Combining the SS and the police into one institution was an important step in the Nazi regime’s transformation into a powerful dictatorship. This SS and police system had the ideological radicalism of the SS and the executive authority of the police. During World War II, SS and police leaders were responsible for perpetrating the mass murder of Europe’s Jews.
The Röhm Purge was the murder of the leadership of the SA (Storm Troopers), the Nazi paramilitary formation led by Ernst Röhm. The murders took place between June 30 and July 2, 1934. The ruling elites and ultimately Hitler saw the SA as a threat to their hold on power. The purge demonstrated the Nazi regime’s willingness to go outside of the law to commit murder as an act of state for the perceived survival of the nation.
The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were more than just a worldwide sporting event, they were a show of Nazi propaganda, stirring significant conflict. Despite the exclusionary principles of the 1936 Games, countries around the world still agreed to participate.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that was in use in many different cultures for at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler made it the centerpiece of the Nazi flag. Its present-day use by certain extremist groups promotes hate.
The mass murder of Europe’s Jews took place in the context of World War II. As German troops invaded and occupied more and more territory in Europe, the Soviet Union, and North Africa, the regime’s racial and antisemitic policies became more radical, moving from persecution to genocide.
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.
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