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#15: World in Flames .pdf

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Doris Bergen

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WORLD IN FLAMES CONQUEST, DEFEAT AND DESTRUCTION, 1942-1945 INTRODUCTION B LINDS POT: HITLER’SS ECRETARY •An interview with Hitler’s personal secretary •Very intimate look at Hitler’s last testament W AR AND H OLOCAUST K ILLINGCENTERS : ELZEE , SOBIBOR , REBLINKA ,AND A USCHWITZ •The beginning of 1942, despite the halt of the German advance, Nazi German power was at its peak •Germans controlled the European continent together with their Italian allies •Massive successes in North Africa •Used this period of military success to oscillate programs of destruction — the killing of Jews became priority over other populations •1942 — the Germans opened 3 killing centers in occupied Polish territory: Belzee, Sobibor, Treblinka (B, S, T) 1.7 million Jews were killed in these 3 sites between 1942-3 • •They were not concentration camps, where inmates were brought in and could work — these were sites that were created with the sole purpose of killing human beings •Sometimes a few people (usually young men) were separated out to do some special tasks — these work Jews were soon murdered •50 survivors in all of these 3 sites •Sorbibor and Treblinka survival was dependent on revolts of work Jews in 1943 •The most popular of these killing centers is Auschwitz — unlike B, S, T Auschwitz was a multi-purpose site It started out as a labor camp for Polish political prisoners — prison camp • •Was expanded to bring in Soviet POWs — POW camp •Further expanded to include large factory complexes — force labor site/ concentration camp •Spring 1942 — it was expanded to included a killing centers, gas chambers, so called Auschwitz II or Auschwitz-Birkenau •This is where Primo Levi was sent •By the end of the war, camp personnel had begun to keep a larger number of those people brought alive for labor — Jews brought Italy or Hungary in the later phases of the War had a larger chance to selected out and attached to certain kinds of labor units Many non-Jewish inmates — the other population group that was included in the • gassing was Roma •Smaller numbers of Roma were killed by gas in the smaller killing centers •Auschwitz was the site of the killing of 15,000 Roma — many of them gassed in one night, August 1944 with the liquidation of the Gypsy camps •A million people were killed at Auschwitz WORLD IN FLAMES CONQUEST, DEFEAT AND DESTRUCTION, 1942-1945 960,000 Jews • •74,000 non-Jewish Poles •15,000 Roma •15,000 Soviet POWs •10,000 other people of various descriptions •End of 1943 — B, S, T had closed down •Their primary purpose had been to kill the Jews in the surrounding regions and they had completed that work •Auschwitz became the main destination for transports intended for killing •1942 — the peak of Nazi German success was also the peak year of killing •Of the 6 million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust 75% were still alive by 1942 — by 1943 75% of the Jews that would killed were already dead THE T URNING T IDE OFW AR: SETBACKS •1943 — the tide of war changed decisively against the Germans •Did not decrease the exercise of extreme violence BATTLE OFS TALINGRAD •The Battle of Stalingrad — the battle where the German army advancing on the city of Stalingrad after months of hand-to-hand combat with the Red Army •100,000s of Germans were taken as POWs •Enormous casualties on both sides •The casualties among the German allies were much higher — though the Germans were not well-prepared, their allies were even less well-equipped •The debacle of Stalingrad was a kind of moment of truth — people of countries who had joined the German war effort for optimistic reasons (territory gain, etc.) now allowed these people that had not chosen the winning side NORTH A FRICA •1943 — setbacks in North Africa •1942 — German-African war under Rommel had rapid successes, but by the end of the year the Allies landed 100,000 troops at Operation Torch in North Africa The Germans and Italians were pushed onto the offensive and then pushed to a • much smaller region until they were pushed out of North Africa in May 1943 •Many POWs •Up until 1943, the Germans had been the ones taking POWs and dealing a large number of casualties — this began to even out by 1943 •For the Italians, the failure in North Africa was a signal that the war was not going to be won — turn of the public mood at home against the war effort and against Mussolini ALLIEDA DVANCE INTALY •Through the base in North Africa, it was easy for the Allies to advance to Sicily and then up to through the Italian peninsula WORLD IN FLAMES CONQUEST, DEFEAT AND DESTRUCTION, 1942-1945 July 1943 — with the Allies advancing into Italian territory and Italy fragmenting into a • civil war, Mussolini’s mission collapsed and was forced to flee •With German support, he setup a small client state in Northern Italy — Italy became a major site for battle •September 1943 — the new Italian government signed an armistice with the Allies and then declared war on Germany •Germans denounced the Italians as traitors — took huge numbers as POWs, shot many of them, and sent many as prisoners to various camps •Because of the collapse of Mussolini’s regime, that Primo Levi and many Italian- Jews found themselves in German hands and then on their way to Auschwitz •Until 1942 — Jews in Italy had lived relatively safely (compared to other European Jews) •Under Mussolini, the Italians had occupied certain portions of the territory either they or the Germans conquered — with the collapse of Mussolini’s regime, the Italians lost control of those areas and the Germans took them over •These sites had become sites of refuge for Jews of other parts of Europe — the Italian military proved to be rather uncooperative with the German round-up of Jews •Summer 1944 — though the Allies were advancing rapidly (after D-Day and the Normandy Landings), the Germans still kept Auschwitz II in operation This turned out to be the year of maximum killing operati
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