3.6: Genocide

AGE 9. The Time of World Wars

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AGE 9. The Time of World Wars

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

What is this lesson about?
The racial programme of the Nazis concentrated on purifying the Aryan and eliminating all ‘parasite races’. They did this by encouraging population growth of the Aryan race and killing mentally ill and incurably sick people. Jews were isolated from society step by step. Lastly, all Jews were systemically murdered in extermination camps. This genocide is called the Holocaust.

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

people in this lesson
Josef Mengele
SS doctor
Heinrich Himmler
head of the SS

Slide 3 - Tekstslide

Word Duty

Lebensborn: Nazi program to raise the birth rate of ‘Aryan’ children by unmarried women

Nuremberg laws: anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany, introduced in 1935

Night of Broken Glass: riot against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938; also known as Kristallnacht

ghetto: Jewish quarter in a city

genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.

Holocaust: the mass murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million of people who were not Jewish by the Nazis during World War Two


Slide 4 - Tekstslide

Important dates in this lesson:

1933: boycot Jewish shops
          Jews fired from government employment
1935: start Lebensborn program
          Neuremberg Laws
1938: Jews banned from public facilities like parks and theaters
1939: start euthanasia program
          start WW2: start mass executions of Jews in Eastern Europe by SS Einsatzgruppen
1941: start Endlösung: the final solution.

Slide 5 - Tekstslide

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he dreamed of creating a new species of racially pure, fierce and courageous people. Hitler’s racial theories and hatred of Jews eventually led to the mistreatment and mass murder of millions of innocent people.
Hungarian Jewish women and children arrive at Auschwitz in May/June 1944. 
(photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-N0827-318/CC BY-SA)

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

Producing children for Hitler

The Nazis had promoted large families from the start. Children could be raised in the spirit of National Socialism and fight for Germany at a later age. Besides propaganda, the Cross of Honour of the German Mother was introduced: a decoration for women who gave birth to and raised many children as good Nazis. Estimates show that by September 1941, more than 4.7 million German women had received this decoration.

A Nazi leader and his family. The mother is decorated with the golden Cross of Honour of the German Mother (8 or more children). Five sons are in the military. The younger children are members of the Hitler Youth. Dated 1943.

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1a. How can you tell that Hitler planned on fighting a long war?

Slide 8 - Open vraag

1b. Explain what effect the promotion of large families had on Hitler’s ideal of creating Lebensraum for the German people.

Slide 9 - Open vraag

2. In this exercise, you will practise skill 15: Supporting statements.
The introduction of the ‘Cross of Honour of the German Mother’ promoted the emancipation of women in Nazi Germany.
Do you agree with this statement, or not? Discuss with a classmate. Then write down your opinion, supported with arguments.

Slide 10 - Open vraag


The leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, wanted to improve the German race by selecting young people with characteristics according to Aryan standards to have intercourse. In December 1935, the Lebensborn Program was established. Against all moral values of that time, Himmler publicly stated that young unmarried women classified as racially pure and healthy, should start having children as well. Lebensborn mediated with these women to have their children adopted, so they could be raised by SS members or other racially pure and healthy parents. Besides raising the birth rate in Germany, hundreds of thousands of children with racially pure characteristics were abducted from Poland and Russia to be raised in Germany.

A girl getting her face measured: the Nazis wanted "racially and genetically valuable children."
a Lebensborn birth house.
Many women that took part in the Lebensborn Program were unmarried and did not want their choldren back after the war. Lebensborn children often grew up without parents and were excluded by society.
German women carrying children of alleged aryan purity in a Lebensborn selection center in 1939. 

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3. In this exercise, you will practise skill 12: Taking account of the context: Empathy.

a. People have often compared the Lebensborn Program with
the breeding of cattle. Explain why.

Slide 12 - Open vraag

3. In this exercise, you will practise skill 12: Taking account of the context: Empathy.

b. Use the context to explain why so many young German women voluntarily took part in the Lebensborn Programme.

Slide 13 - Open vraag

4. Explain why children of the Lebensborn Programme who were born with physical or mental conditions could easily be killed in secret clinics.

Slide 14 - Open vraag

Euthanasia programmes

Children of the Lebensborn Program who were born with physical or mental conditions were useless according to Hitler. They were the first children to be killed in secret clinics.
In September 1939, Hitler had secretly signed a euthanasia decree. He authorized his personal physician to carry out involuntary euthanasia on all people who, after careful medical examination, were considered incurably sick. Records show that more than 70,000 mentally ill people were secretly killed during the first two years. From January 1940 onwards, gassing was introduced in gas chambers as a more efficient method for killing large numbers of people. When the public found out about Hitler’s euthanasia programme, they started to protest strongly. Although the programme was never stopped, the gas chambers were taken apart and taken to concentration camps in Poland. There they would be given a new purpose: the systematic mass killing of Jews and Romas.

Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934. Photo by SS photographer Franz Bauer

Slide 15 - Tekstslide

5. In this exercise, you will practise skill 7:
Drawing conclusions from studying sources.
Study the source
a. Use the propaganda poster to explain how Hitler justified
the involuntary euthanasia of incurably sick people.
This Nazi propaganda poster says: ‘This is the load on your shoulders. A person suffering from a hereditary deficiency costs our community 50,000 Reichsmark until he reaches the age of 60’.

Slide 16 - Open vraag

5. In this exercise, you will practise skill 7:
Drawing conclusions from studying sources.
Study the source
b. Do you think this was a successful argument at that time?
Explain your answer.
This Nazi propaganda poster says: ‘This is the load on your shoulders. A person suffering from a hereditary deficiency costs our community 50,000 Reichsmark until he reaches the age of 60’.

Slide 17 - Open vraag

Isolation of Jews (1)

Hitler gained a lot of popularity by blaming the Jews for losing the First World War and for the economic depression. When the Nazis took power, they started to bring their anti-Semitism into practice. Their goal was to force Jews to emigrate from Germany and step by step, measures were taken to make their lives harder. The first step took place in April 1933: Jews working for the government and in education were fired. Jewish shops were boycotted and books that were considered ‘un-German’ – i.e. books written by Jewish writers - were burned in public (see section 2.5). The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 took away their rights as German citizens: Jews were no longer allowed to vote, to marry or even have intercourse with a German. By 1938, signs saying ‘Forbidden for Jews’ appeared, banning Jews from most public facilities, such as schools, public transport, theatres and swimming pools. 

Public humiliation of a Jewish man and none-Jewish woman for having a relationship. The woman’s sign: ‘I am the biggest pig in town and only get involved with Jews’, the man’s sign: ‘As a Jewish boy, I only go to bed with German girls’. Dated 1933.

Slide 18 - Tekstslide

In 1920, Hitler announced a 25-point plan for his Nazy Party. Points included:

4. Only a member of the Aryan race can be a citizen.  A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race.
5. Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.
6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore, we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens […]
7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the state, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
For the next question, read the source below:
From: Wikipedia.

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6a. According to Hitler, what status should Jews have in Germany?

Slide 20 - Open vraag

6b. How can you conclude from this source that Jews were no longer allowed to work in government positions?

Slide 21 - Open vraag

Isolation of Jews (2)

Jews that resisted these measure were taken to concentration camps. Approximately 170,000 of the 500,000 Jews in Germany had fled their country before the war started. Jews that stayed were terrorised by the SA. When a Jew murdered a German diplomat in November 1938, the Nazis attacked and destroyed Jewish homes, synagogues and shops all over Germany. The night of 9-10 November 1938 is therefore known as the Night of Broken Glass (in German: Kristallnacht). Tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and many were killed.

A Frankfurt synagogue in flames during Kristallnacht.

Slide 22 - Tekstslide

7. In this exercise you will practise skill 11: Linking sources to a characteristic aspect.
Look at the source.
A characteristic aspect of the age of the world wars is:
‘Totalitarianism and racism under National Socialism’.
Explain how this source displays both aspects of
National Socialism.

Slide 23 - Open vraag

Execution of Jews

Once the war started, the Nazis took even more extreme measures against the Jewish population in Germany and its conquered areas. Emigration was no longer an option. In Poland, thousands of Jews died of starvation and sickness in ghettos: parts of towns where Jews were crammed together, often without electricity or sufficient water supplies. In Russia, the treatment of Jews was even worse: special killing squads called Einsatzgruppen (mobile murder units) were ordered by Hitler to shoot as many Jews, Romas and communist officials as possible. Over a million people were executed this way.

German ‘Einsatzgruppen’ murder Jews in Ukraine, July-September 1941.

Slide 24 - Tekstslide

8. When World War II started, the attitude towards the Jews changed as well.

a. Regarding the Jews, what had been the goal of the Nazis before the war?

Slide 25 - Open vraag

When World War II started, the attitude towards the Jews changed as well.

Explain how the Nazi’s attitude towards Jews changed after the war started.

Slide 26 - Open vraag

Nazi Human Experimentation

A number of Nazi physicians considered concentration camps as providing the perfect opportunity to perform medical experiments on humans. These experiments are now considered as medical torture: they usually resulted in death, trauma or permanent disabilities. Probably the most notorious is the research conducted by Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. This doctor performed experiments on almost fifteen hundred sets of twins to find out whether it was possible to manipulate human genetics. Other experiments at the camps include transplantation of bones and muscles and testing of new weaponry, such as mustard gas and poisons. Some of the experiments were done to advance Nazi racial studies: Hitler wanted proof that Jews were lesser humans.

High-altitude experiments, using a low-pressure chamber, to determine the maximum altitude from which crews of damaged aircraft could parachute to safety
Dr Josef Mengele, nicknamed "angel of death", fled to South America after the war. Although on the "most wanted" list he eventually died in 1979, presumably of a heart attack or a stroke while taking a swim.

Slide 27 - Tekstslide

9. The experiments of Nazi scientists such as Josef Mengele were very cruel and inhumane and are now considered as medical torture. Why was it so important for Hitler to find a way to manipulate human genetics?

Slide 28 - Open vraag

Auschwitz, May 1944: Hungarian Jews on the platform at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp after disembarking from the transport trains. To be sent to the right meant the person had been chosen as a forced labourer; to the left meant death in the gas chambers.
The Holocaust
Holocaust is derived from the Greek word holocaustos (burnt offering). The Ancient Greeks used the word for animal sacrifices to their gods. However, many Jews prefer the biblical word shoah (Hebrew: catastrophe). Nazis referred to the Holocaust as Endlösung der Judenfrage (final solution to the Jewish question).

Slide 29 - Tekstslide

The Holocaust

The German solution for what they called the ‘Jewish Problem’ became clear by December 1941. Their Endlösung (Final solution) was to exterminate an entire people. This deliberate killing of a large group of people is called genocide. Gassing was considered the most effective method to put this plan into practice. A number of different extermination camps were set up in Poland. The most infamous one was Auschwitz-Birkenau, a labour and extermination camp where more than two million Jews were murdered. Some camps, like Sobibor and Treblinka, were set up with the sole purpose of gassing Jews and gypsies. Others were set up as forced labour camps where Jews were put to work until they died. Research estimate that about six million Jews were killed during what is now called the Holocaust.

The entrace gate of Auschwitz as it is today.
You can see the same gate in the picture below, at the top left.
Jews arrive at Auschwitz. SS officers or doctors immediately start the selection, separating the weak from the strong. The weak, mostly women, children, elderly and sick, go straight to the gas chamber.

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10. Discuss with a classmate. Use the idea of ‘Lebensraum’ and ‘Nazification’ to explain why extermination camps were placed in Eastern Europe and not in Western Europe.

Slide 31 - Open vraag

"The Holocaust could only have taken place in a totalitarian state".
Write down two arguments to support this statement.

Slide 32 - Open vraag

Anything you didn't quite understand?
Write your question(s) here!

Slide 33 - Open vraag

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