Importance of racism or anti-Semitism to the Nazi regime.
Outcomes. Through the analysis of primary, secondary, and video sources (enumerated below) on the Holocaust, students will be able to:
Demonstrate their knowledge of the fundamental importance of racism/anti-Semitism to the Nazi regime.
Reveal their understanding of the origins and development of the Nazis’ murderous efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe as well as the Roma and other groups.
Explain the extraordinary acts of resistance and efforts to preserve human dignity on the part of victims and survivors.
Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), vol. l.
Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), vol. 2.
“Facing Death in the Bialystok Ghetto, February 1943”, in Lucy S. Dawidowicz, ed. A Holocaust Reader (Springfield, N.J.: Behrman House Inc., 1976), pp. 347-353.
Eric J. Sundquist, “The Final Solution” in Eric J. Sundquist, ed. Writing in Witness: A Holocaust Reader (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York, 2018), 153-162.
Lucy S. Dawidowicz, “Resistance: The Ordeal of Desperation” in Lucy S. Dawidowicz, ed. A Holocaust Reader (Springfield, N.J.: Behrman House Inc., 1976), 329- 333.
1- US Holocaust Memorial Museum: The Path to Nazi Genocide, 38 min. at https://www.ushmm.org/learn/holocaust/path-to-nazi-genocide/the-path-to-nazi-genocide/full-film
2- Holocaust Interview: In Our Voices: Fritzie Fritshall Interview on Youtube, 27 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xkW788pj2o&t=325s
Defiance, 2008. Directed by Edward Zwich.
Further possible videos:
America and the Holocaust, PBS, 2014 I hr. 22 min. on Films on Demand through the Library Page.
Night and Fog, 32 min. 1956, French Internet Archive, free
Imagine that a group of Holocaust deniers have demanded that the teaching of the Holocaust (the Shoah), the extermination of six million European Jews, be eliminated from the curriculum of your college. You, fortunately, have just finished a section of your History 121 class on this topic having read the texts and watched the films cited above. You are not only shocked but also enraged that people would try to deny and hide not only the history, but also the lessons of these terrible events.
Consequently, you decide to write an essay/Op Ed and send it to your local newspaper for publication. You are determined to demonstrate the truth of the Holocaust in order to persuade these deniers of the falsity of their claims and get them to desist from this effort. Using the sources we read and watched for class, you explain why it is so important to recognize, understand, and confront the brutality of this history.
Possible Questions to Consider:
What conditions and ideas made the Holocaust possible? How do we know about the existence of the ghettos, the concentration camps, and the extermination camps? What was daily life like for people in them and how did people survive? What were Vladek’s strategies of survival? How did people resist the everyday brutality? What happened to those who resisted: did they escape or survive? What was the “Final Solution”?
How did the Nazis seek to deprive their victims of their identity, their basic human dignity, and how did their victims attempt to preserve or reclaim their dignity? What is the difference between crimes of humanity and genocide?
Considering your previous assignment on Memory in World War I, what would be the responsibility of memory in this case? What lessons can those of us in the present learn from this history? Why is it so necessary that it be a topic of study in schools?
The storm of anti-Semitic violence loosed by Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945 not only reached a terrifying intensity in Germany itself but also inspired anti-Jewish movements elsewhere. Anti-Semitism was promulgated in France by the Cagoulards (French: “Hooded Men”), in Hungary by the Arrow Cross, in England by the British Union of Fascists, and in the United States by the German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts.
In Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism reached a racial dimension never before experienced. Christianity had sought the conversion of the Jews, and political leaders from Spain to England had sought their expulsion because Jews were practitioners of Judaism, but the Nazis—who regarded Jews not only as members of a subhuman race but as a dangerous cancer that would destroy the German people—sought the “final solution to the Jewish question,” the murder of all Jews— men, women, and children—and their eradication from the human race. In Nazi ideology that perceived Jewishness to be biological, the elimination of the Jews was essential to the purification and even the salvation of the German people.