One of the many Jewish schools established by the Joint Distribution Committee in central and eastern Europe for children who had lost their parents during World War I. Rovno, Poland, after 1920.
Insignia of the 1st Infantry Division. The 1st Infantry Division's nickname, the "Big Red One," originated from the division's insignia, a large red number "1" on a khaki field. This nickname was adopted during World War I, when the 1st was the first American division to arrive in France.
Insignia of the 82nd Airborne Division. The nickname for the 82nd Airborne Division originated in World War I, signifying the "All American" composition of its members. The troops who formed the division came from diverse areas of the United States.
Insignia of the 80th Infantry Division. The nickname of the 80th Infantry Division, the "Blue Ridge" division, reflects the home states of the majority of soldiers who formed the division during World War I: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains run through these three states.
Following World War I, the Treaty of Versailles (1918) declared Danzig to be a free city administered by Poland and the League of Nations. Germany resented the loss of this largely German city. After invading Poland in September 1939, Nazi Germany annexed Danzig.
Recommended resources and topics if you have limited time to teach about the Holocaust.
The Nazis demanded that Germans accept the premises of the Nazi worldview and live their lives accordingly. They tolerated no criticism, dissent, or nonconformity. Hitler's political opponents were the first victims of systematic Nazi persecution.
Erwin Rommel was a German army officer who rose to the rank of Field Marshal. He was renowned as an innovator of armored tactics, particularly as commander of the Afrika Korps in North Africa. There is a “myth” or legend which depicts Rommel as a chivalrous and noble military opponent who was not driven by political ideology. In reality, there is ambiguity about the depth of his commitment to Nazi ideology.
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.
Theories of eugenics, or “racial hygiene” in the German context, shaped many of Nazi Germany’s persecutory policies.
Moishe was born to a Jewish family in the village of Komarovo, which until 1918 was part of the Russian Empire. At 18, he was drafted into the Russian army and fought in World War I. He was captured by the Germans, and while a POW, learned German. After the war he returned to Komarovo, which by then was part of Poland. He supported his family by farming and managing an estate for a Pole from Warsaw.
1933-39: The few Jews of Komarovo got along well with the Ukrainians. Moishe even played the fiddle at Ukrainian weddings. Germany invaded western Poland in 1939 and the Soviet Union occupied the eastern section of Poland [as a result of the German-Soviet Pact]. Moishe heard stories of German atrocities against the Jews but found it hard to believe. The Germans had treated him decently during the year he was their prisoner in World War I. The Menyuks decided to stay in Komarovo.
1940-44: Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. Komarovo's Jews heard awful rumors and fled to the forest. Returning for food, Moishe found he'd been robbed. SS guards rounded up Komarovo's Jews, putting them in a ghetto in the nearby town, Kolki, where they were forced to do hard labor. One night in 1942, Moishe and his son were among 40 men locked in a storeroom. The next day they found that everyone in the ghetto had been shot, including Moishe's wife and daughter. The men buried all the bodies. More Jews were brought into the ghetto.
The Germans liquidated the Kolki ghetto in 1942. Moishe was among 600 Jews loaded onto trucks, driven five miles into the forest, shot, and dumped into mass graves.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, the Nazi leadership decided to stage an economic boycott against the Jews of Germany. Local Nazi party chiefs organized the national boycott operation. Although it lasted only one day and was ignored by many individual Germans who continued to shop in Jewish-owned stores, it marked the beginning of a nationwide campaign by the Nazi Party against the entire German Jewish population.
Before the Nazis seized power in 1933, Europe had a richly diverse set of Jewish cultures. Many of these cultures were dynamic and highly developed. They drew from hundreds and, in some areas, a thousand or more years of Jewish life on the continent.
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.
German policies varied from country to country, including direct, brutal occupation and reliance upon collaborating regimes. The Germans conquered Belgium in May 1940. German authorities carried out deportations between 1942 and 1944. They deported nearly 25,000 Jews from Belgium to Auschwitz.
Lithuania is the southernmost of the Baltic states. During the Holocaust, the Germans murdered about 90 percent of Lithuanian Jews, one of the highest victim rates in Europe.
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.
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 Lion Feuchtwanger.
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