The Holocaust - 1941

By Sai, Rayna, and Shruti


Background Information

As you heard in previous presentations, the government imposed new restrictions on Jews that stayed in Germany. There was a strict curfew on Jewish individuals and laws that prohibited Jews from entering designated areas in many German cities. Once a general food rationing began, Jews received reduced rations. Jews were not allowed to go to certain stores and buy certain supplies, this caused many Jewish households to face shortages of basic supplies.

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Jews in 1941

German authorities also demanded that Jews give up property “essential to the war effort” like radios, cameras, bicycles, electrical appliances, and other valuables to the local officials. In September 1941, a decree prohibited Jews from using public transportation. In the same month came the law requiring Jews over the age of six to wear the yellow Jewish Star (Magen David) on their outermost garment. In that same year, Jews were forced to live in "Jewish Houses". These Jewish houses weren't really houses, they were just a place or a shack where all Jews would be living together. German authorities also issued ordinances forcing Jews fit for work to perform compulsory forced labor.

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Transportation of Jews

In October 1941, because of Hitler's authorization, German authorities began systematic transportations of Jews from Germany, even before police established “extermination camps” in German-controlled Poland. Because of the Eleventh Decree of Germany's Reich Citizenship Law (which was passed on November 1941), German Jews moved to the East suffered automatic confiscation of their property when they crossed the Reich frontier.

Between October and December 1941, German authorities deported around 42,000 Jews from the so-called Greater German Reich which included Austria and the annexed Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia. They transported all these Jews to ghettos in Lodz, Minsk, Kovno, and Riga.

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As the war against the Jews progressed, the ghettos became transition areas, used as collection points for deportation to death camps and concentration camps. The five major ghettos were located in Warsaw, Lódz, Kraków, Lublin, and Lvov.

There was no uniformity to ghettos. The ghettos in small towns were generally not sealed off, because they were just used to keep Jews until they could be moved to a bigger ghetto. Larger cities had closed ghettos, with brick or stone walls, wooden fences, and barbed wire defining the boundaries. Guards were placed strategically at gateways and other boundary openings. Jews were not allowed to leave the "Jewish residential districts," under penalty of death. All ghettos had the most inhuman living conditions. The smallest ghetto housed approximately 3,000 people. Warsaw, the largest ghetto, held 400,000 people. Lódz, the second largest, held about 160,000 people.

Ghetto life was terrible. The ghettos were filthy, with poor sanitation. Extreme overcrowding forced many people to share a room. Disease was rampant. Staying warm was difficult during cold winters because there was no warm clothing or heating fuel. Food was in such short supply that many Jews slowly starved to death.

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Theresienstadt Ghetto

The Nazis established the Theresienstadt (or Terezín) ghetto in northwestern Czechoslovakia to use as a model Jewish settlement to counter rumors in the international community about the poor conditions in the ghettos. Flower gardens, cafés, and schools were constructed to show the visiting International Red Cross inspectors and audiences of Nazi propaganda films the humane conditions of a "typical" ghetto.

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Operation Barbarossa

Under the codename Operation "Barbarossa," Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. With 134 Divisions at full fighting strength and 73 more divisions for deployment behind the front, German forces invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Three army groups, including more than three million German soldiers, supported by 650,000 troops from Germany's allies (Finland and Romania), and later helped by units from Italy, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary, attacked the Soviet Union across a broad front, from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. Germany and its Axis partners achieved almost complete tactical surprise since Soviet leadership had refused to pay attention to the warnings from the Western Powers. Much of the existing Soviet air force was destroyed and the Soviet armies were initially overwhelmed. German units encircled millions of Soviet soldiers, who, cut off from supplies and reinforcements, had few options other than to surrender.

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On March 24, Germans invade North Africa. North Africa had a lot of oil and Germany needed this oil for the weapons to prepare for war. Since Germany didn't have enough oil, they decide to invade North Africa and take it over so that they can have enough oil to prepare for war. The Germans weren't entirely successful.

On April 6, Germans invade Yugoslavia and Greece. Hitler invaded Yugoslavia because the new king,King Peter II, supported the British. Hitler didn't like it and wanted Yugoslavia to support Germany so he invaded them successfully.

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Following the June 1941 German invasion of Soviet Union, the Nazis increased the number of prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. Some new camps were built at existing concentration camp complexes (such as Auschwitz ) in occupied Poland. The camp at Lublin, later known as Majdanek, was established in the autumn of 1941 as a POW camp and became a concentration camp in 1943. Thousands of Soviet POWs were shot or gassed there.

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Medical Expirements

Many German physicians conducted painful and often deadly experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their permission. There were three categories of experiments that were performed on the people at the camps. The first category of experiments were used to determine the maximum altitude from which crews of damaged aircraft could parachute to safety. The second category was used to develop and test treatment methods for injuries and illnesses which German military and occupation personnel encountered in the field. The third experiments was used in order to determine how different "races" withstood various contagious diseases. They used twins and Roma(Gypsies) to do these experiments.

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The "Final Solution"

To facilitate the "Final Solution" ,which was the genocide or mass destruction of the Jews, the Nazis established killing centers in Poland, since Poland had the largest Jewish population. The killing centers were designed for efficient mass murder. Chelmno, the first killing center, opened in December 1941. Jews and Roma were gassed in mobile gas vans there.

The Nazis constructed Gas chamber which were rooms that filled with poison gas to kill those inside it. They constructed Gas chambers to increase killing efficiency and to make the process more impersonal for the perpetrators. At the Auschwitz camp complex, the Birkenau killing center had four gas chambers. During the height of deportations to the camp, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed there each day.

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Start of World War 2

After securing the Balkan region, the Germans and their allies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. This was in direct violation of the German-Soviet Pact. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin became a major wartime Allied leader. During the summer and autumn of 1941, German troops advanced deep into the Soviet Union, but, the Red Army resistance prevented the Germans from capturing Leningrad and Moscow. On December 6, 1941, Soviet troops launched a significant counter offense that drove German forces permanently from the Moscow. The next day on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States immediately declared war on Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States and disgruntled the military conflict.

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Effect on the World

All the events that we talked about before in this presentation led up to World War 2 and effected the world greatly. Because of World War 2 many countries became poor and had huge debts to pay off like Germany. Other countries were completely destroyed politically and economically.


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (trailer)

Multimedia Explanation

This is a trailer for the movie called "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". The trailer shows a the son of a Nazis general and a Jewish boy in a camp. It shows how the German boy becomes friends with the Jewish boy. This is an example of how some of the German people disagreed with Hitler and tried to help the Jewish.

Important People or Things

The Schutzstaffel or SS was the main operating force behind the operation of the concentration camp system. It began as a personal bodyguard for Adolf Hitler, but under Heinrich Himmler, it expanded and included armed military forces. The SS Totenkopfverbande or SS-TV ran the camps, and mobile killing teams called Einsatzgruppen were the field executioners who followed the Army into occupied countries.


Jehovah's Witnesses:

Germans saw them as "dangerous" because they didn't believe in any other God except Jehovah.

Roma Gypsies:

They were killed mainly because of their different religion.


Jewish people were persecuted because of their religion too.

Many African Americans, homosexuals, the disabled and priests and pastors died for their different beliefs and disagreed with Hitler.


Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was leader of the Nazi Party. He had a passion for destruction, and killed millions of innocent people.

Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was instrumental in implementing the Final Solution, organizing transports of Jews from all over Europe to the killing centers.

Hans Frank (1900-1946) Governor-General of occupied Poland from 1939 to 1945. He announced, "Poland will be treated like a colony; the Poles will become slaves of the Greater German Reich."

Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) was the Minister for People's Enlightenment and Propaganda from 1933 until his suicide in May, 1945. He had total control of the radio, the press, publishing houses, and the cinema. He was highly skilled at mass persuasion.

Hermann Göring (1893-1946) He created the secret police and helped set up the early concentration camps for political opponents.

Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942) was the leader of the Einsatzgruppen.

Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) was the organizer of the mass murder of Jews.

Joseph Mengele was known for his crazy experiments that he conducted at the camps. He mainly did them on tins and Gypsies.


The vast majority of people in Germany and people living in Europe knew the most part of what was going on. They chose to either ignore simply because it was not happening to them or they were too scared to stand up to the Nazis. In fact, the whole world was just watching until the Nazis did something that effected the rest of the world.

People that resisted or rescued

Many priests and pastors objected to the Nazis views and they rescued others that were being persecuted, but many of them were killed.

Ala Gartner was hanged for smuggling gunpowder into Auschwitz Birkenau. She was going to use the gunpowder to destroy the Gas Chambers. Many Jews also resisted the Nazis ideas. Jews in the concentration camps formed many uprisings and resisted the Nazis rules by not flowing them or ignoring them.

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From the events in this presentation we can learn that racial discrimination is bad and people should not be treated differently or harshly just because of their religion. People should be treated equally even if they practice different religions, because these differences are what make us unique and special.

Works Cited

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