which demanded absolute obedience from everyone, to the Führer, Adolf Hitler. By utilising a highly developed network of people and organisations, and establishing a personality cult around himself, Hitler ensured that his will was carried out. HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 134 Adolf Hitler used his antisemitic platform to indoctrinate his people. In 1936, the Hitlerjugend (HJ) or Hitler Youth was established and every boy or girl between the ages of ten and eighteen often faced great social pressure to join. Members were organized into two age groups: ages 10-14 and 14-18 and divided into military units. The purpose of the HJ was to shape the young generation into obedient Nazis and make sure the boys would be fit soldiers when they became old enough. Children and adolescents in HJ camps learned to use weapons, built up their physical strength, learned war strategies, and were taught to believe antisemitic and hateful things about Jews. Members of the Hitler Youth wore military-like uniforms. Being part of the HJ gave members a sense of pride, strength, belonging, and importance. It also positioned its members to be the future leaders of the National Socialist movement. The girls belonged to the Bund deutscher Mädel (BdM) or League of German Girls and were taught to be the ideal Nazi woman—obedient, self-sacrificing, dutiful, and physically fit. They were also trained to hate Jews and become mothers of superior German or Aryan children. Frequently, HJ and BdM programs and activities replaced formal education in school and HJ members obeyed their leader instead of their parents. In some cases, this caused great tension and strife between parents and children, destroying family relationships. Baldur von Schirach, the head of the Hitler Youth, told children that their first loyalty was to Hitler and the Nazi state and not to their families. Starting with the youth, National Socialism sought to re-define German society and mold it into its own self-serving interests. Professions such as teaching, medicine and legal professionals each had their own National Socialist leagues that supported the Nazi regime and further disseminated Nazi ideology. National Socialism permeated all areas of German society and enabled hundreds of thousands of men and women to carry out the Holocaust. This is important to know and teach because: Students must not be misled into thinking that the Holocaust was the result of the actions of one man, Adolf Hitler. They must understand the Nazi hierarchy and bureaucracy that enabled the Holocaust to occur. They must realize that there were people, Germans and collaborators from other countries — who made each step of the Holocaust possible. Germans
oycotted Jewish-owned businesses during the one-day boycott on April 1, 1933, just three months after Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933. Germans and collaborators from other countries informed on their Jewish neighbours to the local Nazi authorities. Germans and collaborators from other countries willingly took part in the murder of innocent Jewish men, women, and children. 12 How can we blame the Nazis and their collaborators when Hitler invaded their countries too. I mean, if they hadn’t done what Hitler said, they and their families would have been killed, too. Asked by: Madison, Catholic school, Grade 9 It is vitally important to understand that how the Nazis treated people varied according to the time period, the place, and the circumstances. German nationals, and western Europeans were treated differently from eastern Europeans and Slavs. Generally, in western Europe, they treated the local populations with milder policies. This is partially due to the racial pseudo-science that Nazism promoted. They considered countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Nordic countries as related to them according to their so-called Aryan ideology. In contrast, the Nazis treatment of Slavic nations was particularly harsh as they considered them to be of inferior ethnicity. The Nazis enacted a policy of “collective punishment” in Poland and the Czech lands in retaliation for those who resisted. Yet in Denmark, where many ordinary Danes worked to ferry Danish Jews to neutral Sweden thereby avoiding deportation, there were no repercussions. Similarly, German military officers and medical personnel who refused to carry out orders were assigned to other units. Like most topics related to the Holocaust, there are no simple answers. Rather, a complex set of circumstances existed which individuals navigated according to their own moral compasses, their own set of particular circumstances, and their belief systems. 135 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE Despite such treatment, resistance movements (Jewish and non-Jewish partisans) arose in Nazi-occupied countries. Most were ill-equipped to directly take on the powerful German military, so they engaged in acts of sabotage and subterfuge in order to resist. Some ordinary citizens provided shelter and aid to Jews, and some including Bishop von Galen of Münster, Germany protested the so-called “euthanasia” program. Studying the Nazi-occupation of Europe leads to the discovery of a wide range of responses.