The Holocaust: The Killing Process

Jewish boy bein driven outside by German soldiers
Figure 1.--Here German soldiers drive a terrified Jewish boy from a building, perhaps his home or a school. It looks like the soldier has just struck him in the head. Notice he is being driven outside with just a shirt even though it is a cold day as we can see with the heavy coats the soldiers are wearing. The photograph is not identified, but it looks to us like Poland in 1939 or 40. I am not sure if the soldiers wearing the caps are Wehrmacht soldiers or some kind of auxileries. They are not SS men. This illustrates how deeply involved the Wehrmacht was in the Holocaust.

The procedure adopted by the NAZI to murder Jews varied from country to country and over time. The pace of this process varied. In Germany itself the process was slow as the population had to be gradually brought about to accept the NAZI view of the Jews and time was available. The Jews were denined citzenship in 1935 and slowly new regulations deprived them of their livlihood and property. The NAZIs also sought to involve the public in the process by replacing Jews with Aryan workers or by seizing Jewish shops, homes, and property under various legal and illegal expedients and then making it available at bargain prices. NAZI thugs oftern just stole Jewish property, but many non-Party members also benefitted by buying the property stollen from Jews. After the War began the NAZIs operated with greater ruthlessness. Outsiude the Reich in the occupied countries they did not need to worry about law or public opinion. Thus almost all of the killing was done outside the Reich, not in the Germqan concentation camps that the Allies would liberate at the end of the War. The primary difference in the killing process occurred east an west of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Line which divided Poland under the terms of the of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The mass killing began in the East first, but it was chaotic. The killing was carried out by the murderous Einsatzgruppen which followed in the wake of the Barbarossa combat units (June 1941). Local killers were also encouraged. The Germans gained control of large numbers of Jews west of the line earlier (September 1939), but the initial policy was ghetoization rather than killing. The basic goal in the west was to steal as much of their property as possible before killing them. The process included keeping the families together until arrival at the camps. This helped keep the process orderly which made the killing process efficient. At the camps. There the healty adult Jews to death. The children and elderly were killed upon arrival at the camps. Some NAZIs wanted to use health adult Jews as slave labor not only to support the war effort, but also enrich themselves. Hitler made it clear with Operation Reinhart that the primary purpose was to kill, including workers that could have been used in war plants. The Germans became increasingly efficent as the War progreessed at killing, In Poland it began with with public humiliations and beatings, pressing them in labor forced slave-labor gangs, stealing their property, confining them in Ghettos where they would be easilly available for shipment in railroad box cars to the death camps. Their major concern was maximizing the property looted and the efficency of the killing process. The killing took place in basically three stages. The first stage began with Barbarossa. Here the NAZIs suspended even the appearnce of legal processes. Heavily armed Einsatzgruppen followed the front line troops and simply shot large number of Jews, usually in hastily dug pits. With smaller groups they did not even bother with pits. Here about half of the NAZI killing was accomplished. [Snyder] The second major step was Operation Reinhard, the killing of the Polish Jews already in their hands. Here the Germans used a new innovation--death camps, essentially death factories: Belzec, Chelmo, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. These were not labor camps, the purpose was purely andcexclusively to kill. The third phase was to kill the smaller Jewish populations in Western and Central Europe. In the West, the propcess was slower and less open, but in the end no less lethal. Here both the Death Camps and Auschwitz was used. Auschwitz was primarily an emense work camp, but a part of Auschwitz was the killing facility at Birkenau built primarily for Jews.

Reich Jews

The procedure adopted by the NAZI to murder Jews varied from country to country and over time. The pace of this process varied. In Germany itself the process was slow as the population had to be gradually brought about to accept the NAZI view of the Jews and time was available. Relatively few Jews were killed in the Reich untily the Wa began. Even during the horrors of Kristallnacht, only amall number of Jews weere actually killed. The Jews were denined citzenship in 1935 and slowly new regulations deprived them of their livlihood and property. The NAZIs also sought to involve the public in the process by replacing Jews with Aryan workers or by seizing Jewish shops, homes, and property under various legal and illegal expedients and then making it available at bargain prices. NAZI thugs oftern just stole Jewish property, but many non-Party members also benefitted by buying the property stollen from Jews. Killing was limited because the primary goal was to rob Jews and dricve them out of Germany. After the War and the NAZIs experienced starteling successes did they begin operating with greater ruthlessness.

Occupied Countries

In other countries such as Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the countries occupied during the Wat, this process was speeded up. The NAZIs had learned from their experience in the Reich and military success caused them to operate with increasing ruthlesness. Outside the Reich in the occupied countries they did not need to worry about law or public opinion. Thus almost all of the killing was done outside the Reich, not in the German concentation camps that the Allies would liberate at the end of the War. Ratgher the great bulk of the killing took place outside the Reich, much of it in purpose-built deatgh camps built in occupied Poland.

Geographic Difference

A major difference difference in the killing process occurred east and west of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Line which partitioned Poland under the terms of the of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The mass killing of Jews began in the East first, but it was chaotic. The killing was carried out by the murderous Einsatzgruppen which followed in the wake of the Barbarossa combat units (June 1941). Bletchly Park code breakers picked up tallies submitted to Berlin, revealing for the first time the enormity of the crimes being committed. Local killers were also encouraged. The Romanian Armny was particularly ruthless, killing Jews whereever tghey found them amnd leaving bodies cattered everywhere. The process was different west of the Line. The Germans gained control of large numbers of Jews west of the line earlier (September 1939), but the initial policy was ghetoization rather than killing. The basic goal in the west was to steal as much of their property as possible before killing them. The process included keeping the families together until arrival at the camps. This helped keep the process orderly which made the killing process efficient. At the camps. There the healty adult Jews to death. The children and elderly were killed upon arrival at the camps. Some NAZIs wanted to use health adult Jews as slave labor not only to support the war effort, but also enrich themselves. Hitler made it clear with Operation Reinhart that the primary purpose was to kill, including workers that could have been used in war plants. The Germans became increasingly efficent as the War progreessed at killing, In Poland it began with with public humiliations and beatings, pressing them in labor forced slave-labor gangs, stealing their property, confining them in Ghettos where they would be easilly available for shipment in railroad box cars to the death camps. Their major concern was maximizing the property looted and the efficency of the killing process.

Stages

The killing took place in basically three stages. The first stage began with Barbarossa. Here the NAZIs suspended even the appearnce of legal processes. Heavily armed Einsatzgruppen followed the front line troops and simply shot large number of Jews, usually in hastily dug pits. With smaller groups they did not even bother with pits. Here about half of the NAZI killing was accomplished. [Snyder] The second major step was Operation Reinhard, the killing of the Polish Jews already in their hands. Here the Germans used a new innovation--death camps, essentially death factories: Belzec, Chelmo, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. These were not labor camps, the purpose was purely andcexclusively to kill. The third phase was to kill the smaller Jewish populations in Western and Central Europe. In the West, the propcess was slower and less open, but in the end no less lethal. Here both the Death Camps and Auschwitz was used. Auschwitz was primarily an emense work camp, but a part of Auschwitz was the killing facility at Birkenau built primarily for Jews.

Sources

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic: 2010), 524p.







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Created: 2:43 AM 3/17/2011
Last updated: 6:22 AM 9/11/2012