The War Against The Jews -

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 8-18
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes

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Resource Goal

Aims OF Peula:

For the chanichim to have a better and clearer picture of the history of the Holocaust.

For them to realise that ALL Jews were persecuted regardless of what country they were in during the Second World War occupation.

To see that Nazi Germany made special laws against the Jews.

Resource Contents

If we were to chart the progression of events that took place before and during the Holocaust, it would look like this:







To the events listed above, the world of the Jew was constantly constricted. First, laws were enacted which limited the Jew's ability to be part of the society in which they lived. The Jew became isolated and a pariah. Second, the Jew's life was physically segregated and constricted, with the ghetto becoming his total world. Third, the narrowing of the life became almost total in the concentration camp. And finally, not only did death take away that life, but then the bodies were burnt to ashes, the final constriction.

The "War" continues. In 1970 Arab terrorists hijacked three airplanes and after landing in Egypt, conducted their own "selection process," separating the Jews from the other passengers. In 1976 the same selection took place during the hijacking of a plane to Uganda.

The War Against the Jews continues to this day.

Thou Shalt Not Murder

The Bible records the legend of Cain and Abel to show that murder is to be regarded as a terrible crime. Later, the prohibition is explained to Noah: "He that sheds the blood of a person, for that person his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God has God made man (Genesis 9-6)." This prohibition against murder is repeated in the Ten Commandments, where it is the first of the five commandments which apply to the ways in which people must treat one another. Of course, the Bible distinguishes between accidental murder (manslaughter) and intentional murder (Numbers 35:16-24), but the Jewish tradition clearly abhors any taking of human life.

Even capital punishment, the taking of the murderer's life in exchange for the life he has taken, was to be avoided wherever possible.

Hitler's War Against the Jews, Altshuler & Dawidowicz


While the ultimate goal of the Final Solution was the destruction of all Jews, Hitler consistently singled out certain kinds of individuals for early annihilation on the grounds that they were particularly "unfit." The very young and very old, as well as those suffering from mental or physical illnesses, were regarded by the Nazis as persons of "little value." Against this immoral stance, Jewish tradition affirms the worth of all human beings, since each is created in the image of God.

From the first day of life a child is legal heir to his parents' estate in the eyes of Halachah (Niddah 5:3), and even a dying person's words have legal force in business or inheritance matters (Baba Batra 9:6-7, Ketubot 48a, 103a). The rabbis recognized that newborn infants die of natural causes more often than children who are older, but they rightly say that anyone who kills a child even one day old is to be regarded as a murderer (Niddah 5:3).

100 Year Chronology of Jewish Life in Poland

1881 First pogrom in Warsaw, condemned by Church and intellectuals

1881-1924 Peak of Jewish emigration to the United States

1905 Jewish workers' mass participation in the revolutionary movement

1918 Poland regains independence; pogrom in Lvov takes place in the wake of Polish-Ukrainian struggle for the city

1919 Poland signs Versailles treaty of minority rights; Jews elected to Polish parliament

1921 Polish constitution grants equal rights to Jews

1919-1939 Jewish religious, cultural and political life flourishes in Poland; many Jews assimilate to Polish culture, but face hostility that makes their integration difficult

1935-1937 Pogroms testify to the rise of anti-Semitism

1936 Prime Minister supports economic boycott of Jews

1938 Polish Jews living in Germany brutally expelled

1939 Poland partitioned by Germany and Russia

1940 Jews in Warsaw confined to specially-created ghetto

1941 Massacre of Jews by Germany begins in eastern Poland

1942 German extermination camps become fully operational; destruction of Warsaw ghetto; Polish resistance movement gathers strength

1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising

1945 More than 90% of Polish Jews perish; Poland liberated, Communistregime installed

1946 Kielce pogrom; mass emigration of Jews

1948 Poland becomes one of the first states to recognize Israel

1949 Zionist organizations dissolved

1957 Following liberalization, new mass emigration of Jews

1967 After Six-Days War, Poland breaks off diplomatic relations with Israel

1968 Government-sponsored campaign of anti-Semitism; final emigration of Jews

1981 Reappearance of anti-Semitism, condemned by Solidarity, Church, and intellectuals

Circle those dates you consider to be important in the rise of anti-Semitism in Poland. Justify your answers. Why are they important?

Underline the dates which indicate a better atmosphere in which Jews in Poland could live. Why were those positive changes on those dates?

The Nuremberg Laws

Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor

Moved by the understanding that purity of the German Blood is the essential condition for the continued existence of the German people, and inspired by the inflexible determination to ensure the existence of the German Nation for all time, the Reichstag has unanimously adopted the following Law, which is promulgated herewith:

Sec. 1

1) Marriages between Jews and subjects of the state of Germany or related blood are forbidden. Marriages nevertheless concluded are invalid, even if concluded abroad to circumvent this law.

2) Annulment proceedings can be initiated only by the State Prosecutor.

Sec. 2

Extramarital intercourse between Jews and subjects of the state of Germany or related blood is forbidden.

Sec. 3

Jews may not employ in their households female subjects of the state of Germany or related blood who are under 45 years old.

Sec. 4

1) Jews are forbidden to fly the Reich or National flag or to display the Reich colors.

2) They are, on the other hand, permitted to display the Jewish colors. The exercise of this right is protected by the State.

Sec. 5

1) Any person who violates the prohibition under Sec. 1 will be punished by a prison sentence with hard labor.

2) A male who violates the prohibition under Sec. 2 will be punished with a prison sentence with or without hard labor.

3) Any person violating the provisions under Secs. 3 or 4 will be punished with prison sentence of up to one year and a fine, or with one or the other of these penalties.

Prepared by:

The Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler

The Reich Minister of the Interior Frick Reich

Minister of Justice Dr. Gurtner

The Deputy of the Fuhrer R. Hess

Holocaust History

After suffering military defeat in World War I, the German people lost their national pride. To restore Germany to greatness, Adolf Hitler developed a Fascist ideology proclaiming the superiority of the so-called "Aryan Race" over all others - in particular the Jews - and calling for Germany's total conquest of Europe and the world. In the late 1920's, Hitler established the National Socialist or "Nazi" Party in furtherance of his goals. On January 30, 1933, he was appointed Chancellor of a New Germany, the Third Reich, and his Nazi Party became the only legal political party in the land. All other political and ideological persuasions were outlawed.

To enforce their doctrine of superiority, the Nazis embarked on a deliberate program of anti-Semitic repression that would eventually lead to violence. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws were directed specifically against the German Jews, who until the 1930's lived life as secure and loyal German citizens. From 1935 on, all social, political and economic rights of German Jews were restricted. Jews were forbidden to enter into any relationships with the German population, and Germans were forbidden, under stiff penalty, to trade or socialize with Jews.

In July, 1937, the Buchenwald concentration camp was opened, where intellectual Jews and anti-Nazi dissidents were interned. This was the first in a web of such camps throughout Germany which would serve as detention points for "undesirable elements," including mostly Jews, invalids, the mentally ill, homosexuals, and enemies of Nazi ideology.

In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria into the Third Reich, and in September 1938, England, France and Italy agreed to Germany's annexation of part of Czechoslovakia. Hitler was clearly on the move.

In his drive toward the "Aryanization" of Germany, Hitler ordered the confiscation of property owned by Jews, the removal of Jews from all public and professional positions, the closing of Jewish shops and other establishments, and the expulsion to Poland of 17,000 Jews holding Polish citizenship.

On the night of November 9, 1938, anti-Jewish violence openly erupted, both in Germany and in Austria. On that night, called "Kristallnacht," or night of broken glass, some 30,000 Jews were arrested without cause, 191 synagogues were destroyed, and over 7,000 shops and other businesses had their windows shattered and looted.

The year 1939 marked a period of barbarism unprecedented in all human history - the premeditated, systematic murder of millions of people, and more specifically, the planned total destruction of European Jewry by Nazi Germany. In March, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia. In August, Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, and on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and thus World War II began. Two days later, England and France declared war on Germany, and two weeks thereafter the Soviet Army invaded Poland.

To deal with the "Jewish question," special organizational units called "Einsatzgruppen" were formed under the leadership of elite members of the Nazi Party's special police force or "SS." Members included the now infamous Himmler, Heidrich, and Eichmann. By October, 1939, the German General Government for Central Poland was fully in place, with Hans Frank as its Governor General.

Poland had 3,000,000 Jews and had been home to their ancestors for many generations. Hundreds of thousands more Jews lived in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Rumania, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, France, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. They were all to become a priority, often placed ahead of German military action. The unique Jewish culture, tradition, centuries of learning, and contributions to society were to be abruptly erased. In the worst human catastrophe in modern history, an entire people and their age-long culture were destined to become extinct.

Proclamations were issued whereby Jews were forced to leave their homes and their belongings and move to restricted areas, so-called "ghettos." The larger ghettos became dangerously overcrowded. Deprived of food and basic sanitation, masses of people died of starvation and sickness. Most of the large ghettos were walled in to prevent any contact with the outside. To distinguish Jews from the rest of the population, Jews were ordered to wear an arm band or badge bearing a Jewish star. Failure to comply was punishable by death. Nazi racist strategy against the Jews included forced labour without pay, rationed food at a very minimum, torture, deportations, and wanton execution without cause or excuse. Jews from throughout Europe were transported to the large ghettos of Poland.

To complete his plan to annihilate all European Jews, Hitler ordered the establishment of death camps. A special conference was convened on January 20, 1942 in Wannsee, Germany, at which the plan for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was developed. It called for camps equipped with gas chambers and special crematoria, where Jewish men, women, and children would be put to death and disposed of.

German scientists and engineers were entrusted with designing the crematory ovens and inventing the formula for the deadly gas. Zyklon B would be the gas: One gallon was capable of killing over 1,000 people in minutes. On arriving at the death camps, the men, women and children were told to undress and enter a chamber "showers." Once inside, the doors were closed behind them and not water, but deadly gas sprayed their bodies. Minutes later, the corpses were removed to the ovens for burning. As by-products of this death factory, human bones were crushed to produce fertilizer, hair was used to manufacture military blankets, and soap was made from human fat!

The most notorious death camps in Poland were Auschwitz, Birkenau, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, Belzec and Chelmno. Among the death camps in Germany were Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, and Bergen-Belsen. Having concentrated all Jews in the Ghettos under strict armed control, the Nazis embarked on a program of so-called "actions," "selections," and deportations to the

camps. Under the threat of death, the entire population of a Jewish ghetto was ordered to appear at a public square called the "Umschlagplatz," where Nazi SS officers arbitrarily selected those who would remain and those who would depart on a transport. The SS used trained police dogs to search out those who attempted to hide in houses, bunkers, and sewers. After each such "action," the selected Jews were locked into cattle cars - destination, Death Camp!

Fully aware by now of the Nazi atrocities, Jews organized a network of underground resistance units. With a bare minimum of resources, they developed cells of resistance in the ghettos and camps, and as partisan groups in the forests. The largest and most effective effort at resistance was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, on April 19, 1943. Led by young, inexperienced men and women under the leadership of Mordechai Anielewicz, the Ghetto fighters fought the best equipped German SS forces with makeshift weapons and home-made bombs. Their determination and heroism kept the Germans at bay for twenty-seven days - an astounding defense, considering that all of France fell to the Germans in just fourteen days.

By September 1942, over 300,000 Jews were sent from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka Death Camp. By the end of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, on May 16, 1943, SS Brigadefuehrer Jurgen Stroop, in charge of liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto, reported to his fuhrer, Adolph Hitler, "Es Gibt Keinen Judischen Wohnbesirk in Warschau Mehr!" ("The Jewish District in Warsaw Exists No More!") All Jews had been eliminated, and the area was "Judenrein," clean of Jews.

The world at large was becoming aware of the German program to make Europe "Judenrein." In april 1943, the United States and England convened the Bermuda Conference to discuss the issue of the destruction of European Jewry and to address the problem of Jewish refugees. Unfortunately, no action was taken at the conference. It was fruitless and disappointing. In addition, many concerned individuals and organizations pleaded with the Allies to bomb the railroads leading to the death camps, but their cries went unheeded. Such action was considered inappropriate to the military engagements.

The Jewish underground fought valiantly in many areas. The revolt at Sobibor, for example, forced the closing of this camp. Yet the Nazis succeeded in killing over 6,000,000 Jews, including 1,500,000 Jewish children. Of the 6,000,000 dead, 2,000,000* Jewish men, women, and children perished in the Auschwitz death camp alone! As late as April 1944, when the world was fully aware of the Nazi atrocities, 380,000 Hungarian Jews and tens of thousands more Slovakian and Greek Jews were still brought to Auschwitz for annihilation.

At the end of 1944, the German Eastern front collapsed and the Germans retreated through Poland. The Soviet Red Army pressed the Germans westward, freeing Polish territories occupied by the Nazis. As part of their retreat, the Germans decided to evacuate Auschwitz, their largest death camp, forcing the prisoners to march on foot for many days and nights without food or sleep. Many froze to death and many more died along the way from total exhaustion. Survivors of this death march, who remembered it as a monstrously inhuman experience, were put in camps inside

Germany, where many died of sickness and total debilitation. Those who lived long enough were at last liberated by the allied - American, British, and Russian soldiers, who upon entering the camps, faced a group of people many described as "living corpses."

Although the scourge of fascism and anti-semitism swept many European countries, some decent human beings resisted the evil. Among civilians who had shown decency and humanity in this dehumanizing period were many "Righteous Gentiles" who endangered their own lives to save some of their Jewish friends from certain death. These men and women are honoured by the Jewish people and the State of Israel with a special monument to their heroism: The Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel's Official National Memorial to the Jewish Victims of the Holocaust.

In their madness, the Nazis wantonly killed many civilians, destroying much of the gypsy population and other people of various nationalities. Yet it was the Jewish people whom the Nazis singled out for total destruction. Although not all victims of the Holocaust were Jews, all Jews were its victims.

Thus, the Nazis almost achieved their goal, having succeeded in annihilating two-thirds of European Jewry, leaving behind millions of corpses,

While the World Watched...

While the World Listened...

& Remained Silent.

If you know the names of the chanichim that are going to come to your group, then you can get information about a child that was killed in the holocaust with their name or failing that one that had a similar characteristic (blonde hair)to them and ask them to read it out.

At the start of the meeting you can read out a list of rules that need to be kept to. For example Thou shall not sit with your legs crossed.

As a trigger to a discussion you can ask the Chanichim to put the 100 year Chronology of Jewish Life in Poland in order. You could start by discussing the difference in life before than that of it after.

Mess up the room with lots of tables and chairs. Then blindfold someone and ask them to make their way from one end to the other. The rest of the group have to watch but not help. The next time around the Chanich/a, should be given help by one of the other chanichim. The world watched and remained silent.

At the end of the meeting it is very important for the chanichim to understand that although this huge atrocity occurred, the Jewish people survived and we lived through it. So you should do something at the end to symbolise this. A couple of ideas that come to mind. Either, ask them in groups to make a Memorial of what happened in the Holocaust, maybe using tables and chairs or by using themselves. Or you can have some kind of celebration of what the Jewish people have achieved since the Holocaust. This can be done by singing happy songs about Israel or by asking them what makes them proud to be a Jew today.

Resource Comments

This is designed to look at several issues that took place and move the focus away from just the death camps. Now as this is quite a sensitive issue there will be different aims for Aleph and Bet.

In general for Aleph chanichim we just want to get a general picture and for them to learn a few new facts and ideas. With Bet a deeper understanding can be developed.

As I always say its up to YOU the roshim and madrichim to decide what you chanichim need and how far you should push the theme. This is a new innovative idea so we need a lot of feedback on it.

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» All > History > The Second Temple

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