III. Aftermath and Revival
Bauer, chapter 15
Conceptual framework. The final segment of the course deals with the revival of the surviving remnant, the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel, and the elimination of the condition of Jewish powerlessness and total vulnerability.
Much of Europe was destroyed in the war. Survivors of the camps were in terrible condition, both physically and psychologically. Trials were held in Nuremberg in 1945 at which top surviving Nazi leaders were tried for war crimes. Similar trials followed, but thousands of war criminals eluded justice, & some even remain at large today. The State of Israel opened its doors to all Jews & is a positive legacy of the Holocaust. Neo-Nazi groups today continue to spout hatred for Jews and other minorities, and insist that the Holocaust never occurred.
INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES - Students will learn/will be able to do:
1. About the concept of war crimes and "crimes against humanity."
2. That the loss of Jewish life and the destruction of an entire culture was the goal of the Nazis, and was almost a complete success in Europe.
3. About the events following liberation (the conditions of the survivors from the camps when liberation finally occurred and what happened to them after liberation. Discuss the concept of DP camps and life in the Displaced Persons camps. American policy towards Holocaust survivors; British Palestine policy; the reasons why Eastern European Jews decided to leave their former home; blood libel in Kielce; briha; the aftermath of the Anglo-American involvement in Palestine).
4. How the world community dealt with the perpetrators of Nazi war crimes. After the war, the US initiated the Nuremberg Tribunals to bring Nazi criminals to justice in an international forum, and established and maintains offices to investigate Nazi criminals living in the US.
5. How many Nazi war criminals escaped justice and received haven in many countries, including the United States.
1. What was the purpose of the Nuremberg Trials? What was different about the defendants that did not apply to many other perpetrators who were not tried?
Name three of the crimes with which the defendants of the Nuremberg Trials were charged.
*Is the response, "I was only following orders" ever a legitimate response for those who committed atrocities under the belief, real or assumed, that they would face punishment or even execution for not carrying out that order?
2. How did many Nazi war criminals find their way into the United States? *Should the United States have permitted Nazi war criminals safe haven here in exchange for their scientific expertise?
3. When was Israel established? Describe and explain the relevant events
4. What was unique about the trial of Adolf Eichmann?
5. What was the job of the Office of Special Investigations in the U.S. Justice Department?
6. *Should Neo-Nazis have the right to form organizations, run for office, and hold public rallies?
Two large and on-going international needs emerged as World War II was ending: 1) retribution for the perpetrators, and 2) the resettlement of people uprooted by the war. These complex issues have occupied the hearts and minds of thousands around the world for decades. Even today, unresolved issues about the Holocaust remain.
World War II devastated Europe. Railroads, bridges, water systems, sanitation systems, electric lines, and other infrastructure were in ruins. Millions of homes were reduced to rubble. Manufacturing plants, businesses, farms, and other places where people would ordinarily work were unusable. Millions of people who would have been working in those facilities were dead.
*Sixty million refugees were made homeless by the war. Millions of other civilians had been caught in the cross-fire of war, unintended victims. And there were an estimated eleven million intended civilian victims, murdered by the Nazis because of their race, religion, sexual preference, physical or mental handicap, ideological opposition, or resistance to Nazi genocide.
After the surrender of the Nazis, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation, controlled respectively by the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. Authority over Germany was vested in the Allied Control Commission, composed of representatives of those four victorious nations. The Allies liberated the camps, and what they found there left an indelible impression. The camps were littered with thousands of corpses. The German army had apparently tried to murder as many prisoners as possible one step ahead of the advance of the Allies.
Many other thousands of prisoners were found, most of them clinging precariously to life. Most of these victims were literally skin and bones, having wasted away from years of hunger, starvation, and forced labor. Once healthy human beings who had weighed 160 pounds before their deportation now weighed less than 75 pounds.
Disease was so rampant that many of the camps had to be burned to the ground to prevent epidemics. Thousands of these survivors were in such poor condition that despite the offering of medical care and sufficient food, they died within days of their liberation.
After the War http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/aw.html
After the war, the Jews of Europe set about trying to rebuild their lives. Some did so in Europe, but most did in other countries. The memories of the Holocaust did not permit most of the survivors to remain in Europe. Many emigrated to Israel, the U.S. and other countries.
Bitterness and Hope: The Legacy of the Holocaust
"We emerged from the camp stripped, robbed, emptied out, disoriented-and it was a long time before we were able even to learn the ordinary language of freedom. Still today, we speak it with discomfort and without real trust in its validity." Jean Amery, At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and it's Realities, 1980
*Liberation from camps did not mean liberation from persecution, antisemitism, loneliness, and overwhelming sadness. For many Jews there was nothing left to return to; no homes, no friends, no community. Those who did return to their homes often experienced intense antisemitism and persecution.
Over 35 million people had died in World War II, over half of them civilians One out of every 22 Russians was killed; one out of every 25 Germans; one out of every 150 Italians; one out of every 200 Frenchmen. But in the Nazis' war against the Jews, two out of every three European Jews had been murdered. Any hope for rebirth seemed distant in 1945.
Where Now? Where to? The Displaced Displaced Persons (DP) Camps
The Jews suddenly faced themselves....They saw that they were different from all other inmates of the camp. For them things were not so simple. To go back to Poland? To Hungary? To streets empty of Jews, towns empty of Jews, a world without Jews. To wander in those lands, lonely, homeless, always the tragedy before one's eyes...and to meet again a Gentile neighbor who would open his eyes wide and smile, remarking with double meaning 'What, Yankel! You're still alive.'" Meyer Levin, Author, June 1946
By the end of the war there were about 10 million "D.P.'s," displaced persons - who had been driven out of their native countries by the hostilities. The roads of Europe were clogged with these homeless, who were attempting to reestablish shattered lives. By the end of 1945, as many as six million were able to return.
*The rest was unable to be repatriated, and were put into Displaced Persons (DP) camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).
Allied nations, towards the end of the war, anticipating a variety of human concerns around the globe, established the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to handle refugees and displaced persons. With no time to accumulate organizational coherence, or to hammer out relationships with the occupying authorities, teams of UNRRA workers, drawn from many nations, were made available to take charge. Their tasks were not easy, and the human condition of the populations they dealt with was heartbreaking. The army in Germany had to find or appropriate housing for the displaced persons, provide food and clothing, and cope with non-German populations which often irritated the Germans and their local officials.
By the end of 1945, 1.5 to 2 million displaced persons (DPs) did not want to return to their homes, fearing economic and social repercussions or even annihilation. About ten percent of these people were Jewish.
After liberation, many Jewish survivors refused to return to their former homes because of the antisemitism that persisted in Europe. Those who returned feared for their lives. In Poland, for example, there were a number of pogroms, the worst being the one in Kielce in 1946; 42 Jews were killed. Surviving Jews streamed into Germany following the war, because the presence of the United States Army in Germany offered safety.
By 1946, over 200,000 Jewish survivors were placed in DP camps. Many were not, or could not, return home.
Many from Germany, Austria had no desire to return to their homes, and many from other countries had nothing to return to entire Jewish towns and villages had been wiped out. Many of these Jews were the sole survivors of large families. Jews who escaped the Nazis by hiding or by fighting in partisan units made their way to the DP camps after the war (Gary Grobman). Some were from concentration camps; some from Siberia to which thousands of Jews had fled during the German occupation; others from Eastern Europe, where many Jews had hidden in the woods and joined the partisan movement; and still others were saved by good souls.
The DP camps, set up in Germany, were mostly part former military camps. The American, British, & French military controlled the DP camps; the United Nations took care of the DPs. The UNRRA Team included at various times between 20 and 25 persons. The team included professionals from France, Norway, Australia, Holland, the United States, and a group of five people representing the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the pre-Israel instrument of the World Zionist Congress. The director of such a center was like the "city manager" of a small town.
The 2nd largest of these displaced centers in Germany was Camp Foehrenwald. The camp was about 15 miles south of Munich, & was near the town of Wolfratshausen. The main center was a village built in 1939 for 2500 to 3000 people by the I.G. Farben firm to house workers they were employing in several well-camouflaged munitions plants in the woods to the south.
Post-war D.P. camps were models of bureaucratic rigidity, confusion, and Allied bickering. Conditions were overcrowded and far from luxurious. Food, clothing and medical supplies were in short supply, and thus for many survivors, their war-time suffering continued. Noteworthy,however, were the efforts of Army chaplains and the Jewish Brigade (Palestinian Jews serving in the British Army) who organized food shipments, hospital treatment and political action to solve the D.P. problems.
Liberated but not free--that is the paradox of the Jew. In the concentration camp. his whole being was consumed with the hope of salvation. That hope was his life, for that he was willing to suffer. Saved. his hope evanesces for no new source of hope has been given him. Suffering continues to be his badge." Rabbi Abraham Klausner, U.S. Army Chaplain, June 1946.
Beginning in the summer of 1945, a series of high-level visitors examined the DP camps. Visitors included Earl G. Harrison, President Truman's envoy; David Ben-Gurion, future Prime Minister of Israel; and the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry. Harrison wrote, "We appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except that we don't exterminate them."
Reports by these influential visitors resulted in improved living conditions in the DP camps. Jewish DPs were recognized as a special ethnic group, with their own needs, and were moved to separate camps enjoying a wide degree of autonomy. Agencies of the United Nations and of Jews from Palestine, the United States, and Britain became involved with the camps. They provided vocational and agricultural education, and financial, legal, and psychological assistance. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provided refugees with food and clothing, while the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT) provided vocational training. Several newspapers were published in the camps, keeping communication open between the DPs and the rest of the world.
*Many survivors were still in limbo, waiting for an opportunity to emigrate from Europe. Joining these survivors, in large numbers in 1946, were Jews who had remained throughout eastern Europe. They felt they could no longer continue living in their former villages which, during the war, had become Jewish graveyards.
Many of these Jewish refugees turned to the American DP camps for temporary asylum. This organized an illegal mass movement of Jews throughout Europe, known as "B'richa," added to the displaced persons' dilemma.
The Jewish Brigade Group (a Palestinian Jewish unit in the British army) was formed in late 1944. Together with former partisans, the Jewish Brigade Group helped organize the Brihah, the exodus of 250,000 Jewish refugees from Europe.1
Organizations, many with a Zionist focus, formed within the camps. The largest survivor organization, Sh'erit ha-Pletah ("surviving remnant"), pressed for greater emigration opportunities. Some Jews wished to move to an envisioned Jewish homeland, considered by many to be Palestine. However, the British White Paper of 1939 still restricted immigration to Palestine (Aliyah) by Jews). The question that faced the Western world was, who will offer a home to these displaced people?
The United States and Britain were the two countries in a position to help resolve this crisis. However, the U.S. was reluctant to increase its immigration quota.
Britain, which held Palestine as a mandated territory, was hesitant to take a stand that would alienate the Arabs, who did not want to see Palestine become a Jewish homeland.
*In Aug. 1945, a report commissioned by President Truman to investigate the status of stateless persons in Europe gave special recognition to the plight of Jews. Truman requested that the British grant 100,000 visas to Jews to enter Palestine, under British Mandate. The British, seeking to limit Jewish immigration, granted only 6,000 visas. But 40,000 other Jews, including 30,000 who had lived in the DP camps, emigrated to Palestine illegally (grobman).
EXODUS 1947 http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t021/t02114.html
Jews already living in Palestine organized "illegal" immigration by ship (also known as Aliyah Bet). Most of these vessels were, however, intercepted by the British.
*In 1947, the ship "Exodus" with 4,500 Holocaust survivors headed for Palestine, was turned back to Germany by the British.
The "Exodus" was a ship carrying 4,500 Jewish WWII refugees, who were refused entry into Palestine by the British, in 1947. Forced to return to French waters and then to Germany, the passengers went on a hunger strike to focus world attention on their plight and on the need for a Jewish homeland. The refugees remained in Germany until the founding of the State of Israel.
EXODUS 1947 http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/text/x33/xm3302.html
An "illegal immigration" ship that became the symbol of the struggle for the right of free Jewish immigration into Palestine. ...
"The war broke our lives in 1939. and now. seven years later, the war is still not over for us alone. How long, oh Lord, how long." Jewish survivor, "Why the DP's Can't Wait," Commentary, Jan. 1947
In most cases, the British interned the illegal immigrants to Palestine in detention camps on Cyprus, between 1945 and 1948.
1947 It became increasing clear that the problem of approximately one million displaced people, about 80% Christian and 20% Jewish, would not be resolved easily. In 1947, a series of bills was introduced in the U.S. Congress to relax immigration quotas, but none passed.
Displaced Persons Camp by Chuck Ferree
The Anguish of the Holocaust Survivors by Henry Cohen
Henry Cohen was Director of Camp Foehrenwald, the second largest Jewish displaced persons center in the American Zone of Germany in 1946
Retribution for the perpetrators
While some of the international community were focusing on the survivors of the Holocaust, others were dealing with meting out punishment to the perpetrators. The Allied troops were so outraged at what they found at concentration camps that they demanded German civilians directly confront the atrocities. U.S. troops led compulsory tours of concentration camps to the neighboring population. Some German citizens were forced to partake in the burial of countless corpses found in the camps.
Other more formal punishment was proceeding in the courtroom. International and national trials conducted in the Soviet Union, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and other European countries indicted hundreds of war criminals. Defendants ran the gamut, from Hitler's deputy minister, to the editor-in-chief of a malicious antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, to concentration camp guards, to members of the Einsatzgruppen.
Nuremberg Trials. War Crimes http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t083/t08340.html
During the last years of the war, responding to reports of death and labor camps, the Allied countries created a War Crimes Commission and began the process of listing war criminals with the intent to prosecute.
Beginning in the winter of 1942, the governments of the Allied powers announced their determination to punish Nazi war criminals. On December 17, 1942, the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union issued the first joint declaration officially noting the mass murder of European Jewry and resolving to prosecute those responsible for violence against civilian populations.
From: Alexander Prusin <email@example.com>
Recently I inquired whether the Krasnodar trial of Russian war criminals in July 1943 was the first of the kind. I just received a note from Dr. D. Pohl, the author of the book on the Holocaust in Galicia, that actually there were war crimes trials in Russia as early as April 1943. The Krasnodar trial was most highly publicized.
As early as October 1943, the Allies had scheduled formal conferences to discuss future legal actions against German war criminals once the Axis Powers were vanquished.
Crimes Against Humanity: Nazis on Trial
"What makes this inquest significant is that those prisoners represent sinister influence that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. they are living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power." Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Chief Counsel, Nuremberg, 1945
On November 1, 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin signed the Moscow Declaration warning the "Hitlerite Huns" that they will be held accountable for their crimes and pursued to "the uttermost ends of the earth." (The October 1943 Moscow Declaration, signed by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, stated that at the time of an armistice persons deemed responsible for war crimes would be sent back to those countries in which the crimes had been committed and adjudged according to the laws of the nation concerned. Major war criminals, whose crimes could be assigned no particular geographic location, would be punished by joint decisions of the Allied governments.)
On August 8, 1945, after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, the four Allied Powers -the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- signed the London Agreement creating the International Military Tribunal (IMT) for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals and the leading Nazi organizations.
*Of the many post-war trials, those held at Nuremberg, Germany, before judges representing the Allied powers, are the most well known. Nuremberg Trial served as the model for subsequent proceedings against thousands of less prominent Nazi war criminals.
See: The Nuremberg Trials: the Defendants and Verdicts, Ben S. Austin
In Nuremberg, a war-ravaged town in southern Germany, between October 18, 1945, and October 1, 1946, the IMT tried 22 high ranking Nazi officials on charges of conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Twenty-one of 24 indicted Nazi leaders stood trial in the first series of what became known as the Nuremberg Trials.
The first trial lasted ten months. The Tribunal consisted of eight judges, two each from the countries of the U.S., Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg Trials, addressed the International Military Tribunal on November 20, 1945, the first day in court:
The privilege of opening the 1st trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn & punish have been so calculated, so malignant & so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That 4 great nations, flushed with victory & stung with injury, stay the hands of vengeance & voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law, is one of the most significant tributes that Power ever has paid to Reason. (http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/Holocaust/timeline/after.htm)
*The charges brought against these men were conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Conspiracy - A common plan to commit a crime in the future.
Crimes against peace - Launching a war of aggression.
War crimes - Violations of international agreements governing the conduct of war, such as mistreatment of prisoners, murder, or forced labor of occupied civilian populations.
Crimes against humanity - The IMT defined crimes against humanity as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation...or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds," regardless of whether the action violated domestic law at the time.
Among the International Military Tribunal's conclusions were the following:
A war of aggression, in any form, is prohibited under international law.
The individual is responsible for crimes carried out under superior orders.
The Gestapo, Nazi Party, SS, and SA were criminal organizations.
The leaders and organizers of these criminal organizations were guilty of crimes
carried out by others in executing the criminal plan.
In 1946, with newspaper and radio coverage broadcasting news globally, much of the world first learned the full extent of the "Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity." Half of the 22 defendants were sentenced to death (twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death, among them Hans Frank, Hermann Goering, Alfred Rosenberg, and Julius Streicher). The IMT sentenced three defendants to life imprisonment and four to prison terms ranging from10 to 20 years. It acquitted three of the defendants.
This Nuremberg Trial served as the model for subsequent proceedings against thousands of less prominent Nazi war criminals.*
Under the aegis of the IMT, American military tribunals conducted 12 further trials of high-ranking German officials at Nuremberg. These trials are often referred to collectively as the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings (held between December 1946, and April 1949; tried 177 persons). Gestapo (German secret state police) and SS members, as well as German industrialists, were tried for their roles in implementing the Nuremberg Laws, "Aryanization," mass shootings of Jews in concentration camps, shootings by Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), deportations, forced labor, sale of Zyklon B, and medical experiments;2 24 more war criminals were sentenced to death, and 117 others received prison sentences. The scope of these trials was limited to punishing those leaders who had instigated and carried out the Nazi master plan to enslave the world. The judges refused to take jurisdiction over individual "barbarities and perversions," which may have occurred, according to the Chief American prosecutor.
*For many of the defendants, the legal defense was that they were "only following orders." The Nuremberg judges rejected that justification.
Individual nations which suffered under Nazi occupation were encouraged to bring to justice thousands of other war criminals who had committed atrocities against their citizens. Many nations prosecuted war criminals in national courts of law, and thousands of other war criminals were sentenced to death or received prison terms.
The British held trials of the commandant and staff of the Bergen-Belsen camp, those responsible for forced labor, & the owners and executives of the manufacturer of Zyklon B, among others. The Netherlands, Hungary, Norway, Poland, West Germany, and Romania were some of the other countries that brought war criminals to trial.
Despite the efforts of Simon Wiesenthal and others, decades would pass before the world's attention would again focus on bringing Nazi criminals to justice.
Tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals escaped any form of justice. Many found refuge in the West living under assumed identities. Altogether the three Western Allies convicted more than 5,000 Nazis, sentencing over 800 to death, and executing almost 500. Although no accurate figures are available, the Soviets probably convicted even more Nazi criminals.
The Vatican escape route
The Vatican's documented post-war complicity in helping alleged Nazi war criminals escape from Europe. See Sereny's Into That Darkness for a detailed explanation of how the Vatican escape route operated.
The United States government participated in several conspiracies to help war criminals elude justice. Many of these criminals were talented scientists and engineers, and the U.S. government at that time made a policy decision that it was in the interests of this nation to exploit that talent rather than see that justice was done. The U.S. rocket program in the 1950s and 1960s was heavily influenced by the work of German rocket scientists who had participated in war crimes.
Only about 20% of the 150,000 Nazi war criminals were ever put on trial. Millions of others whose complicity was necessary in order to bring about the "Final Solution" and to put the master plan into effect escaped punishment. Today, a half century after some of these war crimes were committed, the search continues to bring perpetrators to trial.
Following the surrender, the Allies required the German government to begin making payments to war victims and agencies representing and providing services to war victims. In time, many Jews who survived the death camps were compensated for the value of their property which was confiscated. In 1952, West Germany, the newly-formed democratic nation created out of the fusion of the U.S., British, and French sectors of Germany, signed a treaty with Israel to pay reparations of about $1 billion over a 12-year period. In February 1990, East Germany admitted for the first time that it was also responsible for war crimes committed by the German people during World War II and agreed to pay reparations.
Revival: Building New Lives
"People like me don't need houses. We lost more than houses. We lost more than families--we lost belief in humanity, in friendship. in justice, and without these, I could not begin anew." Simon Wiesenthal, 1945.
I consider it almost the task of my life to rebuild the house in which my father & my mother--may they rest in peace--have stood, the house in which I was confirmed the house in which my sister and brothers worshipped for decades. And to rebuild it again as it was. I consider it my life work to rebuild this house for the sake of the dead, for those who shall not return anymore. and for those who were able to leave this country in time, so the word of God may spread all over the world." Jack Matzner, Survivor, I Did Not Interview the Dead, 1949
*Victory day came very late for the Jewish people. Great communities that had produced men and women of renown in all spheres of creative endeavor had been wiped off the face of the earth. The terror and the suffering defy description. It was then that the survivors - the remnants of European Jewry, 1,200,000 broken men and women, uprooted from their homes and their former lives undertook the great effort of rehabilitating themselves.
Individually, survivors of the Holocaust had to rebuild their lives and also rediscover their very reason for living; so much was gone, missing and shattered by the Holocaust. Culturally, the Jewish people had lost a vital part of their heritage. The elders and rabbis, the culmination of thousands of years of tradition, were gone. And the youth, the inheritors, were also gone. While two out of ever three European Jews had been murdered, children and the elderly were especially vulnerable and few had survived.
Their horrific experiences notwithstanding, the Shoah/Holocaust survivors were fiercely motivated to rebuild their personal and national lives. The main manifestations of this drive include the establishment of schools for children and vocational training centers for adults, the founding of aliya kibbutzim, and a high birth rate.
The American and Israeli Jewish communities became the choice, hope and future for most survivors.
The devastation and the ashes gave rise to yearnings for a home from which they would never again be forced to flee. Palestine and the struggle to settle there became a focal issue for the survivors.
1948 - Israel
Palestine was under control of the British. The British had severely restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine in an effort to appease Arabs of that area. Arabs, like Jews, had claimed Palestine as their own land. The British turned to the United Nations, hoping that an international organization could resolve the thorny issue in Palestine.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly, by an overwhelming majority, recommended the partition of Palestine, & adopted a plan that divided Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem under international control. The Jews accepted this partition plan, but the Arab League rejected it.
*On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed the independent State of Israel as theirs, and the British withdrew from Palestine. The next day, 6 neighboring Arab nations attacked Israel - Arab opposition to the partition resulted in the Israeli War for Independence. 6,500 Israeli Jews died before an armistice ended the war in early 1949.
With the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948, Jewish refugees began streaming into that new sovereign state. By 1951, more than half of the Jewish "D.P.'s" had emigrated to the new State of Israel.
The US. In this same month of May 1948, the U.S. legislature passed the Displaced Persons' Act of 1948. However, the law had strong antisemitic elements, limiting the number of Jewish displaced persons who could emigrate to the United States. Truman reluctantly signed it. Two years later, in June 1950, the antisemitic provisions were finally eliminated.
The United States admitted 400,000 DPs between 1945 and 1952, roughly 20 percent of them Jewish Holocaust survivors.3 The United States admitted an estimated 80,000 Jewish displaced persons between 1945 and 1952.4
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Approved and proposed for signature and accession by General Assembly Resolution 260 (III) A of 9 December 1948.
Entry into force: 12 January 1951, in accordance with article XIII
The Contracting Parties,
*Having considered the declaration made by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 96 (I) dated 11 December 1946 that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world;
Recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity; and
Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international cooperation is required;
Hereby agree as hereinafter provided.
Article 1. The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law
which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
1960 - Adolf Eichmann
*An on-going aspect of the aftermath of the Holocaust has been the quest to track down and bring to justice Nazi war criminals who escaped. Simon Wiesenthal is a prominent figure who has devoted much of his life to hunting down Nazis in hiding and prosecuting them.
*The capture of war criminal Adolf Eichmann was an historic event. In May 1960, Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Argentina, to face trial in Israel. The person most responsible for finding Eichmann was Simon Wiesenthal. They brought him to Israel, where Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced in the Israeli Parliament, "Adolf Eichmann...is under arrest in Israel & will shortly be put on trial." Eichmann, who was in charge of the Nazi deportation units which sent millions of Jews to their deaths, was tried in 1961. He was charged with crimes against Jews, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, and others, including their arrest and imprisonment, deportation to extermination camps, theft of property, mass expulsions, and murder. Eichmann was sentenced to death, and executed at midnight May 31, 1962.
This was the only case up to that time in which a Nazi war criminal was tried and accused solely of committing a crime against Jews. The trial brought to light, especially for a new generation of Israelis and Germans, as well as for the entire world, the brutality and inhumanity of the Nazis.
American Neo-Nazis and Revisionists
*There exist in the United States organizations, vocal, yet small in membership, whose message of racism, antisemitism, and bigotry against all minorities parallels the doctrines of the Nazi party of Germany in the 1930s. Many of the members of these organizations were not even born when Hitler was alive. Some leaders of these organizations deny that the Holocaust ever occurred, claiming that it is a fabrication of Jews to defame the "Aryan" race. This view of denying that the Holocaust ever occurred, despite the overwhelming documentation to the contrary, is called "revisionism."
Many other leaders of these groups assert that if the Holocaust did occur, it was justified then and would be justified now. African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities would be invited to join the Jews in the ovens according to Neo-Nazi doctrine.
*On occasion, Neo-Nazis have been convicted of crimes ranging from murder, vandalism of synagogues and churches, to the intimidation of Jews and other minorities by threats of violence and actual physical attacks. Membership in these organizations nationwide may be no more than several thousand.
United States Holocaust Memorial Council
*The United States Congress enacted legislation in 1980 to establish the United States Memorial Council. The purpose of the Council is to plan and build the United States Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and to encourage and sponsor observances of an annual, nationwide civic commemoration of the Holocaust, known as the "Days of Remembrance." The Memorial Museum was designed by James I. Freed and will be located 400 yards from the Washington Monument in the nation's Capital. As required by law, it will be built entirely with private contributions.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania participates in the Council's Holocaust observance program. The Governor of Pennsylvania annually schedules a ceremony in the Capitol, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, to commemorate the "Days of Remembrance," which includes appropriate songs, poetry readings, and a proclamation signing, among other activities.
United Nations Genocide Convention
On February 19, 1986, the United States Congress ratified a United Nations Treaty outlawing genocide. The 1948 treaty had been signed by President Harry Truman that year, but was stalled in the Senate because of concerns about how the treaty would affect U.S. sovereignty. When the treaty was finally ratified, it was amended to address these concerns. A law to implement the treaty was enacted by the Congress on October 19, 1988. The law provides penalties of up to life imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million as punishment for certain actions with a "specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."
More than 90 nations, including the Soviet Union, had previously ratified the treaty.
Armenians. Cambodia. Native Americans. Soviet Union. Bosnia. Rwanda.
The Holocaust, although it led to the coining of the term, is certainly not the only genocide in the annals of human history. In fact, the kind of cultural hatred that brought about the Holocaust is quite common. The United Nations Convention on Genocide in1948 explained genocide was "an odious scourge which has inflicted great losses on humanity in all periods of history." The number of actual genocides depends on one's specific definition, though they all tend to include the concept of one-sided killing. Here are some notable examples. Others from the twentieth century can be found here and here.
Scholar Ben Austin also points out that the motivation was purely racial -- the Holocaust served no economic or territorial aims. He also points out the "intensity" of the genocide in comparison to other occurrences in history.
More than fifty years after the end of World War II, a new chapter of Holocaust history is unfolding. Evidence is emerging of the complicated financial transactions between the Nazis and the European countries and businesses that profited by the genocide. Released on May 7, 1997, a United States study, directed by Commerce Undersecretary Stuart Eizenstat, describes "one of the greatest thefts by a government in history."
Document: The Eizenstat report on U.S. and Allied efforts to recover and restore gold and other assets stolen or hidden by Germany during World War II.
*The Eizenstat report shows that between January 1939, and June 1945, Nazi Germany transferred $400 million (equivalent to $3.9 billion in today's dollars) worth of looted gold to the Swiss National Bank, in exchange for foreign currency and materials vital to Germany's war machine.
The Eizenstat report also documents that gold, jewelry, coins and melted down dental fillings of concentration camp victims were taken, mixed with plundered bank gold, and resmelted into gold bars that were traded to other countries.
There are still many unresolved issues related to the unlawful taking of property, including real estate and works of art, from the victims of the Holocaust.
For example, the city of Paris possesses a number of apartments seized from deported Jews.
The Louvre Museum owns pieces of art which were confiscated from Jews by the Nazis. Many of these Jews were sent to the camps and never returned to claim their property.
Belgium and the Netherlands have recently demanded to know what happened to the gold that was taken from their treasuries by the invading German army.
A March 1997 lawsuit accused seven existing insurance companies that conduct business in the United States today of failing to honor insurance policies bought before the war. These German, French, Italian, and Austrian companies are charged with acting in bad faith and enriching themselves at the expense of Holocaust victims.
PBS presents "Nazi Gold," a Frontline site exploring Switzerland's wartime actions and role as banker and financial broker for Nazi Germany.
There are many more stories, of both great and small magnitude, which recount the widespread injustices of the Holocaust. Due in part to the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, observed in 1995, there is now a new awareness of the tragedy and a heightened interest in discovering the truth about this horrific event. And, just as new revelations about the period are coming to light, the generation of Holocaust survivors is aging and passing away. With a growing sense of urgency, the world continues its search for answers.
"No assessment of modern culture can ignore the fact that science and technology -- the accepted flower and glory of modernity -- climaxed in the factories of death." -Irving Greenberg (qtd. in The History and Sociology of Genocide)
REMEMBRANCE AND VIGILANCE
"Take heed...lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and...teach them to your children and to your children's children." Deuteronomy 4:9
"Never think there is an easy way to make an end to such bitter memories...Never think there is a way to forgive the hate in the human heart...or an easy way to believe that the worst has occurred and is past. Only know that hope lives when people remember." Simon Wiesenthal
It requires courage to remember the Holocaust: to squarely face the images of such remorseless evil; to ache for the unconsoled grief of children and parents; to experience the emptiness and loss; to read the unimaginable testimonies to the twisted, vicious inventiveness of the human mind; to move into that shadow of doubt that the Holocaust continues to cast across the morality of all people and nations.
*But if the lost lives of these millions are to have an enduring meaning, we must remember be vigilant, and speak-up. Then the ashes and unmarked graves of these victims can become the sanctified ground from which human hope, tolerance and moral courage will rise.
The Holocaust and Relevant Events
The theological and philosophical implications of the Holocaust on modern Christian and Jewish thinking. Issues of "death of God" and "reasons for God's silence." Ongoing questions of German responsibility and reparations.
Since there has been a worldwide trend of renewed antisemitism and denials of the Holocaust ... the phenomenon must be examined not only in terms of Christian antisemitism but in terms of Arab antisemitism and the consequent demonization of the Jew in Islam which has received wide currency since the 1967 Six Day War. Anti-Zionixm as a barely disguised form of antisemitism is a significant feature of anti-Jewish feeling. Likewise, conspiracy theories have become commonp;ace. This leads full-circle back to the prolem of the religious roots of antisemitism and makes clear the relevance of the theological approach of this syllabus to the problem of antisemitism and to studying the implcations of the Holocaust.
Warning against hatred because of race, gender, creed, ethnicity, nationality, or sexual orientation.
The Future Appeal for equal dignity for everyone
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
It is certainly vital to maintain both caution and optimism in dealing with the future. It is important for modern society to maintain a fundamental dedication to human rights. The Holocaust was successful because of the failure to restrain more base instincts in contemporary life. To prevent similar occurrences, people need to learn to cooperate, working together for mutual protection and development. Fortunately, we also have the ability to hope.
"The major international schisms of the twenty-first century will not always be definable in geographic terms. Many of the most severe and persistent threats to global peace and stability are arising not from conflicts between major political entities but from increased discord within states, societies, & civilizations along ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, caste, or class lines. . . . This is not to say that traditional geopolitical divisions no longer play a role in the world security affairs. But it does suggest that such divisions may have been superseded in importance by the new global schisms." -Current History
"Multiethnic societies are not impossible, but they are often rather delicate. . . . The trick in a successful society is for the minority citizens to be able to feel they are more than one thing at once: to be able to feel American and black, Scottish and British, an Orthodox Christian and a Bosnian, a Muslim and an Indian. This is hard, and it is easy for anyone seeking a power base to make it harder still. Ethnicity raises so many difficulties precisely because it is easily appealed to and hard to question, especially from outside. But people will resist such appeals if it seems worthwhile to them. There are ideas that people value as they value blood and earth." -The Economist (Sept. 23, 1995)
1945, Nov. 20, Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, trial of major war criminals
Oct. 16, nazi war criminals convicted at Nuremberg; sentences carried out,
Goring commits suicide
*Oct. 23, General Assembly of the United Nations opens in New York
1947 UN establishes a Jewish homeland in British-controlled Palestine which becomes
the State of Israel in 1948
Atrocity - An act which is shockingly brutal or outrageously cruel and barbaric.
Conspiracy - A plan to commit a crime.
"Crimes against humanity" - A type of crime newly defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal which included crimes against individuals and groups, such as enslavement, mass murder, or mistreatment of civilians regardless of whether the actions were violations of the domestic law where the crime was committed.
Displaced Persons (DP) camp - A temporary shelter of tents or other housing established by the Allies to serve the needs of refugees.
Neo-Nazis - Persons living today who sympathize with the views of the Nazis.
Nuremberg Trials - A series of trials held in Nuremberg, Germany, conducted by the victorious Allies, which charged high-ranking Nazis and
German leaders with war crimes and "crimes against humanity."
Perpetrator - A person who participated in atrocities and other crimes against the Jews, including those such as bureaucrats, lawyers, and railroad
officials, whose actions indirectly resulted in those crimes being carried out.
Reparations - Payments made by the losers of a war to the victors or to war victims to compensate for damages.
Revisionists - Those who rewrite history for political or ideological purposes.
War crimes - Crimes committed in war time against the enemy or prisoners of war which violate international agreements on the conduct of war.
Tuesday, January 18, 2000 / Sh'vat 11, 5760
TODAY'S HEADLINES: 8. HOLOCAUST-DENIAL TRIAL
8. HOLOCAUST-DENIAL TRIAL
What has been billed as "the most far-reaching court case about the Holocaust since the execution of Adolf Eichmann" is continuing in London, England. Irving is suing for libel Holocaust studies professor Deborah Lipstadt, who called him a "Hitler partisan" and "one of the world's most prominent and dangerous Holocaust deniers" in her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth and Memory."
Guardian Unlimited Newspapers reports that during the trial, which began last week, Lipstadt's counsel Richard Rampton accused Irving of "deliberately mistranslating" a German document that forbade the liquidation of one trainload of Jews in 1941. Rampton claimed that Irving misinterpreted it as an order from Hitler to halt all such killings. Rampton said to Irving, "You inflated it from one trainload of Jews, and you inserted an order from Hitler for which there was no evidence." Presiding Justice Charles Gray then accused Irving of "totally perverting" the sense of another key document in a different forum by ignoring evidence that tied Hitler to the mass murder of Jews.
Irving claims that he is the victim of an "organized international endeavor" to damage his reputation. His Holocaust-denial claims include denying death-gassings in Auschwitz, asserting that the gas chambers in Auschwitz and other concentration camps were erected after World War II as tourist attractions, and that Hitler knew nothing of the Final Solution until late in the war. "I say quite tastelessly, in fact, that more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquidick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz" - so Irving once said in a speech, according to Rampton. Holocaust denial is a crime in several European countries, including Germany and France, and the British government is considering proposals to introduce similar laws. Irving claims that Jewish and left-wing organizations - which his website calls the 'traditional enemies of truth' - seem intent on "leading a global onslaught" against him.5
Copyright Fall 1999; Fall 2003 Edith Shaked
Credit/source: The Holocaust - A guide for Teachers. http://www.remember.org/guide/