As Allied troops fought their way toward Berlin, they found tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. Malnutrition and disease were rampant, and corpses lay unburied. Soldiers reacted in shock and disbelief. In addition to burying the dead, Allied forces attempted to help and comfort survivors with food, clothing, and medical assistance. Among the liberating units was the 36th Infantry.
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.
The Nazi Party was one of a number of right-wing extremist political groups that emerged in Germany following World War I. Beginning with the onset of the Great Depression it rose rapidly from obscurity to political prominence, becoming the largest party in the German parliament in 1932.
The Sturmabteilung, or SA, was a paramilitary organization associated with the Nazi Party. The SA was integral to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, violently enforcing party norms and attempting to influence elections. After Hitler purged the SA during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, the SA lost most of its power to the Schutzstaffel, or SS, although the SA did not disband until the war ended in 1945.
"Weimar Republic" is the name given to the German government between the end of the Imperial period (1918) and the beginning of Nazi Germany (1933). Political turmoil and violence, economic hardship, and also new social freedoms and vibrant artistic movements characterized the complex Weimar period. Many of the challenges of this era set the stage for Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
Persecution of Jews and other groups was not solely the result of measures originating with Hitler and other Nazi zealots. Nazi leaders required the active help or cooperation of professionals working in diverse fields who in many instances were not convinced Nazis. Church leaders and other members of the conservative elite who were in a position to influence public opinion were all but silent regarding the persecution of Jews.
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