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1939: The War Against The Jews
 pg. 171 
Two Polish Jews are forced to dig their own graves. This was a common practice throughout the Holocaust. Not only did this reduce the work of the Nazi murderers, but it also had the effect of further denigrating the victims as they went to their deaths. The dehumanization of the victims made it easier for the Germans to carry out their grisly tasks.
Photo: Comm. for Investigating Nazi War Crimes
The Jews of the Generalgouvernement had to make way for German resettlement in the region. For this reason, increasing numbers of Jews were deported to urban ghettos. This photograph shows a German policeman posting a notice stating that this house has been requisitioned for a German family who will eventually settle in the region. The Jews received no compensation for the property seized from them. This widespread practice contributed dramatically to overcrowding in the ghettos.
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Jehovah's Witnesses

From 1933 to 1945, the Nazis imprisoned 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, executing more than 200 for refusing military service. As many as 5000 died in concentration camps. Despite persecution, Witnesses clung fervently to their religious beliefs, which did not allow the bearing of arms, and steadfastly refused to swear allegiance to the Nazi state.

Even before the Nazis came to power, SA thugs routinely disrupted Witness Bible-study sessions, beating up participants. After 1933 the regime launched a vigorous attack, banning the organization. The Gestapo compiled membership lists, and raids confiscated illegal literature, such as The Watchtower. To defy the ban meant arrest, imprisonment, and loss of jobs and social welfare benefits. Children were shunned, ridiculed, and expelled from school for refusing to give the Sieg Heil salute.

In 1935 the Nazis sent 400 Witnesses to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany for rejecting the newly enacted military draft. By 1939 camps held approximately 6000 Witnesses. After 1939 the Nazis deported Witnesses from occupied countries to camps as well. Marked with purple triangular patches, Jehovah's Witnesses continued to proselytize in camps, despite threat of execution, hard labor, brutal torture, and savage beatings with steel whips. Few accepted the Nazi offer of freedom in return for signing a declaration renouncing their beliefs.
Photo: State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

 September 17, 1939: Eastern Poland is invaded by the Soviet Union.
 September 20, 1939: All radios owned by Jews in Greater Germany are confiscated.
 September 21, 1939: SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich orders chiefs of Einsatzgruppen to establish, in cooperation with German civil and military authorities, Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland. He decrees that all Jewish communities in Poland and Greater Germany with populations under 500 are to be dissolved, so that deportations of Jews to urban ghettos and concentration camps can be accelerated. Further, Heydrich orders the establishment of ghetto Judenräte (Jewish councils). The main goals of the ghettoization process are to isolate Jews, force them to manufacture items for Germany, and provide easy Nazi access for murder and deportation.
 September 22, 1939: The Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA; State Security Main Office) is founded.
1939: The War Against The Jews
 pg. 171 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.