The Holocaust: A Timeline:

  • 1935: Anti-Semitism is enshrined as law in Germany according to the Nuremberg Laws. According to these laws, Jewish status now meant that one was considered to be a second-class citizen.[1]
  • 1937: Anti-Semitic propaganda escalates. Concentration camps start to appear.
  • 1938: Germany invades Austria and Czechoslovakia, ensuring that more people would face persecution.[2] The Krisnallacht destroys the businesses and even lives of hundreds of Jews in November.
  • 1939: The Nazis plan to deport Jews in Germany to Poland, which was at the time one of their newly invaded territories. Thousands of Jewish poles were executed, perhaps as one of the first major indications of what was awaiting German Jews arriving in Poland.
  • 1940: Concentration camps were created and reserved specifically for Jewish prisoners in some areas of Nazi territory.
  • 1941: “The Final Solution” is implemented. It was at this time that policy regarding the treatment of Jews in Nazi territory moved from emphasizing containment and deportation to intentional mass murder.

 

Labeling and Identifying Minorities:

The Nazi genocide project in action started as mere identification.

The following diagram depicts the varying configurations of patches which were used for labeling different ethnic and religious minorities who were demonized and subsequently tormented by the Nazi party. The striped shirt and pants displayed on the bottom right corner of the document demonstrates the placement of the patches on the uniforms of those who were admitted to the Nazi death camps:

nazi_camp_marks-th1

Photo Credit: https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/03/07/ethnicity-sexuality-and-nationalism/

This diagram suggests that Jews (yellow triangles), homosexuals (pink), immigrants (blue), Poles (P), Gypsies (brown), political dissenters (red), criminals (green), Jehovah’s Witnesses (purple), Czechs (T), and anti-socials (black) were the most frequent categories used in the identification process of those who were deemed undesirable by the Nazi party.

Perhaps the most iconic symbols of the above graph are the jumpsuits themselves, which were typically white and blue striped, often threadbare, and worn by all who were interned in the various camps created by the Third Reich for the purposes of housing (or, perhaps more accurately, storing) the “undesirables” of the above diagram. The map below illustrates exactly where some of these housing locations existed:

WW2-Holocaust-Poland

Photo Credit: http://www.nplainfield.org/domain/988

Some of these camps functioned primarily as forced labor camps, where strong males were favored so that they would be able to work for greater periods of time, and under harsher conditions, before physical collapse. However, the purpose was not to facilitate their preservation, but rather to ensure the efficiency of the Nazi production machine for as long as possible.

Other camps, however, focused primarily on extermination initiatives.


[1] “The Holocaust Year by Year,” BBC.com, last modified 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/z86nfg8

[2] Ibid.

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