The Big Three Allies — Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union — ultimately brought vast military power to bear against the Third Reich, thus obtaining its unconditional surrender. But as Nazi pressure on Jews turned into the ‘Final Solution’, the Allies' actions usually did not assign priority to defending or rescuing the victims. This article explains this pattern with reference to the Allies' prewar immigration and refugee policies, political and military objectives during World War II, and concerns about domestic public opinion. It shows that the Jewish fate was determined largely by the continuous interplay between Nazi Germany's antisemitic propaganda and the Allies' desire to avoid the impression that they were fighting to benefit the Jews.
James D. Tabor
This article focuses on ancient Jewish and early Christian millennialism, which are found to be intrinsically inconsistent—there are no specific pointers towards marking the end of time; messianic figures appear in some texts and not in others; and God is humanized in some while others are exclusively emphatic on the transcendental paradigm. It makes the whole millennialist gamut essentially subjective. The groundwork was laid by the pre-Hellenic invasions of Israel and the context for the emergence of Jewish millennialism was provided by the widespread suppression under Greek emperor Antiochus. This article demonstrates that from the second and third centuries onwards, the trend increasingly tended from literal expressions towards symbolic subjective millennialism, to the extent that the former was considered inferior.
Anti-Semitism refers to all anti-Jewish statements, tendencies, resentments, attitudes, and actions, regardless of whether they are religiously, racially, socially, or otherwise motivated. Ever since the experience of National Socialist ideology and dictatorship, anti-Semitism has been understood as a social phenomena which serves as a paradigm for the formation of prejudices and the political exploitation of the hostilities that ensue from them. As prejudice research, it is primarily interested in the behaviour and attitudes of different majority societies, and strictly speaking, it does not even require knowledge of the discriminated minority. This article claims that anti-Semitism research and Jewish studies are not interconnected, nor dependent on one another. However, the history of Jews, their interaction with non-Jewish majority societies, their persecution and extermination, serves anti-Semitism research as a paradigm.
Richard S. Levy
This article addresses the phenomenon of organized antisemitism in the sixty years preceding the “Final Solution,” primarily in Germany but with comparisons to contemporaneous developments elsewhere in Europe. It assesses theories that attempt to account for the appearance of political movements aimed at disempowering Jews, profiles the creators and proponents of antisemitic ideology, identifies the social groups they sought to mobilize, and notes the widespread failure of these movements to achieve their goals prior to 1933. It shows that decades of organized antisemitism prepared the way for the Holocaust chiefly by eroding popular willingness to defend, and indeed to care about, the rights and fates of Jews.
Focusing on works by artists such as Rico Lebrun (1900–1964), George Segal (1924–2000), or Jerome Witkin (b. 1939), art critics and art historians have sometimes criticized too realistic art about the Holocaust for aestheticizing atrocity, presenting a gratuitous and repellent violence, and advancing a reductive and one-dimensional literalness. Similarly, curators have often preferred to show work that is abstracted or allusive, avoiding ‘morbidity, sentimentality, and overused visual stereotypes’ that have lost their power to shock. The guiding mandate for post-Holocaust artistic practice was laid down by Theodore Adorno's (1903–1969) interdiction of ‘poetry after Auschwitz’ (1981). Paradoxically, Adorno's refusal of aesthetics, which began as a refusal of art altogether, became the conventionalized, dominant aesthetic, or anti-aesthetic, although the negative and allusive Holocaust-related artwork that met this mandate took a wide variety of forms. More recently, however, younger artists have rebelled against this ethic of representation in provocative ways. This article explores the changing strategies of representation in the postwar era, moving from the modernist premise guided by Adorno's interdiction to the postmodernist rejection of that premise. The controversy surrounding the 2002 exhibition Mirroring Evil at the Jewish Museum in New York provides an exemplary case study that illuminates the continuing debate over visual representation of the Holocaust.
This article focuses on the evolution of the Nazi concentration camp system. It discusses how this system evolved from a relatively small network of installations dedicated to punishing ‘unreliable’ Germans prior to World War II into an empire under the control of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps (IKL) and the Economic Administration Main Office (WVHA) of the SS. Eventually, this system encompassed more than twenty main camps, some 900 satellite installations, and a prisoner population that peaked in 1944 at over 700,000. Six of these camps became devoted to the mass murder of the European Jews.
Kevin P. Spicer
Catholic and Protestant churches were on-lookers and sometimes worse, as their responses to persecution included forms of inaction that spilled over into complicity. Beginning with an examination of the corrupting influence of Catholic antisemitism on European Christians through the centuries and the role of religious prejudice in advancing racial antisemitism, this article explores the controversial choices and modulated actions of the Catholic Church. It gives particular attention to German Catholicism's response to the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’ and assesses the reaction and attitude of the Church hierarchy, especially Pope Pius XII (1876–1958), to Nazi acts of persecution.
This article explores how historians, at least since the late 1980s, have subjected the experience of children to more searching analysis, without making their fate any less shocking. Nazism had a special interest in children, both in shaping the next generation of German children and in eliminating the offspring of Jews, Sinti, Roma, and other so-called degenerates. At every stage of persecution, children were targeted in specific ways, from ‘Jew benches’ in schools, through the medical killing of children in psychiatric asylums, to selection in the death camps. Children, however, were anything but passive victims. New research has revealed much about their experience of ghettoization, in particular their adeptness at smuggling, hiding, and adopting new identities, languages, and religious beliefs.
Stephen R. Haynes
Without Christianity and its centuries-long hostility toward Jews and Judaism, the Holocaust scarcely would have been possible. What difference has that recognition made to Christian traditions, institutions, and Christians themselves? This article addresses these aftereffects of the Holocaust, underscoring how reflection on Christianity and the Holocaust has produced challenging questions, fierce debates, and a voluminous literature. As with Holocaust studies generally, perspectives have evolved steadily in the decades since the end of World War II, with new developments catalyzed by important publications. It focuses on three salient issues in Christianity's unsettling and unfinished encounter with the Holocaust: the relationship between Christian belief and antisemitism, the role of Christian people and institutions during the Nazi era, and the post-Holocaust need to change Christian understandings of Jews and Judaism.
A. Dirk Moses
A long tradition of scholarship has posited colonialism and ‘racial imperialism’ as an enabler of the genocide against European Jewry, though often in imprecise ways. In response, critics of this view have insisted that antisemitism and World War I were the salient enablers, and Germany's colonial experience was too ephemeral to have had serious causal importance. This article changes the terms of debate by presenting the murderous National Socialist program as a colonial and imperial project executed in Europe to compensate for the loss of Germany's empire abroad and in central Europe in 1919. It argues that the style of occupation and warfare Germany conducted in realizing this project was colonial in nature and inspiration, and the Holocaust of European Jewry can be understood in terms of colonial logics as well. At least in part, the Holocaust was, for the Nazis, the attempt of an indigenous people — the Germans — to cast off the perceived exploitative rule of a foreign people: Jews.
Deborah E. Lipstadt
Holocaust denial is the term used to describe the effort by a small but prolific group of writers to spread the notion that the Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the European Jews by Germany's Third Reich, never happened. This article examines these efforts. Holocaust denial pivots around and is defined by the claim that the Jews invented the story of the Holocaust to win sympathy from the world, money from Germany, and land in the Middle East. Deniers contend that the Nazis sought to uproot the Jewish community, not to kill it, that the gas chambers did not exist, that the number of Jews killed by Nazis was substantially smaller than six million, and that those who did die perished because they were partisans, criminals, or spies, not because they were Jews. Historians who have traced deniers' claims back to their supposed proofs have found repeated distortions, inventions, and fabrications, and in a celebrated British legal case involving Lipstadt and David Irving, the British judge ruled that denial is based on a ‘distortion and manipulation of historical evidence’. Unfortunately, Holocaust denial continues to be persistent and pernicious, courtroom proceedings against deniers notwithstanding, as it morphs into current forms that include fueling hostility toward Israel in ongoing Middle East conflicts.
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 chapter examines the difficulties the Holocaust posed and continues to raise for Jews, Jewish theology, and specifically Jewish ethics, identifying eight major commitments made by Jews and non-Jews that have since then inspired Jewish and global responses to human-made atrocities such as genocide and crimes against humanity. These are (1) to survive; (2) to perpetuate the memory of what happened; (3) to survive as Jews; (4) to set the moral bar high such that people are expected to be “upstanders,” not bystanders, in the face of evil; (5) to recreate relationships with people of other faiths; (6) to combat discrimination and genocide; (7) to define and demand humane standards for medical research; and (8) to learn how to attain both justice and reconciliation after genocidal atrocities.
John K. Roth
This article argues that without the overriding of moral sensibilities, if not the collapse or collaboration of ethical traditions, the Holocaust could not have happened. Although the Shoah did not pronounce the death of ethics, it showed that ethics is vulnerable, subject to misuse and perversion, and that no simple reaffirmation of pre-Holocaust ethics, as if nothing disastrous had happened, will do any longer. The article explores those realities and focuses on some of the most important issues they contain, stressing that the Holocaust did not have to happen. It emerged from human choices and decisions. Those facts mean that nothing human, natural, or divine guarantees respect for the ethical values and commitments that are most needed in contemporary human existence, but nothing is more important than our commitment to defend them, for they remain as fundamental as they are fragile, as precious as they are endangered. Ethics may not be enough, but failures notwithstanding, it still provides our best post-Holocaust compass.
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’.
Nazism is often distinguished from other European fascist movements, especially Italian fascism, on the grounds that racist antisemitism distinctively defined Nazi ideology and policy. While taking the importance of antisemitism to Nazism as a given, this article maintains that racism and antisemitism were implicit in all fascist ideology, although articulated in different forms and ways by individual fascist movements. The analysis emphasizes the common population policies of the fascist regimes in Italy and Germany, and evaluates recent scholarship that has changed our understanding of Italian fascist antisemitism and the role of fascism in making the Holocaust possible.
In the cinematic world, the representation of the Holocaust began with the Third Reich's propaganda films and the footage taken by the Allies at liberated concentration camps. In the early postwar period, European filmmakers exaggerated resistance against Nazi Germany's policies and obscured the specificity of Jewish victimization, while Hollywood avoided the topic, allegedly because it was too depressing and parochial. The NBC miniseries Holocaust (1978) and Claude Lanzmann's documentary Shoah (1985) shattered these patterns, and Schindler's List (1993) and Life Is Beautiful (1997) stimulated a second round of Holocaust-related cinema and scholarship on it, along with considerable controversy. This article shows that studies of Holocaust films made in particular nations have been a staple of research in the field, but that scholarship has shifted since 2000 toward analysis of the cinematic qualities of Holocaust-related film, the impact of globalization, comparisons with portrayals of other genocides, and the use of film in Holocaust education.
This article shows that German government offices and private diarists and correspondents kept widely scattered but extensive records of the unfolding of the ‘Final Solution’. Anti-Jewish legislation ensured that the paper trails of persecution ran to the far corners of the German bureaucracy. Moreover, the perpetrators of anti-Jewish actions at the local and national level commemorated their deeds, in effect preparing initial drafts for a victorious history of the destruction of Jewish life. Private diaries and letters not only confirm the widespread knowledge that Germans came to share about the ‘Final Solution’, but also the process by which many of them came to endorse cruelty toward Jews.
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.