File: Holocaust remembrance – Council of Europe

Posted By on February 1, 2021

30 January 1933Hitler appointed Chancellor

Following the Reichstag's premature dissolution, the Nazi party remained the largest group in the parliament after the November 1932 federal election. Although Hitler failed to win a majority, on 30 January 1933 President Hindenburg consented to Hitler forming a cabinet.

Photo credit:Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE h, via Wikimedia Commons

The camp was initially intended to hold only political prisoners. However, after its opening by Heinrich Himmler, it was enlarged to include forced labour. An estimated 41,500 people were killed in the camp during its operation, including Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and other nationals from occupied countries.

Photo credit:Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration

The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was one of the first anti-Semitic and racist laws passed in the Third Reich. After another parliamentary election in March 1933, in which Hitler again failed to win a majority, the Nazi Party created a coalition government with the German National People's Party. Consequently, Hitler passed an act that effectively gave him dictatorial powers, allowing him to target the countrys Jewish population.

New anti-Semitic and racist laws were passed, including the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans. The Reich Citizenship Law declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens. The rest of the population remained without any citizenship rights.

The German army entered Austria, which was warmly welcomed by most of the population. One of the results of the unopposed annexation was the introduction of the anti-Semitic laws in Austria.

Photo credit:Heinrich Hoffmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German passports held by Jews. They had to give up their old passports, which would become valid only after the letter J had been stamped on them.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

The growing hostility against the Jewish population in Germany led to 7,000 Jewish-owned shops being destroyed and looted on the night of 9 November 1938. Hundreds of synagogues and houses belonging to Jews were burned. 92 Jews were murdered and 31,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps. The name of the pogrom comes from the broken glass of Jewish shop windows. In the weeks that followed, new laws led to the closure of all Jewish businesses, the expulsion of all Jewish children from public schools and restrictions of freedom of movement for Jewish people.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

The Reichstag speech is mainly remembered for Hitlers declaration that if there was another world war, the Jews of Europe would be annihilated. Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels helped write the speech, which was delivered on the sixth anniversary of Hitlers seizure of power in 1933. It lasted for two-and-a-half hours and dealt with both foreign and domestic policy.

The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the MolotovRibbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. It was a non-aggression pact that allowed the parties to partition Poland and annex other Central European countries. The war that followed claimed around 73 million lives.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

Following the annexation of German-occupied Poland, the Nazis established Jewish ghettos in hundreds of locations, to confine and segregate Poland's 3.5 million Jewish population in order to facilitate persecution, terror, and exploitation.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

Jewish Poles were ordered to wear an identifying mark. Failure to comply with the order was punishable by death. Yellow stars were often referred to as a badge of shame.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

As early as May 1940, the first prisoners arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Of the 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz, 1.1 million died. The death toll includes 960,000 Jews, 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and around 15,000 other Europeans. Many died from starvation, exhaustion, disease, individual executions, or beatings. Others were killed during medical experiments.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

The German invasion of the Soviet Union brought the mass murder of Soviet Jews by Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads including the 28 September 1941 murder of 33,000 Jews and an unknown number of gypsies at Babi Yar. It is estimated that the Einsatzgruppen and related personnel killed more than two million people between 1941 and 1945.

At the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, leading Nazis developed the plan to murder all the Jews of Europe, the so-called Final Solution. Heydrich explained how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the occupied parts of Poland, where they would be killed.

The first gas chambers were used at Sobibor death camp, soon followed by Belzec on 17 March 1942, and Treblinka on 1 June 1942. The genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe on a mass, highly-organised scale, had begun.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

The revolt in the Warsaw ghetto was a final effort to resist the transport of the remaining ghetto population to death camps. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. Two months after the uprising, in which 13,000 Jews died, Himmler ordered all Polish and Russian Jewish ghettos to be closed. The remaining population was sent to death camps. In the following months, the Treblinka camp inmates rebelled (August 1943), and a revolt in the Sobibor death camp started on 14 October 1943. On 7 October 1944, the Sonderkommando who worked in the crematoria staged an uprising in Auschwitz.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

In the face of Soviet troops advancing into the Germany-occupied territories, in January 1945 Himmler ordered all camps to be evacuated. Approximately 58,000 Auschwitz detainees were evacuated on foot under SS guard to concentration camps in Germany and Austria. Many of them were shot when unable to continue the so-called Death March.

The Red Army arrived at Auschwitz on 27 January 1945; a day commemorated since 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During March and April 1945, other death camps were liberated by the British, Americans, and Soviets troops.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

The inevitable military defeat and news that the Italian resistance movement had executed Mussolini increased Hitlers determination to avoid capture. He shot himself in the head in his Berlin bunker rather than be taken prisoner by the encircling Soviet troops. On 8 May 1945, Germany surrendered.

In November 1945 twenty two Nazi political and military leaders were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust. The trial was held before an International Military Tribunal at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The city was chosen for symbolic reasons, as it was considered to be the ceremonial birthplace of the Nazi party and the scene of many of its annual mass rallies. It lasted until 1 October 1946. Judges from Great Britain, France, the USSR, and the US presided over the hearing. At its conclusion they sentenced 12 of the accused to death and 3 to life imprisonment. Four others received jail terms of between 10 and 20 years, while the remaining 3 defendants were acquitted.

Photo credit:United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Duddy1

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File: Holocaust remembrance - Council of Europe

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