The Holocaust: A Webquest

All of the questions below start at the Table of Contents page of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's education outreach page. You can also navigate the site by clicking the links in the header at the top of the page or by following the links at the bottom.
Answers in red have been paraphrased from the website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The link above the answer contains the answer provided in red.


Nazi Rule: Hitler Comes to Power

1) What was the name of the weak government of Germany created after World War I?

Weimar Germany_____________________________________________________

2) To which levels or members of German society did the Nazi Party of Adolph Hitler appeal?

The Nazis appealed especially to the unemployed, young people, and members of the lower middle class (small store owners, office employees,  craftsmen, and farmers).

The Nazi Terror Begins

3) The USHMM website states that tens of thousands of young, unemployed German men
were "lured by the wages, a feeling of comradeship, and the striking uniforms," to join
which organization within the Nazi Party? Give both the English and German terms.

Nazi Storm Troopers or (Sturmabteilungen) also called the SA.

4) What did these "auxiliary policemen" do to those who opposed the Nazi regime?

These auxiliary policemen took to the streets to beat up and kill some opponents of the Nazi
regime.

The SS Police State

5) What was the name of the Protective Squad that began as a special guard for Adolph Hitler and other party leaders? Describe their role in the affairs of the Nazi Party.
The Protective Squad (Schutzstaffel), or SS, began as a special guard for Adolf Hitler and other party leaders.

Nazi Racism

6) What was Hitler's term for the "master race?" Describe this type of person.

To describe the "Germanic race,"  Hitler used the term "Aryan" or "master race." For
Hitler, the ideal "Aryan" was blond, blue-eyed, and tall.

7) Other than Jews, what types of German citizens were victims of Nazi racial ideology?

Among the targets of Nazi ideology were Roma (Gypsies), an ethnic minority numbering about 30,000 in
Germany, and handicapped individuals, including the mentally ill and people born deaf and
blind. Also victimized were about 500 African-German children.

8) Define anti-Semitism. How far does it go back? What does the term pogrom mean?
In what other nations were Jews treated as scapegoats?

Anti-semitism is any prejudice toward Jews or discrimination against them.

In Russia and Poland in the late 1800s the government organized or did not prevent
violent attacks on Jewish neighborhoods, called pogroms, in which mobs murdered Jews
and looted their homes and stores.

Jews were blamed for causing the  "Black Death," the plague that killed thousands of people throughout
Europe during the Middle Ages. In Spain in the 1400s, Jews were forced to convert to Christianity,
leave the country, or be executed. Pogroms took place in Russia and Poland in the 19th century.
 

The Jews In Germany

9) How many Jews lived in Germany at the time of the 1933 census? How many of these
Jews were German citizens?  How were the remaining German Jews classified?

According to the census of June 1933, the Jewish population of Germany consisted of about 600,000 people.
Eighty percent of the Jews in Germany (about 400,000 people) held German citizenship. The remainder were mostly Jews of Polish citizenship, many of whom were born in Germany and who had permanent resident
status in Germany.

The Nuremberg Laws

10) How did the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 classify people in Germany as Jewish (by what
standard did the government judge if a person was Jewish)?

The Nuremberg Laws stated that anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined
as a Jew, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged
to the Jewish religious community.

11) How did the Nazi government identify Jews within the society of Germans in general?

Like everyone in Germany, Jews were required to carry identity cards, but
the government added special identifying marks to theirs: a red "J" stamped
on them. Such cards allowed the police to identify Jews easily.

See this artifact for a visual of the answer above:
http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/03098.htm

Artifact about the Jews in Germany: http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/90256-1.htm

12) View the artifact found by way of the link above. Describe the artifact. What does it say?

Signs excluding Jews, such as the sign shown here, were posted in public places (including
parks, theaters, movie houses, and restaurants) throughout Nazi Germany. The sign states in
German: "Jews are not wanted here."

13) How did the Storm Troopers carry out the boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933.
Even though the boycott was not very successful, tell why it was important.

On the day of the boycott, Storm Troopers stood  menacingly in front of Jewish-owned shops.
The six-pointed "Star of David" was painted  in yellow and black across thousands of doors and windows.

It marked the beginning  of a nationwide campaign by theNazi party against the entire German
Jewish population.

14) Which European nation was treated the harshest under German rule? Give two examples
of the type of rule Germany placed on that nation. Which nation was treated the easiest?

German rule in Poland was extremely harsh. German authorities regarded the Polish
population as a supply of forced laborers. A campaign of terror was directed against
Polish teachers, priests, and cultural figures, many of whom were killed or sent to the camps.
The Germans destroyed Polish cultural and scientific institutions and  plundered national treasures.

In occupied western Europe, far milder policies were followed. "Germanic" countries like the
Netherlands were ultimately slated to become part of Germany.

The Night of Broken Glass

15) Tell what happened on the night of November 9, 1938. What is the German name for
this event? What caused the violence?

On the night of November 9, 1938, violence against Jews broke out across the Reich, set off by Germans'
anger over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager. In two days,
over 1,000 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people
were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades
stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," for the shattered glass from the
store windows that littered the streets.

The Evian Conference

16) Who called the Evian Conference? When was it called and for what purpose did it
meet?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, responding to mounting political pressure in the summer of 1938, called for an international
conference to address the refugee problem.

17) List one reason why efforts to allow more refugees into the US failed before World
War II.

Widespread racial prejudices among Americans -- including  antisemitic attitudes held by the U.S. State |
Department officials -- played a part in the failure to admit more refugees.
 

Map: Jewish Emigration from Germany: 1933

18) Looking at the map, which country accepted the most Jews during this period?
How many Jews escaped to Palestine? To Shanghai?

The United States accepted 90,000. 60,000 went to Palestine. 15,000-18,000 went to Shanghai,
China.
 
 

The Final Solution

19) What was the goal of the "final solution?" What is the definition of the term
"genocide?"

Genocide of the Jews was the main goal of Nazi policy under the rule of Adolf Hitler.
Genocide is defined as the "deliberate, systematic destruction of a racial, cultural, or political group."

20) Describe the two major stages of the Nazi plan to carry out the "final solution."
How many Jews were gassed in extermination camps?

After the June 1933 Nazi party rise to power, state-enforced racism resulted in anti-Jewish legislation,
boycotts, "Aryanization," and finally the "Night of Broken Glass" pogrom, all of which aimed to remove the
Jews from German society. After the beginning of World War II, anti-Jewish policy evolved into a
comprehensive plan to concentrate and eventually annihilate European Jewry.

21) What were the einsatzgruppen? What methods did they use most often to carry out
their activities? in what nation did they operate

During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, mobile killing  squads (Einsatzgruppen)
began killing entire Jewish  communities. The methods used, mainly shooting or gas vans,
 were soon regarded as inefficient and as a psychological burden  on the killers.

Ghettos in Poland

22) In what city was the largest of the Jewish "residential quarters" found? How many
ghettos existed in all of the occupied territories?

The largest ghetto was in Warsaw, the Polish capital, where almost half a million Jews were confined.

Altogether, the Germans created more than 400 ghettos in occupied territories.
 

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

23) Describe the events of April 19, 1943 in the Warsaw Ghetto. How did the uprising
come to an end? What happened to the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto?
 

On April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered
the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. Seven hundred and fifty fighters fought the heavily
armed and well-trained Germans. The ghetto fighters were able to hold out for nearly a month,
but on May 16, 1943, the revolt ended. The Germans had slowly crushed the resistance.
Of the more than 56,000 Jews captured, about 7,000 were shot, and the remainder were deported
to killing centers or concentration camps.

The Wannsee Conference

24) What was the purpose of the Wannsee Conference?

Reinhard Heydrich, who was SS chief Heinrich Himmler's head deputy, held the  meeting for the
purpose of discussing the "final solution to the Jewish question in  Europe" with key non-SS government
leaders, including the secretaries of the Foreign Ministry and Justice, whose cooperation was needed.

Auschwitz

25) How many people died at Auschwitz? What percentage of them were Jewish?

More than one million people lost their lives at Auschwitz, nine out of ten of them Jewish.

26) What was the goal of some of the medical experiments carried out by SS doctor Josef
Mengele?

The aim of some experiments was to find better medical treatments for German soldiers and airmen.
Other experiments were aimed at improving methods of sterilizing people the Nazis considered inferior.
Many people died during the experiments. Others were killed  after the "research" was completed and their
organs removed for further study.

Killing Centers

27) What was the most common methods that Nazis committed mass murder at the killing centers?

The arriving victims first went through a selection process. Men were separated from women prevent panic,
camp guards told the victims that they were going to take showers to rid themselves of lice.
Then they were driven naked into the "showers." In some killing centers, carbon monoxide was
piped into the chamber. In others, camp guards threw "Zyklon B" pellets down an air shaft.

Map: http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/pol72090.htm

28) Use the map to list the major killing centers and extermination camps in Poland

Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, as well as killing sections of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek-
Lublin concentration camps.

Liberation

29) For each of the Allied army groups below, identify which killing center(s) was liberated
by each:

Soviet Forces: Majdanek camp in Poland. On January 27, 1945, they entered Auschwitz
American Forces: Buchenwald and Dachau
British Forces: Bergen-Belsen

30) Why did about half of the concentration camp inmates die within a few weeks of
liberation?

Allied troops, physicians, and relief workers tried to provide nourishment for the 
surviving prisoners, but many of them were too weak to digest food and could not be saved. 
In spite of the liberators' efforts, many camp survivors died.

The Survivors

31) What led Great Britain to change its mind about establishing a Jewish homeland in its
territory of Palestine?

Great Britain's scandalous treatment of Jewish refugees added to international
pressures for a homeland for the Jewish people.

32) What nation was formed from the division of Jewish and Arab territory in Palestine?
When did it achieve independence?


Finally, the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. 
On May 14, 1948, one of the leading voices for a Jewish homeland, David Ben-Gurion, 
announced the formation of the State of Israel.

The Nuremberg Trials

33) How many Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg? How many were sentenced
to death?

Twenty-two major Nazi criminals went on trial. Twelve prominent Nazis were
sentenced to death.

35) Who found Adolph Eichmann? What was he convicted of and what was his sentence?

Simon Wiesenthal, an Nazi-hunter, located Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Eichmann, who had helped plan an
carry out the deportations of millions of Jews, was brought to trial in Israel. The testimony of hundreds of 
witnesses, many of them survivors, was followed all over the world. Eichmann was found guilty and executed in 1962.

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