Explain why Kristallnacht took place.
In November 1939 it came to light that the Propaganda Minister Dr Josef Goebbels was having an affair with a Czech actress named Leda Baarova. Hitler regarded the Czechs as subhuman. He also respected Goebbels’ wife Magda. Dr Goebbels was therefore in Hitler’s bad books.
A Polish Jewish 17 year old Herschel Grynszpan was living in Paris. He walked into the German Embassy and shot dead a diplomat named Ernst vom Rath. Grynszpan did this because his parents had been expelled from Germany some weeks earlier along with all other Polish Jews. There is another explanation. Vom Rath was a homosexual who was known as Notre Dame de Paris. He and this young man may have been having a liaison.
Goebbels decided to exploit the murder of vom Rath. It took place on 9 November. This was the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch. Goebbels had SS men and SA men dress in civilian clothes. They smashed the windows of Jewish shops and houses. Jewish men were beaten up and 100 killed. Over 10 000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps. The insurance industry was exempt from paying compensation to the Jewish community for the damage sustained to their property. A ruinous fine was levied on the Jewish community.
Goebbels presented this as a spontaneous outburst of fury at the assassination of the diplomat. In fact the violence was carefully orchestrated. The official explanation was ”the national soul boiled over.” This was a means of distracting attention from his extramarital affair. He also wished to ingratiated himself to Hitler.
Nazi policies had a major impact on the Jewish 1933-39. Explain why you agree or disagree.
Explain why Jewish ghettos were established in Poland 1940-41.
Ghettoes were established in Poland at this time when it was under German occupation. This was part of Nazi anti-Semitic policy. The policy had four main stages – vilification, separation, relocation and extermination. This was the third stage – moving German Jews to Poland. Poland had a huge Jewish community of 3 000 000. This represented 10 per cent of the population.
Some people from the ghetto were forced to work. They were slaves for the German war industries.
The Nazis declared that Germany was ”Jew free’ in 1941 because they had removed the Jewish community. This was an act preparatory to killing the Jewish community.
Overcrowding, insanitary conditions, the lack of medical care and malnutrition slowly killed the Jewish community in the ghettoes.
Of all the Nazi leaders including Hitler it is Himmler who should bear the greatest responsibility for the Holocaust. Explain why you agree or not.
Heinrich Himmler was perhaps the most fanatical anti-Semite among the Nazi high command. Himmler came from a highly educated family but despite that he was virulently racist. His father was the tutor to the House of Wittelsbach – the Bavarian royal family – and his grandfather was the head of the police in Bavaria.
Born in 1900 Himmler was just too young to fight in the First World War. He was at an officer training academy when the war ended. This was of lasting regret to him. He was convinced that international Jewry was to blame for the defeat.
Himmler was an early member of the Nazis. He took part in the Beer Hall Putsch. Others emphasised different parts of the Nazis agenda. For Himmler it was anti-Semitism that was always paramount. Himmler was not as clever as the rest of his family and had to be a chicken farmer. He believed that one could breed a blond race in 100 years. He was fixated with genetics.
Himmler founded the SS – Schutz Staffel. This was protection squad – Hitler’s bodyguard. The SS was steeped in Nazi ideology. Only those of Aryan stck were permitted to join. Himmler examined the photos of all applicants with a magnifying glass as if he could detect any non Aryan features.
The SS later separated from the SA. The SS had at first been a subsection of the SA. Himmler loathed the head of the SA – Ernst Rohm. This was partly due to Rohm’s gay proclivities but also because Rohm was a socialist.
As Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler initiated many attacks on Jewish people. When the Nazis came to office he wanted to ramp up anti-Semitic policy. When the war began he was keen to start the Holocaust. He was present at the Wannsee Conference when the Holocaust was planned.
As soon as Poland was conquered Himmler started some small scale massacres in Poland. The same occurred in the Soviet Union in 1941. He was acting on his own initiative. He was a step ahead of Hitler in anti Semitism.
The SS ran concentration camps and extermination camps. Himmler was directly responsible for the murders and was informed of what was happening. He gave a speech to army officers in 1943 in which he announced that the annihilation of the Jewish race would soon be complete. He said the trouble was that each German knew one good Jew. Himmler insisted that no exemptions be made for individuals.
Himmler considered sparing Hungarian Jews in return for 10 000 trucks. The Allies refused. Himmler still gave priority to moving Jewish people to gas chambers rather than soldiers to the front in 1945.
Himmler was a particularly malevolent anti-Semite. He was more obsessive about this than others. In conclusion, this essay concurs with the title statement. He was more responsible than Hitler for anti- Semitism.