Skip to comments.Genocide Under the Nazis (Hey, Durbin, and the rest of you traitors -- HERE ARE THE NAZIS)
Posted on 06/16/2005 6:51:16 PM PDT by doug from upland
A View of the Holocaust By Dr Steve Paulsson
The Holocaust was one of the most brutal episodes in world history. Steve Paulsson explores the Nazi racial policies that culminated in the extermination of millions of men, women and children. Starved prisoners of Mauthausen concentration camp are typical of those who were liberated by the Allies
The enemy The Holocaust was the Nazis' assault on the Jews between 1933 and 1945. It culminated in what the Nazis called the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe', in which six million Jews were murdered.
'The Jews figured in Nazi ideology as the arch-enemy of the Aryan race...' The Jews were not the only victims of Nazism. It is estimated that as many as 15 million civilians were killed by this murderous and racist regime, including millions of Slavs and 'asiatics', 200,000 Gypsies and members of various other groups. Thousands of people, including Germans of African descent, were forcibly sterilised.
These programmes are best seen as a series of linked genocides, each having its own history, background, purpose and significance in the Nazi scheme of things. The Holocaust was the biggest of the killing programmes and, in certain important ways, different from the others. The Jews figured in Nazi ideology as the arch-enemy of the 'Aryan race', and were targeted not merely for terror and repression but for complete extinction. The Nazis failed in this aim because they ran out of time, but they pursued it fanatically until their defeat in 1945. The Holocaust led to widespread public awareness of genocide and to modern efforts to prevent it, such as the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.
Origins of the Holocaust
The ideas and emotions that lay behind the Holocaust were not new, nor were they uniquely German. The Nazis were the heirs of a centuries-old tradition of Jew-hatred, rooted in religious rivalry and found in all European countries. When the Nazis came to carry out their genocidal programme, they found collaborators in all the countries they dominated, including governments that enjoyed considerable public support. Most people drew the line at mass murder, but relatively few could be found to oppose it actively or to extend help to the Jews.
Though it had ancient roots, Nazi ideology was far from a primitive, medieval throwback - it was capable of appealing to intelligent and sophisticated people. Many high-ranking Nazis had doctoral degrees and early supporters included such eminent people as philosopher Martin Heidegger, theologian Martin Niemoeller, and commander-in-chief of German forces in the First World War, General Erich Ludendorff. Hitler appealed with a powerful vision of a strong, united and 'racially' pure Germany, bolstered by pseudo-scientific ideas that were popular at the time.
'The Nazis were the heirs of a centuries old tradition of Jew-hatred...' Antisemitism, the new racist version of the old Jew-hatred, viewed the Jews as not simply a religious group but as members of a 'Semitic race', which strove to dominate its 'Aryan' rivals. Among the leading ideologues of this theory were a French aristocrat, the Comte Joseph de Gobineau, and an Englishman, Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Antisemitism proved a convenient glue for conspiracy theories - since Jews were involved in all sorts of ventures and political movements, they could be accused of manipulating all of them behind the scenes. Thus Jews were held responsible for Communism and capitalism, liberalism, socialism, moral decline, revolutions, wars, plagues and economic crises. As the Jews had once been demonised in medieval Europe, so the new antisemites (including many Christians) found new, secular ways of demonising them.
The Nazis brought their own strain of radical ruthlessness to these ideas. They glorified war and saw the uncompromising struggle for survival between nations and races as the engine of human progress. They rejected morality as a Jewish idea, which had corrupted and weakened the German people. They maintained that a great nation such as Germany had the right and duty to build an empire based on the subjugation of 'inferior races'. They looked eastwards to Poland and Russia (where, as it happened, the great majority of European Jews lived) for the territorial expansion of their 'living space' (Lebensraum).
Nazism was thus an unscrupulous and warlike ideology, which always had the potential for genocide. But it took some time for an organised killing programme to evolve.
1933 - 1939 Soon after they took power, the Nazis began their persecutions with a barrage of anti-Jewish laws, including the infamous Nuremberg Laws (1935), which defined Jews according to 'racial' criteria and stripped them of citizenship. Not yet securely in power, however, the Nazis at first refrained from major acts of violence.
By late 1938, the Nazis could claim an impressive series of successes. Germany had staged the 1936 Olympics, annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia, and was in the midst of a strong economic recovery fuelled by rearmament. These triumphs had increased the Nazis' popularity and their confidence. President Hindenburg had died and all opposition parties had been abolished. The last conservatives in the cabinet had been replaced by Nazis. The way was clear for radical action.
'By the outbreak of war in September 1939, half of Germany's 500,000 Jews had fled...' On the night of 9-10 November 1938, Nazi Propaganda Minister Dr Josef Goebbels organised the violent outburst known as Kristallnacht ('Crystal Night', the night of broken glass). While the police stood by, Nazi stormtroopers in civilian clothes burned down synagogues and broke into Jewish homes throughout Germany and Austria, terrorising and beating men, women and children. Ninety-one Jews were murdered and over 20,000 men were arrested and taken to concentration camps. Afterwards the Jewish community was fined one billion Reichsmarks to pay for the damage.
After Kristallnacht, Jewish businesses were expropriated, private employers were urged to sack Jewish employees, and offices were set up to speed emigration. Imprisoned Jews could buy freedom if they promised to leave the country, abandoning their assets. By the outbreak of war in September 1939, half of Germany's 500,000 Jews had fled, as had many Jews from Austria and the German-occupied parts of Czechoslovakia.
The war years
Organised killing began with the outbreak of war in September 1939, but the first victims were not Jews. The Nazis set about killing people with physical and mental disabilities, whom they regarded as a burden on the state and a threat to the nation's 'racial hygiene'. About 170,000 people were eventually killed under this so-called Euthanasia programme, which also pioneered techniques and employed many of the people later used to kill Jews.
When the Nazis occupied western Poland in 1939, two-thirds of Polish Jews - Europe's largest Jewish community - fell into their hands. The Polish Jews were rounded up and placed in ghettos, where it is estimated that 500,000 people died of starvation and disease. Nazi policy at this point was aimed at forced emigration and isolation of the Jews rather than mass murder, but large numbers were to die through attrition.
Mass killing begins With the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22 1941, the Nazis launched a crusade against 'Judaeo-Bolshevism', the supposed Jewish-Communist conspiracy. Behind the front lines, four police battalions called Einsatzgruppen (operations groups) moved from town to town in the newly occupied Soviet territories, rounding up Jewish men and suspected Soviet collaborators and shooting them. In subsequent sweeps, making heavy use of local volunteers, the Einsatzgruppen targeted Jewish women and children as well. In total, the Einsaztgruppen murdered some two million people, almost all Jews.
The Final Solution While these massacres were happening, the Nazis elsewhere were laying plans for an overall 'solution to the Jewish question'. Death camp operations began in December 1941 at Semlin in Serbia and Chelmno in Poland, where people were killed by exhaust fumes in specially modified vans, which were then driven to nearby sites where the bodies were plundered and burnt. 250,000 Jews were killed this way at Chelmno and 15,000 at Semlin.
More camps opened in the spring and summer of 1942, when the Nazis began systematically clearing the ghettos in Poland and rounding up Jews in western Europe for 'deportation to the East'. The killing of the Polish Jews, code-named 'Project Reinhardt', was carried out in three camps: Treblinka, near Warsaw (850,000 victims); Belzec, in south-eastern Poland (650,000 victims); and Sobibor, in east-central Poland (250,000 victims). Some Jews from western Europe were sometimes taken to these camps as well, but most were killed at the biggest and most advanced of the death camps, Auschwitz.
Industrial killing: Auschwitz-Birkenau
Originally a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, Auschwitz was greatly expanded in 1941 with the addition of a much larger camp at nearby Birkenau. In all, Auschwitz-Birkenau and its sub-camps held 400,000 registered prisoners including 205,000 Jews, 137,000 Poles, 21,000 Gypsies, 12,000 Soviet POWs and 25,000 others (including a few British POWs). In this largest and worst of all the Nazi concentration camps, 210,000 prisoners died of starvation and abuse.
'Some of the new arrivals were inducted into the camp as registered prisoners, but the great majority were gassed immediately.' But Auschwitz-Birkenau became more than a concentration camp. In the spring of 1942 gas chambers were built at Birkenau and mass transports of Jews began to arrive. Some of the new arrivals were inducted into the camp as registered prisoners, but the great majority were gassed immediately. These gassing operations were greatly expanded in the spring of 1943 with the construction of four purpose-built gas chamber and crematorium complexes, which included such refinements as electric lifts to carry bodies up to the crematoria. Each crematorium could handle 2,000 victims daily. In a nearby group of barracks, nicknamed 'Canada' by the prisoners, victims' belongings were sorted for transportation to the Reich. The victims' hair was used to stuff mattresses; gold teeth were melted down and the gold deposited to an SS account.
In all about 900,000 people were gassed at Birkenau without ever being registered as prisoners, almost all of them Jews. This brought the total death toll of the Auschwitz complex to about 1.1 million, of whom one million were Jewish.
The end of the Holocaust
The Final Solution moved into its last stages as Allied forces began to close in on Germany in 1944. The Project Reinhardt camps were razed. A prisoner work-gang called the Blobel Commando began digging up and burning the bodies of those killed by the Einsatzgruppen. Prisoners remaining in Auschwitz and other concentration camps were transported or force-marched to camps within Germany. Hardly fit for such an effort, thousands of prisoners on these death marches succumbed to starvation, exhaustion and cold, or were shot for not keeping up the pace.
'When British troops came across the camp on 15 April 1945, they encountered 10,000 unburied corpses...' Jewish prisoners were concentrated at Bergen-Belsen, hitherto not known as one of the worst camps; but in the chaotic final months of the war conditions were allowed to deteriorate catastrophically. When British troops came across the camp on 15 April 1945, they encountered 10,000 unburied corpses, a raging typhus epidemic and 60,000 sick and dying prisoners crammed into overcrowded barracks without food or water.
The outside world
The discovery of Belsen brought home the shocking truth about Nazi atrocities, but the facts had been known for some time. As early as the summer of 1941, British signals intelligence had intercepted and decoded radio messages from German police units co-operating with the Einsatzgruppen, and details of the killings of Jews were included in the monthly summaries that were sent to Churchill. Churchill responded with a speech on August 24 1941 in which he called the massacres 'a crime without a name' but erroneously identified the victims as 'Russian patriots defending their native soil'. Otherwise, these facts were not made public.
In June 1942, a report from the Jewish Workers' party in Poland reached London. The report described the massacres in the east and estimated that 700,000 Jews had been killed; but when a Polish courier mentioned this number to a British journalist he was advised to 'drop a zero or two' if he wanted to be believed.
Another Polish courier, Jan Karski, reached the west in November 1942, carrying messages from Jewish leaders in Poland. He had himself witnessed the conditions in the Warsaw ghetto and in what he believed to be the Belzec death camp, and was eager to inform the world. Karski saw the British foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, and US President Roosevelt, but they seemed to be more interested in military intelligence than in atrocity stories. Partly as a result of Karski's mission, however, the Allies agreed to a joint declaration, read to the British Parliament on 17 December, which acknowledged Nazi war crimes and threatened punishment for the perpetrators. Subsequently millions of leaflets were dropped in the course of bombing raids on German cities to inform Germans of the facts, but these had little or no effect.
By the spring of 1944, detailed descriptions of the killing operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau received from escaped prisoners were published. This prompted calls for the camp or its railway approaches to be bombed, but these proposals were rejected on technical grounds.
'Britain treated refugees from Nazi Germany as economic migrants, and took in only those who would be of economic benefit to the country.' Britain's attitude to Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled areas was strongly influenced by its role as the mandatory power in Palestine, where it had to mediate between Jewish and Arab interests. In December 1941, the Struma, a ship carrying 769 Jewish refugees, left the Romanian port of Constantsa hoping to reach Palestine. Towed into Istanbul harbour when its engines failed, it became the subject of diplomatic discussions between Britain and Turkey. Britain's chief concern was to discourage what it regarded as an undesirable traffic, and it proposed that the ship be returned to Romania. After ten weeks of wrangling the Struma was towed out to sea, its engines still disabled, where it was sunk by a Soviet submarine. There was one survivor.
Jewish refugees were the subject of two international conferences, at Evian in 1938 and Bermuda in 1943. Neither conference resulted in any concrete action. In general, Britain treated refugees from Nazi Germany as economic migrants, and took in only those who would be of economic benefit to the country. About 10,000 Jewish children were brought to Britain in 1939 under the Kindertransport scheme, and placed with British families, but their parents were excluded and had to pay for their children's support. The best that can be said for Britain's refugee policy is that it was less ungenerous than that of most other European states at the time.
Find out more Books
The Holocaust : A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War by Martin Gilbert (Henry Holt, 1987)
Final Solution : Origins and Implementation edited by David Cesarani (Routledge, 1997)
The Nazis: A Warning from History by Laurence Rees (New Press, 1999)
Places to visit The Imperial War Museum [http://www.iwm.org.uk/lambeth/holoc-ex1.htm] in London has a permanent exhibition about the Holocaust.
The Jewish Museum, London [http://www.jewishmuseum.org.uk/]
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum [http://www.auschwitz-muzeum.oswiecim.pl/] in Oswiecim, Poland
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [http://www.ushmm.org/] in Washington DC
About the author
Steve Paulsson is a lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. His doctoral thesis, 'Hiding in Warsaw: The Jews on the "Aryan side", 1940-1945', was co-winner of the 1998 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, and is published by Yale University Press. He has also published articles on the flight of the Danish Jews to Sweden in 1943, and on Polish-Jewish relations. He was senior historian in the Holocaust Exhibition Project Office at the Imperial War Museum, 1998-2000.
Related Links Articles Is Forgiveness Possible? A Jewish Perspective - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/forgive_01.shtml Adolf Eichmann: The Mind of a War Criminal - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/eichmann_01.shtml Churchill and the Holocaust - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/churchill_holocaust_01.shtml The Vichy Policy on Jewish Deportation - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/jewish_deportation_01.shtml Multimedia Zone Genocide Timeline - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/launch_ani_genocide_timeline.shtml Auschwitz Map - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/launch_ani_auschwitz_map.shtml Child Survivors of the Holocaust - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/holocaust_survivors_gallery.shtml World War Two Movies - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/launch_ani_wwtwo_movies.shtml Hitler and the Jews Audio - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/hitler_audio.shtml Historic Figures Winston Churchill - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/churchill_winston.shtml Timelines World War Two Timeline - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/ww2_summary_01.shtml BBC Links BBC Kent: A Survivor's Story - http://www.bbc.co.uk/kent/discover_kent/history/holocaust/index.shtml On This Day: WW2 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/themes/conflict_and_war/world_war_ii/default.stm BBC Religion: Holocaust Memorial Day - http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/features/holocaust/ BBC Schools: Children of World War Two - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2children/index.shtml External Web Links Holocaust Memorial Day - http://www.holocaustmemorialday.gov.uk/ USHMM: Holocaust Learning Centre - http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/ East Renfrewshire Council: Holocaust Remembrance - http://www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/holocaust
Published on BBC History: 01-01-2003 This article can be found on the Internet at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/genocide/holocaust_overview_01.shtml
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Sick 'em, DFU!
We need to compare durbin and kennedy, clinton, kerry, edwards, etc....ect.... to alger hiss, and the rosenburgs, who knows enough about them to write an article or an op ed, we need to fight back with comparisons that are real treasonous such as those of the demoncraptic party of today. Treason is the reason to impeach the cowards in the senate and the House.
Will we ever say enough...and start doing something?
It was on the side bar.
Excellent - well done, Doug.
I seem to recall a couple of Chechens we captured in Afghanistan. They didn't want to leave gitmo because we were handing them over to the Russians.
I wonder what ever happened to those good ole boys? LOL
WARNING: This is a high volume ping list
Just like the Holocaust, the Gulags and the Killing Fields......
Sheesh! I hope everybody in the country hears what Durbin said........over and over and over again.
These Dems need to pay for this slander of our troops. They need to PAY!
My father, who had the pleasure of being in one of those camps had a few choice words to say about Durbin.
None of this will matter to Durbin the Turban...
I'm wondering what my lib Father thinks of what Durbin said? My Dad liberated Dachau and still finds it hard to talk about the dead and the living dead.
Wait, facts? No, facts mean nothing to liberals silly. Their idea of facts are repeat the lie until it becomes the truth.
Hehehehehe. I can't believe that the dems think Hillary Clinton is gonna win the presidency when you have liberals spouting out this bs comparing GITMO to the Gulag, Auschwitz and Khmer Rouge. Hahahahaha. Silly liberals, politics are for smart people.
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