In this task I will forward a brief exposition of the resettlement itself, and the methods of ‘encouragement’ employed by the Nazi regime. I will then use the given sources to assess the Jewish and German attitudes and reactions to this resettlement. In 1942 the Wansee Conference determined a strategy that involved an official policy for the elimination of 11 million Jews from the European mainland.
The intended to round up all of the Jews, transport them across to the east, and viciously work them to death. While genocide was not spoken aloud or to the wrong sort of people, the preparations to and the installation of gas chambers in the concentration camps began straight after the conference. The ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Problem’ was to be administered systematically, as source I clearly demonstrates to us. Adolf Eichmann was to be given the responsibility of the administration of this strategy.
The Nazi’s introduced a strategy this was clearly made up of starvation, deception, and terror, this was mainly for the reason that they wanted to make sure that the Jews resettled in the East. The Jewish community were enticed by the thought of more food, offered by the Nazi’s, should they agree to resettlement. The Jews were deluded into thinking that if they agreed to resettlement, that a new and better life was awaiting them. If any of the few that weren’t coned, into thinking that this new promised life was true, they were threatened to ‘get to the resettlement camps’.
This was a huge intimidation which forced the Jews onto the train to ‘the new life’. Resettlement camps were actually the death camps of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmo, Majadanek, and the most notorious of them all, Auschwitz. The deportation ‘victims’ arrived to these death camps in cattle trucks from the ghettos all over Nazi occupied Europe. These cattle trucks subjected the deportees to horrific conditions, indeed “when they were unloaded many of them had died from suffocation or lack of food and water”. (Susan Willoughby The holocaust 2002). The first order given on arrival was that men, women and children were to be separated.
This meant the complete division of families. Then so after the separation a process of selection came into play. With the men, from 16 years of age and up, being selected for hard labour and ‘death through destruction’, while the rest were the escorted to the ‘showers’ for immediate execution. The selected were marched away for a shower after their journey. Once inside the shower house they were told to strip naked and march into the shower rooms. Once everyone was inside the door was closed and locked, this was when most became conscious that something was amiss.
Then the ‘showers’ were turned on and out poured a deadly gas known as Zyklon B. Back inside the ghettos, “the daily transportation of large numbers of inmates caused concern but people were ignorant of the fate that was to await them when they reached their destination”, (Susan Willoughby The Holocaust 2002). Only the perceptive realised what lay ahead. Sources F, G, H and J explain Jewish and German attitudes to this resettlement process, Source I demonstrates through the use of statistical evidence the systematical strategy of deportation from the Warsaw ghetto.
We can assume from the nature of the information that this is a Nazi document, detailing the levels of death and deportation in the Warsaw ghetto. Source F is an extract from the dairy of Chaim Kaplan, quoted in Gilbert’s Holocaust. Chaim Kaplan, a Jewish resident of the Warsaw ghetto, provides a primary source that is rich in interpretation of the general attitude of the Jewish community that has yet to be deported from the Warsaw ghetto. The date, 11th July 1942 informs that the period of which he writes is a post Wansee Conference, thus the ‘Final Solution’ process has already got underway.
Kaplan refers to the rumours of mass murder of the Jews that have been deported, though not by poison gas but by bullet. This process was favoured initially, but the Nazis deemed it an inefficient method, thus replacing it with Zyklon B gas as a tool of mass extermination. Kaplan is perceptive enough to form the conclusion that death is the inevitable outcome of deportation. However, he reveals that not everyone interpreted the deportation in the same way, instead he records that “the masses in the ghetto worry about their routine affairs as though they still had ad long life ahead of them”.
This would suggest that the majority of people were totally unaware of the Nazi strategy of ‘Final Solution’. Kaplan credits only, “the intelligent and perceptive” with the insight to understand the nature of Nazi deception, and the promise of a better life in the resettled area. Source G is an extract from Gilbert’s Final Journey, thus it provides secondary material, however it includes some primary source extracts from Chaim Kaplan’ diary entry of 30th July. This source demonstrates the strategy used by the Nazi’s of ‘starvation, deception and terror’ as a means to ensure the Jewish resettlement.
Food premiums were used to entice the starving population to make the journey. As Kaplan noted “large posters have been put up on many courtyards to say that all those who voluntarily come to the transfer point will receive 3 kilos of bread and 1 kilo of marmalade to take with them on their wanderings”. In source G there is also a reference to one other Jewish boy’s recollection in regards to the Nazi deception that the resettled areas offer and promise a better life than the ghettos. This boy recalled that, “wherever it would be, we imagined that it couldn’t be a worse place”.
Gilbert also reveals that the third prong in the strategy, terror, i. e. the coercion of the population from entire areas, “sending them to train station to make their final journey”. Source G also refers to the tragic suicide of Adam Czerniakow, head of the Jewish council. He was pressurised by the Nazis to sign the deportation orders for 10,000 Jewish children. Obviously suspecting the cynical nature of this request, Czerniakow took his own life rather then sign the deportation orders for the children. Source H is an extract from Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of European Jews 1948, and is quoted in Gilbert’s Holocaust.
The Destruction of European Jews is widely considered the landmark study of the Holocaust. This is a source that helps explain the Nazi deception in the greater detail. Hilberg states that, “the Germans kept the Jews in the dark about their intentions (of the Final Solution). ” He refers to the belief among the Jewish community that the persecution of being forced to dwell in the ghettos, in the cold and overcrowded conditions, with the severe shortage of food, heating, and with no means to earn a living, was to be the culmination of their suffering.
He articulates, “They failed to think in terms of a further, more drastic stage in the destruction process”. This source clearly argues that the continuation of sheer routines, and merely surviving from day to day deflected any real thoughts on the Nazi strategy of establishing the ghettos, or what the next stage of the plan may entail. Source I is taken from The Jews of Warsaw. The use of language in the title, and the nature of the information provided suggest that this source has originated from Nazi administration documents.
This source demonstrates a set of statistical tables that reveal the population and death rates in Warsaw 1941-42, and the deportation of the population of Warsaw by the age and sex 1942. These tables reflect the cold and clinical nature of the Nazi deportation process. In table 1, ‘The Population and Death rates in Warsaw 1941-42’ show an average of around 4000 deaths per month in the Warsaw ghetto between January 1941 and July 1942. Table 2 demonstrates ‘The Deportation of the Population of Warsaw by Age and Sex during 1942’.
It reveals that the total number of male and female deportations. This source shows that during 1942 there were157, 610 males, and 221,292 females deported to the resettlement areas. Thus 368,902 Jewish people were sent to the death camps during the period of 1942. At the time of recording these statistics, 19,957 males and 15,697 females remained in the ‘holding posts’ of the Warsaw ghetto. Thus 35,653 Jewish people awaited their fate. Source J is an extract from the revisionist historian Daniel Golhagen’s Hitler’s willing Executioners; Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust 1996.
This source challenges many of the assumptions and commonly accepted accounts of the Holocaust. Traditional accounts of the ‘Final Solution’ tend to accept at face value the usual defences offered by the Germans, either they did not know of the genocide or they were compelled to participate against their will. Golhagen refutes this, arguing that “the inescapable truth is that, regarding Jews, German political culture had evolved to the point where an enormous number of ordinary, representative Germans became – and most of the rest of their fellow Germans were fit to be- Hitler’s willing executioners.
Golhagen’s conclusion revolves around the argument that the people who actively participated in the extermination program were indeed ordinary Germans, neither fanatical Nazi’s nor members of the dreaded SS. He goes on to suggest that ordinary Germans were, “almost obsessively anti-Semitic”, (Hitler’s willing Executioners; Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust 1996), with anti-Semitism being rife in German society. Golhagen states that, “essentially, in Germany during the Nazi period, anti-Semitism was shouted from the rooftops” (Hitler’s willing Executioners; Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust 1996).
Golhagen’s argument concludes that anti-Semitism permeated all segments of German society including the ordinary working class, the professions, and even the churches. Overall this source, and indeed Golhagen’s exposition on his topic in general, re-examines the vie that Hitler and the Nazi administration were solely to blame for the holocaust, and forwards the argument that the attitude of ‘ordinary Germans’ deemed them guilty of complicity in this enormous crime. Overall, sources F, G, H, I and J give a broad range of interpretations of Jewish and German attitudes to the resettlement of Jews.
Sources F, G, and H focus on how the Nazi’s kept the Jews in the dark about their intentions. As a result many Jews were unaware of their fate, concentration on their everyday lives rather than pondering on the Nazi strategy towards their race. The majority of Jews believed that the persecution that they were subjected to within the ghetto was the culmination of their suffering. However, Chaim Kaplan’s diaries reveal the existence of perceptive and intelligent individuals who could decipher the Nazi deception, realising the true fate that lay ahead.
Source I forwards cold and calculated statistical evidence of the vast number of deaths and deportation within the Warsaw ghetto in a business-like statistical report. Source J is a revisionist account that firmly accuses the ordinary Germans of all walks of life of participating willingly in the extermination of the Jews. Thus, it argues that the ‘Final Solution’ was a policy that was received favourably by the deeply anti-Semitic German people who genuinely believed that the Jews were not fit to live.