Home Contact Us
Index Purchase Info
About Site About Us
Appendices Credits
Further Reading Links
Special Features
By Keyword:

Page Number:
Click on an image to see a larger, more detailed picture.
1939: The War Against The Jews
 pg. 172 
After the German invasion, the Polish corridor, including the disputed city of Danzig (today called Gdansk), returned to Germany. Hitler utilized the disagreement over the region to increase pressure on Poland in the months preceding the attack. This photograph shows Germans in Danzig saluting the removal of the Polish eagle from one of the city's buildings.
Photo: UPI/Corbis-Bettmann
The radio was the most important method of communication in Nazi Germany. Because authorities wished to cut off the Jewish population from the outside world, Jews had to surrender their radios to local authorities or face severe punishment.
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Jewish Responses

Of the half-million Jews living in Germany when Hitler came to power, most critically underestimated the danger confronting them. Considering themselves loyal members of the German community, they hoped to persevere and ride out the Nazi storm. Most awakened only slowly to the full extent of the terror. By then it was too late.

A large number of Jews fled in panic during 1933, but mass emigration was unrealistic. Jewish community leaders advised that the best response was to rally together and organize for mutual aid. Local and national Jewish community groups called on the Jewish public to contribute funds for those who had lost livelihoods and homes. Monetary aid and soup kitchens for the poor provided immediate help. Employment agencies, as well as technical and agricultural retraining programs, focused on long-range economic support.

Social and cultural needs sparked a revival of Jewish traditions that boosted morale. The Jewish Cultural Association sponsored work for Jewish actors and musicians. Sports competitions and newly created Jewish schools tried to provide stability and normalcy for young people, while adult-education classes, lectures, and increased synagogue attendance fostered an awareness of religious heritage and shared experience. In effect, persecuted German Jews created a parallel society--separate and, of course, unequal.

This response was based on a not-unreasonable Jewish assumption that, although the Nazis had declared themselves enemies of the Jews, surely they would allow Jews to exist in segregated communities. Deportation and mass murder were considered by hopeful Jews as impossibilities.

 September 23, 1939: On this Jewish Day of Atonement, Jews across Poland are publicly humiliated by SS troops: forced labor, coerced shavings of beards, destruction of property, beatings, and forced dancing. At Piotrków, Poland, Jews are compelled to relieve themselves in the local synagogue school, then use prayer shawls and holy books to clean up the mess.
 September 24, 1939: Jewish prisoners of war kept at Zyardow Stadium in Poland for ten days without food are forced to clean latrines with their bare hands.
 September 27, 1939: Warsaw, Poland, falls to German troops.
 September 27, 1939: Berlin issues a command to establish Jewish ghettos in Poland.
 September 27, 1939: Inmates at the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp are moved to a camp at Mauthausen, Austria, so that Dachau can be used as a training camp for the Waffen-SS; See February 19, 1940.
1939: The War Against The Jews
 pg. 172 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.