This article examines Holocaust education, which now takes place across continents and grade-levels and through diverse programs and pedagogies. It argues that research about these efforts and their effects has been underdeveloped, partly because the approaches, objectives, and challenges of Holocaust education necessarily reflect cultural and national differences. While taking these into account, the recurrent themes and practices in Holocaust pedagogy are explored, identifying what is underscored and underplayed. The discussion stresses that the currently predominant context for Holocaust education is the repeated threat of genocidal violence. How Holocaust education and research about it can foster a sense of global citizenship is examined.
This article argues that the Holocaust took place within a distinct normative vision of Europe as a privileged embodiment of certain values, namely the Nazis' authoritarian and antisemitic ‘New European Order’. While postwar European integration was justified with regard to national conflict in the past, the memory of the Holocaust played virtually no role in the initial construction of the European Community. Even when there was increasing awareness of the Judeocide after the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the United States and Germany, neither individual European countries — with the obvious exception of the Federal Republic — nor the European Community as a whole felt compelled to define themselves in relation to it, let alone address their complicity in it. However, this state of affairs changed markedly in the 1990s: partly because of the end of the Cold War, transnational political pressures, and a new emphasis on self-critical memorialization as a mode of legitimacy, European countries confronted their roles in the Holocaust directly and to such an extent that some scholars in fact have begun to speak of a ‘Europeanization of the Holocaust’.
This article examines the Holocaust's impact on postwar German politics, identity, and international conduct. It shows that a distinctive form of memory of the Holocaust arose in Germany following World War II as a byproduct of total military defeat, Allied occupation, and the restoration of previously suppressed German political traditions. In East Germany, the memory of the suffering and triumph of the Soviet Union loomed far larger in ‘anti-fascist’ political culture than the fate of Europe's Jews. The limits of justice and memory in the two Germanys after 1945 are striking in view of the enormity of the crime of the Holocaust. However, compared with the amnesia and paucity of justice that often have followed other criminal dictatorships, the West German and then unified German confrontation with the crimes of the Nazi era have yielded a distinctive mixture of some truth telling, some judicial reckoning, some excellent historical scholarship, and some compassion for the survivors of the Holocaust.
Martin C. Dean
The Germans created more than 140 ghettos in the Polish territories incorporated into the Reich, approximately 380 in the General Government, and more than 600 in other occupied territories. This article explores the similarities and differences that characterized this ghastly and still incompletely researched aspect of the Holocaust. It discusses patterns of ghettoization, policies and procedures in occupied Poland, and foreboding and resistance among ghettoized Jews.
This article surveys the concept and reality of ‘Greater Germany’. After World War I, the idea of bringing all European Germans together in a single political entity was shared by many people, including Hitler. This ‘folkish’ project entailed the expulsion of the Jews, but detailed directives from above for anti-Jewish policy were lacking when the Nazis first came to power in 1933, so central, regional, and local administrations enjoyed enormous freedom of action. Many mayors and city officials, both National Socialists and non-Party members among them, introduced measures excluding Jews from public facilities. Often extending beyond the few new national anti-Jewish laws, such actions, coordinated by the German Council of Municipalities, were tolerated by the Nazi government. This controlled decentralization of anti-Jewish policy dominated until 1938, when the annexation of Austria prompted a centralization of persecution and the increasing likelihood of war fostered radical new ideas, such as ghettoization and forced labour. Municipalities carried out the former, and the ministerial bureaucracy the latter, as well as the deportations of 1941–1943 that allowed Hitler and his government to realize, if only briefly, their Pan-German dream.
Established in 1948, three years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the State of Israel remains intrinsically connected to the Holocaust. It influences cultural norms, education, and political decision making. Neither the outlooks of Israelis nor the policies of the state can be understood without regard to the central role that the Holocaust plays in Israel's life. This article explores this pervasive impact on the State of Israel, whose existence has depended significantly on survivors and memories of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.
This article argues that the Holocaust not only has become a mainstay of Jewish culture but also has engendered an array of cultural practices across the spectrum of Jewish ideological and geographical diversity. At the same time, the subject has prompted debates over the nature — or even the possibility — of ‘proper’ Holocaust remembrance. Jewish culture is engaged in forging new, definitional narratives of Jewish experience that respond to the Holocaust, and in establishing new cultural practices of Holocaust remembrance. Some of these rest on precedents for Jewish responses to calamity and others on the influence of new authorities, notably Holocaust survivors. Implicated in this discovery process are new forms of engagement between Jews and other religious and national groups, especially as Jews consider the implications of the wide embrace of Holocaust remembrance beyond their own communities, where it often figures as a master moral paradigm.
Identifying Jews solely as victims of the Holocaust, a classification long employed in Holocaust studies, begs more questions than it answers, because this approach tends to underplay the active and even proactive stance of Jews who at every turn did what they could to defend and preserve their lives. This article surveys the multiple ways in which Jews confronted the Holocaust. Following background discussion about Judaism and modern Jewish history, it examines how Jews in the 1930s and 1940s comprehended and reacted to the Nazi onslaught, looking at Jewish leadership within and outside of Europe, ways of perseverance and resistance, and modes of documenting the Jewish experience. The article concludes with an account of Jewish losses and the Holocaust's impact on Jewish culture and peoplehood.
Recent studies show that forced labour sites were far more numerous than previously thought. While maintaining that the term ‘slave labour’ understates the condition of Jewish workers during the Nazi era, this article provides a taxonomy of the Nazi regime's use of forced, especially Jewish, labour from 1938 to 1945. It outlines the circumstances that made such labour lethal to greater or lesser degrees in particular times and places.
Central to the ideology of Nazi imperialism was the joining of race and space. The ‘New Order’ the Nazis sought entailed a racial classification and ‘cleansing’ of Europe, especially its eastern reaches, which Nazi leaders envisioned as the ideal German ‘living space’ (Lebensraum). Yet between Hitler's utopian vision of the eastern territories as a ‘Garden of Eden’ and the implementation of the Holocaust and Nazi resettlement programs in Poland, the Baltic states, Belorussia, and Ukraine lay many gray areas. This article examines the interrelationship of Nazi expansionism, anti-Jewish policies, and schemes to resettle ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) in eastern Europe in an effort to assess the extent to which the history of the Shoah should be understood in the context of Nazi dreams and schemes of Lebensraum.
This article begins in the early Middle Ages, and specifically addresses questions concerning the economic and political situation of Jewry in Western Europe. The period of the high Middle Ages follows, with a focus on developments in community life and the character of Jewish society. The discussion considers the Jewish foundation myths that were born in the twelfth century in an attempt to explain and interpret the social and cultural changes of the time. It examines the nature of the interaction and the form of discourse that characterized the medieval relations between a Christian majority and a Jewish minority culture. It also describes the legal status of the Jews in Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The article also discusses Jewish life in Spain, since, for a significant segment of the period under study, Spain was under Muslim rule.
Eric D. Weitz
National Socialism sought a radical restructuring of the European population. The drive to assert German domination over the continent entailed not only territorial conquest and political dictatorship but also demographic engineering, in which the annihilation of the Jews was the core aspiration. This article shows that a program of this sort was one possible outcome of nationalism, since that idea and race thinking are closely linked. Both forms of understanding human diversity and defining community developed from the 15th and especially the 18th century onward in the western world. National Socialism provided particularly intertwined and vicious definitions of nation and race that reveal in stark terms how nationalism, which always carries an exclusionary component, was a necessary enabling condition for the Holocaust.
Repeated defeats at the hands of the Romans and the subsequent pan-European migration made the Jewish people pragmatic and their religion, rid off radical traits, with the exception of rare, obscure flares. Nevertheless, the painful memories and the hope of a holistic redemption always maintained presence in the Jewish psyche, waiting for the opportune moment to flare up. The resigned postmillennialism and rational, secular, European Jewish philosophy was content with the creation of Israel on the lost land. The subsequent turmoil, and the perpetual war footing of Israel reoriented the new generation of Jews in a catastrophic millennialism and radical ideas of redemption, inspired by the permanently belligerent milieu of its existence. It facilitated a tendency to aspire for a messianic age. Fascinated by prospects of a Jewish commonwealth and rebuilding of the temple on Mount Zion, the conservative Protestants have been funding the radical Jewish cause.
Ron E. Hassner and Gideon Aran
This chapter reports the traditional violent themes in religious Judaism as they seem in sacred texts, rites, customs, and chronicles, and provides a survey of the components of Jewish religion relating to violence while evaluating and illustrating their development and influence through history. It then describes the violent implications of two religious elements that are distinct and central in the Jewish legacy: Mysticism and Messianism. The case of Jewish violence is especially complicated, since Judaism is characterized by a close relationship and a substantial overlap between religious association and ethno-nationalist ties. The essence of Judaism became the interpretation and application of the Bible to historical realities. The Kabbalah presents historical reality as a mirror and integral component of a larger cosmic drama. A distinct minority of Jews use their own victimhood as a license to inflict violence upon others by way of compensation or revenge.