The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/wiesenthal.center/holocaust.faq


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| THE HOLOCAUST FAQ                                                   |
| 1933-1945                                                           |
| 36 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS                                            |
| Prepared by:                    Rev. Jan  1994                      |
| Simon Wiesenthal Center Library & Archives                          |
| 9760 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035-4792                       |
| Tel: (310) 553-9036 ext. 247 FAX: (310) 277-5558                    |
| E-mail: simonwie@class.org                                          |
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| This file distributed on the Internet by the Jewish Genealogical    |
| Society of Broward County, PO Box 17251, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33318.  |
| Bernard Kouchel                   |
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1.      When speaking about the "Holocaust," what time period are we
referring to?

Answer: The "Holocaust" refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when
Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945 (V-E Day), when the
war in Europe ended.

2. How many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?

Answer: While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Jewish
victims, statistics indicate that the total was over 5,860,000.  Six
million is the round figure accepted by most authorities.

3.  How many non-Jewish civilians were murdered during World War II?

Answer: While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number, the
recognized figure is approximately 5,000,000.  Among the  groups which
the Nazis and their collaborators murdered and persecuted were: Gypsies,
Serbs, Polish intelligentsia, resistance fighters from all the nations,
German opponents  of Nazism, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, habitual
criminals, and the "anti-social," e.g. beggars, vagrants, and hawkers.

4.  Which Jewish communities suffered losses during the Holocaust?

Answer: Every Jewish community in occupied Europe suffered losses during
the Holocaust.  The Jewish communities in North Africa were persecuted,
but the Jews in these countries were neither deported to the death
camps, nor were they systematically murdered.

5.      How many Jews were murdered in each country and what  percentage
of the pre-war Jewish population did they constitute?

Answer: (Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust)
  Austria          50,000    27.0%    Italy               7,680    17.3%
  Belgium          28,900    44.0%    Latvia             71,500    78.1%
  Bohemia/Moravia  78,150    66.1%    Lithuania         143,000    85.1%
  Bulgaria              0     0.0%    Luxembourg          1,950    55.7%
  Denmark              60     0.7%    Netherlands       100,000    71.4%
  Estonia           2,000    44.4%    Norway                762    44.8%
  Finland               7     0.3%    Poland          3,000,000    90.9%
  France           77,320    22.1%    Romania           287,000    47.1%
  Germany         141,500    25.0%    Slovakia           71,000    79.8%
  Greece           67,000    86.6%    Soviet Union    1,100,000    36.4%
  Hungary         569,000    69.0%    Yugoslavia         63,300    81.2%

6.      What is a mass murder camp? How many were there? Where were they
located?

Answer: A mass murder camp is a concentration camp with special
apparatus specifically designed for systematic murder.  Six such camps
existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor,
Treblinka.  All were located in Poland.

7.  What does the term  "Final Solution" mean and what is its origin?

Answer: The term "Final Solution" (Endlosung) refers to Germany's plan
to murder all the Jews of Europe.  The term was used at the Wannsee
Conference (Berlin; January  20, 1942) where German officials discussed
its implementation.

8.  When did the "Final Solution" actually begin?

Answer: While thousands of Jews were murdered by the Nazis or died as a
direct result of discriminatory measures instituted against Jews during
the initial years of the Third Reich, the  systematic murder of Jews did
not begin until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

9.  How did the Germans define who was Jewish?

Answer: On November 14, 1935, the Nazis issued the following  definition
of a Jew: Anyone with three Jewish grandparents; someone with two Jewish
grandparents who belonged to the Jewish community on September 15, 1935,
or joined thereafter; was married to a Jew or Jewess on September 15,
1935, or married one thereafter; was the offspring of a marriage or
extramarital  liaison with a Jew on or after September 15, 1935.

10.     How did the Germans treat those who had some Jewish blood but
were not  classified as Jews?

Answer: Those who were not classified as Jews but who had some Jewish
blood were categorized as Mischlinge (hybrids) and were divided into two
groups:

     Mischlinge of the first degree--those with two Jewish grandparents;
     Mischlinge of the second degree--those with one Jewish grandparent.

The Mischlinge were officially excluded from membership in the Nazi
Party and all Party organizations (e.g. SA, SS, etc.).  Although they
were drafted into the Germany Army, they could not attain the rank of
officers.  They were also barred from the civil service and from certain
professions. (Individual Mischlinge were, however, granted exemptions
under certain circumstances.) Nazi officials considered plans to
sterilize  Mischlinge, but this was never done.  During World War II,
first-degree Mischlinge, i ncarcerated in concentration camps, were
deported to death camps.

11.  What were the first measures taken by the Nazis against the Jews?

Answer: The first measures against the Jews included:

April 1, 1933: A boycott of Jewish shops and businesses by  the Nazis.

April 7, 1933: The law for the Re-establishment of the Civil Service
expelled all non-Aryans (defined on April 11, 1933 as anyone with a
Jewish parent or grandparent) from the civil service.  Initially,
exceptions were made for those working since August 1914; German
veterans of World War I; and, those who had lost a father or son
fighting for Germany or her allies in World War I.

April 7, 1933: The law regarding admission to the legal profession
prohibited the admission of lawyers of non-Aryan descent to the Bar. It
also denied non-Aryan members of the Bar the right to practice law.
(Exceptions were made in the cases noted above in the law regarding the
civil service.)  Similar laws were passed regarding Jewish law
assessors,  jurors, and commercial judges.

April 22, 1933: The decree regarding physicians' services  with the
national health plan denied reimbursement of expenses to those patients
who consulted non-Aryan doctors.  Jewish doctors who were war veterans
or had suffered from the war were excluded.

April 25, 1933: The law against the overcrowding of German schools
restricted Jewish enrollment in German high schools to 1.5% of the
student body.  In communities where they  constituted more than 5% of
the population, Jews were allowed to constitute up to 5% of the student
body.  Initially, the children of Jewish war veteranswere not considered
part of the quota.  A Jewish student was defined as a child with two
non-Aryan parents.

12.     Did the Nazis plan to murder the Jews from the beginning of
their regime?

Answer: This question is one of the most difficult to answer. While
Hitler made several references to killing Jews, both in his early
writings (Mein Kampf) and in various speeches during  the 1930s, it is
fairly certain that the Nazis had no operative plan for the systematic
annihilation of the Jews before 1941.  The decision on the systematic
murder of the Jews was  apparently made in the late winter or the early
spring of 1941 in conjunction with the decision to invade the  Soviet
Union.

13.     When was the first concentration camp established and who were
the first inmates?

Answer: The first concentration camp, Dachau, opened on March 22, 1933.
The camp's first inmates were primarily political prisoners (e.g.
Communists or Social Democrats); habitual criminals; homosexuals;
Jehovah's Witnesses; and "anti-socials" (beggars, vagrants, hawkers).
Others considered problematic by the Nazis (e.g. Jewish  writers and
journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists, and political officials)
were also included.

14.     Which groups of people in Germany were considered enemies of
the state by the  Nazis and were, therefore, persecuted?

Answer: The following groups of individuals were considered enemies of
the Third Reich and were, therefore, persecuted by the Nazi authorities:
Jews, Gypsies, Social Democrats, other  opposing politicians, opponents
of Nazism, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, habitual criminals, and
"anti-socials"  (e.g. beggars, vagrants, hawkers), and the mentally ill.
Any individual who was considered a threat to the Nazis was in danger of
being persecuted.

15.     What was the difference between the persecution of the Jews and
the persecution of other groups classified by the Nazis as enemies of
the Third Reich?

Answer:  The Jews were the only group singled out for total  systematic
annihilation by the Nazis.  To escape the death sentence imposed by the
Nazis, the Jews could only leave Nazi-controlled Europe.  Every single
Jew was to be killed according to the Nazis' plan.  In the case of other
criminals or enemies of the Third Reich, their families were usually not
held accountable.  Thus, if a person were executed or sent to a
concentration camp, it did not mean that each member of his family would
meet the same fate.  Moreover, in most situations the Nazis' enemies
were classified as such because of their actions or political
affiliation (actions and/or opinions which could be revised). In the
case of the Jews, it was  because of their racial origin, which could
never be changed.

16.  Why were the Jews singled out for extermination?

Answer: The explanation of the Nazis' implacable hatred of  the Jew
rests on their distorted world view which saw history as a racial
struggle.  They considered the Jews a race whose goal was world
domination and who, therefore, were an  obstruction to Aryan dominance.
They believed that all of  history was a fight between races which
should culminate in the triumph of the superior Aryan race.  Therefore,
they  considered it their duty to eliminate the Jews, whom they regarded
as a threat.  Moreover, in th eir eyes, the Jews' racial origin made
them habitual criminals who could never  be rehabilitated and were,
therefore, hopelessly corrupt and  inferior.  There is no doubt that
other factors contributed toward Nazi hatred of the Jews and their
distorted image of  the Jewish people.  One factor was the centuries-old
tradition of Christian antisemitism which propagated a negative
stereotype of the Jew as a Christ-killer, agent  of the devil, and
practitioner of witchcraft. Anothe r factor was the political and racial
antisemitism of the latter half of the nineteenth  and early part of the
twentieth centuries, which singled out the Jew as both a threat and a
member of an inferior race.  These factors combined to point to the Jew
as a target for persecution and ultimate destruction by the Nazis.

17.     What did people in Germany know about the persecution of Jews
and other enemies of  Nazism?

Answer: Certain initial aspects of Nazi persecution of Jews  and other
opponents were common knowledge in Germany.  Everyone knew about the
Boycott of April 1, 1933, the Laws of April, and the Nuremberg Laws,
because they were fully publicized.  Moreover, offenders were often
publicly  punished and shamed.  The same holds true for subsequent
anti-Jewish measures.  Kristallnacht was a public pogrom, carried out in
full view of the entire population. While information on the
concentration  camps was not publ icized, a great deal of information
was  available to the German public, and the treatment of the  inmates
was generally known, although exact details were not easily obtained.

However, the implementation of the "Final Solution" and the murder of
"undesirables" was not made common knowledge. The Nazis attempted to
keep the murders a  secret and took precautionary measures to  ensure
that they would not be publicized, although these efforts were only
partially successful.  For  example, public protests by various
clergymen led to the halt of their euthanasia program in August of 1941.
These  protests were obviously the result of the fact that many persons
were aware that the Nazi s were killing the mentally  ill in special
institutions.

As for the Jews, it was common knowledge in  Germany that they had
disappeared after being sent to the East.  It was not exactly clear to
large segments  of the German population what had happened to them.  Of
course, thousands upon thousands of  Germans participated in and/or
witnessed the  implementation of the "Final Solution" either as members
of the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, death camp or concentration camp  guards,
police in occupied Europe, or with the Wehrmacht.

18.     Did all Germans support Hitler's plan for the persecution  of
the Jews?

Answer: Although the entire German population was not in  agreement with
Hitler's persecution of the Jews, there is  no evidence of any large
scale protest regarding their  treatment.  There were Germans who defied
the April 1, 1933  boycott and purposely bought in Jewish stores, and
there were  those who aided Jews to escape and to hide, but their number
was very small.  Even some of those who opposed Hitler were  in
agreement with his anti-Jewish policies.  Among the clergy, Dompropst
Bernhard Lichtenber g of Berlin publicly prayed for the  Jews daily and
was, therefore, sent to a concentration camp  by the Nazis.  Other
priests were deported for their failure  to cooperate with Nazi
antisemitic policies, but the  majority of the clergy complied with the
directives against  German Jewry and did not openly protest.

19.     Did the people of occupied Europe know about Nazi plans for  the
Jews? What was their attitude? Did they cooperate with the Nazis against
the Jews?

Answer: The attitude of the local population vis-a-vis the persecution
and destruction of the Jews varied from zealous  collaboration with the
Nazis to active assistance to Jews.  Thus, it is difficult to make
generalizations.  The situation  also varied from country to country.
In Eastern Europe and especially in Poland, Russia, and the Baltic
States  (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), there was much more knowledge
of the "Final Solution" because it was implemented  in those areas.
Elsewhere, the local po pulation had less  information on the details of
the "Final Solution."

In every country they occupied, with the exception of Denmark,  the
 Nazis found many locals who were willing to cooperate  fully in the
 murder of the Jews.  This was particularly true in Eastern Europe,
 where there was a long standing tradition  of virulent antisemitism,
 and where various national groups, which had been under Soviet
 domination (Latvians, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians), fostered hopes that
 the Germans would restore their  independence.  In several countries in
 Europe, there were  local fascist movements which allied themselves
 with the Nazis and participated in anti-Jewish actions; for example,
 the  Iron Guard in Romania and the Arrow Guard in Slovakia. On the
 other hand, in every country in Europe, there were courageous
 individuals who risked their lives to save Jews.  In several
 countries, there were groups which aided Jews, e.g. Joop Westerweel's
 group in the Netherlands, Zegota in Poland, and the  Assisi underground
 in Italy.

20.     Did the Allies and the people in the Free World know about the
events going on in Europe?

Answer: The various steps taken by the Nazis prior to the "Final
Solution" were all taken publicly and were, therefore, reported in the
press.  Foreign correspondents commented on all the major anti-Jewish
actions taken by the Nazis in  Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia
prior to World War II.   Once the war began, obtaining information
became more difficult, but reports, nonetheless, were published
regarding  the fate of the Jews.  Thus, although the Nazis did not
publicize the "Final Solution," less th an one year after the
systematic murder of the Jews was initiated, details began to filter out
to the West.  The first report which spoke of a plan for the mass murder
of Jews was  smuggled out of Poland by the Bund (a Jewish socialist
political organization) and reached England in the spring of  1942.  The
details of this report reached the Allies from Vatican sources as well
as from informants in Switzerland  and the Polish underground.  (Jan
Karski, an emissary of the Polish underground, who had been s muggled in
and out of the Belzec death camp and had seen the mass murders,
personally met with Franklin Roosevelt and British Foreign Minister
Anthony Eden.) Eventually, the American Government confirmed the reports
to Jewish leaders in late November 1942.  They were publicized
immediately thereafter.  While the details were neither complete nor
wholly accurate, the Allies were aware of most of what the Germans had
done to the Jews at a relative ly early date.

21.     What was the response of the Allies to the persecution of  the
Jews?  Could they have done anything to help?

Answer:  The response of the Allies to the persecution and destruction
of European Jewry was inadequate.  Only in  January 1944 was an agency,
the War Refugee Board,  established for the express purpose of saving
the victims  of Nazi persecution.  Prior to that date, little action was
taken.  On December 17, 1942, the Allies issued a condemnation of Nazi
atrocities against the Jews, but this was the only such declaration made
prior to 1944.

Moreover, no attempt was made to call upon the local  population in
Europe to refrain from assisting the Nazis in their systematic murder of
the Jews.  Even following the establishment of the War Refugee Board and
the initiation  of various rescue efforts, the Allies refused to bomb
the death camp of Auschwitz and/or the railway lines  leading to that
camp, despite the fact that Allied bombers were at that time engaged in
bombing factories very close to the camp and were well aware of its
existence and  fun ction.

Other practical measures which were not taken concerned  the refugee
problem.  Tens of thousands of Jews sought  to enter the United States,
but they were barred from doing  so by the stringent American
immigration policy. Even the  relatively small quotas of visas which
existed were often not filled, although the number of applicants was
usually many times the number of available places.  Conferences  held in
Evian, France (1938) and Bermuda (1943) to solve the refugee problem did
not contribute to a solut ion.  At  the former, the countries invited by
the United States and Great Britain were told that no country would be
asked to change its immigration laws. Moreover, the British agreed to
participate only if Palestine were not considered.  At  Bermuda, the
delegates did not deal with the fate of those still in Nazi hands, but
rather with those who had already escaped to neutral lands.  Practical
measures which could  have aided in the rescue of Jews included the
following:

     Permission for temporary admission of refugees
     Relaxation of stringent entry requirements
     Frequent and unequivocal warnings to Germany and local populations
         all over Europe that those participating in the annihilation of
         Jews would be held strictly accountable
     Bombing the death camp at Auschwitz.

22.     Who are the "Righteous Among the Nations"?

Answer: "Righteous Among the Nations," or "Righteous Gentiles," refers
to those non-Jews who aided Jews during the Holocaust.  There were
"Righteous Among the Nations" in every country  overrun or allied with
the Nazis, and their deeds often led to the rescue of Jewish lives. Yad
Vashem, the Israeli national  remembrance authority for the Holocaust,
bestows special  honors upon these individuals.  To date, after
carefully  evaluating each case, Yad Vashem has recognized approximately
10,000 "Righteous Gent iles" in three different categories of
recognition.  The country with the most "Righteous Gentiles"  is Poland.
The country with the highest proportion (per  capita) is the
Netherlands.  The figure of 10,000 is far from  complete as many cases
were never reported, frequently because  those who were helped have
died. Moreover, this figure only  includes those who actually risked
their lives to save Jews,  and not those who merely extended aid.


23.     Were Jews in the Free World aware of the persecution and
destruction of European Jewry and, if so, what was their response?

Answer: The news of the persecution and destruction of  European Jewry
must be divided into two periods.  The measures taken by the Nazis prior
to the "Final Solution" were done publicly and covered in all the
newspapers.  Foreign correspondents reported on all major  anti-Jewish
actions taken by the Nazis in Germany, Austria,  and Czechoslovakia
prior to World War II.  Once the war  began, obtaining information
became more difficult, but, nonetheless, reports were published
regarding the fate of  the Jews.

Since the "Final Solution" was not openly publicized by the Nazis, it
took longer for information to reach  the "Free World." Nevertheless, by
December 1942, news  of mass murders and the plan to annihilate European
Jewry was publicized in the Jewish press.

The response of the Jews in the "Free World" must also be divided into
two periods, before and after the publication  of information on the
"Final Solution."  Efforts during the    early years of the Nazi regime
concentrated on facilitating  emigration from Germany (although there
were those who initially opposed emigration as a solution) and
combatting    German antisemitism.  Unfortunately, the views on how to
best achieve these goals differed and effective action was often
hampered by the lack of interna l unity.  Moreover,     very few Jewish
leaders actually realized the scope of the danger. Following the
publication of the news of the "Final Solution," attempts were made to
launch rescue      attempts via neutral states and to send aid to Jews
under  Nazi rule. These attempts, which were far from adequate, were
further hampered by the lack of assistance and     obstruction from
government channels.  Additional attempts  to achieve internal unity
during this period failed.

24. Did the Jews in Europe realize what was going to happen to them?

Answer: Regarding the knowledge of the "Final Solution" by its potential
victims, several key points must be kept in mind.   First of all, the
Nazis did not publicize the "Final Solution," nor did they ever openly
speak about it.  Every attempt was made to fool the victims and,
thereby, prevent or minimize resistance.  Thus, deportees were always
told that they were going to be "resettled."  They were led to believe
that conditions "in the East" (where they were being sent) would  be
better than those in gh ettos. Following arrival in certain
concentration camps, the inmates were forced to write home about the
wonderful conditions in their new place of residence.   The Germans made
every effort to ensure secrecy.  In addition, the notion that human
beings--let alone the civilized Germans--could build camps with special
apparatus for mass murder seemed unbelievable in those days.  Since
German  troops liberated the Jews from the Czar in World War I, Germans
were regarded by many Jews as a liberal, civilized pe ople.    Escapees
who did return to the ghetto frequently encountered disbelief  when they
related their experiences.  Even Jews who had heard of the camps  had
difficulty believing reports of what the Germans were doing there.
Inasmuch as each of the Jewish communities in Europe was almost
completely isolated, there was a limited number of  places with
available information.  Thus, there is no doubt that many European Jews
were not aware of the "Fina l  Solution," a fact that has been
corroborated by Ger man documents and the testimonies of survivors.

25.     How many Jews were able to escape from Europe prior to the
Holocaust?

Answer: It is difficult to arrive at an exact figure for the number of
Jews who were able to escape from Europe prior to  World War II, since
the available statistics are incomplete.   From 1933-1939, 355,278
German and Austrian Jews left their homes.  (Some immigrated to
countries later overrun by the Nazis.)  In the same period, 80,860
Polish Jews immigrated  to Palestine and 51,747 European Jews arrived in
Argentina,  Brazil, and Uruguay.  During the years 1938-1939,
approximately  35,000 emigrated from Bohemia and Moravia
(Czechoslovakia).   Shanghai, the only place in the world for which one
did not need an entry visa, received approximately 20,000 European Jews
(mostly of German origin) who fled their homelands.   Immigration
figures for countries of refuge during this period are not available.
In addition, many countries did not provide a breakdown of immigration
statistics according  to ethnic groups.  It is impossible, therefore, to
ascertain  the exact number of Jewish refugees. 26.     What efforts
were made to save the Jews fleeing from Germany before World War   II
began?

Answer: Various organizations attempted to facilitate the emigration of
the Jews (and non-Jews persecuted as Jews) from Germany.  Among the most
active were the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the  American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee,  HICEM, the Central British Fund for German
Jewry, the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of
German Jews), which represented German Jewry, and other non-Jewish
groups such as the League of Nations High Commission for Refugees
(Jewish and other) co ming from Germany, and the American Friends
Service Committee. Among  the programs launched were the "Transfer
Agreement" between the Jewish Agency and the German government whereby
immigrants to Palestine were allowed to transfer their funds to that
country in conjunction with the import of German goods to  Palestine.
Other efforts focused on retraining prospective emigrants in order to
increase the number of those eligible for visas, since some countries
barred the entry of members of certain professions . Other groups
attempted to help in  various phases of refugee work: selection of
candidates for emigration, transportation of refugees, aid in immigrant
absorption, etc. Some groups attempted to facilitate increased
emigration by  enlisting the aid of governments and international
organizations in seeking refugee havens.  The League of     Nations
established an agency to aid refugees but its success was extremely
limited due to a lack of political  power and adequate funding.

The United States and Great Britain convened a  conference in 1938 at
Evian, France, seeking a solution to the  refugee problem.  With  the
exception of the Dominican Republic, the nations assembled refused to
change their stringent immigration regulations, which were instrumental
in preventing large-scale immigration.

In 1939, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which had been
established at the Evian Conference, initiated  negotiations with
leading German officials in an attempt to    arrange for the relocation
of a significant portion of  German Jewry.  However, these talks failed.
Efforts were made for the illegal entry of Jewish immigrants to
Palestine as early as July 1934, but were later halted until July 1938.
Large-scale efforts were resumed under the Mosad le-Aliya Bet,
Revisionist Zionists, and priva te parties.  Attempts were also made,
with some success, to facilitate the illegal entry of refugees to
various countries in Latin  America.


27.     Why were so few refugees able to flee Europe prior to the
        outbreak of World War II?

Answer: The key reason for the relatively low number of  refugees
leaving Europe prior to World War II was the stringent immigration
policies adopted by the prospective host countries.  In the United
States, for example, the  number of immigrants was limited to 153,744
per year, divided by country of origin. Moreover, the entry
requirements were so stringent that available quotas were often not
filled. Schemes to facilitate immigration     outside the quotas never
materialized as the majority of  the Ameri can public consistently
opposed the entry of  additional refugees. Other countries, particularly
those in Latin America, adopted immigration policies that were similar
or even more restrictive, thus closing  the doors to prospective
immigrants from the Third Reich.

Great Britain, while somewhat more liberal than the United States on the
entry of immigrants, took measures to severely limit Jewish immigration
to Palestine.  In May 1939, the British issued a "White Paper"
stipulating that only 75,000 Jewish immigrants would  be allowed to
enter Palestine over the course of the next five years  (10,000 a year,
plus an additional 25,000). This decision prevented hundreds of
thousands of Jews from escaping Europe.

The countries most able to accept large numbers of refugees consistently
refused to open their gates.  Although a  solution to the refugee
problem was the agenda of the Evian    Conference, only the Dominican
Republic was willing to approve large-scale immigration.  The United
States and Great Britain  proposed resettlement havens in
under-developed areas (e.g.  Guyana, formerly British Guiana, and the
Philippines), but these were not suitable alternatives. Two important
factors should be noted.  During the period  prior to the outbreak of
World War II, the Germans were in  favor of Jewish emigration.  At that
time, there were no operative plans to kill the Jews. The goal was to
induce them to leave, if necessary, by the use of force. It is also
important to recognize the attitude of German Jewry.  While many German
Jews were initially reluctant to emigrate, the majority sought to do so
following Kristall nacht (The Night of Broken Glass),  November 9-10,
1938. Had havens been available, more people would certainly have
emigrated.

28.  What was Hitler's ultimate goal in launching World War II?

Answer: Hitler's ultimate goal in launching World War II was the
establishment of an Aryan empire from Germany to the Urals.  He
considered this area the natural territory of     the German people, an
area to which they were entitled by  right, the Lebensraum (living
space) that Germany needed  so badly for its farmers to have enough
soil.  Hitler      maintained that these areas were needed for the Aryan
race to preserve itself and assure its dominance.

There is no question that Hitler knew that, by launching the war in the
East, the Nazis would be forced to deal with  serious racial problems in
view of the composition  of the population in the Eastern areas.  Thus,
the Nazis  had detailed plans for the subjugation of the Slavs, who
would be reduced to serfdom status and whose primary  function would be
to serve as a source of cheap labor for Aryan farmers. Those elements of
the local population, who were of higher racial stock, would be taken to
Germany w here they would be raised as Aryans.

In Hitler's mind, the solution of the Jewish problem was also linked to
 the conquest of the eastern territories.  These areas had large Jewish
 populations and they would have to be dealt with accordingly.  While at
 this point there was  still no operative plan for mass annihilation, it
 was clear  to Hitler that some sort of comprehensive solution would
 have to be found.  There was also talk of establishing a  Jewish
 reservation either in Madagascar or near Lublin, Poland. When he made
 the decisive decision to invade the Soviet Union, Hitler also gave
 instructions to embark  upon the "Final Solution," the systematic
 murder of  European Jewry.

29.  Was there any opposition to the Nazis within Germany?

Answer: Throughout the course of the Third Reich, there were different
groups who opposed the Nazi regime and certain Nazi policies. They
engaged in resistance at different times and with various methods,
aims, and scope.

Fromthe beginning, leftist political groups and a number  of
disappointed conservatives were in opposition; at a later date, church
groups, government officials and businessmen  also joined. After the
tide of the war was reversed, elements within the military played an
active role in opposing Hitler. At no point, however, was there a
unified resistance movement within Germany.

30.     Did the Jews try to fight against the Nazis? To what extent were
such efforts successful?

Answer: Despite the difficult conditions to which Jews were subjected in
Nazi-occupied Europe, many engaged in armed resistance against the
Nazis. This resistance can be divided into three basic types of armed
activities: ghetto revolts, resistance in concentration and death camps,
and partisan warfare.

The Warsaw Ghetto revolt, which lasted for about five weeks beginning on
April 19, 1943, is probably the best-known example of  armed Jewish
resistance, but there were many ghetto revolts in which Jews fought
against the Nazis.

Despite the terrible conditions in the death, concentration, and labor
camps, Jewish inmates fought against the Nazis at the following sites:
Treblinka  (August 2, 1943); Babi Yar  (September 29, 1943); Sobibor
(October 14, 1943); Janowska (November 19, 1943); and Auschwitz (October
7, 1944).

Jewish partisan units were active in many areas, including  Baranovichi,
Minsk,  Naliboki forest, and Vilna. While the sum total of armed
resistance efforts by Jews  was not militarily overwhelming  and did not
play a significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, these acts of
resistance did lead to the rescue of an undetermined number of Jews,
Nazi casualties, and untold damage to German property and self-esteem.

31.  What was the Judenrat?

Answer: The Judenrat was the council of Jews, appointed by the Nazis in
each Jewish community or ghetto.  According to the directive from
Reinhard Heydrich of the SS on September 21, 1939, a Judenrat was to be
established in every concentration of Jews in the occupied areas of
Poland.  They were led by noted community leaders.  Enforcement of Nazi
decrees affecting Jews and administration of the affairs of the Jewish
community were the responsibilities of the Judenrat.  These functions
placed the Judenrat in a highly responsible, but controversial position,
and many of their actions continue to be the subject of debate among
historians.  While the intentions of the heads of councils were rarely
challenged, their tactics and methods have been questioned.  Among the
most controversial  were Mordechai Rumkowski in Lodz and Jacob Gens in
Vilna, both  of whom justified the sacrifice of some Jews in order to
save others. Leaders and members of the Judenrat were guided, for the
most part, by a sense of communal responsibility, but lacked the power
and the means to successfully thwart Nazi plans for annihilation of all
Jews.

32.     Did international organizations, such as the Red Cross, aid
victims of Nazi persecution?

Answer: During the course of World War II, the International  Red Cross
(IRC) did very little to aid the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.
Its activities can basically be divided into three periods:

1. September, 1939 - June 22, 1941:
The IRC confined its activities to sending food packages to those in
distress in Nazi-occupied Europe.  Packages were distributed in
accordance with the directives of the German Red Cross. Throughout this
time, the IRC complied with the German contention that those in ghettos
and camps constituted a threat to the security of the Reich and,
therefore, were not allowed to receive aid from the IRC.

2.  June 22, 1941 - Summer 1944:
Despite numerous requests by Jewish organizations, the IRC refused to
publicly protest the mass annihilation of Jews and non-Jews in the
camps, or to intervene on their behalf.  It maintained that any public
action on behalf of those under Nazi rule would ultimately prove
detrimental to their welfare. At the same time, the IRC attempted to
send food parcels to those individuals whose addresses it possessed.

3.  Summer 1944 - May 1945:
Following intervention by such prominent figures as President Franklin
Roosevelt and the King of Sweden, the IRC appealed to Miklos Horthy,
Regent of  Hungary, to stop the deportation of Hungarian Jews.

The IRC did insist that it be allowed to visit concentration camps, and
a delegation did visit the "model ghetto" of Terezin (Theresienstadt).
The IRC request came following the receipt of information about the
harsh living conditions in the camp.

The IRC requested permission to investigate the situation, but the
Germans only agreed to allow the visit nine months after  submission of
the request.  This delay provided time for the Nazis to complete a
"beautification" program, designed to fool the delegation into thinking
that conditions at Terezin were quite good and that inmates were allowed
to live out their lives in relative tranquility. In reality,  most
prisoners were subsequently deported to Auschwitz.

The visit, which took place on July 23, 1944, was followed  by a
favorable report on Terezin to the members of the IRC.  Jewish
organizations protested vigorously,    demanding that another delegation
visit the camp.  Such a  visit was not permitted until shortly before
the end of  the war.

33.     How did Germany's allies, the Japanese and the Italians, treat
the Jews in the lands they occupied?

Answer:  Neither the Italians nor the Japanese, both of  whom were
Germany's allies during World War II, cooperated  regarding the "Final
Solution."  Although the Italians did, upon German urging, institute
discriminatory legislation against Italian Jews, Mussolini's government
refused to participate in the "Final Solution" and consistently
refused to deport its Jewish residents.  Moreover, in  their occupied
areas of France,  Greece, and Yugoslavia,  the Italians protected the
Jews and did not allow t hem  to be deported. However, when the Germans
overthrew the  Badoglio government in 1943, the Jews of Italy, as well
as those under Italian protection in occupied areas, were  subject to
the "Final Solution."

The Japanese were also relatively tolerant toward the Jews  in their
country as well as in the areas which they  occupied.  Despite pressure
by their German allies urging  them to take stringent measures against
Jews, the Japanese refused to do so.  Refugees were allowed to enter
Japan until the spring of 1941, and Jews in Japanese-occupied  China
were treated well.  In the summer and fall of 1941, refugees in Japan
were transferred to Shanghai but no measures were taken against them
until early 1943, when they  were forced to move into the Hongkew
Ghetto.  While conditions were hardly satisfactory, they were far
superior to those in the ghettos under German control.

34.     What was the attitude of the churches vis-a-vis the  persecution
of the Jews?  Did the Pope ever speak out  against the Nazis?

Answer:  The head of the Catholic Church at the time of the Nazi rise to
power was Pope Pius XI.  Throughout his reign,  he limited his concern
to Catholic non-Aryans.  Although he stated that the myths of "race" and
"blood" were contrary  to Christian teaching (in a papal encyclical,
March 1937),  he neither mentioned nor criticized antisemitism.  His
successor, Pius XII (Cardinal Pacelli) was a Germanophile  who
maintained his neutrality throughout the course of  World War II.
Although as early as 1942 the Vatican received detailed information on
the murder of Jews in  concentration camps, the Pope confined his public
statements to expressions of sympathy for the victims of  injustice and
to calls for a more humane conduct of the war.

Despite the lack of response by Pope Pius XII, several papal nuncios
played an important role in rescue efforts,  particularly the nuncios in
Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and  Turkey.  It is not clear to what, if
any, extent they operated upon instructions from the Vatican.  In
Germany,  the Catholic Church did not oppose the Nazis' antisemitic
campaign.  Church records were supplied to state authorities which
assisted in the detection of people of Jewish origin, and efforts to aid
the persecuted were confi ned to Catholic  non-Aryans.  While Catholic
clergymen protested the Nazi  euthanasia program, few, with the
exception of Bernard  Lichtenberg, spoke out against the murder of the
Jews.

In Western Europe, Catholic clergy spoke out publicly against the
persecution of the Jews and actively helped  in the rescue of Jews.  In
Eastern Europe, however, the Catholic clergy was generally more
reluctant to help. Dr. Jozef Tiso, the head of state of Slovakia and a
Catholic  priest, actively cooperated with the Germans as did many
other Catholic priests.

The response of Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches varied. In
Germany, for example, Nazi supporters within Protestant churches
complied with the anti-Jewish legislation and even excluded Christians
of Jewish origin from membership.  Pastor Martin Niemoller's Confessing
Church defended the rights of Christians of Jewish origin within the
church, but did not publicly protest their persecution, nor did it
condemn the measures taken against the Jews, with the exception of a
memorandum sent to Hitler in Ma y 1936.

In occupied Europe, the position of the Protestant churches varied.  In
several countries (Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway) local
churches and/or leading clergymen issued public protests when the Nazis
began deporting Jews.  In  other countries (Bulgaria, Greece, and
Yugoslavia), Orthodox church leaders intervened on behalf of the Jews
and took steps which, in certain cases, led to the rescue of many Jews.

Non-Catholic leaders in Austria, Belgium, Bohemia-Moravia, Finland,
Italy, Poland,  and the Soviet Union did not issue any public protests
on behalf of the Jews.

35.     How many Nazi criminals were there? How many were brought  to
justice?

Answer:  We do not know the exact number of Nazi criminals since the
available documentation is incomplete.  The Nazis themselves destroyed
many incriminating documents and  there are still many criminals who are
unidentified and/or unindicted.

Those who committed war crimes include those individuals who initiated,
planned and directed the killing operations, as well as those with whose
knowledge, agreement, and passive participation the murder of  European
Jewry was carried out.

Those who actually implemented  the "Final Solution" include  the
leaders of Nazi  Germany, the heads of the Nazi Party, and the Reich
Security Main Office.  Also included are hundreds of thousands  of
members of the Gestapo, the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, the police, the
armed forces, and those bureaucrats who were involved in the persecution
and destruction of European  Jewry.  In addition, thousands of
individuals throughout occupied Europe cooperated with the Nazis in
killing Jews and other innocent civili ans.

We do not have complete statistics on the number of criminals brought to
justice, but the number is certainly far less than the total of those
who were involved in the "Final Solution."  The leaders of the Third
Reich, who were caught by the Allies, were tried by the International
Military Tribunal in  Nuremberg from November 20, 1945 to October 1,
1946.  Afterwards, the Allied occupation authorities continued to try
Nazis, with the most significant trials held in the American zone (the
Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings).  In total, 5,025 Nazi criminals were
convicted between 1945-1949  in the American, British and French zones,
in addition to an unspecified number of people who were tried in the
Soviet zone.  In addition, the United Nations War Crimes Commission
prepared lists of war criminals who were later tried by the judicial
authorities of Allied countries and those countries under Nazi rule
during the war.  The latter countries have conducted a large number of
trials regarding crim es  committed in their lands.  The Polish
tribunals, for example, tried approximately 40,000 persons, and large
numbers of  criminals were tried in other countries.  In all, about
80,000  Germans have been convicted for committing crimes against
humanity, while the number of local collaborators is in the tens of
thousands.  Special mention should be made of Simon Wiesenthal, whose
activities led to the capture of over one thousand Nazi criminals.

Courts in Germany began, in some cases, to function as early as 1945.
By 1969, almost 80,000 Germans had been investigated  and over 6,000 had
been convicted.  In 1958, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; West
Germany) established a special agency in Ludwigsburg to aid in the
investigation of crimes committed by Germans outside Germany,  an agency
which, since its establishment, has been involved in  hundreds of major
investigations.  One of the major problems   regarding the trial of war
criminals in th e FRG (as well as in Austria) has been the fact that the
sentences have been disproportionately lenient for the crimes committed.
Some trials were also conducted in the German Democratic Republic (GDR;
East Germany), yet no statistics exist as to the number of those
convicted or the extent of their sentences.

36.  What were the Nuremberg Trials?

Answer:  The term "Nuremberg Trials" refers to two sets of  trials of
Nazi war criminals conducted after the war.  The first trials were held
November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946,   before the International
Military Tribunal (IMT), which was  made up of representatives of
France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.  It
consisted of the trials of  the political, military and economic leaders
of the Third  Reich captured by the Allies.  Among the defendants were:
Goring, Rosenberg, Streic her, Kaltenbrunner, Seyss-Inquart,  Speer,
Ribbentrop and Hess (many of the most prominent  Nazis -- Hitler,
Himmler, and Goebbels -- committed  suicide and were not brought to
trial).  The second set of  trials, known as the Subsequent Nuremberg
Proceedings, was conducted  before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals
(NMT), established  by the Office of the United States Government for
Germany (OMGUS).  While the judges on the NMT were American citizens,
the tribunal considered itself international.  Twelve hig h-ranking
officials were tried, among whom were cabinet ministers, diplomats,
doctors involved  in medical experiments, and SS officers involved in
crimes in concentration camps or in genocide in Nazi-occupied areas.


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