Journal 10 World War Two and the Holocaust

Journal 10 World War Two and the Holocaust - Journal Part...

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Journal Part Ten: World War Two and the Holocaust 1. Memoirs  Rudolf Höss  Background to the Document On gaining power, the Nazis began to implement the anti-Jewish policies Hitler and the Nazis had promised in Mein Kampf and thousands of books, pamphlets, and speeches. Jewish shops were plundered while police looked the other way, Jewish physicians were excluded from hospitals, Jewish judges lost their posts, Jewish students were denied admission to universities, and Jewish veterans were stripped of their benefits. In 1935 the Nazis promulgated the Nuremberg Laws, which deprived Jews of citizenship and outlawed marriage between Jews and non-Jews. In November 1938 the regime organized nationwide violence against Jewish synagogues and shops in what came to be known as Kristallnacht, or night of the broken glass." After the war began in late 1939, conquests in Eastern Europe gave the Nazis new opportunities to address the "Jewish problem." In early 1941 they began to deport Jews from Germany and conquered territories to Poland and Czechoslovakia, where Jews were employed as slave laborers or placed in concentration camps. In June 1941 special units known as Einsatzgruppe ("special action forces") were organized to exterminate Jews in territories conquered on the eastern front. In eighteen months, they gunned down over 1 million Jews and smaller numbers of Gypsies and non-Jewish Slays. Then in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference outside Berlin, the Nazi leadership approved the Final Solution to the so-called Jewish problem. Their goal became the extermination of European Jewry, and to reach it they constructed special camps where their murderous work could be done efficiently and quickly. When World War II ended, the Nazis had not achieved their goal of annihilating Europe's 11 million Jews. They did, however, slaughter close to 6 million, thus earning themselves a permanent place in the long history of man's inhumanity to man. The following excerpt comes from the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland between 1940 and 1943. Born in 1900, Höss abandoned plans to become a priest after serving in World War I and became involved in a number of right-wing political movements, including the Nazi Party, which he joined in the early 1920s. After serving a jail sentence for participating in the murder of a teacher suspected of "treason," Höss became a farmer and then in 1934, on the urging of Heinrich Himmler, a member of the Nazi SS, or Schutzstaffel (Guard Detachment). The SS under Himmler grew from a small security force to guard Hitler and other high- ranking Nazis into a powerful party organization involved in police work, state security, intelligence gathering, administration of conquered territories, and management of the concentration camps. After postings at the Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps, Höss was appointed commandant of Auschwitz, which began as a camp for Polish political prisoners but became a huge, sprawling complex where
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Journal 10 World War Two and the Holocaust - Journal Part...

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