Before the end of the war, the response of the United States and the Allies to German anti- Semitic policies was severely limited. Although passage of the Nuremberg laws and the organized attacks on Jews such as Kristallnacht were widely reported, little action was taken by the world community to stop the Nazis. Immigration laws were not eased to grant asylum to Jewish refugees. Once the war began, no military action was taken to interrupt the shipment of people to the death camps. As the war ended, the death camps of the Final Solution horrified both the soldiers who liberated these camps and the public. The Allies responded to the war crimes committed during World War II by Adolph Hitler and the German Nazis by identifying war criminals and putting them on public trial. Although Hitler committed suicide and so escaped prosecution, some Nazi officers and civilians were charged with crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials . Although many pleaded that they were “just following orders,” the conviction and death sentence of twelve Nazis demonstrated that
U NITED S TATES H ISTORY AND THE C ONSTITUTION USHC 7.4 – June 18, 2012 individuals are responsible for their own actions. The Nuremberg trials established the precedent for future trials on war crimes. It has not, however, brought an end to genocide. The establishment of the state of Israel after the war, the prompt recognition by the United States of Israel, and the United States’ continuing support for Israel in the Middle East are a result of the impact of German war crimes on the conscience of the world and the United States. It is not essential for the students to know: Students do not need to know the details of the United States policy towards Jewish immigrants before the outbreak of the war, including the rejection of the St Louis passengers. They do not need to understand the controversy over the lack of American effort during the war to stop the death camps. They do not need to know the details of the war crimes trials nor the names of those who were tried and convicted. They do not need to know specifics about other examples of genocide such as the Armenian massacre of the 1920s, the actions of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s, the ‘ethnic cleansing’ committed during the civil war in Bosnia, the slaughter in Rwanda in the 1990s, or the Darfur crisis. Students do not need to know the hardships that liberated Jews endured after the war in getting to Israel and establishing their community there. Social Studies Literacy Skills for the Twenty-First Century: Analyze, interpret and synthesize social studies information to make inferences and draw conclusions. Examine the relationship of the present to the past and use knowledge of the past to make informed decisions in the present and extrapolate into the future.
- Fall '16
- Erin Burt
- Democracy, American Revolution, United States Declaration of Independence, Thirteen Colonies