Responsibility for the Holocaust

Responsibility for the Holocaust

Historians differ as to where the responsibility for the Holocaust lies. Intentionalist historians such as Lucy Dawidowicz argue that Hitler planned the extermination of the Jewish people from as early as 1918, and that he personally oversaw its execution. Functionalists such as Raul Hilberg have argued that the extermination plans evolved in stages, as a result of initiatives from bureaucrats who were responding to other policy failures.

Reflections on motivation and the issue of responsibility

Historical and philosophical interpretations

The enormity of the Holocaust has prompted much analysis. Hannah Arendt, in her 1963 report on Adolf Eichmann, presented him as a symbol of dull obedience to authority in what was at first seen as a scandalous book, "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" (1963), which has since become a classic of political philosophy. Thus, Arendt opposed herself to the first, immediate, explanation, which accused the Nazis of "cruelty" and of "sadism". Many people who participated in the Holocaust were normal people, according to Arendt, and that is the real scandal. This led Stanley Milgram's to conduct psychological experiences on obedience, opening up the way to understanding the psychological experiences of "authority" and charisma. The question of charisma was renewed by Gustave Le Bon's 19th century studies about crowd psychology. Thus, his work acquired new force, although Hitler himself had been inspired by Le Bon's description of propaganda techniques to write "Mein Kampf". Furthermore, Hannah Arendt and some authors such as Sven Lindqvist and Olivier LeCour Grandmaison tried to point toward a relative continuity between the crimes committed against "primitive" people during colonialism and the Holocaust. They most notably argued that many techniques that the Nazis industrialized had been experimented on in other continents, starting with the concentration camps invented during the Second Boer War if not before. This thesis was met with fierce opposition by some groups who argued that nothing could be compared to the Holocaust, not even other genocides: although the Herero genocide (1904–1907) and the Armenian genocide (1915–1917) are commonly considered the first genocides in the 20th century, many argued that the Holocaust had taken proportions that even these crimes against humanity had not achieved.

The Holocaust was indeed characterized by an industrial project of extermination; compared to it, other genocides seemed to lack "professionalism". This led authors such as Enzo Traverso to argue in "The Origins of Nazi Violence" that Auschwitz was "an authentic product of Western civilization". [ See also Enzo Traverso, [ "Nazism’s roots in European culture—Production line of murder"] in "Le Monde diplomatique", February 2005 ] Beginning his book with a description of the guillotine, which according to him marks the entry of the Industrial Revolution into capital punishment, and writes: "Through an irony of history, the theories of Frederick Taylor" (taylorism) were applied by a totalitarian system to serve "not production, but extermination." (see also Heidegger's comments). In the wake of Hannah Arendt, Traverso describes the colonial domination during the New Imperialism period through "rational organization", which lead in a number of cases to extermination. However, this argument, which insists on the industrialization and technical rationality through which the Holocaust itself was carried out (the organization of trains, technical details, etc. — see Adolf Eichmann's bureaucratic work), was in turn opposed by other people. These point out that the 1994 Rwandan genocide only used machetes.

Others have presented the Holocaust as a product of German history, analyzing its deep roots in German society: "German authoritarianism, feeble liberalism, brash nationalism or virulent anti-Semitism. From A. J. P. Taylor's "The Course of German History" fifty-five years ago to Daniel Goldhagen's recent "Hitler's Willing Executioners", Nazism is understood as the outcome of a long history of uniquely German traits", writes Russell Jacoby. [ [ "Savage Modernism"] , Russell Jacoby, "The Nation", October 13, 2003 issue ] Furthermore, while many pointed out that the specificity of the Holocaust was also rooted in the constant antisemitism from which Jews had been the target since the foundation of Christianity (and the myth of the "deicide people"), others underlined that in the 19th century, pseudo-scientific racist theories had been elaborated in order to justify, in a general way, white supremacy. In his works on "biopolitics", philosopher Michel Foucault also traced the origins of "state racism" to the eugenicist policies invented during the 19th century. (One of the few compliments that Foucault accorded to Freud's psychoanalysis was that Freud adamantly opposed such a project of "racial hygiene".)

Who authorized the killings?

Hitler authorized the mass killing of those labelled by the Nazis as "undesirables" in the T-4 Euthanasia Program. Hitler encouraged the killings of the Jews of Eastern Europe by the "Einsatzgruppen" death squads in a speech in July, 1941, though he almost certainly approved the mass shootings earlier (the Einsatzgruppen death squads to be used in Operation Barbarossa were formed in early spring of 1941). A mass of evidence suggests that sometime in the fall of 1941, Himmler and Hitler agreed in principle on the complete mass extermination of the Jews of Europe by gassing, with Hitler explicitly ordering the "annihilation of the Jews" in a speech on December 12, 1941 (see Final Solution), by which time the Jewish populations in the Baltic states had been effectively eliminated. To make for smoother intra-governmental cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution" to the "Jewish Question", the Wannsee conference was held near Berlin on January 20 1942, with the participation of fifteen senior officials, led by Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann, the records of which provide the best evidence of the central planning of the Holocaust. Just five weeks later on February 22, Hitler was recorded saying "We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jew" to his closest associates.Nevertheless, no written order from Hitler exists.

Arguments that no documentation links Hitler to "the Holocaust" ignore the records of his speeches kept by Nazi leaders such as Joseph Goebbels and rely on artificially limiting the Holocaust to exclude what we do have documentation on, such as the T-4 Euthanasia Program and the Kristallnacht pogrom.

Who knew about the killings?

Some claim that the full extent of what was happening in German-controlled areas was not known until after the war. However, even though Hitler did not talk about the camps in public, numerous rumors and eyewitness accounts from escapees and others gave some indication that Jews were being killed in large numbers. Since the early years of the war, the Polish government-in-exile published documents and organised meetings to spread word of the fate of the Jews (see Witold Pilecki). By early 1941, the British had received information via an intercepted Chilean memo that Jews were being targeted, and by late 1941 they had intercepted information about a number of large massacres of Jews conducted by German police.Fact|date=January 2007 In an entry in the Friedrich Kellner diary, "My Opposition," dated October 28, 1941, the German justice inspector recorded a conversation he had in Laubach with a German soldier who had witnessed a massacre in Poland. Other entries in his diary clearly show the people of Germany were aware from the beginning of the atrocities. Churchill, who was privy to intelligence reports derived from decoded German transmissions, first began mentioning "mass killings" in public at the same time. In the summer of 1942, a Jewish labor organization (the Bund) got word to London that 700,000 Polish Jews had already died, and the BBC took the story seriously, though the United States State Department did not. [Richard Breitman, " [ What Diplomats Learned about the Holocaust] ," US National Archives (accessed August 30, 2005).] In the United States, in November of 1942, a telegram from Europe which contained word about Hitler's plans was released by Stephen Wise of the World Jewish Congress, after a long wait for permission from the government. [Robert S. Wistrich: Hitler and the Holocaust. Chapter 7. London 2001.] This led to attempts by Jewish organizations to put Roosevelt under pressure to act on behalf of the European Jews, many of whom had tried in vain to enter either Britain or the U.S.

On December 17, 1942, however, after receiving a detailed eyewitness account from Jan Karski, the Allies issued a formal declaration confirming and condemning Nazi extermination policy toward the Jews. [ [ When did the American press first report on the "Final Solution"?] (USHMM Research Library). Accessed 2006-08-17] ["11 Allies Condemn Nazi War on Jews: United Nations Issue Joint Declaration of Protest on 'Cold-Blooded Extermination'". New York Times, 18 December 1942, pp.1, 10.] The US State Department was aware of the use and the location of the gas chambers of extermination camps, but refused pleas to bomb them out of operation. On May 12, 1943, Polish government-in-exile and Bund leader Szmul Zygielbojm committed suicide in London to protest the inaction of the world with regard to the Holocaust, stating in part in his suicide letter:

Quotation|I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being killed. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave.

By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.

The death camps were discussed between American and British leaders at the Bermuda Conference in April of 1943. The large camps near Auschwitz were finally surveyed by plane in April of 1944, many months after the German air force ceased to be a serious danger. While all important German cities and production centers were bombed by Allied forces until the end of the war, no attempt was made to collapse the system of mass annihilation by destroying pertinent structures or train tracks, even though Churchill was a proponent of bombing parts of the Auschwitz complex. Throughout the war, Britain also pressed European leaders to prevent "illegal" Jewish immigration and sent ships to block the sea-route to Palestine (from which Britain withdrew in 1948), turning back many refugees. [Robert S. Wistrich: Hitler and the Holocaust. Chapter 7. London 2001.]

Debate also continues on how much average Germans knew about the Holocaust. Recent historical work suggests that the majority of Germans knew that Jews were being indiscriminately killed and persecuted but they did not know about the Final Solution and the specifics of the death camps. Robert Gellately, a historian at Oxford University, conducted a widely-respected survey of the German media before and during the war, concluding that there was "substantial consent and active participation of large numbers of ordinary Germans" in aspects of the Holocaust, and documenting that the sight of columns of slave laborers were common, and that the basics of the concentration camps, if not the extermination camps, were widely known. [Robert Gellately: Backing Hitler. Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press, 2001 ISBN 0192802917 - [ Review by Simon Miller] ]

Other scholars, like Peter Longerich, have argued that most Germans did not know about the mass-murders as they were occurring. [Longerich, Peter: Davon haben wir nichts gewusst! Die Deutschen und die Judenverfolgung 1933-1945. Siedler Verlag, München 2006. ISBN 3886808432 ] . There was an order to keep the Final Solution a secret (under death penalty) among the estimated 300,000 persons involved in implementing the plan. Helmuth James Graf von Moltke gives an estimation of less than a tenth of the population in 1943 [ "mindestens neun Zehntel der Bevölkerung weiß nicht, daß wir Hunderttausende von Juden umgebracht haben. Man glaubt weiterhin, sie seien lediglich abgesondert worden und führten etwa dasselbe Leben wie zuvor, nur weiter im Osten, woher sie stammten, vielleicht etwas armseliger, aber ohne Luftangriffe.", Moltke's letter to Lionel Curtis, 23. March 1943] . There were rumours of gas chambers.

Who carried out the killings?

A wide range of German soldiers, officials, and civilians were in some way involved in the Holocaust, from clerks and officials in the government to units of the army, the police, and the SS. Many ministries, including those of armaments, interior, justice, railroads, and foreign affairs, had substantial roles in orchestrating the Holocaust; similarly, German physicians participated in medical experiments and the T-4 euthanasia program. And, though there was no single military unit in charge of the Holocaust, the SS under Himmler was the closest. From the SS came the Totenkopfverbände concentration camp guards, the Einsatzgruppen killing squads, and many of the administrative offices behind the Holocaust. The Wehrmacht, or regular German army, participated directly far less than the SS in the Holocaust (though it did directly take part in the massacre of some Jews in Russia, Serbia, Poland, and Greece), but it supported the Einsatzgruppen, helped form the ghettos, ran prison camps, occasionally provided concentration camp guards, transported prisoners to camps, had experiments performed on prisoners, and substantially used slave labor.

German police units, all under the control of the Nazis during the war, also directly participated in the Holocaust; for example, Reserve Police Battalion 101, in just over a year, shot 38,000 Jews and deported 45,000 more to the extermination camps. [Donald L Niewyk, "The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust," Columbia University Press, 200, p 83-87. For Reserve Police 101 see Browning, Christopher R., Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York, Harper Collins, 1992] Even private firms helped in the machinery of the Holocaust. Nazi bankers at the Paris branch of Barclays Bank volunteered the names of their Jewish employees to Nazi authorities, and many of them ended up in the death camps. [cite news|url= | title=British bank implicated in Nazi dealings | first=Douglas | last = Davis | work=Jewish News of Greater Phoenix | date=1999-04-02| accessdate=2007-01-23]


Stanley Milgram was one of a number of post-war psychologists and sociologists who tried to address why people obeyed immoral orders in the Holocaust. Milgram's findings demonstrated that reasonable people, when instructed by a person in a position of authority, obeyed commands entailing what they believed to be the suffering of others. These results were confirmed in other experiments as well, such as the Stanford prison experiment. In his book "Mass Psychology of Fascism" (1933), Wilhelm Reich also tried to explain this obedience. The work became known as the foundation of Freudo-Marxism. Nobel prize winner Elias Canetti also addressed the problem of mass obedience in "Masse und Macht" (1960—"Crowds and Power"), developing an original theory of the consequences of commands both in the obedient person and in the commander, who may well become a "despotic paranoiac". Two recent "experiments", one called The Third Wave and one conducted by Jane Elliott, tried to answer the question of: "How can a people be a part of something terrible and then claim at the demise that they were not really involved?"

Herding and other factors

The Holocaust is a clear example of two factors at work. One is described by the "boiling frog" theory, which says that an enormous change will not be noticed if it occurs in gradual steps. The other factor is the primal and powerful mechanism of herding, which has its home in the limbic system and ensures that individuals conform to the group. This mechanism has evolved through natural selection to ensure that human groups survive. Together, these factors make conforming to the group a stronger impulse than breaking out, even if the individual does not agree with what the group is doing. So long as the gradual changes in group behaviour are small, herding can eventually take the group towards a state that is far removed from past behavior and is more and more extreme. Thus, participants in the Holocaust may have privately felt horror or disgust at what they were ordered to do but stayed in line with the group. These effects have been exploited many times in history by demagogues and revolutionaries; they are also seen in bullying. [ [ Bullying in Schools] - URL retrieved September 2, 2006]

Studies of mass psychology, kick-started by Carl Jung but currently being developed under various labels, suggest that the causal mechanism for crowd behaviour is the reverse of what is commonly believed. The socionomic perspective says that, rather than persecution making people fearful and downtrodden, fearful and downtrodden people look for someone to persecute.Prechter, Robert R., Jr. 2000. "The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics". New Classics Library. ISBN 0-932750-49-4.]

The Jungian-socionomic analysis says that after the humiliation of World War I, the economic ruin of the Weimar Republic, being forced to pay war reparations and the Great Depression, it was natural for the German people to become angry and look for someone on whom to vent their anger; herding behaviour amplifed this anger and the Holocaust was the result.

Religious hatred and racism

The Nazis considered it their duty to overcome natural compassion and execute orders for what they believed to be higher ideals. Crowd psychology has attempted to explain such heinous acts, although Gustave Le Bon's "The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind" (1895) was also a major influence of "Mein Kampf", in particular relating to the propaganda techniques described in it. Sadistic acts were perhaps most notable in the case of the genocide committed by members of the Ustashe, whose enthusiasm and sadism in their killings of Serbs appalled Germans, Italians, and even German SS officers, who even acted to restrain the Ustashe. However, concentration camp literature, such as the writings of Primo Levi and Robert Antelme, describe numerous individual sadistic acts, including some committed by Kapos.

Martin Luther (a German leader of the Protestant Reformation) made a specific written call for harsh persecution of the Jewish people, including that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, prayerbooks destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. Luther argued that Jews should be shown no mercy or kindness, should have no legal protection, and that these "poisonous envenomed worms" should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time. "Martin Luther's On the Jews and Their Lies" American historian Lucy Dawidowicz, concluded that the line of "anti-Semitic descent" from Luther to Hitler is "easy to draw," in her book "The War Against the Jews, 1933–1945". Adolf Hitler wrote of his admiration of Martin Luther in "Mein Kampf" [ "Mein Kampf"] .

Some authors, such as liberal philosopher Hannah Arendt in "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (1951), Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist or French historian Olivier LeCour Grandmaison have also linked the Holocaust to colonialism. They argue that techniques put in place during the New Imperialism period (first of all, concentration camps during the Boer War), as well as the pseudo-scientific theories elaborated during this period (e.g. Arthur de Gobineau's 1853 "Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races") had been fundamental in preparing the conditions of possibility of the Holocaust. Others authors have adamantly opposed these views, on behalf of the "unicity" of the Holocaust, compared to any other type of genocide.Fact|date=January 2007 Philosopher Michel Foucault also traced the origins of the Holocaust and of "racial policies" to what he called "state racism", which is a part of "biopolitics".

Finally, many have pointed the ancient roots of antisemitism, which has been present in the Western world since the foundation of Christianity. These sentiments were not different in pre-war Germany than elsewhere, but the Nazis were the first political party to organize, promote, and officialize antisemitism, while withdrawing legal protection from Jews. Modern efforts at ecumenism, in particular by the Roman Catholic Church which has asked the Jews for a pardon, are being made in order to avoid a repetition of such acts.

Functionalism versus intentionalism

A major issue in contemporary Holocaust studies is the question of "functionalism" versus "intentionalism". The terms were coined in a 1981 article by the British Marxist historian Timothy Mason to describe two schools of thought about the origins of the Holocaust.

Intentionalists hold that the Holocaust was the result of a long-term masterplan on the part of Hitler, and that he was the driving force behind it. Functionalists hold that Hitler was antisemitic, but that he did not have a masterplan for genocide. They see the Holocaust as coming from the ranks of the German bureaucracy, with little or no involvement on the part of Hitler.

Intentionalists such as Lucy Dawidowicz argue that the Holocaust was planned by Hitler from the very beginning of his political career, at least from November 11, 1918. Other intentionalists, such as Andreas Hillgruber, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Gerhard Weinberg, and Klaus Hildebrand, have suggested that Hitler had decided upon the Holocaust sometime in the early 1920s. More recent intentionalist historians like Eberhard Jäckel continue to emphasize the relative earliness of the decision to kill the Jews, although they are not willing to say that Hitler planned the Holocaust from the beginning. Saul Friedländer has argued that Hitler was an extreme antisemite from 1919 on, but that he did not decide upon genocide until the middle of 1941. Yet another group of intentionalist historians, such as the American Arno J. Mayer, argue that Hitler first ordered the Holocaust in December 1941.

Functionalists such as Hans Mommsen, Martin Broszat, Götz Aly, Raul Hilberg, and Christopher Browning hold that the Holocaust was started in 1941–1942 as a result of the failure of the Nazi deportation policy and the impending military losses in Russia. They argue that what some see as extermination fantasies outlined in Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and other Nazi literature were simply propaganda and did not constitute concrete plans. In "Mein Kampf", Hitler repeatedly states his inexorable hatred of the Jewish people, but nowhere does he proclaim his intention to exterminate them.

They argue that, in the 1930s, Nazi policy aimed at making life so unpleasant for German Jews that they would leave Germany. Adolf Eichmann was in charge of facilitating Jewish emigration by whatever means possible from 1937 until October 3, 1941, when German Jews were forbidden to leave, Reinhard Heydrich issuing an order to that effect. Functionalists see the SS's support in the late 1930s for Zionist groups as the preferred solution to the "Jewish Question" as another sign that there was no masterplan for genocide. The SS only ceased their support for German Zionist groups in May 1939 when Joachim von Ribbentrop informed Hitler of it, and Hitler ordered Himmler to cease and desist, because the creation of Israel was not a goal Hitler thought worthy of German foreign policy.

In particular, functionalists have argued that, in German documents from 1939 to 1941, the term "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was meant to be a "territorial solution"; that is, the entire Jewish population was to be expelled somewhere far from Germany. At first, the SS planned to create a gigantic Jewish reservation in the Lublin, Poland area, but the so-called "Lublin Plan" was vetoed by Hans Frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland, who refused to allow the SS to ship any more Jews to the Lublin area after November 1939. The reason Frank vetoed the "Lublin Plan" was not due to any humane motives, but rather because he was opposed to the SS "dumping" Jews into the Government-General. In 1940, the SS and the German Foreign Office had the so-called "Madagascar Plan" to deport the entire Jewish population of Europe to a "reservation" on Madagascar. The "Madagascar Plan" was canceled because Germany could not defeat the UK and until the British blockade was broken, the "Madagascar Plan" could not be put into effect. Finally, functionalist historians have made much of a memorandum written by Himmler in May 1940 explicitly rejecting extermination of the entire Jewish people as "un-German" and going on to recommend to Hitler the "Madagascar Plan" as the preferred "territorial solution" to the "Jewish Question". Not until July 1941 did the term "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" come to mean extermination.

Recently, a synthesis of the two schools has emerged that has been championed by diverse historians such as the Canadian historian Michael Marrus, the Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer, and the British historian Ian Kershaw that contends that Hitler was the driving force behind the Holocaust, but that he did not have a long-term plan and that much of the initiative for the Holocaust came from below in an effort to meet Hitler's perceived wishes.

Another controversy was started by the historian Daniel Goldhagen in 1997, who argues that ordinary Germans were knowing and willing participants in the Holocaust, which he writes had its roots in a deep eliminationist German antisemitism. [Goldhagen, Daniel. "Hitler's Willing Executioners". Abascus, 1997.] Historians who disagree with Goldhagen's thesis argue that, while antisemitism undeniably existed in Germany, Goldhagen's idea of a uniquely German "eliminationist" version is untenable, and that the extermination was unknown to many and had to be enforced by the Nazi apparatus.



The discredited revisionist writer David Irving, in his book "Hitler's War" (1977), devotes a great deal of effort to showing that there is no documentary evidence that Hitler ordered the killing of the Jews, or even that he knew of it. "Hitler was a pragmatist," he writes. "It would have been unlike him to sanction the use of scarce transport to millions of Jews east for no other purpose than liquidating them there; nor would he willingly destroy manpower." Fact|date=May 2007 Few other historians or Hitler biographers share this view. Most take the view that Hitler was the opposite of a pragmatist: his overriding obsession was hatred of the Jews, and he showed on a number of occasions that he was willing to risk losing the war to achieve their destruction.

There is no "smoking gun" in the form of a document which shows Hitler ordering the Final Solution. This is not surprising. Hitler did not have a bureaucratic mind and many of his most important instructions were given orally. Irving cites several cases in which Himmler ordered written reports that referred directly to the killing of the Jews to be redrafted before showing them to Hitler.

There is ample documentary evidence that Hitler authorized the mass deportations of the Jews to the east beginning in October 1941. He cannot have imagined that these hundreds of thousands of Jews would be housed, clothed and fed by the authorities of the Government-General, and in fact Hans Frank frequently complained that he could not cope with the influx. Even Irving concedes that after Himmler's speech at Posen in October 1943, Hitler must have known what was happening.

According to historian Paul Johnson, although the Holocaust involved a great deal of bureacracy, "all key decisions emanated from Hitler." Excerpts from the diary of Joseph Goebbels and Rudolf Hoess also indicate that Hitler gave oral instructions for the extermination of the Jews.

Other Nazi leaders

The handful of men who actually carried out the extermination of millions of people included Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Heinrich Müller of the Gestapo, and Oswald Pohl, head of the Economics and Main Administration Office (WVHA) of the SS. Sauckel, Hans Frank, the Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and the Labor Minister Robert Ley also played key roles. Other top Nazi leaders such as Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, and probably Martin Bormann knew in broad terms what was happening. Göring made some efforts to save the skilled Jewish workforce, but his motives were exclusively pragmatic and he did not press his objections. Fact|date=May 2007

The Nazi regime operated through vertical hierarchies. Officials carried out orders from above and did not ask questions about what was happening elsewhere. Only those at the very top had a broad view of what was going on across the German empire. But most senior SS officers and many officials of the various Reich ministries must have known in whole or in part what was happening. Millions of people were rounded up, bureaucratically processed and transported across Europe, an operation involving thousands of officials and a great deal of paperwork. This was co-ordinated by the Reich ministries, the police, and the national railways, as well as the SS and the Gestapo, all under the supervision of the Nazi Party. Most of the Party's regional leaders (Gauleiters) were present for Himmler's Posen speech. None of these people could plead ignorance after the event, although many did so.

Legal proceedings against Nazis

The juridical notion of crimes against humanity was developed following the Holocaust. The sheer number of people murdered and the transnational nature of the mass killing shattered any notion of national sovereignty taking precedence over international law when prosecuting these crimes. There were a number of legal efforts established to bring Nazis and their collaborators to justice. Some of the higher ranking Nazi officials were tried as part of the Nuremberg Trials, presided over by an Allied court; the first international tribunal of its kind. In total, 5,025 Nazi criminals were convicted between 1945–1949 in the American, British and French zones of Germany Fact|date=February 2007. Other trials were conducted in the countries in which the defendants were citizens — in West Germany and Austria, many Nazis were let off with light sentences, with the claim of "following orders" ruled a mitigating circumstance, and many returned to society soon afterwards.

An ongoing effort to pursue Nazis and collaborators resulted, famously, in the capture of Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina (an operation led by Rafi Eitan) and to his subsequent trial in Israel in 1961. [cite web|url=|title=The capture of Adolf Eichmann|publisher=Jewish Virtual Library|accessdate=2007-01-21] . Simon Wiesenthal became one of the most famous Nazi hunters. Some former Nazis, however, escaped any charges. Thus, Reinhard Gehlen a former intelligence officer of the Wehrmacht, managed to turn around and work for the CIA, and created in 1956 the "Bundesnachrichtendienst" (BND), the German intelligence agency, which he directed until 1968.

Klaus Barbie, known as "the Butcher of Lyon" for his role at the head of the Gestapo, was protected from 1945 to 1955 by the MI5 and the CIA, before fleeing to South America where he had a hand in Luis García Meza Tejada's 1980 "Cocaine Coup" in Bolivia. [cite book | title = Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press | last = Cockburn | first = Alexander | year = 1999 | publisher = Verso | isbn = 1-859-841-392 | pages = p. 167] Barbie was finally arrested in 1983 and sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity in 1987. In October 2005, Aribert Heim (aka "Doctor Death") was found to be living for twenty years in Spain, protected by ODESSA.

The German Army

The extent to which the officers of the regular German Army knew of the Final Solution has been much debated. Political imperatives in postwar Germany have led to the Army being generally absolved from responsibility, apart from the handful of "Nazi generals" such as Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel who were tried and hanged at Nuremberg. Many front-line officers went through the war without coming into direct contact with the machinery of extermination. Others chose to focus narrowly on their duties and not notice the wider context of the war. Relations between the Army and the SS were not friendly, and some officers refused to co-operate with Himmler's forces. General Johannes Blaskowitz was relieved of his command after officially protesting about SS atrocities in Poland. After learning more of the extermination camps, Erwin Rommel protested the persecution of the Jews directly to Hitler. Other generals and officers, such as Walther von Reichenau, Hermann Hoth, and Erich von Manstein, actively supported the work of the "Einsatzgruppen". A number of Wehrmacht units provided direct or indirect assistance to the Einsatzgruppen, supplying them with lorries that could be used for roundups. Many individual soldiers who ventured to the killing sites behind the lines voluntarily participated in the mass shootings.

It was nevertheless difficult for commanders on the eastern front to avoid knowing what was happening in the areas behind the front. Many individual soldiers photographed the massacres of Jews by the Einsatzgruppen. Joachim Fest points out that one of the factors that led Claus von Stauffenberg and other German officers to plot the July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler was their growing awareness of the crimes that Hitler was committing in Germany's name. Stauffenberg argued that these crimes released German officers from the oath of loyalty they had taken to Hitler. If Stauffenberg and other officers in his circle were aware of the Holocaust, so must many others who did not act on that knowledge as Stauffenberg did, at the cost of his life.

The German people

The responsibility of the German people as a whole for the Holocaust has once again become a matter of heated debate since the publication of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's book "Hitler's Willing Executioners" in 1996. Goldhagen argues that the great majority of Germans (and Austrians) knew and approved of the extermination of the Jews, and that most would have actively participated in it had they been asked to do so. He provides extensive documention of the depth, ubiquity and antiquity of anti-Semitic sentiment in Germany, and of the equanimity with which large numbers of ordinary Germans obeyed orders to kill defenceless civilians, or even volunteered to do so, and how few Germans protested against what was going on. Although critics have found many deficiencies in Goldhagen's book, his compilation of documentary evidence of widespread German responsibility for the Holocaust is hard to ignore.

Most historians are sceptical about Goldhagen's thesis that the majority of Germans subscribed to an "eliminationist" form of anti-Semitism and that they were not only aware of but in agreement with the extermination of the Jews. The most scathing attack on Goldhagen has been Norman Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn's book "A Nation on Trial". Finkelstein and Birn examined Goldhagen's references and concluded that "Hitler's Willing Executioners" was (in the words of one reviewer) "not worthy of being called an academic text."

Goldhagen's critics point out that the Nazi Party did not advocate killing the Jews before they came to power, and that therefore even the minority of Germans who voted for the Nazis in elections before 1933 were not voting for a holocaust of the Jews. They point out that the regime went to considerable lengths to conceal the truth about what was being done not only from world opinion but from the German public. The official line that the Jews were being "deported to work in the east" was always maintained, partly to deceive the Jews about the fate that awaited them, but partly also to mislead the German public.

Nevertheless, knowledge about at least some aspects of the Holocaust must have been very widespread among Germans. As Paul Johnson points out, the SS had 900,000 members in 1943, most of whom participated in one way or another in actions against the Jews, and the German national railways, the Reichsbahn, employed 1.2 million people, the majority of whom helped process the lines of cattle-cars packed with suffering Jews being transported eastwards, and the car-loads of clothes, shoes and other goods coming back. Many other elements of the sprawling German civil service, from the Reichsbank which received tonnes of gold from the melted dental work of dead Jews to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture which employed slave labour on German farms, participated in various ways in the pillage and killing of the Jews, and many thousands of middle and low-ranking bureaucrats must have had some awareness of what they were doing.

It is frequently argued that even if ordinary Germans were aware of the extermination of the Jews, there is nothing they could have done to protest or prevent the actions of one of the most ruthless dictatorships of modern times. Most writers have in general accepted this view. Goldhagen, however, raises some pertinent objections. He points out that it was not in fact impossible for German civil society to protest against actions of the Nazi regime. When the Nazis attempted to remove crucifixes from schools in Bavaria in 1936, and again in 1941, protests forced them to back down. Strikes by industrial workers on economic issues were common, at least in the prewar period, and were not seriously punished. The best known example of public protest was the campaign against the regime's programme of euthanasia of people with physical and intellectual disabilities, known as "T4," which had to be abandoned in 1941 due to protests led by the Catholic Church and some parts of the medical profession.

Even more notable, for its uniqueness, was the Rosenstrasse protest in Berlin in February 1943, led by over a thousand non-Jewish German women against the detention of their Jewish husbands (a category which had hitherto been exempt from deportation). While the event was clearly a courageous act on the part of the wives, historians disagree on both the reasons for summoning the husbands and the effects of the protest. [One view was that the men were summoned for deportation and as a result of the protest the the regime backed down and released 1,700 Jews from captivity, some of them actually being brought back from Auschwitz. The protesting women suffered no reprisals, while in the name of consistency the regime then released all Jewish men married to non-Jewish women, in France as well as Germany, some 6,000 in all. (See cite book |author=Stoltzfus, Nathan |title=Resistance of the heart: intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse protest in Nazi Germany |publisher=W.W. Norton |location=New York |year=1996 |pages= |isbn=0-393-03904-8 |oclc= |doi=, Chap. XIV.) However, German historian, Wolf Gruner, argues that there was never the question of deporting that group of men. The original intention of the the authorities was to release the men, so the action cannot be seen as a victory for the protest nor as a sign that the authorities were relaxing their grip. (SeeWolf Gruner: "Widerstand in der Rosenstraße. Die Fabrik-Aktion und die Verfolgung der „Mischehen“ 1943". Frankfurt/M 2005, ISBN 3-596-16883-X. For a discussion in English of the two views see: "2) H-German debate: Rosenstrasse" in [ Association of Contemporary Church Historians Newsletter, December 2004— Vol. X, no. 12.] )] During the years 1945 through 1949 polls indicated that a majority of Germans felt that Nazism was a "good idea, badly applied". In a poll conducted in the American German occupation zone, 37% replied that 'the extermination of the Jews and Poles and other non-Aryans was necessary for the security of Germans'. [cite book |author=Judt, Tony |title=Postwar : A History of Europe Since 1945 |publisher=Penguin Press HC, The |location= |year=2005 |pages= |isbn=1-59420-065-3 |oclc= |doi= |accessdate=, p. 58. For discussion of the psychological war campaign re: idea of collective guilt see Denazification]

Sarah Ann Gordon in "Hitler, Germans, and the 'Jewish Question'" notes however that the surveys are very difficult to draw conclusions from. Respondents were for example given 3 options to choose from, for example question 1:
*Statement...........................................Percentage agreeing
*Hitler was right in his treatment of the Jews: 0%
*Hitler went too far in his treatment of the Jews, but something had to be done to keep them in bounds: 19%
*The actions against the Jews were in no way justified: 77%

To the Question whether an Aryan who marries a Jew should be condemned 91% responded "No". To the question: "All those who ordered the murder of civilians or participated in the murderings should be made to stand trial." 94% responded "Yes".

Sarah Ann Gordon singles out the question "Extermination of the Jews and Poles and other non-Aryans was not necessary for the security of the Germans", which included an implicit double negative to which the response was either yes or no. She concludes that this was confusingly phrased; "Some interviewees may have responded "no" they did not agree with the statement, when they actually did agree that the extermination was not necessary." [Sarah Ann Gordon "Hitler, Germans, and the 'Jewish Question'" p.199] She further highlights the discrepancy to the 77% percent who responded that actions against Jews were in no way justified. [Sarah Ann Gordon "Hitler, Germans, and the 'Jewish Question'" p.199 ] (See: Denazification)

Regarding German knowledge of the workings of the ordinary concentration camps, it should be noted that "Between 1933 and 1945 more than 3 million Germans had been in concentration camps or prison for political reasons" [ Henry Maitles [ NEVER AGAIN!: A review of David Goldhagen, Hitlers Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust"] , further referenced to G Almond, "The German Resistance Movement", Current History 10 (1946), pp409-527.] (See: German resistance)

Other nationalities

Although the Holocaust was planned and directed by Germans, the Nazi regime found willing collaborators in other countries, both those allied to Germany and those under German occupation.

The civil service and police of the Vichy regime in occupied France actively collaborated in persecuting French Jews. Germany's allies, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, were pressured to introduce anti-Jewish measures; with the exception of Romania, they did not comply until compelled to do so. Bulgaria and Finland refused to co-operate, and all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews survived (though most lost their possessions and many were imprisoned)except those thousands of Bulgarian Jews who were deported from the annexed Bulgarian territories. The Hungarian regime of Miklós Horthy also refused to cooperate, but after the German invasion of Hungary on March 18, 1944, 437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. The Romanian regime of Ion Antonescu enthusiastically collaborated, but its inefficiency meant that only a half of Romania's 600,000 Jews were killed. The German puppet regime in Croatia actively persecuted Jews on its own initiative.

Probably the most conspicuous collaborators in the Holocaust were the Romanians, whose army killed about 400,000 Jews during their occupation of Bessarabia (Moldova), Bukovina and parts of western Ukraine, including Odessa. Otto Ollendorf testified at his trial that the behaviour of the Romanians assisting the "Einsatzgruppen" in Ukraine disgusted even the SS: they engaged in an orgy of rape and plunder, and killed most of their victims by herding them into barns and burning them alive.

The Nazis sought to enlist support for their programs in all the countries they occupied, although their recruitment methods differed in various countries according to Nazi racial theories. In the "Nordic" countries of Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Estonia they tried to recruit young men into the Waffen SS, with sufficient success to create the "Wiking" SS division on the eastern front, many of whose members fought for Germany with great fanaticism until the end of the war. In Lithuania and Ukraine, on the other hand, they recruited large numbers of auxiliary troops that were used for anti-partisan work and guard duties at extermination and concentration camps. Most of these recruits were peasant boys, who enlisted simply to gain a ration card, but the Germans were able in these countries to appeal to long traditions of local antisemitism.

In recent years, the extent of local collaboration with the Nazis in eastern Europe has become more apparent. Historian Alan Bullock writes: "The opening of the archives both in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe has produced incontrovertible evidence [of] ... collaboration on a much bigger scale than hitherto realized of Ukrainians and Lithuanians as well as Hungarians, Croats and Slovaks in the deportation and murder of Jews."

The response of individual states

Baltic states

Lithuanian and Latvian auxiliary military units ("Schutzmannschaft") with Nazi Einsatzgruppen detachments participated in the extermination of the Jewish population in their countries, as well as assisting the Nazis elsewhere, such as deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Arajs Commando, a Latvian volunteer police unit, for example, shot 26,000 Latvian Jews, at various locations after they had been brutally rounded-up for this purpose by the regular police and auxiliaries, and was responsible for assisting in the killing of 60,000 more Jews. [" [ The Holocaust in Latvia] : An introduction" by Andrew Ezergailis, book excerpt, The Historical Institute of Latvia, 1996.]

In Lithuania the racial principles of the Third Reich were installed after instigating by Nazi forces since June 25. Lithuanians in many locations began killing Jews before Germans arrived on the sceneFact|date=August 2008. Within the last 6 months of 1941 following the June invasion by Germany, the majority of Lithuanian Jews were executed. The remnants trapped in ghettos were killed in occupied Lithuania and sent to death camps in Poland. Almost all Lithuanian Jews died during the Holocaust. Scholars believe the death rate in Lithuania was 96 percent, making Nazi-occupied Lithuania the European territory with the lowest number of Jewish survivors of World War II. Additionally, Lithuanian auxiliary police troops assisted in killing Jews in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. Further, Jews from France, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were murdered at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. Pro-Lithuanian activists decried Soviet trials of collaborators following the war but independent Lithuania following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been slow to prosecute cases against Nazi collaborators since then. To date three men have been tried and convicted, but all were excused from punishment due to health and age. In 2008, Lithuanian prosecutors began investigations into war-time atrocities against civilians allegedly committed by Lithuanian Jews who escaped from the Lithuanian ghettos to take up arms against the Nazis. Targets of the Lithuanian investigation included Yitzhak Arad, former partisan in Lithuania, Holocaust scholar and founder of the Yad Vashem institution in Israel, causing a flurry of negative media publicity for Lithuania in Israel and abroad.

About 75% of Estonia's Jewish community, aware of the fate that otherwise awaited them, managed to escape to the Soviet Union; virtually all the remainder (between 950 and 1,000 people) were killed by Einsatzgruppe A and local collaborators before the end of 1941. [Max Jakobson Commission Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, " [] Report"] There were, prior to the war, approximately 4,300 Estonian Jews. After the Soviet occupation many Jewish people were deported to Siberia along with other Estonians. It is estimated that 500 Jews suffered this fate. With the invasion of the Baltics, it was the intention of the Nazi government to use the Baltics countries as their main area of mass genocide. Consequently, Jews from countries outside the Baltics were shipped there to be exterminated. [ [ The Holocaust in the Baltics] at University of Washington] and an estimated 10,000 Jews were killed in Estonia after having been deported to camps there from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. [ [ Estonia at] Jewish Virtual Library ] Seven ethnic Estonians: Ralf Gerrets, Ain-Ervin Mere, Jaan Viik, Juhan Jüriste, Karl Linnas, Aleksander Laak and Ervin Viks have faced trials for crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi occupation in Estonia.

In 2002 the government decided to officially commemorate the Holocaust. In the same year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center had provided the Estonian government with information on alleged Estonian war criminals, all former members of the 36th Estonian Police Battalion. After investigation, the Estonian government concluded that there was insufficient evidence and deferred on the center's demands to try the veterans. Wiesenthal Center called the Estonian statement "false" [ [ WIESENTHAL CENTER REJECTS ESTONIAN POLICE FINDINGS; CALLS FOR RETRACTION OF FALSE STATEMENT] ] . In the same year, calls of Simon Wiesenthal Center to intensify prosecution of the Nazi war criminals were criticized by the Estonian media and the general public, prompting anti-Semitic messages toward the Jewish community. [ NCSJ - Estonia Country Page] ] However in 2003 NCSJ (formerly National Conference on Soviet Jewry) has noted Anti-Semitism in Estonia is not a major problem, and the Estonian government has committed itself to a swift and thorough response to incidents.

Estonia (together with Austria, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Syria and Ukraine) has been given the grade Category F-2: Failure in practice by the Simon Wiesenthal Center Status Report on Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals for both 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. [ [ Wiesenthal Center Status Report on Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals (2006)] ] [ [ Wiesenthal Center Status Report on Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals (2007)] ] As Estonian prosecutors have closed the case of WWII crime suspect Harry Männil now resident in Venezuela, on basis of insufficient evidence linking Männil to crimes against humanity. Estonia's security police had opened a criminal case in March 2001 on the basis of Efraim Zuroff's petition to investigate whether Männil was connected with the persecution and killing of civilians in 1941-42 when he worked as an assistant with the wartime political police in Tallinn. [ [ Estonian prosecutors close case of WWII crime suspect at]]


The Belgian state actively collaborated with Nazi Germany. An official report commissioned by the country's senate concluded that:quotation|The Belgian authorities “anticipated and went beyond” the demands of occupying German forces in segregating, rounding up and dispossessing Jews. Belgium “adopted a docile attitude providing collaboration unworthy of a democracy in its treatment of Jews”. [Citation
last = Van Doorslaer
first = Rudi
title = Docile Belgium
journal = Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society, Brussels
date=February 2007
year = 2007
] [cite web
last =
first =
title =Extent of Belgian collaboration with Nazis revealed
publisher ="Daily Mail"
date=February 14 2007
url =

The report identified three crucial moments that showed the attitude of Belgian authorities toward the Jews: [ [ Haaratz Report] ]
*Autumn 1940 when they succumbed to the order of the German occupier to register all Jews even though it was contrary to the Belgium constitution; this led to a number of measures including the firing of all Jews from official positions in December 1940 and the expelling of all Jewish children from their schools in December 1941.
*Summer 1942 over one thousand Jews were deported to the death camps, particularly Auschwitz during the month of August. This was only the first of such actions as the deportations to the east continued resulting in the death of some 25,000 people.
*End of 1945 the Belgian state decided that its authorities bore no legal responsibility for the persecution of the Jews, even though many Belgian police officers participated in the rounding up and deportation of Jews

However, collaboration is not the whole story. While there is little doubt that there were strong anti-semitic feelings in Belgium, after November 1942, the German roundups became less successful as large-scale rescue operations were carried out by ordinary Belgians. This resulted in the survival of about 25,000 people, roughly half of the Jewish population of Belgium.Friedländer, Saul. "Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945: The Years of Extermination". HarperCollins, 2007, pp. 422-423.]


Bulgaria, mainly through the influence of the Bulgarian East Orthodox Church, saved all of its own Jewish population from deportation and certain death. However, although civil and military administration for parts of Northern Greece and Macedonia had been turned over to Bulgaria by Germany, Bulgaria did not prevent the deportation by German authorities of the Jews from those territories to the concentration camps, after the personal intervention of Haj Iman Al-Husseni Mufti of Jerusalem. [Boyadjieff, Christo. "Saving the Bulgarian Jews in World War II". excerpted at [ Salvation of Bulgarian Jews during WW II Collection of Materials] - URL retrieved September 20, 2006.]


The Croatian Ustaše regime killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs (estimates vary widely, but by all sources more than 330,000–390,000, and possibly well over a million), over 20,000 Jews and 26,000 Roma, primarily in the Ustase's Jasenovac concentration camp near Zagreb. The Ustase also deported 7,000 more Jews to Nazi extermination camps. [" [ Jasenovac] " at the Jewish Virtual Library ] According to Nihad Halilbegovic ["Bosnjaci u Jasenovackom logoru" ("Bosniaks in Jasenovac Concentration camp")] at least 103,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim Slavs) died at the hands of the Nazis, Croatian Ustaše, and the Serbian Chetnik's collaborationist regime. According to Halilbegovic, "large numbers of Bosniaks were killed and listed under Roma populations." [ [^57473-57473&ProductID=30790&ml=b Bosniaks in Jasenovac Concentration Camp] —Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals, Sarajevo, October 2006. (Holocaust Studies)] [ [ Commemoration of Bosniak victims of Jasenovac] Meliha Pihura, Magazine, April 13, 2007.] Croats were also victims of the Nazi regime and those who opposed it ended up in concentration camps. Many Croats risked their lives during the Holocaust in order to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis (see Croatian Righteous Among the Nations).


Most of the Danish Jews were rescued by the unwillingess of the Danish govermnment and people to acquiesce to the demands of the occupying forces: see Rescue of the Danish Jews.


In France, Philippe Pétain, who became premier after Paris had fallen to the German Army, arranged the surrender to Germany. He then became the head of the Vichy government, which collaborated with Nazism, claiming that it would soften the hardships of occupation. Opposition to the German occupation of northern France and the collaborationist Vichy government was left to the French Resistance within France and the Free French Forces led by Charles de Gaulle outside of France. The police, the Milice ("militia", which worked as the Gestapo's aid), as well as members of Jacques Doriot's Parti Populaire Français (PPF) rounded up 75,000 Jews for deportation to concentration camps. The Vichy regime attracted all of the far-right counterrevolutionary sectors of French society, monarchists and other pseudo-fascist movements. See René Rémond's classic study on "The Right [wings] in France" ("Les Droites en France"), and also Zeev Sternhell's arguments according to which fascism was invented in France at the early 20th century, before being adopted and transformed into a popular movement in Italy. French historians, such as Pierre Milza and Serge Bernstein, have argued that there was no "French fascism", because although some groups, such as the PPF and others, adopted fascist and even Nazi postures, fascism never became really popular. Against Sternhell, they argue that fascism cannot be reduced to an intellectual movement, and must necessarily be considered in its mass dimension. ] "La Cagoule", a terrorist group and Eugène Schueller, the founder of L'Oréal, are examples of such groups. Antisemitism, as the Dreyfus Affair had shown at the end of the 19th century, was widespread in France, especially among anti-republican sympathizers. The Vichy government eagerly participated in the Holocaust, for example with the July 16, 1942 "rafle du Vel'd'Hiv", in which 12,884 Jews were arrested, including 4,051 children which the German authorities had not asked for. They were all sent to Drancy transit camp anyway, and most were eventually exterminated.

Klaus Barbie, "the Butcher of Lyon", captured and deported 44 Jewish children hidden in the village of Izieu, killed Resistance leader Jean Moulin, and was in total responsible for the deportation of 7,500 people, 4,342 murders, and the arrest and torture of 14,311 resistance fighters were in some way attributed to his actions or commands.

Maurice Papon was the number two official in the Bordeaux region and supervisor of its "Service for Jewish Questions". In 1997, following revelations from "Le Canard Enchaîné" newspaper, he was finally charged with complicity of crimes against humanity. Papon was accused of ordering the arrest and deportation of 1,560 Jews, including children and the elderly, between 1942 and 1944; most of his victims were sent to Auschwitz. As during Adolf Eichmann's trial, one of the main issue was to determine to what extent an individual should be held responsible in a chain of responsibility. In 1998, he was given a ten-year prison term. However, he was released on grounds of poor health in 2002. Many people thought both the relatively light sentence and his release were scandalous, especially when it was known to all that following the war, Papon went on to enjoy a civil service career, which led him to be the chief of the Paris police, held by historian Luc Einaudi as being directly responsible for the 1961 Paris massacre during the Algerian War (1954–1962); Papon even became budget minister of president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in the 1970s. He was finally arrested because of the "Canard Enchaîné" 's revelations, which themselves followed a fiscal control ordered by Papon with the aim of intimidating the satirical newspaper.


The Jews of Greece mainly lived in the area around Thessaloniki, where there had been occasional conflicts between Jews and Greeks. In Thessaloniki, from 1927 until 1935, there was a minor antisemitic nationalist party called National Union of Greece (Ethniki Enosis Ellados, EEE), which was revived by Nazi authorities in the city. Members of the EEE assisted occupying forces in identifying Jews and collaborated on the deportation of local Jews with remarkable efficiency, either for ethnic hatred or for more prosaic reasons such as obtaining profits. By the time of the German withdrawal from Greece in 1944, nearly 90% of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki had been annihilated.

Athenian Jews, on the other hand, went through a different experience. They were a minor part of the city's population and in the city there had not been an antisemitic atmosphere, and most Jews eluded deportation by either being helped by Greeks into hiding or joining the Greek Resistance in the mountains. This, however, did not exempt Athenian Jews from organized crime against them. Just like the Nazi authorities had restored the EEE in Thessaloniki, in Athens the German occupation authorities created the ESPO (Ethniko-Socialistike Patriotike Organosis), whose members attacked or assisted Germans in locating local Jews. The ESPO's most notorious action was the ransacking of the synagogue on Melidoni Street, Athens. Other ESPO members were recruited as guards in the Haidari concentration camp, just outside Athens.

In any case, the three quisling governments headed by Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis to different extents were unable to stop (or participated) in the deportation or prosecution of Greek Jews. Rallis, for instance, was known to hold the point of view that the houses left by deported Jews in Thessaloniki would be appreciated by the Greek Pontian refugees who came to Greece after the 1922 Asia Minor catastrophe.


One tenth of the Holocaust's Jewish victims were Hungarian Jews, resulting in a total of over 550,000 deaths. The Hungarian Horthy regime deported those 20,000 Jews from annexed Transcarpathian Ukraine who weren't able to account for Hungarian citizenship in 1941 to Kamianets-Podilskyi in the German-occupied Ukraine, where they were shot by the German Einsatzgruppen detachments. Hungarian army and police units killed 3000 Jews and Serbs in Novi Sad in January 1942. Horthy resisted German demands for mass deportation of Hungarian Jews until March 1944, when Nazis occupied Hungary. By the beginning of July 1944, 437,000 Jews had been deported to Auschwitz, including those 20,000 who were refugees from the neighboring countries. The mass deportations stopped in July when world leaders appealed to Horthy, following the escape from Auschwitz of Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler, whose story about the mass murder taking place inside the camp was published in June by the BBC and "The New York Times". In October 1944, the Horthy regime was replaced by the fascist Arrow Cross Party led by Ferenc Szálasi. Seventy thousand Jews were forced on a death march to Austria — thousands were shot on the way, and thousands more died of starvation and exposure. [Petropoulos, Jonathan. [ "The Holocaust in Hungary"] , Claremont McKenna College. See also the [ Hungarian Holocaust Museum] .]


In Fascist Italy, a law from 1938 restricted civil liberties of Jews. This effectively reduced the country's Jews to second-class status, though Mussolini never made it official policy to deport Jews to concentration camps. After the fall of Mussolini and his creation, the Italian Social Republic, Jews started being deported to German camps. The deported numbered about 8,369, and only about a thousand survived. Several small camps were built in Italy and the so-called Risiera di San Sabba hosted a crematorium; from 2,000 to 5,000 people were killed in San Sabba, only a few of whom were Jews.


Of the 140,000 Dutch Jews, the German occupiers deported about 107,000, of whom 101,800 were murdered. This death toll of 95% is the highest in Western Europe. Reasons that have been suggested to explain this phenomenon are: the occupation regime in the Netherlands was formed by fanatical Austrian Nazis; Fact|date=January 2007 the degree of efficiency and the high level of administrative organization of the pre-war Dutch civilian administration; the typical Dutch landscape without mountains or woods made it practically impossible to find shelter; the majority of the Dutch Jews lived in the larger cities and thus they formed relatively easy targets for persecution and segregation; the Jewish leaders chose, "in order to prevent worse", a policy of collaboration with the Nazis; the Dutch pre-war society can be characterized as a conglomerate of different groups, which lived separately from another and this fact made it easy for the Germans to segregate and persecute the Jewish section of society; because the Jews were cut off from public life, they lost almost all of the support that could have been provided by other groups in society; active assistance by Dutch collaborators, such as the Henneicke Column group that hunted and "delivered" 8,000 to 9,000 Jews for deportation. [Ad van Liempt, " [ A Price on Their Heads, Kopgeld, Dutch bounty hunters in search of Jews, 1943] ", NLPVF (accessed June 8, 2005).] All of these circumstances made it relatively easy for the SS, regularly aided by Dutch police officers, to round up the Jewish population.


After Norway was invaded, the Nazis took control of the government and the true government went into exile. Power was given to the German Reichskommissar Josef Terboven and the Norwegian Fascist Party leader Vidkun Quisling. Quisling had attempted to establish himself as the leader of occupied Norway, but the Nazis only used him as leader of a puppet government. The Nazis, as well as some Norwegian police units, managed to round up over 750 Jews, of a total of about 1,800. However, the Nazis and their collaborators were very unpopular in Norway, causing a strong resistance movement, so the German government's aims for Norway were never fulfilled. Many Jews and other people were saved by the actions of Norwegians, including Norwegian police. Still, detailed lists of Jews existed at the time of the occupation. This caused the rounding-up of Jews in Norway to be much more efficient than in Denmark. Quisling and other Norwegians, who collaborated with the Nazis, were executed as traitors after the war, at least partly due to their involvement in the Holocaust. Also, 245 Sinti and Roma were deported to the Nazi extermination camps, of whom 190 were murdered. ("See Shoah in Norway and History of the Jews in Norway".)


The Romanian Antonescu regime was responsible for the deaths of between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews. An official report released by the Romanian government concluded: quotation|Of all the allies of Nazi Germany, Romania bears responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than any country other than Germany itself. The exterminations committed in Iasi, Odessa, Bogdanovka, Domanovka, and Peciora, for example, were among the most hideous acts committed against Jews anywhere during the Holocaust. [cite web | url= | title=Executive Summary: Historical Findings | work=Final Report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania | publisher=Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) | format=PDF | accessdate=2007-01-23]

In cooperation with German Einsatzgruppen and Ukrainian auxiliaries, Romanians killed hundreds of thousands of Jews in Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Transnistria. Some of the larger massacres included 54,000 Jews killed in Bogdanovka, a Romanian concentration camp along the Bug River in Transnistria, between 21 and 31 December 1941. Nearly 100,000 Jews were killed in occupied Odessa and over 10,000 were killed in the Iasi pogrom. The Romanians also massacred Jews in the Domanevka and Akhmetchetka concentration camps.


Serbia was occupied by Germany in 1941. It was established collaborator Government of National Salvation led by General Milan Nedić. The internal affairs of the Serbian occupied territory were moderated by German racial laws, that were introduced in all occupied territories with immediate effects on Jews, Roma people, as well as imprisonment of left oriented persons. The two major concentration camps in Serbia were Sajmište and Banjica. Of 40,000 Serbian Jews around one half lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps both in Serbia and the German Reich, where most of the captured Serbian Jews were transferred. Under Nedić, Belgrade was declared to be "Judenfrei" in 1942. Serbs were also victims of the Nazi regime, and most of the victims in Banjica were Serbian. Nazis had a policy of killing 100 Serbs for each killed German soldier and 50 killed Serbs for each wounded, resulting in widespread taking of hostages and executions such as the Kragujevac massacre. Despite these repressive measures, Serbs rebelled, and most Serbs saw Jews as their fellow victims in World War II, dying together in Nazi repression and genocide in Sajmište, Banjica and Jasenovac. Legends about Serbs saving the Jews in WWII are widespread in Serbia, and 152 Serbs have been honored as righteous Gentiles.


Between March and October 1942, the World War II Slovak Republic's Tiso regime deported approximately 57,000 Jews to the German-occupied part of Poland, where almost all of them were killed. The deportation of the remaining 24,000 was stopped after the Papal Nuncio informed the Slovak president that the German authorities were killing the Jews deported from Slovakia. However, 12,600 more Jews were deported by the German forces occupying Slovakia after the Slovak National Uprising in 1944. Around a half of them were killed in concentration camps. [" [ Holocaust Encyclopedia] ," (accessed April 25, 2007).] Some 10,000 Slovak Jews survived hidden by local people and 6,000–7,000 got official protection from the Slovak authorities.

Soviet territories

In the German-occupied Soviet territories, local Nazi collaborationist units represented over 80% of the available German forces providing a total of nearly 450,000 personnel organised in so-called "Schutzmannschaften" formations. Practically all of these units participated in the round-ups and mass-shootings. The overwhelming majority were recruited in the western USSR and the Baltic region, areas recently occupied by the Soviets for which the Jews were typically scapegoated, which exacerbated pre-Nazi antisemitic attitudes. Thus, for instance, Soviet nationalists killed 4,000 western USSR Jews in July 1941, and an additional 2,000 in late July 1941 during the so-called Pogram. Nazi Einsatzgruppen, together with Soviet auxiliary units, killed 33,000 Central Soviet Jews in September 1941. Soviet auxiliaries participated in a number of killings of Jews, among them in Romanian concentration camps in Western USSR and in Latvia.


Although Switzerland was the only neighbor of Germany not occupied, the Swiss government actively cooperated with the Nazi regime, particularly with respect to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

While it is true that Switzerland was under strong pressure from the German government, long standing anti-semitism was prevalent in Switzerland and was also reflected in the Swiss government's border policy. [Jacques Picard, "Switzerland and the Jews" in cite book |author=Mitya New |title=Switzerland Unwrapped: Exposing the Myths |publisher=I. B. Tauris |location=London |year=1997 |pages= |isbn=1-86064-300-0 |oclc= |doi=, p.23. For a more extensive treatment of Swiss anti-semitism see: cite book |author=Picard, Jacques |title=La Suisse et les Juifs, 1933-1945 |publisher=Presses Polytechniques et |location=Lausanne |year=2000 |pages= |isbn=2-82900245-8 |oclc= |doi=] The International Commission of Experts (ICE) set up in 1996 by the Swiss parliament to examine relations between Nazi Germany and Switzerland reported: "Anti-Semitic views were more or less widespread amongst the political classes, the civil service, the military and the church." [ [ cite book |author=International Commission of Experts |title=Switzerland: National Socialism and the Second World War |publisher=Pendo Verlag |location= |year=202 |pages=597 |isbn=3-85842-603-2 |oclc= |doi=Final Report p. 496.] ] While such views did not lead to violent persecution, it did provide a barrier to making policies for the protection of Jewish refugees.

Before 1938, Swiss alien and refugee policy was already restrictive toward certain people and groups, notably foreign Roma and Sinti. However, from that date, restrictions were intensified, particularly towards Jews. As part of that policy, the Swiss government requested the German government to mark the passports of German Jews with a "J" as they were not ready to grant asylum on the grounds of racial persecution. [ [ Final Report pp. 108, 499.] ]

In 1942 Swiss borders were completely closed to all Jewish refugees, which even included Jewish children who were in groups of children coming to Switzerland for holidays.

The ICE wrote: "by progressively closing the borders, delivering captured refugees over to their persecutors, and adhering to restrictive principles for far too long, the country stood by as many people were undoubtedly driven to certain death." [ [ Final Report, p. 501] ]

Although accurate statistics are hard to put together, the commission concluded that "It must therefore be assumed that Switzerland turned back or deported over 20,000 refugees during the Second World War. Furthermore, between 1938 and November 1944, around 14,500applications for entry visas submitted by hopeful emigrants to the Swiss diplomaticmissions abroad were refused." [ [ Final Report, p.118] ]

The conclusions of the ICE report about refugees have been questioned, most notably by Jean-Christian Lambelet who criticises the statistical work and argues inter alia that there was a big gap between policy and actual practice. He believes that the figures of Jews that were sent back were overestimated. [ [ A Critical Evaluation of the Bergier Report on “Switzerland and Refugees during the Nazi Era”, With a New Analysis of the Issue, University of Lausanne, Ecole des HEC, Department of Econometrics and Economics (DEEP), Research Paper No 01.03 January 2001. Accessed 2007-10-12] ]

ee also

*Collaboration during World War II
*International response to the Holocaust
*Command responsibility
*International law


Further reading

*See Holocaust (resources)

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