For the Jews who survived the Holocaust, the end of World War II brought new challenges. Many could not or would not return to their former homelands, and options for legal immigration were limited. In spite of these difficulties, these Jewish survivors sought to rebuild their shattered lives by creating flourishing communities in displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy. In an unparalleled six-year period between 1945 and 1951, European Jewish life was reborn in camps such as Gabersee.
The Nazis killed millions of people in gas vans or in stationary gas chambers. The victims were people with disabilities and later Jews and other prisoners. The vast majority of those killed by gassing were Jews.
The Nazi regime carried out a campaign against male homosexuality and persecuted gay men between 1933 and 1945. As part of this campaign, the Nazi regime closed gay bars and meeting places, dissolved gay associations, and shuttered gay presses. The Nazi regime also arrested and tried tens of thousands of gay men using Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code. Uncovering the histories of gay men during the Nazi era was difficult for much of the twentieth century because of continued prejudice against same-sex sexuality and the postwar German enforcement of Paragraph 175.
In 1933, Nazi students at more than 30 German universities pillaged libraries in search of books they considered to be "un-German." Among the literary and political writings they threw into the flames were the works of Georg Bernhard.
In 1933, Nazi students at more than 30 German universities pillaged libraries in search of books they considered to be "un-German." Among the literary and political writings they threw into the flames were the works of Georg Grosz.
George Kadish (1910-1997) secretly documented life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. The results constitute one of the most significant photographic records of ghetto life during the Holocaust era.
The German American Bund was an organization of ethnic Germans living in the United States. Their pro-Nazi agenda supported US isolationism, avoidance of European conflicts for Germany’s benefit.
Established in 1938, the German Armed Forces High Command was theoretically a unified military command controlling Germany’s air force, navy, and army. In reality, the establishment of the High Command allowed Adolf Hitler to consolidate power as commander-in-chief of the German military.
Adolf Hitler came to power with the goal of establishing a new racial order in Europe dominated by the German “master race.” This goal drove Nazi foreign policy, which aimed to: throw off the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles; incorporate territories with ethnic German populations into the Reich; acquire a vast new empire in Eastern Europe; form alliances; and, during the war, persuade other states to participate in the “final solution.”
German troops overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France in six weeks starting in May 1940. France signed an armistice in late June 1940, leaving Great Britain as the only country fighting Nazi Germany. Germany and collaborating authorities soon initiated anti-Jewish policies and laws in occupied western Europe.
The onset of World War II brought accelerated persecution and deportation and later, mass murder, to the Jews of Germany. In all, the Germans and their collaborators killed between 160,000 and 180,000 German Jews in the Holocaust, including most of those Jews deported out of Germany.
Until recently, many militaries swore their allegiance to their monarchs or rulers. Traditionally, the German military had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Kaiser. This changed during the Weimar Republic, when the oath became one of allegiance to the Constitution and its institutions. In Nazi Germany, German military personnel swore an oath directly to Adolf Hitler. This change had important repercussions during World War II.
Beginning in 1933, the Nazis took control of and subsequently transformed the police forces of the Weimar Republic into instruments of state repression and, eventually, of genocide. They did so by Nazifying policing. The new government removed anti-Nazi police leaders, reorganized Germany’s police forces, and reoriented police culture towards Nazism.
In 1918, Germany transitioned from a semi-authoritarian empire to the Weimar Republic, a democracy that protected individual rights and limited police power. During the Weimar Republic, police struggled to respond to a rise in crime, political violence, and high unemployment. The Nazis promised to fix these problems, which helped policemen to eventually accept the new Nazi regime in 1933.
When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he was determined to overturn the military and territorial provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. By overturning the treaty, the German government sought to incorporate ethnically German territories into the Reich. It was the first step toward the creation of a German empire in Europe.
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