هولوکاست (از یونانی ὁλόκαυστον، به معنی کاملاً سوخته) یا شوآ[الف] یا همهسوزی، به کشتار دستهجمعی و نسلکشی نزدیک به یازده میلیون نفر بخصوص شش میلیون یهودی بر پایه نژاد، مذهب و ملیت در طی جنگ جهانی دوم بدست آلمان نازی و از ۱۹۴۱ تا انتهای ۱۹۴۵ در اردوگاههای مرگ آلمان نازی، اطلاق میشود. دوسوم جمعیت یهودیان اروپا، در جریان هولوکاست کشته شدند.
در ابتدا و در سال ۱۹۳۳ کمپهایی برای شکنجه و کشتن مخالفان سیاسی از جمله کمونیستها و سوسیال دموکراتها توسط نازیها تشکیل شد. پس از مدتی از این کمپها به عنوان اردوگاه کار اجباری یهودیان استفاده میشد در سال ۱۹۴۲ دولت آلمان تصمیم به اجرای طرحی موسوم به «راه حل نهایی» گرفت که به موجب آن کمپهایی برای کشتار دسته جمعی یهودیان تأسیس شد.
واژه هولوکاست (به عبری: השואה، هشوآ) اصطلاحی مذهبی و به معنای قربانی کردن یک حیوان نر طبق سنت یهودی است. اصل این واژه در یونانی ὁλόκαυστον بودهاست که واژهای است مرکب: ὅλος یعنی به تمامی، یکسر و καυστός یعنی سوزاندن.
همکاری میان سازمانها
مایکل برنباوم دربارهٔ آلمان نازی چنین مینویسد که آلمان چون «حکومتی کشتارمحور» شده بود. او میگوید که «هر بازویی در سامانه اداری عریض و طویل کشور در روند کشتارها دخالت داشت. کلیساها و وزارت کشور مدارک تولد یهودیان را تأمین میکردند؛ سازمان پست دستورهای نفی بلد و بیروناندازی از کشور را میفرستاد؛ وزارت دارایی اموال یهودیان را غصب میکرد؛ شرکتهای آلمانی کارگران یهود خود را اخراج میکردند و سهامهایی را که در دست سهامداران یهودی بودند باطل میساختند.» دانشگاهها از پذیرفتن یهودیان سر باز میزدند، به آنانی که در حال تحصیل بودند مدرک نمیدادند، و استادان دانشگاه یهودی را اخراج میکردند؛ مأموران دفاتر ترابری دولتی مسوول تهیه و زمانبندی حرکت قطارها به منظور اخراج یهودیان و فرستادنشان به اردوگاهها بودند؛ شرکتهای داروسازی آلمانی بر روی زندانیان اردوگاهها آزمایش دارویی میکردند؛ شرکتها برای بستن قرارداد ساخت کورههای آدمسوزی سر و دست می شکاندند؛ فهرست مفصل قربانیان توسط دهوماگ (IBM آلمان) و به روی کارتهای پانچ چاپ میشد و با دقت روند سر به نیست کردنها را شرح میداد. هنگامی که زندانیان وارد اردوگاههای مرگ میشدند، به زور همه داراییهای شخصیشان از آنها گرفته و سپس فهرستبندی و برچسب زده میشدند پیش از آنکه برای بهکارگیری دوباره یا بازیافت به آلمان فرستاده شوند. برنباوم مینویسد که واپسین راه حل پرسش یهود «در چشمان جنایتکاران بود… بزرگترین دستاورد آلمان.» توسط حسابی جعلی با نام ماکس هایلیگر، بانک ملی آلمان کمک کرد که بسیاری داراییهای باارزش دزدیده شده از قربانیان به چرخه پولی وارد شوند.
شائول فریدلندر مینویسد: «هیچ گروه اجتماعی، هیچ انجمن مذهبی، هیچ بنیاد دانشگاهی یا گروه تخصصی در آلمان و سراسر اروپا همبستگیای با یهودیان اعلام نکرد.» او مینویسد که بعضی کلیساهای مسیحی اعلام کردند که آن یهودیانی که از دین خود برگشته و مسیحی شدهاند را باید جزوی از مسیحیان بهشمار آورد، اگرچه همان نیز تنها تا حدی پذیرفته شد. فریدلاندر استدلال میکند که آنچه هولوکاست را متمایز میکند آن است که سیاستهای ضدیهودی توانسته بودند آزادانه رشد پیدا کنند بیآنکه با نیروهای مخالفی که به صورت طبیعی در جوامع پیشرفته بروز میکنند، روبرو شده باشند.»
در دیگر کشتارها، بعضی خواستهای کاربردی همچون کنترل خاک و منابع اهداف اصلی پشت کشتار بودهاند. یهودا بائر، تاریخشناس و نویسنده اسرائیلی مینویسد:
ابرهارد یکل، تاریخدان آلمانی در ۱۹۸۶ مینویسد که یکی از ویژگیها متمایزکننده هولوکاست آن بود که:
کشتارها به شکل سازمانیافته در تقریباً همهٔ مناطق اشغالشده توسط آلمان که امروزه ۳۵ کشور اروپایی را تشکیل میدهند انجام میشدند. شدیدترین وجه آنها در اروپای مرکزی و شرقی اعمال شدند، جایی که بیش از هفت میلیون یهودی در ۱۹۳۹ در آن زندگی میکردند. نزدیک پنج میلیون یهودی در آنجا جان خود را از دست دادند، به همراه سه میلیونی که در لهستان اشغال شده و یک میلیونی که در اتحاد جماهیر شوروی کشته شدند. صدها هزار تن نیز در هلند، فرانسه، بلژیک، یوگسلاوی، و یونان کشته شدند. پروتوکول وانسی به صراحت مشخص میکند که نازیها قصد داشتند «راه حل نهایی برای مشکل یهود» خود را در انگلستان و همهٔ دیگر کشورهای خنثی در اروپا همچون ترکیه، سوئد، پرتغال، و اسپانیا اجرا کنند.
هر کسی که سه یا چهار جد یهودی داشت بیاستثنا نابود میشد. در دیگر کشتارهای تاریخ، مردم میتوانستند با تغییر دین خود از مرگ برهند، اما این گزینه برای یهودیانی که در اروپای اشغالشده بودند موجود نبود. به استثنای آنانی که پدربزرگان و مادربزرگانشان تا پیش از ۱۸ ژانویه ۱۸۷۱ از دین برگشته بودند، همه کسانی که دارایتبار یهودی جدید بودند در مناطق زیر کنترل آلمان در اروپا نابود میشدند.
یکی از ویژگیهای منحصر به فرد هولوکاست که در تاریخ پیش از خود سابقه نداشت ایجاد اردوگاههای ویژه کشتارجمعی هدفمند مردم در اتاقهای گاز بود. تا پیش از آن هیچ مکانی در جهان که مشخصاً برای کشتار جمعی انسانها ساخته شده باشد وجود نداشت. این اردوگاهها همگی در لهستان بودند و شامل اردوگاههای آشویتس، بلزک، خلمنو، یازنواک، مایدانک، مالی تروستنتس، سوبیبور، و تربلینکا بودند.
آزمایشهای پزشکی بر انسانها
یکی از مشخصترین ویژگیهای کشتار نازیها در جریان جنگ جهانی دوم بهرهگیری آنان از انسانها بهعنوان «ابزارهای آزمایشی پزشکی» بود. به گفته رائول هیلبرگ، «پزشکان آلمانی خواهان عضویت در حزب به شدت زیر باورهای نازی گذاشته میشدند»، و تعدادی از آنان بر روی زندانیان اردوگاههای آشوویتس، داخائو، بوخنوالد، راونسبروک، زاخسنهاوزن، و ناتسوایلر آزمایش انجام میدادند.
از جمله نامدارترین پزشکان شاغل در این اردوگاهها دکتر یوزف منگله بود که در آشوویتس کار میکرد. آزمایشهای او شامل گذاشتن نمونههای انسانی در اتاقهای فشار، تست دارو بر رویشان، منجمد کردنشان، تلاش برای تغییر رنگ چشم با تزریق مواد شیمیایی درون چشم کودکان، و چندین قطع عضو و جراحیهای دیگر بودند. ابعاد کارهای او هیچگاه به شکل کامل آشکار نخواهند شد چرا که محمولهای از سوابق پزشکی که او برای دکتر اوتمار فون فرشوئر در انستیتوی کایزر ویلهلم فرستاده بود توسط فرشوئر نابود شد. تقریباً همه کسانی که در آزمایشهای منگله به عنوان نمونه مورد بهرهبرداری قرار میگرفتند بلافاصله یا اندکی پس از عمل کشته و تشریح میشدند.
منگله به ویژه با کودکان کولی کار کرد؛ او برای کودکان شیرینی و اسباب بازی میآورد و خود بشخصه آنها را تا اتاقهای گاز همراهی میکرد. آنها منگله را با نام «عمو منگله» Onkel Mengele صدا میزدند. ورا الکساندر یکی از زندانیان یهودی در آشوویتس بود که به پرستاری از ۵۰ جفت دوقلوی کولی پرداخت:
ایجاد و اجرا
به باور یهودا بائر، رائول هیلبرگ، و لوسی داویدوویچ جامعه و فرهنگ آلمان از دوران میانه به بعد با اندیشههای ضدیهودی خو گرفته بود و پیوند مستقیمی میان پوگرومهای سدههای میانی و اردوگاههای مرگ نازیها وجود داشت.
نیمه دوم سده ۱۹ میلادی شاهد برآمدن آلمان و اتریش-مجارستان از جنبش فلکیش در نتیجه اندیشههای کسانی چون هیوستون استیوارت چمبرلین و پل دو لاگارد بود. این جنبش بر پایه نوعی نژادپرستی شبهدانشوارانه شکل گرفته بود که یهودیان را نژادی در ستیز همیشگی با نژاد آریایی برای تسلط بر جهان به تصویر میکشید. یهودیستیزی ولکیش ریشه در یهودیستیزی مسیحی داشت، ولی تفاوتش با آن در این بود که یهودیان را نه دینی دیگرگون که نژادی متفاوت در نظر میگرفت.
در سخنرانیای در برابر رایشتاگ در ۱۸۹۵، هرمان آلوارت رهبر فلکیش یهودیان را «مهاجمان» و «باسیلهای وبا» یی نامید که باید برای مصلحت مردم آلمان «پاکسازی شوند». هاینریش کلاس، رهبر گروه فلکیش آلدویچر فرباند، در کتاب پرفروش خود به نام Wenn ich der Kaiser wär (اگر من قیصر بودم) به سال ۱۹۱۲ درخواست میکند تا یهودیان آلمان از شهروندی کنار زده شوند و به جایگاه Fremdenrecht (خارجی و بیگانه) تنزل پیدا کنند. کلاس همچنین خواستار آن شد تا یهودیان آلمان از همه جوانب زندگی در آلمان از جمله داشتن املاک، داشتن دفتر کار، یا مشارکت در روزنامهنگاری، بانکداری، و شغلهای آزاد منع شوند. کلاس یهودی را کسی تعریف کرد که تا روز اعلام امپراتوری آلمان در ۱۸۷۱ عضو دین یهود بوده باشد، یا کمینه یکی از پدربزرگ یا مادربزرگهایش یهودی بوده باشند.
در طی امپراتوری آلمان، اندیشههای ولکیش و نژادپرستی شبهدانشوارانه آن بیشتر و بیشتر فراگیر و معمول شدند و در سراسر آلمان پذیرش یافتند، به گونهای که به ویژه طبقات اجتماعی تحصیل کرده کشور باور نابرابری انسانها را پذیرفته بودند. اگرچه احزاب ولکیش در انتخابات ۱۹۱۲ رایشتاگ شکست خوردند و همگی منحل شدند، یهودیستیزی وارد ارکان و برنامههای حزبهای سیاسی شده بود. حزب ملی سوسیالیست کارگران آلمان یا نازی (Nazi) که در سال ۱۹۲۰ پایهگذاری شد از جمله انشعابات جنبش ولکیش بود و همان یهودیستیزی را دنبال میکرد.
پیشرفتهای علمی و فناوری چشمگیر در پایان سده ۱۹ و آغاز سده ۲۰ میلادی در آلمان به همراه بالا رفتن ثروت ملی باعث پدید آمدن امید بسیار دربارهٔ رسیدن نهایی به آرمانشهری شد که در آن مشکلات اجتماعی توان حل شدن مییافتند. در همین هنگام اندیشهای نژادپرستانه، باورمند به نگرش فرگشتی در اجتماع، و بهنژادانه که عدهای از مردم را از دید زیستشناسانه برتر از دیگران قرار میداد، متداول بود. دتلف پوکرت، تاریخدان، میگوید که شوآ نتیجه یهودیستیزی صرف نبود بلکه محصول «رادیکال شدنهای جمعشونده» ای بود که در آن «جریانهای متعدد کوچک» باعث ایجاد «جریانی عظیم» شدند که در نهایت به کشتار انجامید. پس از جنگ جهانی نخست، خوشبینی پیش از جنگ جای خود را عدم توهمی میان بوروکراتهای آلمانیای داد که پی برده بودند مشکلات اجتماعی حلناپذیرتر از آنچه بودند که تصور میشد. چنین چیزی باعث پدید آمدن این باور شد که راه حل باید در نگاه داشتن آنانی باشد که از لحاظ زیستی «مناسبترند» و خلاص شدن از شر آنانی که «نامناسب» تشخیص داده میشوند.
مشکلات اقتصادی ناشی از رکود بزرگ باعث شدند که بسیاری در بخش پزشکی آلمان به سوی پشتیبانی از اندیشه هومرگسازی بیماران روانی و از کار افتاده نادرمان حرکت کنند تا پول «هدر رفته» برای آنان صرف بیماران دیگر شود. تا هنگام بر سر کار آمدن رژیم نازی در ۱۹۳۳، جامعه آلمان به واقع دارای میلی پنهان به نگه داشتن «ارزشمندان» نژادی و از میان بردن نژادهای «بیارزش و نامطلوب» بود.
هیتلر به آشکارا دربارهٔ بیزاریش از یهودیان سخن میگفت. در کتاب خود نبرد من، او سخن از قصد خود برای بیرون راندن یهودیان از عرصه سیاسی، اندیشهای، و فرهنگی آلمان سخن میگوید. او البته نمینویسد که میخواهد یهودیان را پاکسازی کند، ولی روایتها حاکی از آن هستند که در خلوت لحن آشکارتری پیدا میکرد. گفته میشود که او حتی در ۱۹۲۲ به سرهنگ یوزف هل میگوید:
تعقیب قضایی و تبعید
بلافاصله پس از به قدرت رسیدن رایش سوم، رهبران نازی مدعی ایجاد Volksgemeinschaft (به معنای «اجتماع ملت») شدند. سیاستهای نازی مردم را به دو گروه تقسیم میکردند: آنانی که Volksgenossen (رفقای ملی) بودند و عضو Volksgemeinschaft، و آنانی که Gemeinschaftsfremde (بیگانگان اجتماع) خوانده میشدند. سیاستهای سرکوب نازی مردم را به سه شاخه دشمن تقسیم میکردند، دشمنان «نژادی» که یهودیان و کولیهایی بودند که به خاطر «خونشان» دشمن بودند؛ مخالفان سیاسی همچون مارکسیستها، لیبرالها، و مسیحیان، و آنانی که به نحوی بیرون از رفقای ملی قلمداد میشدند؛ و در نهایت مخالفان اخلاقیای چون همجنسگرایان، آنانی که به سر کار نمیرفتند، و خلافکاران. دو گروه آخر برای «ادب کردن دوباره» به اردوگاههای کار فرستاده میشدند و هدف آن بود که در نهایت جذب Volksgemeinschaft شوند، اگرچه بعضی مخالفان اخلاقی پیش از رها شدن عقیم میشدند چرا که از دیدگاه نژادی «پستتر» قلمداد میشدند.
دشمنان نژادی همچون یهودیان طلق تعریف جزئی از Volksgemeinschaft بهشمار نمیآمدند؛ از این رو آنها باید به کلی از جامعه پاک میشدند. دتلف پوکرت، تاریخدان آلمانی، مینویسد که هدف ناسیونال سوسیالیستها آن بود که آرمانشهری از نوع Volksgemeinschaft بسازند که در آن همه چیز زیر نظر پلیس بود و هر عملی از سوی ناراضیان در آن با سختی برخورد میشد. او بخشی از مدرک «رفتار با بیگانگان جامعه» را نقل میکند که در آن «آنانی که… نتوانند کمترین تلاشی از خود برای ساختن با کمینه نیازهای جامعه ملی را نشان ندهند» زیر پیگرد پلیس قرار میگرفتند و در صورت آنکه به اصلاح خود نمیپرداختند به اردوگاههای کار اجباری فرستاده میشدند.
با نزدیک شدن به انتخابات رایشتاگ در مارس ۱۹۳۳، نازیها کارزار خشونت خود علیه مخالفان را شدت بخشیدند. آنان با کمک مسوولان محلی چندین اردوگاه کار برپا کردند که از آنها برای زندانی کردن مخالفان بهره گرفته میشد. از نخستین این اردوگاهها داخائو بود که در ۹ مارس ۱۹۳۳ گشایش یافت. در آغاز این اردوگاه حاوی کمونیستها و سوسیال دموکراتها بود. هدف اولیه از این اردوگاه به هراس انداختن آن آلمانیهایی بود که با Volksgemeinschaft همدلی نداشتند. زندانیان اردوگاه شامل آنانی میشدند که «تربیتپذیر» بودند و میتوانستند با شکسته شدن به «جامعه ملی» بازگردانده شوند، و نیز کسانی که «فاسد زیستی» بودند و باید عقیم میشدند. اینان تا همیشه در اردوگاه نگه داشته میشدند و با گذشت زمان هر چه بیشتر در روند پاکسازی از راه کار اجباری، یعنی کار کشیدن تا حد مرگ، کشته میشدند.
در طی دهه ۱۹۳۰، حقوق قضایی، اقتصادی، و اجتماعی یهودیان به آرامی محدود و محدودتر میشدند. قوانین گوناگونی بر روی کار پزشکان، کشاورزی، و غیره یهودیان را از مشارکت در بخشهای جامعه منع میکردند. وکیلان یهودی از وکالت کنار گذاشته میشدند و در درسدن آنان را از دفترهای کارشان بیرون آورده، کتک میزدند. به دلیل پافشاری رئیسجمهور وقت، پاول فون هیندنبورگ، هیتلر استثنایی افزود که آن کهنهسربازانی که خودشان یا آنانی که پدران یا فرزندانشان در جنگ جهانی نخست خدمت کرده بودند از قوانین ضدیهود معاف میشدند و میتوانستند در پستهای خود بمانند. او بعدها در ۱۹۳۷ این دستور خود را لغو کرد. یهودیان از مدارس و دانشگاهها کنار گذاشته شدند، حق عضویت در انجمن روزنامهنگاران نداشتند، و نمیتوانستند دارنده یا ویراستار روزنامه باشند.
در ژوئیه ۱۹۳۳، قانون پیشگیری از تولد نوزاد دارای بیماری مادرزادی که عقیمسازی «دون» ها را اجباری میکرد به تصویب رسید. این قانون مهم بهنژادی نازیها باعث شد دادگاههای سلامت مادرزادی (به آلمانی: Erbgesundheitsgerichte) تشکیل شوند. این دادگاهها مسوول عقیم شدن ۴۰۰٬۰۰۰ انسان بدون موافقتشان در طی حکومت نازی بودند.
در ۱۹۳۵، هیتلر قانونهای نورنبرگ را معرفی کرد؛ قانونهایی که بر پایهشان: یهودیها از ازدواج یا داشتن رابطه جنسی با «آریاییها» منع میشدند (قانون پاسداری از خون آلمانی و شرف آلمانی)، یهودیان آلمانی از تابعیت کشور برداشته میشدند و از همه حقوق مدنی خود محروم. هیتلر به ویژه «قانون خون» را «تلاش برای سر و سامان بخشی قانونی به یک مشکل، که در صورت شکست بیشتر در برخورد با آن باید به کل به راه حل نهایی حزب ناسیونال سوسیالیست منتقل شود» معرفی کرد. بنا به گفتهٔ او اگر «مشکل یهود» را نتوان توسط این قانونها حل کرد، آنگاه «باید به شکل قانونی آن را به حزب ناسیونال سوسیالیست واگذار کرد تا راه حلی نهایی را به اجرا گذارد.» عبارت راه حل نهایی یا Endlösung از اینجا تبدیل به تکیه کلام نازیها برای پاکسازی یهودیان شد. در ژانویه ۱۹۳۹، او در یک سخنرانی همگانی گفت: «اگر یهودیگری بینالمللی-اقتصادی در درون و بیرون اروپا بار دیگر در کشاندن ملتها به جنگ جهانی دیگری پیروز گردد، نتایج آن تنها بلشویک شدن زمین و در پی آن پیروزی یهودیان نخواهد بود، بلکه نابودی (vernichtung) نژاد یهود در اروپا خواهد بود.» تصاویر سخنرانی او برای ساخت فیلم تبلیغاتی ۱۹۴۰ نازیها با نام یهودی ابدی (Der ewige Jude)، که هدفش ایجاد منطق برای نابودسازی یهودیان اروپا بود، مورد استفاده قرار گرفتند.
روشنفکران یهودی نخستین گروهی بودند که ترک کشور کردند. والتر بنیامین فیلسوف در ۱۸ مارس ۱۹۳۳ به پاریس رفت. لئون فوشتوانگر نویسنده به سوئیس رفت. برونو والتر نوازنده پس از آنکه به او گفته شد صحن فیلارمونیک برلین در صورتی که او کنسرتی در آن به اجرا گذارد به خاکستر تبدیل خواهد شد، ترک وطن کرد. آلبرت اینشتین، فیزیکدان نامی، که در سفر آمریکا بود در ۳۰ ژانویه ۱۹۳۳ به اوستند بلژیک بازگشت و دیگر پای به خاک آلمان نگذاشت. او که رویدادهای پیش آمده در آنجا را «بیماری روانی تودهها» خوانده بود از انجمن کایزر ویلهم و فرهنگستان علوم پروس بیرون انداخته شد و تابعیتش را، هنگامی که آلمان اتریش را در ۱۹۳۸ ناموجود خواند، از دست داد. زیگموند فروید و خانواده اش از وین به انگلستان مهاجرت کردند. شائول فریدلاندر مینویسد که هنگامی که ماکس لیبرمان، رئیس افتخاری فرهنگستان هنر پروس، از سمت خود کنارهگیری کرد، حتی یک تن از همکارانش ابراز همدردی نکردند و او حتی تا هنگام مرگش در دو سال بعد نیز طرد شده بود. هنگامی که در ۱۹۴۳ پلیس برای دیپورت بیوهٔ ۸۵ ساله و در بستر افتادهٔ او آمد، زن برای آنکه دستگیر نشود با مصرف بیش از حد باربیتورات خودکشی کرد.
شب کریستالی (۱۹۳۸)
در ۷ نوامبر ۱۹۳۸، هرشل گرونسپان یهودی یکی از دیپلماتهای آلمان نازی به نام ارنست فم رات را در پاریس به قتل رساند. این اتفاق باعث شد تا نازیها از آن به عنوان دستاویزی برای شدت بخشیدن به تعقیب قضایی یهودیان در مقیاس گسترده بهره گیرند. آنچه که نازیها از آن با عنوان «خشم همگانی» یاد میکنند در واقع موجی از پوگرومهای ساختهٔ حزب نازی و اجرا شده توسط اعضای اس آ و وابستگان به آنها بود که در سراسر آلمان آن هنگام – شامل جمهوری وایمار، اتریش، و سودتنلند – به اجرا درآمد. این برنامهها با نام شب کریستالی (Reichskristallnacht به معنای «شب شیشهٔ شکسته») یا پوگرومهای نوامبر شناخته شدند و در آنها یهودیان و داراییهایشان مورد حمله قرار گرفتند و به بیش از ۷٬۰۰۰ فروشگاه یهودی و ۱٬۶۶۸ کنیسه آسیب زده شد یا ویران شدند.
تعداد تلفات این موج از حملهها بنا به گفته مقامات ۹۱ تن بود، اگرچه احتمال میرود که بسیار بیشتر از آن بوده باشند. ۳۰٬۰۰۰ یهودی به اردوگاههای داخائو، زاکسنهاوزن، بوخنوالد، و اورانیبورگ فرستاده شدند و برای چندین هفته در آنجا نگهداری شدند تا هنگامی که تنها با شرط پذیرش مهاجرت در آینده نزدیک یا واگذاری داراییشان به حزب نازی توانایی آزاد شدن را پیدا میکردند. شبهای کریستالی مصادف شده بودند با تصویب قوانین ضد مالکیت اسلحه از سوی یهودیان، که یهودیان را از داشتن اسلحه گرم یا دیگر جنگافزارها منع میکرد. یهودیانی که در معرض پوگروم قرار گرفته بودند ناچار به پرداخت خسارتهای حاصل از آن میشدند و این میزان به هزاران رایشمارک میرسید. چنین برخوردهایی مهاجرت یهودیان از آلمان را شتاب بخشید، اگرچه روال زندگی همگانی یهودیان در آن کشور هنوز برقرار بود.
کوچ اجباری و اخراج
پیش از جنگ، نازیها تصمیم گرفتند جمعیت یهودی آلمان (و پس از آن کل اروپا) را به صورت انبوه از آن سرزمین کوچ دهند. موافقت هیتلر با طرح ۱۹۳۸–۹ شاخت و پرواز هزاران یهودی از مناطق زیر سلطه هیتلر برای مدتی نشان از این دارد که طرح برنامهریزیشده برای کشتار گسترده یهودیان تا آن هنگام هنوز ریخته نشده بود.
طرح بازپسگیری مستعمرات پیشین آلمان از جمله تانگانیکا و آفریقای جنوب شرقی برای اسکان یهودیان توسط هیتلر به تعویق انداخته شد، چراکه به باور او هر آنجا که «چندین خون قهرمانان آلمان ریخته شدهاست» نباید زیستگاه «بدترین دشمنان آلمان» شود. در این هنگام تلاشهایی دیپلماتیک برای ترغیب دیگر قدرتهای مستعمرهدار چون انگلستان و فرانسه به منظور پذیرش یهودیان اخراج شده صورت گرفتند. مناطقی که برای این منظور پیشنهاد شده بودند شامل فلسطین زیر حاکمیت انگلیس، اتیوپی ایتالیا، رودزیای انگلیس، ماداگاسکار فرانسه، و استرالیا بود.
از میان این مناطق، ماداگاسکار بیشتر از همه به صورت جدی مطرح شد. هایدریش آنچه را که نقشه ماداگاسکار نامیده میشد، «راه حل نهایی قلمرویی» نامید؛ این منطقهٔ جزیرهای بسیار دورافتاده و با آب و هوای نامناسب باعث سریعتر شدن مرگها میشد. با موافقت هیتلر در ۱۹۳۸، طرح بازاسکان توسط دفتر آدولف آیشمان به اجرا گذاشته شد ولی با آغاز کشتار گسترده یهودیان در ۱۹۴۱ این طرح کنار گذاشته شد. با نگاه به گذشته میتوان دریافت که این طرح گام روانی مهمی به سوی هولوکاست بود. پایان طرح ماداگاسکار در ۱۰ فوریه ۱۹۴۲ اعلام شد. دفتر روابط خارجه آلمان توضیح رسمی خود را به این صورت اعلام کرد که به دلیل جنگ با شوروی «[یهودیان] به شرق فرستاده میشوند».
دولتمردان نازی همچنین طرحی ارائه داده بودند که بر پایه آن یهودیان اروپا به سیبری فرستاده شوند. فلسطین تنها نقطهای بود که طرحهای بازاسکان نازیها توانستند در آن موفقیت چشمگیر بدست آورند؛ توسط قراردادی که در سال ۱۹۳۳ میان فدراسیون صهیونیست آلمان (die Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland) و دولت نازی با نام قرارداد هاوارا امضا شد. این قرارداد منجر به ارسال ۶۰٬۰۰۰ یهودی آلمانی و ۱۰۰ میلیون دلار از آلمان به فلسطین شد، اگرچه با آغاز جنگ جهانی دوم به پایان رسید.
در لهستان تحت اشغال آلمان
اشغال لهستان توسط آلمان در سپتامبر ۱۹۳۹ باعث به چشم آمدن بیشتر ضرورت پاسخ به «پرسش یهود» شد. لهستان سرزمین نزدیک به سه میلیون یهودی (نزدیک ۹ درصد کل جمعیت آن هنگام) بود و جوامع یهودی در آن سدهها تاریخ داشتند. دو سوم این جوامع پس از اشغال به زیر سلطهٔ آلمان نازی رفتند.
راینهارد هایدریش، فرماندار بوهم و موراوی، پیشنهاد نگهداری یهودیان لهستان در گتوهایی در شهرهای اصلی را داد؛ جایی که در آن یهودیان برای کار در مراکز صنعتی جنگی آلمان بهره گرفته میشدند. گتوها را در شهرهایی که دارای دسترسی به سامانه خط آهن بودند قرار دادند تا به گفتهٔ هایدریش، «در آینده امکان اخراج و کنترل [یهودیان] بهتر فراهم باشد». در جریان بازجویی آدولف آیشمان در ۱۹۶۱، او به یاد میآورد که منظور از این «اخراج در آینده»، همان «پاکسازی فیزیکی» بودهاست.
علاوه بر یهودیان اروپایی (اشکنازی) که قربانیان اصلی هولوکاست بودند، گروههای دیگری از جمله اسلاوها، کولیها، معلولین، کمونیستها، سوسیالیستها و همجنسگرایان لایق زندگی تشخیص داده نمیشدند. روشهای کشتار آنان گرسنگی دادن، کار اجباری، شکنجه، اعدام با گلوله (که بعداً برداشته شد) یا اتاق گاز (گازهای سمی منوکسید کربن یا سیکلون ب) بود. انکارکنندگان هولوکاست وقوع این موارد را رد میکنند.
منابع دست اول پرشماری برای بررسی هولوکاست موجود است که شامل گزارشهای نزدیک به ۵۰ هزار نفر نجاتیافته از اردوگاههای مرگ، گزارش بازماندگان دیگر یعنی مخفیشدگان، شناسایینشدگان و وادارشدگان به کارِ بردهوار در کارخانهها و مزرعهها، هزاران سندِ مکتوب دولتی که رژیم فرصت از بین بردنشان را نیافت، جسدهای به جا مانده در اردوگاهها، گورهای دستهجمعی که بعدها کشف شدند، هزاران آلمانی که شاهد واقعه بودند، خاطرات نگهبانان و کارگزاران اردوگاهها و زندانها، خاطرات مقامات دولت نازی و اعترافات رهبران آلمان در دادگاههای متهمان به جنایات جنگی از جمله دادگاه نورنبرگ، میشوند.
روز جهانی قربانیان هولوکاست
در اول نوامبر سال ۲۰۰۵، مجمع عمومی سازمان ملل متحد با صدور قطعنامهای که به پیشنهاد آمریکا، استرالیا، اسرائیل، کانادا و روسیه، حمایت ۱۰۴ کشور و با اجماع تصویب شد، انکار هولوکاست را قابل پذیرش ندانست و بیست و هفتم ژانویه را برای یادبود قربانیان آن فاجعه، روز جهانی یادمان هولوکاست نامگذاری کرد. ایران تنها کشوری بود که با این قطعنامه مخالفت کرد و بررسی مسئله هولوکاست در مجمع عمومی سازمان ملل را اقدامی در راستای اهداف واشینگتن و متحدانش عنوان کرد.
محمود احمدینژاد، رئیسجمهور پیشین ایران، یکی از سرشناسترین انکارکنندگان هولوکاست بهشمار میآمد. که به دلیل همین موضوع، مورد سرزنش برخی مقامهای جامعه جهانی، از جمله دبیرکل سازمان ملل متحد قرار گرفت.
زیر سؤال بردن نسلکشی هولوکاست، در برخی کشورها مانند آلمان، فرانسه و اتریش جرم محسوب میشود. دلیل تصویب چنین قوانینی در این کشورها، انکار واقعیتهای تاریخی و جلوگیری از یهودستیزی و سوءاستفاده هواداران حزب نازی و نژادپرستان اعلام شدهاست.
پیوند به بیرون
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah,[b] was the World War II genocide of the European Jews. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.[a][c] The murders were carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; by a policy of extermination through work in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka in occupied Poland.
Germany implemented the persecution in stages. Following Adolf Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933, the regime built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and those deemed "undesirable", starting with Dachau on 22 March 1933. After the passing of the Enabling Act on 24 March, which gave Hitler plenary powers, the government began isolating Jews from civil society; this included boycotting Jewish businesses in April 1933 and enacting the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935. On 9–10 November 1938, eight months after Germany annexed Austria, Jewish businesses and other buildings were ransacked, smashed or set on fire throughout Germany and Austria during what became known as Kristallnacht (the "Night of Broken Glass"). After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, triggering World War II, the regime set up ghettos to segregate Jews from the rest of the population. Eventually thousands of camps and other detention sites were established across German-occupied Europe.
The segregation of Jews in ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", discussed by senior Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January 1942. As German forces captured territories in the East, all anti-Jewish measures were radicalized. Under the coordination of the SS, with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, killings were committed within Germany itself, throughout occupied Europe, and within territories controlled by Germany's allies. Paramilitary death squads called Einsatzgruppen, in cooperation with the German Army and local collaborators, murdered around 1.3 million Jews in mass shootings and pogroms between 1941 and 1945. By mid-1942, victims were being deported from ghettos across Europe in sealed freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, they were worked to death or gassed. The killing continued until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945.
The European Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era, usually defined as beginning in January 1933, in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered other groups, including Slavs (chiefly ethnic Poles, Soviet citizens, and Soviet prisoners of war), the Roma, the "incurably sick", political and religious dissenters, and gay men.[d] The death toll of these groups is thought to rise to 11 million.
Terminology and scope
The term holocaust, previously used in 1895 to describe the massacre of Armenian Christians by Ottoman Muslims, comes from the Greek: ὁλόκαυστος, romanized: holókaustos; ὅλος hólos, "whole" + καυστός kaustós, "burnt offering".[e] The biblical term shoah (Hebrew: שׁוֹאָה), meaning "destruction", became the standard Hebrew term for the murder of the European Jews; Yom HaShoah is Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Haaretz, the writer Yehuda Erez may have been the first to describe events in Germany as the shoah. Davar and then Haaretz both used the term in September 1939.[f]
On 3 October 1941 the American Hebrew used the phrase "before the Holocaust", apparently to refer to the situation in France, and in May 1943 the New York Times, discussing the Bermuda Conference, referred to the "hundreds of thousands of European Jews still surviving the Nazi Holocaust". In 1968 the Library of Congress created a new category, "Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945)". The term was popularized in the United States by the NBC mini-series Holocaust (1978), about a fictional family of German Jews, and in November that year the President's Commission on the Holocaust was established. As non-Jewish groups began to include themselves as Holocaust victims, many Jews chose to use the term Shoah or the Yiddish term Churban.[g] The Nazis used the phrase "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" (German: die Endlösung der Judenfrage).
Most Holocaust historians define the Holocaust as the genocide of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1941 and 1945.[a] In Teaching the Holocaust (2015), Michael Gray, a specialist in Holocaust education, offers three definitions: (a) "the persecution and murder of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945", which views Kristallnacht in 1938 as an early phase of the Holocaust; (b) "the systematic mass murder of the Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between 1941 and 1945", which has the disadvantage of excluding victims before 1941 but the advantage, in Gray's view, of recognizing that there was a shift in policy in 1941 toward extermination; and (c) "the persecution and murder of various groups by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945", which includes all the Nazis' victims, a definition that fails, Gray writes, to acknowledge that only the Jews were singled out for annihilation.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum distinguishes between the Holocaust (the "systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators") and "the era of the Holocaust", which began when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Victims of the Holocaust era include those the Nazis viewed as inherently inferior (chiefly Slavs, the Roma and the handicapped), and those targeted because of their beliefs or behavior (such as Jehovah's Witnesses, communists and homosexuals). The persecution of these other groups was less consistent, Peter Hayes writes. For example, the Nazis regarded the Slavs as "sub-human", but their treatment consisted of "enslavement and gradual attrition", while "some Slavs—Slovaks, Croats, Bulgarians, some Ukrainians—[were] allotted a favored place in Hitler's New Order". Against this, Hitler regarded the Jews very differently: as what Dan Stone calls "a Gegenrasse: a 'counter-race', that is to say, not really human at all".[d] Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia, in The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (2000), favor a definition of the Holocaust that focuses on the Jews, Roma and handicapped: "the systematic, state-sponsored murder of entire groups determined by heredity".
The logistics of the mass murder turned Germany into what Michael Berenbaum called a "genocidal state". Eberhard Jäckel wrote in 1986 during the German Historikerstreit—a dispute among historians about the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the implications of that view for its study, and its relationship with the crimes of the Soviet Union—that it was the first time a state had thrown its power behind the idea that an entire people should be wiped out.[h] Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated, and complex rules were devised to deal with Mischlinge ("mixed breeds"). Bureaucrats identified who was a Jew, confiscated property, and scheduled trains to deport them. Companies fired Jews and later used them as slave labor. Universities dismissed Jewish faculty and students. German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; other companies built the crematoria. As prisoners entered the death camps, they were ordered to surrender all personal property, which was catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany for reuse or recycling. Through a concealed account, the German National Bank helped launder valuables stolen from the victims.
Historians view the Holocaust as a pan-European phenomenon, a series of holocausts impossible to conduct without the help of local collaborators. Without collaborators, the Germans could not have extended the genocide across most of the continent.[i] According to Donald Bloxham, in many parts of Europe "extreme collective violence was becoming an accepted measure of resolving identity crises". Christian Gerlach writes that non-Germans "not under German command" killed 5–6 percent of the six million, but that their involvement was crucial in other ways.
The industrialization and scale of the murder was unprecedented. Killings were systematically conducted in virtually all areas of occupied Europe—more than 20 occupied countries. Nearly three million Jews in occupied Poland and between 700,000 and 2.5 million Jews in the Soviet Union were killed. Hundreds of thousands more died in the rest of Europe. The mass shootings in the occupied Soviet Union, writes Timothy Snyder, "required tens of thousands of participants and was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people". Some Christian churches defended converted Jews, but otherwise, Saul Friedländer wrote in 2007: "Not one social group, not one religious community, not one scholarly institution or professional association in Germany and throughout Europe declared its solidarity with the Jews ..."
Medical experiments conducted on camp inmates by the SS were another distinctive feature. At least 7,000 prisoners were subjected to experiments; most died as a result, during the experiments or later. Twenty-three senior physicians and other medical personnel were charged at Nuremberg, after the war, with crimes against humanity. They included the head of the German Red Cross, tenured professors, clinic directors, and biomedical researchers. Experiments took place at Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Natzweiler-Struthof, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, and elsewhere. Some dealt with sterilization of men and women, the treatment of war wounds, ways to counteract chemical weapons, research into new vaccines and drugs, and the survival of harsh conditions.
The most notorious physician was Josef Mengele, an SS officer who became the Auschwitz camp doctor on 30 May 1943. Interested in genetics and keen to experiment on twins, he would pick out subjects from the new arrivals during "selection" on the ramp, shouting "Zwillinge heraus!" (twins step forward!). They would be measured, killed, and dissected. One of Mengele's assistants said in 1946 that he was told to send organs of interest to the directors of the "Anthropological Institute in Berlin-Dahlem". This is thought to refer to Mengele's academic supervisor, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, director from October 1942 of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics in Berlin-Dahlem.[j] Mengele's experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change their eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes, and amputations and other surgeries.
Antisemitism and the völkisch movement
Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were subjected to antisemitism based on Christian theology, which blamed them for killing Jesus. Even after the Reformation, Catholicism and Lutheranism continued to persecute Jews, accusing them of blood libels and subjecting them to pogroms and expulsions. The second half of the 19th century saw the emergence in the German empire and Austria-Hungary of the völkisch movement, which was developed by such thinkers as Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Paul de Lagarde. The movement embraced a pseudo-scientific racism that viewed Jews as a race whose members were locked in mortal combat with the Aryan race for world domination. These ideas became commonplace throughout Germany, with the professional classes adopting an ideology that did not see humans as racial equals with equal hereditary value. The Nazi Party (the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Workers' Party) originated as an offshoot of the völkisch movement, and it adopted that movement's antisemitism.
Germany after World War I, Hitler's world view
After World War I (1914–1918), many Germans did not accept that their country had been defeated, which gave birth to the stab-in-the-back myth. This insinuated that it was disloyal politicians, chiefly Jews and communists, who had orchestrated Germany's surrender. Inflaming the anti-Jewish sentiment was the apparent over-representation of Jews in the leadership of communist revolutionary governments in Europe, such as Ernst Toller, head of a short-lived revolutionary government in Bavaria. This perception contributed to the canard of Jewish Bolshevism.
Early antisemites in the Nazi Party included Dietrich Eckart, publisher of the Völkischer Beobachter, the party's newspaper, and Alfred Rosenberg, who wrote antisemitic articles for it in the 1920s. Rosenberg's vision of a secretive Jewish conspiracy ruling the world would influence Hitler's views of Jews by making them the driving force behind communism. Central to Hitler's world view was the idea of expansion and lebensraum (living space) in Eastern Europe for German Aryans, a policy of what Doris Bergen called "race and space". Open about his hatred of Jews, he subscribed to common antisemitic stereotypes. From the early 1920s onwards, he compared the Jews to germs and said they should be dealt with in the same way. He viewed Marxism as a Jewish doctrine, said he was fighting against "Jewish Marxism", and believed that Jews had created communism as part of a conspiracy to destroy Germany.
Rise of Nazi Germany
Dictatorship and repression (1933–1939)
With the appointment in January 1933 of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany and the Nazi's seizure of power, German leaders proclaimed the rebirth of the Volksgemeinschaft ("people's community"). Nazi policies divided the population into two groups: the Volksgenossen ("national comrades") who belonged to the Volksgemeinschaft, and the Gemeinschaftsfremde ("community aliens") who did not. Enemies were divided into three groups: the "racial" or "blood" enemies, such as the Jews and Roma; political opponents of Nazism, such as Marxists, liberals, Christians, and the "reactionaries" viewed as wayward "national comrades"; and moral opponents, such as gay men, the work-shy, and habitual criminals. The latter two groups were to be sent to concentration camps for "re-education", with the aim of eventual absorption into the Volksgemeinschaft. "Racial" enemies could never belong to the Volksgemeinschaft; they were to be removed from society.
Before and after the March 1933 Reichstag elections, the Nazis intensified their campaign of violence against opponents, setting up concentration camps for extrajudicial imprisonment. One of the first, at Dachau, opened on 22 March 1933. Initially the camp contained mostly Communists and Social Democrats. Other early prisons were consolidated by mid-1934 into purpose-built camps outside the cities, run exclusively by the SS. The camps served as a deterrent by terrorizing Germans who did not support the regime.
Throughout the 1930s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews were steadily restricted.On 1 April 1933, there was a boycott of Jewish businesses. On 7 April 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was passed, which excluded Jews and other "non-Aryans" from the civil service. Jews were disbarred from practicing law, being editors or proprietors of newspapers, joining the Journalists' Association, or owning farms. In Silesia, in March 1933, a group of men entered the courthouse and beat up Jewish lawyers; Friedländer writes that, in Dresden, Jewish lawyers and judges were dragged out of courtrooms during trials. Jewish students were restricted by quotas from attending schools and universities. Jewish businesses were targeted for closure or "Aryanization", the forcible sale to Germans; of the approximately 50,000 Jewish-owned businesses in Germany in 1933, about 7,000 were still Jewish-owned in April 1939. Works by Jewish composers, authors, and artists were excluded from publications, performances, and exhibitions. Jewish doctors were dismissed or urged to resign. The Deutsches Ärzteblatt (a medical journal) reported on 6 April 1933: "Germans are to be treated by Germans only."
Sterilization Law, Aktion T4
The economic strains of the Great Depression had led some members of the German medical establishment to advocate murder (euphemistically called "euthanasia") of the "incurable" mentally and physically disabled as a cost-saving measure to free up funds for the curable. The Nazis used the phrase Lebensunwertes Leben (life unworthy of life). On 14 July 1933, the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses), the Sterilization Law, was passed, allowing for compulsory sterilization. The New York Times reported on 21 December that year: "400,000 Germans to be sterilized". There were 84,525 applications from doctors in the first year. The courts reached a decision in 64,499 of those cases; 56,244 were in favor of sterilization. Estimates for the number of involuntary sterilizations during the whole of the Third Reich range from 300,000 to 400,000.
In October 1939 Hitler signed a "euthanasia decree" backdated to 1 September 1939 that authorized Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, the chief of Hitler's Chancellery, and Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician, to carry out a program of involuntary "euthanasia". After the war this program came to be known as Aktion T4, named after Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, where the various organizations involved were headquartered. T4 was mainly directed at adults, but the "euthanasia" of children was also carried out. Between 1939 and 1941, 80,000 to 100,000 mentally ill adults in institutions were killed, as were 5,000 children and 1,000 Jews, also in institutions. In addition there were specialized killing centers, where the deaths were estimated at 20,000, according to Georg Renno, the deputy director of Schloss Hartheim, one of the "euthanasia" centers, or 400,000, according to Frank Zeireis, the commandant of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Overall, the number of mentally and physically handicapped murdered was about 150,000.
Although not ordered to take part, psychiatrists and many psychiatric institutions were involved in the planning and carrying out of Aktion T4 at every stage. After protests from the German Catholic and Protestant churches, Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program in August 1941, although the disabled and mentally ill continued to be killed until the end of the war. The medical community regularly received bodies and body parts for research. University of Tübingen received 1,077 bodies from executions between 1933 and 1945. The neuroscientist Julius Hallervorden received 697 brains from one hospital between 1940 and 1944: "I accepted these brains of course. Where they came from and how they came to me was really none of my business."
Nuremberg Laws, Jewish emigration
On 15 September 1935, the Reichstag passed the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, known as the Nuremberg Laws. The former said that only those of "German or kindred blood" could be citizens. Anyone with three or more Jewish grandparents was classified as a Jew. The second law said: "Marriages between Jews and subjects of the state of German or related blood are forbidden." Sexual relationships between them were also criminalized; Jews were not allowed to employ German women under the age of 45 in their homes. The laws referred to Jews but applied equally to the Roma and black Germans. Although other European countries—Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Vichy France—passed similar legislation, Gerlach notes that "Nazi Germany adopted more nationwide anti-Jewish laws and regulations (about 1,500) than any other state."
By the end of 1934, 50,000 German Jews had left Germany, and by the end of 1938, approximately half the German Jewish population had left, among them the conductor Bruno Walter, who fled after being told that the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic would be burned down if he conducted a concert there. Albert Einstein, who was in the United States when Hitler came to power, never returned to Germany; he was expelled from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Prussian Academy of Sciences and his citizenship was revoked. Other Jewish scientists, including Gustav Hertz, lost their teaching positions and left the country.
On 12 March 1938, Germany annexed Austria. Austrian Nazis broke into Jewish shops, stole from Jewish homes and businesses, and forced Jews to perform humiliating acts such as scrubbing the streets or cleaning toilets. Jewish businesses were "Aryanized", and all the legal restrictions on Jews in Germany were imposed. In August that year, Adolf Eichmann was put in charge of the Central Agency for Jewish Emigration in Vienna (Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung in Wien). About 100,000 Austrian Jews had left the country by May 1939, including Sigmund Freud and his family, who moved to London. The Évian Conference was held in France in July 1938 by 32 countries, as an attempt to help the increased refugees from Germany, but aside from establishing the largely ineffectual Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, little was accomplished and most countries participating did not increase the number of refugees they would accept.
On 7 November 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a Polish Jew, shot the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in the German Embassy in Paris, in retaliation for the expulsion of his parents and siblings from Germany.[k] When vom Rath died on 9 November, the government used his death as a pretext to instigate a pogrom against the Jews. The government claimed it was spontaneous, but in fact it had been ordered and planned by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, although with no clear goals, according to David Cesarani. The result, he writes, was "murder, rape, looting, destruction of property, and terror on an unprecedented scale".
Known as Kristallnacht (or "Night of Broken Glass"), the attacks on 9–10 November 1938 were partly carried out by the SS and SA, but ordinary Germans joined in; in some areas, the violence began before the SS or SA arrived. Over 7,500 Jewish shops (out of 9,000) were looted and attacked, and over 1,000 synagogues damaged or destroyed. Groups of Jews were forced by the crowd to watch their synagogues burn; in Bensheim they were made to dance around it, and in Laupheim to kneel before it. At least 90 Jews died. The damage was estimated at 39 million Reichmarks. Cesarani writes that "[t]he extent of the desolation stunned the population and rocked the regime." It also shocked the rest of the world. The Times of London wrote on 11 November 1938: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults upon defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday. Either the German authorities were a party to this outbreak or their powers over public order and a hooligan minority are not what they are proudly claimed to be."
Between 9 and 16 November, 30,000 Jews were sent to the Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. Many were released within weeks; by early 1939, 2,000 remained in the camps. German Jewry was held collectively responsible for restitution of the damage; they also had to pay an "atonement tax" of over a billion Reichmarks. Insurance payments for damage to their property were confiscated by the government. A decree on 12 November 1938 barred Jews from most remaining occupations. Kristallnacht marked the end of any sort of public Jewish activity and culture, and Jews stepped up their efforts to leave the country.
Before World War II, Germany considered mass deportation from Europe of German, and later European, Jewry. Among the areas considered for possible resettlement were British Palestine and, after the war began, French Madagascar, Siberia, and two reservations in Poland.[l] Palestine was the only location to which any German resettlement plan produced results, via the Haavara Agreement between the Zionist Federation of Germany and the German government. Between November 1933 and December 1939, the agreement resulted in the emigration of about 53,000 German Jews, who were allowed to transfer RM 100 million of their assets to Palestine by buying German goods, in violation of the Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott of 1933.
World War II
Invasion of Poland
When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, triggering a declaration of war from France and the UK, it gained control of an additional two million Jews. The rest of Poland, with a pre-war population of 3.3–3.5 million Jews, was occupied by the Soviet Union, which invaded from the east on 17 September 1939. The Germans began sending Jews from territories they had recently annexed (Austria, Czechoslovakia, and western Poland) to the central section of Poland, which they called the General Government. There, the Jews were concentrated in ghettos in major cities, chosen for their railway lines to facilitate later deportation. Food was restricted, hygiene deteriorated, and residents were often subjected to forced labor. According to Jeremy Black, 2,000 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were starving to death every month by June 1941, and by August the death toll had more than doubled. At least half a million Jews died of starvation, disease, and poor living conditions.
Despite this, Black writes, the ghettos had not been intended in 1939 as a step towards the extermination of the Jews but were part of a policy of containment before expulsion and resettlement. The Germans planned to set up a Jewish reservation in southeast Poland around the transit camp in Nisko, but the "Nisko plan" failed, in part because it was opposed by Hans Frank, the new Governor-General of the General Government area. In mid-October 1940 the idea of a Jewish reservation was revived, this time in Lublin, because of the influx of Volksdeutsche into the Warthegau. Resettlement continued until January 1941 under SS officer Odilo Globocnik, but further plans for the Lublin reservation failed for logistical and political reasons.
There had been anti-Jewish pogroms in Poland before the war, including in around 100 towns between 1935 and 1937, and again in 1938. In June and July 1941, during the Lviv pogroms in Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine), around 6,000 Polish Jews were murdered in the streets by the Ukrainian People's Militia and local people.[m] Another 2,500–3,500 Jews died in mass shootings by Einsatzgruppe C. During the Jedwabne pogrom on 10 July 1941, a group of Poles in Jedwabne killed the town's Jewish community, many of whom were burned alive in a barn. The attack may have been engineered by the German Security Police. A long debate about the murders was triggered in 2001 by the publication of Jan T. Gross's book Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland.
Invasion of Norway and Denmark
Germany invaded Norway and Denmark on 9 April 1940, during Operation Weserübung. Denmark was overrun so quickly that there was no time for a resistance to form. Consequently, the Danish government stayed in power and the Germans found it easier to work through it. Because of this, few measures were taken against the Danish Jews before 1942. By June 1940 Norway was completely occupied. In late 1940, the country's 1,800 Jews were banned from certain occupations, and in 1941 all Jews had to register their property with the government. On 26 November 1942, 532 Jews were taken by police officers, at four o'clock in the morning, to Oslo harbor, where they boarded a German ship. From Germany they were sent by freight train to Auschwitz. According to Dan Stone, only nine survived the war.
Invasion of France and the Low Countries
In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. After Belgium's surrender, the country was ruled by a German military governor, Alexander von Falkenhausen, who enacted anti-Jewish measures against its 90,000 Jews, many of them refugees from Germany or Eastern Europe. In the Netherlands, the Germans installed Arthur Seyss-Inquart as Reichskommissar, who began to persecute the country's 140,000 Jews. Jews were forced out of their jobs and had to register with the government. In February 1941, non-Jewish Dutch citizens staged a strike in protest that was quickly crushed. From July 1942, over 107,000 Dutch Jews were deported; only 5,000 survived the war. Most were sent to Auschwitz; the first transport of 1,135 Jews left Holland for Auschwitz on 15 July 1942. Between 2 March and 20 July 1943, 34,313 Jews were sent in 19 transports to the Sobibór extermination camp, where all but 18 are thought to have been gassed on arrival.
France had approximately 300,000 Jews, divided between the German-occupied north and the unoccupied collaborationist southern areas in Vichy France (named after the town Vichy). The occupied regions were under the control of a military governor, and there, anti-Jewish measures were not enacted as quickly as they were in the Vichy-controlled areas. In July 1940, the Jews in the parts of Alsace-Lorraine that had been annexed to Germany were expelled into Vichy France. Vichy France's government implemented anti-Jewish measures in French Algeria and the two French Protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco. Tunisia had 85,000 Jews when the Germans and Italians arrived in November 1942; an estimated 5,000 Jews were subjected to forced labor.
The fall of France gave rise to the Madagascar Plan in the summer of 1940, when French Madagascar in Southeast Africa became the focus of discussions about deporting Jews from Europe; it was thought that the area's harsh living conditions would hasten deaths. Several German leaders had discussed the idea in 1938, and Adolf Eichmann's office was ordered to carry out resettlement planning, but no evidence of this exists until after the defeat of France in June 1940. Peter Longerich writes that it was "perfectly clear that behind this project lay the intention of bringing about the physical annihiliation of the Jews under German rule ... an intention that appropriate 'good behaviour' from the United States might cause to be revised". But the inability to defeat Britain prevented the movement of Jews across the seas, and the end of the plan was announced in February 1942.
Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece
Yugoslavia and Greece were invaded in April 1941 and surrendered before the end of the month. Germany and Italy divided Greece into occupation zones but did not eliminate it as a country. Yugoslavia, home to around 80,000 Jews, was dismembered; regions in the north were annexed by Germany and regions along the coast made part of Italy. The rest of the country was divided into the Independent State of Croatia, nominally an ally of Germany, and Serbia, which was governed by a combination of military and police administrators. According to historian Jeremy Black, Serbia was declared free of Jews in August 1942. Croatia's ruling party, the Ustashe, killed the majority of the country's Jews, and killed or expelled from the area local Orthodox Christian Serbs and Muslims. Jews and Serbs alike were "hacked to death and burned in barns", according to Black. One difference between the Germans and Croatians was that the Ustashe allowed its Jewish and Serbian victims to convert to Catholicism so they could escape death.
Invasion of the Soviet Union
Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, a day Timothy Snyder calls "one of the most significant days in the history of Europe ... the beginning of a calamity that defies description". For Jürgen Matthäus, the invasion was "a quantum leap toward the Holocaust". German propaganda portrayed the conflict as an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and as a racial war between the Germans and the Jewish, Romani, and Slavic Untermenschen ("sub-humans"). David Cesarani writes that the war was driven primarily by the need for resources: agricultural land to feed Germany, natural resources for German industry, and control over Europe's largest oil fields. But precisely because of the Soviet Union's vast resources, "[v]ictory would have to be swift". Between early fall 1941 and late spring 1942, according to Matthäus, 2 million of the 3.5 million Soviet soldiers captured by the Wehrmacht (Germany's armed forces) had been executed or had died of neglect and abuse. By 1944 the Soviet death toll was at least 20 million.
Einsatzgruppen, mass shootings
As German troops advanced, the mass shooting of "anti-German elements" was assigned to SS formations called Einsatzgruppen ("task forces") under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA or Reich Security Head Office. Most of the Einsatzgruppen commanders were professionals; Snyder writes that 15 of the 20 leaders had PhDs. Their instruction was to deal with "all anti-German elements in hostile country behind the troops in combat", and to supply situation reports to the RSHA on the local political and economic situation. The point of the attacks was to destroy local Communist Party leadership and therefore the state, although in fact anyone of importance had already left.[n] Cesarani writes that the killing of Jews at this point was a "subset" of those activities.
The Einsatzgruppen had been used in Poland in 1939 to murder Jews and the intelligentsia, but they were organized in the Soviet territories on a much larger scale. Einsatzgruppe A entered the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) with Army Group North; Einsatzgruppe B, Belarus with Army Group Center; Einsatzgruppe C, the Ukraine with Army Group South; and Einsatzgruppe D went further south into Ukraine with the 11th Army. Each Einsatzgruppe numbered around 600–1,000 men, with a few women in administrative roles. Travelling with nine German Order Police battalions and three units of the Waffen-SS, the Einsatzgruppen and their local collaborators had murdered almost 500,000 people by the winter of 1941–1942. By the end of the war, they had killed around two million, including about 1.3 million Jews and up to a quarter of a million Roma. According to Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt, the German army at first lamented the shootings, then became active collaborators, which included taking part in shootings themselves. To justify their troops' involvement, Wehrmacht commanders would describe the victims as "hostages", "bandits" and "partisans". Local populations helped identify and round up Jews and actively participated in the killing. In Lithuania, Latvia and western Ukraine, locals were deeply involved; Latvian and Lithuanian units participated in the murder of Jews in Belarus, and in the south, Ukrainians killed about 24,000 Jews. Some Ukrainians went to Poland to serve as guards in the camps.
Toward the Holocaust
Typically, victims would undress and give up their valuables before lining up beside a ditch to be shot, or they would be forced to climb into the ditch, lie on a lower layer of corpses, and wait to be killed. The latter was known as Sardinenpackung ("packing sardines"), a method reportedly started by SS officer Friedrich Jeckeln.
At first the Einsatzgruppen targeted the male Jewish intelligentsia, defined as male Jews aged 15–60 who had worked for the state and in certain professions (the commandos would describe them as "Bolshevist functionaries" and similiar), but from August 1941 they began to murder women and children too. Christopher Browning reports that on 1 August, the SS Cavalry Brigade passed an order to its units: "Explicit order by RF-SS [Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-SS]. All Jews must be shot. Drive the female Jews into the swamps." In a speech on 6 October 1943 to party leaders, Heinrich Himmler said he had ordered that women and children be shot, but Peter Longerich and Christian Gerlach write that the murder of women and children began at different times in different areas, suggesting local influence. Historians agree that there was a "gradual radicalization" between the spring and autumn of 1941 of what Longerich calls Germany's Judenpolitik, but they disagree about whether a decision—Führerentscheidung (Führer's decision)—to murder the European Jews was made at this point. Longerich argues, in general, that the gradual increase in brutality and numbers killed between July and September 1941 suggests there was "no particular order"; instead it was a question of "a process of increasingly radical interpretations of orders".
Notable massacres include the July 1941 Ponary massacre near Vilnius (Soviet Lithuania), in which Einsatgruppe B and Lithuanian collaborators shot 72,000 Jews and 8,000 non-Jewish Lithuanians and Poles. In the Kamianets-Podilskyi massacre (Soviet Ukraine), nearly 24,000 Jews were killed between 27 and 30 August 1941. The largest massacre was at a ravine called Babi Yar outside Kiev (also Soviet Ukraine), where 33,771 Jews were killed on 29–30 September 1941. Einsatzgruppe C and the Order Police, assisted by Ukrainian militia, carried out the killings, while the German 6th Army helped round up and transport the victims to be shot. The Germans continued to use the ravine for mass killings throughout the war; the total killed there could be as high as 100,000.
According to Dan Stone, the murder of Jews in Romania was "essentially an independent undertaking". Romania implemented anti-Jewish measures in May and June 1940 as part of its efforts towards an alliance with Germany. Jews were forced from government service, pogroms were carried out, and by March 1941 all Jews had lost their jobs and had their property confiscated. In June 1941 Romania joined Germany in its invasion of the Soviet Union.
Thousands of Jews were killed in January and June 1941 in the Bucharest pogrom and Iaşi pogrom. According to a 2004 report by Tuvia Friling and others, up to 14,850 Jews died during the Iaşi pogrom. The Romanian military killed up to 25,000 Jews during the Odessa massacre between 18 October 1941 and March 1942, assisted by gendarmes and the police. Mihai Antonescu, Romania's deputy prime minister, was reported to have said it was "the most favorable moment in our history" to solve the "Jewish problem". In July 1941 he said it was time for "total ethnic purification, for a revision of national life, and for purging our race of all those elements which are foreign to its soul, which have grown like mistletoes and darken our future". Romania set up concentration camps under its control in Transnistria, reportedly extremely brutal, where 154,000–170,000 Jews were deported from 1941 to 1943.
Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary
Bulgaria introduced anti-Jewish measures between 1940 and 1943, which included a curfew, the requirement to wear a yellow star, restrictions on owning telephones or radios, the banning of mixed marriages (except for Jews who had converted to Christianity), and the registration of property. It annexed Thrace and Macedonia, and in February 1943 agreed to a demand from Germany that it deport 20,000 Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp. All 11,000 Jews from the annexed territories were sent to their deaths, and plans were made to deport an additional 6,000–8,000 Bulgarian Jews from Sofia to meet the quota. When the plans became public, the Orthodox Church and many Bulgarians protested, and King Boris III canceled the deportation of Jews native to Bulgaria. Instead, they were expelled to provincial areas of the country.
Stone writes that Slovakia, led by Roman Catholic priest Jozef Tiso (president of the Slovak State, 1939–1945), was "one of the most loyal of the collaborationist regimes". It deported 7,500 Jews in 1938 on its own initiative; introduced anti-Jewish measures in 1940; and by the autumn of 1942 had deported around 60,000 Jews to ghettos and concentration camps in Poland. Another 2,396 were deported and 2,257 killed that autumn during an uprising, and 13,500 were deported between October 1944 and March 1945. According to Stone, "the Holocaust in Slovakia was far more than a German project, even if it was carried out in the context of a 'puppet' state."
Although Hungary expelled Jews who were not citizens from its newly annexed lands in 1941, it did not deport most of its Jews until the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944. Between 15 May and early July 1944, 437,000 Jews were deported from Hungary, mostly to Auschwitz, where most of them were gassed; there were four transports a day, each carrying 3,000 people. In Budapest in October and November 1944, the Hungarian Arrow Cross forced 50,000 Jews to march to the Austrian border as part of a deal with Germany to supply forced labor. So many died that the marches were stopped.
Italy, Finland, Japan
Italy introduced some antisemitic measures, but there was less antisemitism there than in Germany, and Italian-occupied countries were generally safer for Jews than those occupied by Germany. There were no deportations of Italian Jews to Germany while Italy remained an ally. In some areas, the Italian authorities even tried to protect Jews, such as in the Croatian areas of the Balkans. But while Italian forces in Russia were not as vicious towards Jews as the Germans, they did not try to stop German atrocities either. Several forced labor camps for Jews were established in Italian-controlled Libya; almost 2,600 Libyan Jews were sent to camps, where 562 died. In Finland, the government was pressured in 1942 to hand over its 150–200 non-Finnish Jews to Germany. After opposition from both the government and public, eight non-Finnish Jews were deported in late 1942; only one survived the war. Japan had little antisemitism in its society and did not persecute Jews in most of the territories it controlled. Jews in Shanghai were confined, but despite German pressure they were not killed.
As the murder continued in Russia, Himmler and his subordinates in the field feared that the nature of the mass shootings was causing psychological problems for the SS. The Germans began to search for more efficient methods. In December 1939 and January 1940, experimental gas vans equipped with gas cylinders and a sealed compartment had been used to kill the disabled and mentally-ill in occupied Poland. In December 1941, similar vans, using exhaust fumes rather than bottled gas, were introduced into the Chełmno extermination camp, and some were used in the occupied Soviet Union, for example in smaller clearing actions in the Minsk ghetto. They also were used in Yugoslavia. Apparently, like the mass shootings, the vans also caused emotional problems for the operators, and the small number of victims the vans could handle made them ineffective.
After invading Poland, the Germans established ghettos in the incorporated territories and General Government to confine Jews. The ghettos were closed off from the outside world at different times and for different reasons. For example, the Łódź ghetto was closed in April 1940, to force the Jews inside to give up money and valuables; the Warsaw ghetto was closed for health considerations (for the people outside, not inside, the ghetto), but this did not happen until November 1940; and the Kraków ghetto was not established until March 1941. The Warsaw Ghetto contained 380,000 people and was the largest ghetto in Poland; the Łódź Ghetto was the second largest, holding between 160,000 to 223,000. Because of the long drawn-out process of establishing ghettos, it is unlikely that they were originally considered part of a systematic attempt to eliminate Jews completely.
The Germans required each ghetto to be run by a Judenrat, or Jewish council. Councils were responsible for a ghetto's day-to-day operations, including distributing food, water, heat, medical care, and shelter. The Germans also required councils to confiscate property, organize forced labor, and, finally, facilitate deportations to extermination camps. The councils' basic strategy was one of trying to minimize losses, by cooperating with German authorities, bribing officials, and petitioning for better conditions or clemency.
Eventually, the Germans ordered the councils to compile lists of names of deportees to be sent for "resettlement". Although most ghetto councils complied with these orders, many councils tried to send the least useful workers or those unable to work. Leaders who refused these orders were shot. Some individuals or even complete councils committed suicide rather than cooperate with the deportations. Others, like Chaim Rumkowski, who became the "dedicated autocrat" of Łódź, argued that their responsibility was to save the Jews who could be saved and that therefore others had to be sacrificed. The councils' actions in facilitating Germany's persecution and murder of ghetto inhabitants was important to the Germans. When cooperation crumbled, as happened in the Warsaw ghetto after the Jewish Combat Organisation displaced the council's authority, the Germans lost control.
Ghettos were intended to be temporary until the Jews were deported to other locations, which never happened. Instead, the inhabitants were sent to extermination camps. The ghettos were, in effect, immensely crowded prisons serving as instruments of "slow, passive murder." Though the Warsaw Ghetto contained 30% of Warsaw's population, it occupied only 2.5% of the city's area, averaging over 9 people per room. Between 1940 and 1942, starvation and disease, especially typhoid, killed many in the ghettos. Over 43,000 Warsaw ghetto residents, or one in ten of the total population, died in 1941; in Theresienstadt, more than half the residents died in 1942.
Himmler ordered the closure of ghettos in Poland in mid-July 1942; most inhabitants were sent to extermination camps. Those Jews needed for war production would be confined in concentration camps. The deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto began on 22 July; over the almost two months of the Aktion, until 12 September, the population was reduced from 350,000 to 65,000. Those deported were transported in freight trains to the Treblinka extermination camp. Similar deportations happened in other ghettos, with many ghettos totally emptied. The first ghetto uprisings occurred in mid-1942 in small community ghettos. Although there were armed resistance attempts in both the larger and smaller ghettos in 1943, in every case they failed against the overwhelming German military force, and the remaining Jews were either killed or deported to the death camps.
Concentration and labor camps
Germany first used concentration camps as places of unlawful incarceration of political opponents and other "enemies of the state". Large numbers of Jews were not sent there until after Kristallnacht in November 1938. Although death rates were high, the camps were not designed as killing centers. After war broke out in 1939, new camps were established, some outside Germany in occupied Europe. In January 1945, the SS reports had over 700,000 prisoners in their control, of which close to half had died by the end of May 1945, according to most historians. Most wartime prisoners of the camps were not Germans but belonged to countries under German occupation.
After 1942, the economic functions of the camps, previously secondary to their penal and terror functions, came to the fore. Forced labor of camp prisoners became commonplace. The guards became much more brutal, and the death rate increased as the guards not only beat and starved prisoners, but killed them more frequently. Vernichtung durch Arbeit ("extermination through labor") was a policy; camp inmates would literally be worked to death, or to physical exhaustion, at which point they would be gassed or shot. The Germans estimated the average prisoner's lifespan in a concentration camp at three months, as a result of lack of food and clothing, constant epidemics, and frequent punishments for the most minor transgressions. The shifts were long and often involved exposure to dangerous materials.
Transportation to and between camps was often carried out in closed freight cars with littie air or water, long delays and prisoners packed tightly. In mid-1942 work camps began requiring newly arrived prisoners to be placed in quarantine for four weeks. Prisoners wore colored triangles on their uniforms, the color denoting the reason for their incarceration. Red signified a political prisoner, Jehovah's Witnesses had purple triangles, "asocials" and criminals wore black and green, and gay men wore pink. Jews wore two yellow triangles, one over another to form a six-pointed star. In Auschwitz, prisoners were tattooed with an identification number on arrival.
On 7 December 1941, Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, an American naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii, killing 2,403 Americans. The following day, the United States declared war on Japan, and on 11 December, Germany declared war on the United States. According to Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt, Hitler had trusted American Jews, whom he assumed were all powerful, to keep the United States out of the war in the interests of German Jews. When America declared war, he blamed the Jews. Nearly three years earlier, on 30 January 1939, he had told the Reichstag: "if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will be not the Bolshevising of the earth, and thus a victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"
In the view of Christian Gerlach, Hitler "announced his decision in principle" to annihilate the Jews on or around 12 December 1941. On that day, Hitler gave a speech in his private apartment at the Reich Chancellery to senior Nazi Party leaders: the Reichsleiter, the most senior, and the Gauleiter, the regional leaders. The following day, Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, noted in his diary: "Regarding the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. We cannot be sentimental about it."[q] Christopher Browning argues that Hitler gave no order during the meeting, but he made clear that his 1939 warning to the Jews "had to be taken utterly literally", and he signaled to party leaders that they could give appropriate orders to others. Similarly, Peter Longerich interprets Hitler's 12 December speech as an appeal to radicalize a policy that was already being executed.
Four days after Hitler's meeting with party leaders, Hans Frank, Governor-General of the General Government area of occupied Poland, who was at the meeting, spoke to district governors: "We must put an end to the Jews, that I want to say quite openly ... if the Jewish tribe were to survive the war in Europe, while we had sacrificed our best blood for Europe's preservation, then this war would be only a partial success. Thus vis-a-vis the Jews I will in principle proceed only on the assumption that they will disappear. They must go."[r] On 18 December Hitler and Himmler held a meeting to which Himmler referred in his appointment book as "Juden frage | als Partisanen auszurotten" ("Jewish question / to be exterminated as partisans"). Browning interprets this as a meeting to discuss how to justify and speak about the killing.
SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Head Office, convened what became known as the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942 at Am Großen Wannsee 56–58, a villa in Berlin's Wannsee suburb. The meeting had been scheduled for 9 December 1941, and invitations had been sent on 29 November, but it had been postponed indefinitely. A month later, invitations were sent out again, this time for 20 January.
The 15 men present at Wannsee included Adolf Eichmann (head of Jewish affairs for the RSHA and the man who organized the deportation of Jews), Heinrich Müller (head of the Gestapo), and other SS and party leaders and department heads.[s] Browning writes that eight of the 15 had doctorates: "Thus it was not a dimwitted crowd unable to grasp what was going to be said to them." Thirty copies of the minutes, known as the Wannsee Protocol, were made. Copy no. 16 was found by American prosecutors in March 1947 in a German Foreign Office folder. Written by Eichmann and stamped "Top Secret", the minutes were written in "euphemistic language" on Heydrich's instructions, according to Eichmann's later testimony.
The conference had several purposes. Discussing plans for a "final solution to the Jewish question" ("Endlösung der Judenfrage"), and a "final solution to the Jewish question in Europe" ("Endlösung der europäischen Judenfrage"), it was intended to share information and responsibility, coordinate efforts and policies ("Parallelisierung der Linienführung"), and ensure that authority rested with Heydrich. There was also discussion about whether to include the German Mischlinge (half-Jews). Heydrich told the meeting: "Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Fuehrer gives the appropriate approval in advance." He continued:
These evacuations were regarded as provisional or "temporary solutions" ("Ausweichmöglichkeiten").[t] The final solution would encompass the 11 million Jews living not only in territories controlled by Germany, but elsewhere in Europe and adjacent territories, such as Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, and Hungary, "dependent on military developments". There was little doubt what the final solution was, writes Peter Longerich: "the Jews were to be annihilated by a combination of forced labour and mass murder".
At the end of 1941, the Germans began building what became extermination camps in occupied Poland. By the spring or summer of 1942, gas chambers had been added to all but one:
Chełmno, with gas vans only, had its roots in the Aktion T4 euthanasia program. Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka are known as the Operation Reinhard camps, named after the operation to murder the Jews in the General Government area of occupied Poland. Between March 1942 and November 1943, around 1,526,500 Jews were gassed in the three Operation Reinhard camps by carbon monoxide produced by diesel exhaust.
Other camps sometimes described as extermination camps include Maly Trostinets, a camp and extermination site near Minsk in the occupied Soviet Union, where 65,000 are thought to have died, mostly by shooting but also in gas vans; Mauthausen in Austria; Stutthof, near Gdańsk, Poland; and Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück in Germany. The camps in Austria, Germany and Poland all had gas chambers to kill inmates deemed unable to work.
Christian Gerlach writes that over three million Jews were murdered in 1942, the year that "marked the peak" of the mass murder. At least 1.4 million of these were in the General Government area of Poland. Victims usually arrived at the extermination camps by freight train. Almost all arrivals at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka were sent directly to the gas chambers, with individuals occasionally selected to replace dead workers. At Auschwitz, about 20 percent of Jews were selected to work. Those selected for death at all camps were told to undress and hand their valuables to camp workers. They were then herded naked into the gas chambers. To prevent panic, they were told the gas chambers were showers or delousing chambers. The procedure at Chełmno was slightly different. Victims there were placed in a mobile gas van and asphyxiated while being driven to prepared burial pits in the nearby forests. There the corpses were unloaded and buried.
At Auschwitz, after the chambers were filled, the doors were shut and pellets of Zyklon-B were dropped into the chambers through vents, releasing toxic prussic acid. Those inside died within 20 minutes; the speed of death depended on how close the inmate was standing to a gas vent, according to the commandant Rudolf Höss, who estimated that about one-third of the victims died immediately. Johann Kremer, an SS doctor who oversaw the gassings, testified that: "Shouting and screaming of the victims could be heard through the opening and it was clear that they fought for their lives." The gas was then pumped out, and the Sonderkommando—work groups of mostly Jewish prisoners—carried out the bodies, extracted gold fillings, cut off women's hair, and removed jewellery, artificial limbs and glasses. At Auschwitz, the bodies were at first buried in deep pits and covered with lime, but between September and November 1942, on the orders of Himmler, 100,000 bodies were dug up and burned. In early 1943, new gas chambers and crematoria were built to accommodate the numbers.
At Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, the victims were killed in gas chambers by the exhaust fumes of stationary diesel engines. Gold fillings were pulled from the corpses before burial, but the women's hair was cut before death. At Treblinka, to calm the victims, the arrival platform was made to look like a train station, complete with fake clock. Majdanek used Zyklon-B gas in its gas chambers. Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka were relatively small compared to Auschwitz. Most of the victims at these camps were buried in pits at first. Sobibór and Bełżec began exhuming and burning bodies in late 1942, to hide the evidence, as did Treblinka in March 1943. The bodies were burned in open fire pits and the remaining bones crushed into powder.
There was almost no resistance in the ghettos in Poland until the end of 1942, according to Peter Longerich. Raul Hilberg accounted for this by evoking the history of Jewish persecution: appealing to oppressors and complying with orders might avoid inflaming the situation until the onslaught abated. Timothy Snyder noted that it was only during the three months after the deportations of July–September 1942 that agreement on the need for armed resistance was reached.
Several resistance groups were formed, such as the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) and Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) in the Warsaw Ghetto and the United Partisan Organization in Vilna. Over 100 revolts and uprisings occurred in at least 19 ghettos and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The best known is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943, when the Germans arrived to send the remaining inhabitants to extermination camps. They had to retreat on 19 April from the ŻOB and ŻZW fighters, and later that day returned under the command of SS General Jürgen Stroop (author of the Stroop Report about the uprising). Around 1,000 poorly armed fighters held the SS at bay for four weeks. According to Polish and Jewish accounts, hundreds or thousands of Germans were killed, while the Germans reported 16 dead. The Germans reported 14,000 Jews killed—7000 during the fighting and 7000 sent to Treblinka—and between 53,000 and 56,000 deported. Gwardia Ludowa, a Polish resistance newspaper, wrote in May 1943: "From behind the screen of smoke and fire, in which the ranks of fighting Jewish partisans are dying, the legend of the exceptional fighting qualities of the Germans is being undermined. How infamous 'victory' appears when it is won only by burning and pulling down a whole district of the capital ... The fighting Jews have won for us what is most important: the truth about the weakness of the Germans."
During a revolt in Treblinka on 2 August 1943, inmates killed five or six guards and set fire to camp buildings; several managed to escape. In the Białystok Ghetto on 16 August 1943, Jewish insurgents fought for five days when the Germans announced mass deportations. On 14 October 1943, Jewish prisoners in Sobibór, including Jewish-Soviet prisoners of war, attempted an escape, killing 11 SS officers and a couple of Ukrainian camp guards. Around 300 escaped, but 100 were recaptured and shot. On 7 October 1944, 300 Jewish members of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, who learned they were about to be killed, attacked their guards and blew up crematorium IV. Three SS officers were killed, one of whom was stuffed into an oven, as was a German kapo. None of the Sonderkommando rebels survived the uprising.
Estimates of Jewish participation in partisan units throughout Europe range from 20,000 to 100,000. In the occupied Polish and Soviet territories, thousands of Jews fled into the swamps or forests and joined the partisans, although the partisan movements did not always welcome them. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 joined the Soviet partisan movement. One of the famous Jewish groups was the Bielski partisans in Belarus, led by the Bielski brothers. Jews also joined Polish forces, including the Home Army. According to Timothy Snyder, "more Jews fought in the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944 than in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943".[v]
Polish resistance, flow of information about the mass murder
The Polish government-in-exile in London learned about the extermination camps from the Polish leadership in Warsaw, who from 1940 "received a continual flow of information about Auschwitz", according to historian Michael Fleming. This was in large measure thanks to Captain Witold Pilecki of the Polish Home Army who, after allowing himself to be arrested in Warsaw, spent 945 days in Auschwitz from September 1940 until April 1943 organizing the resistance movement inside the camp.
On 6 January 1942, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, sent out diplomatic notes about German atrocities. The notes were based on reports about bodies surfacing from poorly covered graves in pits and quarries, as well as mass graves found in areas the Red Army had liberated, and on witness reports from German-occupied areas. The following month, Szlama Ber Winer escaped from the Chełmno concentration camp in Poland, and passed detailed information about it to the Oneg Shabbat group in the Warsaw Ghetto. His report, known by his pseudonym as the Grojanowski Report, had reached London by June 1942. Also in 1942, Jan Karski sent information to the Allies after being smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto twice. On 27 April 1942, Vyacheslav Molotov sent out another note about atrocities. In late July or early August 1942, Polish leaders learned about the mass killings taking place inside Auschwitz. The Polish Interior Ministry prepared a report, Sprawozdanie 6/42, which said at the end:
Sprawozdanie 6/42 was sent to Polish officials in London by courier and had reached them by 12 November 1942, when it was translated into English and added to another report, "Report on Conditions in Poland". Dated 27 November, this was forwarded to the Polish Embassy in the United States. On 10 December 1942, the Polish Foreign Affairs Minister, Edward Raczyński, addressed the fledgling United Nations on the killings; the address was distributed with the title The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland. He told them about the use of poison gas; about Treblinka, Bełżec and Sobibór; that the Polish underground had referred to them as extermination camps; and that tens of thousands of Jews had been killed in Bełżec in March and April 1942. One in three Jews in Poland were already dead, he estimated, from a population of 3,130,000. Raczyński's address was covered by the New York Times and The Times of London. Winston Churchill received it, and Anthony Eden presented it to the British cabinet. On 17 December 1942, 11 Allies issued the Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations condemning the "bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination".
The British and American governments were reluctant to publicize the intelligence they had received. A BBC Hungarian Service memo, written by Carlile Macartney, a BBC broadcaster and senior Foreign Office adviser on Hungary, stated in 1942: "We shouldn't mention the Jews at all." The British government's view was that the Hungarian people's antisemitism would make them distrust the Allies if their broadcasts focused on the Jews. The US government similarly feared turning the war into one about the Jews; antisemitism and isolationism were common in the US before its entry into the war. Although governments and the German public appear to have understood what was happening, it seems the Jews themselves did not. According to Saul Friedländer, "[t]estimonies left by Jews from all over occupied Europe indicate that, in contradistinction to vast segments of surrounding society, the victims did not understand what was ultimately in store for them." In Western Europe, he writes, Jewish communities seem to have failed to piece the information together, while in Eastern Europe, they could not accept that the stories they heard from elsewhere would end up applying to them too.
Climax, Holocaust in Hungary
The SS liquidated most of the Jewish ghettos of the General Government area of Poland in 1942–1943 and shipped their populations to the camps for extermination. The only exception was the Lodz Ghetto, which was not liquidated until mid-1944. About 42,000 Jews in the General Government were shot during Operation Harvest Festival (Aktion Erntefest) on 3–4 November 1943. At the same time, rail shipments were arriving regularly from western and southern Europe at the extermination camps. Shipments of Jews to the camps had priority on the German railways over anything but the army's needs, and continued even in the face of the increasingly dire military situation at the end of 1942. Army leaders and economic managers complained about this diversion of resources and the killing of skilled Jewish workers, but Nazi leaders rated ideological imperatives above economic considerations.
By 1943 it was evident to the armed forces leadership that Germany was losing the war. The mass murder continued nevertheless, reaching a "frenetic" pace in 1944. Auschwitz was gassing up to 6,000 Jews a day by spring that year. On 19 March 1944, Hitler ordered the military occupation of Hungary and dispatched Adolf Eichmann to Budapest to supervise the deportation of the country's Jews. From 22 March Jews were required to wear the yellow star; were forbidden from owning cars, bicycles, radios or telephones; and were later forced into ghettos. Between 15 May and 9 July, 437,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, almost all sent directly to the gas chambers.[w] A month before the deportations began, Eichmann offered through an intermediary, Joel Brand, to exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks and other goods from the Allies, which he said the Germans would undertake not to use on the Western front; Eichmann reportedly called the proposal "blood for goods". The British got wind of the proposal and scuppered it by leaking it to the press; The Times called it "a new level of fantasy and self-deception".
By mid-1944 Jewish communities within easy reach of the Nazi regime had largely been exterminated. On 5 May 1944 Himmler told Army officers that "the Jewish question has in general been solved in Germany and in the countries occupied by Germany". As the Soviet armed forces advanced, the camps in eastern Poland were closed down, and efforts were made to conceal what had happened. The gas chambers were dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, and the mass graves dug up and corpses cremated. From January to April 1945, the SS sent inmates westward on "death marches" to camps in Germany and Austria. In January 1945, the Germans held records of 714,000 inmates in concentration camps; by May, 250,000 (35 percent) had died during death marches. Already sick after months or years of violence and starvation, they were marched to train stations and transported for days at a time without food or shelter in open freight cars, then forced to march again at the other end to the new camp. Some went by truck or wagons; others were marched the entire distance to the new camp. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot.
The first major camp to be encountered by Allied troops, Majdanek, was discovered by the advancing Soviets, along with its gas chambers, on 25 July 1944. Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec were never liberated, but were destroyed by the Germans in 1943. Auschwitz was liberated, also by the Soviets, on 27 January 1945, where they found 7,000 inmates in the three main camps and 500 in subcamps. Buchenwald was liberated by the Americans on 11 April; Bergen-Belsen by the British on 15 April; Dachau by the Americans on 29 April; Ravensbrück by the Soviets on 30 April; and Mauthausen by the Americans on 5 May. The Red Cross took control of Theresienstadt on 3 May, days before the Soviets arrived.
The British 11th Armoured Division found around 60,000 prisoners (90 percent Jews) when they liberated Bergen-Belsen, as well as 13,000 unburied corpses; another 10,000 people died from typhus or malnutrition over the following weeks. The BBC's war correspondent Richard Dimbleby described the scenes that greeted him and the British Army at Belsen, in a report so graphic the BBC declined to broadcast it for four days, and did so, on 19 April, only after Dimbleby threatened to resign. He said he had "never seen British soldiers so moved to cold fury":
According to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, "[a]ll the serious research" confirms that between five and six million Jews died.[y] Early postwar calculations were 4.2 to 4.5 million from Gerald Reitlinger; 5.1 million from Raul Hilberg; and 5.95 million from Jacob Lestschinsky. In 1990 Yehuda Bauer and Robert Rozett estimated 5.59–5.86 million. In 1991 Wolfgang Benz suggested 5.29 to just over 6 million. The figures include over one million children.
The death camps in occupied Poland accounted for half the number of Jews killed. At Auschwitz the Jewish death toll was 960,000; Treblinka 870,000–925,000; Bełżec 434,000–600,000; Chełmno 152,000–320,000; Sobibór 170,000–250,000; and Majdanek 79,000.
The Jews killed represented around one third of world Jewry, and about two-thirds of European Jewry, based on an estimate of 9.7 million Jews in Europe at the start of the war. Much of the uncertainty stems from the lack of a reliable figure for the number of Jews in Europe in 1939, border changes that make double-counting of victims difficult to avoid, lack of accurate records from the perpetrators, and uncertainty about whether to include post-liberation deaths caused by the persecution.
Countries accepted refugees in low numbers after 1941.[z] Death rates were heavily dependent on the survival of European states to protect their Jewish citizens. In countries allied to Germany, the control over Jewish citizens was sometimes seen as a matter of sovereignty; the continuous presence of state and legal institutions prevented the Jewish communities' complete destruction. In occupied countries, the survival of the state was likewise correlated with lower Jewish death rates: 75 per cent of Jews died in the Netherlands, as did 99 per cent of Jews who were in Estonia when the Germans arrived—the Nazis declared Estonia Judenfrei in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference—while 75 per cent survived in France and 99