- When speaking about the “Holocaust,” what time period are we referring to?
Answer: The “Holocaust” refers to the murder of 6,000,000 European Jews carried out in a systematically planned and executed manner 1941 – 1945. A study of the Holocaust should also include a study of the period from 1933 when Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany until the summer of 1941 when the Einsatzgruppen massacres began. The period between summer of 1941 until 1945 is generally defined as the dates of the actual implementation of the Final Solution.
- How many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?
Answer: Six million is the round figure accepted by most authorities.
- How many non-Jewish civilians were murdered during World War II?
Answer: It is impossible to determine the exact number. Among the groups which the Nazis and their collaborators murdered and persecuted: Gypsies, resistance fighters from all the nations, German opponents of Nazism, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the physically and mentally handicapped, habitual criminals , and the “anti-social,” e.g. beggars, vagrants.
- Which Jewish communities suffered losses during the Holocaust?
Answer: Every Jewish community in Nazi-occupied Europe suffered losses during the Holocaust. Some Jewish communities in North Africa were persecuted, but the Jews in these countries were neither deported to the death camps, nor were they systematically murdered.
- How many Jews were murdered in each country and what percentage of the pre-war Jewish population did they constitute?
Answer: (Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust)
Austria 50,000 27.0% Italy 7,680 17.3% Belgium 28,900 44.0% Latvia 71,500 78.1% Bohemia/Moravia 78,150 66.1% Lithuania 143,000 85.1% Bulgaria 0 0.0% Luxembourg 1,950 55.7% Denmark 60 0.7% Netherlands 100,000 71.4% Estonia 2,000 44.4% Norway 762 44.8% Finland 7 0.3% Poland 3,000,000 90.9% France 77,320 22.1% Romania 287,000 47.1% Germany 141,500 25.0% Slovakia 71,000 79.8% Greece 67,000 86.6% Soviet Union 1,100,000 36.4% Hungary 569,000 69.0% Yugoslavia 63,300 81.2%
- What is a death camp? How many were there? Where are they located?
Answer: A death camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus specifically designed for systematic murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka. All were located in Poland.
- What does the term “Final Solution” mean and what is its origin?
Answer: The term “Final Solution” (Endlösung) refers to Germany’s plan to murder all the Jews of Europe.
- When did the “Final Solution” actually begin?
Answer: While thousands of Jews were murdered by the Nazis or died as a direct result of discriminatory measures instituted against Jews during the initial years of the Third Reich, the systematic murder of Jews did not begin until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
- How did the Germans define who was Jewish?
Answer: On November 14,1935, the Nazis issued the following definition of a Jew: Anyone with three Jewish grandparents; someone with two Jewish grandparents who belonged to the Jewish community on September 15, 1935, or joined thereafter; was married to a Jew or Jewess on September 15, 1935, or married one thereafter; was the offspring of a marriage or extramarital liaison with a Jew on or after September 15, 1935.
- How did the Germans treat those who had some Jewish blood but were not classified as Jews?
Answer: Those who were not classified as Jews but who had some Jewish blood were categorized as Mischlinge (of “mixed ancestry”) and were divided into two groups:
Mischlinge of the first degree—those with two Jewish grandparents
Mischlinge of the second degree—those with one Jewish grandparent
The Mischlinge were officially excluded from membership in the Nazi party and all Party organizations (e.g. SA, SS, etc.). Although they were drafted into the German Army, they could not attain the rank of officer. They were also barred from the civil service and from certain professions. (Individual Mischlinge were, however, granted exemptions under certain circumstances.) Nazi officials considered plans to sterilize Mischlinge, but this was never done. During World War II, first-degree Mischlinge, incarcerated in concentration camps, were deported to death camps.
- Did the Nazis plan to murder the Jews from the beginning of their regime?
Answer: This question is one of the most difficult to answer. While Hitler made several references to killing Jews, both in his early writings (Mein Kampf) and in various speeches during the 1930s, Nazi documents indicated that they had no operative plan before 1941 for a systematic annihilation of the Jews living under Nazi occupation. A turning point occurred in Nazi policy towards Jews in late winter or the early spring of 1941 in conjunction with Germany’s decision to invade the Soviet Union.
- When was the first concentration camp established and who were the first inmates?
Answer: The first concentration camp, Dachau, opened on March 22, 1933. The camp’s first inmates were not exclusively Jewish. The first to be interned were primarily political prisoners (e.g. Communists or Social Democrats); habitual criminals; homosexuals; Jehovah’s Witnesses; and “anti-socials” (beggars, vagrants). Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists, and political officials also were among the first people sent to Dachau.
- What was the difference between the persecution of the Jews and the persecution of other groups by the Nazis?
Answer: The anti-Jewish rhetoric of the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda painted Jews as “racial enemies” of the Third Reich who threatened to “destroy the Nazi society” and therefore needed to be “eliminated.” Jews were ultimately slated for total systematic annihilation. Other victims included people whose political or religious views were in opposition to the Nazis, people of “inferior” races who could be held in an inferior position socially, or people whose social behaviors excluded them from Nazi society. None of these groups were slated for total destruction by the Nazis.
- Why were the Jews singled out for extermination?
Answer: The explanation of the Nazis’ implacable hatred of the Jews rests on their distorted world view which saw history as a racial struggle. They considered the Jews a race whose goal was world domination and who, therefore, were an obstruction to Aryan dominance. They believed that all of history was a fight between races which should culminate in the triumph of the superior Aryan race. Therefore, they considered it their duty to eliminate the Jews, whom they regarded as a threat. Moreover, in their eyes, the Jews’ racial origin made them habitual criminals who could never be rehabilitated and were, therefore, hopelessly corrupt and inferior. There is no doubt that other factors contributed toward Nazi hatred of the Jews and their distorted image of the Jewish people. One factor was the centuries-old tradition of Christian anti-Semitism which propagated a negative stereotype of the Jew as a Christ-killer, agent of the devil, and practitioner of witchcraft. Another factor was the political and racial anti-Semitism of the latter half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, which singled out the Jew as both a threat and a member of an inferior race. These factors combined to point to the Jew as a target for persecution and ultimate destruction by the Nazis.
- What did people in Germany know about the persecution of Jews and other enemies of Nazism?
Answer: Certain initial aspects of Nazi persecution of Jews and other opponents were common knowledge in Germany. The Boycott of April 1, 1933, the Laws of April, and the Nuremberg Laws were fully publicized and offenders were often publicly punished and shamed. The same is true for other anti-Jewish measures. Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) was a public program, carried out in full view of the entire population. While information on the concentration camps was not publicized, a great deal of information was available to the German public, and the treatment of the inmates was generally known.
The Nazis attempted to keep the murders of Jews in the death camps and the “euthanasia” of the handicapped a secret and took precautionary measures to ensure they would not be publicized. Their efforts were only partially successful. Public protests by clergymen led to the halt of the “euthanasia” program in August 1941, so many persons were aware that the Nazis were killing the mentally ill in special institutions.
As far as the murder of Jews was concerned, it was common knowledge in Germany that they had disappeared after having been sent to the East. And, there were thousands upon thousands of Germans who participated in and/or witnessed the implementation of the “Final Solution” either as members of the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, death camp or concentration camp guards, police in occupied Europe, or with the Wehrmacht.
- Did all Germans support Hitler’s plan for the persecution of the Jews?
Answer: Although the entire German population was not in agreement with Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, there is no evidence of any large scale protest regarding their treatment. There were Germans who defied the April 1, 1933 boycott and purposely bought in Jewish stores, and a small number who helped Jews escape and hide. But even some of those who opposed Hitler were in agreement with his anti-Jewish policies.
- Did the people of occupied Europe know about Nazi plans for the Jews? What was their attitude? Did they cooperate with the Nazis against the Jews?
Answer: The attitude of the local population vis-a-vis the persecution and destruction of the Jews varied from zealous collaboration with the Nazis to some active assistance to Jews. Thus, it is difficult to make generalizations. The situation also varied from country to country. In Eastern Europe, for example, especially in Poland, Russia, and the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), there was much more knowledge of the “Final Solution” because it was implemented in those areas.
In most countries they occupied — Denmark and Italy stand out as exceptions — the Nazis found many locals who were willing to cooperate fully in the murder of the Jews. This was particularly true in Eastern Europe, where there was a long standing tradition of anti-Semitism, and where various national groups, which had been under Soviet domination (Latvians, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians), fostered hopes that the Germans would restore their independence. In several countries in Europe, there were local fascist movements which allied themselves with the Nazis and participated in anti-Jewish actions; for example, the Iron Guard in Romania and the Arrow Guard in Slovakia. On the other hand, in every country in Europe, there were courageous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews. In several countries, there were groups which aided Jews, e.g. Joop Westerweel’s group in the Netherlands, Zegota in Poland, and the Assisi underground in Italy.
- What was the response of the Allies to the persecution of the Jews? Could they have done anything to help?
Answer: The response of the Allies to the persecution and destruction of European Jewry was inadequate. Prior to 1944, little action was taken. In January 1944 the War Refugee Board was established for the express purpose of saving the victims of Nazi persecution.
Even after the establishment of the War Refugee Board and the initiation of various rescue efforts, the Allies refused to bomb Auschwitz and/or the railway lines leading to the camp, despite the fact that Allied bombers were at that time engaged in bombing factories very close to Auschwitz and were well aware of its existence and function.
Tens of thousands of Jews sought to enter the United States, but they were barred from doing so by the stringent American immigration policy. Even the relatively small quotas of visas which existed were often not filled, although the number of applicants was usually many times the number of available places. Practical measures which could have aided in the rescue of Jews included the following:
- Permission for temporary admission of refugees
- Relaxation of stringent entry requirements
- Frequent and unequivocal warnings to Germany and local populations throughout Europe that those participating in the annihilation of Jews would be held strictly accountable
- Bombing the death camp at Auschwitz
- Were Jews in the Free World aware of the persecution and destruction of European Jewry and, if so, what was their response?
Answer: Efforts by the Jewish community during the early years of the Nazi regime concentrated on facilitating emigration from Germany and combating German anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, the views on how to best achieve these goals differed and effective action was often hampered by the lack of unity within the community. Moreover, very few Jewish leaders actually realized the scope of the danger. Following the publication of the news of the “Final Solution,” attempts were made to launch rescue attempts via neutral states and to send aid to Jews under Nazi rule. These attempts, which were far from adequate, were further hampered by the lack of assistance and obstruction from government channels. Additional attempts to achieve internal unity during this period failed.
- Did the Jews in Europe realize what was going to happen to them?
Answer: Regarding the knowledge of the “Final Solution” by its potential victims, several key points must be kept in mind. The Nazis did not publicize the “Final Solution,” nor did they ever openly speak about it. Every attempt was made to fool the victims and, thereby, prevent or minimize resistance. Thus, deportees were always told that they were going to be “resettled.” They were led to believe that conditions “in the East” (where they were being sent) would be better than those in the ghettos. Following arrival in certain concentration camps, the inmates were forced to write home about the wonderful conditions in their new place of residence. The Germans made every effort to ensure secrecy. In addition, the notion that human beings—let alone the civilized Germans—could build camps with special apparatus for mass murder seemed unbelievable in those days. Since German troops liberated the Jews from the Czar in World War I, Germans were regarded by many Jews as a liberal, civilized people. Escapees who did return to the ghetto frequently encountered disbelief when they related their experiences. Even Jews who had heard of the camps had difficulty believing reports of what the Germans were doing there. Inasmuch as each of the Jewish communities in Europe was almost completely isolated, there was a limited number of places with available information. Thus, there is no doubt that many European Jews were not aware of the “Final Solution,” a fact that has been corroborated by German documents and the testimonies of survivors.
- How many Jews were able to escape from Europe prior to the Holocaust?
Answer: It is difficult to arrive at an exact figure for the number of Jews who were able to escape from Europe prior to World War II, since the available statistics are incomplete. From 1933-1939, 355,278 German and Austrian Jews left their homes. Some immigrated to countries later overrun by the Nazis. In the same period, 80,860 Polish Jews immigrated to Palestine and 51,747 European Jews arrived in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. During the years 1938-1939, approximately 35,000 emigrated from Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia). Shanghai, the only place in the world for which one did not need an entry visa, receive approximately 20,000 European Jews (mostly of German origin) who fled their homelands. Immigration figures for countries of refuge during this period are not available. In addition, many countries did not provide a breakdown of immigration statistics according to ethnic groups. It is impossible, therefore, to ascertain the exact number of Jewish refugees.
- Why were so few Jewish refugees able to flee Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II?
Answer: The key reason for the relatively low number of refugees leaving Europe prior to World War II was the stringent immigration policies adopted by the prospective host countries. In the United States, for example, the number of immigrants was limited to 153,744 per year, divided by country of origin. Moreover, the entry requirements were so stringent that available quotas were often not filled. Indeed, apart from Shanghai, China and the Dominican Republic, no countries were receptive to Jewish immigrants as a group.
Great Britain, while somewhat more liberal than the United States on the entry of immigrants, took measures to severely limit Jewish immigration to Palestine. In May 1939, the British issued a “White Paper” stipulating that only 75,000 Jewish immigrants would be allowed to enter Palestine over the course of the next five years (10,000 a year, plus an additional 25,000). This decision prevented hundreds of thousands of Jews from escaping Europe.
The countries most able to accept large numbers of refugees consistently refused to open their gates. Although a solution to the refugee problem was the agenda of the Evian Conference, only the Dominican Republic was willing to approve any immigration. The United States and Great Britain proposed resettlement havens in underdeveloped areas (e.g. Guyana, formerly British Guiana, and the Philippines), but these were not suitable alternatives.
- What was Hitler’s ultimate goal in launching World War II?
Answer: Hitler’s ultimate goal in launching World War II was the establishment of an “Aryan” empire from Germany to the Urals. He considered this area the natural territory of the German people, an area to which they were entitled by right, the Lebensraum (living space) that Germany needed so badly for its farmers to have enough soil. Hitler maintained that these areas were needed for the “Aryan” race to preserve itself and assure its dominance.
The Nazis had detailed plans for the subjugation of the Slavs, who would be reduced to serfdom status and whose primary function would be to serve as a source of cheap labor for “Aryan” farmers. Those elements of the local population, who were of “higher racial stock,” would be taken to Germany where they would be raised as “Aryans.”
When Hitler made the decision to invade the Soviet Union, he also gave instructions to embark upon the “Final Solution,” the systematic murder of European Jewry.
- Was there any opposition to the Nazis within Germany?
Answer: Throughout the course of the Third Reich, there were different groups who opposed the Nazi regime and certain Nazi policies. They engaged in resistance at different times and with various methods, aims, and scope.
From the beginning, leftist political groups and a number of disappointed conservatives were in opposition; at a later date, church groups, government officials and businessmen also joined. After the tide of the war was reversed, elements within the military played an active role in opposing Hitler. At no point, however, was there a unified resistance movement within Germany.
- Did the Jews try to fight against the Nazis? To what extent were such efforts successful?
Answer: Despite the difficult conditions to which Jews were subjected in Nazi-occupied Europe, many engaged in armed resistance against the Nazis. This resistance can be divided into three basic types of armed activities: Ghetto revolts, resistance in concentration and death camps, and partisan warfare.
The Warsaw Ghetto revolt which lasted for about five weeks beginning on April 19, 1943, is the best-known example of armed Jewish resistance, but there were many ghetto revolts in which Jews fought against the Nazis.
Despite the terrible conditions in the death, concentration, and labor camps, Jewish inmates fought against the Nazis at the following sites: Treblinka (August 2, 1943); Babi Yar (September 29, 1943); Sobibór (October 14, 1943); Janówska (November 19,1943); and Auschwitz (October 7, 1944).
Jewish partisans units were active in many areas, including Baranovich, Misk, Naliboki forest, and Vilna. While the sum total of armed resistance efforts by Jews was not militarily overwhelming and did not play a significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, these acts of resistance did lead to the rescue of an undetermined number of Jews, Nazi casualties, and untold damage to German property and self-esteem.
- What was the Judenrat?
Answer: The Judenrat was the council of Jews, appointed by the Nazis in each Jewish community or ghetto. The Judenrat was responsible for enforcement of Nazi decrees affecting Jews and administration of the affairs of the Jewish community. Leaders and members of the Judenrat were guided, for the most part, by a sense of communal responsibility, but lacked the power and the means to successfully thwart Nazi plans for annihilation of all Jews. While the intentions of the heads of councils were rarely challenged, their tactics and methods have been questioned. Among the most controversial were Mordechai Rumkowski in Lodz and Jacob Gens in Vilna, both of whom tried to justify the sacrifice of some Jews in order to save others.
- Did international organizations, such as the Red Cross, aid victims of Nazi persecution?
Answer: During the course of World War II, the International Red Cross (IRC) did very little to aid the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Its activities can basically be divided into three periods:
1. September 1939 – June 22, 1941:
The IRC confined its activities to sending food packages to those in distress in Nazi-occupied Europe. Packages were distributed in accordance with the directives of the German Red Cross. Throughout this time, the IRC complied with the German contention that those in ghettos and camps constituted a threat to the security of the Reich and, therefore, were not allowed to receive aid from IRC.
2. June 22, 1941 – Summer 1944:
Despite numerous requests by Jewish organizations, the IRC refused to publicly protest the mass annihilation of Jews and non-Jews in the camps, or to intervene on their behalf. It maintained that any public action of those under Nazi rule would ultimately prove detrimental to their welfare. At the same time, the IRC attempted to send food parcels to those individuals whose addresses it possessed.
3. Summer 1944 – May 1945:
Following intervention by such prominent figures as President Franklin Roosevelt and the King of Sweden, the IRC appealed to Miklós Horthy, Regent of Hungary, to stop the deportation of Hungarian Jews.
The IRC visited the “model ghetto” of Terezin (Theresienstadt) at the request of the Danish government. The Germans agreed to allow the visit nine months after submission of the request. This delay provided time for the Nazis to complete a “beautification” program, designed to fool the delegation into thinking that conditions at Terezin were quite good and that inmates were allowed to live out their lives in relative tranquillity. In reality, most prisoners were subsequently deported to Auschwitz.
The visit, which took place on July 23, 1944, was followed by a favorable report on Terezin to the members of the IRC. Jewish organizations protested vigorously, demanding that another delegation visit the camp. Such a visit was not permitted until shortly before the end of the war.
- How did Germany’s allies, the Japanese and Italians, treat the Jews in the lands they occupied?
Answer: Neither the Italians nor the Japanese, both of whom were Germany’s allies during World War II, cooperated regarding the “Final Solution.” Although the Italians did, upon German urging, institute discriminatory legislation against Italian Jews, Mussolini’s government refused to participate in the “Final Solution” and consistently refused to deport its Jewish residents. Moreover, in their occupied areas of France, Greece, and Yugoslavia, the Italians protected the Jews and did not allow them to be deported. However, when the Germans overthrew the Badoglio government in 1943, the Jews of Italy, as well as those under Italian protection in occupied areas, were subject to the “Final Solution.”
Until December 1941, Shanghai was an open port where Jews fleeing Nazi persecution could land without visas. After the start of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937 and until 1941, the Chinese portions of Shanghai were under Japanese occupation, as were large areas of north China. The thousands of Jewish refugees who arrived between December 1938, and summer 1939, were housed in Shanghai’s International Settlement, of which Japanese-controlled Hongkou (Hongkew) was a part. Apprehensive over the great influx, the International Settlement’s Municipal Council instituted entry controls in fall of 1939, which were reinforced with stricter measures in summer 1940. Access to Shanghai by sea nearly ceased when Italy entered the war, while Japan’s unwillingness to grant transit visas via Manchukuo prevented innumerable refugees from reaching Shanghai by land. Japanese attempts to limit the Jewish presence in predominately Japanese and Chinese Hongkou failed; cheap housing led most arrivals to settle there anyway. In 1943, after Germany had deprived its and Austria’s Jews of their citizenship, the Japanese confined these and all other stateless Jews to a segregated area, the Ghetto of Hongkou. Yet, despite overcrowding, dire food shortages, poor health, and a high mortality rate especially among the elderly, more that 20,000 Jews survived the war in Shanghai.
- What was the attitude of the churches vis-a-vis the persecution of the Jews? Did the Pope ever speak out against the Nazis?
Answer: The head of the Catholic Church at the time of the Nazi rise to power was Pope Pius XI. Throughout his reign, he limited his concern to Catholic non-Aryans. Although he stated that the myth of “race” and “blood” were contrary to Christian teaching, he neither mentioned nor criticized anti-Semitism. His successor, Pius XII (Cardinal Pacelli) was a Germanophile who maintained his neutrality throughout the course of World War II. Although as early as 1942 the Vatican received detailed information on the murder of Jews in concentration camps, the Pope confined his public statements to expressions of sympathy in a non-specific way for the victims of injustice and to calls for a more humane conduct of the war.
Despite the lack of response by Pope Pius XII, several papal nuncios played an important role in rescue efforts, particularly the nuncios in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. It is not clear to what, if any, extent they operated upon instructions from the Vatican. In Germany, the Catholic Church did not oppose the Nazis’ anti-Semitic campaign. Church records were supplied to state authorities which assisted in the detection of people of Jewish origin, and efforts to aid the persecuted were confined to Catholic non-Aryans. While Catholic clergymen protested the Nazi euthanasia program, few, with the exception of Bernard Lichtenberg, spoke out against the murder of Jews.
In Western Europe, Catholic clergy spoke out publicly against the persecution of the Jews and actively helped in the rescue of Jews. In Eastern Europe, however, the Catholic clergy was generally more reluctant to help. Dr. Jozef Tiso, the head of state of Slovakia and a Catholic priest, actively cooperated with the Germans as did many other Catholic priests.
The response of Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches varied. In Germany, Nazi supporters within Protestant churches complied with the anti-Jewish legislation and even excluded Christians of Jewish origin from membership. Pastor Martin Niemöller’s Confessing Church defended the rights of Christians of Jewish origin within the church, but did not publicly protest their persecution, nor did it condemn the measures taken against the Jews, with the exception of a memorandum sent to Hitler in May 1936.
In occupied Europe, the position of the Protestant churches varied. In several countries (Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway) local churches and/or leading clergymen issued public protests when the Nazis began deporting Jews. In other countries (Bulgaria, Greece, and Yugoslavia), Orthodox church leaders intervened on behalf of the Jews and took steps which, in certain cases, led to the rescue of many Jews.
Non-Catholic leaders in Austria, Belgium, Bohemia-Moravia, Finland, Italy, Poland, and the Soviet Union did not issue any public protests on behalf of the Jews.
- How many Nazi criminals were there? How many were brought to justice?
Answer: We do not know the exact number of Nazi criminals since the available documentation is incomplete. The Nazis themselves destroyed many incriminating documents and there are still many criminals who are unidentified and/or unindicted.
Those who committed war crimes include those individuals who initiated, planned and directed the killing operations, as well as those with whose knowledge, agreement, and passive participation the murder of European Jewry was carried out.
Those who actually implemented the “Final Solution” include the leaders of Nazi Germany, the heads of the Nazi Party, and the Reich Security Main Office. Also included are hundreds of thousands of members of the Gestapo, the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, the police and the armed forces, as well as those bureaucrats who were involved in the persecution and destruction of European Jewry. In addition, there were thousands of individuals throughout occupied Europe who cooperated with the Nazis in killing Jews and other innocent civilians.
We do not have complete statistics on the number of criminals brought to justice, but the number is certainly far less than the total of those who were involved in the “Final Solution.” The leaders of the Third Reich, who were caught by the Allies, were tried by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. Afterwards, the Allied occupation authorities continued to try Nazis, with the most significant trials held in the American zone (the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings). In total, 5,025 Nazi criminals were convicted between 1945-1949 in the American, British and French zones. In addition, the United Nations War Crimes Commission prepared lists of war criminals who were later tried by the judicial authorities of Allied countries and those countries under Nazi rule during the war. The latter countries have conducted a large number of trials regarding crimes committed in their lands. The Polish tribunals, for example, tried approximately 40,000 persons, and large numbers of criminals were tried in other countries. In all, about 80,000 Germans have been convicted for committing crimes against humanity, while the number of local collaborators is in the tens of thousands. Special mention should be made of Simon Wiesenthal, whose activities led to the capture of more than one thousand Nazi criminals.
- What were the Nuremberg Trials?
Answer: The term “Nuremberg Trials” refers to two sets of trials of Nazi war criminals conducted after the war. The first trials were held November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946, before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which was made up of representatives of France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. It consisted of the trials of the political, military and economic leaders of the Third Reich captured by the Allies. Among the defendants were: Göring, Rosenberg, Streicher, Kaltenbrunner, Seyss-Inuart, Speer, Ribbentrop and Hess (many of the most prominent Nazis—Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels—committed suicide and were not brought to trial). The second set of trials, known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings, was conducted before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT), established by the Office of the United States Government for Germany (OMGUS). While the judges on the NMT were American citizens, the tribunal considered itself to be international. Twelve high-ranking officials were tried, among whom were cabinet ministers, diplomats, doctors involved in medical experiments, and SS officers involved in crimes in concentration camps or in genocide in Nazi-occupied areas.