holocaust background essay

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The Holocaust

By: History.com Editors

Updated: April 11, 2023 | Original: October 14, 2009

Watch towers surrounded by high voltage fences at Auschwitz II-Birkenau which was built in March 1942. The camp was liberated by the Soviet army on January 27, 1945.

The Holocaust was the state-sponsored persecution and mass murder of millions of European Jews, Romani people, the intellectually disabled, political dissidents and homosexuals by the German Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. The word “holocaust,” from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned), was historically used to describe a sacrificial offering burned on an altar.

After years of Nazi rule in Germany, dictator Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution”—now known as the Holocaust—came to fruition during World War II, with mass killing centers in concentration camps. About six million Jews and some five million others, targeted for racial, political, ideological and behavioral reasons, died in the Holocaust—more than one million of those who perished were children.

Historical Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in Europe did not begin with Adolf Hitler . Though use of the term itself dates only to the 1870s, there is evidence of hostility toward Jews long before the Holocaust—even as far back as the ancient world, when Roman authorities destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and forced Jews to leave Palestine .

The Enlightenment , during the 17th and 18th centuries, emphasized religious tolerance, and in the 19th century Napoleon Bonaparte and other European rulers enacted legislation that ended long-standing restrictions on Jews. Anti-Semitic feeling endured, however, in many cases taking on a racial character rather than a religious one.

Did you know? Even in the early 21st century, the legacy of the Holocaust endures. Swiss government and banking institutions have in recent years acknowledged their complicity with the Nazis and established funds to aid Holocaust survivors and other victims of human rights abuses, genocide or other catastrophes.

Hitler's Rise to Power

The roots of Adolf Hitler’s particularly virulent brand of anti-Semitism are unclear. Born in Austria in 1889, he served in the German army during World War I . Like many anti-Semites in Germany, he blamed the Jews for the country’s defeat in 1918.

Soon after World War I ended, Hitler joined the National German Workers’ Party, which became the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), known to English speakers as the Nazis. While imprisoned for treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Hitler wrote the memoir and propaganda tract “ Mein Kampf ” (or “my struggle”), in which he predicted a general European war that would result in “the extermination of the Jewish race in Germany.”

Hitler was obsessed with the idea of the superiority of the “pure” German race, which he called “Aryan,” and with the need for “Lebensraum,” or living space, for that race to expand. In the decade after he was released from prison, Hitler took advantage of the weakness of his rivals to enhance his party’s status and rise from obscurity to power.

On January 30, 1933, he was named chancellor of Germany. After the death of President Paul von Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler anointed himself Fuhrer , becoming Germany’s supreme ruler.

Concentration Camps

The twin goals of racial purity and territorial expansion were the core of Hitler’s worldview, and from 1933 onward they would combine to form the driving force behind his foreign and domestic policy.

At first, the Nazis reserved their harshest persecution for political opponents such as Communists or Social Democrats. The first official concentration camp opened at Dachau (near Munich) in March 1933, and many of the first prisoners sent there were Communists.

Like the network of concentration camps that followed, becoming the killing grounds of the Holocaust, Dachau was under the control of Heinrich Himmler , head of the elite Nazi guard, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and later chief of the German police.

By July 1933, German concentration camps ( Konzentrationslager in German, or KZ) held some 27,000 people in “protective custody.” Huge Nazi rallies and symbolic acts such as the public burning of books by Jews, Communists, liberals and foreigners helped drive home the desired message of party strength and unity.

In 1933, Jews in Germany numbered around 525,000—just one percent of the total German population. During the next six years, Nazis undertook an “Aryanization” of Germany, dismissing non-Aryans from civil service, liquidating Jewish-owned businesses and stripping Jewish lawyers and doctors of their clients. 

Nuremberg Laws

Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew, while those with two Jewish grandparents were designated Mischlinge (half-breeds).

Under the Nuremberg Laws, Jews became routine targets for stigmatization and persecution. This culminated in Kristallnacht , or the “Night of Broken Glass” in November 1938, when German synagogues were burned and windows in Jewish home and shops were smashed; some 100 Jews were killed and thousands more arrested.

From 1933 to 1939, hundreds of thousands of Jews who were able to leave Germany did, while those who remained lived in a constant state of uncertainty and fear.

holocaust background essay

HISTORY Vault: Third Reich: The Rise

Rare and never-before-seen amateur films offer a unique perspective on the rise of Nazi Germany from Germans who experienced it. How were millions of people so vulnerable to fascism?

Euthanasia Program

In September 1939, Germany invaded the western half of Poland , starting World War II . German police soon forced tens of thousands of Polish Jews from their homes and into ghettoes, giving their confiscated properties to ethnic Germans (non-Jews outside Germany who identified as German), Germans from the Reich or Polish gentiles.

Surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, the Jewish ghettoes in Poland functioned like captive city-states, governed by Jewish Councils. In addition to widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger, overpopulation and poor sanitation made the ghettoes breeding grounds for disease such as typhus.

Meanwhile, beginning in the fall of 1939, Nazi officials selected around 70,000 Germans institutionalized for mental illness or physical disabilities to be gassed to death in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

After prominent German religious leaders protested, Hitler put an end to the program in August 1941, though killings of the disabled continued in secrecy, and by 1945 some 275,000 people deemed handicapped from all over Europe had been killed. In hindsight, it seems clear that the Euthanasia Program functioned as a pilot for the Holocaust.

Holocaust

'Final Solution'

Throughout the spring and summer of 1940, the German army expanded Hitler’s empire in Europe, conquering Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Beginning in 1941, Jews from all over the continent, as well as hundreds of thousands of European Romani people, were transported to Polish ghettoes.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 marked a new level of brutality in warfare. Mobile killing units of Himmler’s SS called Einsatzgruppen would murder more than 500,000 Soviet Jews and others (usually by shooting) over the course of the German occupation.

A memorandum dated July 31, 1941, from Hitler’s top commander Hermann Goering to Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the SD (the security service of the SS), referred to the need for an Endlösung ( Final Solution ) to “the Jewish question.”

Liberation of Auschwitz: Photos

Yellow Stars

Beginning in September 1941, every person designated as a Jew in German-held territory was marked with a yellow, six-pointed star, making them open targets. Tens of thousands were soon being deported to the Polish ghettoes and German-occupied cities in the USSR.

Since June 1941, experiments with mass killing methods had been ongoing at the concentration camp of Auschwitz , near Krakow, Poland. That August, 500 officials gassed 500 Soviet POWs to death with the pesticide Zyklon-B. The SS soon placed a huge order for the gas with a German pest-control firm, an ominous indicator of the coming Holocaust.

Holocaust Death Camps

Beginning in late 1941, the Germans began mass transports from the ghettoes in Poland to the concentration camps, starting with those people viewed as the least useful: the sick, old and weak and the very young.

The first mass gassings began at the camp of Belzec, near Lublin, on March 17, 1942. Five more mass killing centers were built at camps in occupied Poland, including Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and the largest of all, Auschwitz.

From 1942 to 1945, Jews were deported to the camps from all over Europe, including German-controlled territory as well as those countries allied with Germany. The heaviest deportations took place during the summer and fall of 1942, when more than 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw ghetto alone.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Amid the deportations, disease and constant hunger, incarcerated people in the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in armed revolt.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from April 19-May 16, 1943, ended in the death of 7,000 Jews, with 50,000 survivors sent to extermination camps. But the resistance fighters had held off the Nazis for almost a month, and their revolt inspired revolts at camps and ghettos across German-occupied Europe.

Though the Nazis tried to keep operation of the camps secret, the scale of the killing made this virtually impossible. Eyewitnesses brought reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland to the Allied governments, who were harshly criticized after the war for their failure to respond, or to publicize news of the mass slaughter.

This lack of action was likely mostly due to the Allied focus on winning the war at hand, but was also partly a result of the general incomprehension with which news of the Holocaust was met and the denial and disbelief that such atrocities could be occurring on such a scale.

'Angel of Death'

At Auschwitz alone, more than 2 million people were murdered in a process resembling a large-scale industrial operation. A large population of Jewish and non-Jewish inmates worked in the labor camp there; though only Jews were gassed, thousands of others died of starvation or disease.

In 1943, eugenics advocate Josef Mengele arrived in Auschwitz to begin his infamous experiments on Jewish prisoners. His special area of focus was conducting medical experiments on twins , injecting them with everything from petrol to chloroform under the guise of giving them medical treatment. His actions earned him the nickname “the Angel of Death.”

Nazi Rule Ends

By the spring of 1945, German leadership was dissolving amid internal dissent, with Goering and Himmler both seeking to distance themselves from Hitler and take power.

In his last will and political testament, dictated in a German bunker that April 29, Hitler blamed the war on “International Jewry and its helpers” and urged the German leaders and people to follow “the strict observance of the racial laws and with merciless resistance against the universal poisoners of all peoples”—the Jews.

The following day, Hitler died by suicide . Germany’s formal surrender in World War II came barely a week later, on May 8, 1945.

German forces had begun evacuating many of the death camps in the fall of 1944, sending inmates under guard to march further from the advancing enemy’s front line. These so-called “death marches” continued all the way up to the German surrender, resulting in the deaths of some 250,000 to 375,000 people.

In his classic book Survival in Auschwitz , the Italian-Jewish author Primo Levi described his own state of mind, as well as that of his fellow inmates in Auschwitz on the day before Soviet troops liberated the camp in January 1945: “We lay in a world of death and phantoms. The last trace of civilization had vanished around and inside us. The work of bestial degradation, begun by the victorious Germans, had been carried to conclusion by the Germans in defeat.”

Legacy of the Holocaust

The wounds of the Holocaust—known in Hebrew as “Shoah,” or catastrophe—were slow to heal. Survivors of the camps found it nearly impossible to return home, as in many cases they had lost their entire family and been denounced by their non-Jewish neighbors. As a result, the late 1940s saw an unprecedented number of refugees, POWs and other displaced populations moving across Europe.

In an effort to punish the villains of the Holocaust, the Allies held the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, which brought Nazi atrocities to horrifying light. Increasing pressure on the Allied powers to create a homeland for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust would lead to a mandate for the creation of Israel in 1948.

Over the decades that followed, ordinary Germans struggled with the Holocaust’s bitter legacy, as survivors and the families of victims sought restitution of wealth and property confiscated during the Nazi years.

Beginning in 1953, the German government made payments to individual Jews and to the Jewish people as a way of acknowledging the German people’s responsibility for the crimes committed in their name.

The Holocaust. The National WWII Museum . What Was The Holocaust? Imperial War Museums . Introduction to the Holocaust. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum . Holocaust Remembrance. Council of Europe . Outreach Programme on the Holocaust. United Nations .

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The Holocaust: Facts and Figures

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One of history’s darkest chapters, the Holocaust was the systematic killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II (1939–45). Slavs , Roma , gay people , Jehovah’s Witnesses , and others also were singled out for obliteration, but the Nazis’ various policies for exterminating the Jews were the most deliberate and calculated.

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In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section History of the Holocaust

Introduction, general overviews.

  • Jewish Responses in Germany to Persecution during the Prewar Period, 1933–1941
  • The Third Reich, the German Public, and Nazi Anti-Semitism
  • Racial Science
  • Other Victims
  • Final Solution: Decision-Making Process
  • Killing by Shooting: Einsatzgruppen and Their Compatriots
  • Concentration Camps / Forced Labor
  • Extermination Centers
  • Perpetrators
  • Women in the Holocaust
  • Economic Aspects of the Holocaust
  • Punishment/Trials
  • Church Responses
  • Memoirs, Diaries, and Oral Histories as Historical Sources
  • Holocaust Historiography

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History of the Holocaust by Deborah Lipstadt LAST REVIEWED: 26 May 2016 LAST MODIFIED: 26 May 2016 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0127

Many historians consider the Holocaust, the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews during 1941–1945, as one of the defining moments, if not a touchstone, of the political, ethical, and religious discourse of the 20th century. It is the only time that a state, as opposed to an insurgent entity or a group of independent actors, determined to murder every member of a particular group, irrespective of their age, gender, education, location, political or religious outlook, or national identity. Any Jew across the European continent and beyond (e.g., Libya, Crete, and Rhodes) whom the Germans could lay their hands on became a potential victim. As a result of this program, which the Germans called the Final Solution, nearly two-thirds of world Jewry was murdered. The Nazis considered killing the Jews such an urgent and necessary act that even when they were losing the war they pursued this goal. From the earliest history of the Nazi Party in the 1920s, the party cast the Jew as an existential threat to the German nation. While the Nazis made the threat posed by the Jews a cornerstone of their ideology and were intent on murdering all Jews they could find, they also targeted other groups. The first to be mass murdered were those inhabitants of the Reich—“Aryans” and Jews—whom the Nazis deemed to be physically or mentally disabled and consequently “unworthy of life.” German authorities also severely persecuted German homosexuals and murdered many eastern European (particularly Slav and Polish) intellectuals and religious leaders. They also killed two to three million Soviet prisoners of war. Millions of slave laborers, particularly from eastern Europe, served in horrendous conditions, and many died as a result. The mass killings of Jews took part in two phases. The first one started in June 1941, after the invasion of the Soviet Union. Conducted by special German units called the Einsatzgruppen and Ordnungspolizei (Order Police) with extensive aid of the Wehrmacht (German army) and non-German local militia, police, and civilians, these mass shootings resulted in the murder of over a million Jews. By the end of 1941, German authorities, concerned about the emotional toll the shooting was taking on the shooters, introduced gas buses and then gas chambers.

The vast geographic reach of the Holocaust presents a challenge to historians who want to address its broadest contours. There is an immense body of research on a myriad of aspects of the topic. This makes the need for syntheses all the more crucial. Hilberg 1985 is one of the earliest comprehensive studies of the bureaucratic structure of the Final Solution. It is highly detailed and remains a standard. More-readable volumes include Friedländer 1997 and Friedländer 2007 , which take a broader perspective and focus on the victims as well as the perpetrators. Dwork and van Pelt 2002 and Bergen 2009 were written as textbooks for college use, while Longerich 2010 is more recent and includes new archival information. Berenbaum and Peck 2002 and Friedman 2011 are particularly useful in that they each contain a range of articles by leading scholars in the field. Hayes 2015 is a most useful teaching tool with long selections on most of the topics that would be included in an introductory history of the Holocaust. Hayes and Roth 2010 contains articles by leading scholars who both review a particular aspect of the Holocaust and assess the state of the current research on that aspect.

Berenbaum, Michael, and Abraham J. Peck, eds. The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

This edited volume contains articles by experts in the field on many of the issues central to the history of the Holocaust, including anti-Semitism within Nazi ideology, the bureaucracy of the Nazi state, the background and motivation of the killers, the concentration camp system, Jewish leadership and resistance, rescuers, onlookers, and the survivor experience.

Bergen, Doris L. War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust . 2d ed. Critical Issues in World and International History. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.

A concise history of the period that also asks some of the broader and more-theoretical questions. An excellent starting point for those with little background or who want an overview of the history and the underlying theoretical issues.

Dwork, Debórah, and Robert Jan van Pelt. Holocaust: A History . London: John Murray, 2002.

This comprehensive textbook artfully weaves together historical data with memoirs and other firsthand sources. Currently, this is one of the best texts for classroom use or to introduce someone to this vast topic.

Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews . Vol. 1, The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939 . New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

This is a sweeping, authoritative, and exceptionally readable account of the initial years of Nazi rule. Friedländer weaves together evidence from the perpetrators as well as the victims.

Friedländer, Saul. The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945 . 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in history, this volume elegantly melds the story of the persecution with the experience of the victims.

Friedman, Jonathan C., ed. The Routledge History of the Holocaust . Routledge Histories. New York: Routledge, 2011.

An exceptionally useful edited volume on an array of aspects of the history of the Holocaust, by leading figures in the field. Many of the authors pay particular attention to the evolution of their historical field. The volume serves, therefore, both as a historical and historiographical tool.

Hayes, Peter, ed. How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

Hayes believes the title’s question is answerable. This compendium of highly readable selections from participants, witnesses, and scholars addresses the fundamental issues that ultimately “explain” the Holocaust. It can be a text for a Holocaust history course as well as of interest to those already familiar with the topic.

Hayes, Peter, and John K. Roth, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies . Oxford Handbooks. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

This profoundly useful book recognizes that study of Holocaust history crosses traditional boundaries of academic disciplines. The forty-seven essays in the book summarize the state of the field at the time of publication and delineate future challenges. Each essay is an excellent starting point for someone interested in exploring a particular topic in depth.

Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews . New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985.

Considered one of the most authoritative texts on the destruction process, this book eschews victims’ testimony and relies only on German documents. Though Hilberg addresses the destruction process, not the Jewish response, in a few places he attributes to Jews an ingrained pattern of anticipatory compliance. These observations remain quite controversial.

Longerich, Peter. Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews . New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

In this expanded version of his German-language Politik der Vernichtung (Munich: Piper, 1998), Longerich analyzes the ideological, political, and personal sources of the genocide. Relying on a wide range of documents, including some that were released only after the unification of Germany, Longerich argues that the Nazi policy concerning the Jews was a central, not an ancillary, aspect of their other policies.

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holocaust background essay

The Holocaust: 1933-1945

“Once in my lifetime I want to still have a whole loaf of bread. That was my dream.”  

– Itka Zygmuntowicz (1926–2020), Survivor of Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Death Camp (1940–1945)

RG-50.030*0435, Oral history interview with Itka Zygmuntowicz, (1926-2020). Oral History Interviews of the Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. 

THE HOLOCAUST WAS THE STATE-SPONSORED, ideologically-driven persecution and murder of six million Jews across Europe and half a million Roma and Sinti by Nazi Germany (1933–1945) and other racist states. Nazi ideology built upon pre-existing antisemitism and antigypsyism. Some local people collaborated willingly. Others assisted the victimized. Most were witnesses. Nazi racism demanded the forced sterilization of Germans of African descent, the murder of Germans with disabilities and Soviet prisoners of war, and the enslavement of Slavs. The Nazis criminalized all they deemed as regime opponents, including homosexuals, political dissenters, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But in the Nazi imagination, Jews loomed as the primary threat to their new world order. The Nazi government enacted its racist antisemitic agenda and, after 1941, embarked upon murdering every Jewish child, woman, and man. 

holocaust background essay

Click here to download the map of sites of incarceration and forced labour under the Nazi regime and its allies, 1933-1945. 

The link to the map is hosted on an external website and is provided for informational purposes only.

Map by Ms. Maja Kruse and Professor Anne Kelly Knowles. Copyright Professor Anne Kelly Knowles and Ms. Maja Kruse.

The World that was    Aftermath

Key Documents

  • Resolution A/RES/76/250 on Holocaust denial
  • Resolution 60/7 on Holocaust Remembrance
  • Resolution 61/255 on Holocaust denial
  • Report on Combating Antisemitism
  • United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

Related Programmes

  • UNESCO - Education about the Holocaust and genocide
  • United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
  • Outreach Programme on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the United Nations
  • United Nations Outreach Programme on the transatlantic slave trade and slavery

Human Rights

  • Protecting Human Rights
  • Responsibility to Protect
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Belonging and Exclusion

Sexuality, Gender, and Nazi Persecution

In the late 1930s, influential Berlin club operator Lotte Hahm was denounced as "perverse" and spent two years in prison. Why did the Nazis target Hahm?

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Why did the Holocaust happen?

Antisemitism was one of the most fundamental causes of the Holocaust. The banner in this picture reads ‘Germany does not buy from Jews’. This photograph is taken from The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Motorcycle Album, a collection of photographs taken on a journey from the Dutch border to Berlin in 1935

Antisemitism was one of the most fundamental causes of the Holocaust. The banner in this picture reads ‘Germany does not buy from Jews’. This photograph is taken from The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Motorcycle Album , a collection of photographs taken on a journey from the Dutch border to Berlin in 1935.

Courtesy of The Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

The Holocaust was the culmination of a number of factors over a number of years.

Historic antisemitism , the rise of eugenics and nationalism , the aftermath of the First World War, the rise of the Nazis, the role of Adolf Hitler, the internal operation of the Nazi state, the Second World War and collaboration all played key roles in the timing and scale of the final catastrophe.

This section aims to explore how these individual factors contributed to the Holocaust.

Nationalism and the First World War

This leaflet was produced and distributed by the Deutsche Fichte-Bund, a nationalist organisation founded in Hamburg in 1914. The organisation spread nationalist and antisemitic propaganda in Germany and across the world.

This leaflet was produced and distributed by the Deutsche Fichte-Bund , a nationalist organisation founded in Hamburg in 1914. The organisation spread nationalist and antisemitic propaganda in Germany and across the world.

German military personnel serving in the First World War pictured in Aisne, Northern France, in July 1915.

German military personnel serving in the First World War pictured in Aisne, Northern France, in July 1915.

holocaust background essay

Following the Enlightenment (late seventeenth century – early nineteenth century), there was a growth in nationalism . The rise in nationalism intensified the rise in antisemitism, which had also been growing since the Enlightenment. The First World War (1914-1918) strengthened these feelings of nationalism across Europe, as nations were pitted against each other.

In 1918, Germany lost the First World War . Many people within Germany, including Adolf Hitler, found this loss very difficult and humiliating to process. Instead, many looked for scapegoats to blame.

This led to the Stab-in-the-Back Myth. The Stab-in-the-Back Myth was the belief that the German Army did not lose the First World War on the battlefield, but was instead betrayed by communists , socialists and Jews on the home front. This myth fostered the growth of extreme antisemitism , nationalism and anti-communism .

These feelings were exacerbated further by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to admit complete responsibility for the war; pay large amounts of reparations (which undermined the Germany post-war economy); give up significant proportions of land, and limited the size of its army. The Treaty was extremely unpopular in Germany, where the public regarded it as a diktat (dictated peace). This led to a lack of faith in the Weimar Republic , the newly established regime of rule in Germany.

The unsettled conditions in Germany encouraged the popularity of nationalism and nostalgia for the country’s pre-war strength. Nationalism was a key factor in the rise in popularity of nationalist political parties such as the Nazis, and, in turn, ideas such as antisemitism.

Eugenics and antisemitism

An Ahnenpass or ancestry pass belonging to Rita Jarmes. Ancestry passes were used to demonstrate Aryan heritage in Nazi Germany. The Nazis often requested Ahnenpasses as proof for of eligibility for certain professions, or citizenship after 1935.

An Ahnenpass or ancestry pass belonging to Rita Jarmes. Ancestry passes were used to demonstrate Aryan heritage in Nazi Germany. The Nazis often requested Ahnenpasses as proof for of eligibility for certain professions, or citizenship after 1935.

This poster, entitled ‘recreation, friends, health’, depicts an ‘ideal’ German child in accordance to the Nazis' vision and beliefs in eugenics.

This poster, entitled ‘recreation, friends, health’, depicts an ‘ideal’ German child in accordance to the Nazis’ vision and beliefs in eugenics.

This pamphlet, entitled Aryan Worldview, was published by Houston Stewart Chamberlain in Berlin in 1905. Chamberlain was an advocate of the racial superiority of ‘Aryans’. His ideas influenced Adolf Hitler and were used by the Nazis as justification for their racial policies.

This pamphlet, entitled Aryan Worldview , was published by Houston Stewart Chamberlain in Berlin in 1905. Chamberlain was an advocate of the racial superiority of ‘Aryans’. His ideas influenced Adolf Hitler and were used by the Nazis as justification for their racial policies.

Robert Ritter (1901-1951) was a German ‘racial scientist’ in the Nazi regime. Ritter’s research into the eugenics of Roma led to his appointment as head of the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit. Ritter’s work to classify Roma aided and justified the Nazis discrimination, persecution, and execution of Roma. Here, Ritter [right] is pictured doing research in 1936

Robert Ritter (1901-1951) was a German ‘racial scientist’ in the Nazi regime. Ritter’s research into the eugenics of Roma led to his appointment as head of the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit. Ritter’s work to classify Roma aided and justified the Nazis discrimination, persecution, and execution of Roma. Here, Ritter [right] is pictured doing research in 1936

Courtesy of Bundesarchiv (R 165 Bild-244-71 / CC-BY-SA 3.0) [Public Domain].

Once in power, the Nazis initiated extensive antisemitic legislation. This letter is a translation of a list of antisemitic measures issued by Göring on 28 December 1938.

Once in power, the Nazis initiated extensive antisemitic legislation. This letter is a translation of a list of antisemitic measures issued by Göring on 28 December 1938.

A photograph showing an antisemitic street sign in Mainbernheim, central Germany, taken in September 1935. The sign reads ‘The Jew is our misfortune. He shall stay away from us’. This photograph is taken from The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Motorcycle Album, a collection of photographs taken on a journey from the Dutch border to Berlin in 1935.

A photograph showing an antisemitic street sign in Mainbernheim, central Germany, taken in September 1935. The sign reads ‘The Jew is our misfortune. He shall stay away from us’. This photograph is taken from The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Motorcycle Album , a collection of photographs taken on a journey from the Dutch border to Berlin in 1935.

holocaust background essay

In addition to the rise in nationalism, the modern age saw the rise of racist ideas such eugenics and antisemitism . Both of these ideas lay at the heart of Nazi ideology, and eventually informed their persecutory and genocidal policies.

Following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859, the study of eugenics became extremely popular. Eugenics is the science of regulating a population through controlled breeding. Eugenic scientists aimed to eliminate traits believed to be undesirable, and encourage those that were ‘desirable’ in order to ‘improve’ the human race. This idea was dangerous as it suggested that certain groups were superior to others. Eugenics quickly became misused by far-right groups.

Hitler and the Nazis later used the popularity of eugenics and the theory of Social Darwinists as a pseudo-scientific justification to support their idea that non-‘ Aryans ‘ were inferior races, and should therefore be exterminated.

Antisemitism

Antisemitism  was one of the most fundamental causes of the Holocaust.

The rise of antisemitism over the course of the early twentieth century was extremely dangerous. It allowed an overtly antisemitic party such as the Nazis to come to power in 1933.

Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race of people, who set out to weaken other races and take over the world. Hitler believed that Jews were particularly destructive to the German ‘ Aryan ’ race, and did not have any place in Nazi Germany.

The Nazis’ implemented antisemitic laws, which persecuted and oppressed Jews, and eventually led to their deportation and mass murder.

Rise of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler

This poster was used to promote Hitler in the 1932 Reichspräsident elections, where he ran against Hindenburg for the presidency. Hitler lost the election, with 36.8% of the vote to Hindenburg’s 53%. Despite losing, the election put Hitler on the map as a credible politician. The poster states ’Hesse chooses Hitler!’

This poster was used to promote Hitler in the 1932 Reichspräsident  elections, where he ran against Hindenburg for the presidency. Hitler lost the election, with 36.8% of the vote to Hindenburg’s 53%. Despite losing, the election put Hitler on the map as a credible politician. The poster states ’Hesse chooses Hitler!’

holocaust background essay

This poster, also used in the 1932 Reichspräsident  elections was aimed specifically at women, emphasising Hitler’s proposed policies on family life.

holocaust background essay

The Nazis’ rise to power , and the role of Adolf Hitler himself, is one of the primary causes of the Holocaust. The Nazis initiated, organised and directed the genocide and their racist ideology underpinned it.

The Nazi rise to power 

The Nazis’ ideology rested on several key ideas , such as nationalism, racial superiority, antisemitism, and anticommunism. These ideas were popular in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s, as the economic and political situation fluctuated and then, following the Wall Street Crash in 1929, quickly deteriorated.

In these uncertain times, the Nazi Party appeared to offer hope, political stability and prosperity. In 1932, the Nazis became the biggest party in the Reichstag , with 37.3% of the vote.

Shortly afterwards, on 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor. The Nazis quickly consolidated their power, taking advantage of the Reichstag Fire of February 1933   to begin their reign of terror. Whilst primarily aimed at political enemies, the infrastructure of camps and institutionalised torture used in these initial months provided the groundwork for the camp system which later facilitated mass murder. Although not the subject of mass arrests in the same way that many political prisoners were initially, Jews were quickly targeted by the Nazi regime.

The Nazis’ persecution of Jews started with exclusionary policies, eliminating Jews from certain professions and educational opportunities and encouraging them to emigrate. As their power became more secure, the Nazis quickly escalated to more direct persecution, such as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 which stripped Jews of their citizenship and Kristallnacht (an antisemitic pogrom ) in 1938. This escalation of oppression continued to intensify and radicalise until the outbreak of war, where it quickly became more lethal, and, eventually, genocidal.

The role of Adolf Hitler

As leader of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler played a key role in the ideas behind, the events leading up to, and the unfolding of, the Holocaust.

Prior to their election, the Nazis shaped their propaganda to present Hitler as a strong leader that could return Germany from the uncertain circumstances of the time to its former glory. In the early years, Hitler was the driving force behind the Nazis, and made key changes to the party’s structure, branding and methods to turn it into a credible political force.

Once elected, Hitler rarely took part in direct actions against Jews or other internal enemies, instead directing his security forces, the SS , SA and SD , and their leader, Heinrich Himmler, to carry out this work. Whilst not physically involved, Hitler was involved in all major policy decisions, including persecutory policies and events. This is evidenced by his personal approval for the secret euthanasia programme of the disabled, T-4 , in Autumn 1939.

Hitler’s fanatic antisemitism , nationalism and anticommunism propelled Nazi ideology, and later, the Holocaust. Hitler’s expansionist policies, such as Lebensraum   pushed Europe into the Second World War. This, alongside other factors, had severe ramifications for European Jews.

Radicalisation of the administration of the Nazi state

The Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung resulted in the expulsion of many Jews from their jobs. Prior to the Nazi rise to power Wilhelm Meno Simon (1885 – 1966) worked as an assistant judge and lawyer in Berlin. In 1933, following as the Nazis applied their policy of Gleichschaltung, Wilhelm was reduced to working as a notary. Here, Wilhelm is pictured with his son, Bernd.

The Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung resulted in the expulsion of many Jews from their jobs. Prior to the Nazi rise to power Wilhelm Meno Simon (1885 – 1966) worked as an assistant judge and senior lawyer in Berlin. In 1933, following as the Nazis applied their policy of Gleichschaltung, Wilhelm was reduced to working as a notary. Here, Wilhelm is pictured with his son, Bernd.

In 1938, following Kristallnacht, Simon emigrated to Britain (where his wife, Gerty, and son, Bernard, were already living) to escape further Nazi persecution. This is a copy of his sponsorship document, which, by 1938, was needed in order to get a visa for Britain.

In 1938, following Kristallnacht , Simon emigrated to Britain (where his wife, Gerty, and son, Bernard, were already living) to escape further Nazi persecution. This is a copy of his sponsorship document, which, by 1938, was needed in order to get a visa for Britain.

holocaust background essay

Shortly after being elected into power, the Nazis set about radicalising the infrastructure of government to suit their needs.

Gleichschaltung (Co-ordination)

Gleichschaltung was the process of the Nazi Party taking control over or reforming all aspects of government in Germany. It is otherwise known as coordination or Nazification.

One of the first institutions to be targeted for reform was the Civil Service . On 7 April 1933, the Nazis passed the Act for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , legalising the removal of anyone of non-Aryan descent from the civil service. Amongst other things, this act removed any judges that were deemed non-compliant with Nazi laws or principles, and therefore paved the way for legalising future radical persecutory actions against the Jews and other enemies of the Nazis. Those that remained in the Civil Service quickly became aware of how enemies of the regime were treated by the SS, and having benefitted from the spaces left by their Jewish colleagues, were unlikely to speak out in their favour.

This process of co-ordination was repeated through almost all aspects of government policy, which helped to align existing institutions to be sympathetic (and obedient) to Nazi ideology. This, in turn, allowed the Nazis to continue to push the boundaries of, and slowly radicalise, persecution.

Cumulative radicalisation

In addition to taking over existing government departments, the Nazis also created new departments of their own. These frequently carried out similar functions to pre-existing departments, often resulting in overlap on policy. An example of this is the Office of the Four Year Plan (created in 1936) and the already existing Economics Ministry, which both had power over economic policy.

This internal duplication meant that many elements of the regime were forced to compete with each other for power. Each office took increasingly radical steps to solidify its favour with Hitler, and in turn, its authority. The process is often referred to as ‘working towards the Führer’: the idea that the Nazi state attempted to anticipate and develop policy in line with Hitler’s wishes, without him being directly involved. Goebbels’ organisation of  Kristallnacht can be used as an example of ‘working towards the Führer’ – Hitler did not directly authorise the event, but it was carried out with his racist ideology and wishes in mind.

The competition and constant radicalisation meant that the administration and bureaucracy of the Nazi state was chaotic. This chaos increased over time because of a lack of clear lines of accountability. For example, even though, in theory, Himmler was answerable to Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick, in reality he only ever received orders from Hitler himself.

As the Second World War progressed, the administration of the Nazi state became even further radicalised. New territories created new positions of power which further increased the radicalisation of ideological policy. The SS competed with senior party members and army officers for these positions and jurisdiction in the newly occupied areas. This internal competition in policy again pushed the radicalisation of policy as each organisation grappled for control, especially where there were ‘security concerns’ in the newly occupied areas.

The effect of the Second World War

The Second World War resulted in an extensive radicalisation of the Nazis’ antisemitic policy.

The first major radicalising action that resulted from the war was the creation of ghettos following the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. This resulted in three million Jews coming under German control. In order to contain the Jewish population, the Nazis forcibly segregated these Jews from the local population and placed them into ghettos. This was a large escalation of the Nazis’ previous antisemitic policy.

As the war continued it became clear that both the Magagascar Plan and the Generalplan Ost were infeasible, and it would not be possible to forcibly deport and resettle the Jewish population of Europe.

The invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 further escalated lethal actions towards Jews. In the lead up to the invasion, Joseph Goebbels ’ propaganda against Jews and, specifically OstJuden (eastern Jews), became even more vicious. This propaganda not only gave justification for the invasion of the Soviet Union, but directly linked the invasion to Jews.

As the historian Donald Bloxham wrote, ‘The very decision to go to war presupposed a racial mindset…everything that happened in war was liable to be interpreted in that light: frustrations were the cause for ‘revenge’; successes provided opportunities to create facts on the ground’ [Donald Bloxham,  The Final Solution A Genocide , (United States: Oxford University Press, 2009), p.174].

Following behind the Germany Army throughout the invasion and subsequent partial occupation, the Einsatzgruppen conducted mass shootings of communists , Jews and any others thought to be enemies of the Nazi state. As the invasion of the Soviet Union slowed and the tide of war turned against the Nazis, actions against the Jews were further intensified. They were once again used as scapegoats for Germany’s military failures.

These actions culminated in the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 , which coordinated the Nazis genocidal policy towards the Jews and resulted in the establishment of six extermination camps.

The Second World War played a vital role in radicalising the Nazis’ antisemitic policy into genocide. The Nazis reacted to some events in the war by escalating their actions against Jews. One example of this is the murder of Reinhard Heydrich and the subsequent mass killings of civilians and the liquidation of the village of Lidice.

Collaboration

This testimony, given by Oscar Michelson in 1948 as part of The Wiener Holocaust Library’s eyewitness testimony project, discusses the actions of the Nazis and Lithuanian officials in 1940 in Kovno, Lithuania.

This testimony, given by Oscar Michelson in 1948 as part o f The Wiener Holocaust Library’s eyewitness testimony project , discusses the actions of the Nazis and Lithuanian officials in 1940 in Kovno, Lithuania.

German Army soldiers film the massacre of Jews in the Lvov Pogroms of July 1941, carried out by the Einsatzgruppe C and the Ukrainian National Militia.

German Army soldiers film the massacre of Jews in the Lvov Pogroms of July 1941, carried out by the Einsatzgruppe C and the Ukrainian National Militia.

This excerpt is taken from a situation report sent to the Chief of the Security Police and SD Reinhard Heydrich on 30 June 1941. The report details the involvement and collaboration of local Lithuanians in Kovno. This document is a translation used in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

This excerpt is taken from a situation report sent to the Chief of the Security Police and SD Reinhard Heydrich on 30 June 1941. The report details the involvement and collaboration of local Lithuanians in Kovno.

This document is a translation used in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

holocaust background essay

The Nazis did not carry out the Holocaust alone. Their descent into genocide was assisted and carried out by collaborators: individuals, groups and governments that helped the Nazis to persecute and murder their victims. Without the aid of these collaborators, the Nazis would not have been able to carry out the Holocaust to the same extent or at the same pace.

Collaboration took many forms.

On the home front in Germany, some civilians actively collaborated with the Nazis to implement their antisemitic persecutory polices, such as denunciating Jewish neighbours or colleagues, or helping to implement antisemitic laws.

This form of collaboration reinforced antisemitic laws and obedience to the regime, which allowed the Nazis to slowly push and escalate the boundaries of acceptable levels of persecution.

Occupied countries

The most active, direct and deadly collaboration took place in the countries occupied by, or aligned with, the Nazis across Europe.

In the Seventh Fort, a concentration camp in Lithuania, Lithuanian police and militia acted as guards and participated in daily mass rapes, tortures, and murders. In Lvov, which is now part of modern-day Ukraine, pogroms organised by the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian National Militia resulted in the deaths and torture of thousands of Jews in June and July 1941. In Romania, the Antonescu regime widely collaborated with the Nazis to murder their Jewish inhabitants. Approximately 270,000 Romanian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

These are just three examples of widespread collaboration with the Nazis.

The motivations behind these acts of collaboration are complex. Some acted in accordance with historic antisemitic views, others were motivated by potentials for economic gain, others did so out of fear.

Whatever their motivation, the effects of widespread collaboration for the Jewish population in the occupied countries of Europe were lethal. The participation of countries occupied by or aligned with Nazi Germany greatly extended the Nazis’ reach and speed at which the Holocaust unfolded, with fatal consequences.

Continue to next section

Resistance, responses and collaboration

Resistance, responses and collaboration

What happened in july.

holocaust background essay

On 14 July 1933, the Sterilisation Law was passed. This made sterilisation of the disabled compulsory.

holocaust background essay

On 20 July 1933, the Vatican signed a Concordat with the Nazis. This made the Vatican the first state to officially recognise Nazi Germany.

holocaust background essay

On 12 July 1936, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was established in Oranienburg, near Berlin.

holocaust background essay

On 19 July 1937, an exhibition in Munich opened on 'Degenerate Art', presenting modern art as corrupt and un-German.

holocaust background essay

On 6 July 1938, the Evian Conference began. The conference was called to discuss the growing refugee problem in Europe.

holocaust background essay

On 22 July 1944, the extermination camp Majdanek was liberated by Soviet troops.

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Holocaust and Human Behavior

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The Holocaust

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About This Collection

Following Facing History’s  unique methodology,   Holocaust and Human Behavior  uses readings, primary source material, and short documentary films to examine the challenging history of the Holocaust and prompt reflection on our world today. This website is designed to let you skip around or read the book from cover to cover. You can easily browse by reading or topic, collect resources, and build your own lessons using our playlist tool, or visit the teaching toolbox to find our lessons and unit outlines. The book is also  available in print and PDF.

Scope and Sequence

The journey begins by examining common human behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes students can readily observe in their own lives.

  • Students then explore a historical case study, such as the Holocaust, and analyze how those patterns of human behavior may have influenced the choices individuals made in the past—to participate, stand by, or stand up—in the face of injustice and, eventually, mass murder.
  • Students then examine how the history they studied continues to influence our world today, and they consider how they might choose to participate in bringing about a more humane, just, compassionate world.

Our scope and sequence promotes students’ historical understanding, critical thinking, empathy, and social–emotional learning.

Learning Goals

Lead your middle and high school students through a thorough examination of the history of the Holocaust. Over the course of the unit, students will learn to:

  • Craft an argumentative essay
  • Explore primary sources, videos, and readings that lead them through an in-depth study of the Holocaust
  • Recognize the societal consequences of "we" and "they" thinking
  • Understand the historical context in which the Nazi party rose to power and committed genocide

What's Included

This book supports an exploration of the Holocaust through the lens of human behavior. It includes:

  • 12 chapters
  • 237 readings with connection questions
  • 32 readings available in Spanish
  • 3 image galleries

Additional Context & Background 

Teaching the Holocaust to Help Us Understand Ourselves and Our World

Holocaust and Human Behavior leads students through an examination of the catastrophic period in the twentieth century when Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews and millions of other civilians, in the midst of the most destructive war in human history.

Following Facing History’s unique methodology , the book also takes students on a parallel journey through an exploration of the universal themes inherent in a study of the Holocaust that raise profound and difficult questions about human behavior.

By focusing on the choices of individuals who experienced this history as victims, witnesses, collaborators, rescuers, and perpetrators, students come to recognize our shared humanity—which, according to historian Doris Bergen, helps us to see the Holocaust not just as part of European or Jewish history but as “an event in human history,” confirming the relevance of this history in our lives and our world today. 1

This approach helps students make connections between history and the consequences of our actions and beliefs today—between history and how we as individuals make distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil. As students examine the steps that led to the Holocaust, they discover that history is not inevitable; it is, rather, the result of both individual and collective decision making.

They come to realize that there are no easy answers to the complex problems of racism, antisemitism, hatred, and violence, no quick fixes for social injustices, and no simple solutions to moral dilemmas. After studying Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, one Facing History student wrote, “It has made me more aware—not only of what happened in the past but also what is happening today, now, in the world and in me.”

As theologian Eva Fleischner explains, learning about this history can change each of us: “The more we come to know about the Holocaust, how it came about, how it was carried out . . . the greater the possibility that we will become sensitized to inhumanity and suffering whenever they occur.” 2

This crucial sensitization to inhumanity and suffering can help students develop the patience and commitment that is required for meaningful change. As another Facing History student wrote: “The more we learn about why and how people behave the way they do, the more likely we are to become involved and find our own solutions.

  • 1 Doris L. Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust, 3rd ed. (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 1.
  • 2 Eva Fleischner, Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? Reflections on the Holocaust (New York: Ktav Publishing Co., 1974), 228.

Preparing to Teach

A note to teachers.

Before you teach this lesson, please review the following guidance to tailor this lesson to your students’ contexts and needs.

Using Holocaust and Human Behavior

Holocaust and Human Behavior is the flagship title in Facing History’s collection of resources about the Holocaust, and it is part of an even larger collection of resources on genocide and mass violence. It includes a wealth of material, and teachers are encouraged to curate their own selection of readings, videos, and other resources using our new playlist tool. Our Teaching Toolboxes provide unit outlines and other materials to help teachers with this process.

This resource consists of 12 chapters, sequenced to explore the history of the Holocaust through the Facing History scope and sequence . Each chapter contains an Introduction and Essential Questions, which connect the chapter’s specific focus to the big ideas and universal themes that are woven throughout the book. Each chapter ends with a series of Analysis and Reflection questions that reinforce the connections between the chapter’s specific content and universal themes.

The bulk of each chapter consists of a series of readings that either explore a theme, such as the relationship between the individual and society, or present part of the historical narrative of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Each reading is followed by a series of Connection Questions that help students comprehend the text, illuminate important themes, and find connections between this history and their lives and the world today. Many readings are also accompanied by links to streaming videos and other Facing History publications that you may use to supplement or deepen students’ learning.

Visual Essays

Three chapters (Chapters 4, 6, and 11) include visual essays that use a series of images to provide a visual entry point to a key aspect of the history of the Holocaust and how it is remembered today. Each visual essay also includes an introduction and a set of Connection Questions to help guide students’ analysis of the images.

Teaching Emotionally Challenging Content

Many teachers want their students to achieve emotional engagement with the history of the Holocaust and therefore teach this history with the goal of fostering empathy. However, Holocaust and Human Behavior , like any examination of the Holocaust, includes historical descriptions and firsthand accounts that some students may find emotionally challenging. Teachers should select components from this resource that are most appropriate for the intellectual and emotional needs of their students.

It is difficult to predict how students will respond to primary and secondary source readings, documents, and films. One student may respond with emotion to a particular reading, while others may not find it powerful in the same way. In addition, different people demonstrate emotion in different ways. Some students will be silent. Some may laugh. Some may not want to talk. Some may take days to process difficult stories. For some, a particular firsthand account may be incomprehensible; for others, it may be familiar.

It is also important to note that our experience suggests that it is often problematic to use graphic images and films or to attempt to use simulations to help students understand aspects of this history. Such resources and activities can traumatize some students, desensitize others, or trivialize the history.

We urge teachers to create space for students to have a range of reactions and emotions. This might include time for silent reflection or writing in journals, as well as structured discussions to help students process content together. Some students will not want to share their reactions to emotionally challenging content in class, and teachers should respect that in class discussions. When teaching emotionally challenging content, it is crucial for educators to allow a variety of responses, or none at all, from students to authentically support their emotional growth and academic development.

Fostering a Reflective Classroom Community

We believe that a Facing History & Ourselves classroom is in many ways a microcosm of democracy—a place where explicit rules and implicit norms protect everyone’s right to speak; where different perspectives can be heard and valued; where members take responsibility for themselves, each other, and the group as a whole; and where each member has a stake and a voice in collective decisions. You may have already established rules and guidelines with your students to help bring about these characteristics in your classroom. If not, it is essential at the start of your study of Holocaust and Human Behavior to facilitate the beginning of a supportive, reflective classroom community. Once established, both you and your students will need to nurture this reflective community on an ongoing basis through the ways that you participate and respond to each other. We have found that classroom contracts and student journals are invaluable tools for creating and maintaining a reflective classroom community. We recommend considering the following ideas and strategies as you plan your unit or course.

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Inside this collection, explore the resources, the individual and society, we and they, world war: choices and consequences, the weimar republic: the fragility of democracy, the national socialist revolution, conformity and consent in the national community, open aggression and world responses, a war for race and space, judgment and justice, legacy and memory, choosing to participate, recommended resources for holocaust and human behavior, spanish translations from holocaust and human behavior, additional resources, related facing history resources & learning opportunities, teaching holocaust and human behavior, the holocaust and jewish communities in wartime north africa, gay life under nazi rule: the legacy of paragraph 175, special thanks.

This new edition of Holocaust and Human Behavior is dedicated to Richard and Susan Smith, with special thanks to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.

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Teaching with video testimony, teaching holocaust and human behaviour (uk), teaching with testimony, survivors and witnesses: video testimony, explore the partisans, resistance during the holocaust: an exploration of the jewish partisans, resources for civic education in california, resources for civic education in massachusetts, pre-war jewish life in north africa, holocaust and human behavior: a facing history & ourselves high school elective course, responses to rising antisemitism and antisemitic legislation in north africa, the holocaust and north africa: resistance in the camps, unlimited access to learning. more added every month..

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Marbury V. Madison: Establishing Judicial Review

This essay about the 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison examines its profound impact on American jurisprudence. The case arising from a dispute over judicial appointments established the principle of judicial review empowering the Supreme Court to nullify laws and actions that conflict with the Constitution. Chief Justice John Marshall’s decision affirmed the judiciary’s role in maintaining the balance of powers and protecting constitutional principles. The case’s legacy underscores the judiciary’s vital function in interpreting and safeguarding the Constitution a principle still relevant today.

How it works

In 1803 supreme Court of the united states produced a management that forever would change the course of American v. jurisprudence : of Marbury Madison. Appearing against the background of people what jumps from him newfound independence and management difficulties this considerable case marked a central moment in determination of role of department judicial in interpretation of Constitution.

A case became the result of consequence of contentious of 1800 presidential elections that saw the defeat of Party of Federalist and increase of Foma the Democratic republicans of Jefferson to fix.

President John Adams what Departs in his eventual days in an office did the series of judicial przepisania-zazwyczaj alluded to that how “north judges”-including of William Marbury who was set to serve as a justice the world in District of Colombia. However commission of Marbury together with that of several the second setting what got delivered never inducing him to give petition of supreme

Court for setting of order judicial inquiry what zmusza Secretary of State James Madison to deliver commission. Main Justice John Marshall on a carefully treat opinion admitted a legal right for Marbury on a commission under Department judicial Operate 1789 but decreeed eventually that supply what gives Court original jurisdiction above such cases it is unconstitutional. This decision laid the foundation for the doctrine of judicial review of plenary powers of department judicial to examine and do niewa?nym rights or administrative actions what is considered inconsistent with Constitution.

Marbury v. Madison not only settled a direct dispute on an occasion commission of Marbury but and set plenary powers of supreme Court to interpret Constitution regardless of carrying out and legislative bodies. Main Opinion of Marshalla Wymiaru of justice articulated principle that Constitution is the greatest right for earth and he is a role of department judicial to guarantee his loyalty and order his terms.

After his legal value a case set a precedent for the role of Court in the guard of balance of powers among the branch of government main principle of American democracy. Asserting that power of judicial review Marshall and Court declared a critical role to the department judicial in support of constitutional principles and protection of individual rights from a potential governmental cunning.

In conclusion Marbury v. Madison stands as a testament to the foresight and wisdom of the Founding Fathers in designing a government with built-in checks and balances. Its legacy continues to shape American legal theory and practice emphasizing the judiciary’s vital role in interpreting and safeguarding the Constitution—a role that remains as relevant today as it was over two centuries ago.

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    Organized by theme, this learning site presents an overview of the Holocaust through historical photographs, maps, images of artifacts, and testimony clips. It is a resource for middle and secondary level students and teachers, with content that reflects the history as it is presented in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Permanent ...

  18. Elie Wiesel: the Complex Identity of a Witness and Survivor

    Essay Example: Elie Wiesel a towering figure in the landscape of Holocaust literature presents an intricate tapestry of identity that transcends simplistic national categorizations. Born on September 30 1928 in Sighet a town in the Carpathian Mountains Wiesel's nationality is a nuanced interplay ... This multifaceted background allowed him to ...

  19. Behind Every Name a Story

    Share. Behind Every Name a Story consists of essays describing survivors' experiences during the Holocaust, written by survivors or their families. The essays, accompanying photographs, and other materials, including submissions that we are unable to feature on our website, will become a permanent part of the Museum's records.

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    The Path to Nazi Genocide provides general background information on the Holocaust for the instructor and for classroom use. This 38-minute film examines the Nazis' rise and consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda, and persecution of Jews and other victims.

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    The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide that occurred during World War II, resulting in the systematic extermination of six million Jews, as well as millions of other victims, including Romani people, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, disabled individuals, and political dissidents.This dark chapter in human history was orchestrated by the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler, and it ...

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    Essay Example: In 1803 supreme Court of the united states produced a management that forever would change the course of American v. jurisprudence : of Marbury Madison. Appearing against the background of people what jumps from him newfound independence and management difficulties this considerable