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world war I

  • Article 48


  • Alfred Dreyfus and the "Dreyfus Affair"


    Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) was a French Jewish military officer who was wrongfully tried and convicted of treason against France in 1894. The trial and ensuing events are referred to as the “Dreyfus Affair.”

    Alfred Dreyfus and the "Dreyfus Affair"
  • German Military Oaths


    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.

    German Military Oaths
  • Lodz


  • Benito Mussolini


    Benito Mussolini was an Italian nationalist and the founder of Italian Fascism. He ruled Italy from 1922 – 1925 as Prime Minister, and from 1925–1943 as il Duce, the Fascist dictator. Mussolini’s Fascist takeover of Italy was an inspiration and example for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany.

    Benito Mussolini
  • HIAS


    The relief organization HIAS has assisted refugees fleeing persecution since its founding in New York City in 1881. During the years of Nazi rule, between 1933 and 1945, HIAS estimated that it helped approximately 250,000 people flee from persecution in Nazi-occupied Europe. Today, HIAS continues to advocate on behalf of refugees worldwide.

  • Remilitarization of the Rhineland


    Provisions of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany (defeated in World War I) to station armed forces in a demilitarized zone in the Rhineland—a region in western Germany bordering France, Belgium, and part of the Netherlands. The treaty stipulated that Allied forces—including US troops—would occupy the region. In a blatant violation of the treaty, on March 7, 1936, Hitler ordered German troops to reoccupy the zone. Hitler gambled that the western powers would not intervene. His action brought condemnation from Great Britain and France, but neither nation intervened to enforce the treaty. This footage shows German forces entering the Rhineland.

    Remilitarization of the Rhineland
  • Marcu Butnaru

    ID Card

    Marcu was born to Jewish parents in a small, ethnically diverse city in east central Moldavia [in Romania], a region known for its wine. He married at the age of 23, and had a son and a daughter with his wife, Anna. After World War I, Marcu followed in his father's footsteps by going into the wine making business.

    1933-39: The price of wine was low due to the worldwide economic depression. Because the quality of Marcu's wine was excellent, however, it still fetched a good price. He spent much of his time cultivating his vineyards and then transforming the grapes into wine. In November 1939 his 20-year-old son Ion was drafted into the Romanian army.

    1940-44: In 1941 Romania went to war with the USSR as Germany's ally [Axis]. A Yiddish-speaking stranger came to Marcu's door saying that the Soviets were coming to liberate Jews. This was a ploy to catch traitors, and Marcu refused to fall for it. That day he was arrested by Romanian fascists [Iron Guard], who accused him of being a communist just because he was Jewish. He was badly beaten, tried by a military court and acquitted. But then he was held hostage to prevent acts of sabotage. When he was finally released, his vineyards and home had been confiscated.

    Marcu was liberated by the Soviet army in August 1944. He continued to live in Romania after the war.

    Tags: Romania
    Marcu Butnaru
  • Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim

    ID Card

    Friedrich-Paul was born in the old trading city of Lübeck in northern Germany. He was 11 when his father was killed in World War I. After his mother died, he and his sister Ina were raised by two elderly aunts. After graduating from school, Friedrich-Paul trained to be a merchant.

    1933-39: In January 1937 the SS arrested 230 men in Lübeck under the Nazi-revised criminal code's Paragraph 175, which banned sexual relations between men. Friedrich-Paul was imprisoned for 10 months. In 1938 he was re-arrested, humiliated, and tortured. The Nazis finally released him, but only on the condition that he agree to be castrated. Friedrich-Paul submitted to the operation.

    1940-44: Because of the nature of his operation, Friedrich-Paul was rejected as physically unfit when he came up for military service in 1940. In 1943 he was arrested again, this time for being a monarchist, a supporter of the former Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Nazis imprisoned him as a political prisoner in an annex of the Neuengamme concentration camp at Lübeck.

    After the war, Friedrich-Paul settled in Hamburg.

    Tags: Neuengamme
    Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim
  • Wilhelm Kusserow

    ID Card

    Born at the beginning of World War I, Wilhelm was patriotically named after Germany's emperor, Wilhelm II. The eldest son, Wilhelm was raised a Lutheran, but after the war his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and raised their children according to their faith. After 1931, their home in the rustic town of Bad Lippspringe became known as a center of Jehovah's Witness activity.

    1933-39: The Kusserows were under close scrutiny by the Nazi police because Witnesses believed that their highest loyalty was to God, not to Hitler. The Kusserows' home was repeatedly searched and some of their religious literature was confiscated. They offered refuge to fellow Witnesses and continued to host Bible study meetings in their home, illegally, even after Wilhelm's father had been arrested twice.

    1940: Germany had been at war since September 1939 and Wilhelm had been arrested for refusing induction into the German army, adhering strictly to the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." For Wilhelm, God's law came before Hitler's laws. The judge and prosecutor tried to change his mind. They offered to rescind his execution order if he renounced his "evil and destructive" beliefs. Wilhelm refused. The court sentenced him to death.

    According to his defense counsel, Wilhelm "died in accordance with his convictions." He was shot by a firing squad in Muenster Prison, on April 27, 1940.

    Wilhelm Kusserow
  • Paul Matasovski

    ID Card

    Paul was one of three children born to Jewish parents. They lived in a small city with a large Jewish population in central Moldavia. Paul's Ukrainian-born father had been stationed in Romania during World War I, and chose to remain there rather than return to Ukraine after the 1917 Russian Revolution.

    1933-39: Paul's household observed the Jewish holidays. He loved Passover with its special meals and the opportunity to show off new clothes. On the radio his family heard about the Nazis in Germany; in their own country, the antisemitic Iron Guard was becoming more popular. One morning in September 1939 Paul saw signs of the war for the first time: retreating Polish soldiers rode down our street, looking hungry and thirsty.

    1940-44: The fascist Iron Guard was in power. Being forced out of public school was the first of many measures Paul suffered because he was a Jew. Paul and his friends refused to remain passive. Building a radio and listening to foreign broadcasts were their first acts of defiance. They helped the underground by smuggling news inside soap bars and putting sand in German gas tanks. By cutting electric wires they sabotaged production at a factory where Paul was a forced laborer making uniforms for the German army.

    Suspected of sabotage, Paul was arrested and tortured by Romanian police, but was released just before Soviet troops invaded Romania in 1944. He moved to the United States in 1972.

    Tags: Romania
    Paul Matasovski
  • Istvan Geroe

    ID Card

    Istvan was born to a Jewish family in the small agricultural city of Torokszentmiklos, about 65 miles from Budapest. Istvan worked for the Hungarian railroads during World War I, and afterwards earned a degree in pharmacology. In the 1920s Istvan married Barbara Nemeth and they settled in Torokszentmiklos. In 1929 the couple had a son, Janos.

    1933-39: During the early 1930s, after the onset of the Depression, Istvan helped his father in the family's grain exporting business. In 1933 Istvan and Barbara divorced and their son Janos went to live in Szentes. In 1938 the Hungarian government, which was sympathetic to Nazi Germany, began enacting anti-Jewish laws.

    1940-45: In 1940 the Hungarian army forcibly conscripted thousands of Jewish males into labor brigades. Istvan was exempted because pharmacists were needed. In 1941 Istvan married Helena Haas. Three years later, in March 1944, Germany occupied Hungary. Istvan and his family were arrested by Hungarian gendarmes and taken to a makeshift ghetto located at a sugar factory near Torokszentmiklos. From there they were deported, via the Strasshof camp in Austria, to the Lobau labor camp near Vienna.

    Istvan, his wife, Helena, and his son, Janos, were liberated in Lobau by the Red Army in April 1945. After the war, they immigrated to the United States.

    Tags: Hungary
    Istvan Geroe
  • Nazi Propaganda


    The Nazis effectively used propaganda to win the support of millions of Germans in a democracy and, later in a dictatorship, to facilitate persecution, war, and ultimately genocide. The stereotypes and images found in Nazi propaganda were not new, but were already familiar to their intended audience.

    Nazi Propaganda
  • Axis Alliance in World War II


    The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. These three countries recognized German domination over most of continental Europe; Italian domination over the Mediterranean Sea; and Japanese domination over East Asia and the Pacific.

    Axis Alliance in World War II
  • Bulgaria
  • Vienna
  • Romania
  • Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany


    In the first six years of Adolf Hitler's dictatorship, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations on all aspects of their lives. The regulations gradually but systematically took away their rights and property, transforming them from citizens into outcasts. Many of the laws were national ones issued by the German administration, affecting all Jews. State, regional, and municipal officials also issued many decrees in their own communities. As Nazi leaders prepared for war in Europe, antisemitic legislation in Germany and Austria paved the way for more radical persecution of Jews.

    Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany
  • Book Burning


    Beginning on May 10, 1933, Nazi-dominated student groups carried out public burnings of books they claimed were “un-German.” The book burnings took place in 34 university towns and cities. Works of prominent Jewish, liberal, and leftist writers ended up in the bonfires. The book burnings stood as a powerful symbol of Nazi intolerance and censorship.

    Book Burning
  • Third Reich
  • Culture in the Third Reich: Disseminating the Nazi Worldview
  • Arrests without Warrant or Judicial Review


    Arrest without warrant or judicial review was one of a series of key decrees, legislative acts, and case law in the gradual process by which the Nazi leadership moved Germany from a democracy to a dictatorship.

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