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The Holocaust: Literary Considerations


The Holocaust: Literary Considerations Adapted from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum s Curriculum Prior Knowledge What prior knowledge do you have? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Holocaust: Literary Considerations

The Holocaust Literary Considerations
  • Adapted from the United States Holocaust Memorial
    Museums Curriculum

Prior Knowledge
  • What prior knowledge do you have?
  • Which texts have you read?
  • Which movies have you seen?
  • What have you already studied?

  • Please note that this is not a history lesson
    merely a short overview followed by literary

I lt3 Ms. Woodworth class
Holocaust Literature in Context
Death marches Germany surrenders Liberation
of Camps
Germany invades Poland Warsaw ghetto
established Voyage of the St. Louis
Invasion of USSR Einsatzgruppen massacres
Hitler in power Boycott Antisemitic laws
Kristallnacht Evian Conference
Deportations to killing centers
Deportations from Hungary
Nuremberg Laws
German Jews must wear the yellow star
German Jews expelled from public schools
Warsaw ghetto uprising
1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
1937 - 45
How does this pertain to English?
  • Survivors, as primary sources, are eye-witnesses
    of this period in time. As they pass on, their
    written works become their voice.
  • Consider the motive behind the diaries and
    letters that were carefully hidden.
  • The victims wanted their stories to be known.
  • In History you learn the facts in English the
    stories. Through reading, you experience the

This milk can, filled to the brim with diaries
and letters, was carefully buried so that the
truth could eventually be heard.
Book Burning The First Step to Public
Persuasion and Ignorance
Where they have burned books, they will end in
burning human beings." Heinrich Heine
Basic Overview The Holocaust
  • The Holocaust refers to a specific genocidal
    event in twentieth-century history the
    state-sponsored, systematic persecution and
    annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany
    and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.
  • Be careful with terms like The Germans they
    did not act alone.

The time period known as The Holocaust is
offensive to some people because he word
holocaust refers to a sacrifice by fire-
sometimes offensive to people because it implies
the Jews were sacrificed for the greater good.
What do you think?
Basic Overview continued
  • Jews were the primary victims 6 million were
    murdered Gypsies, the handicapped, and Poles
    were also targeted for destruction or decimation
    for racial, ethnic, or national reasons.
  • Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovahs
    Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political
    dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and
    death under Nazi tyranny.

Photo montage of victims USHMM Washington D.C.
  • Ghettos Sections of the city to segregate prior
    to transition
  • Concentration Camps holding camps
  • Labor camps prisoners were put to work
  • Death camps only one purpose for these
  • Trains transported purposefully

The Ghettos Sections of cities were first gated
off to segregate Jews. These became ghettos. Some
people were transported into ghettos. These were
very condensed living quarters. Basic living
necessitates such as food and running water were
limited. This quickly led to the spread of
diseases such as Typhoid.
Concentration Camps
  • These holding camps served two main purposes to
    demoralize and dehumanize.
  • Prisoners were immediately separated from their
    families and then stripped of their belongings,
    clothing, and hair.
  • There is great value in having a sense of self
    and a purpose. What happens when those two things
    are stripped from you?
  • Eliminates the desire to escape and rebel.
  • Where do you go if you are convinced you have
    nowhere to go?
  • Freedom is only desirable if you have a will and
    purpose to be free.

Belongings were sorted and recycled.
Piles of shoes that belonged to prisoners who
were murdered upon arrival, were recycled.
Auschwitz 1945
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  • Hair was used to make bomb fuses, felt, thread,
    rope and mattress stuffing.

Labor Camps
  • Prisoners were forced to engage in strenuous
    penal labor and production to aid the war.

Death Camps
  • Purpose to complete the final step in The Final

The Centrality of Auschwitz
  • Auschwitz was a death camp. It is also the only
    camp that tattooed ID s on the arms of victims.
  • The amount of planning it took to simply
    transport people- never mind murder them and
    recycle their belongings- required a system.
  • Many people claim they didnt do anything to stop
    the killing because they didnt know. Historian
    Raul Hilberg points out that over 1 million
    Germans must have known about the death camps,
    just by virtue of their association with the

  • Avoid simple assumptions to complex history.
  • I would have left!
  • I would have killed someone!

The power of propaganda and bandwagon persuasion
Resistance Occurred
  • Portrait of Jewish partisans (Bedzin ghetto,
    Poland 1942). Jewish resistance occurred in many
    forms and many places, including armed revolts in
    the death camps.

Why didnt they just leave?
  • The Evian Conference sent a message to the Jews
    that even if they could get out of Germany, most
    countries didnt want to take on massive
    immigration during lean economic times.
  • How has the cartoonist labeled the man in the
    middle? What does this imply about the tenor of
    the times?

The Evian Conference. Political cartoon entitled,
"Will the Evian Conference guide him to
freedom?, published in July 1938, The New York
Some people immigrated successfully
  • The voyage of the St. Louis, May June 1939

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  • Just because it happened does not mean it was
  • Conscious choices were made

A teacher points out the salient features of a
student's profile during a lesson in racial
instruction. Teaching this subject became
mandatory in 1934. Consider this A greater
percentage of teachers joined the Nazi party than
did any other profession. Job security?
French police round up foreign Jews, 1941
  • The Nazis found willing collaborators in many
    occupied territories. They couldnt have pulled
    it off by themselves.
  • A member of the Lithuanian auxiliary police, who
    has just returned from taking part in the mass
    execution of the local Jewish population in the
    Rase Forest, auctions off their personal property
    in the central market of Utena.

Lithuanians, July 1941
Denmark, October 1943 The Danish did many things
to help the Jews escape and survive. In this
picture, a crowd gathers around a Danish Nazi and
a Jew he has apprehended. Danish police later
helped the Jewish man to escape.
Avoid comparisons of pain
  • Dont jump to conclusions about other peoples
    pain, i.e. The Holocaust was the most difficult
    period of time.
  • Pain is an abstract and relative concept. It is
    by no means a contest our goal is simply to
    widen our knowledge and experience through

Levels of suffering? Injustice causes suffering,
Trail of Tears
American slavery

A group of Gypsy prisoners congregate in the
Rivesaltes internment camp. The Roma experience
came closest to that of the Jews. Persecuted as
an inferior race, between 25 50 of their
prewar population murdered by the Nazis, by
members of the Einsatzgruppen and in
concentration and death camps.
  • Roma, 1939 - 1942

  • Dont be fooled by stereotypical descriptions

Which students do you think are Jewish? (all of
(No Transcript)
Important Terms
  • Genocide- the systematic and planned
    extermination of an entire nation, race, or
    ethnic group
  • Annihilation- total destruction
  • Holocaust- the state-sponsored systematic
    persecution of European Jews by Nazi Germany and
    its collaborators between 1933 and 1945
  • Commemoration- honoring the memory of or serving
    as a memorial
  • Totalitarianism- total control of the country by
    the government
  • Fascism- a system of government that is marked by
    stringent social and economic control, a strong
    centralized government usually headed by a
  • Pogrom- government-organized attacks on Jewish
  • Anti-Semitism- ill-feeling or hatred toward Jews
  • Stereotype- commonly held popular belief about
    specific social groups or types of individuals
  • Racism- hatred of a person or group because of
    race or ethnic background

What do these terms have in common?
  • Kristallnacht
  • The Final Solution
  • Aryan
  • The Jewish Question
  • Resettlement
  • Euthanasia
  • Treated appropriately

Kristallnacht Final Solution Aryan Jewish
question Resettlement Euthanasia
  • These are all the perpetrators terms. We have to
    qualify them when we use them --- with finger
    quotes or with a disclaimer --- What the Nazis
    called resettlement in the East. Even though
    Kristallnacht has become widely accepted, it is
    the Nazi term that focuses on the broken shop
    windows of the Jewish merchants, and so it
    implies that the violence of November 9, 1938,
    simply set the economy right. Even when we use
    the term Jew, we have to remember that the
    Nazis did the defining based upon the
    grandparents religion.