What is the Holocaust?

Name: ____________________________________ Together We Remember pre-trip assignment What is the Holocaust? According to the United States Holocaust M...
Author: Bertina Fields
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Name: ____________________________________ Together We Remember pre-trip assignment

What is the Holocaust? According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Holocaust is: The state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims – six million were murdered. Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi Germany.

When did it happen and what else was happening in the world at that time?

How was it implemented?

Who were the primary victims?

What other groups were victims of the Holocaust and why were they each targeted? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Who were the perpetrators?

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Section I: Factors in the Holocaust European Jewry Read pages 5-12 in The World Must Know (Hereafter TWMK). Eisiskes was a small, predominantly Jewish town (shtetl) in Lithuania. Analyze the pre-war photos from that community below. Describe the photo. What do these photographs tell you about the Jewish community in Eisiskes? Consider religious assimilation, family, geography, education, and any other cultural markers. (You can see larger versions of the photos online.) __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Esther Lapp poses with a person dressed as Mickey Mouse in Eisiskes.1935.

_____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ A group of young friends go on an excursion in the Seklutski forest.1941.

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__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Children stand outside the main synagogue in Eisiskes.1911.

Read the From the Heart profiles of local survivors (online): Ilsa Cole – German; Sam Nussbaum – Polish; Clara Grossman – Hungarian. After studying the Eisiskes photographs and the local survivor profiles, what observations can you make about pre-war European Jewish life?

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Antisemitism: The Nazis rarely invented something new. The basis for Nazi antisemitism can be found in centuries of Christian and European history. Raul Hilberg, a Holocaust historian, once described the evolution of antisemitism in these terms: "From the earliest days, from the fourth century…the missionaries of Christianity had said in effect to the Jews: 'You may not live among us as Jews.' The secular rulers who followed them from the late Middle Ages then decided: 'You may not live among us,' and the Nazis finally decreed: 'You may not live.'” Read each of the following (all online)  Excerpt from Smoke and Ashes by Barbara Rogasky  The Giftpilz – antisemitic children's book published in Germany  Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion Covers In examining The Giftpilz and The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, how are Jews depicted physically?

How is Jewish character depicted?

What stereotypes can you identify?

In thinking about Hilberg's quote, (above) what was new about the Nazi's approach to antisemitism?

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Germany: Read pages 12-16 and 22-28 in TWMK. Read The 25 Points (online). What kind of government is Hitler proposing in The 25 Points?

What kind of society is Hitler proposing? Who is part of it? Who is not?

Analyze the Pre-1933 Nazi Posters (online) and the Nazi Posters, 1933-1939 (online) from the German Propaganda Archive. How can you tell visually who was allowed to be a part of the new society and who was not?

What role did propaganda play in Nazi Germany?

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Section II: “Solutions” to the Jewish Problem The Limited Solution - Legal Assault on German Jews, 1933-1939: Read pages 28-31 and 39-56 in TWMK . Read the Nuremberg Laws (online) What made the Nuremberg Laws different than the Nazi laws passed from 1933-1935?

Summarize each law. 1. Reich Flag Law:

2. Reich Citizenship Law:

3. Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor:

What was the objective of the Nazis’ legal assault on the German Jews?

Read the Kristallnacht order (online). What is being ordered? Against whom?

Who is expected to carry out these orders?

How is property to be treated? How are the local police to behave? How are foreigners to be treated?

What kinds of “archives" are to be seized and why do you think this was ordered?

Who will be arrested and what will happen to them? Is there anything noteworthy about how they are to be treated?

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The Situational Solution - Ghettos, 1939: Read Pages 72-81 and 83-87 in TWMK. Read excerpts from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak (online), and watch Give Me Your Children: Voices from the Lodz Ghetto (online). Describe - in detail - four conditions that existed in the ghettos. Consider what daily life was like and what inhabitants of the ghetto dealt with/overcame/faced?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Describe – in detail – four ways in which the community and/or young people attempted to normalize their lives in the ghetto. Consider the actions of the ghetto leadership and individual young people.

1.

2.

3.

4.

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The Situational Solution - Einsatzgruppen, 1941: Read pages 92-98 and 153-155 in TWMK. Read the testimony by Rivka Yosselevska and from Babi Yar (online). Watch the testimony of Zvi Michaeli in the documentary Hitler’s Hidden Holocaust (online) The evolution of Nazi policy toward the Jews was a process of escalation and radicalization. What made the actions of the Einsatzgruppen wholly different from previous “solutions?”

What was the reaction of Jews confronted with this killing method?

Thinking back to the pre-war photo analysis of Eisiskes (page 2 of worksheet), what did the Einsatzgruppen succeed in destroying?

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The Final Solution, 1941-1945: Read pages 100-105, 109-114, 116-125, 128-143, 149-153 in TWMK. Look through the Auschwitz Album (online). The Holocaust is unique among genocides partly because it was state-sponsored and systematic in a way that others were not. What do you see in these readings and photographs that demonstrates “statesponsored” and “systematic?” Be specific.

Read the excerpt from Trap With A Green Fence (online). What do you see that is consistent in the operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka?

What do you see that is different in the operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka?

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Section III: Responses to the Holocaust Jewish Responses to the Holocaust: Read pages 87-92, 105-109, 114-116, 174-181 in TWMK. What obstacles did Jews face to active, open resistance of the Nazis?

What was the value of “spiritual” (unarmed) resistance by individual Jews or by the Jewish community?

Read the debate of the Bialystock Ghetto resistance (online) What were the goals of the fighters?

Why didn't the participants in this debate agree on a strategy?

What legacy did the fighters want to leave behind?

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Non-Jewish Responses to the Holocaust: Non-Jewish responses to the Holocaust were not always black and white, right and wrong propositions. There were many shades of gray along the spectrum - ranging all the way from rescue on one end to Hitler on the other. By far, the majority of European non-Jews were bystanders – neither working to save the Jews nor working to kill them. Read pages 99-100 and 158-171 in TWMK. Watch the testimony from Shoah (online). Consider the range of responses you just learned about. Define each of the following:  perpetrator 

collaborator -



bystander -

How did the farmers living near Treblinka feel about Jews? What purpose did their interaction with the Jews traveling to Treblinka serve?

In your assessment, are the following people bystanders, collaborators or perpetrators? WHY? 1. Romanian Iron Guard members:

2. Romanian civilians:

3. Train engineer transporting people to Treblinka:

4. Polish farmers living near Treblinka:

Consider the following quotes:  “Thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.” – Yehuda Bauer  “Most ordinary people will be bystanders. Acting righteously in a dangerous situation is more than we have the right to expect from most people.” – Gerald Caplan As a student of the Holocaust, what is your obligation and what is one specific change you can make in your life to reflect that obligation?

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Liberation and Aftermath: Read pages 181-192, 2-5, 200-205, 209-212, 217-222 in TWMK. View the exhibition Life Reborn (online) paying particular attention to displaced persons camps.

Describe 4 specific ways the survivors worked to rebuild their lives. 1.

2.

3.

4.

Describe 2 specific ways the world dealt with what they found in Europe (consider the military, the Allies, the former Axis)? 1.

2.

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