Holocaust, agencies formed to publicize human rights. These agencies have remained a force in today’s world.Gerda Weissmann was a carefree girl of 15 when, in September 1939, invading German troops shattered her world. Because the Weissmanns were Jews, they were forced to give up their home to a German family. In 1942, Gerda, her parents, and most of Poland’s 3,000,000 Jews were sent to labor camps. Gerda recalls when members of Hitler’s elite Schutzstaffel, or “security squadron” (SS), came to round up the Jews.A PERSONALVOICEGERDA WEISSMANN KLEIN“We had to form a line and an SS man stood there with a little stick. I was holding hands with my mother and . . . he looked at me and said, ‘How old?’ And I said, ‘eighteen,’ and he sort of pushed me to one side and my mother to the other side. . . . And shortly thereafter, some trucks arrived . . . and we were loaded onto the trucks. I heard my mother’s voice from very far off ask, ‘Where to?’ and I shouted back, ‘I don’t know.’”—quoted in the film One Survivor RemembersWhen the American lieutenant Kurt Klein, who would later become Gerda’s husband, liberated her from the Nazis in 1945—just one day before her 21st birthday—she weighed 68 pounds and her hair had turned white. Even so, of all her family and friends, she alone had survived the Nazis’ campaign to exterminate Europe’s Jews.The Persecution BeginsOn April 7, 1933, shortly after Hitler took power in Germany, he ordered all “non-Aryans” to be removed from government jobs. This order was one of the first moves in a campaign for racial purity that eventually led to the Holocaust—the systematic murder of 6 million Jews across Europe. The Nazis also murdered 5 million other people.Gerda Weissmann Klein in her mid-teensUse the graphic organizer online to take notes on events that led to the Holocaust.▼SECTION748 CHAPTER24
▼On November 17, 1938, two passersby examine the shattered window of a Jewish-owned store in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. Jewish men holding a “star of David” are rounded up and marched through the streets on their way to a concentration camp.▼Vocabularyscapegoat:someone who is made to bear the blame of othersAnalyzing Issues AWhat problems did German Jews face in Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1938?JEWS TARGETED Although Jews were not the only victims of the Holocaust, they were the center of the Nazis’ targets. Anti-Semitism, or hatred of the Jews, had a long history in many European countries. For decades many Germans look-ing for a scapegoat had blamed the Jews as the cause of their failures. Hitler found that a majority of Germans were willing to support his belief that Jews were responsible for Germany’s economic problems and defeat in World War I.As the Nazis tightened their hold on Germany, their persecution of the Jews increased. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizen-ship, jobs, and property. To make it easier for the Nazis to identify them, Jews had to wear a bright yellow Star of David attached to their clothing. Worse was yet to come.