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History

War and its impact on life in Germany, 1939-1947

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How was life affected during the war years?

How Jews were treated during the war years

As Germany invaded Poland in 1939, three million Jews came under Germany's control. This is how Germany dealt with the Jewish people.

Developing ghettos

Poland – Ghettos were developed in Warsaw and Lodz. Jews weren't allowed to leave a part of the city – soldiers and barbed wire prevented them. Around 500,000 died as a result of disease and starvation.

The Jewish population was increasing, and the Nazis used them to work in factories.

Ghettos in occupied Europe.

Ghettos in occupied Europe.

Special operation squads

As Germany went into Russia in June 1941, even more Jews came under the Nazis’ control. One of the sections of the SS, called the Einsatzgruppen, was used to gather Jews, shoot them and throw them into mass graves. Around 750,000 were killed in this way. In the eyes of the Nazis, this process was too slow for them to be able to deal with the number of Jews they had under their control.

The reasons for the Final Solution and its implementation

In July 1941, Goering ordered Heydrich to prepare a plan to find the Final Solution to the problem. The result was the construction of concentration camps.

On 20 January 1942, at a Conference in Wannsse, Berlin, Himmler was given the task of extending the concentration camps and developing more effective ways of dealing with the problem. Therefore, gas chambers were constructed in camps such as Sobibor, Treblinka, Maidank and Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.

The German concentration camps.

The German concentration camps.

In Auschwitz I it was possible to put 700-800 Jews in one gas chamber, and Auschwitz-Birkenau's chambers were even bigger. It would take between three and 15 minutes for them to be killed. The Nazis killed 6 million Jews – this was the Holocaust. The gas used in the chambers was called Zyklon B.

A map indicating Jewish deaths.

A map indicating Jewish deaths.

Document

The Final Solution (PDF file 460 kb)

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