRIMINALS. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Finkielkraut, Alain. Remembering in Vain: The Klaus Barbie Trial and Crimes Against Humanity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Judgment at Nuremberg [videorecording]. MGM/UA Home Video, 1989. Stave, Bruce M. Witnesses to Nuremberg: An Oral History of American Participants at the War Crimes Trials. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998. Taylor, Telford. The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Trial of Adolf Eichmann and Hitler and the Nuremberg Trials [videorecording]. Columbia Tristar, 1996.

Croatia During World War II, Croatia (Nezavisna Drzˇ ava Hrvatska, or Independent State of Croatia; NDH), was a state in Y U G O S L AV I A between April 1941 and May



Croatia, 1941–1945.

1945. Its capital was Zagreb. The state had a population of 6.3 million people, of whom 3.3 million were Catholic Croats, 1.9 million Orthodox Serbs, and 700,000 Muslim Croats. There were 170,000 Germans, 75,000 Hungarians, 40,000 Jews, 30,000 Romani (G Y P S I E S ), and 100,000 members of other minorities.

Serbian Minority Croatia was a “puppet state” created by the Germans and the Italians on April 10, 1941, as part of their plan to take dismantle Yugoslavia. Ante Pavelic´, the leader of the Ustasˇ a movement, was made head of state. Ustasˇ a was a secessionist movement; it wanted Croatia to be independent. Shortly after taking control, the Ustasˇa, with the support of many Croatians, started what it called “the purge of Croatia from foreign elements.” The main purpose was the elimination of the Serbian minority. In a brutal terror campaign, more than half a million Serbs were killed. A quarter-million were expelled from Croatia, and 200,000 were forced to convert to Catholicism. The drive in the summer of 1941 to exterminate and dispossess the Serbs was one of the most horrendous episodes of World War II. The murder methods applied by the Ustasˇa were extraordinarily primitive and sadistic. Thousands of people were hurled from mountaintops; others were beaten to death or had their throats cut. Entire villages were burned down. Women were raped, and people were sent on D E AT H M A R C H E S in the middle of winter. Still others starved to death.



Jews The Jews of Croatia lived mainly in the larger cities. In Zagreb, there were about 11,000 Jews. In Sarajevo, there were 10,000; in Osijek, 3,000; and in Bjelovar, 3,000. The NDH regime categorized the Jews as one of the “foreign elements” that had to be purged, and the Ustasˇa’s German supporters encouraged the persecution of Jews. In pursuing this course, the Ustasˇa wanted both to please the Germans and to acquire the Jews’ property—its motivation was not ideological A N T I S E M I T I S M .

Anti-Jewish Legislation Just a few days after taking control of Croatia, the Ustasˇa enacted anti-Jewish laws. Most of them were based on the precedents set in Nazi G E R M A N Y , the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , and S L OVA K I A . These were racial statutes on the model of the N U R E M B E R G L AW S . The statutes defined who was a Jew and stripped the Jews of their civil rights. Most of the laws dealt with economic affairs. Jewish-owned businesses and real estate were “nationalized”—taken over by the government. Jewish civil servants were dismissed from their jobs, and Jewish professionals such as lawyers and doctors were prohibited from dealing with non-Jewish clients. Collective fines, which had to be paid in gold or its equivalent, were imposed on the Jewish communities. Before long, the Jews were the victims of an unbridled, country-wide campaign of plunder and pillage. Everyone who stood to profit took part—trade unions, youth organizations, sports clubs, the armed forces, and government officials of all ranks. Ordinary citizens also took part in this campaign wherever they could. In fact, at least half of the Jews’ property apparently never reached the state treasury but remained in the hands of individual Croatians.


ost of the Jews of Croatia belonged to the middle class.

They were civil servants, merchants, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers. Croatian Jews had their own school networks, weekly newspapers, welfare organizations, and youth groups.

In the first few months of Ustasˇa rule, other laws were passed, mostly by local authorities, designed to restrict the Jews’ freedom of movement and the places where they could live. In May 1941, the Jews had to begin wearing the yellow badge (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ) with the letter Zˇ (from Zˇidov, “Jew”) prominently displayed on it.

Roundup, Incarceration, and Murder The first arrests made among the Jews were meant to prevent the rise of any anti-government organizations. Among those arrested were 100 Jewish youngsters who had been active in Zionist youth movements in Zagreb, as well as the Jewish lawyers in that city. Both groups were taken to C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S , where most of them were killed. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the situation of the Jews worsened further. On June 26, Ante Pavelic´ issued a decree that set off a mass arrest of Jews. The onslaught on the Jews of Zagreb had begun a few days earlier, on June 22. By the end of the month, several hundred Jewish families had been seized and, for the most part, put into the Pag and Jadovno concentration camps. In July, smaller communities were targets of the violence. This was followed, at the beginning of August, by a drive against the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the first stage, those living in small towns were arrested. At the end of the month, the Jews of Sarajevo were the targets. The roundup of the Jews took longer than expected and was completed only in November 1941. The concentration camp of Jasenovac was constructed in August 1941; after its completion most Jews were sent there.



As long as the Croatians continued to kill Jews, the Germans did not interfere.

By the end of 1941, two-thirds of Croatian Jewry had been taken to Croatian concentration camps. Most were killed immediately upon arrival or soon after. The only Jews not yet been imprisoned were regarded as essential to the state’s economy, were married to non-Jews, or had personal ties to members of the ruling clique. Some Jews also managed to flee to the Italian zone of occupation. In an interview with a German newspaper at the end of the summer of 1941, Pavelic´ declared: “The Jews will be liquidated within a very short time.”

German Role in Deportation and Extermination Croatian Jews, for the most part, were murdered by fellow Croatians, but there is no doubt about the role played by the Germans. From the beginning of Ustasˇ a rule, the Germans supervised the “solution of the Jewish question.” For example, the German ambassador in Zagreb—Siegfried Kasche, a zealous antisemite—pressured the Croatian leaders to lose no time in killing all the Jews in the country. He urged his colleagues in Berlin to make sure that the Jews in the Italian-occupied zone were seized and subjected to the same fate as Jews in the other parts of Croatia. German involvement grew at the beginning of 1942, when it looked like the Croatians might call a halt to the killing. At the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E of January 20, 1942, the Germans proposed to the Croatians that they transfer the Jews of Croatia to Eastern Europe. In the spring of 1942, the Croatians agreed to arrest the Jews, take them to the railways, and pay the Germans for the cost of transporting the prisoners to the E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S in the East. In return, the Germans agreed that the property of the Jewish victims would go to the Croatian government. A Nazi official was sent to Zagreb to take charge of the deportation. Between August 13 and 20, 1942, five trains left Croatia for A U S C H W I T Z with 5,500 Jews aboard. Half were from the Tenje concentration camp; the rest were from the Loborgrad camp and from Zagreb and Sarajevo. In two trains on May 5 and 10, 1943, a group of 1,150 Jews was deported to Auschwitz, including the leaders of the Zagreb and Osijek Jewish communities. Of the thousands of Croatian Jews who were deported to Auschwitz, only a few dozen survived.

Italian Protection Most of the Croatian Jews who survived owed their lives to the Italians. In their zone of occupation (the Dalmatian coast, Albania, and Montenegro), the Italians resolutely protected the Jews. Some 5,000 Jews were saved by the Italians in Yugoslavia. In the summer of 1943, all the Jewish refugees in Dalmatia were put into a camp in Rab. Following Italy’s surrender in September 1943, the area was liberated by PA R T I S A N S , and most of the Jews were moved to liberated areas in the center of the country. Those who were fit to perform military service joined the partisan army, while the others were protected by the fighting forces.

Catholic Church Between the two world wars, the Catholic Church in Croatia had been a staunch supporter of Croatian nationalism. The Vatican had always supported the stand of the Croatian Church and had encouraged Croatian separatism. The Ustasˇ a extermination drive against Serbs, Jews, and G Y P S I E S (Romani) presented the Church with a dilemma. Many Catholic priests, mainly of the lower



rank, took an active part in the murder operations. Generally speaking, the reaction of the Catholic Church was a function of military and political developments affecting Croatia. When the NDH regime was weakening and the war was drawing to an end, protests by the Church against Ustasˇa crimes became more and more outspoken. This was not the case in the earlier stages. The Vatican followed a similar line. In the early stage, the Croatian massacres were explained in Rome as “teething troubles of a new regime” (the expression of Monsignor Domenico Tardini of the Vatican state secretariat). When the course of the war was changing, the leaders of the Catholic Church began to criticize the Ustasˇa, but in mild terms. It was only at the end, when Allied victory was assured, that Vatican spokesmen came out with clear denunciations. In some instances, Croatian clergy did help Jews. Their main effort was to save the lives of the Jewish partners in mixed marriages, and most of these did in fact survive. The Church also helped the Zagreb Jewish community provide food, medicines, and clothing for Jews in the concentration camps.

Communities Jewish communities in Croatia were severely restricted in their activities during the Holocaust, mainly because most of them were liquidated at an early stage. The Sarajevo community ceased functioning at the beginning of 1942, and the Osijek community by the middle of that year. Only the Zagreb community remained in existence throughout the war. It is estimated that 30,000 Jews were murdered in Croatia—80 percent of its Jewish population.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Cornwell, John. Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII. New York: Viking, 1999. Crowe, David, and John Kolsti, eds. The Gypsies of Eastern Europe. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1991.


Adam Czerniaków was head of the Warsaw J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council). He was born in W A R S AW , Poland to a middle class family. He completed his chemical engineering studies in 1908. Later, he taught at the Jewish community’s vocational school in Warsaw and served in various administrative posts in independent P O L A N D . For many years Czerniaków represented Jewish artisans in several Polish organizations. From 1927 to 1934 he was a member of the Warsaw Municipal Council, and in 1931 he was elected to the Polish Senate. Before World War II, he was a member of the executive council of the Jewish community. But in his public career between the wars the Jews did not regard him as a leader, since he was not a member of any political party and had trouble expressing himself in Yiddish.

Adam Czerniaków.



During the first week of the war, the chairman of the Jewish community’s council was one of the many who fled Warsaw. On September 23, in the midst of the siege of the city, Czerniaków noted in his diary that the mayor and commissar for civil defense, who had remained, appointed him “head of the Jewish religious community in Warsaw.” On October 4, a few days after the city’s surrender and the beginning of the German occupation, Czerniaków wrote: “I was taken to Szucha Avenue, where I was ordered to add twenty-four people to the community council and to serve as its head.” The official titles used by Czerniaków until the middle of 1941 were Head of the Judenrat and President of the Jewish Religious Community of Warsaw. From the middle of May 1941, his functions and authority in the ghetto paralleled those of the mayor in the Polish part of the city. The first Judenrat (Jewish Council), established in October 1939, consisted of twenty-four members who were prominent within Jewish society and outstanding individuals in political organizations. Most of the party activists included in the first Judenrat left Warsaw and traveled abroad during the first month of the occupation, when it was still possible to leave. Czerniaków had this opportunity, but he refused to leave and sharply criticized the leaders who fled the city. The Jewish community in Warsaw during the interwar period had provided for religious and educational needs and for relief work. After the ghetto was established, in October 1940, the scope of the Judenrat’s activities widened considerably. It had to deal with matters of food, work, health, housing, and sanitation—functions normally carried out by the municipality and the state authorities. The structure and bureaucracy of the Judenrat also broadened considerably. At one point during the ghetto period it had twenty-five different departments and 6,000 workers, as compared to 530 in the prewar Jewish community. The Judenrat clerks, particularly in the higher administration and the police force, included agents planted by the German authorities and those willing to help the Nazis at any price. Czerniaków despised these people, but he realized that they were a necessary evil. Groups arose in the ghetto that for various reasons tried to oust Czerniaków. Some of them had the support of members of the German police and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service). All these attempts failed since Czerniaków was supported by the civil authorities. The Jewish underground activitists severely criticized Czerniaków and the Judenrat’s policy. In studies of the Warsaw ghetto, much attention has been devoted to evaluating Czerniaków’s activities. An analysis of this material shows that Czerniaków worked to prevent the direct intervention of the German authorities, and sought to organize the internal affairs of the Jews with a minimum of outside involvement. This approach made possible clandestine economic activity, such as the illegal smuggling of food. There is no proof that Czerniaków maintained contact with the Jewish underground or sided with secret political activities. On the other hand, he persistently promoted education for the ghetto’s children, and strove to save Jews in danger of being put to death. During the years of Czerniaków’s tenure as Judenrat head, he came into daily contact with the German police and the civil authorities. Until the ghetto was set up, Czerniaków was permitted to maintain contact with the Poles in the Warsaw municipality, chiefly the Polish mayor, Julian Kulski. In his contacts with the Germans, Czerniaków sought ways to influence them and arouse some sort of sensitivity to and consideration for the ghetto situation. These attempts were fruitless. He was twice beaten by the Germans and suffered many direct insults. Czerniaków gained a certain measure of understanding through his ties with the ghetto commis-



sar, Heinz A U E R S WA L D , but Auerswald misled Czerniaków in the end by not revealing the real facts of the mass deportation. Chroniclers and diarists of the Warsaw ghetto are divided as to Czerniaków’s personality and characteristics. His critics saw in Czerniaków an assimilator who mixed with assimilators, a man lacking close contact with the Jewish masses, who tended toward absurd public ceremonies in the midst of the grim reality of the ghetto. However, people who worked with Czerniaków praised the man and his qualities. He did indeed place assimilators in key positions, as when he made Joseph Szerynski (a police officer who had converted to Christianity) commander of the ghetto police. But the accusation of a tendency toward self-aggrandizement and hollow ceremony is unfounded. It is generally accepted that Czerniaków had great personal decency and good intentions. A member of the underground and a leader of the ghetto fighters, Mordechai T E N E N B AU M (Tamaroff), noted in his diary that there were only three truly honest persons among the heads of the Judenrat, one of whom was Czerniaków. Unlike the Judenrat leaders Mordechai Chaim R U M KOW S K I and Jacob G E N S , Czerniaków was not guided by personal ambition, and was willing to cooperate with the Nazis only up to a point.


One who blends in with the mainstream culture; in Jewish terms, one who identifies more closely with the culture of residency than with the culture of ethnicity.

Refusing to help in the roundup of Jews destined for deportation, Czerniaków committed suicide at 4:00 p.m. on July 23, 1942. According to one version, a note was found on his desk addressed to his wife, saying: “They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands. There is nothing for me to do but to die.” His death was interpreted as the protest of a man who was not prepared to cross the line between conducting ghetto activities and handing over Jews. In the mid-1960s, Yad Vashem received Czerniaków’s wartime diary, which he kept regularly from September 6, 1939, until the day of his death. It consists of eight notebooks with 1,009 small pages in chronological order. The fifth notebook, covering the period between December 14, 1940, and April 22, 1941, has been lost. Czerniaków’s diary, published in Hebrew, English, German, and Polish, is one of the most important surviving documents from the period of the Holocaust. It casts light on the man who stood at the head of the Warsaw Judenrat, provides a wealth of information about people and events, and reveals many details concerning the nature of the German rule over the Jews.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Czerniakow, Adam. The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow: Prelude to Doom. Chicago: I. R. Dee, reprint 1999. Tushnet, Leonard. The Pavement of Hell. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1972.

Dachau Dachau was one of the first Nazi C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S . It was located in the small town of Dachau, Germany, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of Munich. The location was chosen because it was the site of an empty weapons factory from World War I, which provided the needed space. It had room for 5,000 prisoners. The first group of prisoners was brought to Dachau on March 20, 1933. The inmates were guarded by state police until the camp was taken over by the SS on April 11. Theodor E I C K E became the commandant of Dachau in June 1933. He set up the organization for the camp, with detailed rules and regulations. Later, Eicke was



Private companies hired slave laborers from the camps. They paid a daily rate per prisoner to the SS; the prisoners, however, received nothing.

appointed inspector general for all the Nazi concentration camps. He used Dachau as the basic model for the organization of the other camps. The very existence of the concentration camps spread fear among the people. This was an effective tool in silencing opponents of the Nazi regime. Dachau was a useful training ground for the SS. At the camp, SS members learned to view people with different beliefs as inferior. They were trained to deal with them with indifference-not even hesitating to kill when the occasion arose. The transformation of the N AZI PARTY ’s terror system into bloody reality began in Dachau. When Dachau opened, only known political opponents of the Nazis were imprisoned. Communists, Social Democrats, and a few monarchists—groups that had passionately opposed one another (as well as the Nazis) before 1933—now found themselves together behind barbed wire. Beginning about 1935, it was usual in Nazi Germany for all people who had been condemned in a court of law to be taken automatically to a concentration camp after they had served their prison sentences. The first Jewish prisoners came as known political opponents of the Nazis. At Dachau, as elsewhere, they were treated even worse than the other prisoners. Gradually, more and more groups were imprisoned. There were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who resisted the draft; and G Y P S I E S (Romani), who, like the Jews, were classified as racially inferior. Clergymen who resisted the Nazi regime were also imprisoned, as were homosexuals (see H O M O S E X UA L I T Y I N T H E T H I R D R E I C H ). Many others were imprisoned for criticizing the Nazis. Dachau was always a camp for political prisoners. These prisoners, who had been there first, held most of the key positions in the “prisoners’ internal government.” This system was put in place by the SS. The internal government ran the daily life in the camp, and it kept criminal prisoners from reaching positions that would give them power over the others. In 1937 and 1938, a new camp was built (with prisoner labor) next to the old buildings of the weapons factory. The new camp had thirty-two barracks; an entrance building, containing the offices of the SS administration; the kitchen, workshops, showers, and so on; and a camp prison. The camp was surrounded by a water-filled ditch, fortified by an electrified barbed-wire fence. Guards in seven watchtowers monitored the grounds. In the summer of 1938, several thousand Austrian prisoners were brought to Dachau. Their arrival marked the beginning of the deportations that would reflect the course of the war. Transports were sent to Dachau from each country as it was invaded by the German army. Prisoners included resistance fighters, Jews, some clergymen, and others who refused to cooperate with the Germans. When the camp was eventually liberated, inmates from more than thirty countries were found in Dachau.

Jews at Dachau The number of Jewish prisoners increased as the Nazis developed a complex system for persecuting the Jews. After the violent pogrom (attack) known as K R I S TA L L N A C H T on November 9–10, 1938, more than 10,000 Jews from all over Germany were interned in Dachau. Those who could prove their intention to leave Germany were released. At that time, in fact, most Jews were let out of the camp within a few months of detention. But when systematic murder of the Jews began in 1942, Jewish prisoners were transported from Dachau and the other camps in Germany to the mass E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S in German-occupied P O L A N D . Later, thousands of Jewish prisoners, mostly from H U N G A R Y but also from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and the S OV I E T U N I O N , were brought to Dachau’s sub-



Prisoners working on a rifle production line in the SS-owned munitions factory in Dachau, Germany.

sidiary camps. When Dachau and its subcamps were liberated by Allied forces in April 1945, about 30 percent of the inmates were Jewish.

Life at Dachau


here was no mass extermination program with poison gas at the

All prisoners went through the same process when they entered the camp. They left all legal status behind. Their possessions were taken away, their hair was shaved off, and they were dressed in striped uniforms. They were given a number to identify them, and were given a colored triangle to wear to show which category of prisoner they were. The daily routine was one of work, hunger, exhaustion, and fear of the brutal, sadistic SS guards. The value of the free labor that the prisoners provided (the only cost involved was that of their tiny food rations) was quickly recognized and ruthlessly exploited.

Dachau camp. But out of 206,206

At first, besides managing and maintaining the camp, the Dachau inmates worked in handicraft industries set up within the camp. They also did hard labor in “branch detachments” outside the camp. They built roads, worked in gravel pits, and drained marshes. Over the course of the war, the labor available in the concentration camps became increasingly important for the German weapons industry. The network of camps, which gradually extended over the whole of Central Europe, took on huge proportions. Dachau alone had many smaller camps. It also had 36 large subsidiary camps in which up to 37,000 prisoners worked almost exclusively on weapons. Private companies hired slave laborers from the camps through the SS E C O N O M I C -A D M I N I S T R AT I V E M A I N O F F I C E (Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt; WVHA). The prisoners received no pay. Those who became sick were sent back to the main camp; this usually meant death. The companies received new, healthier laborers until these too could no longer meet the demands of the work.

marches, will never be known.

prisoners registered, there were 31,591 recorded deaths, most of them during the war. The true total number of Dachau-related deaths, including victims of individual and mass executions and the final death



Aerial view of prisoner barracks at Dachau.

Medical Experiments In Dachau, as in other Nazi camps, M E D I CA L E X P E R I M E N T S were performed by SS doctors on helpless inmates. Dr. Sigmund Rascher played a key role in the “decompression” or “high-altitude” experiments. The supposed purpose was to examine the effect of a sudden loss of pressure or lack of oxygen, such as that experienced by army pilots whose planes were destroyed and who had to make parachute jumps from great heights. From March to May 1942, about 200 inmates were used for these experiments. According to the eyewitness testimony of the prisoners’ nurse, at least 70 or 80 of them died. Rascher also worked on a series of “freezing experiments,” which began in August 1942. Their purpose was to learn how pilots shot down at sea who suffered from freezing could be quickly helped. Out of the 360 to 400 prisoners used in these experiments, 80 to 90 died. Professor Claus Schilling opened a malaria experimental station in the Dachau camp. He hoped to discover possible methods of immunization against malaria. For this purpose, he had about 1,100 inmates infected with the disease. The exact number of deaths from this experiment is not known. The survivors returned to their work in the camp after the disease had subsided and many, physically weakened from the malaria, then fell victim to other illnesses. A variety of other medical experiments were performed on Dachau prisoners. There was a tuberculosis experimental station; extreme infection and respiratory distress were artificially induced in a group of prisoners to test and compare the effects of various remedies. There were attempts to make seawater drinkable, and experiments with medications to stop bleeding.

Dachau Killings The systematic killing of prisoners who were sick and unable to work began after the official end of the E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M on September 1, 1941. During



the winter of 1941–1942, “invalid transports” went from Dachau to the Hartheim castle, near Linz, which had served as an asylum for the insane before the war. There, 3,166 inmates from Dachau were gassed. A gas chamber (see G A S C H A M B E R S /V A N S ) was built in Dachau in 1942, but it was not put into use. Dachau was used as an execution site for political opponents of the Nazis from 1934 onward. In addition, mass shootings of Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R (POWs) took place there from October 1941 to April 1942. These inmates were murdered on an SS shooting range located outside the camp grounds. The exact number of these victims cannot be determined, since they were not listed in camp files. Later, Soviet prisoners of war were taken into the powerful forced-labor system (see F O R C E D L A B O R ). After that, executions were carried out individually until the end of the war.

Last Days of Dachau In the last months before the liberation, the prisoners at Dachau lived in extremely inhumane conditions. Huge transports were constantly arriving from other Nazi camps, which were being evacuated in the face of the advancing Allies. During this period, up to 1,600 prisoners were crowded into barracks intended for 200. In early 1945, more than 100 inmates—and for a time more than 200—died each day of the typhus epidemic that had been raging in many of the camps since December 1944. An underground camp committee was organized to try to help the prisoners and, if necessary, to organize resistance to SS plans of action. On April 26, 1945, there were 67,665 registered prisoners in Dachau, among them 22,100 Jews. On that day, more than 7,000 of them were forced, under SS guard, to march south. During the march, anyone who could walk no further was shot. Many others died from hunger, cold, or exhaustion. At the beginning of May, American troops overtook the remnants of the prisoners on the march; the SS guards had disappeared shortly before. After the war, it was learned that plans had existed to kill all the inmates with bombs and poison.

The last transports to Dachau during 1945 brought human beings who were, for the most part, reduced to skeletons, and exhausted literally to the point of death.

On April 29, 1945, Dachau was liberated by the Seventh Army of the U N I T E D S TAT E S armed forces. Forty former members of the camp’s SS staff were tried by an American court at Dachau between November 15 and December 14, 1945. Of the forty accused, thirty-six were sentenced to death.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES George, Charles H. Journey to Dachau: An American Soldier’s Odyssey. New York: Vantage Press, 1996.

Memory of the Camps [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1989. Ryback, Timothy W. The Last Survivor: In Search of Martin Zaidenstadt. New York: Pantheon Books, 1999.

Voices of the Shoah: Remembrances of the Holocaust [sound recording]. Rhino Records, 2000.

Dannecker, Theodor (1913–1945)

Theodor Dannecker was an SS officer who specialized in organizing the deportation of Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe. Born in Tübingen, Dannecker was a




The region of France not occupied by Germany that was governed from the spa town of Vichy.

lawyer by training but in 1937 became a member of Adolf E I C H M A N N ’s staff and later an essential collaborator in carrying out the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N .” He was sent to P A R I S in 1940 by Eichmann’s bureau (IV B 4) as head of its French branch. There, Dannecker worked directly under Eichmann and supervised the preparation of lists of French Jews who were later arrested in May and August of 1941. The following year, Dannecker prepared a set of rules governing the deportation of French Jews and “stateless” Jews in France who were not effectively protected by a foreign power. He constantly urged the Vichy government to accelerate the deportations to the east, surprising even Vichy officials with the vehemence of his hatred for Jews. Eichmann recalled Dannecker to B E R L I N at the end of 1942 for abuse of office, and in January 1943 he was transferred to Bulgaria, where he organized the deportation of eleven thousand Jews from Macedonia and Thrace. In October 1944 Eichmann appointed him Jewish Commissioner in I TA LY , where he remained until the end of the war. He committed suicide in an American prison camp at Bad Tölz in December 1945.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Josephs, Jeremy. Swastika Over Paris. New York: Arcade, 1989. Lewendel, Isaac. Not the Germans Alone: A Son’s Search for the Truth of Vichy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Perpetrators. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/ holocaust/people/perps.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Darquier de Pellepoix, Louis (1897–1980)

Louis Darquier (pseudonym: Louis Darquier de Pellepoix) was the French coordinator of the Vichy regime’s anti-Jewish program from 1942 to 1944. Notorious for his outspoken antisemitism, Darquier was chosen to head the Vichy government’s Office for Jewish Affairs in May 1942, succeeding Xavier V A L L AT , whom the SS in F R A N C E found too moderate. At this point, the Nazis were about to begin the massive deportation of Jews from France to A U S C H W I T Z . Darquier helped coordinate these D E P O R TAT I O N S , and worked closely with the German authorities in P A R I S . Quite apart from its brutality and its persecution based upon biological racism, Darquier’s administration was characterized by corruption and incompetence. The Germans requested his removal, and he left office in February 1944. Darquier fled to Spain, where he lived until his death.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Josephs, Jeremy. Swastika Over Paris. New York: Arcade, 1989. Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.



DEATH CAMPS. SEE EXTERMINATION CAMPS. Death Marches Death marches (in German, Todesmärsche) were forced marches of long columns of prisoners under heavy guard, over long distances, and under intolerable conditions during World War II (1939–1945). The prisoners were brutally mistreated during these marches, and many were killed outright by their guards. The term “death march” was coined by prisoners in the Nazi C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S .

Death Marches, 1940–1943 Most death marches took place in the final stage of the war, when concentration camps were being evacuated. However, marches occurred fairly often throughout the war. The first forced march organized by Germany’s SS forces took place in German-occupied P O L A N D , in early 1940. On January 14, 800 Jewish prisoners of war from the Polish army were removed from a camp in L U B L I N . A few days later, escorted by a troop of SS men mounted on horses, they were marched in bitter cold to Bial⁄a Podlaska, a distance of approximately 62 miles (100 kilometers). All along the route the Nazis killed prisoners, individually and in groups. Only a few dozen of the 800 Jews survived to reach their destination.

Forced marches during the last two weeks of the war are believed to have cost the lives of tens of thousands of prisoners.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, hundreds of thousands of Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R were marched from one camp to another. Many were murdered on the road or at pre-arranged slaughter sites. In July and August 1941, tens of thousands of Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina were marched to Transnistria (a part of U K R A I N E transferred to Romanian rule after the German invasion). Thousands were shot to death along the way by their guards. Tens of thousands of Jews were forced on marches when the ghettos of Eastern Europe were being liquidated in 1942 and 1943. Many of them were being moved to larger ghettos or other “collection points” many miles away. For the most part, these were their last steps before they were deported to the E X T E R M I N AT I O N CA M P S . On the way, many of the Jews were murdered by their German escorts or by auxiliary police (Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and others).

Death Marches in 1944 The liquidation of the concentration camps began in the summer of 1944. At the time, the S OVIET U NION ’s Red Army was challenging the Germans in the East, while other Allied forces were landing in Western Europe. The first camps to be evacuated were those in the Baltic countries and in eastern and central P O L A N D . In Western Europe, the N AT Z W E I L E R -S T R U T H O F camp, in Alsace, F R A N C E , was also emptied at this time. Most of the moves were made by rail and, in the case of the Kaiserwald camp, also by boat. Some of the prisoners, however, were forced on foot marches. The first major death march began on July 28, 1944, when the camp on Gesia Street in W A R S AW , Poland, was evacuated. This camp had been established on the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto as an extension of the M A J DA N E K camp network. When it was evacuated, the camp held some 4,400 Jews from various countries, most from Greece and H U N G A R Y . About 3,600 prisoners were forced to march to Kutno, a



A forced march of prisoners through a village from Dachau to Wolfratshausen, Germany.

distance of 81 miles (130 kilometers). During the march, anyone too weak to keep up the pace was shot. No food was supplied to the marchers, nor were they allowed to stop for a drink of water. About 1,000 prisoners were murdered on the march to Kutno. When the remainder reached their destination, they were put on a freight train, ninety persons to a car. Several hundred died on the train, and the rest—who now numbered fewer than 2,000—arrived at D AC H AU on August 9. Even harsher and longer was the march from the Bor camp in Yugoslavia. About 4,000 Jewish prisoners were taken out of that camp, put on the road to Belgrade, and marched for eight days, during which they received hardly any food. From Belgrade they were marched to Hungary. Most of the prisoners were killed on the way, and no more than a few hundred survivors were left when the column reached Hungary, where they were sent to the Oranienburg camp by train. One of the murdered prisoners was the Hungarian Jewish poet Miklós Radnoti, who composed his last poems on the march.



The death march from Budapest began on November 8, 1944, and lasted an entire month. Some 76,000 Jews—men, women, and children—were made to walk to the Austrian border, escorted by Hungarians. Thousands were shot to death en route, and thousands more starved to death or succumbed to cold and disease. Several hundred were saved by neutral diplomats such as Raoul W A L L E N B E R G , who pulled Jews out of the columns, put them under his protection, and escorted them back to Budapest. The columns of Jews were sent to various concentration camps, mainly Dachau and M AU T H AU S E N . In November 1944, SS official Heinrich H I M M L E R ordered the end of murder by gas at A U S C H W I T Z . This was a turning point in the Nazi policy toward the Jews, and was due to Germany’s imminent defeat in the war. The Jews were, therefore, included among the other camp inmates in the continuous evacuation operation.

Death Marches in 1945 In January 1945, the remaining concentration camps in Poland were emptied. In that month, large death marches were launched, mainly from Auschwitz in the south and S T U T T H O F in the north. The Germans began evacuating Auschwitz and its satellite camps on January 18, 1945; some 66,000 prisoners, mostly Jews, were marched to Wodzisl⁄ aw. There they were put on freight trains and transported to various concentration camps, usually G R O S S -R O S E N , B U C H E N WA L D , Dachau, and Mauthausen. At least 15,000 people perished in that march. On January 21, 1945, 4,000 prisoners, most of them Jews, left the Blechhammer camp on foot. On February 2, they reached Gross-Rosen, and left for Buchenwald by train a few days later. During the foot march, at least 800 prisoners were murdered. The evacuation of the Stutthof camp complex was exceptionally brutal. On the eve of the evacuation, in the middle of January 1945, these camps had a prisoner population of 47,000, more than 35,000 of them Jews. Most of them were women. On January 20, the Seerappen camp in East Prussia, a satellite of Stutthof, was evacuated; 1,400 Jewish women and 100 Jewish men were put on the road. The next day, they were joined by convoys from other satellite camps in the area, making a total of 7,000 Jews—6,000 women and 1,000 men. The march took ten days, and during its course 700 Jews were murdered. On January 31, the convoy arrived on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The same day, the Nazis drove all the prisoners into the sea and machinegunned them. Only thirteen persons are known to have survived this massacre. The first evacuation of the main Stutthof camp was launched on January 25, 1945. That facility contained 25,000 prisoners, half of whom were Jewish women. Another 20,000 were in various Stutthof satellite camps; most of these were included in the death marches. The main route led from Stutthof to the town of Lebork (Lauenberg), where the convoy halted because the area was encircled by Red Army troops. The surviving prisoners were sent back to the main camp. The large satellite camps contained 6,000 Jewish women prisoners. Of these, 90 percent were murdered on the death marches following the evacuations. The evacuation of the main camp of Gross-Rosen and its satellites began in early February 1945. A total of 40,000 prisoners were moved out. Thousands were murdered en route. The rest were put into the Mittelbau, Flossenbürg, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Dachau, B E R G E N -B E L S E N , and S AC H S E N H AU S E N camps. Of the 20,000 Jewish prisoners doing forced labor in the Eulengebirge camps, nearly all were killed, most of them either just before the evacuation or during the death march in February 1945.



A column of prisoners on a death march from Dachau concentration camp in April 1945.


n mid-March 1945, Nazi Germany still held 700,000 prisoners in

concentration camps, among them 200,000 women. Approximately 40,000 SS men were still employed in running the concentration camps and escorting the death marches.

In March and April 1945, the American and British armies were advancing in the west and the Soviet Army in the east. Squeezed between them, the Germans evacuated one concentration camp after the other, moving the prisoners into the territory still under German control. In those last two months of Nazi Germany’s existence, at least a quarter-million prisoners, men and women, were sent on death marches. Some of these marches lasted for weeks. The graves of the murder victims and the others who perished on the highways were spread over central Germany and western Austria. In that final phase, the evacuation of the camps was generally a combined operation: The prisoners made their way partly on foot and partly by train. The train trip was no less harsh or cruel than the foot march; the prisoners suffered from lack of food and water and from intolerably foul air in the cars, which held an average of seventy people each. Some of the death marches in the final months of the war were particularly brutal. In late March and early April 1945, masses of prisoners were moved out of Buchenwald camp and its satellites and were sent on long-distance marches. On April 3 and 4, for example, a convoy of prisoners from the Nordhausen camp was forced to march to Flintsbach-am-Inn, a distance of 549 miles (885 kilometers). Another convoy from Nordhausen marched to Bergen-Belsen, 214 miles (345 kilometers) away. A group from Ohrdruf was sent to Dachau, a march of 245 miles (395 kilometers). On April 4, a convoy left Halberstadt for Giessen, 316 miles (510 kilometers) away. In the evacuation of the main Buchenwald camp, the first convoy left on April 6. It consisted of 3,100 Jewish prisoners, of whom 1,400 were murdered on the way. In the next few days, some 40,000 prisoners left the camp; of these, 13,500 were murdered during the march. Twenty-one thousand prisoners remained in Buchenwald, among them a few Jews. Rehmsdorf was one of the last of the Buchenwald satellite camps to be evacuated, on April 13. Some 4,340 Jewish prisoners left the camp, but no more than 500 reached their destination, T H E R E S I E N S TA D T . The rest were murdered en route or died from other causes.



The evacuation of the D O R A -M I T T E L BAU camp started on April 1. Most of the prisoners were marched to Bergen-Belsen, a march lasting about two weeks. In one of the convoys, the prisoners were forced into a barn that was then set on fire. The next day, when American forces reached the site (near the town of Gardelegen), they found hundreds of burned corpses. On April 25, 1945, there were about 4,500 prisoners in Stutthof, among them 1,700 Jews, when the final evacuation of the main camp began. This was the continuation of the January death marches from the Stutthof satellite camps. Since the area of the camp was surrounded by Soviet forces, the Germans removed the prisoners by sea, on ferryboats. Two hundred Jewish women prisoners were first driven to the seashore and shot to death. Prisoners who tried to hide in the barracks were forced out, and the barracks were set on fire. Of the 4,000 prisoners who left on five ferry-boats, 2,000 drowned or were shot to death by the Germans on the open sea. In the two evacuation operations of the Stutthof camps and the ensuing death marches, 26,000 prisoners perished. At the end of April, about two weeks before Nazi Germany’s final surrender, death marches were launched from Flossenbürg, Sachsenhausen, N E U E N G A M M E , Magdeburg, Mauthausen, R AV E N S B R Ü C K , and several of the Dachau satellite camps. The marches of these last two weeks are believed to have cost the lives of tens of thousands of prisoners. On one short stretch alone, between Gunskirchen and Mauthausen, a distance of 37 miles (60 kilometers), thousands of prisoners were buried, most of them Jews from Hungary. In another spot, near the town of Eisenerz, a mass grave was discovered after the war—it contained the bodies of 3,500 prisoners who were on a death march to Mauthausen. The evacuations and death marches were kept up literally until the Third Reich’s last day. The final camp from which prisoners were sent on a death march was at Reichenau, in the Sudetic Mountains; this took place on May 7, the day on which Germany surrendered to the Allies. Approximately a quarter of a million prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps were murdered or otherwise died on death marches between the summer of 1944 and the end of the war.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Greene, Joshua M., ed. Witness: Voices from the Holocaust. New York: Free Press, 2000. Kimmelman, Mira Ryczke. Echoes from the Holocaust: A Memoir. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997. Rabinovici, Schoschana. Thanks to My Mother. Translated by James Skofield. New York: Dial Books, 1998.

Voices of the Shoah: Remembrances of the Holocaust [sound recording]. Rhino Records, 2000.

Deffaugt, Jean Jean Deffaugt was the mayor of Annemasse, a French town on the Swiss border where many clandestine escape routes for fleeing Jews converged. Deffaugt regularly visited Jews who were caught by the Germans while trying to cross the border and incarcerated in an annex of the Pax Hotel, where they had to withstand brutal



interrogation by the G E S TA P O . He collected food, medicines, blankets, and other supplies, which he brought to the Gestapo prison to deliver to the inmates. Deffaugt pleaded with the Gestapo on behalf of the imprisoned Jews. As he later reminisced, “I was afraid, I admit. I never mounted the Gestapo stairways without making the sign of the cross, or murmuring a prayer.” On one occasion, the Gestapo agreed to release into Deffaugt’s care a group of children under the age of eleven, arrested while on their way to the border, on the basis of the following statement: “I, Jean Deffaugt, mayor of Annemasse, acknowledge receiving from Inspector Mayer, chief of the Security Services, eleven children of Jewish faith, whom I pledge to return at the first order.” Deffaugt soon placed them in the hands of a Father Duret, who hid them in Bonne-sur-Menoge until the Allied liberation in the following weeks. When the town of Annemasse was liberated by the U NITED S TATES Army, all the children were reunited by Deffaugt and turned over to Jewish hands. Jean Deffaugt was recognized by Yad Vashem as “R IGHTEOUS AMONG THE N ATIONS ” in 1965.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Klarsfeld, Serge. French Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

DEGESCH. SEE TRIALS OF THE WAR CRIMINALS; ZYKLON B. Denazification “Denazification” was the deliberate, but flawed, process of eliminating Nazism and its influence from the political and cultural fabric of Europe and punishing its practitioners in the aftermath of World War II. In February 1945, six months before the end of World War II, the three participants of the Yalta Conference— Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the U N I T E D S TAT E S ; Winston Churchill, prime minister of G R E AT B R I TA I N ; and Joseph Stalin, leader of the S OV I E T U N I O N — jointly that they were “determined to wipe out the N A Z I PA RT Y , Nazi laws, organizations, and institutions, remove all Nazi and militarist influences from public office and from the cultural and economic life of the German people, and take such other agreed measures in G E R M A N Y as may be necessary for the future peace and safety of the world.” The Yalta statement signified that the Allies were aiming, above all, at a radical reform of Germany’s political institutions by the systematic elimination of all of their Nazi and militarist elements.

The Potsdam Agreement The Potsdam Agreement, which was signed on August 2, 1945, by the leaders of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, contained the following declaration: All members of the Nazi party who have been more than nominal participants in its activities and all other persons hostile to Allied purposes are to be removed from public or semi-public office and from positions of responsibili-



ty in important private undertakings. Such persons shall be replaced by persons who by their political and moral qualities are deemed capable of assisting in developing genuine democratic institutions in Germany. By the time the Potsdam Agreement was signed, many of those who were to be removed from office according to the above declaration were already being held in custody. Long before the occupation of Germany had been accomplished, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces had drawn up lists of persons who were subject to “mandatory arrest” on the assumption that they had taken part in Nazi crimes. When the war ended, these lists were extended to include persons thought to be particularly dangerous because of their prominent positions in Nazi organizations, the Wehrmacht, the administration, and the economy. A total of 178,000 persons were placed under “mandatory arrest” by the three western Allies (Britain, France, and the United States) and put into internment camps. In the Soviet-occupied zone, more than 67,000 persons were detained. In German resistance circles, it was agreed as early as 1943 that, in principle, two things would happen when the war was over and the Hitler dictatorship had collapsed: all Nazi elements would have to be eliminated from public life, and persons who had taken part in the crimes of the Nazi regime would be put on trial. Shortly after the Allied occupation of Germany, German opponents of the Nazi regime began to organize in various places to undertake such “self-purge” operations on their own; however, these attempts were generally stifled by the military administrations of the western Allies.

It was agreed as early as 1943 that two things should happen when the war was over and the Hitler dictatorship had collapsed: all Nazi elements would have to be eliminated from public life, and those who had taken part in the crimes of the Nazi regime would be put on trial.

Implemention of Denazification Plans Neither the Yalta statement nor the Potsdam declaration contained any guidelines for implementing the announced policy of ridding Germany of Nazism and militarism. The result was that each zone had its own policy in this area, depending on the specific interests and goals of the occupying power. In the American zone, two influences were at work among the military administration: on the one hand, there was a desire to reeducate the German people for life in a democratic society, while, on the other hand, there was a belief in collective German guilt and, as a corollary, a general distrust of Germans that did not differentiate between supporters and opponents of the Nazi regime. In the British zone, the prevailing inclination was to institute a radical purge of Nazi and militarist influences. F R A N C E , which had not taken part in either the Yalta or the Potsdam conferences, also subscribed to the principle that Nazi elements had to be removed, but in the French zone the issue was never accorded the degree of importance that it had in the American or even in the British zone. France’s goals were to weaken Germany, its traditional enemy, by decentralizing Germany’s political framework and by exploiting the resources still to be found in the French zone of Germany for the restoration of the French economy, which had declined sharply as a result of the war. From the start, denazification measures in the Soviet zone were designed to serve the Soviets’ main objective—restructuring society in accordance with Communist principles. Persons suspected of having taken part in Nazi crimes were taken into custody and some were exiled to the east. However, most of the rank-and-file members of Nazi organizations were not affected by the denazification measures, provided they showed that they were prepared to participate in the creation of a Communist society, such as by joining the Communist party.




ne of the flaws in the denazification pro-

cess was the inconsistency that emerged in the treatment of similar cases under different occupation

In order to avoid too many differences in their respective denazification policies, the four powers issued a regulation on January 12, 1946, through the Allied Control Council for Germany, that outlined uniform denazification guidelines to be applied across Europe and the Soviet Union. Attached to the regulation was a list of offices and positions from which former Nazis were barred. If these guidelines had actually been observed, denazification measures would have been much harsher than they were in practice. However, it was too late for that. Developments had reached the point where the trend toward moderation could no longer be reversed by a Control Council regulation, especially in the French and British zones.

zones. Naturally, this was regarded as unjust. The timing of denazification was also a problem. The less serious cases were dealt with earlier, when the sentences imposed were relatively severe, whereas the more serious cases were delayed due to their complexity. By the time they reached trial, the Allies were no longer as concerned about denazification as they had been earlier in the process. The result was that the greater offenders escaped with relatively light sanctions.

Classification of Former Nazis A subsequent Control Council regulation, dated October 12, 1946, required that former Nazis be classified in one of five categories: 1. Major offenders 2. Offenders (activists, militarists, profiteers) 3. Lesser offenders 4. Followers 5. Persons exonerated Persons in categories 1 to 4 were subject to punishments, or some form of “reparation,” that included the following possibilities: detention in a labor camp, for terms ranging from two to ten years (major offenders); banning from employment; confiscation of property; loss of pension rights; special deductions from current income; and restriction of voting rights. Some leniency was built in to this regulation. For example, people in category 4 who were born after January 1, 1919, were exempt from reparation through a “youth amnesty.” In the French zone, other amnesties were announced in 1947 and 1948 which were available to those classified as “followers.” The basis for the classification was a questionnaire that was filled in by the person to be denazified. The respondents were required to give personal data and divulge their activities during the Nazi regime and their association with Nazi organizations. If the questionnaire showed grounds for incrimination, the case came before a panel of three people (one professional jurist, as chairman, and two lay judges) for decision. The Control Council regulation provided for the presumption of guilt; it was up to each presumed Nazi to prove his or her innocence. In view of the difficulties encountered in the denazification process, the occupying powers soon sought to transfer implementation to the Germans. At a 1947 meeting in Moscow (the Four-Power Foreign Ministers’ Conference), the recommendation was made that responsibility for implementing the denazification regulations of 1945 should be transferred to the Germans, while the supreme authority on the subject would remain with the military structures of the various occupying powers. In this way, denazification was handed over to the German authorities in 1947 and 1948.

The End of Denazification Changes in the international climate and the ensuing deterioration in relations between East and West reduced the interest of the powers in denazification. In March 1948, denazification was brought to an abrupt end in the Soviet zone. On October 15, 1950, the West German parliament (Bundestag) recommended to the



German states that they suspend current classification procedures affecting categories 3, 4, and 5; abstain from introducing any new procedures; and abolish the existing bans on practicing certain professions, on the blocking of bank accounts or other assets, and on the restriction of voting rights. The Bundestag also recommended the granting of pardons to those who had been sentenced to serve in labor camps. The German states complied with these recommendations by various laws enacted in the period from 1950 to 1954, thereby bringing denazification to an end. According to an (incomplete) table made by the West German Ministry of the Interior at the end of 1949, a total of 3,410,728 sentences of punishment and reparation were imposed during the years of denazification. Denazification had been launched with great zeal, but it ran out of steam when neither the procedures laid down nor the authorities charged with its implementation proved adequate for the task. Needless to say, Nazi activists who had committed the gravest crimes in the occupied countries did not admit to them in their questionnaires. More often than not, they passed unharmed through the denazification process. On the other hand, it was not rare for persons who had been only nominal party members—those who had succumbed to pressure from superiors in order to hold on to their jobs and who had only held minor “honorary” posts in the party—to have severe sanctions applied to them. Numerous questionnaires were forged, and discrimination as well as denunciations occurred quite frequently. Since the motivation in these cases was based on personal and economic rather than political grounds, denazification was put in an even more questionable light. In the end, it was not only those who were subjected to denazification who opposed it. The process itself came to be rejected, even by opponents of the Nazi regime.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bower, Tom. The Pledge Betrayed: America and Britain and the Denazification of Postwar Germany. New York: Doubleday, 1982 [also known as Blind Eye to Murder]. Eisenberg, Carolyn Woods. Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Gaab, Jeffrey S. Justice Delayed: The Restoration of Justice in Bavaria Under American Occupation, 1945–1949. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

Denmark Denmark is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries that include Finland, Norway and Sweden. Jews settled in Denmark in the late seventeenth century; in 1814 they were granted citizenship, and in 1849, under the constitution adopted that year, they received full rights. Denmark’s Jews belonged to the lower and upper middle class and many made a name for themselves in science, literature, the arts, and journalism, or held senior posts in banking and government administration. The rate of mixed marriages was among the highest in the world. In the twentieth century most of Denmark’s 6,000 Jews lived in the capital, Copenhagen. During the 1930s the Jewish community of Denmark, like that of every country bordering on Germany, was called upon to assist Jewish refugees. In 1940 a special group, the May Fourth Committee, was established by the community to care for the refugees, which it did in cooperation with several non-Jewish committees




oth the Danish government and the people expressed their opposition

to antisemitism and joined the Jewish community to combat displays of antisemitism in Danish policy and daily life.

that had been formed for the same purpose. One special project was an agriculturaltraining program set up in cooperation with the Zionist pioneering movement HeHaluts. The Ministry of Agriculture issued a special permit for this program that enabled 1,500 young people to work on farms and some to engage in fishing as well. On the whole, however, Danish policy on refugees was reserved; as in other European countries, it differentiated between “political” refugees and other kinds— the “other kinds” being the Jews. Political refugees—most of whom were Social Democrats or Communists—were supported by the Danish Social Democrat party’s Matteotti Foundation, and were given preference as far as residence and work permits were concerned. On behalf of the government, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs handled refugee affairs. Between 1934 and 1938 the laws and regulations applying to refugees became increasingly restrictive, and non-Scandinavians encountered great difficulties in entering the country and even more so in trying to obtain work permits. Most of the Jewish refugees who did succeed in reaching Denmark—their number is estimated at 4,500—did not remain, and left the country for overseas destinations. When the Germans occupied Denmark on April 9, 1940, 1,500 Jewish refugees were still in the country, including several hundred Zionist agricultural pioneers (halutsim). During the 1930s, the Danish parliament debated government policy on the refugees. Conservative parties called for a reduction in their number and a ban on further entries into the country, while the liberal groups expressed disapproval of government policy on the issue. In the first years following the German occupation, the situation of the Jews remained unchanged—unlike that in other countries occupied by the Nazis. In contrast to the Norwegians, the Danes did not offer any real resistance to the Germans, and reached agreement with the German government on the continued operation of the country’s democratic administration. They followed a so-called policy of negotiations, under which the Danish government, and even the Danish army, remained in existence; only the conduct of foreign affairs was no longer in Danish hands. Relations between the two countries were still on a diplomatic basis, and the German minister to Copenhagen, Cecil von Renthe-Fink, remained in his post. The agreement between the Danish government and the occupation authorities contained a provision committing the Germans to refrain from causing harm to the Jews. The Danish government continued to protect Danish Jews even in times of crisis between the government and the Germans, and the Danish people resolutely resisted occasional German pressure on the Jewish issue, as well as the efforts of the small Danish N A Z I PA R T Y to stir up A N T I S E M I T I S M . In the winter of 1941–1942, a public debate was held on the “Jewish question.” The moderator, Hal Koch, a professor of theology, called on the Danish people to reject out of hand any suggestion that they discriminate against the Danish Jews, not only because justice and honor demanded it, but also because it was required to preserve Danish liberty and the rule of law. The Danish people and the Danish government stood fast on this issue. Their decisiveness persuaded the Germans that for the time being it would be preferable not to touch the Danish Jews. At the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E , Martin Luther, representing the German Foreign Office, proposed that the Scandinavian countries be excluded for the time being from the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” because of the attitude of the local populations toward the Jews, and the small number of Jews in those countries. The Germans took it for granted that the issue would be resolved after victory had been achieved. This policy remained in force when von Renthe-Fink was replaced, in the fall of 1942, by Dr. Werner B E S T .



A Danish-Jewish family is taken to Sweden aboard a Danish fishing boat, in October 1943.

A change came in the spring of 1943. With the growing strength of the Allied forces on the battlefronts, Danish resistance operations began and gathered momentum. Strikes and acts of sabotage created tension between the Danes and the Germans, and the “Jewish question” was put on the agenda. Throughout this period, and from the beginning of the occupation, the Jewish community had kept a low profile and its quiet life was not seriously disturbed. However, members of the Y O U T H M OV E M E N T He-Haluts showed greater sensitivity, became aware of the changing situation, and made plans for escaping from the country. An attempt by some of the young people to reach the coast of southern Europe by hiding under train carriages failed; on the other hand, a group of He-Haluts fishermen on Bornholm Island obtained a boat and used it to flee to Sweden. The Germans learned of the escape and issued a stern warning to the Danish government, which passed it on to the Jewish community. This incident caused friction between the Jewish community—which bore part of the cost of maintaining the Zionist training farms—and the He-Haluts trainees, with the community leaders threatening to take action if such attempts were repeated. In late August 1943, a crisis erupted between the German authorities and the Danish government when the latter refused to accede to new German demands. The Danish government resigned, and the German military commander in Denmark declared a state of emergency. Werner Best regarded this as an opportune moment for proposing to B E R L I N that the Jews of Denmark be deported. Best probably thought that his proposal would bring German police reinforcements to Denmark and that this would effectively bolster his own position, which had suffered as a result of the crisis. It turned out that Best himself was not sure that his proposal should be carried out, fearing that it would compromise his own relations with the Danes. On the night of October 1–2, 1943, the German police began arresting Jews. Reports of the planned deportation of the Jews were leaked to various Danish circles by several German sources. The reaction was instantaneous. The Danes alerted the Jews, helping them move into hiding places and from there make their way to



the seashore, and, with the help of Danish fishermen, cross into Sweden. At first this was an unorganized and spontaneous operation, but soon the Danish resistance joined in and helped to organize the massive flight that followed the Swedish government’s proclamation that it was ready to take in all the refugees from Denmark. In Denmark, all groups of the population went into action in order to save the Jews. Dozens of protests poured into the offices of the German authorities from Danish economic and social organizations; King Christian X expressed his firm objection to the German plans; the heads of the Danish churches published a strong protest and used their pulpits to urge the Danish people to help the Jews; and the universities closed down for a week, with the students lending a hand in the rescue operation. The operation went on for three weeks, and in its course 7,200 Jews and some 700 non-Jewish relatives of theirs were taken to Sweden. The costs of the operation were borne partly by the Jews themselves and to a large extent by contributions made by the Danes. The Danish resistance movement grew in size and strength as a result of the successful rescue effort and was able to keep open a fairly reliable escape route to Sweden. Rolf Günther—Adolf E I C H M A N N ’s deputy, who had come to Copenhagen in order to organize the deportation of the Jews—failed in his mission. The Danish police not only refused to cooperate with Günther but also helped the rescue operation. An order was also issued prohibiting German police from breaking into apartments in order to arrest Jews. Despite all these efforts, some 500 Jews were arrested and sent to T H E R E S I E N S TA D T . The Danish public and the administration (which continued to function after the government had resigned) did not give up their concern for the fate of their Jewish countrymen in Theresienstadt. They sent food parcels to them and had the Danish Foreign Ministry bombard the Germans with warnings. The ministry also put forward a demand that a Danish delegation be permitted to visit the detainees in the Theresienstadt camp. Eichmann exploited this Danish demand by setting up a fake “model ghetto” in Theresienstadt when a Danish delegation, together with International Red Cross representatives, visited Theresienstadt in the summer of 1944. However, the fact remains that the Danish Jews were not deported to A U S C H W I T Z , and in the end were included in a Swedish Red Cross operation in which Scandinavian nationals were transferred from concentration camps to Sweden, in the spring of 1945, before the war came to an end. The Danish people’s responses to Nazi atrocities represent an exercise of high moral and political responsibility, outstanding and exceptional for the time in which it took place. They consistently refused to discriminate against their Jewish fellow citizens and to surrender them, or the refugees among them, to the Germans. They launched a rescue operation to transfer the Jews to a safe haven in Sweden. They also offered unwavering support and protection to the Theresienstadt deportees, and stood firm in their convictions, despite the threat of retaliation.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Flender, Harold. Rescue in Denmark. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963. Goldberger, L., ed. The Rescue of the Danish Jews: Moral Courage under Stress. New York: New York University Press, 1987. Levine, Ellen. Darkness Over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews. New York: Holiday House, 1999. Paldiel, Mordecai. The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1993. Petrow, R. The Bitter Years: The Invasion and Occupation of Denmark and Norway, April 1940–May 1945. New York: Morrow, 1974.



The Power of Conscience [videorecording]. Direct Cinema, 1994. Yahil, L. The Rescue of Danish Jewry: Test of a Democracy. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1969.







Deportations The Nazis used to mass deportations to remove Jews from the Reich and from occupied nations and to transport them to ghettos, camps, and killing centers. As early as September 1919, Adolf H I T L E R wrote of the need for systematic measures in G E R M A N Y to achieve “the removal of the Jews altogether.” Thus, from the beginning, the physical removal of the Jews from Germany in one way or another was basic to Hitler’s approach to the “Jewish question.” But it was not until the mid1930s that at least one party organization, Reinhard H E Y D R I C H ’s SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service), a branch of Heinrich H I M M L E R ’ S S S , began to formulate policy based on this axiom. The SD declared that the final goal of Nazi Jewish policy was to leave Germany “cleansed” or “free” of Jews (judenrein; judenfrei). This was to be achieved through intensifying pressure on Jews to emigrate. With the annexation of A U S T R I A in March 1938, the SD was first able to experiment freely in this regard, when Adolf E I C H M A N N established the C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N in V I E N N A . However, Eichmann’s methods still constituted forced emigration or expulsion rather than deportation.

First Deportations The first experiment in actual mass deportation of Jews was carried out in the fall of 1938. In March of that year, P O L A N D had decreed that Polish citizens living abroad who did not have their passports renewed with a special stamp by October 31 would be denationalized. The Germans realized that they would soon have on their hands as many as 70,000 resident Polish Jews, who, without valid passports, would be unable either to return home or to emigrate further. As the deadline approached, Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop urged the police to take preventive action. The G E S TA P O rounded up about 17,000 Polish Jews on the night of October 28, 1938, in order to deport them to Poland. The Poles closed their border on October 31, trapping most of the unfortunate deportees in a no-man’sland in the area of Zb¸aszy´n. Their fate became the subject of prolonged GermanPolish negotiations. Deportation without control of the area of reception had proven to be a fiasco. The conquest of Poland in September 1939, however, offered the shapers of Nazi Jewish policy precisely what they had lacked the previous year. Almost immediately, they made plans for large-scale deportations of Jews from the ever-expanding Third Reich into German-occupied Poland—to a L U B L I N Reservation, in particular (see N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). The first such deportations, in October



1939, were organized by Eichmann and involved five trainloads of Jews from Vienna; Mährisch-Ostrau, in the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A ; and Katowice, in the newly incorporated territory of Eastern Upper Silesia. They were transported to a transit camp at Nisko, on the San River, from which most of the deportees were chased over the demarcation line into the Soviet zone. However, Jewish deportations were only part of a much broader scheme approved by Hitler at that time. This involved the resettlement of ethnic Germans (V O L K S D E U T S C H E ) from the Soviet sphere and the deportation of all Poles from the incorporated territories, as well. Eichmann was named the SS expert in charge of “Jewish affairs and evacuations,” coordinating the outgoing deportations of Poles and Jews. Chaotic conditions, conflicting priorities, and “wild deportations” (the Nazis’ term), characterized German-occupied Poland, and the systematic deportation of the Jews failed once again. Eichmann’s Nisko operation was canceled, and the deportation of Jews from the incorporated territories into the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T was repeatedly postponed. Most of those deported by the Germans at this time—over 380,000 into the Generalgouvernement by March 1941, according to SS statistics— were Poles rather than Jews. In addition, several hundred thousand Jews—stripped of their homes, livelihood, and human dignity—fled eastward on their own.


The region of France not occupied by Germany and governed from the spa town of Vichy.

In the summer of 1940, Madagascar replaced the Lublin Reservation as the prospective goal of Jewish deportation, but this plan too proved impracticable (see M A DAG A S C A R P L A N ). Jewish deportations remained sporadic and tied to other population movements. When more than 70,000 “undesirable” Frenchmen (including, of course, French Jews) were deported from Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy F R A N C E , the district leaders of neighboring Baden and Saarpfalz exploited the opportunity to make their own territories judenfrei by deporting their 6,500 German Jews as well, on October 22 and 23, 1940. And when a renewed wave of deportations into the Generalgouvernement was undertaken in early 1941, 5,000 Jews from Vienna and some 4,000 from the incorporated territories were included, until the whole resettlement action was suspended during preparations for the German invasion of the S OV I E T U N I O N . Thus, although total removal of the Jews through deportation was the centerpiece of Nazi strategy in the first eighteen months of the war, in reality such moves comprised only a small fraction of Nazi deportation programs in this period.

Finding Destinations for Deportees With the invasion of the Soviet Union and the O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S ’ massacres of Soviet Jewry, Nazi Jewish policy shifted from expulsion to mass murder. But the mobile firing-squad methods used in the Soviet Union could not be employed on European Jews; they could not be shot down in the streets of Amsterdam, P A R I S , or Salonika as they were behind the front in the Soviet Union. Hence the Nazis came to a decision that Jewish deportations would be not an end in themselves, but the means of bringing the Jews to killing centers in the east. However, in late September 1941, before these centers were constructed, Hitler ordered that Germany be cleared of Jews by the end of the year. Between mid-October and midDecember, some fifty thousand German Jews were deported either to L⁄Ó D Z´ or to the occupied areas of the Soviet Union. Many of the latter group were shot on ⁄ ódz´ arrival in R I G A or K OV N O ; meanwhile, space was made in the overcrowded L ghetto when deportations of its inhabitants to the first extermination camp, at nearby C H E L⁄ M N O , began in December 1941. But a deportation program on the scale necessary to clear Germany, Poland, and other European countries of their Jews could not begin until the major E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S (B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , S O B I B Ó R , T R E -




A U S C H W I T Z , and, later and on a much smaller scale, M A J DA N E K ) were ready to go into full operation, between March and July of 1942.

Structure and Strategy for Deportations The intended victims (see W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E ) were scattered throughout Europe in countries with varying degrees of sovereignty, many of them not under German occupation. The victims in Poland were already ghettoized and under total German control, but deportation of Jews from other parts of Europe would be a far more complex problem. Eichmann had gained considerable experience in both “Jewish affairs” and “evacuations,” and his department, Section IV B 4 of the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA), became the coordinating center of these deportations to the extermination camps. Eichmann had only a small staff directly under him (12 to 13 officials plus secretarial help in the Berlin office), but it was nonetheless a far-reaching network. The German embassies in many occupied and allied states already had “Jewish advisers” who were in close contact with Eichmann. Himmler had also established his own police networks in areas under German military control, and here Eichmann had direct access to the local Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei; called Sipo). The task of Eichmann’s small outfit was to get others to perform the functions vital to the deportation program; thus a number of other agencies were of great importance.


ews were booked as passengers (one-way group fares, children half

price, and infants under four free) but were transported as cargo, in freight cars. The railways carried nearly three million people to obscure destinations from which clothing and luggage, but no people, returned.

Vital logistic support was provided by the Transport Ministry; the German Railways under its jurisdiction, supervised by State Secretary Albert GanzenMüller; and the German Railway’s Polish auxiliary, the Ostbahn. Securing “special trains” for the Jews despite the immense demands made on German rail capacity throughout the war was crucial. For deportations within Poland, the local Sipo made arrangements directly with the Ostbahn. For all other deportations in Europe, Eichmann’s deputy Rolf Günther and Eichmann’s transportation expert, Franz N OVA K , worked with German Railway authorities. The Foreign Office was another important agency in the deportation program. Its Jewish desk had long offered advice concerning the foreign-policy implications of Nazi Jewish programs, especially when foreign Jews were involved. Now it secured the right to be consulted by the SS concerning the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ” in all European territories of the German sphere where foreign-policy considerations still had to be considered. The Jewish desk of the Foreign Office worked zealously to facilitate the smooth implementation of the deportation program in many ways: urging preparatory anti-Jewish legislation, on the German model; negotiating agreements on the fate of Jewish property; exercising diplomatic pressure to assist Eichmann’s representatives in attaining final agreement for the deportations, local help in conducting roundups, and in some cases even money to pay for deportation costs; and smoothing out complications arising from the presence of large numbers of Jews with foreign citizenship, who required special consideration if embarrassing incidents were to be avoided. The actual deportations required the involvement of many other elements. In Poland, special ghetto-clearing units had to be mobilized and assembled for each operation. Even a single deportation from a German city was a major undertaking. The entire police force was mobilized; a large assembly area, usually the cargo depot, was taken over and sealed off for the day. Large numbers of municipal officials were involved: representatives of the Finance Office collected property inventories, liquidated property, and turned the proceeds over to officials of the Tax Office; personnel of the Labor Office collected workbooks; and those from the Housing Office collected keys and disposed of vacant apartments. In foreign coun-



Jews from the L⁄ódz´ ghetto board deportation trains for the Chel⁄mo death camp.

tries the process was even more complicated, because allied and satellite governments had to be persuaded to perform not only all these essential functions of the deportation itself but also the preliminary steps of definition, registration, marking, expropriation, and concentration.

Deportation for Extermination By the spring and summer of 1942, the extermination camps were ready and the full-scale deportation program of the “Final Solution” commenced. The onslaught against the Polish ghettos began in southern Poland in March, continued in Warsaw in July, and reached a climax in the fall, when the extermination camps (some of them now equipped with new, larger gas chambers) were virtually flooded with deportees beyond their killing capacity. In the Warthegau—the name by which western Poland was known after it was annexed by Nazi Germany—deportations from L ⁄ ódz´ were carried out from mid-January until mid-May and again in September, while in the intervening summer months all the other ghettos of the Warthegau were systematically liquidated. By fall, only those Jews capable of physical labor were still alive in the Warthegau. Added to this stream of victims sent from the ghettos to the extermination camps were the first deportations from other parts of Europe. In mid-February 1942 the Slovak government was approached with a request for 20,000 strong, young Jews for labor in the east, a proposal it eagerly accepted. In March, Eichmann requested the deportation initially of 1,000 and then of an additional 5,000 French Jews; this too encountered no difficulties. Full-scale deportations then quickly followed, as Germany informed S L OVA K I A of its willingness to take all of the remaining Slovak Jews, of whom 58,000 were deported by the end of the summer. In July 1942, mass deportations began from France, B E L G I U M , and the N E T H E R L A N D S , at first composed primarily of foreign Jews in order to facilitate local cooperation and acquiescence. In August, some 5,500 Croatian Jews were added to the deportations, though most of the Jews in C R OAT I A were in fact killed locally by the native fascist Ustasˇ a. And in November, more than 500 Norwegian Jews were rounded up and deported.



A second wave began in early 1943. Deportations continued from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, along with a trickle from Norway and Croatia, but the center of German attention shifted to the Balkans. Through the efforts first of the Foreign Office and then of Eichmann’s traveling representative, Theodor D A N N E C K E R , an agreement was reached with Bulgaria, which rounded up and handed to the Germans over 11,000 “alien” Jews from Macedonia and Thrace. Plans to deport native Bulgarian Jews as well foundered, however, as domestic opposition emerged and Germany’s prospects for victory began to dim after the defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943. Indeed, wherever Germany had to rely on foreign collaborators, its leverage in extracting cooperation in deporting Jews began to weaken in the postStalingrad era. Romania had cooperated with the operations of Operational Squad D along its Russian front and had carried out its own deportation of the “alien” Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina to Transnistria, where most of them perished. However, the Romanians now backed out of deporting their “own” Jews. Similarly, the Italian authorities protected the Jews in the Italian occupation zones of coastal Croatia, southern Greece, and southern France from the German onslaught. But the majority of Greek Jews lived in Salonika, in northern Greece. This region was occupied by the German military, which provided all the help Eichmann and his local representatives, Dieter W I S L I C E N Y and Alois Brunner, needed to deport 46,000 Greek Jews between March and May of 1943. The attempt to deport Jews from D E N M A R K in October 1943 failed when the local population first hid the Danish Jews and then smuggled them to nearby Sweden. In the same month, however, following the German occupation of I TA LY , 1,000 Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz.


ll Jews everywhere shared the same fate, old and young, rich

and poor, beggars and princes, children and their grandparents, all had to disappear.” —ELIE WIESEL

Elie Wiesel, “The Holocaust as Literary Inspiration,” in Dimensions of the Holocaust (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press) 1977, p. 6.

In 1944, even when the war was clearly lost, deportations continued from western Europe, northern Italy, and the former Italian occupation zone in Greece. Deportations were also resumed in 1944 from S L OVA K I A and from the last remaining ghetto, in L ⁄ ódz´ . But all of this was dwarfed by the single largest deportation operation of the “Final Solution”—the attempt to destroy Hungarian Jewry. Following the German occupation of H U N G A RY in March 1944, Eichmann mobilized his entire team of experts and descended on Budapest. Once again willing collaborators were found, who helped to concentrate and deport 437,000 Jews between mid-May and early July of that year, before the head of state, Miklós H O R T H Y , reasserted himself and brought an end to the deportations, which could proceed only with Hungarian cooperation. Ultimately, a large number of the victims of the Holocaust fell prey to starvation and disease in the ghettos, to German mobile firing squads, or to brutal murder by local fascists. But for the majority, deportation was the essential step that brought them to their death in the Nazi G A S C H A M B E R S and labor camps.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Ayer, Eleanor H. In the Ghettos: Teens Who Survived the Ghettos of the Holocaust. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1999. Greene, Joshua M., ed. Witness: Voices from the Holocaust. New York: Free Press, 2000. Hilberg, R. The Destruction of the European Jews. Student text. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985. Seliger, Mark, and Leora Kahn, and Rachel Hager, eds.When They Came to Take My Father: Voices of the Holocaust. New York: Arcade, 1996. Sender, Ruth Minsky. The Cage. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

Voices of the Shoah: Remembrances of the Holocaust [sound recording]. Rhino Records, 2000. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising [videorecording]. Ergo Media, 1993.



Dirlewanger, Oskar (1895–1945)

A senior SS officer and war criminal, Dirlewanger was born in Würzburg. He studied political science and specialized in commerce; he was an officer in World War I (1914–1918) and was wounded and awarded the Iron Cross. From 1919 to 1921 he served in various units of the Freikorps, a militia-like corps of paramilitary fighters, which led to his arrest on two occasions. In 1923 he joined the N A Z I PA RT Y for the first time; in 1926 he joined it once more, and on March 1, 1932, he made it final. He was arrested in July 1934 for indecent behavior and sentenced to two years in prison. From 1937 to 1939 he served as a volunteer in the German “Condor” Legion, which fought on Franco’s side in the Spanish Civil War. In July 1940 Dirlewanger was accepted by the SS. At his own suggestion, he set up and trained a S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando) within the SS D E AT H ’ S H E A D U N I T S (Totenkopfverbände), made up of individuals who had been convicted of poaching and other offenses. In early 1941 Dirlewanger and his special SS battalion were sent to the L U B L I N district under the command of Odilo G L O B O C N I K . Here Dirlewanger became commandant of a Jewish labor camp in Dzikow, supervised the construction of fortifications on the Bug River in the B E L⁄ Z˙ E C region, and then fought against the Polish partisan movement (see P A RT I S A N S ) in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T . In late February 1942 he and his unit were posted to B ELORUSSIA to combat the partisans in that area. In Belorussia, Dirlewanger and those under his command outdid the other Nazis in the mass murder of the civilian population. Because of his extraordinarily brutal activities, an investigation was launched against Dirlewanger. Although the findings were submitted to an SS court, he was not put on trial. In March 1944 Dirlewanger was promoted to SS-Standartenführer (rank of colonel) in the Waffen-SS, and in August of that year he was posted to W A R S AW to help quell the W A R S AW P O L I S H U P R I S I N G , where he again made a name for himself with his great brutality; that same month he was promoted to SS-Oberführer (brigadier general). Late in 1944 he was posted to S L OVA K I A with his unit to suppress the Slovak National Uprising. Dirlewanger died in Althausen under mysterious circumstances in June 1945.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Eckman, Lester Samuel and Chiam Lazar. The Jewish Resistance: The History of the Jewish Partisans in Lithuania and White Russia During the Nazi Occupation, 1940–1945. New York: Shengold, 1977. MacLean, French. The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger, Hitler’s Most Notorious Anti-partisan Unit. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1998.

Displaced Persons, Jewish With Nazi Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, the war in Europe finally came to an end. For months, Allied troops had been liberating the Nazi concentration and death camps (see C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S and E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S ) as they defeated German forces throughout Europe. The continent was in tatters, and millions of displaced persons (DPs) had nowhere to go. Their lives had been



completely uprooted, and they needed help starting anew. The British, American, and French (but not the Soviets) set up camps throughout Europe in territories formerly occupied by Germany, where the DPs could obtain food, shelter, medical care, access to information about their loved ones, and help in resettling. These camps were designed to be temporary “processing centers” providing assistance in the immediate aftermath of the war. No one expected the camps to be in operation as late as seven years later, as was the case.

Allied Preparation Anticipating the problem of DPs, the Allies had established the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943 to help the DPs until they could be sent on their way. Leaders of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and UNRRA had defined their respective duties. The army, which was in charge, agreed to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical supplies, and security to the DP assembly centers. UNRRA agreed to administer the camps and provide additional supplies, as well as recreational facilities, health and welfare services, and amenities, along with self-help programs, counseling, and vocational guidance, along with professional and technical personnel. Later on, in 1946, UNRRA also agreed to operate a records office and tracing bureau, to prepare statistics and research reports, and to supervise educational programs; the army retained ultimate responsibility for DP care, movements of United Nations citizens and DPs, and overall management of the camps.

Plans Meet Reality There were nearly 100,000 Jewish DPs when the war ended, and they were soon joined by another 150,000 Jews fleeing A N T I S E M I T I S M in P O L A N D , Russia, H U N G A RY , and Romania. Together, they became known as the she’erit ha-pleta—the “surviving remnant” of European Jewry. Unfortunately, this surviving remnant was larger than had been predicted or expected, and Jews were not the only displaced persons seeking assistance. Assembly centers were vastly overcrowded, and the UNRRA could supply only about half as many workers as it needed. Jewish DPs stayed in these centers because they had nowhere to return to—their homes, property, and communities had been destroyed by the Germans or taken over by the local population in their absence. In addition, the antisemitism that had essentially supported the Nazi persecution of the Jews had not abated, and throughout Europe, Jews were discouraged, through violence and continued persecution, from returning to the cities and villages where they had once thrived.

Living Conditions Survivors living in DP camps found that liberation from Nazi control did not necessarily mean freedom from oppression. The DP camps were makeshift operations set up in villages, former Germany military facilities, and even former Nazi camps. Living conditions were often as poor and supplies as meager as they had been during the concentration camp years. The UNRRA personnel and programs, largely coordinated by administrators in the U N I T E D S TAT E S , were not prepared to meet the specific needs of the east European refugees. In the summer of 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman sent a delegation headed by Earl G. Harrison to investigate conditions of the Jews in the DP camps in the American zone in Germany. The group found Jewish DPs were living under guard in centers that included former concentration camps, sometimes alongside



their former Nazi tormentors. Some military personnel treated the displaced persons as criminals. Housing, medical, and other facilities were inadequate, and many DPs still wore old concentration camp uniforms because they had no other clothing. No efforts were being made to reunite families or help survivors find lost relatives, and DPs were unable to send or receive mail. The Harrison Commission report stated, “We appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except that we do not exterminate them.” Following the Harrison mission and the implementation of his recommendations, living conditions in the American zone improved considerably, compared to those in the British zone. Jewish DPs in the American zone were treated as a special group that had its own requirements and were put into separate camps, where they had extensive autonomy. At their request, they were allowed to live outside the camps, and German properties were set aside for that purpose. Jewish welfare agencies were able to expand their operations. A special adviser on Jewish affairs was appointed to American military headquarters in Germany. Most of the survivors in the British zone continued to be concentrated in the former B E R G E N - B E L S E N camp. Conditions for Jewish DPs under British control remained generally uncomfortable, due in part to the political conflict brewing over the relocation of Jews to countries outside Europe, especially to British-controlled Palestine.

Resettling Displaced Persons The goal of most Jewish DPs was resettlement outside of Europe. Many were particularly interested in migrating to Palestine, with the hope of establishing a homeland there for the Jews. The United States put pressure on G R E AT B R I TA I N to loosen restrictive immigration limits on Palestine; Great Britain expected the United States to increase American immigration quotas; and Arab countries objected to increased emigration of Jews to the Middle East. Around the world, countries were willing to help resettle non-Jewish DPs to fill booming post-war jobs in agriculture, mining, and domestic work, but Jewish DPs were not welcome. In the United States, legislators influenced by cultural antisemitism, and the fear that Jewish immigrants would bring Communist ideology into American society, drafted restrictive immigration legislation that would have eliminated most eastern European Jewish DPs from consideration as immigrants. When both houses of Congress passed the Displaced Persons’ Act of 1948, more than three years after the war had ended, President Truman, who disapproved of the racist and antisemitic intent of the bill, signed it reluctantly. Then, to implement the legislation, he appointed a commission that interpreted the bill’s dictates very broadly, thus circumventing the anti-Jewish intentions of the senators and representatives who approved the bill. Relocation to the United States thus became a possibility for more Jewish DPs.

Jewish Community in DP Camps In the years following the war, as politicians around the world wrestled with the resettlement question, Jewish DPs remained in European camps awaiting their opportunity to emigrate. While they worked toward that goal, the Jews established the trappings of community in the camps, including schools, newspapers, and cultural groups. More than 70 newspapers were published throughout Europe, mostly in Yiddish and Hebrew. Aided by J E W I S H B R I G A D E G R O U P soldiers and emissaries of the Jewish Agency and of the Palestine Jewish community, and by the different welfare agencies, an extensive Jewish school system grew to include nursery schools;



elementary schools; two high schools (one in Munich and one in Bergen-Belsen); educational institutions for the ultrareligious, teachers’ seminars for women, and several Talmudic academies (yeshivas); and a vocational training network.

Ceremony marking the departure of the 50,000th displaced person to the United States (July 13, 1949).

The End of the DP Program The problem of the DPs went on for years because Britain was slow to realize that it would have to relinquish control of Palestine, and the United States was even slower in realizing that unless it attempted to receive DPs, the problem would not go away. All nations expected the United States to take the lead. The fact that so many DPs were Jews also complicated the matter. When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, more than 100,000 Jewish DPs emigrated there, despite continuing obstacles and hardships. Others dispersed to the Americas and other parts of the world, although immigration laws everywhere made this an arduous process, as well. Between 1945 and 1952, the United States accepted



about 400,000 DPs, of whom an estimated 20 percent were Jewish. About 100,000 DPs were admitted to Great Britain; the percentage of Jews is not known. All together, it is estimated that 136,000 Jewish DPs ended up in Israel. Most of the DP camps were closed by 1952; the last Jewish camp in Germany disbanded in 1953.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1994. Halamish, Aviva. The Exodus Affair: Holocaust Survivors and the Struggle for Palestine. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998. “Jewish Displaced Persons.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t018/t01826.html (accessed on August 27, 2000).

The Long Way Home [videorecording]. Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1997. Sachar, Abram Leon. The Redemption of the Unwanted: From the Liberation of the Death Camps to the Founding of Israel. New York: St. Martin’s, 1983.

Dora-Mittelbau Also known as Dora-Nordhausen, Dora-Mittelbau was a C O N C E N T R AT I O N in the Harz Mountains, 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Nordhausen, Saxony (now in eastern G E R M A N Y ). The Dora-Mittelbau camp was first mentioned on August 27, 1943, as an external unit of the B U C H E N WA L D concentration camp. On October 28, 1944, it became a major concentration camp under its own name. It had twenty-three branches, most of them nearby, inside a restricted military area.


Thousands of prisoners were transferred to Dora-Mittelbau in the second half of 1943, mostly from Buchenwald. They were put to work digging underground tunnels that were to serve as the site of a huge plant for the manufacture of V-2 missiles and other arms. Until the plant was put into operation (in the late spring of 1944), the 10,000 prisoners working on the site had no living quarters. They were housed inside the tunnels under unbearable conditions, deprived of daylight and fresh air for weeks at a time. They had to work at a murderous pace, in twelve-hour shifts. The unspeakable sanitary conditions and lack of safety precautions led to a death rate much higher than that in any other concentration camp in Germany. Only after production began was a camp of wooden barracks constructed in DoraMittelbau; the prisoners were transferred there in the summer of 1944. That fall, when maximum production was reached in the camp, Dora-Mittelbau had a permanent population in the main camp of more than 12,000 prisoners. Another 20,000 were in the satellite camps. When construction was completed and the plant went into operation, thousands of Jewish prisoners from various countries were brought to Dora-Mittelbau. They were treated with great brutality and were assigned the most physically demanding jobs. As a result, they died at higher rates than any other group of inmates in the camp. Jewish prisoners who were exhausted and could not keep pace with the work were sent to A U S C H W I T Z and M AU T H AU S E N in special transports, to be killed there. The first group of prisoners sent to Dora-Mittelbau from Buchenwald included several people who had been active in the underground organization in Buchenwald. Together with other inmates at Dora-Mittelbau, they formed an



One of the underground tunnels where V2 missiles were manufactured in the DoraMittelbau concentration camp.

underground organization. Their purpose was to sabotage the work of the camp and slow it down. When production began in 1944, these sabotage operations were intensified. The underground activists were able to seriously damage the manufacturing process and upset the timetable for the delivery of weapons badly needed by the Germans in the final months of World War II. Large numbers of prisoners were jailed on charges of sabotage; many were killed during their interrogation or were subsequently executed. More than 200 prisoners suspected of sabotage, including several of the underground leaders, were hanged in public. On April 1, 1945, the Nazis began the evacuation of the camp. Within several days, most of the prisoners had been taken out, with the majority transferred to B E R G E N -B E L S E N . Thousands were murdered on the way. At one point, near the village of Gardelegen, several thousand prisoners—mostly Jews—were crowded into a barn that was set afire, burning them all to death. Others died of disease after they finally reached Bergen-Belsen, on the very eve of liberation.

“The same way, with the same pleasure as you shoot deer, I shoot a human being. When I came to the SS and had to shoot the first three persons, my food didn’t taste good for three days, but today it is a pleasure. It is a joy for me.” —Hans Karl Moeser, Dora-Mittelbau SS Officer

On March 25, 1945, Dora-Mittelbau and its satellites contained 34,500 prisoners. Two weeks later, on April 9, the camp was liberated by G R E AT B R I TA I N forces. They found only a few prisoners remaining. Between August 7 and December 31, 1947, an American military tribunal, which was independent of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, tried nineteen former staff members of the Dora-Mittelbau camp. Fifteen of them were found guilty. The protective-custody camp leader, S S officer Hans Karl Moeser, was sentenced to death by hanging. In his trial statement, he said: “The same way, with the same pleasure as you shoot deer, I shoot a human being. When I came to the SS and had to shoot the first three persons, my food didn’t taste good for three days, but today it is a pleasure. It is a joy for me.” The other defendants received sentences that ranged from five years to life imprisonment.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Beon, Yves. Planet Dora: A Memoir of the Holocaust and the Origins of the Space Age. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997. Faber, David. Because of Romek: A Holocaust Survivor’s Memoir. El Cajon, CA: Granite Hills Press, 1997.

Drancy Drancy was a transit and detention camp for the Jews of F R A N C E , from which they were sent to F O R C E D - L A B O R and E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S . The camp was established in August 1941 in the northeastern P A R I S suburb of Drancy. It was situated in a four-story concrete building, which before the war had served as police barracks. There was a 10-foot lookout tower at each of its four corners. The camp was under twenty-four-hour guard by French policemen armed with machine guns. The outer road had a barbed-wire fence on each side. Four satellite camps were later added; they housed the artworks, valuable furniture, household goods, and books that were confiscated from Jews who had been arrested and deported. The camp was able to hold 4,500 prisoners. From August 21, 1941, to August 17, 1944 (liberation day), some 70,000 prisoners passed through Drancy. On June 22, 1942, the first transport, consisting of 1,000 Jews, left Drancy for A U S C H W I T Z Birkenau. The last one left Drancy about two years later, on July 31, 1944. Between these two dates a total of sixty-four transports left Drancy, with 64,759 Jews aboard. The vast majority went to Auschwitz. Of the Jews who went to their death from Drancy, more than 20,000 were native French, 15,000 were Polish, and 6,000 were German nationals.

Organization and Administration The organization and structure the Drancy camp were modeled along the lines of Nazi C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S . Its history can be divided into two distinct periods: During the first period, from August 21, 1941, to July 1, 1943, it was administered by the French. During the second, from July 2, 1943, to August 17, 1944, it was run by the Germans. Although three high-ranking French police officers ran the camp during the first period, it always under the control of the German Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei; called Sipo) and S D (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) commanders in France. On July 2, 1943, Alois Brunner took charge of the camp, removing all the French commanders from their posts. He ran the camp with the help of four S S officers. The inmates’ conditions deteriorated greatly during this time and an intensive effort was made to deport a larger number of Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Under Brunner’s administration, prisoners were assigned functions previously performed by the French police. The members of this internal police service played an important role in the life of the camp. At the beginning of August 1944 the Allied forces, including Britain and the United States, reached Paris. On the night of August 15, the Germans in Drancy hastily burned all the camp documents. The next day they fled, leaving 1,542 prisoners behind them. On August 17, the consul general of Sweden, Raoul Nordling, took over control of the camp and asked the French Red Cross to care for the inmates. The camp was liberated.



Deportation of the Brin family from Drancy.

Prisoner Life at Drancy Solidarity and mutual help became the rule among the Drancy prisoners, in an early manifestation of resistance. The first escape took place within ten days of the camp’s establishment. From August 21, 1941, to August 17, 1943, there were 41 successful escapes, and an untold number of unsuccessful attempts. In September 1943 the prisoners began digging an escape tunnel, through which all the prisoners would be able to disperse. Running 4.5 feet below the surface, the tunnel began underneath the camp commandant’s office. From there it passed under the barbedwire fence. The planned exit was an underground air-raid shelter beyond the camp boundary. Seventy prisoners worked in three shifts on the tunnel, day and night. On November 8, 1943—when no more than 98 feet remained to be excavated (a day’s work)—the Germans discovered the tunnel. As punishment, many prisoners were executed, among them the leader of the camp underground organization, Robert Blum. The food rations in the camp were tiny, and the prisoners were severely undernourished. The shortage of food was a constant problem, with the daily ration ranging from 600 to 800 calories per person. The situation improved after mid-November, 1942, with the help of French Jewish organizations and the Red Cross. Food parcels were also received in the camp from the families of the prisoners. However, once Brunner took over, these supplies dwindled noticeably. The Jews’ cultural and religious life persisted in Drancy despite the difficult conditions. Religious customs were observed, and hundreds of prisoners attended prayer services. The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement



(Yom Kippur) were celebrated in the camp synagogue, which was established in September 1941. Many prisoners also attended regular Sabbath services. On July 20, 1942, the Germans prohibited any further Jewish religious observance. Many cultural activities took place in the camp, including a variety of concerts and literary evenings. Books were smuggled in, and a school was set up for the children. The school continued to function in secret even after January 1943, when it was officially closed down on German orders. Men, women, and children were among the prisoners detained in Drancy and deported from there. Among the most famous were the French poet Max Jacob, who died in the camp in 1944; Pierre Masse, a French senator; the ballet director René Blum; the writer Tristan Bernard; Marcel Dassault, an aircraft builder; and Jankiel Handelsman and Joseph Dorembus, who were later among the organizers of a mutiny in Auschwitz-Birkenau, on October 7, 1944. After the war a monument was erected, at the place where the camp’s front gates once stood, to commemorate the Jews who were deported to the extermination camps from Drancy.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Butler, Hubert. The Children of Drancy. Westmeath, Ireland: Lilliput Press, 1988. Josephs, Jeremy. Swastika Over Paris. New York: Arcade, 1989. Klarsfeld, Serge. French Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

DROR (DEROR). SEE YOUTH MOVEMENTS. DÜNABURG. SEE DVINSK. Dvinsk Dvinsk is a city in southeast L AT V I A , on the Western Dvina River. In 1935 the Jewish population of Dvinsk numbered 11,116, of a total of 45,160 people. In June 1940, L ATVIA was incorporated into the S OVIET U NION . On June 26, 1941, four days after their invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans occupied the city of Dvinsk. Within several days, all the Jewish males aged 16 to 60 were assembled in the main square and taken to prison. For a week they were subjected to torture and F O R C E D L A B O R . Then the Germans began killing them. By July 16, according to official German accounts, 1,150 Jews had been murdered. Latvian police and volunteer helpers burned down the synagogues—sometimes while Jews were inside or after they had been forced to enter. Only two synagogues were left intact. In the second half of July, a decree was issued requiring the Jews to wear a yellow badge (see B A D G E , J E W I S H ).

The Ghetto During the last week of July, the Jews were relocated into a ghetto. The site chosen for this purpose was the Latvian military barracks on the banks of the Dvina



River, north of the city. The place was unfit for human habitation: it had no running water or other sanitary facilities, and it was much too small for the number of Jews crowded into it. A few days later, thousands of Jews were brought into the ghetto from the neighboring towns of Griva, Kra¯slava, Preil¸i, Viski, and Lı¯vanı¯. By early August, between 14,000 and 16,000 Jews were packed into the ghetto. A J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council) was put in charge, and its various subcommittees tried to improve the housing and sanitary conditions. The ghetto had a Jewish police force, a hospital staffed by fifteen doctors and many other personnel, a pharmacy, an orphanage, and a burial society. After setting up the ghetto, the Germans embarked upon the systematic murder of its population, with the assistance of the Latvian police. According to official German accounts, a total of 9,012 Jews were killed in just a little over a month. By the end of August 1941, 7,000 Jews were left in the ghetto, most of them workers employed by the German army or surviving members of the Jewish police force and their families.


n late July or early August 1941, hundreds of elderly Jews were

murdered. Not long after, thousands of Jews from the neighboring towns were shot to death in pits prepared in the Pogulanka Forest, 5 miles from the city. Then in August, thousands of Dvinsk Jews were murdered in the Pogulanka Forest, including 400 children from the ghetto orphanage.

On November 7, 1941, a mass murder campaign (Aktion) was launched that lasted for two days. Between 3,000 and 5,000 Jews were murdered at Pogulanka Forest. The first to be killed were the old, the ill, and orphans. Next came people who were unemployed or whose work was not essential in German eyes. “Essential” workers had been issued special pink passes on the eve of the mass murder. Their turn came at the end. In late November, the ghetto was put under strict quarantine because an epidemic had broken out. The quarantine was in force for four months. While it lasted, the ghetto was cut off from its sources of supplies. Many people died of starvation. When the quarantine was lifted in the spring of 1942, 1,000 Jews were left in the ghetto. They included the ghetto staff and members of their families, and a few who had managed to escape the mass murder, among them children hidden by local farmers. Half of these Jews lived in the ghetto and the others in their workplaces. On May 1 the ghetto and the several hundred Jews who were in it at the time were destroyed. Only 450 Jews were left in Dvinsk. These were mostly young men and women with no family ties, and a few orphaned children. Many of the young people acquired guns and practiced using them. Some tried to escape in order to join the guerilla fighters in nearby B E L O R U S S I A , but most were unsuccessful.

Deportation In late October 1943 the Germans moved the surviving Jews of Dvinsk to the Kaiserwald camp. Some Jews resisted arrest with the arms they had, but only a few managed to escape. Several dozen Jews were left in the city, working for the security police. On the eve of the German withdrawal from Latvia in 1944, they, too, were taken to the camps. In April of that year, the Germans opened the mass graves in the pits at Pogulanka Forest and burned the corpses in an effort to obliterate the traces of their crimes against the Jews of Dvinsk. On July 27, 1944, the Soviet Union’s Red Army occupied Dvinsk. About 20 Jews were found there; they had survived by hiding. By 1946, 2000 Jews had once again gathered in the city. They established an official Jewish community organization, synagogue, cemetery, Yiddish drama circle, and Jewish culture society. In the years that followed, the Jewish community in Dvinsk dwindled in size once more, and its cultural activities were discontinued. In 1972 the Jewish cemetery was closed. A memorial for the Nazi victims, which the authorities put up in the city, makes no mention of Jews.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Ezergailis, Andrew. The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941–1944. Washington, DC: US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1996. Reproduced in part at http://vip.latnet.lv/LPRA/Ezergailis_ preface.html Press, Bernhard. The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, 1941–1945. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999. Schneider, Gertrude, ed. The Unfinished Road: Jewish Survivors of Latvia Look Back. Praeger, 1991.

Economic-Administrative Main Office The Economic-Administrative Main Office (WVHA; Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshaupt-AMT) administered the economic activities of the S S , and was based in B E R L I N . It was formed on February 1, 1942, and was headed by the SS commander Oswald P O H L . Among the WVHA’s responsibilities was the operation of the C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S . The camps were included under the WVHA’s authority because the Nazi organization planned to use camp prisoners as factory and construction workers in the manufacture of weapons and other war-related industries. The section within the WVHA that was in charge of the camps negotiated contracts with industrial firms for the use of concentration camp prisoners. These contracts spelled out the number of prisoners to be employed by the company, the kind of work the prisoners would perform, the food and accommodations they would receive, and the money that the firms would pay the SS per prisoner for each day worked. By hiring out its Jewish prisoners, the SS was increasing its contribution to Germany’s war economy. At first these work arrangements improved living conditions for the majority of the prisoners, but not for long. On the one hand, the WVHA management was constantly trying to raise the prisoners’ productivity. On the other hand, no attempts were made to give the prisoners better accommodations and nourishment or proper training and supervision. Instead, the WVHA resorted to brute force and severe punishments in an effort to raise the prisoners’ work output, exhausting them in the process. This was of little concern to the WVHA, however, since the concentration camps received an endless supply of prisoner workers from the occupied territories of the Reich (Nazi German empire). The prisoners who worked on construction projects suffered more than those employed in the manufacture of valuable technical products. On September 15, 1942, Pohl agreed to supply Albert Speer (Hitler’s chief architect and minister for weapons and war production) with “fifty thousand ablebodied Jews” for the A U S C H W I T Z extermination camp. Pohl played an important role in expanding Auschwitz into a huge industrial and extermination complex. As far as the WVHA was concerned, Jews were “subhumans” who were there to serve the Nazis’ economic and political purposes. In the summer of 1944, the WVHA had trouble supplying the concentration camp commanders with even the minimum of food and clothing for the prisoners. At the same time, it arranged for even more work projects. Albert Speer was concerned about the growing influence of the WVHA in the weapons industry, and in October 1944 he ordered that any further use of prisoners must have his personal approval. This did not prevent him from approving the use of prisoners to transfer



German weapons manufacturing plants to bombproof mines. This operation resulted in the death of many of the prisoners who worked in the project.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Browning, Christopher R. Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

The SS. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1989.

Edelstein, Jacob (1903–1944)

Jacob Edelstein was the chairman of the J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council) in the T H E R E S I E N S TA D T ghetto. Born in Gorodenka, Galicia, he received a religious Zionist upbringing. Zionists support the establishment of a homeland for Jews. During World War I (1914–1918) his family moved to Brno, the capital of Moravia, and from 1926 he was active in the Tekhelet-Lavan and He-Haluts Zionist Y O U T H M OV E M E N T S . In 1929 he was elected Tekhelet-Lavan representative at the HeHaluts main office, and in 1933 he was appointed head of its Palestine Office in Prague. In the summer of 1937 Edelstein emigrated to Palestine. Disappointed with that situation, he returned to Prague after just three months. There he resumed his work as director of the Palestine Office. When Germans marched into Prague on March 15, 1939, the members of the Zionist leadership of Czechoslovakia decided it was their duty to stay on and not abandon the Jewish population at a time of crisis. Edelstein became the leading personality in the Zionist leadership. He was put in charge of emigration to Palestine, and before long he was the official representative of the Jews in contacts with the Germans. Until he was sent to Theresienstadt on December 4, 1941, Edelstein left the country for several trips abroad, with the G E S TA P O ’s permission, to look for ways and means to speed up the emigration of Jews. In May 1939 he visited Palestine, in November he was in Trieste, I TA LY , and at the end of that month he was in V I E N NA ; in February 1940 he spent two days in Geneva and from there went to B E R L I N . He visited Bratislava in the fall of 1940, and in March 1941 he went to Amsterdam. In each of these places Edelstein met with the Jewish community leaders and the Zionist leadership, shared his information with them, and warned them of possible future developments. He had several opportunities to stay abroad rather than return to Czechoslovakia, but he always went back to Prague.

Jacob Edelstein.

On October 18, 1939, Edelstein, with a group of one thousand men from Moravská Ostrava, left for Nisko, south of L U B L I N , as part of a German plan for the “resettlement” of Jews in the Lublin district (see N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). This plan ended in failure, and some of the deportees were returned to their place of origin. Edelstein went back to Prague in November 1939. His Nisko experience convinced him that he must do everything in his power to ensure that the Jews of Czechoslovakia would not be sent to P O L A N D ; he had seen what was in store for Jews in German-occupied Poland. It was now his major goal to persuade the Germans to let the Jews stay in the Protectorate of B O H E M I A -M O R AV I A and to utilize them as manpower. Jewish labor as a means of saving Jewish lives became the core of Edelstein’s policy. Accordingly, he made numerous proposals to the Nazi authorities suggesting that they utilize Jews as laborers.


In October 1941 the Germans decided to establish the Theresienstadt ghetto as a temporary way to deal with the Jews of the Protectorate and to provide a base from which deportations could take place. The Jewish leadership, headed by Edelstein, believed that the founding of Theresienstadt was the successful result of their efforts to keep the Jews in the Protectorate. They did not know that Theresienstadt was only a temporary arrangement. Edelstein arrived at Theresienstadt on December 4, 1941, and became the first chairman of its Judenrat. Under his leadership, the Judenrat’s emphasis in the ghetto was on educating the young and making the ghetto a productive establishment. In January of 1943 Edelstein was dismissed from his post by the Germans, on the charge that there was a discrepancy between the registered population of the Theresienstadt ghetto and the actual figure. On December 18, 1943, he was deported to A U S C H W I T Z , where he and his family were shot to death on June 20, 1944. Edelstein’s activities in Theresienstadt have been the subject of dispute. Those who find fault with him charge him with cooperating with the Nazis and with misreading the facts of the situation. Their criticism is directed at his policy, but his personal honesty and integrity have never been argued. Others regard Edelstein as a hero who sacrificed himself for the sake of his people.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bondy, Ruth. “Elder of the Jews”: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt. New York: Grove Press, 1989. Roubickova, Eva Mandlova. We’re Alive and Life Goes On: Theresienstadt Diary. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Eichmann, Adolf (1906–1962)

Adolf Eichmann was the Nazi official who played a central role in organizing the anti-Jewish policies that resulted in the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N .” Eichmann was born in Solingen, in the Rhineland, but when his mother died when he was eight years old, the family—the father and five children—moved to Linz, A U S T R I A . Eichmann did not complete secondary school. After holding several different jobs, he became a traveling salesman for an American oil company, Vacuum Oil. In 1933 he had a work-related motorcycle accident in which he was seriously injured, and was dismissed from his job. Meanwhile, the previous year an acquaintance, Ernst K A LT E N B R U N N E R , had persuaded Eichmann to join the Austrian National Socialist party, and eventually also the S S . When the SS was outlawed in Austria in 1933, Eichmann, now unemployed, moved to G E R M A N Y where he enlisted in the Austrian unit of the SS and went through military training. He then served for a while at the D AC H AU concentration camp.

“Image not available for copyright reasons”

In October 1934 Eichmann volunteered to work in the central office of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) and moved to Berlin. The SD was then headed by Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , with Heinrich H I M M L E R as chief of police. Eichmann came to regard the solution of the “Jewish question” in the Third Reich as his life mission. Eichmann was one of the chief planners and implementers of SS anti-Jewish operations. When the SD and the G E S TA P O joined in an effort to speed up the emi-



gration of the Jews from Germany, Eichmann was sent in 1937 to Palestine and Egypt on a fact-finding mission. Eichmann’s conclusion was that increased immigration of Jews into Palestine was not desirable, since the establishment of a Jewish state was not in the interest of the Third Reich. Following the annexation of Austria to Germany in March 1938, Eichmann was sent to V I E N NA to organize the emigration of the Jews. His organizational talent and his ability to put Nazi ideals into practice soon surfaced. Eichmann evolved a method of forced emigration that consisted of three elements: undermining the economic condition of the Jews by confiscation of their property; terrorizing them by the use of force; seizing control of Jewish communal institutions and forcing their leaders to cooperate (a foretaste of the J U D E N R AT ). In August 1938, to streamline the emigration process, Eichmann set up the C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N (Zentralstelle Für Jüdische Auswanderung). The purpose of this office was to strip the Jews of their belongings, forcing them to seek emigration to some other country with the help of some Jewish organization (mainly the J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E ). Eichmann also took direct action to expel Jews, forcing some of them into a no-man’s-land across the Austrian border. Contrary to his previous doubts concerning Jewish immigration into Palestine, he began cooperating with the Jewish organizations that were running A L I YA B E T (“illegal” immigration). When the Germans seized control of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A , Eichmann introduced the system of forced emigration to Prague, and, in the summer of 1939, he established in the Czech capital a Central Office for Jewish Emigration, modeled after the Vienna office.

Whenever possible, Eichmann blocked any opportunity for saving Jews.

Eichmann’s Influence Grows During 1938 and 1939, Eichmann’s authority increased rapidly. The R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) was created by Himmler in September 1939 and headed by Heydrich. Meanwhile Eichmann was appointed head of the Jewish section in the Gestapo, whose chief at the time was Heinrich M Ü L L E R . In 1939 and 1940, Eichmann played the central role in the expulsion of Poles and Jews from the Polish areas that had been incorporated into the Reich (see D E P O RTAT I O N S ). He had already established the pattern for the mass expulsion of Jews in an operation in which Jews from Vienna and Czechoslovakia were deported to Nisko (see N I S KO A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). In October 1940, Eichmann personally led the expulsion of 6,500 Jews from Baden-Pfalz and the Saar district to the south of F R A N C E . Eichmann’s idea was to create a huge police-controlled ghetto on Madagascar, a tropical island off the coast of Africa. His operation was probably connected to the M A DAG A S C A R P L A N that was being prepared by the German Foreign Ministry. At that point, Eichmann was in undisputed control of the Jewish populations of Germany, the Ostmark (Austria), and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. From time to time he summoned the leaders of these Jewish populations to his office in Berlin to give them his orders, especially concerning the issue of forced emigration—orders that were then carried out under the watchful eye of Eichmann’s representatives in the respective locations. He had a network of officials in most of the German-occupied countries and in the satellite states, where they served as “advisers” to the governments, their task being to promote the implementation of anti-Jewish policies. Only the Scandinavian countries—D E N M A R K , Norway, and Finland—had no Eichmann representatives. The more prominent of the representatives were Alois Brunner, Theodor D A N N E C K E R , Dieter W I S L I C E N Y , and Roll Günther (Eichmann’s deputy).



Eichmann and the “Final Solution”

By October 1940, Eichmann was in undisputed control of the Jewish populations of Germany, the Ostmark (Austria), and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Eichmann’s activities intensified with the decision to execute the “final solution of the Jewish question,” and the acceleration of the war against the S OV I E T U N I O N . Eichmann began prohibiting the emigration of Jews from the European continent, and he quit cooperating with the organizers of Aliya Bet. In October 1941, the emigration of Jews was prohibited by order of Himmler, and the deportation of Jews from Germany to the east began. Preparations for mass murder had begun even earlier, in the summer of 1941, when Eichmann, on Himmler’s order, held talks with Rudolf H ÖSS , the commandant of A USCHWITZ , on the practical details of the mass murder. In October 1941 Eichmann, now a lieutenant colonel, took part in more discussions on the implementation of the “Final Solution.” Since Eichmann was the officer in charge of transporting the Jews of Europe to the extermination sites, Heydrich asked him to organize the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E . Eichmann sent invitations to the various officials, drafted Heydrich’s address to the conference, and took down the minutes. All government bodies that had a part in the “Final Solution” participated, and the implementation of the operation was outlined. Following the conference, Eichmann called in his representatives from the various countries to plan the details of carrying out the operation. In 1942 and 1943, the years in which Jews from all over Europe were being deported to the extermination camps in P O L A N D , Eichmann’s office was responsible for issuing orders about the time and place of departure of the transports, the number of deportees, and so on. Rules were laid down on rounding up the Jews, seizing their homes, and confiscating their property. Eichmann saw to it that in Germany itself, his section would benefit from the jewelry and other valuables stolen from the Jews. Eichmann managed the details of the undertaking and maintained a regular timetable for the deportation trains going to the extermination camps. The schedules were coordinated with the railway authorities in each country. He made several visits to the camps and was well versed in the murder procedure. Eichmann was not directly involved in the extermination actions in Poland or the areas that had belonged to the Soviet Union, nor did he take any part in the activity of the O P E R AT I O NA L S QUA D S (Einsatzgruppen). However, through his representatives, he was active in all the other European countries where Jews were being sent to their death. A problem that confronted Eichmann and his associates was the treatment of the partners of mixed marriages and their progeny (see M ISCHLINGE , or Part Jews). While there were many discussions on the subject, the issue was never completely resolved.

Extermination of Hungarian Jewry

Adolf Eichmann, seated in the bullet-proof box during his trial on April 24, 1961, flanked by two men in uniform.


Although he was responsible for coordinating many such operations, it was only in H U N G A R Y that Eichmann was personally in charge of the deportations. Immediately after the occupation of the country by German forces on March 19, 1944, Eichmann arrived in Hungary, accompanied by a large team of aides that he had assembled at the M AU T H AU S E N camp in preparation for the invasion. Between May and early July, he deported 440,000 Jews from all the provinces that were then part of Hungary, with the cooperation of the Hungarian authorities. Although the Hungarians stopped the deportations in early July, Eichmann was able to resume his murderous operations by October 1944, following the A R R O W C R O S S P A R T Y ’s political takeover in Hungary. When it was no longer possible to send the Jews to Auschwitz by train, since the murders in the gas chambers there had stopped and the eastern front had drawn near, Eichmann put 76,000 Jews on D E AT H M A R C H E S to Austria, from which they were to be sent to forced-labor camps in Germany.


While in Hungary, Eichmann encountered various plans to rescue the Jews. One such effort was the rescue work carried out by Raoul W A L L E N B E R G , in conjunction with other representatives of neutral countries, which continued despite everything Eichmann did to sabotage it. Another rescue attempt was the “Blood for Goods” plan, which involved a proposal to set Jews free in exchange for a supply of trucks and other goods needed by the Germans. In the Europa Plan conceived in Slovakia, Jews were to be released in return for a large payment in U.S. dollars. Whenever possible, Eichmann blocked any opportunity for saving Jews. In two instances Eichmann was forced to agree to the liberation of some Jews: in the “Repatriation” plan, which primarily affected Jews of Spanish origin trapped in Greece, and in the program for the exchange of Jews and Germans.


ichmann used the Theresienstadt ghetto as a concentration camp

for Jews from Czechoslovakia and Vienna and for Jews of privileged status and those over sixty. He tried to project Theresienstadt as a “model ghetto” to satisfy the inquiries of international authorities. After altering

After the War When the war ended, Eichmann went into hiding and then, like other SS men, fled to Argentina. He lived there with his family until May 1960, when he was captured by the Israeli Security Service and brought to Israel. In April 1961 he was put on trial before the district court in Jerusalem. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, and on June 1, 1962, Eichmann was executed by hanging. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered over the sea. The trial created a debate about Eichmann’s character. Some argued that Eichmann was a very ordinary individual who was not motivated by any special hatred of Jews, and that all he did—as he himself claimed—was to carry out the orders received from his superiors, within the general framework of Nazi bureaucracy. Others believe that Eichmann was the personification of the spirit of inhumanity in Nazism and its ability to conceive of and carry out its “Final Solution.”

its appearance with temporary improvements, he showed it to Red Cross commissions as an example of a typical Jewish ghetto to refute published reports of Nazi atrocities. The so-called “ghetto for the aged” was, however, no more than a transit camp, from which a great many trains left for extermination camps.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin Books, 1994. Harel, Isser. The House on Garibaldi Street: The First Full Account of the Capture of Adolf Eichmann. New York: Viking Press, 1975.

The Hunt for Adolf Eichmann [videorecording]. A&E Home Video, 1994. Reynolds, Quentin James. Minister of Death: The Adolf Eichmann Story. New York: Viking Press, 1960.

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann [videorecording]. PBS Home Video, 1997.

Eicke, Theodor (1892–1943)

Theodor Eicke was the commandant of concentration camps and of S S D E AT H ’ S - H E A D U N I T S (Totenkopfverbände). Born in Hüddingen, Eicke served in the German army from 1909 to the end of World War I in 1918 and then became a police informant. He joined the N A Z I PA R T Y and the SA (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) in 1928, and in 1930 transferred to the S S . Eicke was close to SS chief Heinrich H I M M L E R and he was promoted rapidly. In June 1933 he was appointed commandant of the D A C H AU concentration camp, with the rank of Oberführer (brigadier general). In this post he introduced his own methods in the administra-



tion of the camp, the torture of prisoners, and the manner in which the SS-Death’s Head Units camp guards conducted themselves. These methods, which were exceptionally cruel, became standard for all the C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S in G E R M A N Y . Eicke played a key role in the “Night of the Long Knives” (Nacht der langen Messer) on June 30, 1934, when the top echelon of the SA was wiped out. Eicke himself shot the SA chief, Ernst Röhm, after the latter refused to commit suicide. The following month, Eicke was appointed chief of the concentration camps’ administration and of the SS guard formations. In November 1939 he became commander of the Totenkopf Division of the Waffen-SS—the military branch of the SS. Under his command, the division took part in the fighting in F R A N C E and on the eastern front. The division’s first criminal action was the murder of some 100 British prisoners of war in France on May 26, 1940; many such acts followed. Eicke was killed on the eastern front on February 16, 1943, while serving as an SS-Obergruppenführer (lieutenant general) in the Waffen-SS.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Hohne, Heinz. The Order of the Death’s Head; the Story of Hitler’s S.S. New York: CowardMcCann, 1970.

Memory of the Camps [videorecording]. PBS Video, 1989.

Elkes, Elchanan (1879–1944)

A Jewish physician, Elchanan Elkes was chairman of the Jewish Council of Elders, the Nazi-initiated Jewish governing body, in the K OV N O ghetto in L I T H UA N I A . He was born in the Lithuanian village of Kalvarija, close to the German border. Elkes received a traditional Jewish and Hebrew education. While still a youngster, he was sent to K OV N O to attend school. He completed his medical studies in Königsberg, G E R M A N Y , and for seven years was village doctor in Berezino, in B E L O R U S S I A . During World War I, Elkes served as a medical officer in the Russian army, and he received numerous decorations. From the early 1920s, he headed the internal-medicine department in the Bikkur Holim Jewish hospital in Kovno. Elkes was reputed to be one of the best doctors in L I T H UA N I A ; among his patients were heads of state and diplomats.

Elchanan Elkes (l), chairman of the Council of Elders in the Kovno ghetto, with Dr. Moshe Berman. Photograph taken by Zvi Kadushin, the Kovno photographer whose clandestine camera recorded life in the ghetto.


Elkes was a Zionist—one who supported the idea of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine—and he was close to members of He-Haluts, an association of pioneering Zionist youth. During the period of Soviet rule in Lithuania (1940–1941), Elkes was physician to Moscow’s representative in Lithuania. He made use of his contacts there to help obtain exit permits for thousands of Polish Jewish refugees who were stranded in Lithuania. On June 24, 1941, the Germans captured Kovno. Thousands of Jews were arrested and murdered by the invaders and their Lithuanian collaborators. The remaining 30,000 Jews were ordered to move into a restricted area that would become known as the Kovno ghetto, and to choose a head for a newly established Council of Elders. On August 4 an emergency meeting was called, which was attended by twenty-eight leaders from all walks of Jewish life in the city. Elkes was nominated unanimously for the position and, with a heavy heart, he accepted it. He was sixty-two years old and in failing health.


Elkes headed the Council of Elders from the time it was founded until it was disbanded. All who came into contact with him were impressed by his moral stature and devotion to the Jewish cause, his courage and dignity in his dealings with Nazi officials, his unpretentious manner when he was with fellow Jews, and his modest way of life. Elkes was highly respected by the Jewish ghetto population; his personal qualities contrasted sharply with the corruption and haughtiness shown by other members of the Council. Elkes approved of anti-Nazi underground activities in the Kovno ghetto. Despite the danger involved, he helped organize supplies for the members of the General J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A N I Z AT I O N (JFO) who had escaped from the ghetto to fight with anti-Nazi partisan groups in the forests. Elkes’s commitment to resistance influenced other members of the Council of Elders to support the JFO.


very opportunity for resistance should be exploited, especially

in matters of honor.” —Elchanan Elkes

In early July, 1944, when the Red Army was not far from Kovno, the Nazis transferred the Jews of the Kovno ghetto to G E R M A N Y . Elkes risked his life and appeared before the ghetto commandant, Wilhelm Göcke, to urge him to drop the transfer plan. Göcke bluntly refused, but he allowed Elkes to leave unharmed. A few days later the ghetto was evacuated. Elkes was transferred, with many of the surviving Jews, to the Landsberg concentration camp in Germany, where he was put in charge of the hospital hut. Soon afterward he fell ill. He died on October 17, 1944. About a year before his death, while still in the ghetto, Elkes sent his children in England a final testament in Hebrew. He wrote: “With my own ears I have heard the awful symphony of weeping, wailing, and screaming from tens of thousands of men, women, and children, which have rent the heavens. No one throughout the ages has heard such a sound. Along with many of these martyrs I have quarreled with my Creator, and with them I cried out from a broken heart, ‘Who is as silent as you, O Lord’” (a bitter allusion to a well-known prayer, “Who can compare to you, O Lord”).

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Elkes, Joel. Dr. Elkhanan Elkes of the Kovno Ghetto: A Son’s Holocaust Memoir. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 1999.

Kovno Ghetto: A Buried History [videorecording]. The History Channel, 1997.


One of the leading figures of Hungarian Nazism, László Endre played a prominent role in many ultrarightist organizations and was the founder of the “Race-protecting Socialist Party” (A Fajvédo˝ Szocialista Párt). In 1919 he was appointed constable and in 1923 chief constable of Gödöllo˝, a position he held until the end of 1937, when he became deputy prefect of Pest county. He developed and maintained close contacts with the German Nazis, and began a close personal relationship with Adolf E I C H M A N N after Hungary’s occupation by the Germans on



László Endre (l) with unidentified person.

March 19, 1944. Endre served as undersecretary of state in the Döme Sztójay puppet government’s Ministry of the Interior, a position he held between April 9 and September 5, 1944. In this role, Endre was among those chiefly responsible for the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. He fled with the retreating Nazi forces, but was captured by the Americans and extradited to Hungary in October 1945. Tried as a war criminal, he was hanged on March 29, 1946.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Anger, Per. With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Memories of the War Years in Hungary. Washington, DC: Holocaust Library, 1981. Handler, Andrew, ed. Young People Speak: Surviving the Holocaust in Hungary. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

ENGLAND. SEE GREAT BRITAIN. ENTERDUNGSAKTION. SEE AKTION (OPERATION) 1005. Erntefest (“Harvest Festival”) Erntefest, meaning “Harvest Festival,” was the code name for an SS operation to exterminate the last surviving Jews of the T R AW N I K I , Poniatowa, and M A J DA N E K


E R N T E F E S T ( “ H A R V E S T F E S T I VA L” )

“This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions”

camps. All of these camps were located in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T —the areas of P O L A N D that were occupied by the Germans but not annexed to the Third Reich. The date chosen for Erntefest was November 3, 1943. The timing was influenced by the uprising of Jewish prisoners in the S O B I B Ó R death camp a few weeks earlier, on October 14. Heinrich H I M M L E R , the head of the SS, was concerned that there might be more uprisings in the Generalgouvernement. He thus gave the order to kill all the Jews working in the area on forced labor. Implemention of the order was entrusted to Jacob S P O R R E N B E R G , the Higher SS and Police Leader of the L U B L I N district. On the eve of the operation, Poniatowa held some 15,000 Jews. Trawniki had 8,000 to 10,000, including women and children; most of them had been taken to the camp from the Warsaw ghetto, during and after its liquidation. Eighteen thousand Jews remained in Majdanek. Erntefest was carried out as a military operation. Thousands of SS personnel and police, including Waffen-SS military units, were mobilized from all over the area. In order to avoid resistance, Erntefest was launched at the same time in all three camps; it came as a complete surprise to the prisoners. At dawn on November 3, the Trawniki and Poniatowa camps were surrounded by SS and police forces. The Jews were taken out of the camps in groups and shot to death in nearby pits that had been dug especially for this purpose. In Trawniki, background music blared forth from loudspeakers that had been set up especially to drown out the sound of the shooting. In Majdanek, the Jews were separated during the morning roll call from the rest of the prisoners. They were then taken to pits that had been dug next to the camp’s southern fence a few days earlier, and shot to death. Two powerful loud-



speakers broadcast loud dance music. On the same day, Jews from other labor camps in Lublin—from the old airfield, the armament workshops, and elsewhere— were brought to Majdanek and shot to death next to the same pits. A total of 17,000 to 18,000 Jews were murdered in Majdanek on that single day. In Poniatowa, members of a Jewish underground group offered resistance when they were about to be taken to the pits. They set fire to some barracks, but their resistance was crushed. In all three camps, Jews tried to hide in the barracks, but they were caught, either on November 3 or on the days that followed, and put to death. Hundreds of Jews were left behind in each camp in order to burn the bodies of the victims. When the job was done, they, too, were murdered. Between 42,000 and 43,000 Jews were murdered in the Erntefest operation. This was the final widespread Nazi killing operation to take place in the Generalgouvernement area, and it brought A K T I O N R E I N H A R D to an end.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Goldstein, Arthur. The Shoes of Majdanek. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992. Kimmelman, Mira Ryczke. Echoes from the Holocaust: A Memoir. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997.


The Euthanasia Program encountered astonishingly few misgivings on religious, moral, or legal grounds.

The term “euthanasia” is generally used to describe “mercy killings,” but it was employed by the Nazis to describe their systematic killing of various groups of individuals. Before 1933, it was not unusual for German medical professionals to bring about death in certain borderline cases, especially in hospitals and nursing institutions. Doctors and nurses with strong conservative-nationalist or religious convictions ignored the clear provisions of criminal law against such acts and “assisted death” with relative impunity. When Adolf H I T L E R came to power in 1933, it was soon apparent what the Nazis had in mind when they used terms like “the nation’s health” and “racial hygiene”: the creation of a master race (Herrenvolk). This master race would exude health and be superior in mind and body to all others. In addition, the master race would claim the right to world rule for itself for all time to come. This was to be achieved by multiplying those who were regarded as healthy and racially superior, and by eliminating individuals who belonged to foreign races, those who were not needed for the superior development of the German people, and anyone who was sick or weak. Hitler wanted the H I T L E R Y O U T H to be “as hard as steel, as strong and pliant as leather, and as fast as greyhounds.” He was less concerned about the mental superiority of the “people of poets and thinkers,” presumably because he regarded intellect as a natural attribute of the Germans. As long as the Nazis confined themselves to the forced sterilization of “Rhineland bastards” (the children fathered by black troops serving in the post-World War I occupation forces), the “hereditary diseased,” and “habitual criminals,” they encountered surprisingly little resistance. Neither was there any objection to the forcible confine-



A document dated September 1, 1939 from Adolf Hitler authorizing the use of mercy killing for those with incurable illnesses.

ment of “asocial elements,” “idiots,” “shirkers,” and the disabled. When the war broke out, there was no protest against the field hospital that military doctors set up to filter “war neurotics”; likewise, there was no opposition to the formation of battalions made up exclusively of persons suffering from diseases of the ear, the heart, or the kidneys. Doctors threatened “malingerers” that they would be put into concentration camps or “probation units” (made up of convicted criminals who had been pardoned so that they could be sent to the front). Such threats were actually carried out, and they served as a means to eliminate weakness in the race. When the battle of Stalingrad was drawing to its end, only front-line troops received food rations; those not strong enough to have withstood the demands of battle were left to starve. In addition, as many as 40,000 wounded and sick troops were not given medical treatment.

Planning the Euthanasia Program The critical point came when doctors and medical aides were asked, unequivocally, to participate in the murder of at least some of their patients. This was the



By the end of 1940, 26,459 patients had been put to death, and in the first eight months of 1941, an additional 35,049 were “disinfected.”

essence of the euthanasia policy that Hitler entrusted to Reichsleiter Philip Bouhler, Dr. Karl Brandt, and doctors of their choice for implementation in the fall of 1939. The Euthanasia Program was headquartered in B E R L I N in an office at Tiergartenstrasse 4. This address led to the Nazi code name—T4—that was applied to institutions and personnel involved with the Euthanasia Program. In 1941 and 1942, T4 specialists were transferred to the east, where the program of exterminating Jews allowed them to practice on an immense scale the skills they had acquired in gassing and other forms of mass murder. Judging by available records, the Euthanasia Program encountered astonishingly few misgivings on religious, moral, or legal grounds. This may have been due to a sophisticated personnel policy, secretive methods, and the mentality of the men in charge of the institutions, who were not inclined to lodge public protests or to take part personally in the operation. Disciplinary problems were avoided by spreading killing assignments over a relatively large number of staff. There was ample opportunity for relaxation and entertainment, which enabled staff members to take their minds off their work, and a strong effort was made to keep the operation secret. In order to blunt any remaining humane feelings, hard liquor was always available and plentiful. Frequent vacations, free of charge, were granted at choice resorts in A U S T R I A for staff members and their families; in addition, there were special allowances and bonuses and various other benefits. The result was that the turnover of personnel in the T4 institutions was extraordinarily low, and no serious conflict ever developed between management and staff. Institutions where the management was unwilling or reluctant to cooperate in the operation had their patients transferred elsewhere, where no such difficulties were encountered. Even under the conditions that prevailed at the time, the Euthanasia Program was an illegal enterprise. However, the euthanasia doctors, Karl Brandt and his team, made ample use of the authorization they had been given by Hitler. German government bureaucrats who believed it was the state’s responsibility to protect, rather than attack, the weakest members of society had little influence against the Nazi party agenda to “purify” the race. The doctors who carried out the Euthanasia Program were seen by those in opposition to the program as career-minded, unprincipled, and unscrupulous individuals who were willing to take risks and not bothered by legal niceties.

Implementing the Euthanasia Program It is estimated that, up to 1939, some 200,000 to 350,000 persons had been sterilized; beginning in 1939, many of these people fell victim to the Euthanasia Program. Some escaped that fate, either because it was felt that their sterilization had rendered them harmless or that they could still be useful as manpower, or because their families had made special efforts to bring them home before it was too late. On the other hand, many of the victims of the program who were gassed, shot to death, or killed by lethal injections had not been previously sterilized; these included children and patients found in hospitals and various other institutions in territories occupied at a later stage. The first large-scale euthanasia action is thought to have taken place in Pomerania and western Prussia shortly after the Polish campaign. During 1940, four euthanasia institutions went into operation: Grafeneck, in January; Brandenburg, in February; Hartheim, in May; and Sonnenstein, in June. In the first half of the year, 8,765 persons were gassed in these four institutions, three-quarters of them in May and June, a time when world attention was focused on the Battle of France. By the end of 1940, a total of 26,459 patients had been put to death, and in



the first eight months of 1941, an additional 35,049 were “disinfected.” These figures were given by the accounting section of T4’s head office.

Euthanasia Disguised Growing criticism of the Euthanasia Program—including a sermon given by Bishop Clemens Galen in Münster on August 3, 1941—caused Hitler to bring it to an official end. However, the operation was continued up to the end of the war, under a more effective camouflage. By September 1, 1941, the date of its official termination, 70,273 people had been “disinfected,” according to T4 figures. Another figure given by T4 was the number of beds that had been made available for other purposes up to the end of 1941: 93,521. Following the transfer of the Euthanasia Program staff to A K T I O N R E I N H A R D , its functions were taken over, temporarily, by different institutions. Due to limited data, it is not possible to determine precisely how many lives were lost directly as part the Euthanasia Program. Its victims included homosexuals, foreign workers, residents of homes for the aged, residents of welfare institutions, and concentration camp prisoners. As early as August 1942, Bishop Ludwig Sebastian of Speyer, in notes prepared for a conference of bishops held in Fulda that month, stated: “Far more than 100,000 people have been the victims of euthanasia. Men over seventy are no longer to receive medicine. Who is worth being kept alive at all? Only a Nazi.” In the Nuremberg Trial, the number of euthanasia victims was estimated at 275,000.

SEE ALSO MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Burleigh, Michael. Death and Deliverance: “Euthanasia” in Germany c. 1900–1945. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Dawidlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Gallagher, Hugh Gregory. By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians, and the License to Kill in the Third Reich. New York: Henry Holt, 1990.

In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine [videorecording]. First-Run Features, 1997. Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

Evian Conference The Evian Conference was an international gathering that was convened to address the problem of Jewish refugees. It was held in Evian, F R A N C E , on the shore of Lake Geneva, in July 1938. From 1933 through 1937, about 130,000 Jewish refugees fled G E R M A N Y . For the most part, this stream of Jews leaving the country was orderly. The refugees were able to take some property with them, and they were generally able to resettle in other countries. The extreme persecution of Jews that followed Germany’s takeover of A U S T R I A in March 1938 rapidly changed the nature of the refugees’ exodus from Germany, as well as from Austria. More Jews wanted to leave, but there were new obstacles in finding places to go. Within eleven days of the annexation, President Franklin D.



K ristallnacht signaled to the world that Jews could no longer live where the Nazis ruled. At the Evian Conference, the world had already shown that it would not make room for those Jews.

Roosevelt proposed an international conference with the two-fold purpose of (1) easing the emigration of refugees from Germany and Austria; and (2) establishing a new international organization to work for an overall solution to the refugee problem. A primary motivation for the U N I T E D S TAT E S D E PA RT M E N T O F S TAT E , which had first suggested the conference, was a selfish one. The State Department wanted to reduce the pressure, exerted by some Americans, for more liberal immigration laws. Roosevelt made it clear from the start that no country would be expected to change its present policies significantly. The United States, he pointed out, contemplated no increase in its immigration quotas (limits on the number of people admitted). From July 6 to 15, 1938, delegates from thirty-two countries, including the U N I T E D S TAT E S , G R E AT B R I TA I N , France, six smaller European democracies, Canada, several Latin American nations, Australia, and New Zealand, met at the French resort town of Evian. In the opening public speech of the conference, an American delegate, Myron C. Taylor, stated that the United States would contribute to the solution by making the existing quota for German and Austrian immigrants—27,370 per year—fully available. (Up until that time the quota had been underused.) As the sessions proceeded, delegate after delegate followed the American representative in excusing his country from taking on a larger total of refugees. The British representative declared that British territories overseas were already overcrowded, were not suited to European settlement, or were unable to accept many refugees because of political conditions. Some areas, such as parts of East Africa, might offer possibilities, he thought, but only for limited numbers. Palestine, which was then under British control and the desired destination for Zionist Jews, was completely excluded from the Evian discussion by the British representative. England itself, he said, was completely populated and in the midst of an unemployment problem, and therefore not available for immigration. The delegate from France stated that his country would do what it could, but it had already reached “the extreme point of saturation as regards admission of refugees.” The Belgian emissary reported that the same situation prevailed in his nation. The Netherlands could receive more immigrants only as the refugees who were already there moved to permanent settlements. Australia could not encourage refugee immigration because, said the delegate, “as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.” New Zealand’s representative maintained that on account of economic problems, only a limited number could be accepted into his land. Due to the lingering effects of the Great Depression in North America, Canada would not accept additional immigrants, either. For most Latin American countries, unemployment was the main reason given for keeping immigration at a low rate. The tiny Dominican Republic, one of the last countries to report, stood alone offering encouragement to Jewish refugees, and volunteering to contribute large but unspecified areas where they could settle and farm the land. An American news correspondent accurately reflected the tone of the conference: “Myron C. Taylor … opened proceedings: ‘The time has come when governments … must act and act promptly.’ Most governments represented acted promptly by slamming their doors against Jewish refugees.” Before adjourning, the Evian Conference established the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (ICR) and commissioned it to work on two fronts. One task was to “approach the governments of the countries of refuge with a view to developing opportunities for permanent settlement.” The other job was to persuade Germany to allow an orderly emigration, and specifically, to permit refugees to take with them a reasonable amount of their property.



Hotel Royale in Evian, France, site of the International Conference on Refugees in July 1938.

The ICR, however, received little authority and almost no funds or support from its member nations. It is not surprising that it therefore had virtually no success in opening countries to refugees. The coming of war in September 1939 cut short its efforts to arrange with Germany for refugees to bring some property out with them. The committee soon slipped into inactivity. It was immediately evident that the Evian Conference had accomplished virtually nothing. Even as the conference closed, most observers agreed that it had failed in its main task—finding places where the refugees could go. As a result, the conference crushed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of European Jews, who had hoped that the nations at Evian would save them from an increasingly impossible situation. The Evian Conference was a watershed event. At the conference the Western democracies made it clear that they were willing to do almost nothing for the Jews of Europe. Soon afterward, K R I S TA L L N AC H T (Night of Broken Glass), which took place in the autumn of 1938, signaled to the world that Jews could no longer live where the Nazis ruled. At Evian, the world had shown that it would not make room for those Jews. Thus 1938 became a turning point in the coming of the Holocaust. By the year’s end, the world knew the Jews had to emigrate. Germany was still pressing the Jews to leave, and the Jews themselves were now anxious to do so. But the world’s doors, closed at Evian, remained shut throughout World War II. In the midst of the Holocaust, the United States and Great Britain held another conference to consider helping the Jews of Europe. The delegates to the Bermu-



da Conference of April 1943 clearly knew that the Jews were being systematically exterminated. They, too, decided to do next to nothing.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Mendelsohm, John. Jewish Emigration from 1933 to the Evian Conference of 1938. New York: Garland Publishing, 1982. Pomerantz, Jack. Run East: Flight from the Holocaust. Bloomington: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

The existence of the

Extermination Camps

extermination camps was classified as top secret in the Third Reich, and the SS coordinated an elaborate system of diversion and deception around them.

Extermination camps were Nazi camps in occupied Poland in which millions of Jews were murdered, as part of the “F I N A L S O L U T I O N of the Jewish question in Europe.” These camps had a single goal: the absolute elimination of the Jews, irrespective of age or sex. In contrast to the procedure at other camps, prisoners were not evaluated upon arrival in a selection process known as Selektionen (with some exceptions in A U S C H W I T Z -Birkenau). Everyone brought to an extermination camp, including persons fit for work, was murdered. For this reason, such camps have sometimes been called “death factories.” The systematic mass murder of Jews began when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. In the first phase, carried out primarily by the SS O P E R AT I O NA L S QUA D S (Einsatzgruppen), hundreds of thousands of Jews were shot to death. This method of killing, however, proved too slow for the Germans, and too difficult to keep secret. Thus, senior SS officers devised a different murder technique, that of gassing. This was not without precedent; the lethal use of gas had already been implemented in the Nazis’ E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M . An experiment in murdering human beings with poison gas was made on September 3, 1941, in the main camp of Auschwitz. Six hundred Soviet prisoners of war were forced into a hermetically sealed cell into which crystals of Z Y K L O N B gas were thrown; all the prisoners were soon dead of asphyxiation. Following this successful experiment, and others, in Auschwitz and elsewhere, the SS authorities in charge of the “Final Solution” made plans to construct extermination camps that would use gas for the murder operations. Thus, instead of killing the Jews where they lived throughout Europe, the Germans decided to bring them to extermination camps, all in occupied Poland: Auschwitz-Birkenau (Auschwitz II), C H E L⁄ M N O , B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , S O B I B Ó R , and T R E B L I N K A . Auschwitz-Birkenau was also a concentration camp; here, in some cases,Selektionen were made among the incoming transports. During this process, some of the arrivals were “selected” for work or to be sent on to other camps. Some scholars also classify the M A J DA N E K concentration camp as an extermination camp because there was a period when transports arriving there were handled as they were in Auschwitz, and murdered by gassing. The first extermination camp, at Chel⁄ mno, in the L / ódz´ district, was put into operation on December 8, 1941. In that camp the victims were killed in gas vans (see G A S C H A M B E R S / V A N S ). The operation functioned uninterruptedly until April



Extermination camps in Poland.

1943, was then closed for over a year, and reopened for a short while in the summer of 1944. Some 320,000 people are estimated to have been murdered there. Auschwitz-Birkenau began operating as an extermination camp in March 1942. At its height, there were four gas chambers using Zyklon B, as well as crematoria. Until it was closed in November 1944, up to 1.5 million Jews were murdered there, as were tens of thousands of G Y P S I E S and Soviet prisoners of war. Bel⁄ z˙ec, Sobibór, and Treblinka were established as part of A K T I O N ( O P E R A R E I N H A R D , the murder operation aimed at the Jews of the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , in Poland. These extermination camps used carbon monoxide gas generated by a gasoline or diesel engine. Bel⁄ z˙ec was in operation from March to December 1942, and some 600,000 Jews were murdered there; Sobibór, from April 1942 to October 1943, with 250,000 murdered; and Treblinka, from July 1942 to August 1943, with 870,000 victims. TION)

The existence of the extermination camps and their operations were classified as top secret in the Third Reich, and the SS coordinated an elaborate system of diversion and deception around them. The camps were concealed, first of all, from the prospective victims, but also from the local population and from German authorities not directly involved in the “Final Solution.” From the outside the sites had the appearance of labor or concentration camps, and the gas chambers looked as though they contained showers and disinfection rooms. The Jews who were to be sent to the camps were told that they were going to labor camps somewhere in the east; when they arrived at their destination, they were informed that they had come to a transit camp or labor camp, and that they were to take a shower while their



clothes were disinfected. As a further means of hiding the truth, the women and children were separated from the men. The actual murder operation generally lasted fifteen to thirty minutes. The bodies of the victims were removed from the gas chambers by crews of Jewish prisoners and cremated. Some Jews boldly attempted to escape from the extermination camps. Most escape attempts ended in failure, but a few succeeded, and the survivors revealed the truth about the camps to the outside world. Uprisings took place in Treblinka on August 2, 1943, and in Sobibór on October 14 of that year; in each instance, hundreds of prisoners fled the camps. On October 7, 1944, Jews of the AuschwitzBirkenau S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando), who worked in the gas chambers and crematoria, revolted. The majority of those who escaped during these outbreaks were captured and killed. The extermination camps were under the jurisdiction and administration of the SS. Auschwitz-Birkenau was attached to the E C O N O M I C -A D M I N I S T R AT I V E M A I N O F F I C E ; WVHA, which controlled most of the concentration camps in the Third Reich. The other extermination camps were administered by the SS chiefs in their respective districts. Command, administration, and guard duties within the camps were in the hands of the SS; in Bel⁄z˙ec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, the guard unit was made up of Ukrainians most of them Soviet prisoners of war. Manual labor in the camps, which included the removal of corpses from the gas chambers and their interment or cremation, was carried out by Jews selected from among the arrivals to the camps. These workers were themselves eventually murdered, as well, and replaced by new arrivals. A total of some 3.5 million Jews were murdered in the extermination camps, as well as tens of thousands of Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war.

SEE ALSO AUSCHWITZ, BEL⁄Z˙EC, CHEL⁄MNO, GENOCIDE, MAJDANEK, SOBIBÓR, AND TREBLINKA SUGGESTED RESOURCES Feig, Konnilyn G. Hitler’s Death Camps. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1981. Wigoder, Geoffrey, ed. The Holocaust. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 1996. Rice, Earle. The Final Solution. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1998.

Shoah [videorecording]. New Yorker Video, 1999.



Fascism Fascism is a political and cultural movement that arose in twentieth-century Europe. Fascism, in political form and ideology, ruled I TA LY from 1922 to 1945. The term was later applied to similar political regimes and beliefs in other countries. Fascism encourages elitism and rejects materialism, calling for absolute political rule, with no pretenses toward principles of democracy. For fascists, the state, or government, is the expression of national unity. The state is responsible for control of society and the economy. Thus, it is anti-individualist. Fascism claims to purify, strengthen, and revitalize the state, in which the individual is no more than a cell in the collective entity. Fascism rejects the theory of “natural rights” and the individualist view of society. For the fascist ideologists, both those from the beginning of the twentieth century and those of the 1930s, liberalism and Marxism are ideologies of social warfare. Fascists believe that both of those systems destroy the natural unity of the nation. Fascism’s proclaimed purpose is to restore society’s solidarity and unity. It developed as an expression of the rapid modernization processes that Europeans experienced in the late 1800s. Many profound social and economic changes occurred in the Western world at that time, and fascism was a reaction to those changes.

Roots of Fascism in Europe Italian Benito Mussolini was attracted to these new political thoughts in the early 1900s. He belonged to a movement known as “revolutionary syndicalism,” which gradually transformed into fascism. In Mussolini’s eyes, World War I (1914–1918) demonstrated the sweeping power of nationalism and provided the opportunity to put socialism into practice. Thus the emerging ideology of fascism had found a leader; the war provided the social and psychological conditions for its practical application. World War I opened up new vistas for the functions of the state. It proved that the state was able to control the economy, the means of production, and labor relations. The war showed that governments could dictate the basic elements of economic planning and mobilize all sections of society for a concentrated national effort. The war also revealed the great extent to which people were prepared to accept state authority, to forego their freedoms, to accept what was in effect a dictatorship, and even to sacrifice their lives. In other words, total war demonstrated that the national state was able to control the individual in every part of life. It showed




ascism does away with all institutions or organiza-

tions that express multiple ideas and beliefs—parliaments, political parties, a free press, and a choice of educational opportunities.

that totalitarianism—whose initial ideological features had been outlined by earlier theorists—could really exist. Italy’s revolutionary syndicalists, including Mussolini, were the first to have the opportunity to translate that lesson into terms of political victory and the seizure of power. Fascist beliefs were found throughout Europe. They differed from place to place, depending upon the particular cultural, social, and political circumstances. However, even the vast differences between the industrial centers of Northern Europe and the agricultural areas of Southern Europe could not hide the common denominator of fascism in all these countries.

Elements of Fascism Fascism came up with two tools to maintain “the unity of the nation”— corporatism and the totalitarian state. “Corporatism” symbolizes fascists’ belief in the power of politics to dominate market forces and class interests. The corporatist system is designed to allow the authoritarian state to plan the economy and settle labor relations and the differences between social classes. Once political and personal rights and freedoms are outlawed, the workers’ right to organize is also canceled. Corporatism puts an end to the power of special interests and allows the social and economic system be controlled by the state. It represents the real basis on which the totalitarian state rests. The authoritarian state seeks to control every sphere of life—politics, the economy, society, and culture. It does away with all institutions or organizations that express multiple ideas and beliefs—parliaments, political parties, a free press, and a choice of educational opportunities. It demands not only discipline but also identification and unconditional readiness for sacrifice. Indeed, totalitarianism is the cornerstone of the fascist revolution’s ideology. For Mussolini and others, the totalitarian state signified the beginning of a new era, an era in which the state has absolute priority over the individual. The individual exists only to perform his or her duty and is only a means to an end—the state’s achievement of the goals it sets itself. This means the end of liberal culture. It follows that the fascist revolution is a total revolution, a moral and spiritual revolution, which creates a new order for all sectors of society.

Influence of Fascist Ideology Mussolini, in his work The Fascist Doctrine (on which he collaborated with philosopher Giovanni Gentile), left no doubt that the state should embrace all spheres of human activity, organize them, and determine what their content should be. There was no aspect of society’s life that was not political, and there was therefore nothing that could be excluded from the state’s grip. In this sense, fascist ideology was truly revolutionary. It provided a complete alternative to the established order. Fascism’s idealism and appeal to the emotions provided the instruments for a total revolution. This revolution of the spirit had a tremendous appeal in those days all over Europe, especially among young people who had only contempt for the political and economic world of their parents. In fact, the influence of fascist ideology went far beyond the hard core of its founders and devoted followers. Much wider circles, to one degree or another, were drawn to its promise of a violent rebellion of spiritual forces and basic instincts, of primitive and unrestrained reaction against routine and convention. To many, the clarity of



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dictatorship seemed a more natural form of government than the messy give-andtake of a democracy. The impact of the fascist revolution was felt all over Europe, though politically, Italy was the only true fascist state. But, like any other ideology, fascism ran into a constant struggle with reality. It was extremely difficult to overcome social and economic interests and the influence of the traditional centers of power—the monarchy, the church, and high finance. As is true in every other movement, fascism was also forced into various compromises, which saved Italy from becoming an entirely totalitarian state.


o many disillusioned by postWorld War I politics and

economics, the clarity of dictatorship seemed a more natural and preferable form of government than the messy give-and-take of a democracy

Still, in the case of Italian Fascism, the correlation between ideology and practice was very high. The abolition of parliamentary and democratic institutions, along with deliberate and planned violence, political murder, and the physical or political crushing of the opposition, were all expressions of the fascist system’s essential character. Mobilizing the masses—through marches, mass rallies, militias, and uniformed youth movements—was an effective translation into practice of the theories taught by some of Europe’s greatest scientists. Thus a new political culture



was born, in which the state came before the individual and could demand of the individual whatever sacrifice it wanted. In the economically depressed conditions that prevailed in Europe in the 1920s and the 1930s, this political culture gathered destructive force. No society was immune to it. Interest in fascism was not limited by social class, educational level, age, religion, or origin. Everywhere, in all sectors of society and in all religious groupings, there were people ready to accept fascism as a legitimate and original third way, with a stature equal to that of Marxism and liberalism.

Fascism and Antisemitism It is important to note that A N T I S E M I T I S M was not a basic element of fascist ideology. This was the great difference between fascism and Nazism. Nazi ideology was based on the doctrine of biological determinism, in which hatred of Jews was a central element. In fascism, antisemitism differed from place to place. Italian Fascism, in its early period, was generally free of antisemitism; it developed in its later stages, gradually and often as a result of external events. The 1938 Italian racist legislation resulted from the growth of extremist nationalist trends in Italian Fascism as well as from Italy’s relationship with Nazi G E R M A N Y .


The region of France not occupied by Germany and governed from the spa town of Vichy.

There were fascist groups in F R A N C E (such as Action Française) whose ideology differed only slightly from that of Nazism, and others that were practically untouched by antisemitism. As World War II approached, however, the antisemitic dimension in French fascism increased in strength. By October 1940, the Vichy government, which was not formally a fascist government, introduced racist laws closely resembling the N U R E M B E R G L AW S . British fascism was extremely antisemitic, as was fascism in B E L G I U M , Romania, and H U N G A R Y . Spanish fascism, in contrast, was free of antisemitism. Italy had an official anti-Jewish policy that followed the introduction of racist legislation. But the persecution and hatred of Jews never came close to that in Central and Eastern Europe.

SEE ALSO GREAT BRITAIN; RACISM. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Blum, George P. The Rise of Fascism in Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Delzell, Charles F. Mediterranean Fascism, 1919–1945. New York: Walker, 1971. Eatwell, Roger. Fascism: A History. New York: Allen Lane, 1996. Laqueur, Walter. Fascism: Past, Present, Future. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Mussolini, B. Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions. New York: H. Fertig, 1968. Payne, Stanley G. A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Feiner, Leon (1888–1945) Bund

The Jewish Socialist Party, which was founded in 1897; members of the Bund worked for equal rights for Jews and many took part in underground resistance activities during World War II.


A Bund activist and member of the Jewish underground in P O L A N D , Feiner was born in K R A K Ó W and studied law at the Jagiellonian University there. As a longtime member of socialist movements and a Bund activist in independent Poland, he frequently defended leftist political activists in court. Feiner came from a background of assimilated Jews, so his cultural identity was more Polish than Jewish, but his loyalty to the Bund, as well as the increasingly anti-Jewish policy that


Poland was pursuing, brought him closer to the Jewish masses and made him want to share their fate. In the second half of the 1930s he was imprisoned in BerezaKartuska, a Polish concentration camp in which a large number of opposition figures, of various shades of political opinion, were held. When the war broke out, Feiner fled to the Soviet-occupied part of Poland, only to be put in prison. Following the German conquest of the area in 1941, he escaped and made his way back to W A R S A W . There he lived under an assumed identity on the Polish (“Aryan”) side of the city and was an underground representative of the Bund and of the Jews in the ghetto. When the Bund joined the J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A N I Z AT I O N (Z˙ydowska Organizacja Bojowa; Z˙OB), Feiner was appointed Bund representative on the “Aryan” side. With Abraham Berman (who represented the Jewish National Committee), Feiner formed the coordinating committee for contacts with the Polish underground. Feiner drafted and sent most of the Bund’s reports and messages to London and the United States. In the fall of 1942 Jan Karski, a member of the Polish underground who was sent to London in its behalf, took a message from Feiner addressed to Samuel Zygelbojm, for transmission to all the Jews in the free world. Feiner asked Zygelbojm to tell the Jews “to lay siege to all important offices and agencies of the British and the Americans, and not to move from there until these Allied powers give guarantees that they will embark upon the rescue of the Jews. They [the demonstrators] should abstain from food and water, waste away before the eyes of the apathetic world, and starve to death. By doing so they may perhaps shock the conscience of the world.”

Leon Feiner.

In the last few months of 1942, Feiner helped establish a Polish organization for giving aid to Jews and trying to rescue them. This project had been initiated by various Polish circles—Catholics, liberal intellectuals, and representatives of moderate and liberal political parties. From January 1943 to July 1944 Feiner was deputy chairman of Zegota, the Polish Council for Aid to Jews, and was its chairman from November to December 1944, until the liberation of Warsaw in January 1945. After the liberation, Feiner, who was terminally ill, was transferred to L U B L I N , the temporary seat of Poland’s new regime. One month later he died.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Korbonski, Stefan. The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939–1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.

Rescue and Resistance: Portraits of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1999. A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/ people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/ resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

Fighting Organization of Pioneer Jewish Youth The Fighting Organization of Pioneer Jewish Youth (He-Haluts ha-Lohem) was created in K R A K Ó W in mid-August 1942, as a Jewish underground organization; not in order to save lives but out of a desire “to die as Jews without the shame of dying as slaves.” The initiative for its creation came from the pioneer youth movement Akiva, which was also the guiding force in its activity. Other members came from such Jewish youth organizations as Dror, Ha-Shomer ha-Dati, Ha-



Shomer ha-Tsa’ir, and the Pioneer Youth Organization (see Y O U T H M OV E M E N T S ). He-Haluts ha-Lohem had about one hundred members.

The aim of the group was to undermine the selfconfidence of the authorities, destroy weapons and support

The organization was formed after the deportation of about 6,000 of the Jews of Kraków in June 1942 (see D EPORTATIONS ), when news had arrived of mass slaughter in parts of German-occupied eastern P O L A N D and the S OV I E T U N I O N . It was led by a four-member command: Aharon L IEBESKIND , who was responsible for obtaining arms; Avraham Leibovich (“Laban”), a member of Dror, who was appointed treasurer; Shimshon Draenger, who was in charge of the “technical office” for forging official documents; and Manik Eisenstein, a member of the Pioneer Youth Organization.

systems, and injure as many Germans as possible.

Planning for Resistance He-Haluts ha-Lohem kept in close contact with the J E W I S H F I G H T I N G O R G A Organizacja Bojowa; Z˙OB) in W A R S AW , but was independent in determining the timing and the place of its actions. The group intended to undertake anti-Nazi action primarily outside the ghetto, in order to hide their Jewish identity so that responsibility for their actions would not be placed on the ghetto, and thereby lead to the ghetto’s liquidation. ˙ ydowska N I Z AT I O N (Z

There were several reasons for this method of struggle: 1. The organization felt a sense of responsibility for the ghetto’s fate; it was better for all the Jews if no link could be established between the sabotage activities outside the ghetto and residents inside. 2. The ghetto in Kraków was small. Between the June 1942 deportation and December of the same year the ghetto area had been reduced twice; there were few hiding places inside. 3. The Kraków ghetto population was small and unstable. After June 1942 many of the residents were not from Kraków. As strangers to the members of the local underground, they were sometimes considered unreliable. 4. The creation of a labor camp in Pl⁄aszów, near the city, gave many of the Jews a sense of hope for survival. Without a feeling of desperation, it was difficult to obtain resistance support from most ghetto inhabitants. 5. Since Kraków was the capital of the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , the area outside the ghetto offered many sabotage possibilities. Furthermore, it was not impossible to operate in the “Aryan” part of the city with a handful of men and a meager supply of weapons. The aim of the group was to undermine the self-confidence of the authorities, to harm their position, and to injure as many Germans as possible. Many preparations were made for the armed struggle. Forged documents were prepared to ensure freedom of movement for members of the organization. Money for guns came from the sale of forged documents and by “expropriations” (forcible collection of money from rich Jews). Weapons were also acquired by attacking German soldiers in the middle of the night on the city boulevards. Membership in HeHaluts ha-Lohem was increased by adding members from youth movements, principally Akiva and Dror, in cities close to Kraków. He-Haluts ha-Lohem was organized by groups of five, each with a commander in contact with the principal command.

Carrying out the Plans On September 20, 1942, the first group of five went out to the forests in the Rzeszów district. Operations were not successful; expected support from a Polish underground group never materialized.



In October a group was sent to the forests in the De˛bica area. This attempt also ended in failure and in severe battle losses. From then on, the organization chose to limit opposition activities to Kraków itself. There were also plans to organize support in Warsaw and L V OV , where members could take refuge after carrying out their activities. Until November 1942, operations within the ghetto consisted of attacks on German soldiers and G E S TA P O men, seizure of their weapons, and surveillance of informers in order to liquidate them. A second fighting organization, which operated in the ghetto, carried out similar activities and also sabotaged German installations in the city and its surroundings. During that period, the ghetto served as a base for operations outside the ghetto. After members of the command had been traced, the location was transferred to the “Aryan” part of the city, and members of the organization were dispersed outside the ghetto. A large-scale operation was planned for December 22, 1942, just before Christmas, when the city would be flooded with German soldiers on holiday leave. This was to be executed with the help of several groups, including the Polish Workers’ Party. The targets of the action were cafés in the center of town where the German soldiers passed their time. Best known was the Cyganeria, which was attacked with homemade hand grenades. The Germans announced twenty dead and wounded. None of the attackers was injured in the attack, but about twenty He-Haluts haLohem fighters, returning to their base in the deserted Jewish hospital, walked into a Gestapo ambush and were taken to the Montelupich Prison. Among those captured was command member “Laban”; Aharon Liebeskind was killed in the struggle. That action concluded the organization’s operations in the city. Activity was renewed in the Wisnicz Forest after the escape on April 29, 1943, of Shimshon Draenger and Gusta Draenger, two of the primary leaders, from the Montelupich prison, where they had been held since January 1943. The Draengers and Hillel Wodzisl⁄ awski, a member of the command from Wisnicz, worked to assemble any remaining fighters. In November 1943, after its leaders were captured by the Germans, the He-Haluts ha-Lohem organization ceased to exist. Only fifteen members of He-Haluts ha-Lohem survived. Almost all of them emigrated to Israel.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Cohen, Asher. The Halutz Resistance in Hungary 1942–1944. New York: Institute for Holocaust studies at the City University of New York, 1986.

The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum of the Holocaust and Resistance. [Online] http://www.amfriendsgfh.org/Docs/gfh.html (accessed on August 28, 2000) Rescue and Resistance: Portraits of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1999. A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/ people/resister.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

“Final Solution” The “Final Solution” (in German, Endlösung) was the Nazis’ program to solve their “Jewish question”—what to do with the Jews?—by murdering every Jew in Europe. The program was started by Adolf H I T L E R in the summer of 1941. At that



time, Germans were flush with their military successes in Europe and their expected victory over the S OV I E T U N I O N .

Evolution of the Concept


he emergence of the “Final Solution” as both a con-

cept and a program was a complex phenomenon shaped by Hitler’s antisemitic beliefs, by the nature of the Nazi regime, and by the changing circumstances in which the Nazis found themselves.

The “Final Solution” was the result of a long evolution of policy stemming from Nazi A N T I S E M I T I S M . Hitler first expressed a “solution” to the “Jewish question” in 1919. Once he and his N A Z I PA R T Y won power in Germany in 1933, they tried to force Jewish emigration. When World War II started in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of P O L A N D , the Nazis planned mass expulsions of Jews. They made the leap to mass murder with the assault by the O P E R AT I O NA L S QUA D S (Einsatzgruppen) on Soviet Jews in 1941. Each new direction in Jewish policy evolved as the Germans encountered new obstacles in their drive for totalitarian control over Europe. In the very earliest document of Hitler’s political career—a letter written on September 16, 1919, to Adolf Gemlich—he expressed the view that the “Jewish question” would be solved not through emotional antisemitism and pogroms (attacks) but only through an “antisemitism of reason.” This would lead to a systematic legal struggle to deprive the Jews of their privileges and classify them as foreigners. He wrote: “The final goal, however, must steadfastly remain the removal of the Jews altogether.” The “Jewish question” remained central for Hitler in the 1920s. For Nazis, he declared, it was the “pivotal question.” The Nazi party was determined to solve it “with well-known German thoroughness to the final consequence.” For the most part, the “final consequence” was expressed in terms such as “removal,” “expulsion,” and “exclusion.” But on occasion Hitler’s language was more ominous. He made the analogy between the tuberculosis bacillus, which had to be destroyed, and the Jew— the “racial tuberculosis” which had to be removed if the German people (Volk) were to recover their health. On one occasion in 1922, he fantasized about publicly hanging every Jew in Germany and leaving the bodies dangling until they stank. Such statements indicate the depth of Hitler’s obsession with the Jews. He viewed them as the source of all of Germany’s historical misfortunes and current problems. In fact, he saw the Jews as the “greatest evil.” He was determined to get rid of the Jews in one way or another. Hitler’s statements also reveal his violent and murderous tendencies. In the 1920s, though, they did not form a grand design, blueprint, or decision for the “Final Solution” of 1941 to 1945— the comprehensive and systematic mass murder of all European Jewry. In the early 1930s, the Nazi Party did little preparation for its Jewish policy. After it took power in 1933, various Nazi factions pursued different and often conflicting policies. Hitler generally favored making laws to bring about systematic discrimination—the “antisemitism of reason” of the Gemlich letter— over the public violence of pogroms and “wild actions.” But there was not any expression of what had been so common in Hitler’s statements during the early 1920s—namely, the determination of the final goal of Nazi Jewish policy. Few Nazis seemed to be looking ahead to where the persecution of the Jews might lead. In the SS, however, as early as 1934, a report for Heinrich H I M M L E R on the “Jewish question” emphasized the need to work toward a total emigration of Jews from Germany. Emigration then became the centerpiece of SS Jewish policy. But it remained a “voluntary solution” until Germany annexed A U S T R I A (the Anschluss) in March 1938. Then Adolf E I C H M A N N , the “Jewish expert” of Reinhard H E Y D R I C H ’s S D (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service), was sent to the Austrian capital, V I E N N A . He



organized assembly-line procedures for speeding up and forcing Jewish emigration.

Forced Emigration and Economic Isolation for the Jews In 1938, expulsion began to define Nazi Jewish policy throughout Germany. Soviet Jews were ordered out of the country in the spring, followed by Polish Jews in the fall. Hermann Göring began the systematic A RYA N I Z AT I O N (transfer of ownership from Jewish to non-Jewish) of Jewish property. This radical step threatened to pauperize the Jews—to strip them of their financial resources within months, making emigration even more difficult. Joseph G O E B B E L S made his bid for power over Nazi Jewish policy by setting off the massive K R I S TA L L N A C H T pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938.


leven million Jews, from Ireland to the Urals and from

Scandinavia to Spain, were the intended victims—in short, every Jew in Europe.

In the wake of Kristallnacht, the Nazis moved to organize their various Jewish policies into a cohesive whole. Göring announced Hitler’s instructions to the Nazi leaders gathered before him on November 12, 1938: “The Jewish question is to be summed up and coordinated once and for all and solved one way or another.…; If the German Reich should in the near future become involved in conflict abroad then it is obvious that we in Germany will first of all make sure of settling accounts with the Jews.…” In the following months, Hitler approved plans for the resettlement of German Jewry. Göring established the Reich C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N , using Eichmann’s Vienna experiment as a model. The office was placed under Heydrich’s control, with the charge that the “emigration of the Jews from Germany [was] to be furthered by all possible means.” In a speech to the Reichstag (parliament) on January 30, 1939, Hitler scolded countries that criticized Germany’s treatment of its Jews, for their own reluctance to accept Jews as immigrants: “The world has sufficient space for settlements.” If, however, war broke out first, “then the result will not be the Bolshevization [communization] of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”

Hitler’s Priorities Were these threats a literal statement of Hitler’s intention to kill the Jews upon the outbreak of war? He may have had other motives. Hitler may have been pressuring governments that he thought to be under Jewish influence to accept Germany’s Jewish refugees, and not to interfere with its destruction of Czechoslovakia. Or he may have wanted to give his followers the idea that to solve the “Jewish question,” a policy more radical than emigration would be needed after the outbreak of war. Several facts support this second interpretation. First, less than two weeks before the Reichstag speech, Hitler made the same threat to the Czech ambassador, Frantisˇek Chvalkovsky—an unlikely person in whom to confide premeditated mass murder, but an entirely appropriate target for diplomatic pressure. Second, when war did break out in September 1939, Hitler did not immediately begin the systematic mass murder of the Jews under German control. Instead, with his clear approval, Nazi Jewish policy became more radical in a different way; solving the “Jewish question” still meant removing the Jews one way or another. The conquest and breakup of Poland brought an additional 2 million Jews into the German sphere, including more than half a million in the “incorporated territories” annexed directly to Nazi Germany. In addition, 7 million Poles lived in the incorporated territories. If the “Jewish question” was one major obsession in




itler let it be known that there was no longer enough terri-

tory in Poland to spare any for

deported Jews. Another solution to the “Jewish issue” would need to be developed.

Hitler’s world view, the conquest of “living space” (Lebensraum) in Eastern Europe was the other. Poland thus presented a major challenge to the Nazis. According to a plan approved by Hitler in late September 1939, the Poles and Jews of the incorporated territories were to be expelled into a region called the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T . The very concept of Polish nationhood was to be erased through the “liquidation” (including physical destruction) of the Polish intelligentsia, considered the bearers of Polish nationalism. The incorporated territories were to be repopulated with ethnic Germans (V O L K S D E U T S C H E ) sent from the Baltic countries and eastern Poland. Those areas had been surrendered to the Soviets as the price of the NaziSoviet Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939. As for the Jews, they were to be expelled not just from the incorporated territories but from all of Nazi Germany, into a reservation on the outer edge of the German empire. At that time, this was the L U B L I N region, on the demarcation line with Soviet-occupied eastern Poland.

The “Jewish Question” Becomes More Complicated The Nazis set in motion a massive upheaval among the populations, but Hitler’s overall plan could not be realized. Very quickly, D E P O R TAT I O N S of Jews from within Germany’s pre-war boundaries were forbidden. Deportations of Jews from the incorporated territories were scaled down. Priority was given to deporting Poles, whose farms, businesses, and homes could be turned over to incoming ethnic Germans. By the spring of 1940, Hitler had decided that the Lublin Reservation was no longer the target of a solution to the “Jewish question” (see N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). There was not enough territory in Poland to spare for the Jews. Himmler was receptive to this hint. In late May 1940, he gave Hitler a memorandum discussing the treatment of the populations of Eastern Europe. He included the notion of expelling all the Jews to some colonial territory in Africa. Other Eastern Europeans not suitable for “Germanization” were to be turned into slave laborers. Concerning this systematic eradication of the ethnic composition of Eastern Europe, Himmler concluded: “However cruel and tragic each individual case may be, this method is still the mildest and best, if one rejects the Bolshevik [Communist] method of physical extermination of a people out of inner conviction as unGerman and impossible.” Hitler judged Himmler’s proposals “very good and correct.” Within weeks, this notion of expelling the Jews overseas was cemented in the form of the M A DAG A S CA R P L A N , which Hitler discussed with Italy’s leader Benito Mussolini in late June. For a short time, the Madagascar Plan was the centerpiece of Nazi Jewish policy. Then, the plan became impossible to carry out, as the Germans were defeated in the Battle of Britain in September 1940. The Lublin Reservation project and the Madagascar Plan were important stages in the evolution of Nazi Jewish policy. Shortly before the war, a Foreign Office circular had noted, in reference to the large Jewish populations in Poland, Hungary, and Romania: “Even for Germany the Jewish question will not be solved when the last Jew has left German soil.” Germany now had direct control over much of Europe and a growing list of unequal alliances with countries that were not directly occupied. The Nazis considered the “Jewish question” no longer a German issue, but a European issue. They believed that German domination of the continent obligated them to solve this problem in a fundamental way. The removal of the Jews altogether—once Hitler’s prescription for Germany—was now the unquestioned center of the Nazis’ commitment throughout Europe. Clearly, with schemes such as the Lublin and Madagascar programs, the Nazis had already become used to the idea of an enormous loss of life among the Jews.



This changing mentality among the Nazis was reflected in their increasing references to a “final solution to the Jewish question.” In June 1940, Heydrich referred to the Madagascar Plan as a “territorial final solution.” Beginning in September 1940, Eichmann’s staff routinely referred to “the doubtless imminent final solution to the Jewish question” when refusing to permit Jewish emigration from any country in Europe other than Germany. They wanted Germany to be the first judenrein (“cleansed of Jews,” or “Jew-free”) nation in Europe. By 1940, therefore, even before mass murder became the goal of Nazi Jewish policy, the Nazis were already thinking about the “Jewish question” in a way that was both “final” and trans-European.

From Expulsion to Extermination Large-scale, systematic mass murder as a way of dealing with “problems” was becoming commonplace in Nazi Germany. It was already accepted that Poland was to be “de-nationalized” through the systematic liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia. At the same time, Hitler initiated the killing of Germans who were mentally ill or had genetic diseases. They were deemed “unworthy of life” and were put to death. This was referred to as the E U T H A N A S I A P R O G R A M , but it was a forced program. It had nothing to do with any voluntary request of the victims to be released from their suffering. In its technology—which included the use of carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces (see G A S C H A M B E R S / V A N S )—and bureaucratic system of operation, this murder program suggested the mass murder of the Jews that was soon to follow.


Germany’s preparations to invade the Soviet Union in the spring of 1941 sped up the movement toward the mass murder of European Jewry. The invasion promised to increase the conditions of the vicious circle in which the Germans had entrapped themselves. Each new military success increased the number of Jews under their control, whom they were committed to get rid of through a “final solution” of one kind or another. With the formation of the Operational Squads, systematic mass murder as a method of solving the Nazis’ “Jewish question” began.

lived in any part of German-controlled

uring 1940, the Nazis began to realize that the answer to the

“Jewish question” would have to be found outside European territory. Each new military success increased the number of Jews under their control, and they were committed to get rid of them through a “final solution” of one kind or another. The Third Reich could never be free of Jews as long as Jews Europe.

Even then, though, the evolution to the “Final Solution” was not yet complete. The Operational Squads were targeted against Jews in the newly occupied territories only. The squads moved into their tasks gradually, as their commanders tested the limits of their men and of army cooperation, as well as the helpfulness of local people. Only in late July or early August 1941 did all the mobile killing units begin the systematic mass murder of all Jews in the Soviet territories, including women and children. At this point, Hitler was at the height of his success. The German army had torn through Soviet defenses and encircled huge numbers of Soviet troops. It had destroyed most of the Soviet air force and rampaged through two-thirds of the distance to Moscow. Victory seemed within reach, and Hitler expected to have all of Europe at his feet. In the excitement over the conquest of Poland, he had approved plans for a massive population reorganization on Polish territory, including the expulsion of Jews to the Lublin Reservation. With victory over France, he had approved the Madagascar Plan. Now, with the expected victory over the Soviet Union, the last barriers fell away. Precisely when and how instructions were given is not known, but Göring, Himmler, and Heydrich now knew what Hitler expected of them. On July 31, 1941, Heydrich visited Göring and had him sign an authorization to prepare and submit “an overall plan of the organizational, functional, and material measures to be taken in preparing for the implementation of the aspired final solution of the Jewish question.”



Strategy for Mass Murder If the notion of the “Final Solution” was now clear to the leading Nazis, the means of accomplishing it were not. The Operational Squads had run across many problems. The most important were the lack of secrecy, the psychological impact on the killers, and the inadequacy of the killing methods in relation to the number of intended victims. The firing-squad method had not worked well in the Soviet Union. It was even less suitable for murdering the rest of European Jewry. The Nazis thus chose to become pioneers of mass murder in an uncharted land. The past offered no suitable landmarks; but in the fall of 1941, new killing techniques were developed. The physical setting of the C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S , the killing methods of euthanasia, and the deportation techniques of the population-resettlement programs were combined to create a system of E X T E R M I N AT I O N CA M P S . In relative secrecy, a small number of workers using assembly-line techniques could kill millions of victims in these camps. The prisoners would be brought trainload by trainload, day after day, to these factories of death. The bureaucratic organization that coordinated the process would be separated from direct contact with the killing process, but still accepting of the idea that the Jews had to be removed one way or another. It would perform on a business-as-usual basis all the many tasks necessary to uproot millions of people and ship to their death. The German population in general, accepting the notion of the Jew as an enemy of the state, looked on with indifference.

Implementing the “Final Solution” In the fall of 1941, steps were taken to turn the idea of a “final solution to the Jewish question” into reality. The deportation of the German Jews began in midOctober. The first gassing experiment was conducted in A U S C H W I T Z in early September. Construction of two extermination camps at B E L⁄ Z˙ E C and C H E L⁄ M N O was started in late October or early November. The first mass murder of German Jews took place in K OV N O and R I G A about a month later. The first extermination camp, at Chel⁄mno, began full-time operations in early December. The last step in turning the idea of the “Final Solution” into reality was the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E of January 20, 1942. At this conference, Reinhard Heydrich and his “Jewish expert,” Adolf Eichmann, met with the secretaries of the state ministries. Most of those attending were already aware that Jews were being killed, but here the full scope of the mass murder program was revealed—the goal was to get rid of every Jew in Europe. Heydrich requested the support of the state secretaries. He was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm for the project. The “Final Solution” was first developed as a program to be carried out following Germany’s expected victory over the Soviet Union, but it endured through Germany’s changing fortunes of war. In 1942, with victory postponed, the Nazis claimed that the “Final Solution” had to be completed during the war to avoid an outcry from abroad. In 1944, with their fortunes in decline, they rushed to finish their gruesome task—to achieve a victory in their racial war that a military defeat could not 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 in the end, it was the most important legacy, indeed the epitome, of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

SEE ALSO GENOCIDE; RACISM; SPRACHREGELUNG. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution. New York: Knopf, 1991.



Browning, Christopher R. The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Public Opinion Under Nazism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996. Rice, Earle. The Final Solution. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1998.

Forced Labor The Nazis relied on the use of forced labor to build and operate concentration and extermination camps, and to maintain a steady flow of workers for factories and other industries that supported the war effort. Some of these laborers were voluntarily “recruited,” and later deported, from occupied countries within the Reich. Others were Jews whose slave labor in the ghettos and labor camps of P OLAND also contributed to the Nazi war machine and to their own extermination at the hands of their Nazi oppressors.

Imported Workers Laborers from Germany’s satellites or occupied territories who were brought to work in the Reich were called Fremdarbeiter, literally, “foreign workers.” The idea of importing workers for forced labor was conceived in B E R L I N even before the attack on Poland in September 1939. The idea was first put into practice in A U S T R I A , after the Anschluss—the Nazi-driven unification of Austria and Germany—in March 1938. Some 100,000 Austrian civilians, including 10,000 engineers, were taken to work in Germany. The German authorities in charge of employment policy worked out a detailed program for drafting workers from German occupied territories. The plan included harsh methods of recruitment for use in Poland and the occupied Soviet areas. Far more lenient methods were used in the other countries under German occupation or in the satellite countries. The first contingents of forced laborers were needed to replace the millions of Germans who had left the work force to be drafted into the army, and to eliminate the need to impose emergency labor drafts on Germans themselves. As the war dragged on with no end in sight, foreign workers were needed to meet the growing needs of the armaments industry and the economy in general. Initially, the Germans tried to persuade people in the occupied countries to volunteer for work in Germany. Those who were ready to do so, mostly the unemployed and refugees who were in dire economic straits, were promised all sorts of material benefits by the Germans.

Mandatory Forced Labor Immediately after the outbreak of the war, the Germans put P R I S O N E R S O F (POWs) to work to support the German economy, deliberately ignoring international law forbidding this practice. As early as the autumn of 1939, 340,000 Polish POWs were working for the Third Reich.


In the spring of 1940, the Germans introduced compulsory measures in the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , including conscriptions—forced enlistments—of work-



Female prisoners perform forced labor in a factory owned by the AGFA camera company.


erman victories in the first phase of World War II and the occu-

pation of many lands which followed provided plenty of potential workers to exploit for Nazi purposes.

ers, the seizure of those who hadn’t been exempted from such conscription, and the withholding of food rations from those who refused to work. In August 1942, a decree was enacted that implemented a policy of Zwangsverpflichtung, or forced labor, in all occupied countries and POW camps. In western European countries, the local authorities sometimes helped the Germans recruit workers. This was done in exchange for the release of POWs by the Germans or for a change in the status of POWs to that of foreign workers in Germany. By 1942, the German drive to recruit foreign workers had become a sophisticated and brutal manhunt, one that met with growing opposition and was an important element in the rise of organized resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe. Although millions of people were conscripted for work in Germany between 1942 and 1944, reports of poor working conditions and brutal treatment, combined with growing signs of an impending German defeat, made it increasingly difficult to find enough workers to meet growing German demands. The German retreat in the east and the shrinking area under Nazi control also reduced the number of workers available to meet German economic needs.

Living Conditions for Foreign Workers The majority of foreign laborers were brought from Poland and the S OV I E T U N I O N . The rest were drafted in F R A N C E , Czechoslovakia, the N E T H E R L A N D S , B E L G I U M , and Norway. Among the satellite countries and Germany’s allies, I TA LY was the only one to provide foreign workers in significant numbers. The percentage of foreign workers employed by the German economy never came up to German expectations, but it grew progressively. By late 1944, the number of foreign laborers (including POWs) reached approximately nine million. One of every five workers



in Germany was a foreigner, and one of every four tanks and every fourth aircraft manufactured in Germany was produced by foreign workers. The people responsible for maintaining work force and production were well aware that living conditions, wages, and general treatment of foreign workers all had a direct bearing on recruitment difficulties and production problems. However, in most instances, the actual supervision of the laborers was in the hands of the police—the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police or Sipo) and the Foreign Workers section of the G E S TA P O —and they were guided by racist principles, partisan considerations, and a xenophobic fear and hatred of strangers and foreigners, not by general principles of human resource management.


ot surprisingly, promised benefits rarely materialized, and

the Nazis came to the conclusion that voluntary efforts would never provide the number of foreign workers needed for the building of the Third Reich.

The treatment of laborers from eastern Europe differed sharply from that of the laborers from western Europe in terms of living and working conditions. Poles and Russians, who were from the east, were regarded as inferior—in racist terms, they were Untermenschen, or “subhumans”—and, as a rule, they were put on hard physical labor and subjected to harsh control, humiliation, and severe penalties. They had to wear an identifying sign on their clothes, P for Poles and Ost (east) for the Russians. They were not permitted to leave their lodgings after working hours; to use public transportation; to attend cultural events or visit places of entertainment or restaurants frequented by Germans; or even to participate in the same church services as Germans. The pay they received for their work was especially low. Germans were warned not to have any social contact with Poles or Russians and, above all, to abide by racial purity, that is, to shun sexual intercourse with them. Germans who violated racial purity standards were charged with Rassenschande (race defilement), which carried the sentence of death. Although they, too, complained of being treated like slaves, conditions for foreign workers from the west were much better. Their employers, especially the farmers who had foreigners working for them, often disregarded the strict rules on the treatment of foreign laborers laid down by the Nazi party, especially since these laborers were indispensable to them. Additionally, as Nazi defeats increased the need for more laborers, the Germans had to consider improving the treatment of foreign workers. Eventually, some changes were implemented. Racist considerations precluded the sending of Jews to Germany as foreign workers. The few Jews who did infiltrate the ranks of workers coming to Germany from various countries made every effort to avoid being identified as Jews. Masses of Jews who were working as forced laborers in the occupied countries or as prisoners in concentration camps were taken away from their places of work and deported to the extermination camps. And, at a time when Germany was suffering from a severe shortage of manpower, millions of Russian POWs were dying of starvation, ill treatment, and deliberate murder.

Jews as Forced Laborers Jews of occupied Poland were drafted for forced labor from the beginning of World War II until its end. As soon as the German army entered Poland in September 1939, Jews were forced to clear roadblocks and debris and to pave roads. German military forces played an active role in forcibly recruiting Jews for such work, seizing them at random on the streets or dragging them out of their homes, and maltreating them while they were at work. Often the only purpose for subjecting Jews to forced labor was to degrade them. In such cases, Jews were compelled to carry out physical exercise or hard physical tasks that had no practical purpose at all, and were subjected to beatings and to harassment such as the cutting off of their beards.



A child laborer works at a machine in a Kovno ghetto workshop.

On October 26, 1939, compulsory labor laws were announced for the G E N E R of eastern Europe occupied by German forces. The law applied to Jewish males aged 14 to 60. Subsequently, the law was extended to apply also to women and to children between 12 and 14. In the period from October to December 1939, compulsory labor was also introduced by locally issued decrees for Jews living in those parts of Poland incorporated into the Reich.

A L G O U V E R N E M E N T —regions

The Nazi policies of racism and mass killings were detrimental to the Reich’s total war effort.

By mid-January 1940, Governor-General Hans F R A N K ordered full implementation of the law of October 26, 1939. The decrees required compulsory labor, by all Jews—men and women alike—from the ages of fourteen to sixty, whether or not they had employment of their own. The compulsory service was scheduled to extend over two years, but it could be prolonged “in case the desired re-educational goal had not been achieved in that period.” So as to put the laws into practice, the Germans ordered all Jews aged 14 to 60 to register; this process was to be enforced by the Jewish Councils (see J U D E N R AT ). In addition, Jews were forced into temporary labor assignments, such as removing snow, loading goods that the Nazis had confiscated from Jews, and building walls around areas earmarked as ghettos, where Jews were required to live.

Labor Camps and Ghettos As time went on, special labor camps were put up for Jews, who were personally drafted to work in them. They were housed in barracks and they worked under very harsh conditions. In the Lublin district, twenty-nine such camps were in operation by July 1940. In August of that year, 20,000 Jews between 19 and 35 were ordered to report to labor camps. Many chose to disregard the call-up, despite the heavy risks involved, because of the intolerable conditions of life and work in the camps. The inmates were exposed to humiliation, beatings, and being pursued by vicious dogs. Frequently the men on forced labor had no living quarters assigned to them and had to sleep under the open sky; they also did not receive even minimal



food rations. Those working on outdoor projects sometimes had to stand in water during their work. Many people perished in the camps; others were completely exhausted when they returned home from the camps and were permanently disabled. Out of 6,000 men from the W A R S AW ghetto sent to the labor camps, 1,000 were no longer fit for work within two weeks. In certain ghettos, such as L⁄ Ó D Z´ , the entire population was on forced labor and the ghettos themselves were turned into labor camps. In addition, many Jews also worked in German factories in Poland and in ghetto workshops, especially in the months preceding the liquidation of the ghettos. At the end of 1940 more than 700,000 people were on forced labor in Poland. That number dropped to 500,000 in 1942 and a little over 100,000 in mid-1943. Reasons for the decrease include the high mortality rate in the ghettos and the Nazi destruction of the Jewish population. Conditions of work in places other than labor camps differed from one to the other; all had in common a ten- to twelve-hour workday and the total absence of social benefits and vacations.

Forced laborers were paid little or nothing for their work. The rule concerning Jews was that their pay had to be lower than that of other nationalities.

Pay for Forced Labor Forced laborers were paid little or nothing for their work. The rule concerning Jews was that their pay had to be lower than that of other nationalities. Even when minimum wages were paid, substantial deductions were made for various purposes, as determined by the Germans. In B I A L⁄ Y S T O K , for example, the deductions amounted to 50 percent of the total, and for the work on the Frankfurt-Posen highway, as much as 80 percent was deducted from the pay. Where wages were paid, they were also so low that the recipients could not buy any extra food on the black market, which meant that they starved like all the others. In these ways, the German policy on forced labor by Jews, and on the wages for such labor, contributed directly to the physical destruction of the Jews.

The End of Forced Labor After most of the Jews had been killed, those remaining in the ghettos were forced to keep on working in various ways. Some labored in the workshops; some sorted out the possessions of murdered Jews for use by Germans; and some worked in other institutions and factories, serving the needs of the Reich. Factories that employed Jews had to pay substantial sums to the Security Police. In turn, the Jews had to pay bribes in order to obtain employment, which they sought to do by any means in the belief that this would save them from deportation to the EXTERMINATION CAMPS . In mid-1942 and in April and May of 1943, some of the Jews in the Generalgouvernement ghettos were taken to labor camps at T RAWNIKI and Poniatowa, where they were put to work in various workshops. In November 1943, the Germans murdered ⁄ ódz´, forced labor was kept up forty thousand Jews in these camps (see E RNTEFEST ). In L longer than anywhere else, until the ghetto was liquidated in August 1944.




SUGGESTED RESOURCES Axelrod, Toby. In the Camps: Teens Who Survived the Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1999. Birnbaum, Jacob. I Kept My Promise: My Story of Holocaust Survival. Lexington, MA: Jason R. Taylor Associates, 1995.



Browning, Christopher R. Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Ferencz, Benjamin B. Less than Slaves: Jewish Forced Labor and the Quest for Compensation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.

Voices of the Shoah: Remembrances of the Holocaust [sound recording]. Rhino Records, 2000.


A fter the economic and political uncertainties of the prewar period, the French were ready for a period of national renewal. As part of its “new order,” the Vichy began to curb the influence of “foreigners” in the country, encouraging the harassment of Jews and various refugee groups.

From the 1870s until 1940, France was governed as a republic; this period in France’s history is, in fact, designated as the Third Republic. The country had never had a constitution, but it was governed by constitutional laws. In June 1940, France was defeated by the German army and an armistice (peace agreement) was signed with G E R M A N Y . Under this agreement, France was divided into two areas: the occupied zone, which fell under direct German occupation, and the unoccupied zone, where the French National Assembly took up new headquarters in the spa town of Vichy, in the south of France. The occupied zone, which included P A R I S , encompassed the entire Atlantic and English Channel coasts and contained the more fertile regions in western, northern, and eastern France. The Vichy regime, or simply Vichy, as it is sometimes called, was in name, at least, the government in charge of the whole country; the Vichy leaders generally maintained cooperative relations with the Nazi occupation forces.

France During the Vichy Regime and Nazi Occupation Following the armistice with Germany in 1939, the National Assembly voted to suspend the constitutional laws by which France had been governed. Marshal Philippe Pétain was granted full powers as head of state by the National Assembly. Minister of State Pierre L AVA L worked diligently to bring Pétain and Adolf H I T L E R together. Their eventual meeting at Montoire from October 22 to 24, 1940, proved that Vichy’s “national revolution” included a policy of collaboration with Germany. France, under the “new order,” was to become part of the New Europe under Hitler’s direction. Since the Third Republic and its liberal principles no longer existed, the Vichy regime embarked on a policy of returning the country to the ideals of prerevolutionary France. The regime replaced the French revolutionary principles of “liberty, equality, and fraternity” with the more nationalistic principles of “work, family, and homeland.” In this effort, the Vichy government clearly reflected French public opinion. After being defeated by Germany, the French were ready for a period of national renewal. Pétain’s nationalistic call for a “new order” inspired by work, family and homeland was resoundingly welcomed by almost all elements of French society, including the Catholic church, which welcomed Pétain’s efforts to bring France back to what the it regarded as pure Christian principles. As part of its “new order,” the Vichy methodically began to curb the influence of “foreigners” in the country, encouraging the harassment of Jews and various refugee groups. Despite the general approval of efforts to revitalize French national pride, support for the Vichy regime was not universal. Beginning in the summer of 1941, after Germany invaded the S OV I E T U N I O N , French Communists and Socialists became increasingly dissatisfied with Vichy. This failed to change the Vichy goal of cooper-



Vichy France and Occupied France.

ating with Nazi Germany. Indeed, the Vichy agreed to enact intensified A N T I -J E W I S H L E G I S L AT I O N in the occupied zone. French officials were instructed to grant the German occupying forces all necessary assistance in making mass roundups of Jews in the summer of 1942. This was not well received. More and more French citizens protested against their government, among them leading figures in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Resistance activity, spurred on by increasing German repression and Vichy concessions, grew considerably. By early November 1942 the Vichy zone had been occupied by the German and Italian forces. Although it was relatively peaceful, the German occupation had a negative effect on living conditions in France. The French people were increasingly taxed by the armistice agreement as occupation costs rose to approximately 500 million francs a day. In addition, France’s food and raw materials were siphoned off for the war effort, causing shortages and economic hardships. More troubling was the growing number of French workers sent to Germany; by 1943 at least 700,000 had been deported for F O R C E D L A B O R . Nevertheless, Laval did not reconsider his course of action. Convinced that Germany would prevail in the war, he believed it was in the long-term interest of France to continue to support the Third Reich. The Italian occupation ended with the fall of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, in 1943. The Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, signaled the end of the German occupation. The liberation of France came two months later. As the leader of the Free French movement Charles de Gaulle marched triumphantly into Paris, Pétain, Laval, and other Vichy officials fled to Germany. They would later be returned to Paris and tried for treason.



“Image not available for copyright reasons”

Jews in France There is evidence that Jews have lived in France since the first century A.D. In 1306, 100,000 Jews were expelled from the country, although France had been a center of Jewish learning for nearly two centuries. Over several centuries, Jews returned to the region, and by the eve of the French Revolution (1789), the Jewish community in France numbered 40,000. The largest concentration was in Alsace-Lorraine. Jewish integration into French society had proceeded more or less smoothly, although there were occasional anti-Jewish episodes. Throughout the nineteenth century many Jews migrated to Paris, making it the center of Jewish life in France. In the period between the world wars, immigrants from eastern Europe also flocked to Paris, while thousands of Jewish refugees from Germany sought refuge in the city in the 1930s. At the onset of World War II, two-thirds of French Jews lived in Paris. Based on their countries of origin, there were many philosophical, social, and political differences among them.



A sign announcing the conscription of Jews in Vichy, France, 1941.

In the 1930s France began to reassess its open-door policy toward Jewish immigrants. There was general pressure to put a stop to Jewish immigration and to annul Jewish rights. Though stringent restrictions against refugees were gradually introduced and internment camps were set up for them, Jews retained their civil rights until the fall of France and the establishment of the Vichy regime. In the summer of 1940, when France fell to German control, about 350,000 Jews lived in the country, more than half of whom were not French citizens. Among these were tens of thousands of Jewish refugees from B E L G I U M , the N E T H E R L A N D S , and Luxembourg, some of whom had fled Germany several years earlier. Persecution of these Jews began almost immediately.



Deportations and Persecution


he deportation of French Jews to camps in eastern Europe from

1942 to 1944 was the culmination of two years of aggressive persecution. Jews had been subjected to antiJewish laws, economic isolation, imprisonment, harassment, and registration with the local police.

Compared with other nations occupied by the Nazis, France retained an unusual amount of autonomy. Throughout the entire period of the deportations of Jews, France had a French government, based in Vichy; a head of state (Marshal Pétain); an administration at least nominally responsible for the whole of the country; and a powerful police force. The Germans needed and received a great deal of assistance from the French to carry out their plans against the Jews. After the war, defenders of Vichy claimed that the work of this government limited the number of Jewish deportees from France. However, close examination of the German record, as well as research on the role of Vichy and its agencies, tells a different story. The deportation of the Jews to camps in eastern Europe from 1942 to 1944 was the culmination of two years of aggressive legislation and persecution. Jews were subjected to anti-Jewish laws, economic isolation, imprisonment, and registration with the local police. In October 1940, the Vichy government issued the comprehensive J E W I S H L AW (Statut Des Juifs) in October 1940. It also established a central agency for coordinating anti-Jewish legislation and activity, the General Office for Jewish Affairs. The Vichy leadership believed that the Germans would be grateful to the French for pursuing their own anti-Jewish policy, and would respond by giving them more autonomy. At the same time, the French were anxious to see that any property confiscated from the Jews did not fall into the hands of the Germans. Therefore, the Vichy regime launched an extensive program of A R YA N I Z AT I O N —conversion of Jewish assets to non-Jewish ownership-in July 1941. The objective was to keep formerly Jewish property in France. In practice, “Aryanization” simply meant the confiscation of Jewish possessions by the state. It developed into a vast property transfer, involving some 42,000 Jewish businesses, buildings, and other properties. Without personal or business assets, and barred from working in their professions, thousands of Jews were turned into penniless refugees in France. Foreign Jews were particularly vulnerable, and were especially victimized by both the Germans and Vichy. Thousands were forced into labor camps or interned, often in conditions that approached the Nazi C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S of the 1930s. The first victims of the Holocaust in France died in these camps; their number eventually reached about 3000. After the W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E of January 1942, at which they received tacit support for their pursuit of a Jew-free Europe, the Nazis prepared to remove Jews from France and other western European countries. At the end of April, Pierre Laval became head of the French government under Marshal Pétain. On June 11, German officials decided to make regular deportations of Jews from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Demands for cooperation were made to the Vichy government. After deliberations, Laval and the French cabinet agreed to help. Throughout the summer and fall of 1942, Jews were rounded up in both the occupied and unoccupied zones. Most of the work was done by the F R E N C H P O L I C E . On July 16 and 17, in one of their most cruel operations, they rounded up 12,884 Jews in Paris. Some 7,000 of them—families with small children—were crowded for days in the Vélodrome d’Hiver sports arena with no food, water, or sanitary facilities. Elsewhere, parents were torn from their children, and the victims were packed into cattle cars and shipped to the transit camp at D R A N C Y , just outside Paris. In all, 42,500 Jews were sent eastward from France in 1942, perhaps onethird of them from the Vichy zone.



The D E P O R TAT I O N S of the summer and fall of 1942 stirred the first serious opposition to Vichy. The roundups of Jews could scarcely be concealed, and the people bitterly disapproved of the separation of families. A split developed in the Catholic church, which had been solidly behind Pétain. Highly placed clergymen now made their first open protest against the anti-Jewish activity of the regime. Further difficulties arose as the deportations gradually moved beyond Jewish immigrants to include French Jews as well. The Vichy regime had agreed to deport foreign Jews from both zones, but the authorities were soon pressured to send more Jews in order to fill the Nazis’ deportation quotas. Even Laval dragged his feet; in August 1943 he refused to strip French Jews of their citizenship in order to facilitate their deportation. Despite these occasional protests and difficulties, the deportations continued. The last convoys left France in the summer of 1944.


n the course of the first two years of the Occupation, Le

Chambon became the safest place for Jews in Europe.”

Philip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There (New York: Harper Torchbooks), 1994, p. 129.

Thousands of Jews were assisted by a small number of sympathetic French people, often at great risk to the rescuers. Many were French Protestants, themselves a somewhat harassed minority in France. Help and sanctuary also came from the Quakers, the American Jewish J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E (known as the Joint), the YMCA, the Catholic Témoignage Chrétien, and Jewish resistance networks. An outstanding example of rescue work took place at the Protestant village of L E C H A M B O N -S U R -L I G N O N , which developed a kind of underground railway, smuggling several thousand Jews to safety. In all, over 77,000 Jews from France were either killed in concentration camps in P O L A N D or died while in detention. Approximately 70,000 went to A U S C H W I T Z , and the rest to other camps—M A J DA N E K and S O B I B Ó R , and a few dozen to B U C H E N WA L D in August 1944. The “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ” in France was a Nazi project from beginning to end. Few of the French advocated the killing of Jews, and only a small number of extremists in Paris ever carried antisemitism to the murderous dimensions of Hitler and his associates. There is no evidence, however, that Vichy authorities attempted in a concerted way to limit the deportations. Most of the officials at Vichy shared in the widespread anti-Jewish mood of 1940. The plight of the Jews was of secondary consideration; preserving as much French autonomy as possible under Nazi occupation was the primary interest, and that required a high level of collaboration with the Nazis. Recent research, therefore, rejects the theory the Vichy regime pursued a consciously plotted strategy to save as many Jews as possible.

Jewish Responses to Persecution When the Germans invaded France in May 1940, more than 100,000 Jews fled to the unoccupied region in the south, among them Jewish leaders and rabbis. After the armistice was signed on June 22 and the French leadership called on Frenchmen to return to the north, as many as 30,000 Jews are reported to have returned to the occupied zone. During the initial months of confusion after the armistice, another 30,000 Jews crossed the southern French border in the hope of finding refuge abroad. The process of reorganizing the Jewish community slowly began in the fall of 1940. Jews had varied and contradictory opinions about the possibility of Jewish life under Nazi occupation and Vichy rule; the native Jews and those who had emigrated from eastern Europe had rarely agreed on issues before the Nazi occupation, and this did not change in the face of Nazi control. By January 1941, Jewish leaders of both groups had been pressured, by the SS officials in charge of Jewish affairs, to create an umbrella organization known as the Coordinating Committee of Jewish



Thousands of Jews were assisted by a small number of sympathetic French people, often at great risk to the rescuers.

Welfare Societies. The Jewish leadership was concerned about the growing poverty within the Jewish community. But not all Jews felt that the Coordinating Committee was a good idea. Many sensed that working on the committee involved cooperation with the Germans on some level. Immigrant Jews, in particular, were not in favor of this. They stopped participating on the committee, thereby worsening relations within the community. The contrasting attitudes between immigrant and native Jews with regard to the Coordinating Committee were reflected in the emergence of resistance activity. Far more Jewish immigrants than native Jews had gravitated toward resistance groups during the first 18 months of the occupation; they feared even the slightest association with the Germans. The more established sectors of the native community preferred to wait and count on the French authorities for support. In the south of France, where massive migration had increased the Jewish population to approximately 150,000, the needs of the Jewish community were also urgent. Jews had flocked to the major cities—Lyons, Marseilles, Toulouse—and to hundreds of smaller ones. Former leaders of the Jewish community resettled in Lyons and Marseilles and gradually began to map out plans for relief. In the south, too, conflicts and lack of trust characterized relations between native and immigrant Jews. Despite the flood of antisemitic legislation initiated by the Vichy regime, most Jews in the region trusted the Vichy leadership, and took a “wait and see” attitude rather than engaging in resistance activity. Individual and community attention centered on coping with the daily difficulties of life. As the war progressed, however, and Nazi intentions against the Jews became more apparent, opposition within the community grew. The deportations that began in March 1942 jolted the community, sending Jews into a frenzied search for refuge from the Nazis and the French police. Jews began to seek hiding places in thousands of French villages and rural communities, aided by the local population. Thousands more attempted to cross over the border to Switzerland. More than 27,000 Jews were caught and deported by Germans that summer. Countless families were separated, and many were left homeless. These events accelerated Jewish resistance tendencies in both the north and the south. Encouraged by French protests and humanitarian actions, Jewish relief groups encouraged Jews to resist the authorities. Some Jewish organizations turned to illegal activity—removing Jewish children to Christian homes and monasteries, forging identification papers and documents, aiding Jews in hiding and in crossing the border to Spain and Switzerland. These activities antagonized the Jews who still preferred to operate within the law. French Jewry’s predicament deteriorated still further in the wake of the German occupation of the south in November 1942. Some 2000 foreign and native Jews were seized in a large-scale roundup in Marseilles at the end of January 1943. More roundups followed in Lyons and other southern cities. As many as 30,000 Jews fled to the Italian occupied zone by September 1943. With the Italian defeat and subsequent German takeover of these regions, however, this was no longer a safe harbor. Thousands of Jews were rounded up by the German net; thousands of others avoided arrest by immediately going into hiding. Jews who remained under German occupation, in the north and south, experienced varying conditions during this period. Parisian Jews enjoyed some relief after the traumatic days of July 1942. They did not experience another major roundup, but many left the city to hide in small villages and hamlets. By mid-1944, only



15,000 Jews lived openly in the capital. Many of them continued to receive relief in one form or another from Jewish organizations. In the German-occupied south, where Gestapo efforts to increase deportations were supported by the French militia, Jews were often on the run. In 1944, Jewish leaders set aside their ideological differences in order coordinate resistance activity among the Jewish groups.

Reconstruction of French Jewry After the Holocaust, French Jewry confronted the massive task of rebuilding Jewish culture and community. Parisian Jewry was weakened seriously by the loss of approximately 50,000 members. Throughout France, Jews mourned the complete disappearance of hundreds of small communities. In addition, many large settlements were reduced to a mere handful of Jewish families. However, in comparison with other European Jewish communities, the situation of French Jewry was far from hopeless. French Jews had experienced the Holocaust, but they had survived in large enough numbers to reassert themselves after the war. The unending stream of Jewish survivors fleeing D I S P L A C E D P E R S O N S ’ camps and emerging from hiding—more than 35,000 in the first three years after the war—meant that France would soon contain the largest Jewish community on the Continent.


divided community at the outset of the war, French Jewry found

itself both weakened and reoriented by the war’s end. The Jewish community had lost around 78,000 Jews and harbored thousands of broken families in its midst. But the trend in 1944 toward organizational unity would serve the community well in the very difficult period of reconstruction to come.

The Jewish community in post-war France faced many challenges, but three consumed most of its energy and interest: the restoration of stolen Jewish property; the care and feeding of refugees; and the plight of children who had lost their parents. Despite intense efforts, French Jewry had only limited success in reclaiming the businesses and other property of deportees. More successful were the activities of the Jewish Committee for Social Action and Reconstruction, which was able to feed and house nearly three-quarters of the 40,000 Holocaust survivors who sought refuge in France. Thanks to the efforts of relief and advocacy organizations for children, nearly 100 institutions were created to care for orphaned children and to reintegrate them into the community. While the French Jewish community was able to provide foster parents for orphans, however, it had little success in recovering Jewish children adopted by non-Jews during the war. During the post-war years of 1940s and 1950s, the Jews of France managed to create new institutions and rehabilitate the tens of thousands of broken men and women who returned from the Nazi E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S and emerged from hiding. Nonetheless, the differences that created division in the pre-war years reemerged. In addition to negotiating these renewed tensions, the Jews of France had to come to terms with the painful reality that the majority of the French people, as well as its government, had not actively opposed the Nazi’s intended destruction of the Jews. French Jewry in the 1940s and early 1950s lacked confidence in its future. Though far from dead, the French Jewish community seemed to be marking time, waiting, as it had done in the past, for a fresh infusion of immigrants. This in fact took place, beginning in the mid-1950s, with the influx of Jews from North Africa.

SUGGESTED READING Josephs, Jeremy. Swastika Over Paris. New York: Arcade, 1989. Klarsfeld, Serge. French Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial. New York: New York University Press, 1996. Lazare, Lucien. Rescue as Resistance: How Jewish Organizations Fought the Holocaust in France. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.



Lewendel, Isaac. Not the Germans Alone: A Son’s Search for the Truth of Vichy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999. Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Frank, Anne Anne Frank’s Family


ever have we heard one word of the burden

which we certainly must be to them, never has one of them complained of all the trouble we give.…They put on the brightest possible faces, bring flowers and presents for birthdays.… although others may show heroism in the war or against the Germans, our helpers display heroism in their cheerfulness and affection.” Anne Frank, writing in her diary about those who helped her family remain hidden.

Anne Frank’s father, Otto Heinrich Frank (1889–1980), was born in Frankfurt, G E R M A N Y . He grew up in a liberal Jewish environment, attended high school, and trained for a while at Macy’s department store in New York City. During World War I, Frank was a reserve officer in the German army. After the war, he started his own business, with mixed success. In 1925, Frank married Edith Holländer, the daughter of factory owners in Aachen. The couple had two daughters, Margot Betti (born February 16, 1926) and Annelies Marie (born June 12, 1929), who was called Anne. Soon after the Nazis came to power in January 1933 and the first anti-Jewish measures were announced, the Frank family decided to leave Germany. Otto Frank went to Amsterdam. He knew the city well from frequent visits and had several good friends there. After he found an apartment, the rest of his family joined him. Frank set up a company, Opekta, that made and distributed pectin for use in homemade jams and jellies. In 1938, Frank started a second company, Pectacon, with Hermann van Pels, who had recently fled to Amsterdam from Osnabrück in Germany with his wife Auguste and son Peter. Pectacon specialized in the preparation of spices for sausage making. Anne and Margot Frank quickly adapted themselves to their new life. They learned Dutch and attended the local Montessori school. The Franks joined the liberal Jewish congregation of Amsterdam. Their relatively carefree existence came to an end on May 10, 1940, when the Germans invaded and occupied the Netherlands. The invasion was soon followed by anti-Jewish measures. In October of that year, a law was passed that required all Jewish-owned businesses to be registered. With the help of non-Jewish friends and colleagues, both of Otto Frank’s companies, Opekta and Pectacon, were “Aryanized” on paper—that is, the ownership was transferred from Jewish to non-Jewish control, and the businesses continued. Another law stipulated that Jewish children could attend only Jewish schools, so Anne and Margot switched to the Jewish Lyceum. Meanwhile, Otto Frank had begun preparations to go into hiding, if this proved necessary. Little by little, the family’s possessions were brought to the vacant annex of Frank’s office at Prinsengracht 263. Four employees were informed of his plans—Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Elli Voskuijl, and Miep Gies (born Hermine Santrouschitz)—and they agreed to help the Frank family. Miep had worked with Otto Frank for years and had become his closest associate. Born in Vienna, she was one of the many thousands of Austrian children who were taken into Dutch foster homes to improve their health after World War I. Miep had stayed on, and in 1941 she married Jan Gies. The Franks’ plans to go into hiding went into high gear on July 5, 1942, when Margot received a registered letter from the Nazi C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N (Zentralstelle Für Jüdische Auswanderung). Margot, then sixteen



Otto Frank with daughters Margot (left) and Anne (front).

years old, was ordered to register for what the letter called “labor expansion measures.” After consultation with the van Pels family, the Franks decided to go into hiding immediately. They moved into the annex the next day, followed a week later by the van Pels family and their fifteen-year-old son Peter. On November 16, 1942, they were joined by an eighth onderduiker (literally, “one who dives under”), the dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who had fled from Berlin in 1938. These eight people were to spend two years living in a few cramped rooms fashioned from a warehouse attic. Since food and clothing had become scarce and could be bought only with coupons, which Jews in hiding could not obtain, the four helpers in the office managed somehow to buy enough supplies to feed and clothe eight additional people, often at great risk to their own lives.

E ight people spent more than two years in a few cramped attic rooms. Only one survived what followed.

The Jews Are Betrayed On August 4, 1944, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) in Amsterdam received an anonymous phone call—it has never been established from whom— with information about Jews in hiding at Prinsengracht 263. A police van immediately drove to the Prinsengracht, and the eight Jews were found and arrested. A



policeman named Silberbauer demanded money and jewelry; in order to hide these, he emptied an attaché case full of papers, which he threw on the floor. Among these papers was Anne Frank’s diary. Also arrested were Kleiman and Kugler, two of the employees who had assisted the families. After the police left, Miep Gies and Elli Voskuijl went back to the annex to pick up many personal items, such as photographs, books, and other papers. They retrieved Anne’s diary pages and put them away until Anne’s return. A few days later, all of the furniture and clothing was hauled away from the annex, a customary procedure after an arrest. During the arrests, Miep Gies had realized that Silberbauer, like herself, came from Vienna. This may have been why he did not arrest her, although he made it clear that he suspected her of having helped the Jews. The next day, Miep sought him out to see if there was a way that the prisoners could be set free, but Silberbauer indicated that there was nothing he could do. Kugler and Kleiman were taken to the concentration camp in Amersfoort in the N E T H E R L A N D S . Kleiman suffered a hemorrhage of the stomach, and was sent home in September 1944 through the intervention of the Red Cross. Kugler was able to escape while being transported in March 1945; he remained in hiding until the liberation of the Netherlands in May of that year.

After the Annex The Jewish prisoners arrived at the W E S T E R B O R K transit camp on August 8, 1944. Every week, a full trainload of prisoners left from there for the extermination camps. On September 3, the last transport to leave Westerbork for A U S C H W I T Z departed. According to the meticulously kept transport lists, there were 1,011 people on board, among them the Franks, the van Pels family, and Pfeffer. When they arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 549 of the prisoners were gassed immediately. Hermann van Pels was one of these. Edith Frank, her daughters Margot and Anne, and Auguste van Pels were interned in the women’s block. Pfeffer was the next to die. He is listed in the death book of the N E U E N G A M M E camp on December 20, 1944. Edith Frank perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 6, 1945. It has not been established where and when Auguste van Pels died, but it is assumed that it was at the end of March or early April, somewhere in Germany or Czechoslovakia. Peter van Pels was one of the many thousands of prisoners who were put on D E AT H M A R C H E S because of the advancing Russian army. He died shortly before the liberation in May 1945 in the M AU T H AU S E N camp in Austria. Anne and Margot were sent to B ERGEN -B ELSEN at the end of October 1944. This camp filled up with thousands of prisoners from other camps that were being vacated as the Russians advanced. Housing, food, and medicine were totally inadequate, and many prisoners weakened from hunger and the cold. A typhus epidemic took many victims. Margot died of typhus around the beginning of March; Anne, who believed that both her parents had perished, died a few days later, also of typhus. Two sisters from Amsterdam who had been with the Frank sisters in both Westerbork and Auschwitz later stated that they had carried Anne’s body from the sick barrack. She was buried in one of the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen. Otto Frank was the only survivor of the eight who hid in the attic. The Soviet army liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, and Frank returned to Amsterdam the following June. After Anne’s death had been confirmed, Miep Gies returned to Otto Frank the papers that she had kept.

Anne’s Diary On June 12, 1942, her thirteenth birthday, Anne received a red-checked diary from her father. That same day, Anne wrote on the first page: “I hope I shall be able



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to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.” In letters to an imaginary friend, Anne painted a picture of herself and her personal development in the context of the problems and fears of eight Jews trying to hide from deportation, unknowingly writing what would become one of the most famous accounts of life in hiding from Nazi persecutors. The frightening news about the developments on the outside reached those in hiding through the radio and through their helpers. Still, those in hiding tried to lead a normal life. For Anne as well as Margot and Peter, this meant doing homework with the help of their old schoolbooks and new books borrowed from the library by Miep and Elli. Fear of discovery created enormous pressure on those in hiding. During the day, they could not move around or use the bathroom because not everyone in the office below was aware of their presence. The close quarters and constant tensions were often too much for Anne. On October 29, 1943, she wrote: I wander from one room to another, downstairs and up again, feeling like a song-bird whose wings have been brutally clipped and who is beating itself in utter darkness against the bars of its cage. “Go outside, laugh, and take a breath of fresh air,” a voice cries within me, but I don’t even feel a response any more; I go and lie on the divan and sleep, to make the time move quickly, and the stillness and the terrible fear, because there is no way of killing them. Anne described conflicts with her mother, her special relationship with her father, her sexual development, and her efforts to improve her character. She fell in love with Peter but later wrote about her disappointment in him. Anne’s diary is also a monument to the helpers who struggled to obtain food and clothing and provided spiritual support for two years: Our helpers are a very good example. They have pulled us through up till now and we hope they will bring us safely to dry land. Otherwise, they will have to share the same fate as the many others who are being searched for. Never have we heard one word of the burden which we certainly must be to them, never has one of them complained of all the trouble we give.



They all come upstairs every day, talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties, and about newspapers and books with the children. They put on the brightest possible faces, bring flowers and presents for birthdays and bank holidays, are always ready to help and do all they can. That is something we must never forget; although others may show heroism in the war or against the Germans, our helpers display heroism in their cheerfulness and affection. On March 28, 1944, Anne heard a British radio report about a plan to gather diaries and letters about the war. “Of course, they all made a rush at my diary immediately,” she wrote the following day. “Just imagine how interesting it would be if I were to publish a romance of the ‘Secret Annex.’ The title alone would be enough to make people think it was a detective story.” On May 11, she wrote: Now, about something else: you’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist some day and later a famous writer. Whether these leanings towards greatness (of insanity?) will ever materialize remains to be seen, but I certainly have the subjects in my mind. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled Het Achterhuis [The Annex] after the war. Whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help. Anne prepared a list of pseudonyms for possible publication: Van Pels became Van Daan, Pfeffer became Dussel, and so on. Anne observed herself and her environment, made plans for the future, commented and criticized, and did not spare herself in that regard. In the high- pressure situation of the annex, she changed from a shy young girl to a young woman. Superficial comments about girlfriends and admirers made place for philosophical statements about herself and the world around her. One of the last entries in the diary is from July 15, 1944: That’s the difficulty in these times: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered. It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out. Yours, Anne. Apart from the diary, Miep also saved two other works that Anne created: a book of stories, “Stories and Adventures from the Annex,” and the “Book of Beautiful Phrases,” in which Anne had copied quotations that had pleased her. When Otto Frank showed some of the passages from Anne’s diary to some friends, they persuaded him to find a publisher. The historian Jan Romein published an article in which he related his emotions on reading parts of the diary. Shortly thereafter, the publisher Contact approached Otto Frank and The Annex appeared in June 1947. For many people, Anne’s diary is their introduction to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. In 1950, it appeared in Germany and France, and in 1952 in the United States and England. For the American edition, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in the preface: “This is a remarkable book. Written by a young girl—and the young are not



ANNE FRANK’S DIARY STILL GETS HEADLINES The influence of Anne Frank’s diary is such that those who try to deny the Nazis’ crimes also denounce the diary as a fraud. In order to counter such efforts, in 1986 the Rijksinstituut for Oorlogsdocumentatie (Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation) in Amsterdam published an annotated edition of both versions of Anne’s diary, the earlier edition with passages deleted by her father, because he deemed them too personal, and a later, complete version. Several pieces from her “Story Book” were also added to the diary. The English translation of the annotated diary appeared in 1989. In 1998, Cor Suijk, a Holocaust survivor and friend of the Frank family, revealed that even after the “complete” diary was published in 1989, five unpublished pages were still in his possession. Asserting that the pages had been given to him by Otto Frank before his death in 1980, Suijk released excerpts of the missing information, including unflattering descriptions of Otto and Edith Frank’s marriage, to an Amsterdam newspaper. At the time of his announcement, Suijk indicated that the pages would only be published in their entirety in exchange for increased financial support for his Holocaust awareness work in the United States, through the Anne Frank Center USA in New York. Suijk’s control of the pages, as well as their authenticity, have remained controversial issues among Holocaust scholars and publishers.

afraid of telling the truth—it is one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.” The diary has been published in more than 50 editions; the total number of copies printed amounts to more than 25 million in 55 languages. Dramatic presentations have also reached a large public. The stage version by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, The Diary of Anne Frank, premiered on Broadway on October 5, 1955, and received the Pulitzer prize for the best play of the year. The film version followed in 1959. In 1996, Jon Blair produced the film Anne Frank Remembered, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. After Otto Frank’s death, the rest of Anne’s papers went to the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation. The diary itself is on loan to the Anne Frank House and is on display there. The copyright is owned by the independent Anne Frank Foundation in Basel. Anne’s wish—“I want to live on, even after my death”—has become a reality. Throughout the world, she has become a symbol of the millions of victims of the Holocaust.

The Anne Frank House After the publication of The Annex, many visitors found their way to the house at Prinsengracht 263, which was still being used as an office. In 1957, there



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were plans to raze the house to make room for a new building, but public outcry prevented this action. The owner of the building then donated the house to the newly established Anne Frank Foundation on condition that the building be open to visitors. The museum opened its doors in 1960. It was Otto Frank’s wish that the museum not become a memorial to Anne but instead contribute to an understanding of prejudice and discrimination. For that reason, a primary goal of the museum is to educate visitors about the destructiveness of A N T I S E M I T I S M and R AC I S M . The Anne Frank Foundation maintains a documentation center on antisemitism and racist groups in Western Europe and the United States. It produces teaching aids and organizes traveling exhibits in various languages. The foundation also has an office in New York City.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES Anne Frank Remembered [videorecording]. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1996. Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Bantam Books, 1993. Gies, Miep. Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. Muller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. Translated by Rita and Robert Kimber. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. Rol, Ruud van der. Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance. New York: Viking, 1993.

Frank, Hans (1900–1946)

Hans Frank was a lawyer and Nazi official who served as the governor-general of P O L A N D from 1939 to 1945. Frank graduated from a Munich Gymnasium (high school) in 1918. He displayed his commitment to militant nationalist and rightwing politics by joining the Epp Freikorps (a paramilitary group commanded by Ritter von Epp) in 1919 while he was pursuing the study of law at the universities of Kiel and Munich. In 1923 he joined the Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung; SA) and N A Z I P A R T Y , and took part in Hitler’s ill-fated Beer-Hall Putsch in Munich. He fled briefly to A U S T R I A , then returned to G E R M A N Y to finish his doctorate at the University of Kiel in 1924.

Beer-Hall Putsch

A failed attempt at a government takeover in Bavaria on November 8, 1923.

In 1926, Frank left the Nazi party in protest against Hitler’s renunciation of German claims over the South Tyrol, only to rejoin a year later. His career in the party then flourished as he became attorney to various party members, most prominently defending Hitler in his many libel cases and serving as defense counsel in the 1930 Leipzig trial of three Nazi army officers. He also handled the very delicate matter of researching Hitler’s family tree for possible Jewish ancestors. After Hitler took power, Frank’s usefulness rapidly diminished. A middle-class intellectual who was never admitted to the inner circle of Nazi leaders, Frank remained oblivious to Hitler’s open aversion to law, lawyers, and any procedures that threatened to curtail his own freedom of action. He was appointed to numerous “official” posts that had little power during 1933 and 1934. From 1934 to 1941 he was president of the Academy for German Law, with the self-assigned task of reformulating German law on the basis of National Socialist principles. When Germany conquered Poland in September 1939, the eastern third of the country was occupied by the S OV I E T U N I O N (in accordance with the secret terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact), the western third was annexed to the Third Reich, and the central region became a German-occupied territory known as the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T . Hans Frank, the legal expert of the Nazi party and Hitler’s personal lawyer, was appointed governor-general. From that point on, Frank generally played a major role in implementing Nazi racial policies in eastern Europe. As leader of the Generalgouvernement, Frank wanted to build up a strong power base for himself while retaining Hitler’s favor. However, Hitler’s practice of presiding over a chaotic system of “institutional Darwinism”—leaving his various subordinates to engage in a constant internal struggle for power and jurisdiction and keeping for himself the role of indispensable arbiter and pacesetter—was incompatible with Frank’s passionate vision of logic, order, and “unity of administration.”

Hans Frank in Nazi uniform.



Hans Frank (l) and General Field Marshal Wilhelm reviewing troops, October 1940.

In his desire to build up his own power base, Frank preferred a policy of economic stabilization, better treatment of the Poles, and an integration of the Polish people into the Third Reich. However, in an effort to remain in Hitler’s good graces, and so as not to be upstaged by his rival, Heinrich H IMMLER , Frank often veered suddenly to support policies of radical brutality and destructiveness toward the Poles. In one shift of policy, he alternately opposed and supported the influx of Poles and Jews expelled from the “incorporated territories.” On the one hand he approved the self-sufficiency of ghetto economies and encouraged the rational use of ghetto labor, while on the other, he supported the starvation and then mass murder of the Jews. Ultimately, Frank’s loyalty to Hitler and his own ambition could not be reconciled. He saw himself as the head of the model “crusader kingdom” in Germany’s expansion to the east, while Hitler saw the Generalgouvernement as the racial dumping ground, the slave-labor reservoir, and finally the slaughter yard of the Third Reich. Since Himmler’s views more closely approximated those of Hitler, Frank’s defeat was inevitable. On March 5, 1942, Frank was summoned before a tribunal consisting of Himmler, Hans Heinrich Lammers, and Martin B O R M A N N . He was stripped of all jurisdiction over racial and police matters in the Generalgouvernement, yet he retained his now-powerless position as governor-general. Perhaps hoping to force Hitler to relieve him from this humiliating position, Frank delivered a series of lectures at four German universities in the summer of



1942, denouncing the emasculation of German justice by the police state. He also sent Hitler a long memorandum criticizing SS policies in Poland. “You should not slaughter the cow you want to milk,” he concluded. Hitler relieved Frank of all his party positions and forbade him to speak publicly within the Reich, but refused to accept his numerous letters of resignation. Thus Frank remained as governor-general until he fled as Russian troops approached. He took with him the many volumes of his official diary that have since become a major source for historians of the Third Reich and an important document for the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Frank was tried among the major war criminals in the Nuremberg Trial, and hanged at Nuremberg.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Hans Frank.” A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/resource/document/DocFrank.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000). “Individual Responsibility of Defendants: Hans Frank,” in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (vol. II). USGPO, 1946. [Online] http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/Frank.htm (accessed on August 22, 2000).

French Police After F R A N C E was defeated by G E R M A N Y in 1940, the northern part of the country was occupied by Germany, and the southern part was governed by the Vichy administration, which was a German ally. The entire French Police force, including the section serving in the German-occupied zone, functioned under the authority of the Vichy government. About 130,000 policemen served in the French police force, 30,000 of them in P A R I S . They included special branches such as intelligence, which gathered information about the enemy, and squads for suppressing the anti-German Resistance activists. In contrast to this large French police force, the German force numbered at most around 3,000 police. Their performance was hampered by their inability to speak French and their unfamiliarity with the terrain in which they were stationed. As a result, the Germans assigned to the French police the tasks of maintaining public order, preventing subversive activities, suppressing crime, and implementing the German anti-Jewish policy. On July 16 and 17, 1942, 13,000 Jews were arrested in Paris, among them 4,000 children, as well as old people and the handicapped and ill. They were concentrated mainly in the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a closed structure in which even basic amenities had not been prepared. There were, for example, no toilet facilities. The arrests were made by 9,000 French policemen who were brought in for this operation. More than 10,000 Jews who were supposed to be arrested managed to leave their homes in time to escape; some of them had been warned by humane police officials. In July 1942 Carl Albrecht O B E R G , a leader of the German police and S S in France, and René Bousquet, chief of the Vichy police, signed an agreement. It spelled out the authority of the French police and the quantities of weapons and equipment they would be allowed. Until the summer of 1943, the Oberg-Bousquet agreement was easily enforced, and the French police cooperated with the Germans. The French police force confiscated the Jews’ property and businesses, conducted mass arrests, and made sure that the Jews wore the yellow Jewish badge (see



B A D G E , J E W I S H ) and that their identity cards were stamped with the word Juif (“Jew”). The police force was also responsible for the construction and operation of the C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S , and the French police provided armed guards to escort the trains transporting deported Jews to the German border. In the camps supervised by the French police, negligence, corruption, unsanitary conditions, and poor medical services were common. A special police section in Paris was active in the destruction of underground Communist partisan (guerilla) units, which included a large number of Jews. In the summer of 1943, thousands of young Frenchmen were notified that they would be recruited for F O R C E D L A B O R in Germany. In protest, groups of PA RT I S A N S were organized throughout the country. While attacking the occupation police force, they did not inflict as much damage on the French police. As a result, the French police gradually stopped arresting Jews, and the French administration in the D R A N C Y concentration camp was replaced by the G E S TA P O (German secret police). In 1944, Joseph Darnand, head of the French fascist militia, was appointed chief of police in place of Bousquet. From then on the operations against the Jews were performed by the brutal militia forces, which carried out their tasks against the Jews of France efficiently, and without mercy.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Lewendel, Isaac. Not the Germans Alone: A Son’s Search for the Truth of Vichy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999. Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Freudiger, Fülöp (1900–1976)

Fülöp Freudiger was an Hungarian Jewish leader born in B U DA P E S T to a wellto-do family that had been elevated to the nobility by Emperor Franz Josef. Freudiger succeeded his father, Abraham, as the head of the Orthodox Jewish community of Budapest in 1939. As a founder and leading figure of the Orthodox Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest in 1943 and 1944, he helped many of the foreign Jewish refugees who were illegally in H U N G A RY . After the German occupation of the country on March 19, 1944, he was appointed to the Central Jewish Council (Központi Zsidó Tanács), the J U D E N R AT of Budapest. With the help of Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandelof Bratislava, Freudiger was able to establish a close relationship with Dieter W I S L I C E N Y of the S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Eichmann Sonderkommando) shortly after the Germans occupied Hungary. He also received from Weissmandel a copy of the A U S C H W I T Z Protocols (a report by two Auschwitz escapees), and distributed information about the mass killings taking place at Auschwitz to Jewish and non-Jewish leaders in Hungary. By bribing Wisliceny, Freudiger succeeded in rescuing eighty prominent Orthodox Jews from various ghettos in Hungary. With Wisliceny’s aid, he and his family escaped to Romania, on August 9, 1944. Freudiger later settled in Israel, where his role in the Central Jewish Council (Judenrat) and his escape were subjects of controversy. He served as a prosecution witness in the Eichmann Trial in 1961.



SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Affidavit of Dieter Wisliceny,” in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression., vol. VIII. USGPO, 1946. [Online] http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/Wisliceny.htm (accessed on August 30, 2000) Handler, Andrew, ed. Young People Speak: Surviving the Holocaust in Hungary. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Gas Chambers/Vans The use of lethal gas was a Nazi method for “efficient” mass murder. Both mobile and stationary gas chambers were used for this purpose by the Nazis. The first recorded instance of mass murder by gas took place in December 1939, when an SS S P E C I A L C O M M A N D O (Sonderkommando) unit used carbon monoxide to kill Polish mental patients. The following month, Viktor Brack, head of the E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M , decided to use pure carbon monoxide in his euthanasia institutions, since it had already been tested successfully. After the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ” was set in motion in the summer of 1941, gassing was introduced as a method for the mass murder of Jews. The method was launched in December 1941 at C H E L⁄ M N O . Mobile vans had been built and equipped for this specific purpose—a project that the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) had been working on since September of that year. Unlike the method used for the euthanasia murders, the exhaust gas from the trucks was piped into the closed van. Depending on the size of the truck, 40 to 60 people could be gassed at a time. A total of 20 such mobile gas chambers were built. Most of them were used by the four OPERATIONAL SQUADS (Einsatzgruppen) deployed on Soviet soil.


have had the vans ... disguised as housetrailers.... [They] had

become so well known that not only the authorities but the civilian population referred to them as the ‘Death Vans’ as soon as one appeared.”

—From an SS report on the use of gas vans in Kiev, May 1942

Gas Vans On June 2, 1942, a Nazi report noted that the vans were an effective tool in the extermination of Jews: “Since December 1941...97,000 persons have been processed with the help of three vans, without a single disruption.” Fifteen gas vans were in regular operation in German-occupied Soviet territory. They were also used elsewhere, although documentary evidence detailing locations and dates is scarce. It is known that gas vans were employed to kill Jews in Yugoslavia and at the L U B L I N and M A J DA N E K camps. The gas vans were used to empty prisons or to assist in the liquidation of the ghettos. After several months of operation, the vans developed operational problems due to technical deficiencies. There were also frequent breakdowns in transit, due to the condition of Soviet roads, and the SS men assigned to unload the vans began to experience severe mental stress. Ultimately, although about 700,000 people were murdered through their use, the gas vans did not meet Nazi expectations as effective instruments for the trouble-free killing of masses of people. For that purpose, stationary gas chambers proved more efficient.

Gas Chambers The first stationary gas chambers were put up at the B E L⁄ Z˙ E C camp, in February 1942. There were several trial gassings with carbon monoxide cylinders and exhaust



Photograph of the rear side of a gas chamber, black furnace at right, taken at Majdanek after the camp was liberated in 1944.


he Nazis sought to camouflage the killing operation until the

victims were just steps away from their deaths. In Treblinka, not only were the gas chambers designed to appear as shower rooms, but the camp featured flower beds, as well. In an attempt to create what on the surface appeared to be a pleasant environment, they practiced complete deception.

gas. The exhaust gas was chosen as the better alternative, since it was cheaper and did not require special supplies. The next month, regular killings began at Bel⁄ z˙ec, by means of three gas chambers in a single wooden barrack. S OBIB ÓR camp was next, in May. But here, the installation was a brick building, with concrete foundations, that contained the gas chambers. T REBLINKA was the third and last of the A KTION (O PER ATION ) R EINHARD EXTERMINATION CAMPS in the G ENERALGOUVERNEMENT . In the summer and fall of 1942, the capacity of the extermination camps was greatly increased. The existing gas chambers were enlarged, and new ones were added. In the ten gas chambers of Treblinka, 2,500 people could be put to death in a single gassing round, lasting an hour. The victims were forced to enter with their arms raised so that as many people as possible could be squeezed into the chambers. Babies and small children were thrown on top of the human mass. The tighter the chambers were packed, and the warmer the temperature inside the chamber, the faster the victims suffocated. All the gas chambers in the extermination camps were disguised as shower rooms to fool the victims. Each of the Aktion Reinhard killing centers operated in approximately the same way. When a transport arrived at the well-camouflaged station, the prisoners were evaluated in a Selektion, which determined whether they would die immediately or after they had performed useful work for the camp administration. A few of the victims were selected to form a special command; these prisoners would later perform the task of removing and burying the bodies of the dead. A handful of victims with special skills were chosen to work in the repair shops that serviced the camp SS staff and their Ukrainian helpers. The vast majority went through an assembly-line procedure, moving along the various camp stations, at which they surrendered any valuables left in their possession, undressed, and had their hair cut off. This procession ended in the gas chambers. Men were separated from women and children, in part to keep up the pretense that the prisoners would actually take showers and be disinfected, and in part to minimize resistance. Once the victims were dead, the members of the special command removed their bodies from the gas chambers and buried them. (Later on, the bodies were cremated, instead of buried.)



After a time, the men of the special command were killed as well. They were replaced by new prisoners from later transports.

From Carbon Monoxide to Zyklon B In their search for a more efficient means of extermination, the Nazis experimented with other forms of poison gas, and also with electrocution. When electrocution was found to be impractical, gassing experiments with Z Y K L O N B took place at A U S C H W I T Z . The experiments were performed on Soviet P R I S O N E R S O F WA R , in preparation for the mass murder of Jews in the adjoining Birkenau camp. Zyklon B proved far better than diesel-exhaust gas, and Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf H Ö S S decided to use it exclusively. A crystalline form of hydrogen cyanide, Zyklon B turned to gas immediately upon contact with oxygen, giving off deadly fumes that killed everyone in the gas chamber. Depending on weather conditions, especially temperature and humidity, the murder operation in the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers took from 20 to 30 minutes. According to Höss: “In all the years, I knew of not a single case where anyone came out of the chambers alive.” The gassing facilities at Auschwitz were repeatedly enlarged, to keep up with the thousands of people sent there to die. After an inspection of the AuschwitzBirkenau facilities in the summer of 1942 by SS head Heinrich H I M M L E R , the decision was made to build more efficient crematoria. The ovens were connected to the gas chambers in Birkenau. The use of the new combined gas chambers and crematoria considerably speeded up the murder process in Auschwitz, which soon became Nazi Germany’s main killing center. In Majdanek, mass murder by gassing was introduced in September 1942 with the use of carbon monoxide cylinders. Zyklon B was used instead, beginning in the spring of 1943. Some of the major C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S also had gas chambers, even if they were not operated mainly as mass extermination sites. One each was in operation in M AU T H AU S E N (beginning in the fall of 1941), N E U E N G A M M E (September 1942), S A C H S E N H AU S E N (March 1943), S T U T T H O F (June 1944), and R AV E N S B R Ü C K (January 1945). All of them used Zyklon B.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Borowski, Tadeusz. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. New York: Viking Press, 1967. Reprint, New York: Penguin, 1992. Müller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers. New York: Stein and Day, 1979. Reprint, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999.

Shtetl [videorecording]. WGBH Video, 1996.

GEHEIME STAATSPOLIZEI. SEE GESTAPO. Generalgouvernement The Generalgouvernement was an administrative unit established by the Germans on October 26, 1939. Made up of the occupied regions of P O L A N D that had not been incorporated into the Reich, this was an area with a total population of twelve million. The full official designation was Generalgouvernement für die



Besetzten Polnischen Gebiete (General Government for the Occupied Areas of Poland), and it was only in July 1940 that the shortened name came into use. The Germans had used this name previously, when they occupied Poland in World War I and set up an administration there, also called the Generalgouvernement. The Generalgouvernement area was divided into four districts, K R A K Ó W , W A R S A W , Radom, and L U B L I N , which in turn were split into subdistricts. The administrative center was Kraków. In the summer of 1941, following the German attack on the S OV I E T U N I O N , Galicia became the fifth district, adding between three million and four million to the population. The Nazis permitted only a few Polish institutions to function; among them were the bank that issued the country’s currency, the Polish Police, and the Central Relief Committee. All of them operated under the strict supervision of the occupation authorities. Heading the Generalgouvernement was the governor-general, Hans F R A N K . As of May 1940, Frank operated through the Generalgouvernement administration, headed by Josef Bühler. The S S and police were headed first by a high-ranking SS officer, Friedrich K R Ü G E R , and then by Wilhelm K O P P E .

Destruction of Polish Culture

Generalgouvernement, January 1940.


Regular combined German armed forces.

The occupation authorities believed that the task of the Polish population of the Generalgouvernement was to obey the Germans and work for them. At first the Poles were regarded as a reservoir of manpower, to be exploited for the needs of the Reich. Later, the Germans considered a number of projects, such as the establishment of colonies, “Germanization,” expulsion of the population of Z A M O S´ C´ , and identification of those Poles who were of German origin. The Nazis used extreme terrorization to gain the obedience of the Polish population. For every German killed by the underground, 50 to 100 Poles were executed. Of exceptional cruelty were two terror actions that the Germans carried out. The first was Special Action Kraków in November 1939, in which 183 staff members of schools and colleges in Kraków were arrested while attending a meeting with the German police. They were deported to S A C H S E N H AU S E N , from which many never returned. The other action took place in LVOV , where 38 Polish professors were executed shortly after the Wehrmacht entered the city. The Germans destroyed Polish cultural and scientific institutions, and instituted a large-scale program of plundering artistic and archeological treasures. In the economic sphere, the Poles were left only with small industries and work on the land. Heavy food quotas were levied on the villages, and trade in foodstuffs was prohibited, so that urban Poles were restricted to the starvation diet provided by the food rations. As a result, the Poles engaged in widespread food smuggling. The Ukrainians in the Generalgouvernement were intended by the Germans to provide a counterweight to the Poles. The Ukrainians in the Generalgouvernement received certain concessions not extended to Ukrainians in their native land, which had also come under Nazi control. Their living conditions even improved, in comparison with the prewar situation. The Jewish people of the Generalgouvernement, numbering 1.8 million, were the victims of the same discriminatory decrees imposed on Jews elsewhere. Their property was confiscated, and they were drafted for forced labor. From early 1940, the Jews were imprisoned in ghettos, where they suffered from severe shortages and were isolated from the rest of the world. In the spring of 1942 the Germans began deporting the Jews from the ghettos to E X T E R M I N AT I O N C A M P S in the Lublin district, and by 1944 all the ghettos in the Generalgouvernement were liquidated. By



early August 1944 a part of the Generalgouvernement—the area between the Vistula and Bug rivers—was liberated by Soviet forces and the Polish National Liberation Council had been formed, with its center in Lublin. The rest of the Generalgouvernement was set free in January 1945, by the Soviet Army.

SEE ALSO AKTION (OPERATION) REINHARD. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Altshuler, David A. Hitler’s War Against the Jews—The Holocaust: A Young Reader’ Version of the War Against the Jews 1933–1945 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz. New York: Behrman House, 1978. Ayer, Eleanor H. In the Ghettos: Teens Who Survived the Ghettos of the Holocaust. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1999. Roland, Charles G. Courage Under Siege: Starvation, Disease, and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Shoah [videorecording]. New Yorker Video, 1999.

Generalplan Ost Generalplan Ost (General Plan East) was the Nazis’ long-range plan for expelling millions of people—Jews and non-Jews alike—from the central area of eastern Europe and settling it with Germans. Versions of the plan were drawn up by at least two separate departments of the Reich, which functioned independently of one another. In July 1941, Professor Konrad Meyer-Hetling, head of the planning section in the Reich Commissariat for the Strengthening of German Nationhood, submitted proposals for the settlement of Polish territories that had been incorporated into the Reich (German empire). Describing these proposals as “preliminary suggestions for Generalplan Ost,” he addressed them to Heinrich H I M M L E R , who headed the Reich Commissariat. The final version of the plan was presented by MeyerHetling in an exhibition called “Planning and Construction in the East.” The plan was published in book form in 1942.


eneralplan Ost was a variation of the overall Nazi plan to claim

and utilize European territory for Aryan purposes.

The earliest mention of the Reich’s plans for eastward expansion was made by Reinhard H E Y D R I C H in a speech he made in Prague in October 1941, after his appointment as Reich Protector of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A (which had been part of Czechoslavakia). Heydrich predicted that Germany would take over eastern Europe in stages. Negative remarks about this plan were made in a memorandum drawn up by Erhard Wetzel, one of the German officials in charge of racial policy. In February 1942, Wetzel identified a section of the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (RSHA) as the source of Generalplan Ost, rather than Meyer-Hetling’s planning section. Wetzel knew that the RSHA was working on an overall plan for the territories in the east, which included the eventual settlement of 31 million people in that region. Adolf H I T L E R hoped that within ten years, four million Germans would be settled in the east. The number would increase to ten million within twenty years. Wetzel’s memorandum—presented as an expert opinion—was highly critical of the RSHA’s plans and questioned the expertise of the plan’s author. In his opinion, the figure given by the RSHA for the current population of the eastern territories was too low, and the estimate of the number of people who would be available for




hen Generalplan Ost was first conceived, the population of

the areas to be resettled by Germans

settlement in the east was too optimistic. He also questioned whether the RSHA’s analysis of the racial makeup of those living in the territories was scientifically accurate. Finally, he expressed reservations about the proposal that Poles be resettled in western Siberia; he thought this would be against the interests of the Reich. Despite these doubts, however, Wetzel’s memorandum supported the aim of Generalplan Ost, which was to transform central-eastern Europe into a German colony.

was estimated at 45 million, and the number of Jews among them at 5 million to 6 million. Of the 45 million, 31 million were classified as “racially undesirable” and were to be expelled to western Siberia. A small number were to be put to work in the administration of the vast expanses of Russia.

The Plan Generalplan Ost was considered a reflection of Himmler’s views, and it was to be implemented after the war over a period of 30 years. The first ten million settlers in the east were to come from German territories and non-German countries in Europe with German populations. The territories designated for resettlement were the occupied areas of P O L A N D , the Baltic states, B E L O R U S S I A , the Soviet districts of Zhitomir and K A M E N E T S -P O D O L S K I , a part of the Vinnitsa district of the U K R A I N E , the Leningrad district, the Crimea, and parts of the Dnieper River basin. According to Generalplan Ost as drawn up by the RSHA, about 80 percent of the population of Poland, 64 percent of the population of the western Ukraine, and 75 percent of the population of Belorussia would be expelled and resettled. The rest of the local population was to stay in place; most to be Germanized, or forced to adopt German customs. Himmler stated that they would “either be absorbed or killed.” The RSHA version of Generalplan Ost was an elaboration of Hitler’s idea of expelling and resettling elsewhere the population of Polish territories that were incorporated into the Reich. On Himmler’s orders, the Reich Commissariat for the Strengthening of German Nationhood began active preparations for Generalplan Ost in late January of 1942. With Meyer-Hetling in charge, the Commissariat established the legal and economic principles on which the future reconstruction of the east was to be based, and included the settlement of the Crimean peninsula. The project was to be completed within 25 years after the end of the war. Priority would be given to agricultural settlement. The urban population would be kept at a minimum, especially in the north. Meyer-Hetling estimated the costs of the project at 45.7 billion reichsmarks. The funds would come from various sources, including special taxes levied on the conquered countries. Himmler responded immediately to the plan when it was presented to him, demanding that the length of time allowed for its implementation be reduced from 25 years to 20. In September 1942 Himmler mentioned the establishment of settlement bases as far east as the Don and the Volga rivers in Russia. In 1942 Meyer-Hetling presented to Himmler a detailed plan, including a financial estimate. Again Himmler gave the subject his immediate attention. This time he demanded that the area to be colonized include the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , the Baltic states, Belorussia, the Crimea (including K H E R S O N ), and the Leningrad district. On Himmler’s orders, Meyer-Hetling hastily revised and completed the plan, which now became the Master Plan for the colonization of the east. In its new version, the area earmarked for settlement by Germans was larger than in the RSHA’s version of Generalplan Ost. In early 1943, the RSHA arranged for a meeting about Meyer-Hetling’s plan. The area in which the plan was to be carried out now comprised 270 thousand square miles, an increase from 225 thousand square miles to plan for in 1938. Among the subjects that came up at the meeting was the transfer of the existing population in the area earmarked for German settlement: six million to seven mil-



lion people were to be moved from the Polish area incorporated into the Reich; ten million from the Generalgouvernement; three million from the Baltic states; six million to seven million from the western Ukraine; and five million to six million from Belorussia. The Jews were singled out for “total removal,” by which the Nazis meant extermination. In the first decade of the plan’s operation, the “racially undesirable” population was to be removed, presumably to be followed, in the second decade, by the “politically undesirables.” The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was not included in the immediate plans of resettlement. After the battle of Stalingrad, Himmler rapidly lost interest in having a definitive version of the plan drawn up. In addition, following his proclamation of total war, Hitler ordered a halt on the planning of all postwar projects, including this one. The work on Generalplan Ost and the Master Plan coincided with the period when massacres in eastern Europe were at their height. Millions of Soviet prisoners of war and millions of Jews were being murdered. In 1941 and 1942 several million people were killed in Poland and in the occupied areas of the S OV I E T U N I O N . During that period, one million Poles and two million Ukrainians were sent to the Reich to work in F O R C E D L A B O R . Another two million Poles were Germanized. German authorities had also begun settling Germans in several of the areas designated for that purpose in Generalplan Ost. They were encountering some resistance in that operation and running into difficulties caused by the military situation. About 30,000 Germans from L I T H UA N I A who had been waiting to be resettled in the Polish territories of the Reich were sent to the southwestern part of Lithuania instead. Between November 1942 and August 1943, Poles living in the southeastern part of the L U B L I N district (the so-called Z A M O S´C´ region) were expelled from their homes and replaced by Germans. Germany was able to carry out, almost in full, the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” —the murder of the Jews, whom the Nazis regarded as their main racial enemy. This operation cost the lives of millions of people. Generalplan Ost demonstrates that there were other racist plans that provided for the expulsion of many peoples, especially Slavs. These plans had only begun, with full implementation planned for after the Germans had won the war.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “Hitler’s War: Hitler’s Plans for Eastern Europe.” Holocaust Awareness. [Online] http://www.dac.neu.edu/holocaust/Hitlers_War.htm (accessed on August 23, 2000). Scheffler, Wolfgang. “The Forgotten Part of the ‘Final Solution’: The Liquidation of the Ghettos,” in Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, vol. 2 (1997). [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/resources/books/annual2/chap02.html (accessed on August 23, 2000).

Genocide Genocide, from the Greek word genos, meaning “race,” and the Latin word caedes, meaning “killing,” refers to the liquidation—complete elimination or annihilation—of a people. The term “genocide” was first introduced by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish legal scholar, who used it at a 1933 conference of fellow jurists in Madrid, Spain. Lemkin further defined and analyzed it in books that he wrote during World War II. On December 9, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a



convention for “the prevention of genocide and the punishment of the organizers thereof.” The term is now widely used in legislation, international conventions, legal judgments, and scientific and general literature. It is generally applied to the murder of human beings by reason of their belonging to a specific racial, ethnic, or religious group, unrelated to any individual crime on the part of such persons, the intention of the murderer or murderers being to cause grievous harm and destroy the specific group. Lemkin pointed out that the crime of genocide need not mean the immediate and total destruction of the group. It may also consist of a series of planned actions designed to destroy basic components of the group’s existence, such as its national consciousness, its language and culture, its economic infrastructures, and the freedom of the individual. The United Nations Genocide Convention specifically mentions the following actions, which, when carried out against a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group in order to destroy that group, in full or in part, meet the definition of genocide: 1. Killing persons belonging to the group 2. Causing grievous bodily or spiritual harm to members of the group 3. Deliberately enforcing upon the group living conditions that could lead to its complete or partial extermination 4. Enforcing measures designed to prevent births among the group 5. Forcibly removing children from the group and transferring them to another group As indicated by this list of crimes, a close link exists between these actions and many of the crimes dealt with by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg that were defined as “ C R I M E S AG A I N S T H U M A N I T Y .” These crimes included murder, cruel treatment, and persecution on racial and ethnic grounds that were not directed against individuals or groups of individuals as such, but rather had the purpose of destroying the very existence of the group or groups to which the victims belonged. The IMT did not seek to determine the guilt of the accused brought before it for the crime of genocide, since that crime was not listed in the London Agreement under which the IMT was established. However, the charge of genocide was included in the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings and in several of the trials of Nazi criminals held in P O L A N D . (See T R I A L S O F T H E WA R C R I M I NA L S ). Among these were the trial of Amon Goeth, the liquidator of the Kraków and Tarnów ghettos and a commandant of the P L⁄ A S Z Ó W camp; and the case of Rudolf H Ö S S , the commandant of A U S C H W I T Z -Birkenau. A Polish court announced its verdict against Arthur Greiser, the former German administrator in the Warthegau region of Poland, on July 9, 1946. The court defined several of the crimes committed by Greiser against the Polish people as “genocide.” These included: 1. Placing Poles in a special unlawful category with regard to rights of possession, employment, education, and the use of their native tongue, and applying a special criminal code to them 2. Religious persecution, having the characteristics of genocide, of the local population, by mass murder and the imprisonment of Polish clergy (including bishops) in concentration camps; reduction of the availability of religious facilities to a bare minimum; and destruction of churches, cemeteries, and church-owned buildings



3. Genocide-like actions against cultural and educational treasures and institutions 4. Humiliating the Polish people by treating them as second-rate citizens, and differentiating between the Germans as the “master race” and the Poles as the “servant race” The Polish court also determined that Greiser had ordered or cooperated in actions designed to cause criminal harm to the lives, well-being, and property of thousands of Polish residents of the occupied area and had made it his objective to carry out a total genocide-like attack on the rights of small and medium-sized ethnic populations, on their national identity and culture, and on their very existence. The government of Israel joined the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and on the basis of that convention enacted, in 1950, the Genocide Prevention and Punishment Law 5710-1950. The definition of genocide in that law follows that of the United Nations Genocide Convention. Israeli legislation also used that definition in another law, the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law 5710-1950. That law was first used against a Nazi criminal in the trial of Adolf E I C H M A N N . It contains the definitions of crimes against humanity and war crimes as laid down in the London Agreement on the establishment of the International Military Tribunal, and it also contains the definition of “crimes against the Jewish people.” The latter is defined as applying to any one of the following actions, carried out with the intent of exterminating the Jewish people, totally or partially: 1. Killing Jews 2. Causing grievous bodily or mental harm to Jews 3. Placing Jews in living conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction 4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births among Jews 5. Forcibly transferring Jewish children to another national or religious group 6. Destroying or desecrating Jewish religious or cultural assets or values 7. Inciting hatred of Jews Like the Polish definition in the Greiser case, and in other cases, the Israeli law mentions the concept of cultural genocide, but in the main it refers to the special form of crimes against humanity as contained in the N U R E M B E R G L AW S , and particularly to the specific form in which genocide was in fact carried out, especially against the Jewish people. The crime against the Jewish people was a crime against that people only, since it was committed against Jews only. Nevertheless, in formal legal, as well as in social, terms, and in its political and moral aspects, the crimes against the Jewish people were also crimes against the principles of humanity and an offense against the whole of mankind, by seeking to remove from its midst one of its component parts. The experts on the subject all agree that genocide is a component of the Holocaust. However, historians point out that the Nazi crime against the Jewish people was unique and extended far beyond genocide, by virtue of the planning that it entailed, the task forces allocated to it, the killing installations set up for it, and the way the Jews were rounded up and brought to extermination sites by force and by stealth. Above all, the Nazi crime exceeded the boundaries of genocide in its charge against Jews as a whole of being a gang of conspirators and pests whose physical destruction must be carried out for the sake of society’s rehabilitation and the future of mankind.



On November 4, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that made the United States the 98th nation to ratify the United Nations Genocide Convention.

SEE ALSO “FINAL SOLUTION”; RACISM. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Benz, Wolfgang. The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution. New York: Knopf, 1991. Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Genocide [videorecording]. Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1981. Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

Gens, Jacob (1905–1943)

Jacob Gens was head of the J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council) in the V I L N A ghetto. Gens was born in Illovieciai, a village in the Sˇiauliai district of L I T H UA N I A . In 1919, when Lithuania was fighting for its independence, he volunteered for the Lithuanian army and was sent to an officers’ training course. He graduated as a second lieutenant, and was sent to the front to join the fight against Poles. He served in the army until 1924. He then enrolled in Kovno University, earning his living as a teacher of Lithuanian and of physical education in the Jewish schools of Ukmerge and Jurbarkas. Three years later, he became an accountant in the Ministry of Justice in K OV N O . He completed his university studies in law and economics in 1935. In the late 1930s, as an officer in the reserves, he was sent to the staff officers’ course and promoted to captain. In July 1940, when Lithuania became a Soviet republic, Gens was dismissed from his post. Gens feared that he was in danger of being arrested in a campaign that was being waged against anti-Soviet elements, and he moved to Vilna. A Lithuanian friend helped him obtain work as an accountant in the municipal health department.

Jacob Gens.


When the Germans occupied Vilna in late June 1941, his Lithuanian friend, who headed the health department, appointed Gens director of the Jewish hospital. At the beginning of September, when a ghetto was set up in Vilna, Anatol Fried, chairman of the Judenrat, who had become acquainted with Gens while a patient in the Jewish hospital, appointed Gens commander of the ghetto police. Gens set up the police force, organized it, and made it into an orderly and disciplined body. The Jewish police were assigned a role in the Nazi Aktionen (operations) that were conducted in the ghetto from September to December 1941, in which tens of thousands of Jews were murdered. According to most of the evidence available, Gens, within the framework of his job, did his best to help the Jews. He became the predominant personality in the ghetto and its provisional governor. His direct contact with the German authorities, bypassing the Judenrat, added to his prestige among the Jews in the ghetto. Gens involved himself in employment and cultural activities as well as other aspects of ghetto life.


In July 1942 the Germans dismissed the existing Judenrat and appointed Gens head of the ghetto administration and sole representative of the ghetto (Ghettovorsteher), thereby making his position official. Gens promoted the idea of “work for life,” meaning that the survival of the ghetto Jews depended on their work and productivity. He believed that efforts had to be made to gain time and keep the ghetto in existence until Germany was defeated in the war, and that this could be achieved by working for the Germans. He constantly sought to increase the number of Jews in such positions. In the last few months of the ghetto’s existence, 14,000 people out of the total ghetto population of 20,000 were employed inside or outside the ghetto. On one occasion, Gens was ordered by the Germans to send the Vilna ghetto police to the Oshmiany ghetto, to carry out a Selektion and to hand over 1,500 children and women who were not employed. Instead, Gens delivered to the Germans 406 persons who were chronically ill or old. He justified this action to the Jews by claiming that if the Germans and the Lithuanians had done the selecting, they would have taken the children and the women, whom he wanted to keep alive for the sake of the future of the Jewish people. Gens’s attitude toward the ghetto underground was ambivalent. On the one hand, he maintained contact with the underground leaders and declared that when the day of the ghetto’s liquidation arrived, he would join them in an uprising; but on the other hand, when the underground’s activities endangered the continued existence of the ghetto, he opposed it, and he complied with a German demand to hand over to them the underground commander, Yitzhak Wittenberg. The process of liquidating the ghetto had been set in motion in August and September 1943, and Gens knew that his life was in danger. His Lithuanian wife and his daughter were both in Vilna, where they lived outside the ghetto. He had several offers from his Lithuanian relatives and friends to leave the ghetto and take refuge with them, but he refused, believing that in his role he was engaged in a mission on behalf of the Jewish people. On September 14, 1943, nine days before the final liquidation of the ghetto, Gens was summoned to the Gestapo. The previous day, he had been warned that the Germans were planning to kill him, and had been urged to flee. He refused, believing that his escape would mean disaster for the Jews who remained in the ghetto. Gens reported to the Gestapo on September 14, and at 6:00 P.M. he was shot to death in the Gestapo courtyard. News of his death reached the ghetto at once, and the Jews who were still alive mourned his passing. Gens’ belief that if the ghetto were productive its Jews would be saved proved baseless; but under the terrible conditions prevailing at the time, he did his best, as he understood it, to save as many as possible.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Dawidowicz, Lucy S. From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938–1947. New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. Tushnet, Leonard. The Pavement of Hell. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1972.

Germany Jews in Germany The first Jews came to Germany in Roman times, settling in the cities along the Rhine. From the tenth century on, records show a continuous history of Jews.



Germany, February 1938. Balt

North Sea

e ic S












Esterwegen concentration camp 1933

Sachsenhausen concentration camp 1933




Sachsenburg concentration camp 1933



Buchenwald concentration camp 1937 Frankfurt


POLAND Breslau






Dachau concentration camp 1933









© Martin Gilbert 1982

By the late Middle Ages the Jewish population of Germany was united. The German Jewish community became one of the centers of spiritual creativity among European Jewry, and the cradle of the Yiddish language. Jews gained prominence in commerce. However, there was widespread persecution of Jews over the centuries and, in various parts of Germany, entire Jewish communities were destroyed. Some of the worst persecutions took place during the Crusades (especially in 1096) and during the period of the Black Death (1348–49), when bubonic plague killed millions of Europeans. From the fifteenth century, and especially during the Protestant Reformation, Jews lost ground. They were expelled from most of the large German cities. Some stayed in Germany, moving to small communities; others moved to the newly emerging centers of Jewish population in eastern Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century, Jews struggled for social and political emancipation. They reached that goal when Germany was unified in 1871. Jews in Europe were revitalized by a number of developments in the nineteenth century, including the rise in modern scholarly study of Judaism and Jewish history; the growth of new religious movements in Judaism; the rapid urbanization of the Jews; and the integration of Jews into modern society and economic life. Jews contributed to cultural life, social and political philosophy, the economy, and even political life in Germany.

Antisemitism However, many Germans opposed these developments. By the 1870s they had organized politically to promote A N T I S E M I T I S M —which in its modern form also included R A C I S M as a basic ingredient. Antisemitic political parties won support.



Although its influence waned toward the end of the nineteenth century, antisemitism continued to flourish in economic, social, and academic organizations. It penetrated the major political parties and became a factor in the struggle between the national conservative and democratic socialist camps over the future political character of German society. In response, German Jews in imperial Germany established political organizations for the defense of the Jews’ civil rights, including the C E N T R A L U N I O N O F G E R M A N C I T I Z E N S O F J E W I S H F A I T H (Centralverein Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens). Also in the 1890s, the German Zionist Organization was formed and its leaders became influential in the World Zionist Organization. The Zionist movement was centered on the goal of creating a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. During and after World War I, as imperial Germany collapsed and was replaced by the democratic regime of the Weimar Republic (1918–33), there was unprecedented integration of Jews in every sphere of life, including the theater, music, visual arts, philosophy, and science. Among the 38 Nobel prize winners in Germany up to 1938, nine were Jews. Jews were active in political and public life and held major posts in the democratic and socialist parties. Not surprisingly, antisemitism in politics and private organizations also increased during this period.

The most radical among the antisemitic movements and political parties in the early 1920s was the relatively small National Socialist party. Its platform called for the elimination of Jews from various spheres of life.

By the early 1920s, Jews were being blamed in many circles for Germany’s defeat in World War I and for the economic and social crises that struck the Weimar Republic after the war, climaxing in the terrible inflation of 1922 and 1923. Antisemites criticized the presence of Jews from eastern Europe who had immigrated to Germany before, during, and after the war. The most radical among the antisemitic movements and political parties was the relatively small National Socialist party, which had been founded in Bavaria in 1919. Its platform boldly called for the abolition of civil rights for Jews and the elimination of Jews from various spheres of life. The propaganda speeches and publications of the party’s leaders, especially those of Adolf H I T L E R , presented a radical antisemitic ideology that did not stop short of demands for the “total elimination of the Jews” and called for the “extermination” of the Jews mit Stumpf und Stiel (“root and branch”). When the German economy and republic stabilized in 1924, antisemitic parties temporarily lost strength and their membership in the Reichstag (Parliament) dropped from 40 to 14.

Weimar Republic Years (1918–33) In 1925, according to census figures, there were 564,379 Jews living in Germany, representing 0.9 percent of the total population. About 377,000 lived in six large cities that also had the largest Jewish communities: B E R L I N , Frankfurt, Hamburg, Breslau, Leipzig, and Cologne. Approximately 90,000 Jews lived in the smaller cities. The remaining 97,000 lived in over a thousand towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000. Most Jews belonged to the middle class and were self-employed, in various branches of business and in the professions. Jews had become assimilated, as shown by the growing number of mixed marriages, secessions from the organized Jewish community, and conversions to Christianity. Despite assimilation, the activities of Jewish political, religious, and social organizations were maintained and even expanded during the Weimar era. New political and social organizations were added to the Centralverein, the Zionist Federation, the Orthodox and Liberal organizations, and the German Jews’ Aid Society, which already existed. The major new organizations were the Reich Union of Jewish



Frontline Soldiers; left- and right-wing Zionist parties such as the Jewish People’s Party; youth and sports organizations; and student groups.

The Nazis turned the “Jewish question” into a major issue in their struggle against the democratic regime.

Religious and general Jewish studies taught in the rabbinical seminaries in Berlin and Breslau were broadened and intensified. The influx of Jewish scholars and intellectuals from eastern Europe, coupled with the revival of Jewish consciousness among the established Jewish population, had turned Germany into a great center of modern Jewish scholarship and culture. The Jewish population began to take an increased interest in Jewish learning and adult Jewish education centers thrived. Jewish periodicals and Jewish publishing houses played an important role in Jewish life. In the final years of the Weimar Republic, as Germany was hard hit by the global economic crisis, the National Socialist party gained power. In 1928, the Nazis had won only 3 percent of the vote. However, in September 1930, in the first elections that took place during the economic crisis, their share jumped to 18 percent, and in July 1932 to 37 percent of the vote. With 230 members in the Reichstag, the Nazis became the largest party. As the Weimar era drew to a close, antisemitism profoundly affected Jewish life. It was a major part of the N A Z I PA R T Y ’s violent struggle for power, and its effects went beyond the desecration of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, and personal attacks on individual Jews. The Nazis turned the “Jewish question” into a major issue in their struggle against the democratic regime. As a result, not only was their position in German society impaired, the Jews themselves underwent a crisis of Jewish consciousness and began to reexamine their Jewish identity.

From 1933 to 1938 In January 1933, on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power, the Jewish population of Germany numbered 522,000 Jews by religion. However, the Nazis used racial criteria to define, identify, and persecute Jews through legislation and violence; by their racial definition, the number of Jews in Germany was 566,000. On January 30, President Paul von Hindenberg appointed Adolf Hitler Reich chancellor (prime minister). Immediately, Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party and its paramilitary organizations—primarily the SA (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) and the SS—began to seize, by violence where necessary, all government and public institutions. Their goal was to transform Germany into a totalitarian state under the control of the National Socialist Party. They terrorized opponents of National Socialism, targeting members of opposing political parties, intellectuals, and especially Jews. As their major target, Jews were subjected to public humiliation and arrested. Jewish public officials and persons in positions of authority were forced to quit their jobs, especially at the universities and the law courts. The Nazis made plans to seize Jewish property and boycott all Jewish businesses and services. The anti-Jewish boycott of April 1, 1933 marked the first time the new regime openly took discriminatory action against a part of the country’s citizens. This event deeply shocked Germany’s Jews and evoked a sharply hostile reaction from world public opinion. The boycott was halted after one day, but anti-Jewish laws were enacted. These laws began abolishing equal rights for Jews, reversing a principle established by the German constitution in 1871. The Enabling Law, passed on March 24, 1933, had given the government absolute dictatorial powers. This emergency law was used to abolish democratic freedoms for all citizens, along with Germany’s independent political parties and organizations. This process of “Nazification” led to the reorganization



of all spheres of public and official life, including control of the media and all forms of publication, and a wide-ranging purge of civil and public service agencies. The Nazis enforced anti-Jewish policy by means of laws, decrees, administrative terror and “spontaneous” acts of terror. The regime encouraged general hostility toward Jews by the population. The early anti-Jewish laws included the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. The racist basis of that law, expressed by the “Aryan paragraph,” became the foundation for all anti-Jewish legislation passed before the enactment of the N U R E M B E R G L AW S in the fall of 1935. Other laws restricted the practice of law and medicine by Jews and limited the number of Jews in educational institutions, in cultural life and journalism. Only Jews who had served as frontline soldiers in World War I were excepted from these laws. Nazi legislation formalized the ideology of discrimination against the Jews and put policy into action. At the same time, it served as a means of restraining “spontaneous” terror and stabilizing the status of the Jews in Germany. Some officials advocated such “stabilization,” fearing that Germany’s international standing and efforts to restore the economy would be adversely affected by the appearance of unrestrained Nazi action against the Jews. This “restraint” would not last indefinitely.


dolf Hitler readily acknowledged that the Nazi

Party had used Germany’s democratic, representative form of government as a means to achieve its goal of establishing a totalitarian regime that would eradicate principles of democracy from Germany.

The regime terrorized its opponents by arresting and imprisoning them in Jews made up a high percentage of the detainees and were singled out for particularly cruel treatment, which often resulted in death. Thousands of Jews fled from Germany. A census taken in June 1933 shows that during the first six months of that year, about 26,000 Jews “by race” had left the country. By the end of 1933, 63,000 Jews had emigrated. C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S .

The German people did not uniformly support the regime’s policy against the Jews, and while there was broad agreement on the need to find a “solution” to the “Jewish question,” there were also reservations about using violence. There were also individual cases of solidarity with the Jews. However, the leadership of institutions such as the Protestant and Catholic churches, made few public protests. Their objections referred primarily to the thousands of Christians of Jewish origin who were affected by the racist legislation. Jews also reacted differently on an individual and organizational level. Their social and political status had suffered a tremendous blow, but their existing organizational network was scarcely touched—indeed, new organizations developed. Their forced separation and isolation from the general society did not diminish the continuing existence of the Jews’ own institutions, but individuals and families were devastated by the uncertainties brought on by the Nazi regime. Nonetheless, the organizational structure of German Jewry adapted to changing conditions. In 1932 Jewish organizations throughout Germany had begun to form a national federation; it made its first public appearance in the Third Reich in May 1933. In September of that year, a truly representative and comprehensive national organization was established, which was called the Reich Representation of German Jews, under the leadership of Rabbi Leo Baeck and Otto H I R S C H . The Reich Representation of German Jews intended to represent the Jews of Germany in interactions with German authorities and with Jews in other countries. The new organization assumed leadership of the Jewish population and coordinated a wide range of new activities. It expanded educational opportunities for youth and adults, especially through the work of the Jewish Center for Adult Education, which dealt with vocational training and retraining, welfare operations, economic assistance, employment assistance, and preparing for emigration. The group assumed responsibility for communication with the authorities on matters pertaining to Jew-




n an individual basis, Jews were tremendously troubled. There

were many suicides and emigration

increased as Jews saw the foundations of their existence collapsing.

ish security. On several occasions, as when the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer (The Attacker) published a special issue on the blood libel—the accusation that Jews kill gentiles to obtain their blood for Jewish rituals—the Reich Representation of German Jews reacted with public protests. Despite the emergence of umbrella organizations, different political and religious factions still competed for influence and representation within German Jewry. The main split was between the mainstream Jews and the Zionist movement. The mainstream focused on the struggle for Jewish existence and the preservation of Jewish rights in Germany. The Zionists’ primary goal was to prepare the Jews for a new life in the national home in Palestine. The Zionist movement was gaining popularity, particularly among Jewish youth. The authorities, mainly the G E S TA P O and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Secret Service), closely watched all public activities by Jews and restrained mainstream activities that encouraged German Jews to stay in the Reich. The Zionist movement was generally able to carry on with little interference. Despite National Socialism’s sharp opposition to the establishment of a separate Jewish state, the Nazis believed the work of the Zionists would hasten the emigration of Jews from Germany. In June 1934, Hitler staged a killing spree in which the top officials of the SA and a number of opposition leaders were executed. This purge strengthened the conservative and antisemitic elements in the government. It also shifted the balance of power to agencies like the SS. Heinrich H I M M L E R , chief of the SS and the Gestapo, seized control over all police forces in the Reich. The Nazis created special sections in the Gestapo and SD to deal with the “Jewish question.” A new drive of violence against the Jews was launched in 1935. It was orchestrated by Joseph G O E B B E L S and Julius S T R E I C H E R , who organized massive rallies and published propaganda designed to incite hostility against the Jews of Germany. Persons accused of having committed “race defilement,” that is, sexual intercourse between Jews and “Aryans,” were denounced and publicly humiliated. Various German regions passed local anti-Jewish legislation, forbidding Jews to display the German flag, for example, and outlawing marriages between Jews and Aryans. More and more Jews left the provinces, where they suffered the most, to take up residence in the large cities. The terror campaign peaked in the summer of 1935 and was one of the factors leading to the enactment of the N U R E M B E R G L A W S in September. Designed to restore “law and order” while meeting the demands of radical party members for implementation of the original antisemitic planks in the Nazi platform, the Nuremberg Laws were constitutional laws. They included the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, and contained the Nazi’s new definition of the term “Jew,” based on race. This definition was the basis for all subsequent anti-Jewish legislation until 1943, when a final decree was enacted denying Jews the protection of the courts. Secret government and party reports revealed that the German population had mixed reactions to the Nuremberg Laws. Hitler had described the laws as a possible framework for the continued existence of the Jews in Germany, so some people regarded them as a solution of sorts, providing for racial, social, and cultural segregation of the Jews from the German people. Other individual Germans objected to the wide-ranging discrimination on ethical, religious, or intellectual grounds; some made their criticism known. Yet a third group, consisting mainly of radical Nazi party members, found the Nuremberg Laws too moderate and called for a more far-reaching solution of the “Jewish question,” including violence. The church leadership took no public stand on the laws, despite the fact that the laws also affected thousands of converts.



“Image not available for copyright reasons”

The SD’s Section for Jewish Affairs was also reorganized in 1935, with Herbert Hagen as section chief and Adolf E I C H M A N N as his deputy. This section would ultimately seek complete control of Jewish affairs in the Reich and beyond its borders. In 1936, when the Olympic games were held in Berlin, there was a temporary relaxation in public anti-Jewish activity. The Jews had managed to create a pattern of life that could be maintained even under a racist totalitarian regime. However, a new and sweeping antisemitic policy was being formulated. Hitler’s secret memorandum on the Four-Year Plan, which he wrote in August 1936, contained an ideological and political section in which he called for an all-out war against Judaism as a driving motive in Germany’s future foreign policy and its preparations for the war against the S OV I E T U N I O N that was sure to come within four years. In late 1936 and early 1937 the SD’s Jewish section drafted a document that spelled out the practical details of this policy, which called for further isolation of Jews from the econo-


n the area of cultural activities, the Cultural Society of German Jews

was founded in July 1933. Its goals were to find employment for the many newly-unemployed Jewish artists and intellectuals and to serve as the cultural center for the Jewish population.



In 1936, when the Olympic games were held in Berlin, there was a temporary relaxation in public antiJewish activity. However, Hitler’s new and sweeping antisemitic policy was being formulated as part of his Four-Year Plan.

my and the use of officially organized terror to pressure Jews to leave Germany. This policy was implemented on an informal basis in the second half of 1937, mainly by A RYA N I Z AT I O N (Arisierung)—the usually forced conversion of Jewish business enterprises to non-Jewish ownership. In 1937, there were signs of opposition to the Nazi regime from various sectors of German society, including the churches. Pope Pius XI issued the German-language encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (With Burning Concern), which was distributed all over Germany. The encyclical denounced Nazi neo-paganism and the cult of racism, but it did not explicitly condemn the persecution of the Jews. In response, the regime staged numerous show trials of clergy, who were imprisoned in concentration camps. Secret official reports showed that disapproval of and outright opposition to the regime, even within the ranks of the military, were becoming a threat to its stability. Consequently, Hitler introduced drastic changes in the top echelons of the army and the ministries of war and foreign affairs. These foreshadowed radical changes in both internal and foreign affairs. In March 1938, Germany “annexed” A U S T R I A in what was called the Anschluss. In September, the Sudetenland (a portion of Czechoslovakia) was annexed. These were both part of Hitler’s new plan for Europe. His plan also included the creation of the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A out of the occupied western part of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, and, finally, the invasion of P O L A N D in September 1939, which marked the beginning of World War II. On January 30, 1939, Hitler declared: “If international-finance Jewry in Europe and elsewhere once again succeeds in dragging the nations into a world war, its outcome will not be the Bolshevization of the globe ... but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” In 1938 the Third Reich further radicalized its anti-Jewish policy, which was applied in the newly acquired territories. There were new laws and decrees, mass arrests of Jews, and a variety of “spontaneous” and official terror actions. On March 28, 1938, a law was passed that abolished the legally recognized status of the Jewish communities. On April 26, a new decree ordered the registration of Jewish property, and on June 15, 1,500 Jews were imprisoned in concentration camps. Other antiJewish laws passed at this time forbade Jews to practice medicine (June 25); ordered male Jews to assume the name Israel, and female Jews, the name Sarah (August 17); forbade Jews to practice law (September 27); and stipulated that the passports of Jews be marked with a capital J, standing for Jude (October 5). On October 28, 1938, 15,000 to 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality were expelled from Germany. The Polish government refused to admit them into Poland. They were trapped in the no-man’s-land between the two countries. People all over the world heard about their bitter fate. On November 7, Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish youth whose parents were among the expelled Jews, shot Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat in Paris. The Nazis used this act as the pretext for an organized pogrom against the Jews, which took place November 9 and 10 in every part of Germany and in the areas it had annexed that year (Austria and the Sudetenland). In this pogrom, which came to be called K R I S TA L L N AC H T , or “Night of Broken Glass” (so named from the shattering of the windows of Jewish enterprises), hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish businesses were burned down, destroyed, or damaged. Some 30,000 Jews were put into concentration camps, and almost one hundred Jews were murdered. After this pogrom, the Nazi regime imposed a collective fine of one billion marks on the Jews and enacted a new series of harsh laws and regulations. Jews were eliminated from the German economy (November 12); Jewish pupils were expelled from public schools (also on November 12); Jews were restricted from most public



German men walk past the broken window of a Jewish-owned business in Berlin, Germany on November 10, 1938, following the Kristallnacht pogrom of the night before.

places (November 28); and all Jewish newspapers and periodicals were ordered shut down (there were 65 newspapers and periodicals and 42 organizational bulletins with a total monthly circulation of 956,000). All Jewish organizations were dissolved, leaving only the Reich Representation of German Jews, the Cultural Society of German Jews, and, temporarily, the Palestine Office of the Zionist organization. The only paper permitted to be published was the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt, the semi-official newspaper of the Reich Representation. German public reaction to the Kristallnacht pogrom, like that to the Nuremberg Laws, was diverse. The disapproval voiced focused primarily on the damage caused to German property and the German economy, and only in small degree on the moral aspect of the terror directed against the Jews and the destruction of their property. Once again the church leadership did not take a public stand, although a few individual clerics denounced the riots. The underground German Communist party condemned the pogrom in its newspaper.


n addition to laws, decrees, and government-sanctioned violence

directed toward the Jews in 1938, there were “spontaneous” and “unofficial” acts of persecution, including the destruction of Jewish property, the expulsion of Jews from smaller population centers, and the desecration and destruction of synagogues, among them the main

From 1938 to 1945

synagogues at Munich and at Nuremberg.

Before the end of November 1938 the Reich Representation for German Jews resumed its activities, helping Jews to emigrate from Germany and obtaining the release of concentration camp prisoners. In February 1939 a new organization was formed with representatives from all over Germany. The new Reich Association of Jews in Germany, would focus on emigration, Jewish education, and welfare. At the time, the German authorities supported the present authoritative, centralist Jewish organization. On July 4, 1939, a law was passed granting recognition to the Reich Association of Jews in Germany. However, the government required that all Jews by race, as defined in the Nuremberg Laws, must belong to the new organization. It was further put under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior, and, therefore, under the control of the SS. In 1938 and 1939, emigration of Jews from Germany reached new heights— 49,000 in 1938 and 68,000 in 1939—despite increasing difficulties. Emigration



Cities that participated in the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9, 1938.

Baltic Sea


North Sea







Hannover Brunswick


Bonn Koblenz

M miles





Liegnitz Dresden Breslau TE DE SU



Hindenburg Gleiwitz

Würzburg Karlsbad Fürth Mannheim Nuremberg Karlsruhe






LUXEMBOURG Saarbrücken



Chemnitz Frankfurt Plauen




Essen Düsseldorf Cologne

Konigsberg EAST

Lübeck Hamburg Emden Bremen G R E A T E R G E R M A N Y






Ulm Freiburg



Linz Munich Bad Vöslau Salzburg AUSTRIA Graz Klagenfurt

Baden Eisenstadt Wiener Neustadt



© Martin Gilbert 1982

The outbreak of the war set off a new round of antiJewish decrees and regulations affecting nearly every sphere of life for Jews living in Germany.

obstacles included new restrictions on entry in many countries, restrictions on immigration to Palestine, and the failure of the E V I A N C O N F E R E N C E . The Reich Association of Jews in Germany continued to support Jewish emigration even after the war broke out, routing emigrants through neutral Spain and Portugal to the Western Hemisphere; through the Soviet Union to East Asia; and through I TA LY and the Balkan states to Palestine by means of A L I YA B E T (“illegal” immigration). In October 1941, however, all Jewish emigration was prohibited. Economically, Jews were suffering greatly, and the Reich Association for Jews in Germany faced enormous social welfare problems. The German Jews had been deprived of their jobs, the average age of the Jews remaining in Germany was quite high, and money was needed to help impoverished Jews who could not afford to pay their own emigration costs. The main source of funds came from a progressive tax imposed on Jews who still had property in their possession, including Jews who were about to emigrate. The Reich Association also continued to receive financial assistance from American Jewish welfare agencies, until America’s entry into the war in December 1941. As more countries became involved in the war, the Germans expanded their policy of Jewish persecution, applying it in occupied and annexed countries. Jewish persecution differed from one country to another, but its ultimate aim was the same everywhere—the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” of the “Jewish question.” In Germany itself the outbreak of the war set off a new round of anti-Jewish decrees and regulations affecting nearly every sphere of the Jews’ life. One decree prohibited Jews from leaving their homes after dark and placed certain sections of cities out of bounds to them. Another reduced their allocation of rationed foods and restricted their purchases to certain shops and certain times of day. Other decrees, by the dozen, ordered the Jews to hand over their jewelry, radios, cameras, electrical appliances, and any other valuables in their possession. In September 1941 all Jews aged six and above were ordered to wear the Judenstern (the Jewish star;



Germany, November 1942. Leningrad besieged




Baltic Sea


SWEDEN neutral






nt L ine



North Sea




Danzig Sachsenhausen Ravensbruck

Amsterdam BergenBelsen



Warsaw Lódz´

Sobibór Babi Yar Lvov









Iasi ¸














Majdanek Belzec ˙

Kraków Auschwitz











Buchenwald Theresienstadt


Vilna Ponary










CROATIA Jasenovac





Black Sea





d ri












ALBANIA Salonika

Sea of Marmara















© Martin Gilbert 1985

see B A D G E , J E W I S H ), and Jews were no longer permitted to use public transportation. In contrast to the situation in most other countries of Europe, no ghettos were created in Germany; the isolating of the Jews was achieved by imposing residential restrictions that forced them out of their homes and concentrated them in “Jewish buildings.” Jews who were declared “fit for work” were put on forced labor, and the Nazis continued to arrest individual Jews and send them to concentration camps. The persecution of the Jews through myriad decrees and regulations was formally ended, in July 1943, by a superseding decree that denied Jews any protection of the law and placed them under the exclusive jurisdiction of the security services and the police. The first deportations of Jews from Germany took place in February 1940 (see N I S KO A N D L U B L I N P L A N ). These deportations ended in the spring, but that summer, after the victory over F R A N C E , the Nazis decided to deport the Jews to Madagascar (see M A DAG A S C A R P L A N ). In October 1940, in one night, all the Jews of Baden, the Palatinate, and the Saar district—7,500 persons—were deported to France, most of them to the G U R S camp, and from there to E X T E R M I NAT I O N CA M P S

In the fall of 1941, the operational squads began killing masses of Jews in German-occupied Soviet territory. The first phase of the total annihilation of the Jews of Europe had begun.



in the east. In October 1941 the systematic deportation of masses of Jews from Germany was launched. Beginning in the fall of 1941, the procedure for the mass deportations usually consisted of rounding up Jews and taking them to special assembly points in the large cities. Lists of deportation candidates were compiled by the Gestapo. In many places the local Jewish community was ordered to distribute the deportation orders to its members. In the fall of 1941, the O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen) were killing masses of Jews in the German-occupied Soviet territory. The first phase of the total annihilation of the Jews of Europe had begun. Some of the deportees from Germany were killed upon their arrival in the ghettos (as in Riga and Minsk). In 1942 and 1943, German Jews were deported by the tens of thousands directly to extermination camps, mainly to A USCHWITZ . Some 42,000 Jews from Germany, mostly elderly people and those with “privileged status,” were sent to the T H E R E S I E N S TA D T ghetto; the majority either perished there or were deported to the extermination camps. Even before the systematic mass annihilation started, several hundred Jews were murdered between 1939 and 1941 inside Germany, through the EUTHANASIA PROGRAM . Despite the progressive radicalization of the Nazi policy on the Jews, the Association for Jews in Germany continued to function throughout the war. It faced unprecedented challenges, especially with the onset of the mass deportations in 1940. Most of the Jewish population in Germany lacked the basic necessities of life. The association had to provide emergency housing for the thousands of Jews who had been evicted, and particularly for those evacuated from medical institutions and old-age homes. Until the summer of 1942, when the Jewish school system closed down, on orders issued by the Gestapo, schools were provided by the association. The association also continued to support the agricultural training farms of the Zionist movements. These establishments, too, were gradually closed down in 1942 and 1943, during the mass deportations.

Germans and “The Final Solution” The Nazi extermination of the Jews should be seen as part of a larger concept. The Nazis intended to restructure the face of Europe by exterminating and subjugating entire sectors of the population and by uprooting millions of people from their homes, mainly in eastern Europe (see G E N E R A L P L A N O S T ). During the war, in addition to the Jews, the Nazis also murdered G Y P S I E S , the chronically and mentally ill in Germany itself, Soviet prisoners of war, and intellectual and political elites in Poland and in the Soviet Union. The attitudes of the German people regarding the “solution of the Jewish question” remained fairly constant throughout the war years. The growing isolation of the Jews during the war, prior to their deportation, was due in part to an absence of concern on the part of the German population about what was happening to the Jews. But even at that stage, particularly before the start of the mass deportations, there was pressure by some nationalist groups for a more extreme anti-Jewish attitude in Germany, along the lines of the policy that had been introduced in Poland by this time. These Germans wanted further restrictions on the Jews in day-to-day life. They wanted them to wear the Jewish badge, and they called for the expulsion and liquidation of the Jews. Others, however, had reservations about the treatment of the Jews, especially with respect to the introduction of the yellow badge and the first deportations to the east. Their concerns were heightened after reports about the mass murder of



Jews in eastern Europe began filtering back to the population. These reservations were expressed primarily in the educated circles of the middle class, among religious Germans, and in the lower ranks of the clergy. As throughout the Holocaust, the church leadership did not protest. After the German defeat at Stalingrad and the massive air raids on German cities in 1943, Germans were more likely to express strong disapproval in response to continuing reports of the mass murders of Jews. It is also clear that thousands of Germans risked their lives and the lives of their families to extend help to Jews, thus saving some of the Jews who had gone into hiding. On the whole, however, it appears that the majority of the German people maintained a passive attitude toward the fate of the Jews.

Conclusion Of the 566,000 Jews (as defined by race) who lived in Germany when Hitler came to power, some 200,000 fell victim to the Nazi extermination policy and another 300,000 were saved, mostly by emigrating from the country. The actual number of Jewish emigrants from Germany between 1933 and 1945 was 346,000. This figure includes 98,000 who escaped to European countries conquered later by the Nazis; of these, an estimated 70,000 were deported during the Nazi occupation, along with Jews from those local populations. Around 5,000 of these deportees survived the war. Approximately 137,000 Jews were deported directly from Germany, of whom about 9,000 survived. The number of German Jews who died includes several thousand Jews who were murdered in the euthanasia program or who committed suicide. In addition to the 20,000 Jews surviving the war in Germany (15,000 in the open, mostly M I S C H L I N G E (Part Jews), and 3,000 to 5,000 who went into hiding), another 5,000 survived in the Theresienstadt ghetto and 4,000 in other concentration camps. In 1933, Rabbi Leo Baeck said, “The Third Reich has put an end to a thousand years of Jewish history in Germany.” These prophetic words proved true to an unimaginably tragic extent.

SEE ALSO TRIALS OF THE WAR CRIMINALS, YOUTH MOVEMENTS. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bar-On, Dan. Legacy of Silence: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989. Feldman, George. Understanding the Holocaust. Detroit: UXL, 1998. Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Knopf, 1997. Kaplan, Marion A. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Gestapo “Gestapo” is a shortened form of the German words “Geheime Staatspolizei,” meaning Secret State Police. They were the secret state police, first of Prussia, and later the Third Reich. The Gestapo became the Nazis’ main tool of oppression and destruction.



Members of the Gestapo arresting suspects in Berlin during World War II.

The Prussian Gestapo (1933–44) The Gestapo originated in the political department of the police headquarters in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. At that time, the department served the government as a domestic intelligence agency. The political police became a semiofficial federal bureau of investigation during the 1920s. When Adolf H I T L E R became the chancellor of Germany, Hermann Göring was made the interior minister of Prussia, and also head of the Prussian political police. Göring appointed Rudolf Diels its first executive director. Diels transformed the organization into the police-intelligence tool of a totalitarian dictatorship. He helped purge “politically unreliable elements” and Jewish officials. He also established a semi-independent headquarters, the Gestapa (Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt), comprised of low-level but experienced Prussian bureaucrats. Under Hitler’s leadership, the government passed the emergency regulations of February 28, 1933, which gave the Gestapa complete freedom to impose “protective custody” upon anyone, to prevent undesirable political activities, and to wiretap political suspects and follow all their activities. The torture and execution of prisoners without regular legal proceedings remained illegal, but it often took place in makeshift SA (Sturmabteilung; Storm Troopers) and SS bunkers and C O N C E N T R AT I O N CA M P S already in existence. On April 11, 1933, the Gestapa was separated entirely from the overall police structure. The First Gestapo Law, of April 26, 1933, officially gave Diels the



authority of an independent state political-police commissioner. However, Diels’ power was reduced as the SA and SS steadily gained more control. The Second Gestapo Law, of November 30, 1933, made Göring head of the political police and Diels directly responsible to him. The secret police now became officially known as the Gestapo. Free to act without fear of legal or administrative lawsuits, the Gestapo assumed direct control over its field branches. Specially trained, ruthless bureaucrats produced regular intelligence reports on political and ideological “enemies of the Reich.” In 1934, a Jewish Section was established in the Gestapa.

The Gestapo under Himmler and Heydrich Under Heinrich H I M M L E R and Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , the Gestapo played an important role in the unification of the SS and the police. First, Himmler established SS control over the political police and concentration camps in Bavaria in early 1933. Later he imposed this model on all the German states, including Prussia, where as Göring’s deputy he took over the Gestapo on April 20, 1934. He made Heydrich its director. Later in the year, Himmler was made the chief of all the political police in Germany. Although all German concentration camps came under the control of the SS, the Gestapo had the power to send its victims to them. Moreover, through a “political section” in the camps’ headquarters, the Gestapo could order that prisoners be released, tortured, or executed. Similar treatment awaited its victims in its own basements. To circumvent the criminal code that forbade torture and murder, the Gestapo adopted methods, tested in the D AC H AU concentration camp, of fabricating natural causes of death or informing the inmates’ families that the prisoners had been “shot while trying to escape.” In June 1936 Himmler officially became the chief of all the German police; he now controlled both the concentration camps and the police. Himmler reorganized the police system, with Hitler’s consent, so that he gained complete independence from the state and the Reich bureaucracy. He set up two main branches of the police force, the Order Police, or Orpo, and the Security Police, or Sipo. The Orpo was the “regular” police and included the Protection Police—the uniformed officers, the rural police, the firefighting police, and various technical and auxiliary services. Sipo was composed of the Gestapo and the Criminal Police. The Gestapo and the field units (now renamed Staatspolizeileitstellen; state regional headquarters) took over all the German political-police agencies. After Himmler’s takeover, the Gestapo grew enormously with the recruitment of personnel lacking the traditional qualifications for public service. From the time of Himmler’s takeover until September 1939, when the R E I C H S E C U R I T Y M A I N O F F I C E (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) was established, the structure of the Gestapo stayed the same. Division I handled organization and finance, including legal matters. Its director between 1935 and 1939 was Dr. Werner B E S T , an SS lawyer and SD (Security Service) executive. Division II, under Heydrich’s direct control, was the main body of the Gestapo. Under Heinrich M Ü L L E R , Section II 1 was charged with fighting the “enemies” of the regime, which included the Communists, Social Democrats, the outlawed trade unions, monarchists, and anti-Nazi ultraconservatives. Special sections dealt with Austrian matters, Jews, other religious groups, Freemasons, and immigrants. Division III was the counterintelligence unit. Between November 1937 and October 1938, special Gestapo-SD units were trained to terrorize and Nazify foreign countries. After Adolf E I C H M A N N drove Jews from A U S T R I A later in 1938, Müller, with Eichmann as executive,



assumed control of the forced emigration of the Jews from all Nazi-controlled territories. Following K R I S TA L L N A C H T (November 9–10, 1938), the Gestapo became the main instrument of the regime’s anti-Jewish policies.

The Gestapo during World War II (1939–45) In 1939 the Gestapo, as part of the Sipo, was fused with the SD to form the RSHA. Thus, young, ruthless, and fanatical SD agents such as Eichmann became Gestapo officers; the academics, lawyers, and old-style Prussian civil servants either were pushed aside or integrated themselves into the spirit and practices of the SSinfested civil service. With the creation of the RSHA, the Gestapo was expanded, with the border police now coming under its auspices. When the war began, the Gestapo took part in the enslavement of “inferior races,” “pacifying” and subduing the occupied territories in the west, persecuting the Jews, and, finally, carrying out a major role in the “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N .” Throughout this period, Müller was the head of the Gestapo and Eichmann was the head of the Jewish section. The Gestapo’s main tool remained the “protective custody” procedure, which allowed the agency to act freely against “enemies of the Reich.” These activities were carried out on orders by Heydrich; by his successor, Ernst K A LT E N B R U N N E R ; by Müller; or by RSHA section chiefs such as Eichmann. The Gestapo did not even take the trouble to place Jews and G Y P S I E S in the category of “enemies of the Reich” but rather rounded them up, stole their property, deprived them of their citizenship, and finally deported them. The Gestapo could commit such acts with impunity. Its position above the law and its special political mission were spelled out in an RSHA decree of April 15, 1940: “The powers required by the Gestapo for the execution of all measures necessary to their task stem not from specific laws and ordinances, but from the overall mission allotted to the German police in general and the Gestapo in particular in connection with the reconstruction of the National Socialist State.” In the occupied territories, local Gestapo representatives harassed the Judenräte and took their members hostage, perfected a special jargon of deceit (see S P R AC H R E G E L U N G ), and supervised the phasing out of the ghettos. They also pressured satellite countries to deport their Jews. Eichmann’s Jewish section and his field representatives generally arranged deportations to concentration and extermination camps. In particular, Eichmann maintained direct control over the special camp in T H E R E S I E N S TA D T and the Special Commando that deported most of Hungarian Jewry to A U S C H W I T Z in 1944. Persecuting defenseless Jews and maintaining control through terror, the Gestapo relentlessly served Hitler and the goal of remaking the world in the Nazi image. Millions of Germans accepted the Gestapo in its initial phase, collaborated with it later, and supplied the military-organizational framework that made Gestapo atrocities possible.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Aubrac, Lucie. Outwitting the Gestapo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. Crankshaw, Edward. Gestapo: Instrument of Tyranny. New York: Viking Press, 1956. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1994. Delarue, Jacques. The Gestapo: A History of Horror. New York: Paragon House, 1987. Gellately, Robert. The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933–1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.



Getter, Matylda (d. 1968)

Sister Matylda Getter was mother superior of the W A R S A W branch of the Order of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary, a Polish religious order that carried on educational work, mainly among orphans, and cared for the sick in hospitals. In 1942, Sister Matylda decided to accept all the Jewish children fleeing from the Warsaw ghetto who were brought to her and to shelter them in the order’s many locations, but especially in its branch at Pludy, about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) outside Warsaw, on the right bank of the Vistula River. It is estimated that Sister Matylda was instrumental in rescuing several hundred Jewish children from certain death, despite her own frailty as an elderly woman ill with cancer. Her principal aim was not to gain new souls for the church, but to rescue human lives. She was accused by some of unnecessarily endangering the lives of the many non-Jewish orphans in the order’s homes by harboring Jewish children in their midst. Her reply was that by virtue of the Jewish children’s presence, God would not allow any harm to befall the other children. Special precautions were taken to remove children who were too obviously Jewish-looking for temporary shelter elsewhere when Sister Matylda was alerted to possible Gestapo raids on the orphanages. When time proved too short for this, children with a more Jewish appearance would have their heads or faces partially bandaged, to look as though they had been injured. After the war, the children were released to their parents or relatives. Sister Matylda Getter was posthumously recognized by Yad Vashem as “R I G H T E O U S A M O N G T H E N AT I O N S .”

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bauminger, Arieh L. The Righteous Among the Nations. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1990.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 24, 2000).

Glazman, Josef (1913–1943)

Josef Glazman was a Jewish underground and partisan leader, born in the town of Alytus, in southern L I T H UA N I A . Glazman was given a nationalist and traditional upbringing and was active in the Betar Zionist youth movement. In 1937 he was appointed Betar leader for Lithuania, retaining the post until July 1940, when the Soviets dissolved all Jewish political movements in the country. In the first phase of Soviet rule in Lithuania, from July 1940 to the end of June 1941, Glazman was one of the underground leaders of the Revisionist party. When the Germans occupied Lithuania, Glazman was in V I L N A , where he was arrested and sent on forced labor in nearby Reise. In early November of 1941 Glazman returned to the Vilna ghetto, where he organized an underground group made up of Betar members. In order to aid his underground activities he joined the J E W I S H G H E T TO P O L I C E , and at the end of November 1941 he was appointed its deputy chief.



Josef Glazman.

Glazman was one of the founders of the U N I T E D P A R T I S A N O R G A N I Z AT I O N (Fareynegte Partizaner Organizatsye, FPO) of the Vilna ghetto and participated in its founding meeting on January 21, 1942. He became the FPO’s deputy commander, and was in charge of its intelligence section and commander of one of its two battalions. His official post as deputy chief of the Jewish ghetto police assisted the underground’s operations. Glazman also took an active part in the ghetto’s educational and cultural activities. In June 1942, when the ghetto administration was reorganized, Glazman left the police and was appointed head of the ghetto housing department within the J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council). Glazman’s relations with Jacob G E N S (chief of the ghetto police and, as of July 1942, ghetto head) were strained because of Glazman’s underground activities and their differences over policy. At the end of October 1942, Glazman was arrested on Gens’s orders and dismissed from his post. He was released in mid-December 1942 after being jailed for several weeks. In June 1943 he was again arrested and sent to



the Reise labor camp, also on Gens’s orders. The FPO and ghetto police fought over his arrest. A few weeks later, Glazman was returned to the ghetto. In July, Glazman left the ghetto, leading the first group of FPO members into the forest in order to establish a partisan base. On the way they fell into a German ambush and during the fight the group lost a third of its men. At the end of July, Glazman and his men reached the Naroch Forest, where he formed the Revenge (Nekama) Jewish partisan unit of the partisan brigade commanded by Fyodor Markov. At the end of September the Soviet command decided to dissolve the Jewish unit. As a result of this decision, the unit also lost most of its weapons. Glazman and a group of his comrades joined the Lithuanian partisan command. At this time the Germans launched a determined drive against the partisans in the Naroch and Kozhany forests. Glazman and a group of 35 Jewish partisans tried to break through to the Rudninkai Forest in the south in order to join up with FPO members who had gone there from the Vilna ghetto. On October 7, 1943, a superior German force surrounded Glazman and his men. In the fierce struggle that followed he and his comrades were killed; only one member of the group, a young girl, was saved.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Partisans of Vilna [sound recording]. Chicago: Flying Fish, 1989. Porter, Jack Nusan, ed. Jewish Partisans: A Documentary of Jewish Resistance in the Soviet Union During World War II. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 24, 2000).

Globocnik, Odilo (1904–1945)

Odilo Globocnik was a senior S S commander and a principal participant in the extermination of Polish Jewry. Born in Trieste to an Austrian-Croat family of minor officials, Globocnik was a contractor by profession. He joined the N A Z I PA R T Y in A U S T R I A in 1931 and the SS in 1934. His illegal activity on behalf of the party caused him to be imprisoned several times. Before the annexation of Austria to G E R M A N Y in 1938, Globocnik was already active in the formation of Nazi factory cells in the provinces of Austria. In 1936 he was appointed provincial party leader in Carinthia. He earned rapid promotions in 1938: to colonel in March, and to state secretary and Gauleiter (district leader) of V I E N N A in May. He lost this position in January 1939 because of financial wrongdoing, but was pardoned by Heinrich H I M M L E R , and in November 1939 was appointed district SS and Police Leader for the L U B L I N district of P O L A N D and promoted to the level of major general in the SS. In 1941 Himmler entrusted Globocnik with the planning and establishment of police- and SS-fortified strongholds in Poland, and he was made head of all death camps that year. In 1942, Globocnik was given the responsibility of implementing A K T I O N ( O P E R AT I O N ) R E I N H A R D . He used the camps of B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , S O B I B Ó R , T R E B L I N K A , and M A J DA N E K to carry out a fourfold task: the exploitation of the Jewish work force, the extermination of Jews, the acquisition of the real

Odilo Globocnik.



estate of the murdered Jews, and the seizure of their valuables and movable property. More than two million Jews were killed during Aktion Reinhard, and property to valued at 178 million Reichsmarks was seized and turned over for the benefit of the Third Reich. In August 1943, as a result of differences with other Nazi party and SS leaders, Globocnik was transferred to Trieste. He committed suicide in May 1945 after being taken captive by British troops at the end of the war.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES The SS. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1989. A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Perpetrators. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu /holocaust/people/perps.htm (accessed on August 24, 2000). Williamson, Gordon. The SS: Hitler’s Instrument of Terror. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1994.

Goebbels, Joseph (1897–1945)

Joseph Goebbels, who would become the Nazis’ chief propagandist, was born in Rheydt, in the Rhine district, into a poor and pious Catholic family. He studied at the University of Heidelberg and earned a doctorate in literature and philosophy. After failing in his attempts to become a writer, Goebbels discovered his talents as a propagandist and speaker for the N A Z I PA RT Y , which he joined in 1924. Before long he became one of Adolf H I T L E R ’s most ardent admirers and in 1926 was appointed Gauleiter (district leader) of Berlin, his assignment being to win over the capital for the party. In 1928 he was elected to the Reichstag (a house of the German Parliament). Two years later he was also appointed the party’s chief of propaganda. He then ran the Nazis’ stormy election campaigns from 1930 to 1933. On March 13, 1933, soon after Hitler came to power, Goebbels was appointed minister of propaganda and public information. He imposed Nazification upon the country’s artistic and cultural life, working through the branches of the ministry that reported to him. He controlled the media, and it was at his prompting that “un-German” books were burned on May 10, 1933. Goebbels was also one of the creators of the “Führer” myth, an important element in the Nazis’ successful bid for the support of the masses. Joseph Goebbels.

By the time the Nazi regime was firmly established, Goebbels’s position had weakened. Once the political forces that had opposed the Nazis were destroyed, Goebbels no longer had an “enemy” to fight (except for the Jewish “enemy”), and Hitler was angered by the frequent crises in Goebbels’s marital life, fearing that they might cause damage to the party’s image. When the war broke out, Goebbels assumed a key role in psychological warfare, and when the situation on the fronts took a turn for the worse, he again played a central part in the leadership. Once again in Hitler’s good graces, Goebbels was appointed to the task of propagandizing and mobilizing the population for the war effort. Goebbels was the father of modern propaganda in a totalitarian state. The propaganda he spread was remarkably filled with defamations, libels, and lies; he was



convinced that people would believe the lies if only they were repeated often enough, and the bigger the lie, the better chance it had of being believed. Goebbels’s propaganda always incited hate against some enemy. He was fanatic in his A N T I S E M I T I S M , but his hatred of Jews was also based on the utilitarian value of exploiting antisemitism to further his propaganda aims. Goebbels was relentless in depicting “the Jew” as the principal enemy of the German people. It was Goebbels who conceived the idea of the K R I S TA L L N A C H T (“Night of the Broken Glass”) pogroms in November 1938, and it was he who gave the event the name by which it continues to be known. Following these pogroms, he used his influence to drastically reduce organized Jewish activities and freedom of movement. Once the war began, he launched a concerted effort to greatly diminish living conditions for the Jews of Berlin. The first D E P O RTAT I O N S of Berlin Jews, in October 1941, were carried out to fulfill an express promise that Goebbels had given to Hitler, to make Berlin judenrein (“cleansed of Jews”) as soon as possible. When Hitler committed suicide in the besieged capital, Goebbels refused to accept the position of Reich chancellor, to which he was appointed in Hitler’s will. On May 1, 1945, Goebbels and his wife, Magda, dressed their six children, ages four to twelve, in white party outfits and then ordered an SS doctor to give them lethal injections. Goebbels and his wife then committed suicide by ordering an SS man to shoot them.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Goebbels, Joseph. The Goebbels Diaries. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948. Reprint, New York: Penguin, 1983. Heiber, Helmut. Goebbels. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1972. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1983.

Hitler’s Henchmen [videorecording]. Windsong/La Mancha, 1991. Reuth, Ralf Georg. Goebbels. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.

GORDONIA. SEE YOUTH MOVEMENTS. Great Britain World War II began with G E R M A N Y ’s invasion of P O L A N D in September 1939. At the time, although Britain’s political and economic interests stretched around the world, from East Asia through India, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and to the North Sea, Britain was unable to defend its huge empire on its own. British politicians were aware of Britain’s fundamental weakness. The huge human and material losses of World War I (1914–18) were still keenly felt, and until 1936 there was little public support for a serious military-rearmament program. Not surprisingly, British foreign policy attempted to soothe, or appease, potential enemies and worked to gain friends among neutral countries by meeting their demands. After the complete German takeover of Czechoslovakia, however (against the agreement reached at the Munich Conference of September 1938), Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain reversed his government’s foreign policy based on appeasement. He decided to offer a mutual-defense pact to Poland in order to avoid German aggression against that country.



Unprepared for War

By May 1940, Britain was the only country in Europe still fighting Adolf Hitler. Despite their isolation and increasingly desperate situation, the British refused all negotiations with the Germans.

The British army was too weak and unprepared for war to present any meaningful threat to Germany. When war began in September 1939, there were only two fully trained divisions in the United Kingdom. Other British troops were spread out among the colonies, including almost 17,000 in Palestine. Still, Britain (together with its ally, F R A N C E ) declared war on Germany two days after Germany invaded Poland. Poland quickly fell to the Germans and the months that followed were popularly called the “phony war.” There were no more German advances until May 1940. Britain used this period to dramatically improve its military strength. Although the United States was technically neutral in the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised that American supplies would be available to Great Britain. The British dominions—Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand—and India also declared war on Germany. However, they were too far away from the main theater of action in Europe to help much until the fighting spread to North and East Africa and to Asia. Britain’s most significant ally was France. The two countries’ strategy was based on a combined use of their navies to prevent German control of the seas. This was essential, since Germany needed to import materials over water. In May 1940, the Germans moved against B E L G I U M , Luxembourg, and the N E T H E R L A N D S . Germany also invaded France. Soon afterward, I TA LY joined Germany as an Axis power and declared war on Great Britain. Britain was the only country in Europe still fighting Adolf H I T L E R , but the British refused all negotiations with the Germans. The successful evacuation of 200,000 British troops from France at Dunkirk (Dunquerke), in June 1940, allowed Britain to prepare for an expected German invasion of the British Isles. During this period of crisis, the government of Neville Chamberlain was replaced by a national coalition led by Winston Churchill. The new prime minister announced that Britain would continue fighting until the defeat of Germany. Between August and October 1940, the Luftwaffe (the German air force) failed to defeat the British Royal Air Force in the prolonged Battle of Britain. Still, Britain’s overall situation was bad. The fall of France to Germany had deprived Britain of the support of the French navy and troops. Italy’s entry into the war complicated Britain’s position in the Middle East, Africa, and India. Great Britain’s isolation was eased by the growing willingness of the United States to support the British war effort. In March 1941, the U.S. Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act, allowing the United States to supply Britain with weapons under a leasing arrangement. This acknowledged that an eventual British victory against Hitler was important to American security. The growing political alliance between the two powers was expressed in the Atlantic Charter of August 14, 1941. After the German air force lost the Battle of Britain, Hitler abandoned his plan to invade the British Isles and turned his attention to the S OV I E T U N I O N . On June 22, 1941, “Operation Barbarossa” began. German troops invaded the Soviet Union from the Baltic Sea south to Romania. Despite Prime Minister Churchill’s strong anti-Communist beliefs, he immediately offered Soviet leader Joseph Stalin supplies and weapons. Hitler’s decision to strike out to the East—to fight a war on two fronts—transformed the nature of World War II. It especially relieved the pressure on Britain and on British positions in the Middle East. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the official declaration of a state of war between the United States and Japan (followed soon after by the German declaration of war



against the United States), meant that the war had become truly global. Britain was no longer alone.

An Allied Effort By the beginning of 1942, a “grand alliance,” led by Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, had been formed. Several basic principles guided their joint, “Allied” effort against the Axis. First, the war against Germany was given priority over the war in the Pacific, despite the rapid advance of Japanese forces. With many German troops fighting on the Soviet front, Great Britain and the United States worked to open a second European front against the Germans as soon as possible. Three remaining principles of the Allies’ policy toward Germany eventually had major implications for the relief and rescue of European Jewry. First of all, a blockade of supplies to occupied Europe was recognized as an essential weapon against the German war effort. Secondly, it was agreed that there would be no negotiations with Hitler. This was to reassure Stalin that Britain and America would not join with the Germans in a joint effort to destroy the Soviet Union. Although there were contacts with the Germans by means of neutral states and the International Red Cross on various humanitarian issues, the principle of “no negotiations” prevented any serious consideration of German proposals for the ransom of Jews. Finally, the Allies agreed that they would fight until the unconditional surrender of Germany and the Axis.

The Allies—Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union—agreed to fight until the unconditional surrender of Germany.

The tide of war turned in late 1942. The German advance into Russia was halted at Stalingrad in October, and the German forces were defeated at El Alamein in November. These events marked the beginning of the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

War’s Effects at Home The impact of the war was far-reaching in Britain. As large numbers of men were enlisted in the army, women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. The important role played by organized labor in the war effort, and the central role of the Labour party in the coalition government, led to demands for social reform. The desire for change was reflected in the results of the elections held right after the end of the war in Europe. Despite Churchill’s popularity as a war leader, his Conservative party lost the elections in July 1945 to the Labour party. The head of the Labour party, Clement Attlee, became prime minister. (Churchill later returned as prime minister, in 1951.) World War II also transformed Britain’s dependent empire. The mystique of British power and supremacy diminished as colonies in East Africa were occupied by Italian forces and in Asia by the Japanese. Even after the Japanese had been defeated, Britain was not able to reestablish its authority in a number of colonies. In other parts of the empire, political concessions were granted to nationalist forces to secure their support during the war effort. These changes led to the effective loss of the empire by the mid-1950s. The war marked the end of Britain’s role as a great power.

Appeasement of Nazi Germany Great Britain’s policy toward Germany in the period between the two world wars, especially in the second half of the 1930s, was one of appeasement. “Appeasement” was originally a positive term, describing an effort to establish peace between antagonistic



World War II marked the end of Great Britain’s role as a global empire.

countries. After World War II, however, the term acquired a negative sense, being linked, by association with British policy, with weakness in the face of aggression. An agreement with Hitler, signed by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at the Munich Conference in September 1938, came to be viewed as the lowest point of appeasement. It surrendered Czechoslovakia, a friendly and free country, to Nazi Germany, whether out of cowardice or foolish blindness concerning Hitler’s true aims. Britain’s appeasement policy was adopted many years before the N A Z I P A RT Y ’s rise to power with its policy of aggression. It was a direct result of the peace agreements at the end of World War I, and in particular of the Treaty of Versailles. Even during the Versailles Conference, the harsh terms dictated to the Germans worried the British and Americans. They debated whether to aim for a peace treaty, in a spirit of appeasement, or to insist on harsh terms. The second option was chosen, which produced a sense of guilt and sympathy toward Germany among many of the politicians involved. Appeasement toward Germany was also historically in the national interests of Britain; maintaining peace through the post-war renewal of economic ties in Europe, especially with Germany, was necessary in restoring and maintaining international trade. British politicians tended to see the Nazis’ rise to power as a result of the harsh policy toward Germany. Their negative feelings about Nazism, however, did not change their appeasement policy. As German strength grew, Great Britain increased its efforts for good relations. Various proposals were made for the economic appeasement of Germany: the granting of colonies in Africa, trade agreements, and even military agreements. But Germany adopted a policy of presenting “done deals” that modified the terms of the peace treaty. For example, it abolished military restrictions and moved its army into the demilitarized Rhine region. Up to 1937, Britain practiced a policy of “passive appeasement,” simply accepting Hitler’s aggressive actions. When Chamberlain became prime minister in May 1937, he started a policy of “active appeasement.” He tried to prevent war through cooperation with Germany. Relations between Czechoslovakia and Germany deteriorated, however, and by mid-September 1938 the danger of war seemed imminent. Chamberlain went to meet with Hitler in Germany. Before the talks, the British government had decided to give autonomy to the Germans within Czechoslovakia. At the meeting, however, Hitler and Chamberlain immediately agreed on the annexation of areas of Czechoslovakia to Germany. The Munich Agreement was signed after two weeks of talks. At that time, the attempt to appease Germany by putting pressure on an independent state (Czechoslovakia) was not seen in Britain as a weak or treacherous act, but as a bold step to save Europe from war. But when Hitler introduced new demands, doubts grew in Britain about the morality and the usefulness of this act of appeasement. In Parliament, Winston Churchill, a longtime critic of appeasement, harshly criticized the Munich Agreement. Both in Parliament and in the press, the agreement was attacked as a shameful giving-in that would encourage further acts of aggression from Hitler. This was confirmed when Hitler violated his pledges and occupied all of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Appeasement now appeared to be a complete failure. Chamberlain was obliged to change his policy. He guaranteed support to Poland and Romania, which were expected to be Hitler’s next victims. Still, he did not abandon hope of salvaging peace by maintaining contact with leading figures in Germany. Even after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, when he was forced to declare war on Germany, Chamberlain did so reluctantly, unconvinced of the need to fight.



Fascism in Great Britain Beginning in 1923, a number of fascist organizations came and went in Britain. With the formation of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) by Sir Oswald Mosley in 1932, FA S C I S M in Britain took an important step forward. But the extremism of the fascist Nazi Germany lost the BUF some support, as did its involvement in political violence and its A N T I S E M I T I S M . There were violent street clashes between fascists and anti-fascists. With the government’s 1936 ban on the wearing of uniforms in public, growth of the BUF (whose hallmark was the wearing of a black shirt) was further hindered. Economic recovery in the course of the 1930s did not help the BUF’s cause. Even so, Mosley’s movement was active until World War II, and Mosley continued to attract large crowds at public meetings. The outbreak of the war soon resulted in the restriction of fascist activity. In early 1940, leading members of the BUF, including Mosley, were interned under a law that allowed the government to hold people who had had associations with enemy powers. Arnold Leese, another prominent fascist, was among the other internees. By the end of the war, fascism in Britain had become associated with the excesses of Nazi Germany.

Negative feelings about Nazism did not change the policy of appeasement. As German strength grew under Hitler, Great Britain increased its efforts to maintain good relations, until war on Germany was declared in September 1939.

Jewish Refugees Between 1933 and 1945, Great Britain was an important country of refuge for Jews fleeing Nazi-controlled Europe (see R E F U G E E S , 1 9 3 3 – 4 5 ). For its size, Britain gave shelter to a significant number of Jews during the Holocaust. Britain had a liberal tradition of granting asylum to refugees, and it was the preferred country of immigration. Others sought temporary refuge there while waiting to emigrate elsewhere. A third group looked to Britain as the entry point for the territories in Britain’s large dependent empire. British immigration policy, however, like that of many countries, changed in response to events. The first wave of refugees arrived in Britain in the months after Hitler’s rise to power in January 1933. Church groups, in particular the Quaker Society of Friends, were active on their behalf. The Parliament was sympathetic to these first victims of Nazism. Because Britain did not border on Germany, the number of refugees arriving there shortly after the Nazi seizure of power was small. In December 1933, there were only 3,000; and in April 1934, just 2,000. Would-be refugees met with many difficulties, mainly due to the immigration laws of 1919 (the Aliens Law), which remained in effect until 1938. The government made no distinction between refugees and other immigrants. It required financial guarantees on the refugees’ behalf and pledges that they would remain in Great Britain only temporarily. The official attitude toward Jewish refugees was affected by the government’s policy of non-intervention in Germany’s internal matters. The humanitarian approach to the refugees, supported by groups outside the government, was seen as harming Britain’s political and economic interests. But after Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938 (the Anschluss), Great Britain became a haven for many refugees. The coordination of ways to help refugees reached its height in the year before World War II began, as did the rate of immigration. Among the non-Jewish public, there was a great deal of support for Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany. However, many refugees discovered pockets of hostility, such as among the trade unions. Aggressive German actions in 1938 (the Anschluss in March, the German occupation of the Sudetenland that October, and K R I S TA L L NAC H T in November) brought British immigration policy under intense pressure. Pressured by pro-refugee groups and members of Parliament, and embarrassed by international response to the



Jewish refugee children arrive in Great Britain.

Britain’s humanitarian approach to refugees, supported by agencies outside the government, was criticized as harmful to Britain’s political and economic interests.


British campaign against Jewish immigration into Palestine, Britain made it easier for refugees to enter. But with the outbreak of war in September 1939, all immigration into Britain and the British Empire from enemy or enemy-controlled territory was banned. Jewish refugees continued to reach Britain after 1939, but in very small numbers. Later, as the tide of war turned, the restrictions on entry were partly lifted. Eventually, more than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children, most of them Jewish, reached Great Britain from Central Europe. (See R E S C U E O F C H I L D R E N .) Until the outbreak of the war, more than 80,000 Jewish refugees reached Great Britain, and 55,000 remained there. In addition to 10,000 children, some 14,000 women entered the country as domestic help. In a special camp, Kitchener, in Richborough, Kent, 5,000 people who needed immediate shelter were housed during an 18-month period from the end of January 1939. The government gave them a group entrance visa and waived the normal regulations for passports and individual permits. Jewish organizations in Great Britain were concerned about the refugee problem early on. Various groups guaranteed care and financial support. As the numbers of desperate refugees increased, however, thousands of applicants had to be turned away. In addition to generous contributions to support children and various refugee-aid organizations, British Jews gave personal bonds that enabled thousands


of refugees to enter Great Britain and guaranteed their support once they arrived. Many volunteers worked in relief organizations. With the outbreak of war, refugee children were evacuated, along with British children, to the Midlands and Wales. The treatment of refugees at this time became worse. Following the outbreak of hostilities, all Germans and Austrians in Great Britain, including Jewish refugees, were defined as “enemy aliens.” The war caused mass hysteria and open hostility toward the refugees. The government, with the full support of the public and the press, opened internment camps for aliens from Germany and Austria in the early summer of 1940. Within several weeks, about 30,000 were interned in camps—most of them Jewish refugees who unhesitatingly supported the Allies. Later in the summer of 1940, the government took an additional step that had great ramifications: It deported aliens from Great Britain. Only after the scandals and disasters resulting from the D E P O RTAT I O N S (such as the sinking of the ship Arandora Star carrying deportees, with great loss of life) did the injustice and the futility of the policy became evident. Shortly thereafter, the government changed its policy, canceling deportations and returning some of the deportees to Great Britain. Within a year, almost all of the internees were released and were integrated into British society. Thousands of them joined the British army in the war against the Nazis.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bolchover, Richard. British Jewry and the Holocaust. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Bower, Tom. The Pledge Betrayed: America and Britain and the Denazification of Postwar Germany. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982. Breitman, Richard. Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998. Wasserstein, Bernard. Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939–1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Reprint, New York: Leicester University Press, 1999.

Grodno Grodno is a city in the western part of B E L O R U S S I A (now called Belarus). In the period between world wars, Grodno was part of P O L A N D ; in September 1939 it was occupied by the Red Army and annexed to the S OV I E T U N I O N . Grodno had one of the oldest and largest Lithuanian Jewish communities, with a Jewish population of 25,000 people. It took pride in its numerous social and cultural institutions and was a center of Zionism. On the first day of their invasion of the Soviet Union, June 22, 1941, the Germans reached Grodno. As soon as they entered the city, they put all Jews aged 16 to 60 into forced labor. In July of that year, 80 Jews belonging to the intelligentsia were put to death. The Germans administratively transferred Grodno from Belorussia to the district of B I A L⁄ Y S TO K , and annexed it, in March 1942, to East Prussia. On November 1, 1941, the Germans ordered the establishment of two ghettos, ghetto “A” for skilled workers and ghetto “B” for “nonproductive” Jews. The ghettos became the centers of educational, cultural, communal, and youth movement activities, with the participation of community leaders, educators, and members of Zionist YO U T H M OV E M E N T S .



Because of its location, between V I L NA and Bial⁄ystok, Grodno became a center for the Jewish underground. It was one of the first places to hear reports of the large-scale massacres at P O NA RY . At the beginning of 1942 an underground movement was founded in the Grodno ghetto. Its membership base combined non-Zionist and Zionist youth movements, and the Communists. The pioneering Zionist movements wanted to fight inside the ghetto, whereas the Communists urged escaping from the ghetto into the forests to fight as PA R T I S A N S —paramilitary groups organized for sabotage, revenge, and assassination attempts against the Nazi forces and sympathizers. Mordechai T E N E N B AU M twice went to Grodno trying to set up an underground that would encompass all the Jewish movements, from the revisionist Zionists to the Communists. He had some success, and some of the underground activists were transferred to the Bial⁄ystok ghetto. On November 22, 1942, 2,400 Jews from Grodno were taken to A U S C H W I T Z . While this D E P O R TAT I O N was underway, Zerah Silberberg, one of the Zionist activists in the Bial⁄ ystok underground, went to Grodno to train the underground commanders and try to establish unity among the youth movements. An additional 2,000 Jews were deported from Grodno at the end of November 1942; their destination was Kielbasin, a transit camp for later deportation to EXTERMI N AT I O N CA M P S . A second transport of Jews from Grodno to Kielbasin followed in early December. The underground had a plan to assassinate the German commander of ghetto “B,” but failed to carry it out. Five members were sent to the forests; four died there and the one survivor returned to the ghetto, declaring that Jews without weapons could not survive in the forest. The determination to stay in the ghetto and fight gained in strength among the underground members, but some groups of Jews continued to escape into the forests. Several women members of the underground who had set up a workshop for forging documents were moved to Bial⁄ystok on orders of the underground, to serve as liaison officers. Two underground members set an ambush one night for the commander of ghetto “B,” but they were shot before they could draw their guns. Another assassination attempt, whose target was the commander of ghetto “A” and the superior of the commander of ghetto “B,” Kurt Wiese, also failed. In a deportation that came to an end on January 22, 1943, 10,500 Jews were taken to Auschwitz. Many of the deportees jumped off the trains, and some of these made their way to the Bial⁄ystok ghetto. The last group of Jews to be deported from Grodno, numbering some 500 persons, was taken to Bial⁄ ystok. The flight to the forests, mostly on an individual basis, continued in the winter of 1943, the destination being the nearby forests of Nacha and Augustów. The non-Jewish partisan units did not accept these escapees, and hunger and cold forced some of them to return to the Grodno ghetto. A number of young people from Grodno who had gone to Bial⁄ystok left that ghetto for the forest in August 1943 and operated in the areas under the name “White Furs,” mainly taking revenge on local peasants who had collaborated with the Germans. The group finally managed to join a Soviet partisan unit, and fought with it up to the liberation. Grodno was liberated by the Red Army on July 14, 1944. Approximately two hundred Jews were still alive, including partisans and persons who had survived or who came back to Grodno from other places in the Soviet Union.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Gitelman, Zvi, ed. Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Lost Jewish Worlds: the Communities of Grodno, Lida, Olkieniki, Vishay. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1996.



Haika Grosman.

Grosman, Haika (b. 1919)

Haika Grosman was an underground activist and partisan. Born in B I A L⁄ Y S T O K , Grosman became a member of the Zionist youth movement, HaShomer ha-Tsa’ir, at an early age. At the outbreak of World War II she moved to V I L N A to help organize members of the pioneering Zionist YO U T H M OV E M E N T S in that city. Following the German invasion of the S OV I E T U N I O N (June 22, 1941), Grosman returned to Bial⁄ ystok, where she became one of the organizers of the underground movement there.



Posing as a Polish woman, she went on many underground missions to various cities and ghettos, including the W A R S A W ghetto. She belonged to the “Antifascist Bial⁄ ystok” cell and, along with five other young women who posed as Poles, she gave assistance to the Jewish underground and to the partisans who were then organizing themselves in the forests around the area. She participated in the Bial⁄ ystok ghetto revolt in August 1943, and became a member of a local Jewish partisan unit. After liberation, Grosman served as the Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa’ir representative in the institutions set up by the remnants of the Jewish population in P O L A N D . She settled in Israel in 1948, joining Kibbutz Evron in western Galilee. Grosman became politically active in Israel and was a member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) from 1969 to 1981, and again from 1984. She is the author of People of the Underground (published in English as The Underground Army, 1988), which contains memoirs and chapters on the struggle of the Bial⁄ystok Jews.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Partisans of Vilna [sound recording]. Chicago: Flying Fish, 1989. Porter, Jack Nusan, ed. Jewish Partisans: A Documentary of Jewish Resistance in the Soviet Union During World War II. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Resisters. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/ people/resister.htm (accessed on August 24, 2000).

Gross-Rosen Gross-Rosen was a C O N C E N T R A T I O N C A M P established in the summer of 1940 as a satellite camp of S AC H S E N H AU S E N . It was located near the granite quarry of Gross-Rosen, in Lower Silesia, a region of German-occupied territory. On May 1, 1941, Gross-Rosen became an independent concentration camp; it remained in operation until mid-February 1945. At first, the camp prisoners were put to work in the quarry, which was owned by the SS German Earth and Stone Works. Prisoners also worked in the construction of the camp, which was accelerated in the summer of 1943. A large number of subcamps soon followed. The number of prisoners grew steadily, from 1,487 in 1941 to 6,780 in 1942. There were 15,400 prisoners in 1943, and 90,314 in 1944 (not allowing for the fact that many prisoners were counted twice). On the eve of the camp’s liquidation, there were 97,414 inmates. In its final stage, Gross-Rosen had a prison population of 78,000 (52,000 men and 26,000 women), representing 11 percent of all the prisoners then in Nazi concentration camps. A total of 125,000 prisoners of different nationalities passed through Gross-Rosen. It is estimated that 40,000 of them perished in the camp and in the evacuation transports.

Jews at Gross-Rosen Jews were the largest group among the victims in Gross-Rosen. Beginning in late 1943, 57,000 Jews were brought there, including 26,000 women. The assignment of Jews to the camp, and their use as labor for the German war economy, resulted from a reorganization of the SS methods for exploiting Jews and from the



evacuation of the P L⁄ A S Z Ó W and A U S C H W I T Z -Birkenau camps. The Jews were distributed among satellite camps outside the main camp. The first Jewish prisoners to arrive in Gross-Rosen were sent there from D A C H A U and Sachsenhausen. In 1942, small groups of Jews, 100 in all, arrived from Poland’s Radom district, from the prison in T A R N Ó W , and from Sachsenhausen and B U C H E N WA L D . They were housed in Block 4, which was run by German convicts. Among these convicts were several particularly brutal sadists and murderers. The living and working conditions of the Jewish prisoners were extraordinarily harsh and inhumane. The work in the quarry and the construction of the camp were backbreaking. Prisoners were also used for special work assignments during what were supposed to be their hours for rest. The Jewish prisoners were not permitted to establish contact with one another; each prisoner was restricted to his or her own block. They were also denied medical attention. Before long, their health had deteriorated and they were completely exhausted. The death rate was high. Among the survivors, some were Muselmänner (see M U S E L M A N N )—inmates on the verge of death. In December 1941, 119 of these became victims of the E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M . The high death rate continued in 1942. Prisoners classified as “disabled” were sent to Dachau. The last 37 Jewish prisoners were transferred to Auschwitz on October 16 of that year, in the course of an operation designed to remove Jews from all camps in Germany. For a period of twelve months, Gross-Rosen was judenfrei (“free of Jews”)—a Nazi goal.

Most of the Jewish prisoners in Gross-Rosen were from Poland and Hungary, but others were from Belgium, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, and Italy.

In October 1943, however, more Jewish prisoners were brought to GrossRosen, this time in larger groups and transports. The first such group consisted of 600 prisoners moved from the Markstadt labor camp to Fünfteichen, a new GrossRosen satellite camp. They were put to work there in Krupp factories. Another group of 600 Jewish prisoners was put at the disposal of I. G. F A R B E N , to work in factories at Dyhernfurth, where poison gas was to be produced. More groups came in March 1944, beginning an uninterrupted flow of Jewish prisoners that continued until January 1945. Additional Gross-Rosen satellite camps were put up to accommodate them. Most of the Jewish prisoners were from P O L A N D and H U N G A R Y , but others were from B E L G I U M , F R A N C E , Greece, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, and I TA LY . The Jewish prisoners of Gross-Rosen were distributed among more than 50 satellite camps, called labor camps (Arbeitslager). Some of these satellite camps were put up when Gross-Rosen took over a number of forced-labor camps (Zwangsarbeitslager). A total of 28 such camps were taken over by Gross-Rosen. Of these, 20 were kept in operation as Gross-Rosen satellite camps. The prisoners from the remaining eight camps were transferred to existing satellite camps. Most of the camps were for men or women only. A second group of completely new satellite camps for Jews was eventually put up. More transports of prisoners came in to meet increased demand for weapons, and, later, upon the partial evacuation of the Pl⁄aszów and Auschwitz camps. Especially notable among these camps were 12 that made up the “giant labor camp” (Arbeitslager Riese) complex, all for men. Established from April to June 1944, they were a labor reserve for the construction of Adolf H I T L E R ’s underground home. These camps held 13,000 Jews, most of them from Hungary. The hard labor involved in building underground passages, roads, and so forth, together with the poor living conditions and total lack of hygiene, soon caused a large number of prisoners to become Muselmänner. As a result, 857 prisoners too weak to work were sent from these camps to Auschwitz, on September 29 and October 19, 1944. The death



rate in the giant labor camp complex was exceptionally high. At least 3,068 prisoners died there.


uring World War II, Gross-Rosen grew from a small work camp

occupied by 100 laborers housed in wooden barracks to a sprawling complex of 70 satellite camps housing between 80,000 and 90,000 prisoners who worked primarily in the German munitions industry, poison gas factories, and in the nearby quarry.

In some other satellite camps for Jewish prisoners, the inmates worked in armaments and other factories. The women, distributed over 42 satellite camps, came mostly from Poland and Hungary. They arrived from Poland in late 1944, when Pl⁄aszów, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the L⁄ Ó D Z´ ghetto were evacuated (the last via Auschwitz). They also came from Hungary in transports that first passed through Auschwitz-Birkenau. The prisoners in 13 of these camps worked in textile factories; in one camp, in the aircraft industry; and in another, in an armaments factory. The conditions in the women’s camps were less harsh; out of 5,000 prisoners, 58 died—a relatively small number. Other satellite camps for women were put up at different times. Before 1944, there were no large transfers of Jewish prisoners from Gross-Rosen to other concentration camps. Records show only the transfer of some 200 Muselmänner to Auschwitz and of 400 prisoners to Buchenwald. But there were frequent transfers from one satellite camp to another to meet current requirements of the war economy, and, at a later stage, as part of the gradual liquidation of Gross-Rosen.

Evacuation of Gross-Rosen In the first phase of the evacuation—the last ten days of January 1945—the satellite camps on the eastern bank of the Oder River were liquidated. The men’s satellite camps located there were moved to the main camp. Most of the prisoners in the women’s camps were transferred to concentration camps deep inside Germany. The prisoners were evacuated by foot, in what came to be known as D E AT H M A R C H E S , in the cold of winter and without food. Many prisoners perished on those marches, but no accurate estimate can be made of their number. The ultimate fate of many prisoners remains unknown. The main camp, Gross-Rosen itself, was evacuated in early February 1945, and the remaining satellite camps after that. The prisoners in the main camp were evacuated by rail. But the condition of the cars that were used (they normally carried coal) and the lack of food caused the death of many people after a few days in transit. The prisoners of the satellite camps were evacuated on foot. Those of the Bunzlau camp, for example, were on the march from February 12 to March 26, 1945, with 260 dying en route. During the evacuation of the Gross-Rosen camps, 3,500 Jews—mostly women—were moved to B E R G E N - B E L S E N . Some 5,565 were moved to Buchenwald; 489 to Dachau; 4,930 to Flossenbürg; 2,249 to M AU T H AU S E N ; and 1,103 to D O R A - M I T T E L B A U . The N E U E N G A M M E camp also took in a small number of women prisoners. Including the transfers made in 1944, at least 19,500 Jewish prisoners were moved from Gross-Rosen to other camps in Germany. Those totaled 35 percent of the total number of Jewish prisoners in Gross-Rosen. The fate of the other 37,500 has not been established so far; some of them, no doubt, were included in the evacuation. The number of Jewish prisoners in the Gross-Rosen camp complex who did not survive is unknown, except in the case of the giant labor camp complex. About half of the Jewish prisoners in the satellite camps are known to have been left behind. The surviving prisoners in these camps were liberated by Soviet troops on May 8 and 9, 1945. Twenty of the women’s satellite camps were liberated; in 13 of them, 9,000 women survived. In Langenbielau, 1,400 surviving Jews were recorded upon liberation. In Brünnlitz, 800 had survived; and in Waldenburg, 600.



Even from these incomplete figures it is clear that a large proportion of the prisoners lived to see the Nazi regime’s downfall. When the satellite camps were liberated, Jewish committees were formed in them. They took the prisoners under their care, especially the many who were sick. They obtained food and clothing and helped to return prisoners to their countries of origin.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Preissinger, Adrian. Death Camps of the Soviets, 1945–1950: From Sachsenhausen to Buchenwald. Ocean City, MD: Landpost Press, 1994.

Grüninger, Paul (1891–1972)

As the local police commandant of the Saint Gall canton in Switzerland, on the Austrian frontier, Paul Grüninger was responsible for assisting thousands of Jewish refugees. After A U S T R I A ’s annexation by G E R M A N Y in March 1938, the stream of Jewish refugees seeking to leave the Reich increased, and many sought to gain access to Switzerland. The Swiss government, however, closed its borders to Jewish refugees. Grüninger was instructed on August 18, 1938, to refuse entry to refugees fleeing Germany for racial reasons. Confronted by an unending wave of Jewish refugees at his border post, he defied his government’s instructions and allowed all the Jews crossing the border at his checkpoint to enter the country. As a cover up, he predated official seals in the refugees’ passports to indicate that their holders had entered the country prior to the August 1938 government ruling. Thus, from August through December 1938, when he was summarily suspended, Grüninger allowed some 3,600 persons (according to the state prosecutor’s records) to illegally enter Switzerland.

Paul Gruninger (l) in police uniform, February 15, 1934.

Alerted by the German diplomatic staff in Bern, the Swiss government began investigating Grüninger’s activities in January 1939, and charges were filed against him. Found guilty of insubordination, he was sentenced in 1941 to a stiff fine and the forfeiture of all retirement and severance payments. Grüninger was later denied access to other suitable positions in the government and the private sector, and he was never fully accepted or forgiven by the Swiss government. In 1971, he received recognition from Yad Vashem as one of the “R IGHTEOUS A MONG THE N ATIONS .”

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Bauminger, Arieh L. The Righteous Among the Nations. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1990.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Rescuers. [Online] http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm (accessed on August 24, 2000).

Gurs Gurs was the first detention camp to be established in F R A N C E , and one of the largest. The Gurs camp was 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the Spanish border and



Women prisoners stand behind a barbedwire fence at the Gurs detention camp in Gurs, France, 1942.

10 miles (16 kilometers) from the town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, on the plateau overlooking the lower Pyrenees. The Gurs camp was set up in April 1939, coinciding with the collapse of the Spanish republic, and the first prisoners to be detained in it were Spanish soldiers who had fled to France in the wake of Francisco Franco’s victory; among them were Jewish volunteers of the International Brigade. In early 1940 some 4,000 German and Austrian nationals—most of them Jews—were interned in Gurs, as were leaders of the French Communist party who had denounced the war against G E R M A N Y . Between October 22 and 25, 1940, four months after France had surrendered, the German authorities—in violation of the armistice with France— deported to Gurs the entire Jewish population of Baden and the Palatinate, as well as Jews from some locations in Württemberg. Some 7,500 Jews were included in Aktion Bürckel, named after Josef Bürckel, the Gauleiter (district leader) of Alsace-Lorraine. All the non-Jewish German nationals and pro-Nazis had been released from Gurs in mid-July 1940, shortly after the French defeat. The French Communists were set free at the end of October 1940; of the Jews, 2,000 were released in stages between November 1940 and August 1942, and emigrated overseas. Conditions in the camp were very harsh: the sanitary arrangements were primitive, there was a shortage of water, and all the detainees suffered constantly from hunger. In the winter of 1940–41, 800 detainees died in epidemics of typhoid fever and dysentery that broke out in the camp. A total of 1,167 detainees were buried in the Gurs cemetery, as well as 20 who were non-Jewish Spaniards. Despite the harsh conditions in the camp, many cultural activities took place and on a very high level—concerts, theater performances, lectures, and exhibitions. There were also courses of instruction in Hebrew, French, English, Jewish history, the Bible, and the Talmud, and thousands of prisoners attended religious ceremonies and prayer services on the holy days.



Around 6,000 Jewish prisoners were deported from Gurs to A U S C H W I T Z Birkenau and S O B I B Ó R by way of the D R A N C Y camp, the first transport leaving Gurs on August 6, 1942, and the last in the fall of 1943; by December 29, 1943, no more than 48 Jews were left. The camp was liberated in the summer of 1944. French poet Louis Aragon said of the Gurs camp: “Gurs is a strange sound, like a moan stuck in the throat.”

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Josephs, Jeremy. Swastika over Paris. New York: Arcade, 1989. Weisberg, Richard H. Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Gypsies Gypsies, who are also called Romani, have been living in Europe since the fifteenth century. They are a people who are bound by a common language and culture, and—until the twentieth century—by a nomadic way of life. The Gypsies were among the groups singled out by the Nazi regime for persecution. While there are differences of opinion about their early history, most scholars assume that the Gypsies originated in India and were in Iran by the fourteenth century. By 1438, they had reached H U N G A R Y , and had entered Serbia and other Balkan countries in southern Europe. From there they spread into P O L A N D and Russia, and by the sixteenth century, they reached Sweden, G R E AT B R I TA I N , and Spain, where they settled in fairly large numbers. While some Gypsies became Muslims or Eastern Orthodox (Christians), most European Gypsies became Roman Catholics. They kept many of their pre-Christian beliefs alongside their new religion. The Gypsies’ oral language has many dialects, and only in recent times has it become a written language. Prejudice and animosity toward Gypsies was (and continues to be) widespread. Their professions were dictated by their wandering way of life and by the fact that in their adopted countries, most were not allowed to obtain land. They usually bought and sold horses and other animals, engaged in trades, were skilled at making things out of gold and silver, and played music. Fortune-telling, for which they gained a wide reputation, was usually a sideline. Gypsies were frequently accused of stealing and dishonesty, largely because of their nomadic lifestyle and foreign language. Like Jews, they became scapegoats and were the object of murderous official policies. For example, Prussian king Frederick William I decreed in 1725 that all Gypsies over 18 were at risk of being killed. In spite of all the prejudice against Gypsies, their music and poetry inspired famous artists, such as composer Franz Liszt. In many ways, Gypsies shared with Jews the dubious honor of being the quintessential strangers in an overwhelmingly settled Christian Europe. When a modern industrial society developed in Europe, the Gypsies were out of place in the eyes of the authorities. In 1899 Bavaria, a state in southeastern G E R M A N Y , established a special office in Munich for Gypsy affairs. It was the center for anti-Gypsy policies in Germany until the Nazi period. In February 1929, this Munich office became a Central Bureau for the Nazis, and had close ties to a similar office in Vienna. That same year, new laws allowed the police to coerce Gypsies into forced labor conditions, against their will. Similar regulations were in effect in other European countries.



A Gypsy (Roma) couple, sitting in an open area at the Belzec concentration camp.

The Gypsies occupied a special place in Nazi racist theories. The basic attitude of the Nazi regime was extremely hostile: The Nazis subscribed to old prejudices against Gypsies, and they idealized a “pure” Germanic society with a settled, peasant lifestyle. This ideal was the opposite of the Gypsies’ way of life. In the eyes of the regime, the Gypsies were “asocials”—work-shy, alien individuals who did not fit into the new society that was to be built. One could not very well doubt the “Aryan” parentage of the closely knit Gypsy families, but to Germans they were also “people of different blood” (Andersblütige). According to a report submitted to Nazi leader Heinrich H I M M L E R in 1941, there were some 28,000 Gypsies in Germany, and an additional 11,000 in Austria. Most of these Gypsies belonged to the Sinti and Lalleri tribes.

Anti-Gypsy Legislation When the N U R E M B E R G L AW S were passed in September 1935, the interpreters of these decrees (which deprived Jews of many civil rights) applied them to Gypsies as well as Jews. In 1936, groups of Gypsies were delivered to the D AC H AU camp as “asocials.” At this time a racist theorist, Dr. Robert Ritter, was invited to set up a center that eventually was called the Research Office for Race Hygiene and Population Biology. Ritter was to examine the Gypsy population from the Nazis’ racial perspective and propose solutions for what to do with them. According to Ritter and his co-workers, an examination of some 20,000 Rom showed that over 90 percent should be considered M I S C H L I N G E (of mixed blood). This solved the problem of having to deal with an “Aryan” minority; the Nazis simply denied that the Gypsies were “Aryans.” Ritter proposed that the Nazis prevent Gypsies from mixing with people of “German blood” and separate “pure” Gypsies from Mischlinge Gypsies. He also suggested performing sterilizations on the latter, and putting them in forced-labor camps. Both “pure” and Mischlinge Gypsies were considered “asocial.” By making this assumption, the Nazis maintained an element of continuity with traditional European discriminatory thought. According to Himmler’s decree of December 14, 1937, “preventive” arrests could be made of persons who, while not guilty of any criminal act, “endangered the communality by their asocial behavior.” Administrative regulations implementing this decree, which were issued on April 4, 1938, specified that it was directed against “beggars, vagabonds (Gypsies), prostitutes ... without a permanent residence.”



“This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions”

It soon became clear to the Nazis that this provision was too broad and could not be implemented. Another regulation went into effect on March 1, 1939, which clarified Himmler’s policies and underlying ideas. To deal with what he labeled “the Gypsy plague,” Himmler called for a separation between Gypsies and Germans, and between “pure” and Mischlinge Gypsies. The way of life of both categories of Gypsies would be regulated by the police. Nazi racial policies became increasingly harsh, and after the Nazi conquest of Poland in September 1939, the fate of the German Gypsies became tied up with that of the Poles and Jews. At that time, Reinhard H E Y D R I C H issued instructions for the removal of 30,000 Gypsies from all of Germany to the G E N E R A L G O U V E R N E M E N T , along with the removal of Poles and Jews from the newly occupied western Polish territories. This order may have been designed to remove all Mischlinge Gypsies from Germany, but by April 1940, the Nazi governor of the Generalgouvernement, Hans F R A N K , had received only 2,500 Gypsies, who came from the western territories. These Gypsies were mostly released in Poland.



Attitudes toward the Gypsies became more brutal as time went on. In the fall of 1941, 5,007 Austrian Gypsies of the Lalleri tribe were deported to the L⁄ Ó D Z´ ghetto. They were among those murdered in the C H E L⁄ M N O extermination camp in early 1942. There were no known survivors. In addition, 3,000 Austrian Gypsies were placed in concentration camps.

Solutions for the “Gypsy Problem” By early 1942, roughly two-thirds of the 28,607 German Gypsies had been classified by Ritter: 1,079 were defined as “pure,” 6,992 as “more Gypsy than German,” 2,976 as “half-breeds,” 2,992 as “more German than Gypsy,” and 2,652 as “Germans who behaved as Gypsies.” Others were still being investigated. From the Nazi point of view, the “problem” of how to deal with the Gypsies could be solved with this intricate classification system. The result, according to Nazi logic, would be murder for some Gypies, and more regulations for others. “Pure” Gypsies would not be excluded from society (i.e., murdered). And so on October 13, 1942, Himmler issued a clarification concerning pure “Sinti Gypsies for whom in the future a certain freedom of movement is to be permitted.” Mischlinge, “who are good Mischlinge in the Gypsy sense, are to be reintroduced into racially pure Sinti Gypsy clans.” For these “pure” or relatively “pure” Gypsies, there would be appointed nine chiefs, who would supervise them. According to a document of January 11, 1943, over 14,000 Gypsies were to be included under this lifesaving provision. As for the others, Himmler issued a clear order on December 16, 1942, indicating that they were to be sent to A U S C H W I T Z . Exceptions would be made for those who were “socially adapted,” specifically, those who were former Wehrmacht (German army) soldiers or “war industry workers in important positions.” For Gypsies in these exempted categories, sterilization was proposed. Himmler’s regulations were neater on paper than when put into practice. In reality, the distinctions between these groups of Gypsies were not that clear, and it is unlikely that German statistics on Gypsies and “Germans wandering about in the Gypsy manner” were very accurate. In addition, the documents regulating exceptions were not always followed faithfully. Auschwitz survivors have related stories of Gypsies—good Nazis and loyal Germans, some of officer rank—who were weeded out of German army units and sent to Auschwitz. Others were apparently not touched. It depended on the zeal of the local commander or the civilian party boss, and on his interpretation of the instructions. Nor were the Gypsies shipped to Auschwitz all German citizens; some were from the Balkans. The first large transport of Gypsies arrived in Auschwitz on February 26, 1943. At the same time, a Gypsy family camp was established in Birkenau. The number of Gypsies in the Auschwitz “Gypsy camp” is believed to have been about 20,000. Living, or rather existing, in the most indescribable conditions, a great many of them died from starvation, epidemics, and “medical experiments,” such as Josef M E N G E L E ’s experiments with twins. On August 2, 1944, 2,897 Gypsies were gassed as part of the destruction of the Gypsy family camp. Practically all the women and children were killed. Some of the men were sent to slave-labor camps or other concentration camps to do vital war work. Others were recruited into the regular German armed forces to clear away mines or perform other dangerous jobs, from which only a fraction returned.

Gypsy Treatment Throughout Europe The total number of German and Austrian Gypsies who were deported and/or interned in camps was about 23,500. Most of them were eventually killed.



A group of Gypsy prisoners sit on the ground in an open field, awaiting instructions from their German captors in Bel⁄z˙ec.

Before the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, 13,000 Gypsies lived in the territories that soon became the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A . About half escaped to S L OVA K I A before the Nazis began to deport Gypsies. Some 4,000 were sent to Auschwitz between July 1943 and May 1944. Only a few hundred Czech Gypsies survived the war. Information about the fate of the Gypsies in the rest of Europe is sketchy. According to one source, a total of more than 200,000 were killed in all of Europe. This may be a low estimate. In Yugoslavia, Gypsies were murdered together with Jews by the Ustasˇ a regime; possibly as many as 90,000 Gypsies were killed in Yugoslavia alone. In the occupied areas of Europe, the Nazis generally confined Gypsies and later transported them to Germany or Poland to work under forced labor conditions or to be killed. Apparently Bulgaria, D E N M A R K , Finland, and Greece were the only countries where the Gypsies escaped this treatment. In the N E T H E R L A N D S , Gypsies, like the Jews, were interned in W E S T E R B O R K , a transit camp, and from there sent to Auschwitz. Gypsies from L U X E M B O U R G and B E L G I U M were sent to Auschwitz as well. Before the Nazi occupation of F R A N C E , French authorities had already restricted the movement of Gypsies. After the defeat of France in June 1940, Gypsies from the regions of Alsace and Lorraine were interned in a camp at Schirmeck, where they were kept separate from “asocials” and “criminals.” Shortly before Christmas 1941, they were deported. In unoccupied France, 30,000 Gypsies were interned under the supervision of Xavier V A L L AT and the Ministry for Jewish Affairs. Later, most were sent to camps in Germany, including B U C H E N WA L D , Dachau, and R AV E N S B R Ü C K , where between 16,000 and 18,000 perished. Gypsies were interned in Algeria as well; 700 were restricted to the Maison Carrée area near Algiers. Gypsies in I TA LY , like the Jews, had a mixed experience. Often persecuted, many were also saved by the Italians. Before the war, the authorities rounded up Gypsies and put them on islands in the Venice region, off the mainland. Later, some were sent to Germany to work in forced labor or to extermination camps. Others,




einrich Himmler’s November 1943 directions regarding

the treatment of Gypsies included the following: “(1) Settled Gypsies and part Gypsies are to be treated as citizens of the country. (2) Nomadic Gypsies and part Gypsies are to be placed on the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps. In cases of doubt, the police commanders will decide who is a Gypsy.”

who managed to escape the Ustasˇ a massacres in nearby Croatia, were sheltered there by the authorities. In the fall of 1943, when the Germans took over territories that the Italians had held in Yugoslavia and Albania, they interned the Gypsies and sent some to Buchenwald, M AU T H AU S E N , and other camps. Although the Hungarians planned to intern Gypsies in labor camps as early as February 1941, the policy was never fully implemented. After the A R R O W C R O S S P A R T Y coup in October 1944, persecution of Gypsies began in earnest in H U N G A R Y . Germans and Hungarian collaborators rounded them up, deporting some together with Hungarian Jews. It is thought that about 31,000 Gypsies were deported within a few months, and only three thousand returned. The sources for these figures, however, have not been verified. The large Romanian Gypsy population was not subjected to an extermination policy. According to a postwar Romanian People’s Court, however, tens of thousands met their death as a result of expulsion. In 1941 and 1942, about 25,000 Gypsies from the Bucharest area were sent to Transnistria, and others were sent to the Ukraine. Slovak Gypsies were treated somewhat better than those in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. On January 18, 1940, they were drafted, along with young Jewish men, into labor brigades. In 1941, orders were issued to expel them from their quarters in most towns and villages in Slovakia, but these orders were carried out inconsistently. Slovak fascists, however, massacred hundreds of Gypsies. Most Gypsies in Poland faced deportation to concentration and extermination camps. Beginning in September 1944, the majority of those remaining in the ghettos were killed. About 25,000 persons, or two-thirds of the Polish Gypsies, died during the Nazi occupation. In Estonia, L I T H UA N I A , and L AT V I A , known as the Baltic States, and in the S OV I E T U N I O N , Gypsies were murdered by the O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen). A report by the secret army field police dated August 25, 1942, stressed the need to “ruthlessly exterminate” bands of wandering Gypsies. Gypsies were murdered along with Jews at B A B I Y A R , in the Ukraine. In May 1943, Alfred R O S E N B E R G , the minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories, proposed that the Gypsies be concentrated in special camps and settlements. They were not, however, to be “treated as Jews.” Himmler’s instructions regarding treatment of Gypsies distinguished between “settled” Gypsies and “nomadic” ones; the latter were singled out for harsher treatment. The distinction between settled Gypsies and nomadic Gypsies was applied only in the Baltic states and the occupied areas of the Soviet Union. Some settled Gypsies in the Soviet Union were drafted into labor brigades or sent to concentration camps. The Nazis’ slaughter of wandering groups of Gypsies in the Baltics and Soviet Union seemed illogical, since the “pure” Gypsies they wished to spare were probably nomadic. On the other hand, there is no evidence that the Germans tried to find and spare settled Gypsies, or conduct special campaigns to find and register wandering Gypsies with the aim of murdering them. A confused picture of Nazi conduct emerges. In Germany, the Nazis murdered those whom they saw as Mischlinge, while they mostly spared the “pure” Gypsies. In the rest of Europe, the Nazis did not have a very clear policy: Wherever they found wandering clans of Gypsies, they murdered them because they were “asocials,” as Otto O H L E N D O R F , commander of SS-Einsatzgruppe D, said at his trial. The Nazis’ treatment of the Gypsies was in keeping with their general way of thinking: Gypsies were not Jews, and therefore there was no need to kill all of them. Those Gypsies



who were of “pure blood” or who were not considered dangerous on a racial level could continue to exist, but under strict supervision. The Mischlinge were doomed to death. The difference between the fate of the Gypsies and that of the Jews is clear. The Jews were slated for total annihilation, whereas the Gypsies were sentenced to selective mass murder on a vast scale. Even today the Gypsies are still a persecuted minority, and research about their history in the Nazi period is in an early stage.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Friedman, Ina R. The Other Victims: First-person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Ioanid, Radu. The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime, 1940–1944. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000. Lewy, Gunther. The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Ramati, Alexander. And the Violins Stopped Playing: A Story of the Gypsy Holocaust. New York: Franklin Watts, 1986.




Heydrich, Reinhard (1904–1942)

Reinhard Heydrich was the head of the Nazi Security Police; Sipo, the S D (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service), and later, the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). He was a key person in planning and implementation of the anti-Jewish policies of the Third Reich, including strategies for the “F I NA L S O L U T I O N ”. Heydrich was born in Halle, a provincial Saxon town, to a family of musicians. His father was an opera singer and the director of a conservatory. In his youth Heydrich was exposed to his father’s devotion to the music of Richard Wagner, his mother’s stern discipline, and the worship of the authority of the state and its rulers. He was given the false notion that he was partly of Jewish origin.



Commissioned as an ensign and trained as a navy signal officer, Heydrich was discharged from the navy in April 1931. A naval court of honor found him guilty of misconduct toward a female friend, whom he had mistreated. Frustrated by the rules of civil society, Heydrich, who initially had regarded the N A Z I PA R T Y with contempt, was introduced by a family friend to Heinrich H I M M L E R . Himmler made him an intelligence officer and charged him with the organization, in 1931, of the SS espionage and surveillance apparatus, the SD. Freed from the restraints of navy discipline and the civil code of behavior, Heydrich’s ruthlessness, cynicism, and ambition were fully applied to this task. Inquiry into his alleged Jewish ancestry showed the rumor to be false, but his superiors blackmailed him with this suspicion, which guaranteed his loyalty. As SD chief, Heydrich was entrusted with the information-gathering, blackmail, and intrigue needed to establish Himmler’s control over the secret state police, the G E S TA P O . At the same time, Heydrich became executive director of the Bavarian political police, the nucleus of the Gestapo system under Himmler. The SD and the Gestapo, of which Heydrich later became executive director, were instrumental in establishing the Nazi system of terror. These groups executed the leaders of the Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung; SA) on June 30, 1934.

Reinhard Heydrich.


Organized and often officially sanctioned violent attacks on Jews and their property.

Heydrich played a role in purging the German army high command in 1938, and also helped plant the false information that led to Joseph Stalin’s purge of the Red Army’s high command. Reflecting Himmler’s fanatical race ideology, the SD developed into a political network of espionage and warfare, promoting ever more radical and deadly solutions to the “Jewish question,” such as violent pogroms and forced emigration. In 1936 Heydrich was made chief of the Gestapo and the Kripo (Kriminalpolizei), retaining separate control over the SD. As Gestapo chief, Heydrich had unlimited power to send “enemies of the Reich,” including Jews, to C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P S . He encouraged competition between the SD and the Gestapo, which under his control vied with each other to carry out Adolf H I T L E R ’s Jewish policies. They also competed with other party elements. Under Joseph G O E B B E L S ’ influence, they were encouraged to implement “solutions” to the “Jewish question,” such as the assembly-line deportation organized primarily for Jews in A U S T R I A and Czechoslovakia. In K R I S TA L L N AC H T (Night of the Broken Glass), the pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938, which was instigated by Goebbels, the SA Storm Troopers and the Nazi party took the lead. Heydrich, assisted by Heinrich M Ü L L E R and using prepared lists, saw to it that thousands of Jews were arrested by the Gestapo and SS. On January 24, 1939, Hermann Göring established the Reich’s C E N T R A L O F F I C E F O R J E W I S H E M I G R AT I O N (Zentralstelle für Jüdisch Auswanderung). This transferred the implementation of the Reich’s Jewish policy to the SS, and Heydrich was the chief administrator of this policy. When war broke out in 1939, Heydrich was in charge of the O P E R AT I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen). In a special decree of September 21, 1939, he ordered them to isolate all Polish Jews into areas of cities called ghettos and to establish within each ghetto a Jewish administrative unit called the J U D E N R AT (Jewish Council). Heydrich unified the Gestapo and SD within the framework of the newly established RSHA, giving ruthless SD functionaries, such as Eichmann, complete executive power in their anti-Jewish actions. Heydrich was instrumental in such schemes as the N I S K O A N D L U B L I N P L A N and the proposed mass deportations to Madagascar (see M A DAG A S CA R P L A N ). In 1941, prior to Hitler’s assault on the S OV I E T U N I O N , Heydrich arranged with the army high command to make military assistance for the Einsatzgruppen in



Russia. This was to facilitate the immediate annihilation of the Jews and Soviet officials in the Russian areas that were soon to be occupied. On July 31 of that year, Göring, on Heydrich’s urging, charged him with implementing the “final solution of the Jewish question” in all German-controlled territories throughout Europe. To carry out this task, Heydrich required the cooperation of the Reich’s other departments. He convened a meeting of top officials at Wannsee, a Berlin suburb (see W A N N S E E C O N F E R E N C E ), on January 20, 1942, to confirm the program for the planned extermination. Although Heydrich had direct access to Hitler and was given increasing power, it is not known to what extent he alone initiated the rationale and the methods adopted for the “final solution.” Late in 1941, Heydrich was rewarded for his anti-Jewish terror and extermination campaign by being appointed acting governor of the Protectorate of B O H E M I A A N D M O R AV I A . Attacked by Czech resistance fighters in an ambush near Prague, Heydrich died on June 4, 1942. Five days later the Germans retaliated by leveling the Czech village of Lidice; murdering all of its male inhabitants and shipping the remaining women and children to concentration camps.

SEE ALSO AKTION (OPERATION) REINHARD. SUGGESTED RESOURCES Calic, Edouard. Reinhard Heydrich: The Chilling Story of the Man Who Masterminded the Nazi Death Camps. New York: Morrow, 1985. Cowdery, Ray R. Reinhard Heydrich: Assassination. USM, 1994. MacDonald, C. A. The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich: The SS “Butcher of Prague.” New York: Da Capo Press, 1998.

Himmler, Heinrich (1900–1945)

Heinrich Himmler was Reich Leader (Reichsführer) of the S S , head of the G E S TA P O and the Waffen-SS, minister of the interior from 1943 to 1945, and, next to Adolf H I T L E R , the most powerful man in Nazi Germany. Himmler was born in Munich, Germany, into a middle-class Catholic family. His father was a schoolteacher with rigid views. Educated at a secondary school in Landshut, Himmler joined the army in 1917 as an officer cadet, but never served in active duty. After his discharge he studied agriculture and economics at the Munich School of Technology. He worked briefly as a salesman and as a chicken farmer in the 1920s. During this period he maintained close contact with the newly formed N A Z I PA R T Y . Himmler took part in the Hitler Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 at the side of Ernst Röhm. Himmler joined Röhm’s terrorist organization, the Reich War Flag (Reichskriegsflagge), and held various positions in the region of Bavaria. “Image

not available for copyright reasons”

Himmler became assistant propaganda leader of the Nazi party in 1926. He joined the SS in 1925, and became its head in 1929. The SS, which originally numbered 200 men who served as ’s personal security force, became a key element in the power structure of the Nazi state under Himmler’s leadership. Himmler was elected a Nazi Reichstag deputy in 1930, and immediately after the Nazi seizure of power in January 1933 was appointed police president in Munich and head of the political



H is role in strategizing the executions of the Holocaust years makes Himmler one of the most horrific mass murderers in history.

police throughout Bavaria. This gave him the power base to extend SS membership, organize the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) under Reinhard H E Y D R I C H , and secure their independence from Röhm ’s Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung; SA). In September 1933 Himmler was appointed commander of all the political police units throughout the Reich (except Prussia). The following year, Himmler was appointed deputy head of the Gestapo in Prussia. He was instrumental in crushing the abortive SA putsch of June 1934, which eliminated Röhm and the SA as potential rivals for power and opened the way to the growth of the SS as an independent force. The next stage in Himmler’s rise to power came in 1936, when he won control of the entire police force throughout the Third Reich, with the title of Reichsführer-SS and Head of the German Police. He created a state within a state, using his position to terrorize his personal enemies and all opponents of the regime. Himmler established the first C O N C E N T R AT I O N C A M P at D A C H AU in 1933. The organization and administration of the camps continued to be the work of the SS. Himmler was inspired by a combination of fanatic racism and a belief in occult forces. His concern for “racial purity” led to the encouragement of special marriage laws that would further the systematic birth of children of perfect “Aryan” couples, and also to the establishment of the Fountain of Life (Lebensborn) institutions at which girls, serving as prostitutes for SS men, were selected for their perfect Nordic qualities. Himmler aimed to create an aristocracy of the “master race,” based on his concepts of the virtues of honor, obedience, and courage. By recruiting “Aryans” of different nationalities into the Waffen-SS, he worked to establish a pan-European order of brotherhood, owing allegiance to Hitler alone. The war gave Himmler the opportunity to work toward his goal of the elimination of Jews and Slavs as “subhumans.” Himmler was a master of efficiency, utterly lacking in scruples, and an extremely competent administrator. He suffered, however, from psychosomatic illnesses that took the form of intestinal cramps and severe headaches. Himmler was squeamish, and on one occasion he almost fainted at the spectacle of a hundred Jews, including women, being shot to death on the Russian front. This physical weakness helped lead to the introduction of poison gas as “a more humane means” of execution. In October 1939 Himmler was appointed Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of German Nationhood, and was given absolute authority in the newly annexed part of P O L A N D . This entailed responsibility for the replacement of Poles and Jews by V O L K S D E U T S C H E (Ethnic Germans) from the Baltic states. By the time of the invasion of the S OV I E T U N I O N in 1941, Himmler controlled all the organs of police and intelligence power, and through the SS he dominated the concentration and E X T E R M I N AT I O N CA M P S in Poland. His Waffen-SS (the military branch of the SS), with its 35 divisions, was practically a rival army to the Wehrmacht—the regular German combined armed forces. He also controlled the political administration in the occupied territories. As minister of the interior in 1943, Himmler gained jurisdiction over the courts and the civil service. He used these powers to exploit Jews and Slavs as slave laborers, to gas millions of Jews, and to institute pseudoM E D I C A L E X P E R I M E N T S on Jews, Gypsies, and other “asocial elements” to determine their resistance to extremes of cold and decompression. The killing of the Jews represented for Himmler the fulfillment of a mission. The “ F I N A L S O L U T I O N ” was the means to achieve the racial supremacy of the “Aryan” and purify the world of contamination by subhumans. His four O P E R A T I O N A L S Q UA D S (Einsatzgruppen) in the east were the “agents of death” when the SS established the extermination camps of B E L⁄ Z˙ E C , S O B I B Ó R , and T R E B L I N K A in the spring of 1942. After the July 1944 bomb plot on Hitler’s life, Himmler received



even further advancement, as commander in chief of the Reserve Army and commander of Army Group Vistula. Toward the end of the war, aware of the inevitable German defeat, Himmler made a number of gestures, apparently hoping to ingratiate himself with the Allies. He approved negotiations in Budapest that would have allowed the release of Hungarian Jews in return for trucks supplied by the Allies. In November 1944, he tried to conceal the evidence of mass murder in the extermination camps and permitted the transfer of several hundred camp prisoners to Sweden. He also tried to initiate peace negotiations with the Allies through the head of the Swedish Red Cross. Himmler ordered a stop to the mass murder of Jews at this time, and proposed that Germany surrender to U.S. general Dwight D. Eisenhower in western Europe while continuing the struggle in the east. This proposal infuriated Hitler, who stripped Himmler of all his offices. Even Admiral Karl Dönitz, who succeeded Hitler in the last days of the war as head of the German government, rejected Himmler’s services. After the German surrender, Himmler assumed a false identity and tried to escape, but he was captured by British troops. He committed suicide on May 23, 1945, before he could be brought to trial as one of the major war criminals.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution. New York: Knopf, 1991.

Hitler’s Henchmen [videorecording]. Windsong/La Mancha, 1991. Padfield, Peter. Himmler: Reichsführer-SS. New York: Henry Holt, 1991. Russell, Stuart. Heinrich Himmler’s Camelot: Pictorial/Documentary. KressmannBackmeyer, 1999.

Hirsch, Otto (1885–1941)

Otto Hirsch was the chairman of the Reich Representation of German Jews, an organization formed in the early 1930s to help protect the interests of Jews living in G E R M A N Y during the rise of Nazi A N T I S E M I T I S M . Hirsch was born in Stuttgart, the capital of Württemberg, and studied law. He joined the civil service, first on the municipal and later on the provincial level. In 1919 Hirsch represented Württemberg at the Weimar National Assembly and the Paris Peace Conference. Active in Jewish affairs, he became one of the leaders of the C E N T R A L U N I O N O F G E R M A N C I T I Z E N S O F J E W I S H F A I T H (Centralverein Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens), and was among its members advocating that the Union promote Jewish settlement in Palestine. Hirsch was on the committee that helped establish the Jewish Agency, a Zionist organization; he also belonged to the Committee of Friends of the Hebrew University and the Provincial Council of Württemberg Jews, whose chairman he became in 1930. A meeting with Martin Buber aroused his interest in adult education, and on Hirsch’s initiative a Lehrhaus (Bet-Midrash, or Jewish house of study) was established in Stuttgart, with Buber as one of its lecturers. Hirsch headed the Lehrhaus board along with Jews representing a variety of political and religious perspectives.



In 1933 Hirsch was among the founders of the Reich Representation of German Jews which, upon orders from the German authorities, became known in 1939 as the Reich Representation of Jews in Germany. As chairman, he played a major role in the organization’s activities, which included providing economic aid to Jews, offering vocational training and retraining, expanding the Jewish network of schools, and enabling Jewish emigration. He also helped establish and operate the Center for Jewish Adult Education, which was headed by Buber. Hirsch was a courageous leader of the Reich Representation of German Jews, deftly managing interaction with the German authorities. He guided the organization through internal problems, successfully mediating between opposing views and conflicting demands. Experienced in organization and budgeting, he was the liaison with Jewish aid organizations abroad, especially the British Council for German Jewry and the American J O I N T D I S T R I B U T I O N C O M M I T T E E , gaining their full confidence as a representative of German Jewry. In the summer of 1935 Hirsch was arrested for the first time, in connection with a sermon that the Reich Representation of German Jews had written to be read in all the synagogues of Germany on the Day of Atonement. Refusing to go into hiding at the time of the K R I S TA L L N A C H T (“Night of the Broken Glass”) pogroms in November 1938, Hirsch was arrested for a second time and held for two weeks in the S AC H S E N H AU S E N concentration camp. On resuming his work, he focused most of his efforts on emigration and rescue. His plan was to establish transit camps for refugees in Britain and other countries. He hoped that this would facilitate and speed up the release of the many thousands of Jews who had been arrested in Germany and accelerate rescue efforts. He held numerous meetings in Britain and the United States in 1938 and 1939 with representatives of aid organizations and government officials, and was the Reich Representation of German Jews delegate to the E V I A N C O N F E R E N C E . On February 16, 1941, Hirsch was again arrested, and a few months later was taken to the M AU T H AU S E N concentration camp, despite the fact that his wife had obtained an entry visa for him to the United States. He was tortured to death in the camp, and his family was later informed by the camp administration that he had died on June 19, 1941. After the war, memorials to Otto Hirsch were established in his native city of Stuttgart and in Shavei Zion, a settlement in northern Israel founded by Jews from Württemberg.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES “The Position of the German Jews, as Seen by Alfred Wiener, of the Leadership of the Centralverein.” Yad Vashem Online. [Online] http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/holocaust/ documents/16.html (accessed on August 23, 2000). “Reichsvereinigung.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online. [Online] http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t064/t06453.html (accessed on August 23, 2000).

Hitler, Adolf (1889–1945)

Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Third German Reich (Nazi Germany). Born in Braunau, A U S T R I A , he was the son of a customs official. Hitler spent his youth in the country of his birth. He dropped out of high school in 1905. Two years later,



Adolf Hitler with a member of the Nazi Youth.

Hitler took the entrance test for the Vienna Academy of Art’s School of Painting, and failed. His mother died that year of breast cancer. In 1908 Hitler made Vienna his home, living on the small sums of money he could earn selling his sketches and doing odd jobs. A N T I S E M I T I S M was widespread in Vienna at the time. According to Hitler, this period of his life in Vienna shaped his views, and especially his concept of the Jews, though he may already have been an antisemite by then. In 1913 Hitler moved to Munich, Germany. When World War I broke out in 1914, he volunteered for the Bavarian army. He served as a message runner in B E L G I U M and F R A N C E and was promoted to private first class. Hitler was awarded medals for bravery, including the Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918. In October of the same year, he was temporarily blinded in a British gas attack, and in the military hospital he learned of Germany’s collapse. It was then and there, by his own admission, that Hitler decided to enter politics. He wanted to fight the Jews, whom he blamed for betraying Germany and ultimately bringing about its defeat. After his return to Munich, Hitler served as a political spokesman and agent for the Bavarian army. In his first political document, he stated that the final goal of




hen Hitler left school at the age of sixteen, he spent

many untutored hours reading

German history and mythology, dreaming of becoming an artist, and nurturing what would become a lifelong disdain for formal higher education and intellectualism. A fruitless and bitter struggle to succeed as an artist in Vienna followed. During these years, he began to publicly articulate his anger and hatred toward Jews, Marxists, democracy, and other

antisemitism must be “the total removal of the Jews.” In 1919 he joined a small antisemitic political party that eventually took the name National Socialist Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or NSDAP; see N A Z I PA RT Y ). The party’s 1920 platform called for all the Jews of Germany to be deprived of their civil rights and for some of them to be expelled from the country. Hitler gained attention as a public speaker, and in 1921 became the party chairman. In November 1923 he led an attempt to bring down the government by force, for which he was sentenced in 1924 to five years’ imprisonment in a fortress. During his imprisonment in Landsberg, Hitler dictated the first volume of his book M E I N K A M P F (My Struggle). He was released after only nine months. In 1925 he reestablished the National Socialist party and created the SS (Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squad) to serve as the party’s fighting force. That same year, the first volume of Mein Kampf was published; the second one followed in 1926. Another book, written by Hitler in 1928, was published long after his death. Entitled Hitler’s Second Book, it explains the grounds for Hitler’s antisemitism, which was based on race theory (see R AC I S M ). Antisemitism was, Hitler pointed out, at the center of his political thought.

social and political targets. Remarkably, despite his generally unkempt appearance, people listened.


Prime minister.

Hitler’s Rise to Power Hitler aimed to use constitutional means to gain a majority in parliament. Then he intended to destroy the constitution. In 1928 the National Socialist party ran in the Reichstag (one of the houses of parliament) elections for the first time, receiving only 2.8 percent of the votes. In the Reichstag elections of July 1932, however, the National Socialist party received 37.3 percent, the highest it ever obtained in free elections. It became the largest political party represented in the Reichstag. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor which gave him sweeping powers. After a suspicious fire in the Reichstag on February 27, he suspended basic civil rights in Germany. On March 5, parliamentary rule was abolished. Antisemitic riots took place that month, culminating in the boycott of April 1, 1933 (see B OY C O T T , A N T I - J E W I S H ). A law was passed on April 7 eliminating Jews from public life in Germany. On July 14, all other political parties were dissolved, and the Nationalist Socialist Workers’ Party became the only recognized party in the land. A few weeks later, Hitler became commander in chief of the Wehrmacht (German army), and assumed the title of Leader and Reich Chancellor. He was now the dictator of Germany. Under his direction, the buildup of arms increased, as did the persecution of the Jews. The N U R E M B E R G L AW S were adopted on September 15, 1935, depriving Jews of their citizenship, barring them from some professions, and forbidding marriage between Jews and people with Germanic family backgrounds. Many other decrees issued by Hitler or in his name led to the exclusion of the Jews from German society. By the end of 1937 about 150,000 Jews had left Germany— approximately one-third of the country’s Jewish population. After the Germans took over Austria by force on March 13, 1938, nearly 200,000 Jews were added to the Reich; one quarter of them left the country within six months. In October, some 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality were expelled from Germany and sent to Poland. This was soon to be followed by the November K R I S TA L L N AC H T (“Night of the Broken Glass”) pogrom, several days of organized violence against Jews, their homes, and their businesses.



Hitler’s Antisemitism Hitler thought of Jews as a source of danger to Germany and to humanity in general. He believed Jews played a key role in democracy, liberalism, and socialism—political ways of thinking that Hitler abhorred. Hitler felt that the Jewish spirit was influencing western European civilization. As early as the 1920s, in Mein Kampf, Hitler presented the Jews as the world’s foremost enemy: [The National Socialist movement] must open the eyes of the people concerning foreign nations and must over and over again recall who is the real enemy of our present world. In place of the insane hatred for Aryans …; it must condemn to general wrath the evil enemy of humanity as the true creator of all suffering.… It must see to it that, at least in our country, the most deadly enemy is recognized and that the struggle against him, like an illuminating sign of a brighter epoch, also shows to the other nations the road of salvation of a struggling Aryan humanity. On January 30, 1939, Hitler declared in the Reichstag that a new world war would lead to the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe. World War II officially began on September 1 of the same year, when the Germans invaded Poland. They immediately embarked upon the destruction of Jews in that country, although for a while this was done in a haphazard way. At about this time Hitler ordered the systematic killing of the mentally ill with toxic gas (see E U T H A NA S I A P R O G R A M ).

Eliminating the Jews In September 1939, Hitler approved of a plan to expel the Jews from Germany into the Polish territories that had been taken over by the Reich. He informed Alfred R O S