What was the Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

 

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": RomaPoles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals. (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples.

WHAT WAS THE HOLOCAUST?
 
In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorable conditions. From the earliest years of the Nazi regime, German authorities persecuted homosexuals and others whose behavior did not match prescribed social norms. German police officials targeted thousands of political opponents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah's Witnesses). Many of these individuals died as a result of incarceration and maltreatment.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE "FINAL SOLUTION"
 
In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. Increasingly in the years before the outbreak of war, SS and police officials incarcerated Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethnic and racial hatred in these camps. To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war years. The German authorities also established numerous forced-labor camps, both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in German-occupied territory, for non-Jews whose labor the Germans sought to exploit.

Nazi Concentration Camp Pictures

 http://www.ushmm.org/genocide/endgenocide/videos/

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Calendar of Events

Feb8

"Deconstructing Atrocity Imagery: A Conversation with Dr. Wendy Lower"

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In her latest book, The Ravine: A Family: A Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed, Dr. Wendy Lower, Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College, observes that in the aftermath of World War II, “Eisenhower ordered that visual evidence be collected to guard against forgetting and disbelief." In this lecture, Dr. Lower shares her investigation of a single photograph—a rare “action shot” documenting the horrific final moment of a family’s murder in Ukraine. Through years of forensic and archival research, Lower sought to uncover the identities of the photographed and in the process recovered new details about the Nazis’ open-air massacres in eastern Europe, the role of the family unit in Nazi ideology, and a rare case of rescue and postwar justice.

This event is part of the 2022-23 Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Colloquium, “Trauma, Remembrance, and Compassion.” The event is organized by the KHC at Queensborough Community College and is co-sponsored by the Ray Wolpow Institute at Western Washington University; the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College; and the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University.

Feb12

The War in Ukraine: The Perspective of a Jewish Historian

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The featured speaker is David E. Fishman a professor of Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in modern Jewish history. Dr. Fishman also serves as director of Project Judaica, JTS's program in Ukraine, which is based at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy University. He directs its Jewish Archival Survey, which publishes guides to Jewish archival materials in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Dr. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry. This is not an HGI event but HGI strongly encourages its supporters to attend the event hosted by the Riverdale Temple and YIVO.

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