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#14: War and Holocaust .pdf

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Doris Bergen

WAR AND HOLOCAUST THE DYNAMICS OF DESTRUCTION, 1939-1944 INTRODUCTION •The terms of the Treaty of Versailles had been overturned long before the Invasion of Poland •The War was not about overturning the terms of Versailles, but rather about race and space •The extreme violence of WW2 was not a byproduct of modern warfare, it was a deliberate tactic on the part of Nazi Germany — it was used to crush enemies very quickly and to prevent resistance •Brutalizing effect on people practicing and receiving it The issue of contagion — from extreme violence that other groups became the • targets of extreme violence that was linked to the conquest •The War and Holocaust and connected — they can’t be understood in isolation W HY W EFIGHT: THEB ATTLE OFR USSIA •Focus on why the USSR fought •27 million soviet soldiers and citizens were killed in the War E ARLY STAGES OF THE W AR , 1939-194 BLITZKRIEG •The first years of the War is known as the war of annihilation that began with the German invasion of Soviet territories on June 22 1941 •The war of annihilation began, in many ways, in 1939 — the extreme violence of blitzkrieg (a method used by the Germans to try to crush resistance quickly), the killing 1000s of French colonial soldiers, and the bombing of Rotterdam •This use of the lightening attack (blitzkrieg) was very important for the German military and the German home front • Most members of the German population were not eager for war — German leadership was worried that the attack on Poland would not be greeted with significant enthusiasm by Germans at home who were worried about the possibility of losing another war • For this reason, Germans staged a mock attack on a German radio station the night before the assault on Poland — it made it appear as if Poland had attacked Germany • Public opinion was very because Hitler believed that Germany had lost WWI because of insufficient fortitude or determination by non-combatants — the idea that keeping up morale was essential to winning the war •The rapid defeat of Poland allowed for the Germans to believe in the invincibility of themselves and weapons CONTAGION •The overlapping effect of Hitler and Stalin WAR AND HOLOCAUST THE DYNAMICS OF DESTRUCTION, 1939-1944 The German assault on Poland was brutal not only militarily, but also against the • Polish civilian population • The Germans rounded-up and shot 1000s of members of the Polish elite, priests, journalists, and political figures — people who might dissent • At the same time in their territories, the Soviets also introduced extremely brutal policies • Rounded-up 100,000s of Poles and deported them to Siberia and Kazakhstan to try to control their territory • 1940 — Soviets shot 15,000 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest — known as the Katyn Forest Massacre • This massacre was attributed to the Germans, only after the collapse of the USSR was it publicly acknowledged as a Soviet act EUTHANASIA PROGRAMS • Inside Germany, the first years of the War (1939-40) also brought the first program of mass killing • A program that was directed against people with disabilities — starting with children • Often referred to as the Children’s Euthanasia Program • Shortly before the attack of Poland, the program organized by the head physician of Germany and a member of Hitler’s chancellory staff, began identifying and killing disabled children — often these were children already in institutions (separated from their families) or taken from their families • By the time of the War, the program had expanded to include adults — referred to as the Euthanasia Program or T4 • These programs were not about killing people who were suffering — it was about killing people who were deemed to be a burden on the national community • The program was carried out against disabled people inside of Germany, but it too was linked to the war • The War provided a cover and justification for this program of killing — the notion that in wartime all resources had to be used to fight the enemy • The resources would be wasted if they they meant to keep alive people who were deemed to be unworthy of life • The professionals involved in the program were concerned that they might be held accountable for murder, which remained a crime in Nazi Germany — they wanted Hitler to pass a law that would authorize the killing of certain people deemed unfit for life • Hitler agreed to authorize it — he back dated it Sept. 1 1939 to create the impression that the murder of innocent people was a response to the demands of wartime • 70,000 people were murdered through these programs inside Germany • The program was not halted in 1941 — they continued until the end of the War WAR AND HOLOCAUST THE DYNAMICS OF DESTRUCTION, 1939-1944 The program was changed after the middle of 1941 to focus less on disabled • people and more on people deemed useless in other ways, people that were unsalvageable for society • The program was also used to get rid of people that nowhere left to go in specific cities • It was used to solve all kinds of problems • T4 is important because it is part of the Holocaust and it provided a training site for people who became professional killers • The methods used in the killing centers were first tested in the T4 program • These programs followed the expansion of the Third Reich — SS units went to asylums and killed the inmates, not because they were interested in purifying the Polish race, but because they wanted the buildings • The notion that disabled peoples were expendable — the T4 program was seen as a practical method to solve this problem G HETTOIZATION • 1939 — a method of destroying individual and communal Jewish lives was implemented: the policy of ghettoization • The Jewish population of Germany was only 1% — about half of them fled Germany between 1933 and 1939 • Poland had much larger Jewish population — 10% of pre-war Poland was Jewish • The territory the Germans took in 1939 had some much sectio
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