Holocaust (Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity)
The term Holocaust refers to the Nazi German policy that sought the annihilation of European and North African Jews. It comes from the Greek, holokauton, meaning "burnt sacrifice." More rarely, the term is also used to describe Nazi German violence in general. The persecution and mass murder of Europe's Jewry evolved out of a shift from religious to racial or ethnic anti-Semitism during the Industrial Revolution and the rise of liberal capitalism and the nation state in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. Prominent in many countries, including Russia and France, the new blend of anti-Semitism combined traditional and modern elements and became especially popular among many of Germany's intellectuals and elites. With the growing importance of the workers' movement and Marxism, anti-Semitism increased further after the Russian October revolution of 1917. Anti-Jewish conspiracy theories emerged, particularly in the states that lost during World War I, that were established as its consequence, or that suffered badly in the worldwide economic crisis of 1929 to 1939. Most right-wing, authoritarian regimes that came to power in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s were anti-Semitic. Many adopted anti-Jewish laws. Chief among these, however, was Germany after Hitler's rise to power in 1933.
From 1933 to 1939, National Socialist (i.e., Nazi) Germany pursued a policy of enforced emigration. Out of 700,000 Jews in Germany and Austria, two-thirds left these countries before World War II, mostly the younger and more wealthy. Immigration restrictions abroad and Nazi "fees" for emigration permits hampered this process. Jews were dismissed from civil service in 1933. They faced economic ruin and the gradual expropriation of their property. They were routinely harrassed, attacked by Nazi activists and youths, denied social services, and excluded from public education. Central as well as municipal institutions contributed to such policies. Sexual relations with non-Jews ("Aryans") were prohibited under the "Law for the Protection of the German Blood and Honor" in 1935. With the annexation of Austria in March 1938here anti-Semitism was particularly widespreadnd the imposition of a nationwide pogrom ("Kristallnacht," or Crystal Night) on November 9 and 10, 1938, the persecution of Jews was intensified. Nearly 30,000 Jews were temporarily imprisoned in concentration camps after Kristallnacht, during which more than 1,000 synagogues were destroyed and Jewish shops were looted. At least 91 Jews died in the pogrom, and hundreds more committed suicide.
Beginning in late 1938, the influence of the SS and the police under Heinrich Himmler grew increasingly influential in setting Germany's anti-Jewish policy, although SS and police never gained exclusive control over it. After Germany successfully invaded Poland in September 1939, more than 2.5 million Polish Jews came under German rule. By May 1941, Germany occupied another eight European countries, further increasing this number. Anti-Semitic regulations aimed at the isolation, deprivation, and humiliation of Jews throughout Germany's vastly expanded territory were gradually adopted. Jews were forced to wear identifying insignia, their access to means of communication and transportation was limited, and their food rations were reduced. Local German authorities in Poland individually ordered the creation of Jewish ghettos wherein Jews were permitted extremely few resources and were assigned one room (or less) per family. The overcrowding led to in increased mortality and the spread of diseases.
Beginning in 1939, German authorities developed plans for the enforced resettlement of the Jews to specially designated territories, where it was expected that harsh living conditions and an adverse climate would lead to their slow destruction. The first of these territories was eastern Poland, then Madagascar; later on, northern Russia or Siberia were considered. These plans called for the inmates to be separated according to sexes and kept under German "police supervision." Initially intended as postwar projects, these plans indicated a radicalization of anti-Semitic thinking under the Nazi regime. They were never implemented in their original form, but they fit into a larger framework of Nazi schemes for the restructuring, ethnic cleansing, and resettlement of Eastern Europe. From 1939 to 1941, the SS tried to settle several hundred thousands of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe in Western Poland. To make room for these newcomers, nearly 500,000 local inhabitantsncluding up to 200,000 Jewsere deported to the German-occupied General Government of Poland. Such actions increased the warrelated scarcity of housing, sanitation, employment and food, particularly as a large proportion of the ethnic Germans had to stay in camps for months or years. The occupational authorities diverted the resulting shortages to to the Jews and intensified the search for other "solutions."
Mass Murder of Soviet Jews
The German war against the Soviet Union was planned as a war of extermination jointly by Hitler, by the SS military and economic authorities. The attack aimed at destroying "world communism," forcing "racially inferior" Slavs to submit to German colonial rule, eliminating the USSR as a military power, improving Germany's strategic position, and achieving self-sufficiency in food and raw materials such as oil. Schemes for large-scale German settlements had little influence on the actual occupation policy. While the majority of the Soviet population was to remain alive to provide cheap labor for the Germans, large groups of them were to be killed. Tens of millions were intended to die of starvation, particularly those who lived in the cities and the populations of certain northern and central areas. Also slated for death were millions of "commissars," communists, intellectuals, state officials, and Jews. This violence was considered vital for the long-term German appropriation of Soviet resources, which, in the short run, were needed for the militarily critical supplies of German troops fighting on the eastern front. The violence would also allow Germany to control a vast territory with a much smaller number of occupation troops than would otherwise be needed. Soviet Jews became a special target, because the racially charged propaganda blamed them for having designed the communist system, and they were expected to put up a fierce resistance.
Germany's military leaders wished to assign special units of the SS and the police the job of securing the Soviet rear guard, thus eliminating the need for using the army to handle this task. These units included a total of 3,000 men in four Einsatzgruppen (Operation Units), deployed by the Security Police and Security Service under Reinhard Heydrich; mobile Police Batallions, deployed by the Order Police under Kurt Daluege; and Waffen-SS Brigades. These units started mass killings in the rear immediately after the German attack on June 22, 1941, and during that year more than 90 percent of their victims were Jewish.
The total extermination of Soviet Jews was not officially ordered at the outset. Instead, the SS and police targetted only those men considered to belong to the "Jewish intelligentsia": a group that included state officials, teachers, and lawyers, and others of the professional class. Between late July and early October 1941, this target group was enlargedn different areas at different timesirst by including women and children, and then by annihilating entire Jewish communities. This expansion began in Lithuania and Latvia, where the local, non-German, anti-Soviet police and administrators cooperated in acts of persecution and violence. By the end of 1941, 800,000 Soviet Jews had been killed. Most victims were marched to remote locations near their home towns or cities and shot at previously prepared mass graves.
Cooperation went especially smoothly within the military, with army officers calling for mass executions or giving logistic and manpower support. Military and civil administrations handled the first measures, such as making the Jews wear yellow badges, concentrating them in ghettos or special districts, assigning them to forced labor, and seizing their assets. In territories under German military administration, such as northern and central Russia, eastern Byelorussia, and eastern Ukraine, nearly all the indigenous Jews had been killed by December 1941. Demand for Jewish forced labor was low because the urban centers were largely destroyed and the German occupiers pursued a general policy of de-industrialization. The drive to violence was aggravated by food and housing shortages. The destruction experienced in the western territories of Byelorussia and Ukraine (Polish territory until 1939) was less intense because the economies of these regions were more dependent on Jewish artisans. Here, the civil administrations were more apt to spare the Jews, and as many as 75 percent survived until 1942. Direct orders and inspections by Himmler, Heydrich, and Daluege coordinated the killing actions. Of particular importance was the chain of command that extended downward from Himmler to his regional plenipotentiaries, the Higher SS and Police Leaders. Yet local officers were given some autonomy as well. Massacres and the selection of target groups were based on continuous negotiations between regional and local SS and police, civil, and military authorities. In the spring of 1942, such negotiations resulted first in the extermination of those Jews deemed unable to work. The killings were stepped up in the second half of the year to a policy of almost total annihilation, and by March 1943, at least another 650,000 Jews (excluding eastern Galicia) were killed.
Toward a Continent-Wide Program of Annihilation
The killing of the Soviet Jews marked the beginning of the extermination. Mass killings took place in other areas as well. Eastern Galicia had been declared part of the General Government, and was ruled under a German civil administration. By the end of 1941, 70,000 Jews from this region were killed. In Serbia, which was under military occupation, the German army killed the entire adult male Jewish population,000 in alls reprisals against partisan resistance in the fall of 1941. The women and children were murdered by the SS and Police in 1942. In Poland, food rationing was intentionally unequal, with Jews receiving less than their non-Jewish fellow citizens, and much less than Germans. More than 40,000 Jews died of starvation and diseases related to overcrowding in the ghetto of Warsaw in 1941. In the German-annexed Reichsgau Wartheland (in Western Poland) and in the General Government, the civil administrations together with SS and the police developed plans for extermination camps to kill a portion of the Jewish population. The first killing center went into operation in Chelmno, Wartheland, on December 8, 1941, and the second was opened in Belzec, in the General Government's territory, on March 17, 1942.
It is unclear how much of this policy was ordered by the German central government and how much might have resulted from local initiatives. There were several parallel developments in German anti-Jewish policy in the fall of 1941, and Nazi leaders issued a number of declarations of intent (of which there remain only fragmented records). Beginning in mid-1941, experiments in new mass killing techniques, including gassing, were carried out by different branches of the SS and the police and in several concentration camps. Under pressure from the SS and regional Nazi Party leaders, Hitler permitted the deportation of Jews from the German Reich into the East in September 1941. By December, 50,000 had been deported to Lodz, Minsk, Kaunas, and Riga. Six thousand of these deportees were killed in Kaunas and Riga in late November 1941, after which Himmler called a temporary halt to the mass murders. However, they were resumed in Lodz and Minsk in May 1942.
Hitler announced his intention to exterminate all European Jews during World War II in a meeting of Nazi Party leaders on December 12, 1941, after declaring war on the United States. On January 20, 1942, in a high-level meeting in Berlin with government and Nazi Party officials plus SS officers, Heydrich claimed responsibilty for "the solution to the Jewish question in Europe" and especially the definition of who was declared a "Jew" was discussed. He set out his plans for mass murder, which were probably still only vaguely developed at that time. In this meeting, called the Wannsee Conference, the governmental bureaucrats raised no objections to Heydrich's plans for the extermination of Europe's Jews, but they could not reach full agreement on how to proceed nor how complete centralization of the measures against the Jews. Many scholars of the era argue that the extermination of European Jewry was ordered by Hitler no later than the autumn of 1941 (some saying that the order was issued early in the year), but others suggest that such a decision was not reached before December 1941 or in the spring of 1942. Some hold that the Holocaust simply "evolved," without the need for any explicit command decision issued by Hitler.
It has been argued that Himmler preferred using gas to kill Jews because he wanted to protect his firing squads in the east from mental stress. However, only a small proportion of the Soviet Jews were gassed in 1942 (in mobile gas vans). The majority, numbering some 500,000 in total, were shot. Killing techniques were never standardized. Only two of six major death camps (Auschwitz and Majdanek) employed prussic acid (also called Zyklon B) in gas chambers. In the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps in the General Government, Jews were killed in stationary gas chambers into which engine exhaust fumes were vented. In Chelmno, the murders were performed in mobile gas vans. These killings differed from the mass murder of approximately 100,000 disabled patients. In that case, the patients were suffocated using bottled carbon monoxide, administered in stationary gas chambers or gas vans between September 1939 and August 1941. The killing of the disabled was organized by Hitler's chancellors, known as the Kanzlei des Führers, and was carried out by regional civil administrations in annexed Western Poland, with the assistance of the SS. Personnel who had gained experience through participating in this "euthanasia" program (code named "T-4") were transferred to Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka in late 1941 and 1942.
In Poland, the mass killings were expanded and accelerated in 1942 in two stages, similar to the way the policies were pursued in the German-occupied Soviet territories. General Governor Hans Frank argued that a policy of extermination could reduce food problems, health risks, and black market activities. Jews deemed unfit for work in the districts of Lublin, Galicia, and Krakow were deported on trains to Belzec, beginning on March 17, 1942 and to Sobibor beginning on May 6, 1942, while other victims were rounded up and killed in mass shootings. The second phase of the mass killings in the region began in July, with the establishment of a third death camp at Treblinka, near Warsaw. Construction on the camp had started in May, and murders began there on July 22, 1942. At the same time, new and bigger gas chambers were installed in Belzec, with Sobibor and Treblinka following suit during September and October of that year. On Himmler's orders (and with the support of the head of the German Four-Year Planning Office, Hermann Göring), the demand for forced labor was largely ignored during the period from July to October 1942, and many Jewish workers summarily killed. Approximately 1.15 million Jews from the General Government were thus killed in the second half of 1942, and only 297,000 remained alive.
The deportations of French and Slovakian Jews to Auschwitz first began in March 1942, although most of the deportees were not killed upon arrival, at least at first. Auschwitz had been founded in 1940 as a concentration camp, but by 1942 it was gradually being transformed into a death center. Large-scale gassings began in early May 1942he first victims were Jews from German-annexed East Upper Silesia in Polandnd the extermination of prisoners reached full scale in July 1942, handling transports of Jews arriving from Poland and Western and Central Europe. Between 10 and 35 percent of the new arrivals were selected for forced labor, the rest were killed. The first two permanent, if improvised, gas chambers in the main camp of Auschwitz went into operation in May and on June 30, 1942. Planning for bigger gas chambers and crematoria to be built in the subcamp of Auschwitz-Birkenau began in August, but they only became operational in March 1943. More than half of all the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust died between March 1942 and March 1943.
Massive transports of Jews from Western and Central Europe began to arrive in Auschwitz in June 1942. Deportations of Jews from the Netherlands progressed smoothly, but in Belgium and France the deportees were primarily, if not exclusively, limited to foreign Jews (the authorities in these two states were reluctant to cooperate in the deportation of their own citizens). Many Jews from Germany, particularly the elderly, were sent at first to a "show" camp in the Czech town of Terezín (Theresienstadt), allegedly as a place for convenient long-term settlement, but most were later sent to Auschwitz to be killed. Deportations to Auschwitz continued throughout 1943, and the later transports included Greek and (beginning in autumn, 1943) Italian Jews. To a certain extent, the definition of "Jew" was kept vague. Outside of the eastern territories, however, Jews married to gentiles and so-called half-Jews were usually not murdered, even though they were required to register. Some German officials, and Hitler himself, objected to killing Jews of mixed heritage because they were afraid of protests by non-Jewish relatives.
The extermination of European Jews reached a new peak in the summer of 1944, after Germany invaded Hungary, and the new (but not yet fully fascist) Hungarian government fully cooperated in the deportation of 430,000 Jews to Auschwitz in only seven weeks, from May 15 to July 9. About 100,000 of the Hungarian Jews were selected for forced laborhey were assigned to work in the construction of factories for German fighter planes and other tasks. Another 80,000 Jews were exempted from deportation and consigned instead to the Hungarian Army's forced Labor Service. Deportations were temporarily stopped by the Hungarian leader, Admiral Miklos Horthy, on July 9. He had no problem with deporting Hungary's provincial Jewish population, but balked at transporting the more "useful" urban Jews of Budapest. After Horthy was ousted from office by the fascist Arrow-Cross Party on October 15, 1944, the transports were resumed on a limited scale. In total, nearly 500,000 of Hungary's approximately 730,000 Jews were killed.
Deportation transports from outside the General Government and the Soviet Union were organized by the office for Jewish affairs (IV B 4) in the Head Office of Reich Security under Adolf Eichmann. Because they usually deployed only several hundred men for each occupied country, the security police and security service required the cooperation of the German military and civil administrators, foreign office occupation personnel, the local national police and administrations, and German and foreign railway authorities. As a result, deportations were not only based on complex bureaucratic procedures but depended also on negotiations at a political level.
By the fall of 1943, virtually all remaining Jews in German-ruled Central and Eastern Europe had been interned within the concentration camp system of the SS. In 1944, Himmler gave orders not to let prisoners fall into enemy hands during military retreats. In the last months of World War II, this led to murderous death marches, in which columns of concentration camp inmates were forced to walk hundreds of kilometers, on often circuitous routes, with few supplies, and under brutal treatment by their guards, by German Nazi Party organizations, by home defense units, and by individuals. Estimates of the mortality in these marches range from less than a third to half of the participants.
The Jewish Response
The Jewish response to this qualitatively new threat took various forms. These included traditional solutions, such as the payment of fees and fines, renewed spirituality, and emigration. This latter option proved to be the most effective response. Once World War II began, however, emigration was an option only open to a small minority, primarily young adults and single people, especially because of the stringent immigration restrictions imposed by potential recipient countries. For most people, other survival strategies were needed.
The German resolve to kill all Jews became clear only gradually so, at first, Jewish leaders attempted to make the members of their communities indispensable through employment in war-related industries. This strategy largely failed, due to the low demand for industrial labor in Poland and the German-occupied Soviet territories, where most of Europe's Jews lived. To meet the increasing demand for such labor in Germany after the intensification of war production in 1942, other sources, such as Soviet civilians, were given preference. The SS also increasingly turned to the principle of "selection" to counter Jewish labor schemes, separating Jewish workers from those not employed, and targetting the latter group to be killed first. Sometimes the organizers of the Holocaust gave priority to annihilation over any labor considerations, and many Jewish workers died of starvation and brutal treatment. With little access to arms, often isolated from non-Jewish resistance groups, and facing overwhelming German power, Jews turned to armed resistance only as a last resort, most prominently in the ghetto uprisings in Warsaw (April and May 1943) and Bialystok (August 1943), and through service in Soviet partisan units. Such uprisings usually could not rescue large groups. Instead, uprisings served as a final, symbolic signal of defiance and resistance.
Cooperation and Resistance of Non-Germans
A number of countries allied with or occupied by Germany, as well as non-German social groups and individuals, participated in the Holocaust, supported it, or (in the case of states) even ran their own extermination programs. Others resisted or obstructed German demands. In many places, however, Jews who could not claim citizenship were at a distinct disadvantage. This contributed to a considerable variation in the proportion of Jews killed during the Holocaust, with less than 1 percent mortality of Finland's Jews, 20 percent in Denmark, 25 percent in France, 40 percent in Belgium, 67 percent in Hungary, and more than 80 percent in the Netherlands.
Romania organized its own program of mass killings of Jews in 1941 and 1942, working in parallel with
Germany demanded that all its European allies surrender their Jews in September 1942. The Slovak and Hungarian governments were eager to deport most of their Jews, with Slovakia complying in 1941 and 1942. Hungary refused at first, but began sending its own shipments in 1944. Finland, although a German ally, refused to deport its Jews, and Bulgaria vetoed deportations from its home territory. However, the Bulgarian government handed over the Jews who lived in the annexed territories of Macedonia and Thracia. Fascist Italy protected its Jews as well as those in Italian-occupied French, Yugoslav, Greek, and Albanian territories until September 1943. Then a new government took power in Italy and switched sideserman troops occupied most of the country. The fascist states of Spain and Portugal maintained neutrality, and diplomatically protected their Jewish subjects in the German sphere of influence. Some of their diplomats made limited attempts to rescue Hungarian Jews in 1944. Swiss and Swedish envoys did the same, but on a larger scale. Such options were unavailable in countries such as Poland and in the Soviet territories, which were denied any central government by the Germans.
The cooperation of administrators, elites, professional organizations, and individual citizens was crucial to the outcome of the Holocaust. It is difficult to accurately gauge popular attitudes toward the persecution and murder of Jews, because the Germans threatened harsh reprisals for anyone who helped Jews escape deportation or death in their occupied territories. In many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, local anti-Semitic propaganda, denunciations, and even manhunts made the survival of Jews nearly impossible. In the first weeks of the German attack on the USSR, a wave of bloody pogroms swept through the western Soviet territories from Latvia to Moldova. In many occupied countries, local police officers participated or were forced to participate in anti-Jewish measures and violence. Most of the guards in the four death camps in the General Government of Poland were actually Soviet auxiliaries, mostly Ukrainians, under German supervision. Lithuanian, Latvian, and Ukrainian police units under German command took part in the mass execution of Jews inside and outside their countries. Some local administrations created ghettos and many confiscated Jewish assets for redistribution to non-Jews.
In all European countries, including Germany, individuals and small groups made attempts to rescue Jews, especially in the Netherlands, Poland, and the Soviet Union, although these efforts were overshadowed by widespread administrative cooperation and popular anti-Semitism. A number of Jews escaped capture with the help of the clergy. The most prominent nongovernmental collective rescue action took place in German-occupied Denmark in October 1943. The German representatives in Denmark wanted to avoid a political confrontation, and non-Jewish citizens were able to help 7,200 Jews escape to Sweden by boat. Another 500 Danish Jews were nonetheless deported to the German Reich.
The readiness of foreign governments, civil administrators, and the general public to support anti-Jewish violence depended less on their attitude towards the Germans, than on domestic political considerations, and on their own attitudes regarding Jews. Local authorities, rather than German troops, seized Jewish property in most of these areas (the exception was in Poland) and sold it to finance their costs of war or German occupation, or used it to solve social and economic problems like housing, land scarcity, or a shortage of consumer goods. The deportation of Jews also facilitated the redistribution of professional positions and the building of new, allegedly more loyal elites. This helps to explain why Eastern European states such as Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria were more willing to remove Jews from newly annexed territories. For some time, Lithuania and Hungary cooperated in the killing and deportation of Jews as a foreign policy strategy, in exchange for more political independence from the Germans. Conversely, protecting Jews earned the favor of the Anti-Hitler Coalition and the Vatican, which was important to Romania and Slovakia, and to Hungary before March and after July of 1944. During 1942, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union finally recognized Germany's comprehensive extermination program against the Jews and threatened punishment in a joint public declaration on December 17, of that year. However, they concentrated on achieving a military victory over Nazi Germany instead of mounting major rescue operations, in part to deny domestic anti-Semitic propaganda claims that the Allies were fighting to protect Jewish interests.
Reliable statistics document that between 5.5 and 6.1 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Between 2.2 and 2.5 million of these deaths came from the Soviet Union, 1.9 million from Poland (both within the borders of 1945), 500,000 from "Greater Hungary" of 1944, 165,000 from Germany, 100,000 from the Netherlands, and 80,000 from France. Three million victims were killed by gassing, nearly two million were shot, the others were killed by other methods, died of starvation, exhaustion, forced labor, or the extreme living conditions imposed on them.
Among long-range consequences of the Holocaust was the loss of much of Europe's Jewish cultural heritage in Europe. This loss was further exacerbated by the postwar emigration of survivors to Israel and other countries. The Holocaust also led to the traumatization of generations of Europe's Jews, suffered not only by the survivors but also by many of their descendants. The Holocaust has been understood as an expression of a moral crisis either of European civilization, or the modern industrial society in general. Together with the enforced resettlements, population exchanges, and border adjustments during and after World War II, the Holocaust contributed to the emergence of far more ethical and cultural homogeneous nation states after 1945.
International tribunals were formed to investigate charges brought against the perpetrators of the Holocaust, first during the immediate postwar era and a second after 1957. Initially seen as one crime among others (there was no separate treatment of the Holocaust among the thirteen Nuremberg Trials), a special awareness developed over time, and was evident in cases like the Einsatzgruppen and Auschwitz trials in West Germany (1957-58, 1963) and the Eichmann trial in Israel in 1961. Although nearly 100,000 persons were under investigation for Nazi violence in the two German states, an equal number in the Soviet Union, and many in the rest of Europe, few (except in the USSR under Stalin) received substantial punishment, and the trials raised doubts as to whether legal systems can adequately respond to modern mass violence, given a general lack of documentation and the division of labor and state-level participation of the crime. However, the trials did succeed in educating the public, and in the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge about the Holocaust. Further, it provided the opportunity for symbolic atonement.
Interpretations and Controversies
Increasingly, the Holocaust has been viewed as the most important result of World War IIt is even viewed by some to be the central event of the twentieth century, though this view is confined to North America and Western Europe. Several schools of interpretation have evolved. The "internationalists" represent the dominant interpretive approach, arguing that the extermination of European Jewry was primarily based on Nazi ideology, Hitler's anti-Semitism, ordered by a central authority early in Hitler's regime, conducted within a hierarchical and homogenous system, and based on long-term, covert plans. Competing theorists, called "functionalists" or "structuralists," place less emphasis on ideology and central leadership. Instead, they suggest that the Holocaust emerged out of a political system that contained various, competing power centers with unclear or overlapping authority. They view the violence against Jews as arising out of a struggle among leaders for Hitler's favor or in anticipation of Hitler's will, which resulted in a radicalization of anti-Jewish policies. In such a view, the issuance of Holocaust orders from the central authority came late. Other scholars have pointed out the importance of a bureaucratic division of labor, or insisted that the Holocaust remains inexplicable.
Research in the 1990s and early 2000s has shown that broad intentionalist and structuralist interpretations are outdated, overly theoretical, and poorly documented. Newer studies have tried to combine elements of different approaches, acknowledging a variety of initiatives from outside the center, and offering multicausal explanations. Scholars try to link anti-Semitism with contemporary political issues such as ethnic cleansing, food policy, or the generation of political collaboration. The research of specialists has remained widely detached from comparative genocide research, although the intentionalist understanding of the term "Holocaust" often serves as the model for the notion of genocide. Interconnections between the Holocaust and other mass violence in Nazi Germany remain a matter for further research. Major areas of debate include the question of the uniqueness of the Holocaust in comparison to other cases of mass violence; the decisionmaking process and the degree of centralization in the Holocaust; the explanatory weight put on ideology, state organization, or popular participation in Germany; the role of non-German cooperation; the motives of perpetrators and organizers (including economic motives); and the significance of Jewish armed resistance as opposed to other survival strategies.
SEE ALSO Concentration Camps; Einsatzgruppen; Extermination Centers; Germany; Ghetto; Jehovah's Witnesses; SS; Statistical Analysis; Wannsee Conference
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