Reinhard Heydrich was one of the main architects of the “Final Solution.” He was chief of the Reich Security Main Office, the SS and police agency most directly concerned with implementing the Nazi plan to murder Jews of Europe during World War II.
Before World War II and the Holocaust, American law made very little distinction between refugees forced to flee their countries due to persecution, and immigrants seeking a better life. After the war, the United States and the international community used a series of directives, organizations, and laws to help displaced European refugees, including Holocaust survivors, immigrate to new countries. Although refugees gained legal status under postwar international law, the scope of these laws were narrow and limited at first, before expanding to their current form.
The leaders of Nazi Germany, a modern, educated society, aimed to destroy millions of men, women, and children because of their Jewish identity. Understanding this process may help us to better understand the conditions under which mass violence is possible and to take steps to prevent such conditions from developing.
Explore fundamental questions about how and why the Holocaust was possible.
Consideration of American responses to Nazism during the 1930s and 1940s raises questions about the responsibility to intervene in response to persecution or genocide in another country. As soon as Hitler assumed power in 1933, Americans had access to information about Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and other groups. Although some Americans protested Nazism, there was no sustained, nationwide effort in the United States to oppose the Nazi treatment of Jews. Even after the US entered World War II, the government did not make the rescue of Jews a major war aim.
Explore this question to learn about the factors and pressures that influenced America’s responses to Nazism.
The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators. The Holocaust was an evolving process that took place throughout Europe between 1933 and 1945.
The meanings of “race” and “racism” have varied over time and in different political, social, and cultural settings. Nazi racism and American racism are distinct and complex topics. This discussion question focuses on the history of racial antisemitism in Germany and its relationship to racism in the United States. Learn more about some aspects of these histories that are similar and some that are different.
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