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The Holocaust

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 7 months ago

The image to the right shows wedding rings taken from Jews who were to be exterminated.

Photos like this highlight the personal realities of the horrors of the Holocaust

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Topics on the Page


History of the Holocaust

Concentration and Labor Camps

Extermination Camps

  • Victims





Why/How the Holocaust Happened

  • Anne Frank


Heroes of the Holocaust

  • Oskar Schindler


Women of the Holocaust

LGBTQ History

Teaching Resources and Lesson Plans

  • The Voyage of the St. Louis
  • Books and Films 











Focus Question: What was the background, course and consequences of the Holocaust?



6 million Jews and 5 million people of other groups were killed during the Holocaust,

making it one of the worst genocides ever witnessed by mankind.


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Links from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


This website has a wealth of resources. It contains informational pages, oral histories, ID cards and personal histories of Holocaust victims, timelines, maps, and more. 

Read an overview of the Holocaust here
Read about the concentration camps here
Read about the genocide of Roma/Gypsies here
Read about the genocide of the disabled here 
Read about the genocide of homosexuals here
Read about the genocide of the Polish here


Multimedia Resources


Video of Homosexual Holocaust Survivor


Video of Roma Sinti Holocaust Survivor


Video About the Final Solution


Video About the Rise of the Nazis


Museum of Jewish Heritage Link- Provides access to primary sources, educational lessons, virtual tours, and more for teachers/students. 


New Orleans National WWII Museum- Offers free primary source and other lesson material for teachers to use in their lessons.



Eternal Flame and Concentration Camp Victims Memorial
Eternal Flame and Concentration Camp Victims Memorial


History of the Holocaust


Crash Course Video on the Holocaust

Because of mature content users are required to sign in before viewing the video to verify age.

The beginning of the Holocaust is commonly pinpointed to an event called Kristallnacht, "the Night of Broken Glass."


  • On November 9, 1938, Nazi officials authorized a pogrom (an organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group [10]) against Jews throughout Germany. 


    • The name derives from the broken windows of synagogues, homes and business of Jewish people that characterized the pogrom and forced Jewish people out of their communities. 


    • Although efforts are made by the Nazi Party to "control" the violence, they were only trying to control it in the sense of guiding it in the right direction of violence rather than protect Jews from said violence.


  • Click here for videos of first hand experiences during Kristallnacht. 

The course of the Holocaust can be broken down into different techniques of expulsion and extermination that the Nazis used (categories appear in red below. They are borrowed from Wikipedia):


This timeline outlines key events during the Holocaust: https://www.museumoftolerance.com/education/teacher-resources/holocaust-resources/timeline-of-the-holocaust.html


This timeline provides a list of events during the Holocaust, and clicking on each event provides more information, details and videos surrounding that particular event: https://timelineoftheholocaust.org/



Concentration and Labor Camps (1933-1945)


Because of its extreme xenophobia, Nazi Germany established concentration camps throughout its territories to intern those it believed threatened the regime. These camps were in place well before Kristallnacht, but after 1938 the number of inmates quadrupled from 25,000 to about 100,000 in 1942. By 1945, there were more than 700,000 inmates in Nazi camps [11].

The following are the names of the major concentration camps, although the Jewish Virtual Library estimates that there were close to 15,000 camps in total: 

  • Bergen-Belsen
  • Bogdanovka
  • Buchenwald
  • Dachau
  • Gross-Rosen
  • Herzogenbusch
  • Janowska
  • Jasenovac
  • Kaiserwald
  • Maly Trostenets
  • Mauthausen-Gusen
  • Neuengamme
  • Ravensbrück
  • Sachsenhausen
  • Sajmiste
  • Salaspils
  • Stutthof
  • Thereisienstadt
  • Uckermarck
  • Warsaw

Many of these camps were labor camps, where prisoners were forced to do hard physical labor under conditions of starvation, dehydration, disease and psychological abuse. These camps did not have the explicit goal of extermination; however, many died due to such harsh treatment.

Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel are two Holocaust survivors who described their experiences in German concentration camps in powerful memoirs. Levi, who is Jewish-Italian, described the time he spent in Auschwitz in his memoir If This Is a Man (also known as Survival in Auschwitz), while Wiesel, who is Jewish-Romanian, chronicled his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald in his memoir Night. These two novels provide a great deal of insight into the physical and mental anguish experienced by inmates of Nazi concentration camps.


Extermination Camps

Guide to Prisoner Badges in Concentration Camps, translated into English

Guide to Prisoner Badges in Concentration Camps, translated into English


Some of the camps had the sole purpose of killing Jews and other "undesirables." The following six camps were those designated by the Nazi party as extermination, or death, camps:

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Chelmno
  • Belzec
  • Majdanek
  • Sobibor
  • Treblinka


Video of Auschwitz


The most common method of extermination was death by poison gas, provided by German chemical company IG Farben. Directors of IG Farben were tried for war crimes at the Nuremburg trialsfollowing WWII [12].


A map of all camps can be found here: https://www.thoughtco.com/concentration-and-death-camps-map-1779690




  • The Nazis targeted Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists, twins, and the disabled. 


  • For more information on the attack on homosexuals, click here.  


  • Some of these people tried to hide from the Nazis, like Anne Frank and her family. 
    • A few were successful; most were not. 


  • Those that were captured suffered sterilization, forced resettlement, separation from family and friends, beatings, torture, starvation, and/or death. 


  • Learn more about the victims of Nazi cruelty, both the children and the adults here

Click here for an oral history of Leo Schneiderman and his arrival at Auschwitz

Click here for an interactive map of Auschwitz


Click here for an overhead view of Auschwitz

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust -Victims 


Ghettos (1940-1945)


 Children of the Ghetto presents life during the Holocaust from the viewpoints of children who lived in a ghetto. Features an interactive re-creation of a Ghetto street that students can enter and explore.


Click here for a timeline of the ghettos during the Holocaust.


Here is a map showing all the ghettos that were established between 1941 and 1942 under Nazi rule.


Pogroms (1939-1942) & Death Squads (1941-1943)


Many of the victims of the Holocaust were killed systematically outside of extermination camps. Einsatzgruppen were SS troops that carried out mass killings throughout eastern Europe, primarily by firing squad.

For more information on the Einsatzgruppen, check out this essay from the Holocaust History Project.


Below is a picture of the SS lining up for inspection.

Image result for the holocaust ss



Common Theories for Why/How the Holocaust Happened 





Historians who believe that the origins of the Holocaust lay in intentionalism believe that Hitler's obsessive hatred for Jewish people led to the organized murder of millions, and that the Holocaust was planned for long before the Nazi state took over.  Intentionalists believe that most of the policies of the Nazi state were primarily a result of Hitler, and that Hitler had always intended to destroy the Jews.  Most of the evidence that supports the intentionalist theory comes from Hitler's autobiography called Mein Kampf, which was completed in 1925.  In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote about why he hated the Jews so much, and how he believed that there was some type of worldwide Jewish conspiracy.  Hitler also wrote about the need for Lebensraum (living space) in the "Jewish-controlled east" for true Aryans, and how Aryans need to solve the "Jewish problem" for the sake of their survival.  Although Hitler doesn't blatantly call for a genocide of Jews in his autobiography, intentionalists believe it is obvious that Hitler had always planned for one. 




Historians who believe that the origins of the Holocaust lay in structural-functionalism believe that the Holocaust was the product of an unorganized, polycratic Nazi state, and that it was carried out by a lot of lower-ranking Nazi officers.  Although Hitler may have provided a lot of the anti-Semitic ideology, most of the day-to-day tasks were carried out by competitive officers with lower ranks.  These officers wanted to prove their worth and climb to the top of the Nazi state, and often did horrendous things on their own in hopes of being recognized.  Historians who are structural-functionalists also believe that the Holocaust was not planned ahead of time, and that it was a spontaneous, last resort decision.  Structural-functionalists believe that a genocide was not planned for, and was only finally decided after the Nazis were defeated at Stalingrad and in the Battle of Britain.  By the fall of 1941, some labor and concentration camps were still keeping their inmates alive, while others were starting to transport the Jews and other minorities to death camps (very unorganized).  After the Wannsee Conference in January of 1942, a genocide of the Jews and other minorities was finally decided on due to unexpected war losses and a general lack of a plan for what to do with the inmates of labor and concentration camps.  Structural-functionalist Hannah Arendt believes that the lower-ranking officers were able to carry out these uncoordinated killings because of "the banality of evil".  She argued they weren't psychopaths, but rather evil is very common and that ordinary people can do extraordinarily evil things in times of conflict and uncertainty.





Anne Frank


Anne Frank Statue in Utrecht, the Netherlands


Statue Anne Frank in Utrecht, the Netherlands


Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam has interactive resources and virtual tour of Anne Frank's living quarters

See also Anne Frank: The Secret Annex Online for more explorations.

Anne Frank Biography offers biography of Anne Frank, as well as multiple videos and quotes with further information.




Holocaust Heroes

The 'Iranian Schindler' Who Saved Jews from the Nazis from BBC Magazine describes the efforts of Abdol-Hossein Sardari, a diplomat in Paris who arranged for Iranian Jews to gain safety

Zegota, a Polish organization dedicated to providing aliases and hiding places for Jews in non-German territories saved thousands of Jews from the Nazi death camps. A movie detailing their work can be found here

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who issued certificates of protection to Jewish people and helped evacuate them into neutral territories. 


Here is a website that includes a list of women saved thousands of people during the Holocaust.

Huberman's List: How a Violinist Saved Jews in World War II from NPR

Click here for information on Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who helped save about 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto. 

  • Life in a Jar was created to remember Sendler and her work during the Holocaust.


Miep Gies, one of the Dutch citizens who were responsible for sheltering the Frank family during the Second World War. 

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Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler is probably the most well-known Holocaust Hero. He owned factories and would save Jewish people from being sent to Auschwitz by recruiting them to work for him. He saved over 1000 Jewish people from being killed in concentration camps.


  • Click here for more information on Schindler.


  • Click here to see the list of people he saved.




Sir Nicholas Winton was honored in October 29 for saving an estimated 669 Czech children during the Holocaust


  Women of the Holocaust



  • An account of a woman who was taken to the Velodrome and eventually is able to escape.


  • Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest-known Holocaust survivor, died on February 23, 2014. She was 110 years old. Herz-Sommer was sent to a concentration camp in Terezin, a Czech city with her husband and son. 


    • Click here to read about her life from ABC News.


  • This website is a great resource about women in the holocaust. This page is specifically about women's hair in concentration camps but also has links to other topics pertaining to women including food, caring for children and more personal stories of women during the Holocaust.


  •  Click here for more information on Ravensbrück, which was a labor camp in Berlin that was for women only. 




Multicultural Resources


  • Anonymous No Longer presents the names of men, women and children identified in the photographic display in the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial


  • A short article mentioning the struggles of French Jews being rounded up by French police to eventually be sent to Auschwitz


  • Philippe Petain offers brief biography of the figure head in France who collaborated with Germany during their occupation of France.

 Click here and here for information regarding the Nazi persecution of homosexual men under the infamous Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code


This webpage details the experiences and targeting of all the groups of the Holocaust, including members of the LGBTQ community, the Romas, Gypsies, and those disabled: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/women-in-holocaust


Article on Japanese Internment Camps in the US during WWII



Teaching Resources and Lesson Plans:

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  • A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust from the University of South Florida presents an overview of the people and events of the Holocaust through photographs, documents, art, music, movies, and literature







  • Click here for an Introductory Packet for Teachers on teaching the Holocaust.

The Voyage of the St. Louis, 1939


The St. Louis was a ship filled with 937 refugees fleeing Germany in 1939. The ship was headed for Cuba but Cuba denied the majority of the passengers entry. The passengers then tried to seek refuge in the United States but were denied one again and were returned to Europe. The story of the St. Louis demonstrates Cuban and American sentiments about Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. This also highlights 19th century ideas of antisemitism that existed outside of Germany as well.

A Ship full of Refugees Fleeing the Nazis Once Begged the U.S. for Entry. They Were Turned Back



Books and Films

external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngSee the book IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation by Edwin Black (Crown, 2001) that describes how Nazi officials used IBM's punch card technology to support persecution of the Jews, and how the corporation continued to provide technology to Germany.


Look at Maus by Art Spiegelman. This is a graphic novel written about the Author's Father, and has illustrations depicting his story.



The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A fiction novel that depicts a friendship between the Son of a Concentration Camp overseer and a prisoner of the camp.



  Film Trailer


The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945 by William Sheridan Allen is a great insight as to how Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in the years prior to and during World War II. A  great resource to see the German mindset of the time, and how the Holocaust was allowed to continue.



Books about the Holocaust and World War 2:





Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.

Roberts, J.M. (1996). The Penguin History of Europe. London: Penguin Books.

Huny, Lynn. The Making of the West. 2nd ed. Vol. II. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007.

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