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Volume 18, No.1 / Fall 2004            
Yehuda Bauer, Historian of the Holocaust (Part 1)
A History of the Holocaust

Introduction

Introduction

Section 1
Memory of a Boyhood
Cover of A History of the Holocaust
Section 2
Portrait of an Historian
Glossary
Credits
Second Issue

    

     Over the last quarter century, the Holocaust has become the subject of an ever-growing body of research.  Holocaust educational centers have proliferated in the United States and other parts of the world.  Scores of guides for teaching the Holocaust have been created, and memoirs of Holocaust survivors continue to appear.   For teachers who are just beginning to become acquainted with this subject, the subject may seem overwhelming.  Also, teachers, who have worked with Holocaust material in their classrooms for many years, often feel that the more they know the less they know of the subject because of the continual appearance of new research and teaching aides.          

     Yehuda Bauer’s A History of the Holocaust, Revised Edition (2001) is an excellent book for teachers to begin investigating the subject, with all levels of background in the subject.  Dr. Bauer’s History provides a comprehensive overview of the Holocaust, 1933-1945, along with relevant maps and statistical information.  In addition to chronicling the events of the Nazi era, Bauer considers the origins and legacy of Nazism.   As Dr. Bauer explains in the “Preface”:

[W]e have to start with the history, and the history has to be placed in the proper context.  Therefore, we must first look backward to the history of the Jewish people and their relationship to the non-Jewish world, and to antisemitism in ancient, medieval, and modern times.  The period of the Holocaust itself is understood in this book to be essentially the period of 1933 to 1945.  However, because the immediate after-effects of the Holocaust—the events of 1945 to 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel—are equally pertinent; the immediate political, demographic, and sociological consequences are also included and, in this edition, broadened.  (14)

     The next two issues of Dimensions Online highlight the life of Dr. Yehuda Bauer and his work over the last four decades. His research and methodology are incorporated in A History of the Holocaust, Revised Edition.  Also found in his History are ideas for the themes, documents and maps that are essential for teaching about the Holocaust.  


Before studying the contents of Dr. Bauer’s History, study the cover to the book.  What do you see in the photograph?  Why was this image selected for a book dealing with the entire era of the Holocaust?  What image or images would you select to encapsulate the meaning of the Holocaust? What is missing in the cover image?
 

 

 

 

 

A review of the Table of Contents for Yehuda Bauer’s A History of the Holocaust (2001) reveals the comprehensive nature of his text and the focus the author has placed in the history of the Jews, their fate during the Holocaust, and their post-Holocaust experience. 

 

List of Maps

List of Tables and Charts

Preface

 

Chapter One

Who Are the Jews?

Christianity and the Developing Jewish Civilization

Jewish Reactions Until Modern Times

Jewish Mysticism and Messianism

Jewish Social and Economic Life in the Diaspora             

 

Chapter Two

Liberalism, Emancipation, and Antisemitism

Social and Political Developments in Eastern Europe

The Ideological and Organizational Structure of Nineteenth Century Jewish Society

The Results of Emancipation

Modern Antisemitism

Political Antisemitism

Jewish Reactions

Zionism and Palestine

The Bund

Anti-Zionist and Other Reactions

                                                                              

Chapter Three

World War I and Its Aftermath

The Background: 1914-1918, Genocide of the Armenians

The Background: 1918-1923

Soviet Jewry

British and French Jewry

Antisemitism in Britain and France

American Jewry

The New Jewish Center in the United States

Jewish Reactions

 

Chapter Four

The Weimar Republic

The Revolutionary Era

Social and Economic Problems

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party

Nazi Antisemitism

 

 

Chapter Five

The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, 1933-1938

German Foreign Policy

Nazi Antisemitic Policy

 

Chapter Six

German Jewry in the Prewar Era, 1933-1938

Jewish Emigration
Christianity and the Nazis

 

Chapter Seven

Poland—The Siege Begins

The German Invasion

The Jews in Prewar Poland

The Jews in Occupied Poland

The German Plan for Jewish Containment

The Ghettoes

The Jewish Councils—Judenrate

Four Jewish Councils:

The Lodz Judenrat

The Vilna (Vilnius) Judenrat

The Warsaw Judenrat

The Minsk Judenrat

 

 

Chapter Eight

Life in the Ghettoes

Ghettos in Poland

    The Will to Survive

    Religious Life

    Education and Cultural Activity

    Youth Movements

    Historical Documentation
Ghettoes in the USSR

Kovno

Terezin (Theresienstadt)—The “Model” Ghetto

The Limits of Unarmed Resistance

 

Chapter Nine

The “Final Solution”

The Wannsee Conference

Concentration and Death Camps

Auschwitz

 

 

Chapter Ten

West European Jewry, 1940-1944

France

   The Southern Vichy Zone

   The Northern Zone  

Algerian Jews under Vichy Rule

   The Italian Occupied Zone of France

Belgium

Holland

 

Chapter Eleven

Resistance

Armed Resistance

The Attitude Toward Resistance in the Ghetto

Other Problems of Armed Resistance

The Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion

The Bialystok Ghetto Rebellion

The Resistance in Vilna

Resistance in Other Ghettos

Partisans in Eastern Europe

Resistance in Camps

Resistance in Western Europe

 

Chapter Twelve

Rescue?

Summary, 1935-1939

Jewish-Gentile Relations in Eastern Europe

The Avenue of the Righteous

The Rescue of Bulgarian Jews

Rescue Operations in Western Europe

   France

   Denmark

The Attitudes of Major Powers
   The USSR, 1939-1942

   The United States, 1939-1942

   Britain, 1939-1942

   Public Information about the Holocaust, 1942-1944

 

Chapter Thirteen

The Last Years of the Holocaust, 1943-1945

Romania

The Rescue Negotiations

   Slovakia

   Hungary

   The War Refugee Board

   Trucks for Lives

   The Mayer Negotiations

The War Ends

 

Was Rescue by Negotiation Possible?

The Holocaust—Summing Up
   What “Caused” the Holocaust?

   Holocaust and Genocide—Is There a Difference?

   Theodicy—Where Was God?  Where Was Man?

   Consequences of the Holocaust

Chapter Fourteen

Aftermath and Revival.

 

 

Connections:

 

  Reading a Table of Contents can tell you a lot about a book.  Reviewing the Table of Contents of A History of the Holocaust (revised edition), what themes receive the greatest attention on Bauer’s survey of the Holocaust?  Study another general survey of the Holocaust and compare its contents with those in Bauer’s History.  Go on line at ushmm.com to find other histories of the Holocaust.  What similarities and differences do you find between two of these general surveys? 

 

  Why do you think Dr. Bauer opens with a discussion on “Who Are the Jews?” 

 

 
  Dr. Bauer is careful to document the rescue attempts by Jews in the final years of the war.  Most general textbooks on the Holocaust omit such detail on these rescue efforts.  Why do you think Dr. Bauer has incorporated these efforts in his textbook?

 

 
 

The complicated topic of the Jewish Councils (Judenrate receives special attention in  Bauer’s History.  How can one fairly assess the responsibility of the Jewish councils during the Nazi regime?

     Some historians view the Judenrat as not only an obedient tool of the Nazis but an essential element in the Nazi destruction of the Jews (e.g. Raul Hilberg).  According to this viewpoint, even “good” Judenrat leaders, that is, those who tried by various subterfuges to protect the Jews, were, in fact, aiding in the process of destruction because they simply kept more Jews alive to supply temporary labor for the Nazis.  That is, in keeping the Jews under control, the Judenrat were an instrument of the German bureaucracy.  Other historians (e.g. Israel Gutman and myself)  consider not only the end results (the murder of the Jewish communities) but the intentions of the Judenrat members as well.  But even when only the actions of the Judenrate are considered, they range from complete submission to rebellion, with many variations in between.  The Judenrate were victims of the Nazi onslaught—more victims perhaps, than others, faced, as they were, with life and death decisions in circumstances that no leaders of communities in recent times had been faced with.  However one views the Judenrate, the ultimate responsibility lies, of course, with the Nazis, not with those who were, at worst, but tools.

Yehuda Bauer.  A History of the Holocaust (Revised Edition). New York: Franklin Watts, 2001. 172.

 

 

 
  In dealing with the ghettoes Dr. Bauer looks at ghettoes in Poland and ghettoes in the USSR.   Why does Dr. Bauer need to make such distinctions in a general textbook?    Why doesn’t he include a general discussion about ghetto life without the geographical distinctions?

 

 
  Throughout the textbook, especially in chapters dealing with the occupation of Poland and the “Final Solution,” Dr. Bauer includes quotes from Nazi leaders such as Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler and from Jewish victims.  Why do you think Dr. Bauer includes the voices of perpetrators and victims in a general textbook?

 

 
 

Dr. Bauer sums up his discussion of the years of the “Final Solution” with the following observation:

     It is essential to realize that we live in an era in which Holocausts are possible, though not inevitable.  The Holocaust was produced by factors that still exist in the world, factors such as deep hatreds, bureaucracies capable and willing to do the bidding of their superiors, modern technology devoid of moral directions, brutal dictatorships, and wars.  If this is so, who can say which peoples could be the future victims, who the perpetrators?  Who might the Jews be the next time?

Given the events in the twentieth-first century (Bosnia, Sudan), how would you respond to Dr. Bauer’s question?

 

 
  One of the fundamental and depressing aspects of the Holocaust is the relatively small role played by rescuers, Jewish and non-Jewish.  Nevertheless, Dr. Bauer believes that the rescuers did leave an important legacy that can inspire actions in the twenty first century:

    

     On its margins, the acts of the rescuers show us that human beings can choose between evil and good.  Most people at that time chose evil, or turned away so as not to see it.  But some chose good, and thus provide us with a hope for the future:  we are capable of being rescuers, just as we are capable of being evil-doers.

     People very seldom learn from history; sometimes, however, they do.  Can our generation be such an exception? What shall we choose?

 

Have you witnessed in your community or school individuals who have chosen “good”?  Provide specific examples and discuss what might have motivated this individual to take the risk of caring?  Look in the newspaper or on television for these examples, if you don’t know any.

 
 
 

Dimensions Online
Volume 18, No. 1, Fall 2004
Yehuda Bauer

Volume 17, No. 2, Fall 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust--Part II

Volume 17, No.1, Spring 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust-- Part I

Volume 16, No. 1, Fall 2002
Remembrance and Commemoration of Two Catastrophes: September 11th and the Holocaust

Articles from the Print Editions of Dimensions
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