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1942: The "Final Solution"
 pg. 370 
This official letter from Reich Justice Minister Otto Thierack to Martin Bormann, Hitler's private secretary, expresses Thierack's favorable views on the extermination through labor policy--murdering concentration-camp inmates through neglect, abuse, and malnutrition. Among the groups targeted for extermination were Ukrainians, Poles, Gypsies, Jews, and Czechs. Thierack requests that Bormann approach Hitler for permission to carry out the discussed measures. Documents such as this demonstrate the centrality of Hitler to the Nazis' genocidal programs.
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
These Jews of Brody, Ukraine, many of them Orthodox, are being collected prior to their execution. In September 1942 more than 2000 Jews from Brody were deported to Belzec. Another 2500 were sent there in November. In May 1943 the Brody Ghetto was liquidated.
Photo: Yad Vashem
Kiddush ha-Hayyim

For centuries, many Jews responded to religious persecution with acts of martyrdom, choosing death rather than renouncing their faith through forced conversion. For centuries, Jews sacrificed their lives for their religion in an act of devotion know as Kiddush ha-Shem (Sanctification of the Name of God).

Although some Jews continued this ritualistic acceptance of fate during the Holocaust, there also emerged a new phenomenon, known as Kiddush ha-Hayyim (Sanctification of Life). As a response to the Nazis' genocidal programs, some Jewish religious leaders urged Jews to cling to life instead of willingly going to their deaths. Writing in the early months of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Yitzhak Nissenbaum declared: "This is the hour of Kiddush ha-Hayyim and not of Kiddush ha-Shem by death. Formerly, our enemies demanded our soul, and the Jew sacrificed his body in sanctifying God's Name. Now the enemy demands the body of the Jew. This makes it imperative for the Jew to defend it and protect it."

Kiddush ha-Hayyim was characterized by many different acts, from prayer to the covert publishing of newspapers to maintaining solidarity within the ghetto. In whatever ways they could, many Jews struggled to preserve their spiritual life and religious community. Rabbi Avraham Shalom Goldberg proclaimed, "Every Jew who remains alive sanctifies the Name of God among many."

 September 24, 1942: German Foreign Office official Martin Luther passes on to subordinates the desire of Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that deportations of Jews from across Europe be accelerated.
 September 25, 1942: Learning about the impending liquidation of their ghetto, some Jews of Korets, Ukraine, escape to the woods while others resist by setting the ghetto ablaze. Resistance is led by Moshe Gildenman.
 September 25, 1942: Swiss police decree that race alone does not guarantee refugee status, thus preventing Jews from crossing the Swiss border to safety.
1942: The "Final Solution"
 pg. 370 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.