Nazi Destruction of Educational Facilities

Nazi Destruction of Educational Facilities

As a U.S. William Fulbright, a congressman from Arkansas, speaks about the Nazi destruction of intellectual leaders and educational facilities and the need to help restore the devastated institutions of liberated nations.

Coordinating the Destruction of an Entire People: The Wannsee Conference

On January 20, 1942, a group of Nazi leaders met to coordinate a continent-wide genocide.

Top Image: Entrance to the Memorial and Educational Site-House of the Wannsee Conference. Courtesy of Stephen and Irene Parris.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 20, 1942, Chief of Security Police and the SD, Reinhard Heydrich, telephoned his superior, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. He had much to tell him. The long-planned conference had been a success. Described in a later summary (that came to be known as the Wannsee Protocol) as a “Conference on the Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” the gathering of dignitaries of the Nazi Party and German government had only just dispersed.

Students of the history of World War II are certainly familiar with high-level meetings, such as the conferences between Allied leaders at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam. What transpired at Am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58 in Southwest Berlin that January day was as consequential as any of those meetings. There in an elegant villa used as a guest house by the nerve-center of the National Socialist terror system, the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), and close to a beautiful lake, Nazi leaders coordinated the destruction of an entire people. A photograph of the entrance to the villa snapped and generously shared by my friends, Stephen and Irene Parris, both educators, captures the picturesque quality of the place. Beauty and absolute horror commingled on its premises.

The meeting kicked off around noon on January 20. Fourteen men sat at the table with Heydrich. They came from Nazi Party agencies, the SS and police apparatus, civilian occupation administration, and government ministries. Among them was Heydrich’s trusted subordinate, Adolf Eichmann, since 1938 the SD and then RSHA’s “expert” on forced emigration of Jews. Eichmann, who during his trial in Jerusalem almost 20 years later downplayed his role at Wannsee, supervised the work of the stenographer keeping the minutes.

Originally, Heydrich had intended to hold the conference on December 9, 1941. However, Imperial Japan’s assault on Pearl Harbor, American entry into the conflict, and then Hitler’s decision to declare war on the United States delayed the meeting for several weeks.

First, it must be emphasized what did not happen at Wannsee. Although we still do not know its precise date, Adolf Hitler’s order to murder every human being of Jewish descent across the European continent had already been enacted. Systematic mass shooting of Soviet Jews had begun in the summer of 1941, with some 900,000 victims already murdered by the end of 1941. German Jews deported to Riga, Latvia, had been massacred in October 1941. Operations started in early December 1941 at the Chelmno extermination center where the SS asphyxiated Polish Jews in specially-modified gas vans. This sequence of monstrosities provided “lessons” for Heydrich about possible courses of action. Second, the representatives of party and state did not collectively plan a genocide. As a group, they enjoyed far less agency than their titles might indicate.

Right at the outset Heydrich declared that the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”—a phrase that had been in use but had not yet acquired the horrid meaning we recognize—was the sole purview of the SS. And he—Heydrich—was the plenipotentiary entrusted by Hermann Göring to resolve it. The role of the ministries and organizations represented at the table was thus one of support. Then Heydrich reviewed the history of the Third Reich’s chief policy with respect to Jews: compelling them to emigrate from Germany, Austria, and the Czech territories. This approach, which always had its own difficulties, said Heydrich, had been definitively abandoned. He reminded the attendees that Himmler had prohibited further Jewish emigration in the fall of 1941.

Ominously, Heydrich next spoke of “looming possibilities in the East” opened up by German military conquests. “Emigration has now been replaced by evacuation of the Jews to the East.” Here in this one sentence Heydrich disclosed a new, decisive—and genocidal—phase in the Nazi dictatorship’s prosecution of World War II as a race war.

Even with all the advantages of hindsight, the intent behind all this talk does not cease to terrify. Heydrich declared that “11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question.” He showcased statistics which purported to capture the total number of Jews in countries occupied or invaded by Nazi Germany. Similarly, he exhibited information about Jewish communities in nations allied to the Reich, like Fascist Italy and Marshal Antonescu’s Romania, as well as satellite and collaborator regimes such as Admiral Horthy’s Hungary and Slovakia under Father Tiso. The 55,000 Jews in European Turkey were also listed. Heydrich even had the small Jewish population of Ireland in view.

This plan entailed combing Europe from West to East. At this point, Heydrich prioritized the removal of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews first. Other Jewish communities would be swept up later in this massive operation of racial expurgation. Transit ghettos would function as temporary waystations before the victims were transported to their final, terrible destinations further East.

Heydrich singled out Theresienstadt, a transit ghetto near Prague, for special use. Jews who were over the age of 65, had been decorated for their service in World War I, or bore injuries or disabilities from combat in that conflict would be sent there. These would be the only exceptions.

So what did Heydrich reveal to his audience about the fate of the deported Jews? With emigration now discarded, Heydrich fleshed out what he intended by “looming possibilities in the East.” Jews were to do forced labor. Separated by sex and massed in large labor units, they would be compelled to build roads and work in other construction tasks. Heydrich made it very clear, though, that the future for European Jews was not a perpetuity of unfree labor. No, this was to be annihilation through labor, where “a large number of them will undoubtedly drop out by natural reduction.” He warned that “suitable treatment” would have to be administered to the “most resistant segments” of the Jewish population. The latter could not be permitted to form “germ cells” of an anti-Nazi opposition. “Suitable treatment,” unsurprisingly, remained vague in the Protocol.

On the question of Jewish labor for Germany, Heydrich had to confront the question of wartime exigencies. Some Jewish workers had skills that were truly indispensable. As Heydrich biographer Robert Gerwarth states, “Even Heydrich could not ignore wartime economic needs at a time when Nazi Germany was confronted with manpower shortages on a dangerous scale. He attempted to balance recognition of current labor scarcities with a desire to eliminate all Jews, although his determination to kill all ‘resilient’ surviving Jewish laborers shows that he privileged ideology over economic concerns and military necessities.”

Things became more contentious over what was to be done with Mischlinge, the Nazi term for persons of mixed Aryan and Jewish descent codified by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Heydrich laid out guidelines for who among them was to be evacuated and who might be exempted. He encountered some opposition that his proposals would needlessly complicate matters with these individuals, many of whom had married full-blooded Aryans and had families with them. The participants weighed sterilization as an option. For the remainder of the war, though, the Nazi dictatorship never definitively settled on a policy for Mischlinge—a bureaucratic failure which saved many lives.

Near the end of the discussion, the Wannsee Protocol refers to "different types of possible solutions" (verschiedene Arten der Lösungsmöglichkeiten) for the “Jewish Question.” Apparently, Heydrich instructed Eichmann that no specifics of the methods of killing be given. To anyone with eyes to see, though, it was obvious what was meant. The transition from mass shooting to gassing was already underway.

The Wannsee Conference lasted only 90 minutes. After the meeting concluded, Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, asked Eichmann to join them for brandy and a cigarette. The three genocidists sat around the fireplace in the villa, smoking and drinking for a short while. As Eichmann later recounted, it was rare indeed to witness the austere Heydrich enjoying alcohol and a smoke. Yet for the Chief of Security Police and the SD there was much to celebrate. The gloating Heydrich realized that a system for destroying the entire Jewish people was settled. And it would operate under his leadership. He would report only to Himmler, who was responsible only to Hitler himself. Eichmann would manage this “Final Solution.” The assassination of Heydrich by Czech resistance fighters less than six months later did not halt what had been arranged at Wannsee.

There were some 30 copies of the 15-page Wannsee Protocol distributed within the various offices of the RSHA and the government ministries. Put together by Eichmann and marked “Secret Reich Matter,” Heydrich altered this document several times before it was circulated. Most of these copies disappeared during the war. Thankfully, one was discovered in 1947 by the German-born lawyer, Robert Kempner, who had been expelled by the Nazis in the mid-1930s because of his Jewish origins. A translation of this copy, No. 16, which I have used for this article, is available at the website of the Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference. Years later, in 1965, it was historian Joseph Wulf, a survivor of Auschwitz, who started the push for the villa to be preserved as a site of remembrance.

First page of Copy 16 of the Wannsee Protocol-Marked “Secret Reich Matter.” Courtesy of the Museum and Educational Site-House of the Wannsee Conference.

From Kempner’s find, we have learned so much. Due to the cooperation of the party and state agencies and ministries with Heydrich and the SS, genocide became a national project for Nazi Germany. Henceforth, the Hitler regime became the exemplar of radical evil in modern history. The names of the 15 men who attended the Wannsee Conference are reproduced here to ensure that they are never forgotten:

SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich Reich Security Main Office

SS Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller Reich Security Main Office

SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann Reich Security Main Office

SS Oberführer Dr. Eberhard Schöngarth Security Police and SD

SS Sturmbannführer Dr. Rudolf Lange Security Police and SD

SS Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann Race and Settlement Main Office

Gauleiter Dr. Alfred Meyer Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories

Reich Office Director Dr. Georg Leibbrandt Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories

SS Oberführer Gerhard Klopfer Nazi Party Chancellery

Undersecretary of State Martin Luther Foreign Office

State Secretary Dr. Josef Bühler Office of the Government-General

State Secretary Dr. Roland Freisler Reich Ministry of Justice

State Secretary Erich Neumann Plenipotentiary of the Office for the Four-Year Plan

Permanent Secretary Wilhelm Kritzinger Reich Chancellery

State Secretary Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart Reich Ministry of the Interior

Gerwarth, Robert. Hitler’s Hangman: The Life of Heydrich. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Otto Ohlendorf, Einsatzgruppe D, and the ‘Holocaust by Bullets’

As the leader of Einsatzgruppe D, Otto Ohlendorf was responsible for the murder of 90,000 Soviet Jews, Roma, and Communists.

Nazi Destruction of Educational Facilities - HISTORY

One of the first targets of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi organization were books. This began in 1933, shortly after Hitler seized power in Germany. He ordered leaders of the regime to confiscate and destroy any literature deemed subversive to the National Socialist agenda. The elimination of these documents was carried out in a ceremonial fashion. Public book burnings were held for all the citizens to view. These demonstrations were held in both Germany and Austria. All works authored by Jewish, communist, pacifist, socialist, anarchist and classic liberals were fair game.

The Burnings

Originally, the burnings were announced as part of a campaign by the German Student Association. This endeavor was termed “Action Against the Un-German Spirit.” The ultimate goal would be a “Sauberung,” or cleaning by fire. The association went to great lengths to advertise these gatherings through the media. Newspaper ads were run and announcements were made on German Radio. Many times well known Nazis would host the proceedings.

One of the more famous events involving book burning occurred at the Waltburg Festival in April of 1933. The occasion marked the three hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s “Ninety-Five Theses.” Martin Luther was a 16th century German Monk and theology professor. This work by Luther disputed the Catholic Church’s baptisms and rights of absolution. The students presented their own version of this doctrine called “Twelve Theses.” In this case, the “theses” referred to a call for literature and language in German only.

The largest recognized book burning demonstration took place on May 10, 1933. All across Germany, with most being in towns housing universities, protests were held. It is believed that as many as 25,000 volumes were eliminated via flame. Torchlight parades were held in the evening. These were planned as celebrations featuring the reading of incantations, “fire oaths” being pledged and bands playing. Student leaders, rectors, professors and leaders of the Nazi party spoke to large audiences.

In Berlin alone, a crowd estimated to number perhaps 40,000 were on hand to hear Hitler’s henchman, Joseph Goebbels, spout the attributes of morality and decency while begrudging moral corruption and decadence. He specifically called for the burning of books by authors such as Erich Kastner, Ernst Glaser and Heinrich Mann. Kastner was actually a writer of children’s book. He was also however, strongly opposed to the Nazi movement. His signing of the “Urgent Call to Unity” sealed his anti-Nazi stance. American writers whose books were incinerated that night included Hellen Keller, Jack London and Ernest Hemingway. Famous fiction author H.G. Wells, a man of British descent, was represented, as was Karl Marx, the founder of communist ideals.

The Aftermath

In an interesting aftermath to the Nazi book burnings, in 1946, the process was reversed by the Allied leaders. While not performed in public, millions of books were seized from Germany and destroyed. Some 30,000 different titles with subject matter from poetry to educational publications used in schools were eliminated. Even some writings by Carl von Clausewitz were determined to be detrimental to the Allied cause. Today, many of von Clausewitz works are mandatory reading in universities and military academies all over the world. Even artwork did not escape the Allied ban and thousands upon thousands of paintings were also seized or destroyed.

2 responses to “Nazi Book Burnings”

Martin Luther’s “Ninety-Five Theses” were posted on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Meaning that there is no way that in 1933 they were celebrating the 300th anniversary of this event as it would have been celebrated at the end of October in 1817. Even the 400th anniversary would have been in 1917, not 1933. If this is simply a mistake it should be fixed as it calls into question the entire credibility of this article.

Wow. I have a paper on this and I will promise to use this information in it.


The literal meaning of Königsberg is 'King's Mountain'. In the local Low German dialect, spoken by many of its former German inhabitants, the name was Kenigsbarg (pronounced [ˈkʰeːnɪçsbarç] ). Further names included Lithuanian: Karaliaučius, Latvian: Karaļauči, Polish: Królewiec, Russian: Кёнигсберг , tr. Kjónigsberg or Королевец Korolévec, Old Prussian: Kunnegsgarbs, Knigsberg, and Yiddish: קעניגסבערג ‎ Kenigsberg.

Sambians Edit

Königsberg was preceded by a Sambian, or Old Prussian, fort known as Twangste (Tuwangste, Tvankste), meaning Oak Forest, [7] as well as several Old Prussian settlements, including the fishing village and port Lipnick, and the farming villages Sakkeim and Trakkeim.

Arrival of the Teutonic Order Edit

During the conquest of the Prussian Sambians by the Teutonic Knights in 1255, Twangste was destroyed and replaced with a new fortress known as Conigsberg. This name meant "King’s Hill" (Latin: castrum Koningsberg, Mons Regius, Regiomontium), honoring King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who paid for the erection of the first fortress there during the Prussian Crusade. [8] [9] Northwest of this new Königsberg Castle arose an initial settlement, later known as Steindamm, roughly 4.5 miles (7 km) from the Vistula Lagoon. [10]

The Teutonic Order used Königsberg to fortify their conquests in Samland and as a base for campaigns against pagan Lithuania. Under siege during the Prussian uprisings in 1262–63, Königsberg Castle was relieved by the Master of the Livonian Order. [11] [12] Because the initial northwestern settlement was destroyed by the Prussians during the rebellion, rebuilding occurred in the southern valley between the castle hill and the Pregel River. This new settlement, Altstadt, received Culm rights in 1286. Löbenicht, a new town directly east of Altstadt between the Pregel and the Schlossteich, received its own rights in 1300. Medieval Königsberg's third town was Kneiphof, which received town rights in 1327 and was located on an island of the same name in the Pregel south of Altstadt.

Within the state of the Teutonic Order, Königsberg was the residence of the marshal, one of the chief administrators of the military order. [13] The city was also the seat of the Bishopric of Samland, one of the four dioceses into which Prussia had been divided in 1243 by the papal legate, William of Modena. Adalbert of Prague became the main patron saint of Königsberg Cathedral, a landmark of the city located in Kneiphof.

Königsberg joined the Hanseatic League in 1340 and developed into an important port for the south-eastern Baltic region, trading goods throughout Prussia, the Kingdom of Poland, and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The chronicler Peter of Dusburg probably wrote his Chronicon terrae Prussiae in Königsberg from 1324 to 1330. [14] After the Teutonic Order's victory over pagan Lithuanians in the 1348 Battle of Strawen, Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode established a Cistercian nunnery in the city. [15] Aspiring students were educated in Königsberg before continuing on to higher education elsewhere, such as Prague or Leipzig. [14]

Although the knights suffered a crippling defeat in the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), Königsberg remained under the control of the Teutonic Knights throughout the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War. Livonian knights replaced the Prussian branch's garrison at Königsberg, allowing them to participate in the recovery of towns occupied by Władysław II Jagiełło's troops. [16]

In 1454 the Prussian Confederation rebelled against the Teutonic Knights and formally asked the Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon to incorporate Prussia into the Kingdom of Poland as a fief. This marked the beginning of the Thirteen Years' War (1454-66) between the State of the Teutonic Order and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. While Königsberg's three towns initially joined the rebellion, Altstadt and Löbenicht soon rejoined the Teutonic Knights and defeated Kneiphof in 1455. Grand Master Ludwig von Erlichshausen fled from the crusaders' capital at Castle Marienburg to Königsberg in 1457 the city's magistrate presented Erlichshausen with a barrel of beer out of compassion. [17]

When western Prussia was transferred to victorious Poland in the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), which ended the Thirteen Years' War, Königsberg became the new capital of the reduced monastic state, which became a fief of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom. [18] The grand masters took over the quarters of the marshal. During the Polish-Teutonic War (1519–1521), Königsberg was unsuccessfully [19] besieged by Polish forces led by Grand Crown Hetman Mikołaj Firlej.

Duchy of Prussia Edit

Through the preachings of the Bishop of Samland, Georg von Polenz, Königsberg became predominantly Lutheran during the Protestant Reformation. [20] After summoning a quorum of the Knights to Königsberg, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg (a member of the House of Hohenzollern) secularised the Teutonic Knights' remaining territories in Prussia in 1525 and converted to Lutheranism. [21] By paying feudal homage to his uncle, King Sigismund I of Poland, Albert became the first duke of the new Duchy of Prussia, a fief of Poland.

While the Prussian estates quickly allied with the duke, the Prussian peasantry would only swear allegiance to Albert in person at Königsberg, seeking the duke's support against the oppressive nobility. [ citation needed ] After convincing the rebels to lay down their arms, Albert had several of their leaders executed. [22]

Königsberg, the capital, became one of the biggest cities and ports of ducal Prussia, having considerable autonomy, a separate parliament and currency. While German continued to be the official language, the city served as a vibrant center of publishing in both Polish and Lithuanian. [ citation needed ] The city flourished through the export of wheat, timber, hemp, and furs, [23] as well as pitch, tar, and fly ash. [24]

Königsberg was one of the few Baltic ports regularly visited by more than one hundred ships annually in the latter 16th century, along with Danzig and Riga. [25] The University of Königsberg, founded by Duke Albert in 1544 and receiving token royal approval from King Sigismund II Augustus in 1560, became a center of Protestant teaching. The university had a profound impact on the development of Lithuanian culture, and several important Lithuanian writers attended the Albertina. The university was also the preferred educational institution of the Baltic German nobility.

The capable Duke Albert was succeeded by his feeble-minded son, Albert Frederick. Anna, daughter of Albert Frederick, married Elector John Sigismund of Brandenburg, who was granted [ by whom? ] the right of succession to Prussia on Albert Frederick's death in 1618. From this time the Electors of Brandenburg, the rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia, governed the Duchy of Prussia.

Brandenburg-Prussia Edit

When Imperial and then Swedish armies overran Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War of 1618–1648, the Hohenzollern court fled to Königsberg. On 1 November 1641, Elector Frederick William persuaded the Prussian diet to accept an excise tax. [26] In the Treaty of Königsberg of January 1656, the elector recognised his Duchy of Prussia as a fief of Sweden. In the Treaty of Wehlau in 1657, however, he negotiated the release of Prussia from Polish sovereignty in return for an alliance with Poland. The 1660 Treaty of Oliva confirmed Prussian independence from both Poland and Sweden.

In 1661 Frederick William informed the Prussian diet that he possessed jus supremi et absoluti domini, and that the Prussian Landtag could convene with his permission. [27] The Königsberg burghers, led by Hieronymus Roth of Kneiphof, opposed "the Great Elector's" absolutist claims, and actively rejected the Treaties of Wehlau and Oliva, seeing Prussia as "indisputably contained within the territory of the Polish Crown". [28] Delegations from the city's burghers went to the Polish king, Jan Kazimierz, who initially promised aid, but then failed to follow through. [28] The town's residents attacked the elector's troops while local Lutheran priests held masses for the Polish king and for the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. [28] However, Frederick William succeeded in imposing his authority after arriving with 3,000 troops in October 1662 and training his artillery on the town. [28] Refusing to request mercy, Roth went to prison in Peitz until his death in 1678. [27]

The Prussian estates which swore fealty to Frederick William in Königsberg on 18 October 1663 [29] refused the elector's requests for military funding, and Colonel Christian Ludwig von Kalckstein sought assistance from neighbouring Poland. After the elector's agents had abducted Kalckstein, he was executed in 1672. The Prussian estates' submission to Frederick William followed in 1673 and 1674 the elector received taxes not granted by the estates and Königsberg received a garrison without the estates' consent. [30] The economic and political weakening of Königsberg strengthened the power of the Junker nobility within Prussia. [31]

Königsberg long remained a center of Lutheran resistance to Calvinism within Brandenburg-Prussia Frederick William forced the city to accept Calvinist citizens and property-holders in 1668. [32]

Kingdom of Prussia Edit

By the act of coronation in Königsberg Castle on 18 January 1701, Frederick William's son, Elector Frederick III, became Frederick I, King in Prussia. The elevation of the Duchy of Prussia to the Kingdom of Prussia was possible because the Hohenzollerns' authority in Prussia was independent of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire. Since "Kingdom of Prussia" was increasingly used to designate all of the Hohenzollern lands, former ducal Prussia became known as the Province of Prussia (1701–1773), with Königsberg as its capital. However, Berlin and Potsdam in Brandenburg were the main residences of the Prussian kings.

The city was wracked by plague and other illnesses from September 1709 to April 1710, losing 9,368 people, or roughly a quarter of its populace. [33] On 13 June 1724, Altstadt, Kneiphof, and Löbenicht amalgamated to formally create the larger city Königsberg. Suburbs that subsequently were annexed to Königsberg include Sackheim, Rossgarten, and Tragheim. [10]

Russian Empire Edit

During the Seven Years' War of 1756 to 1763 Imperial Russian troops occupied eastern Prussia at the beginning of 1758. On 31 December 1757, Empress Elizabeth I of Russia issued an ukase about the incorporation of Königsberg into Russia. [28] On 24 January 1758, the leading burghers of Königsberg submitted to Elizabeth. [34] Five Imperial Russian general-governors administered the city during the war from 1758 to 1762 they included William Fermor and Nikolaus Friedrich von Korff [ru] . Under the terms of the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (signed 5 May 1762) Russia exited the Seven Years' War, the Russian army abandoned eastern Prussia, and the city reverted to Prussian control. [35]

Kingdom of Prussia Edit

After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Königsberg became the capital of the province of East Prussia in 1773, which replaced the Province of Prussia in 1773. By 1800 the city was approximately five miles (8.0 km) in circumference and had 60,000 inhabitants, including a military garrison of 7,000, making it one of the most populous German cities of the time. [36]

After Prussia's defeat at the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 during the War of the Fourth Coalition and the subsequent occupation of Berlin, King Frederick William III of Prussia fled with his court from Berlin to Königsberg. [37] The city was a centre for political resistance to Napoleon. In order to foster liberalism and nationalism among the Prussian middle class, the "League of Virtue" was founded in Königsberg in April 1808. The French forced its dissolution in December 1809, but its ideals were continued by the Turnbewegung of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Berlin. [38] Königsberg officials, such as Johann Gottfried Frey, formulated much of Stein's 1808 Städteordnung, or new order for urban communities, which emphasised self-administration for Prussian towns. [39] The East Prussian Landwehr was organised from the city after the Convention of Tauroggen. [40]

In 1819 Königsberg had a population of 63,800. [41] It served as the capital of the united Province of Prussia from 1824 to 1878, when East Prussia was merged with West Prussia. It was also the seat of the Regierungsbezirk Königsberg, an administrative subdivision. [42]

Led by the provincial president Theodor von Schön and the Königsberger Volkszeitung newspaper, Königsberg was a stronghold of liberalism against the conservative government of King Frederick William IV. [43] During the revolution of 1848, there were 21 episodes of public unrest in the city [44] major demonstrations were suppressed. [45] Königsberg became part of the German Empire in 1871 during the Prussian-led unification of Germany. A sophisticated for its time series of fortifications around the city that included fifteen forts was completed in 1888. [46]

The extensive Prussian Eastern Railway linked the city to Breslau, Thorn, Insterburg, Eydtkuhnen, Tilsit, and Pillau. In 1860 the railway connecting Berlin with St. Petersburg was completed and increased Königsberg's commerce. Extensive electric tramways were in operation by 1900 and regular steamers plied to Memel, Tapiau and Labiau, Cranz, Tilsit, and Danzig. The completion of a canal to Pillau in 1901 increased the trade of Russian grain in Königsberg, but, like much of eastern Germany, the city's economy was generally in decline. [47] The city was an important entrepôt for Scottish herring. in 1904 the export peaked at more than 322 thousand barrels. [48] By 1900 the city's population had grown to 188,000, with a 9,000-strong military garrison. [10] By 1914 Königsberg had a population of 246,000 [49] Jews flourished in the culturally pluralistic city. [50]

Weimar Republic Edit

Following the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, Imperial Germany was replaced with the democratic Weimar Republic. The Kingdom of Prussia ended with the abdication of the Hohenzollern monarch, Wilhelm II, and the kingdom was succeeded by the Free State of Prussia. Königsberg and East Prussia, however, were separated from the rest of Weimar Germany by the creation of the Polish Corridor.

Nazi Germany Edit

In 1932 the local paramilitary SA had already started to terrorise their political opponents. On the night of 31 July 1932 there was a bomb attack on the headquarters of the Social Democrats in Königsberg, the Otto-Braun-House. The Communist politician Gustav Sauf was killed, and the executive editor of the Social Democrat "Königsberger Volkszeitung", Otto Wyrgatsch, and the German People's Party politician Max von Bahrfeldt were severely injured. Members of the Reichsbanner were attacked and the local Reichsbanner Chairman of Lötzen, Kurt Kotzan, was murdered on 6 August 1932. [51] [52]

Following Adolf Hitler's coming to power, Nazis confiscated Jewish shops and, as in the rest of Germany, a public book burning was organised, accompanied by anti-Semitic speeches in May 1933 at the Trommelplatz square. Street names and monuments of Jewish origin were removed, and signs such as "Jews are not welcomed in hotels" started appearing. As part of the state-wide "aryanisation" of the civil service Jewish academics were ejected from the university. [53]

In July 1934 Hitler made a speech in the city in front of 25,000 supporters. [54] In 1933 the NSDAP alone received 54% of votes in the city. [54] After the Nazis took power in Germany, opposition politicians were persecuted and newspapers were banned. The Otto-Braun-House was requisitioned and became the headquarters of the SA, which used the house to imprison and torture opponents. Walter Schütz, a communist member of the Reichstag, was murdered there. [55] Many who would not co-operate with the rulers of Nazi Germany were sent to concentration camps and held prisoner there until their death or liberation.

In 1935, the Wehrmacht designated Königsberg as the Headquarters for Wehrkreis I (under the command of General der Artillerie Albert Wodrig), which took in all of East Prussia. [ citation needed ] According to the census of May 1939, Königsberg had a population of 372,164. [56]

Persecution of Jews under the Nazi regime Edit

Prior to the Nazi era, Königsberg was home to a third of East Prussia's 13,000 Jews. Under Nazi rule, the Polish and Jewish minorities were classified as Untermensch and persecuted by the authorities. The city's Jewish population shrank from 3,200 in 1933 to 2,100 in October 1938. The New Synagogue of Königsberg, constructed in 1896, was destroyed during Kristallnacht (9 November 1938) 500 Jews soon fled the city.

After the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942, Königsberg's Jews began to be deported to various Nazi concentration camps: [57] The SS sent the first and largest group of Jewish deportees, comprising 465 Jewish men, women and children, from Königsberg and East Prussia to the Maly Trostenets extermination camp near Minsk on 24 June 1942. Almost all were murdered soon after their arrival. Additional transports from Königsberg to the Theresienstadt ghetto and Auschwitz took place until 1945. [58]

Persecution of Poles during World War II Edit

In September 1939, with the German invasion against Poland underway, the Polish consulate in Königsberg was attacked (which constituted a violation of international law), its workers arrested and sent to concentration camps where several of them died. [59] Polish students at the local university were captured, tortured and finally executed. [59] Other victims included local Polish civilians guillotined for petty violations of Nazi law and regulations such as buying and selling meat. [59]

In September 1944 69,000 slave labourers were registered in the city (not counting prisoners of war), with most of them working on the outskirts within the city were 15,000 slave labourers. [60] All of them were denied freedom of movement, forced to wear a "P" sign, if Poles, or "Ost" sign, if they were from the Soviet Union, and were watched by special units of the Gestapo and Wehrmacht. [60] They were denied basic spiritual and physical needs and food, and suffered from famine and exhaustion. [60] The conditions of the forced labour were described as "tragic", especially for Poles and Russians, who were treated harshly by their German overseers. Ordered to paint German ships with toxic paints and chemicals, they were neither given gas-masks nor was there any ventilation in facilities where they worked, supposedly in order to expedite construction, while the substances evaporated in temperatures as high as 40 Celsius. As a result, there were cases of sudden illness or death during the work. [60]

Destruction in World War II Edit

In 1944, Königsberg suffered heavy damage from British bombing attacks and burned for several days. The historic city center, especially the original quarters Altstadt, Löbenicht, and Kneiphof were destroyed, including the cathedral, the castle, all churches of the old city, the old and the new universities, and the old shipping quarters. [61]

Many people fled from Königsberg ahead of the Red Army's advance after October 1944, particularly after word spread of the Soviet atrocities at Nemmersdorf. [62] [63] In early 1945, Soviet forces, under the command of the Polish-born Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, besieged the city that Hitler had envisaged as the home for a museum holding all the Germans had 'found in Russia'. [64] In Operation Samland, General Baghramyan's 1st Baltic Front, now known as the Samland Group, captured Königsberg in April. [65] Although Hitler had declared Königsberg an "invincible bastion of German spirit", the Soviets captured the city after a three-month-long siege. A temporary German breakout had allowed some of the remaining civilians to escape via train and naval evacuation from the nearby port of Pillau. Königsberg, which had been declared a "fortress" (Festung) by the Germans, was fanatically defended. [66]

On 21 January, during the Red Army's East Prussian Offensive, mostly Polish and Hungarian Jews from Seerappen, Jesau, Heiligenbeil, Schippenbeil, and Gerdauen (subcamps of Stutthof concentration camp) were gathered in Königsberg by the Nazis. Up to 7,000 of them were forced on a death march to Sambia: those that survived were subsequently executed at Palmnicken. [57]

On 9 April – one month before the end of the war in Europe – the German military commander of Königsberg, General Otto Lasch, surrendered the remnants of his forces, following the three-month-long siege by the Red Army. For this act, Lasch was condemned to death, in absentia, by Hitler. [67] At the time of the surrender, military and civilian dead in the city were estimated at 42,000, with the Red Army claiming over 90,000 prisoners. [68] Lasch's subterranean command bunker is preserved as a museum in today's Kaliningrad. [69]

About 120,000 survivors remained in the ruins of the devastated city. The German civilians were held as forced labourers until 1946. Only the Lithuanians, a small minority of the pre-war population, were collectively allowed to stay. [70] Between October 1947 and October 1948, about 100,000 Germans were forcibly moved to Germany. [71] The remaining 20,000 German residents were expelled in 1949–50. [72]

Soviet/Russian Kaliningrad Edit

At the Potsdam Conference, northern Prussia, including Königsberg, was annexed by the USSR which attached it to the Russian SFSR. In 1946, the city's name was changed to Kaliningrad. Northern Prussia remained part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, and since then has been an exclave of the Russian Federation.

The vast majority of the population belonged to the Evangelical Church of Prussia. A majority of its parishioners were Lutherans, although there were also Calvinists.

  • 1400: 10,000
  • 1663: 40,000
  • 1819: 63,869
  • 1840: 70,839
  • 1855: 83,593
  • 1871: 112,092
  • 1880: 140,909
  • 1890: 172,796
  • 1900: 189,483 (including the military), among whom were 8,465 Roman Catholics and 3,975 Jews. [73]
  • 1905: 223,770, among whom were 10,320 Roman Catholics, 4,415 Jews and 425 Poles. [74]
  • 1910: 245,994
  • 1919: 260,895
  • 1925: 279,930, among whom were 13,330 Catholics, 4,050 Jews and approximately 6,000 others. [75]
  • 1933: 315,794
  • 1939: 372,164
  • 1945: 73,000

Jews Edit

The Jewish community in the city had its origins in the 16th century, with the arrival of the first Jews in 1538. The first synagogue was built in 1756. A second, smaller synagogue which served Orthodox Jews was constructed later, eventually becoming the New Synagogue.

The Jewish population of Königsberg in the 18th century was fairly low, although this changed as restrictions [76] became relaxed over the course of the 19th century. In 1756 there were 29 families of "protected Jews" in Königsberg, which increased to 57 by 1789. The total number of Jewish inhabitants was less than 500 in the middle of the 18th century, and around 800 by the end of it, out of a total population of almost 60,000 people. [77]

The number of Jewish inhabitants peaked in 1880 at about 5,000, many of whom were migrants escaping pogroms in the Russian empire. This number declined subsequently so that by 1933, when the Nazis took over, the city had about 3,200 Jews. As a result of anti-semitism and persecution in the 1920s and 1930s two-thirds of the city's Jews emigrated, mostly to the US and Great Britain. Those who remained were shipped by the Germans to concentration camps in two waves first in 1938 to various camps in Germany, and the second in 1942 to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia, Kaiserwald concentration camp in occupied Latvia, as well as camps in Minsk in the occupied Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. [78]

Lithuanians Edit

The University of Königsberg was an important center of Protestant Lithuanian culture and studies. [79] Abraomas Kulvietis and Stanislovas Rapalionis are also seen as important early Lithuanian scholars. [79] Daniel Klein published the first Lithuanian grammar book in Königsberg in 1653.

Poles Edit

Poles were among the first professors of the University of Königsberg, [80] which received the royal Law of Privilege from king Sigismund II Augustus of Poland on 28 March 1560. [81] University of Königsberg lecturers included Hieronim Malecki (theology), Maciej Menius (astronomy) and Jan Mikulicz-Radecki (medicine). [82] Jan Kochanowski and Stanislaw Sarnicki were among the first students known to be Polish, later Florian Ceynowa, Wojciech Kętrzynski [83] and Julian Klaczko studied in Königsberg. [84] For 24 years Celestyn Myślenta (who first registered at the University as "Polonus") was a seven time rector of the university, [85] while Maciej Menius was a three times rector. [86] From 1728 there was a "Polish Seminar" at the seminary of Protestant theology, which operated until the early 1930s and had developed a number of pastors, including Christoph Mrongovius and August Grzybowski. [82] [87] Duke Albert of Prussia established a press in Königsberg that issued thousands of Polish pamphlets and religious books. During the Reformation Königsberg became a place of refuge for Polish Protestant adherents, a training ground for Polish Protestant clergy and a source of Polish Protestant literature. [88] In 1564 Jan Mączyński issued his Polish-Latin lexicon at Königsberg. [89]

According to historian Janusz Jasiński, based on estimates obtained from the records of St. Nicholas's Church, during the 1530s Lutheran Poles constituted about one quarter of the city population. This does not include Polish Catholics or Calvinists who did not have centralised places of worship until the 17th century, hence records that far back for these two groups are not available. [77]

From the 16th to 20th centuries, the city was a publishing center of Polish-language religious literature. In 1545 in Königsberg a Polish catechism was printed by Jan Seklucjan. [90] [91] In 1551 the first translation of the New Testament in Polish came out, issued by Stanisław Murzynowski. [90] Murzynowski's collections of sermons were delivered by Eustachy Trepka and in 1574 by Hieronim Malecki. The works of Mikolaj Rej were printed here by Seklucjan. [92] Maciej Stryjkowski announced in Königsberg the publication of his Kronika Polska, Litewska, Żmudzka, i wszystkiej Rusi ("A Chronicle of Poland, Lithuania, Samogitia and all Rus"). [93]

Although formally the relationship of these lands with Poland stopped at the end of the 17th century, in practice the Polish element in Königsberg played a significant role for the next century, until the outbreak of World War II. Before the second half of the 19th century many municipal institutions (e.g. courts, magistrates) employed Polish translators, and there was a course in Polish at the university. [94] Polish books were issued as well as magazines with the last one being the Kalendarz Staropruski Ewangelicki (Old Prussian Evangelical Calendar) issued between 1866 and 1931. [28]

During the Protestant Reformation the oldest church in Königsberg, St. Nicholas, was opened for non-Germans, especially Lithuanians and Poles. [95] Services for Lithuanians started in 1523, and by the mid-16th century also included ones for Poles. [96] By 1603 it had become a solely Polish-language church as Lithuanian service was moved to St. Elizabeth. In 1880 St. Nicholas was converted to a German-language church weekly Polish services remained only for Masurians in the Prussian Army, although those were halted in 1901. [97] The church was bombed in 1944, further damaged in 1945, and the remaining ruins were demolished after the war in 1950. [98]

Notable people Edit

Königsberg was the birthplace of the mathematician Christian Goldbach and the writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, as well as the home of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who lived there virtually all his life and rarely travelled more than ten miles (16 km) away from the city. [99] Kant entered the university of Königsberg at age 16 and was appointed to a chair in metaphysics there in 1770 at the age of 46. While working there he published his Critique of Pure Reason (arguing that knowledge arises from the application of innate concepts to sensory experience) and his Metaphysics of Morals which argues that virtue is acquired by the performance of duty for its own sake. [100] In 1736, the mathematician Leonhard Euler used the arrangement of the city's bridges and islands as the basis for the Seven Bridges of Königsberg Problem, which led to the mathematical branches of topology and graph theory. In the 19th century Königsberg was the birthplace of the influential mathematician David Hilbert.

Languages Edit

The language of government and high culture was German. Low Prussian dialect was widely spoken, but is now a moribund language as its refugee speakers are elderly and dying out. As the capital of the region of East Prussia which was a multi-ethnic territory, peoples speaking diverse languages such as Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Yiddish were commonly heard on the streets of Königsberg. Old Prussian, a Baltic language, became extinct in the 18th century.

The visual and performing arts Edit

In the Königsstraße (King Street) stood the Academy of Art with a collection of over 400 paintings. About 50 works were by Italian masters some early Dutch paintings were also to be found there. [101] At the Königstor (King's Gate) stood statues of King Ottakar I of Bohemia, Albert of Prussia, and Frederick I of Prussia. Königsberg had a magnificent Exchange (completed in 1875) with fine views of the harbour from the staircase. Along Bahnhofsstraße ("Station Street") were the offices of the famous Royal Amber Works – Samland was celebrated as the "Amber Coast". There was also an observatory fitted up by the astronomer Friedrich Bessel, a botanical garden, and a zoological museum. The "Physikalisch", near the Heumarkt, contained botanical and anthropological collections and prehistoric antiquities. Two large theatres built during the Wilhelmine era were the Stadttheater (municipal theatre) and the Apollo.

Königsberg Castle Edit

Königsberg Castle was one of the city's most notable structures. The former seat of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights and the Dukes of Prussia, it contained the Schloßkirche, or palace church, where Frederick I was crowned in 1701 and William I in 1861. It also contained the spacious Moscowiter-Saal, one of the largest halls in the German Reich, and a museum of Prussian history.

A center of education Edit

Königsberg became a center of education when the Albertina University was founded by Duke Albert of Prussia in 1544. The university was opposite the north and east side of the Königsberg Cathedral. Lithuanian scholar Stanislovas Rapalionis, one of the founding fathers of the university, was the first professor of theology. [102]

A multiethnic and multicultural metropolis Edit

As a consequence of the Protestant Reformation, the 1525 and subsequent Prussian church orders called for providing religious literature in the languages spoken by the recipients. [103] Duke Albrecht thus called in a Danzig (Gdańsk) book printer, Hans Weinreich, who was soon joined by other book printers, to publish Lutheran literature not only in German and (New) Latin, but also in Latvian, Lithuanian, Old Prussian and Polish. [104] The expected audience were inhabitants of the duchy, religious refugees, Lutherans in neighbouring Ermland (Warmia), Lithuania, and Poland as well as Lutheran priests from Poland and Lithuania called in by the duke. [103] Königsberg thus became a centre of printing German- and other language books: [105] In 1530, the first Polish translation of Luther's Small Catechism was published by Weinrich. [106] In 1545, Weinreich published two Old Prussian editions of the catechism, which are the oldest printed and second-oldest books in that language after the handwritten 14th-century "Elbing dictionary". [107] The first Lithuanian-language book, Catechismvsa prasty szadei, makslas skaitima raschta yr giesmes by Martynas Mažvydas, was also printed in Königsberg, published by Weinreich in 1547. [108] Further Polish- and Lithuanian-language religious and non-religious prints followed. One of the first newspapers in the Polish was published in Königsberg in the years 1718–1720, the Poczta Królewiecka. [6]

Sports Edit

Sports clubs which played in Königsberg included VfB Königsberg and SV Prussia-Samland Königsberg. Lilli Henoch, the world record holder in the discus, shot put, and 4 × 100 meters relay events who was killed by the Nazis, was born in Königsberg, [109] as was Eugen Sandow, dubbed the "father of modern bodybuilding". Segelclub RHE, Germany's oldest sailing club, was founded in Königsberg in 1855. The club still exists, and is now headquartered in Hamburg.

Cuisine Edit

Königsberg was well known within Germany for its unique regional cuisine. A popular dish from the city was Königsberger Klopse, which is still made today in some specialist restaurants in Kaliningrad and present-day Germany.

Other food and drink native to the city included:

The fortifications of Königsberg consist of numerous defensive walls, forts, bastions and other structures. They make up the First and the Second Defensive Belt, built in 1626–1634 and 1843–1859, respectively. [46] The 15-metre-thick First Belt was erected due to Königsberg's vulnerability during the Polish–Swedish wars. [46] The Second Belt was largely constructed on the place of the first one, which was in a bad condition. [46] The new belt included twelve bastions, three ravelins, seven spoil banks and two fortresses, surrounded by water moat. [46] Ten brick gates served as entrances and passages through defensive lines and were equipped with moveable bridges. [46]

There was a Bismarck tower just outside Königsberg, on the Galtgarben, the highest point on the Sambian peninsula. It was built in 1906 and destroyed by German troops sometime in January 1945 as the Soviets approached. [111] [112]

Hitler authorizes killing of disabled

In October 1939 Adolf Hitler did something extremely unusual. He signed a document which linked him directly with a course of action which could reflect badly on him &ndash the so called &lsquoadult euthanasia&rsquo policy of killing selected disabled patients. The document, which allowed his physician, Dr Brandt, and one of his secretariat, Philipp Bouhler, to pursue a policy of &lsquomercy killing&rsquo was backdated &ndash significantly &ndash to 1 September 1939, the day the Nazis invaded Poland.

The reason Hitler signed the document was because it was proving hard for his subordinates to push forward with something as radical as the killing of the disabled without some form of authorization. For this document did not mark the start of the campaign against the disabled &ndash the policy of &lsquoeuthanasia&rsquo was already in operation.

Indeed, the idea of &lsquoVernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens&rsquo (destruction of life not worthy of life) had been around since the 1920s and had taken additional force as an extension of the eugenics movement. Eugenics, whose prime idea was that only genetically &lsquosuitable&rsquo people should be allowed to have children, had followers in many countries in the first half of the Twentieth Century, notably in America where several states &ndash like Indiana &ndash enacted legislation which made it legal to sterilize certain mentally ill individuals.

Not surprisingly, given his core belief in the notion of the &lsquosurvival of the fittest&rsquo, Hitler embraced the ideas of &lsquoconventional&rsquo eugenics, but wanted to take them to an extreme level. In a propaganda film like &lsquoOpfer der Vergangenheit&rsquo (Victims of the Past), shown in 1937, the Nazi vision was made clear. Patients in mental asylums were revealed as suffering in their own minds, whilst the commentary made clear the cost to the state of keeping these people in care. The implication was obvious &ndash if these people did not exist then the Nazi state would be much better off.

The route by which this ideological notion &ndash that it would be better to remove the seriously disabled &ndash became a practical reality reveals a great deal about how policy could be made in the Nazi state. Sometime early in 1939 the father of a severely disabled child wrote a petition to Hitler asking that his son should be killed &ndash a so called &lsquomercy&rsquo killing. The petition landed in the Fuehrer&rsquos Chancellery, controlled by an ambitious Nazi called Philipp Bouhler and staffed by his no less ambitious underlings. The petition was chosen from thousands of others to be seen personally by Hitler. When he saw it he ordered Dr Brandt to consult with the child&rsquos doctors and then, subsequently, the child was killed. Hitler then authorized other children to be dealt with the same way. Eventually, around 8,000 children were killed, mostly by poisonous injections.

In the summer of 1939, Hitler let it be known that he would approve of adult patients who had severe mental illnesses being treated in the same way. Significantly he said that medical resources could be put to better use in any forthcoming war. i Bouhler and Viktor Brack, his deputy, were keen to turn their Fuehrer&rsquos wishes into practical policy and soon a variety of organisations with reassuring names (like &lsquoCommunity Patients&rsquo Transport&rsquo) were established, all based in a house at Number 4 Tiergartenstrasse. Thus, the killing programme that developed was known as T4.

It was in order to give formal legitimation to this operation that Hitler signed the document he did in October 1939. Then, over the next 20 months, the T4 team organized the killing of 70,000 to 90,000 disabled people. In order to deal with this many people a new system of murder was developed. In several asylums, like Sonnenstein in east Germany, special fake &lsquoshower&rsquo rooms were built. Once the patients entered these rooms, any suspicions lulled because they thought they were about to take a shower, carbon monoxide gas was pumped into the room in order to kill them. This technique, pioneered in the killing of the disabled, was later to appear in modified form as a method of murdering the Jews.

This so-called &lsquoadult euthanasia&rsquo scheme was extended in 1941 to concentration camps in a programme known as 14f 13. Prisoners, who had been selected as too sick to work, were transported to the euthanasia killing centres. In fact, the first Auschwitz prisoners to be gassed in the summer of 1941 were not selected because they were Jews, but because &ndash following 14f 13 &ndash they were sick, and they were not gassed in the camp (no such facility yet existed) but transported to Sonnenstein to be murdered. ii

Perhaps not surprisingly given Nazi ideology, German Jews in mental asylums were, from the spring of 1940, killed under the adult euthanasia scheme without selection by doctors, and in occupied Poland a similar widening of the killing criteria was made so that all the inmates in mental asylums could be killed. In Poland another new method of killing was devised, the gas van. Mental patients were put in the back of a lorry and taken for a drive. Once under way the driver would turn a switch and the carbon monoxide gas from the engine exhaust would be pumped back into the sealed area where the patients were crammed. At the end of the journey, they were dead. By May 1940 around 10,000 Polish mental patients had been killed in this way in the Germanized areas of West Prussia and the Warthegau.

Within Germany, after opposition from church leaders (notably Bishop Galen), Hitler called a halt to the euthanasia action in August 1941, but many of the T4 staff simply moved on to use their killing expertise in the murder of the Jews. Most notable was Christian Wirth, a committed Nazi and policeman in Stuggart, who had been one of the earliest members of T4 and had helped organize a gassing demonstration in a mental asylum in Brandenburg in January 1940. iii He would now go on to help build Belzec, the first killing centre for Jews which used fixed gas chambers. Then in August 1942 he was appointed to the job of Inspector of three death camps (Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka).

The Nazi euthanasia scheme developed because enthusiastic, committed underlings attempted to make real the &lsquovision&rsquo of their leader, Adolf Hitler. Something similar would happen with the development of the Nazis&rsquo &lsquoFinal Solution&rsquo &ndash the extermination of the Jews &ndash only this time, of course, Hitler would be careful not to leave any paper trail behind.

i Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936-1945: Nemesis, Allen Lane, 2000, p. 259
ii Laurence Rees, Auschwitz: The Nazis and the &lsquoFinal Solution&rsquo, BBC Books, 2005, pp. 75-77
iii Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939 &ndash March 1945, William Heinemann, 2004, p. 191

How the Nazis “Normalized” Anti-Semitism by Appealing to Children

One night, some 30 years ago, Kenneth Rendell followed the owner of a military shop outside London through a side door into the store. It was pitch black, and Rendell bumped into something. “I’m just standing there waiting for him to turn the lights on and the alarm off,” he says. “When he turned the lights on, it scared the crap out of me.”

Rendell was face-to-face with a mannequin wearing a black uniform of a Nazi SS officer stationed in Dachau. Where other military uniforms tend to be beige and loose-fitting, the Nazi uniform was designed to frighten people with its dark color, silver trim, red swastika armband and the skull that appears beneath the insignia on the cap.  “I realized this is propaganda,” he says of the uniform, about midway into a two-and-a-half hour tour of his museum, which sits some 30 minutes west of Boston. “Look at the skull’s head. This is so frightening.”

The uniform was the first German object purchased by Rendell, founder and director of the voluminous and meticulously-curated Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts. His collection numbers 7,000 artifacts and more than 500,000 documents and photographs, and the museum is slated to expand later this year. When visitors round a corner from a section on occupied Europe, they suddenly find themselves opposite the uniform, much like Rendell was 30 years ago.

“I really wanted this to be shocking and in-your-face,” he says. “People don’t go through here quickly. People really slow down.”

“But the Germans—they stand Foursquare. Look, children, and the two compare, The German and the Jew.” From Elvira Bauer’s book Trau keinem Fuchs auf grüner Heid und keinem Jud auf seinem Eid(Never Trust a Fox on the Green Heath and Never Trust a Jew by His Oath), 1936 Nuremberg: Stürmer Verlag. (The Museum of World War II, Boston)

Rendell, who grew up in Boston, started collecting as a child. In 1959, he opened the dealership in autographs and historical documents, letters, and manuscripts that he continues to operate. His clients over the years, according to news reports, have included Bill Gates, Queen Elizabeth and the Kennedy family. “I have loved every day since then as the temporary possessor of the written record of mankind’s greatest heroes and villains, as well as the countless individuals who wittingly or unwittingly became a part of the dramas of history,” his website records.

Although Rendell has no family connection to World War II, he has amassed an enormous collection, and his museum, which is slated to begin construction on a new building next year, displays the sobering and terrifying items tastefully. Rather than coming off overly-curated or frivolous, the encounter with that Nazi uniform strikes just the right tone.

One of the messages of both Rendell’s museum, and the New-York Historical Society exhibit “Anti-Semitism 1919�” (through July 31) culled from his collection, is that the Holocaust didn’t arise out of nothing it spawned out of a long and vicious history of European hatred of Jews.

The exhibit, adds Louise Mirrer, the president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, “is about the ease with which the rhetoric of hatred, directed against a particular group—in this case, of course, the Jews—can permeate a national discourse and become ‘normal’ for ordinary people.”

The exhibit includes several items with Hitler’s handwriting, including an outline from a 1939 speech, posters and newspaper clippings, an original Nuremberg Laws printing, and signs warning that park benches are off limits to Jews.

This “normalization,” however, is perhaps most apparent in the hate-filled toys and books designed for children. The exhibit features a 1938 book, whose first page states: “Just as it is often hard to tell a toadstool [a poisonous mushroom] from an edible mushroom, so too is it often very hard to recognize the Jew as a swindler and criminal.” The book, aptly titled The Poisonous Mushroom, adds, “The God of the Jews is money.” The exhibited book opens to an illustration of a blond boy, with basket in hand, holding a mushroom as a woman, evoking Renaissance depictions of saints, points to the fungus.

“The strongest manifestation of anti-Semitism in the exhibition is in the children’s books,” says Mirrer. “Anti-Semitism really has to be introduced at the earliest possible moment in the education of German children.”

Der Jude als Rasseschänder (The Jew as Destroyer of the Race), 1934 (The Museum of World War II, Boston)

Whereas objects in the exhibit, like anti-Semitic faces depicted on ashtrays or walking sticks, where the handle is made of an elongated Jewish nose, reflect longstanding European stereotypical tropes, the children’s books exemplify the culmination of the desensitization that took place leading up to and during World War II.

“You kind of lose the capacity to feel appalled. And then you just believe it,” Mirrer says. “Being exposed to such appalling comparisons over an extended period of time desensitized even the most well-meaning of people, so that comparisons like the Jew and the poisonous mushroom eventually came to seem ‘normal.’”

The children’s books, she adds, proved an effective tool for convincing young Germans that Jews were poisonous to the country. “Children, as we know from research on learning, have to be taught prejudice,” she says.

Rendell agrees. “Hitler Youth recruits were fanatical,” he says. And those who were exposed to the books as children went on to military roles. Rendell’s museum includes in its collections toy soldiers, dolls, and a board game where the pieces move along a swastika.

“Board games and toys for children served as another way to spread racial and political propaganda to German youth,” notes a page on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. “Toys were also used as propaganda vehicles to indoctrinate children into militarism.” The program, which “won over” millions of young Germans, expanded from 50,000 Hitler Youth in January 1933 to 5.4 million youth in 1936, when German authorities disbanded competing organizations for children, the website adds.

Rendell developed a unique collection by pursuing objects related to anti-Semitism at a time when few others sought those sorts of pieces, says Mirrer. “His collection speaks persuasively to our exhibition’s point about how, unchecked, anti-Semitism can spread throughout an entire society,” she says.

Rendell says his museum is the only one he is aware of with a worldwide perspective on World War II. Other countries have national collections and perspectives, because each thinks it won the war, he says. It takes starting with the Versailles treaty, which came down especially hard on Germany, to understand why there was a perceived need in Germany for a resurgence of nationalism.

“Everyone treats the rise of Nazism—that Adolf Hitler is in power,” says Rendell. “But how did he get into power? He ran for office. Twice. They changed anti-Semitism to fit political campaigns.”


Prussian Edit

Historically, Lutheranism had a strong influence on German culture, including its education. Martin Luther advocated compulsory schooling so that all people would independently be able to read and interpret the Bible. This concept became a model for schools throughout Germany. German public schools generally have religious education provided by the churches in cooperation with the state ever since.

During the 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia was among the first countries in the world to introduce free and generally compulsory primary education, consisting of an eight-year course of basic education,Volksschule. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world (reading, writing, and arithmetic) but also a strict education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience. Children of affluent parents often went on to attend preparatory private schools for an additional four years, but the general population had virtually no access to secondary education and universities.

In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia introduced state certification requirements for teachers, which significantly raised the standard of teaching. The final examination, Abitur, was introduced in 1788, implemented in all Prussian secondary schools by 1812 and extended to all of Germany in 1871. The state also established teacher training colleges for prospective teachers in the common or elementary grades.

German Empire Edit

When the German Empire was formed in 1871, the school system became more centralized. In 1872, Prussia recognized the first separate secondary schools for females. As learned professions demanded well-educated young people, more secondary schools were established, and the state claimed the sole right to set standards and to supervise the newly established schools.

Four different types of secondary schools developed:

  • A nine-year classical Gymnasium (including study of Latin and Classical Greek or Hebrew, plus one modern language)
  • A nine-year Realgymnasium (focusing on Latin, modern languages, science and mathematics)
  • A six-year Realschule (without university entrance qualification, but with the option of becoming a trainee in one of the modern industrial, office or technical jobs) and
  • A nine-year Oberrealschule (focusing on modern languages, science and mathematics).

By the turn of the 20th century, the four types of schools had achieved equal rank and privilege, although they did not have equal prestige. [14]

Weimar Republic Edit

After 1919, the Weimar Republic established a free, universal four-year elementary school (Grundschule). Most pupils continued at these schools for another four-year course. Those who were able to pay a small fee went on to a Mittelschule that provided a more challenging curriculum for an additional one or two years. Upon passing a rigorous entrance exam after year four, pupils could also enter one of the four types of secondary school.

Nazi Germany Edit

During the Nazi era (1933–1945), though the curriculum was reshaped to teach the beliefs of the regime, [15] the basic structure of the education system remained unchanged.

East Germany Edit

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) started its own standardized education system in the 1960s. The East German equivalent of both primary and secondary schools was the Polytechnic Secondary School (Polytechnische Oberschule), which all students attended for 10 years, from the ages of 6 to 16. At the end of the 10th year, an exit examination was set. Depending upon the results, a pupil could choose to come out of education or undertake an apprenticeship for an additional two years, followed by an Abitur. Those who performed very well and displayed loyalty to the ruling party could change to the Erweiterte Oberschule (extended high school), where they could take their Abitur examinations after 12 school years. Although this system was abolished in the early 1990s after reunification, it continues to influence school life in the eastern German states. [ citation needed ]

West Germany Edit

After World War II, the Allied powers (Soviet Union, France, United Kingdom, and the U.S.) ensured that Nazi ideology was eliminated from the curriculum. They installed educational systems in their respective occupation zones that reflected their own ideas. When West Germany gained partial independence in 1949, its new constitution (Grundgesetz) granted educational autonomy to the state (Länder) governments. This led to widely varying school systems, often making it difficult for children to continue schooling whilst moving between states. [16]

Multi-state agreements ensure that basic requirements are universally met by all state school systems. Thus, all children are required to attend one type of school (five or six days a week) from the age of 6 to the age of 16. A pupil may change schools in the case of exceptionally good (or exceptionally poor) ability. Graduation certificates from one state are recognized by all the other states. Qualified teachers are able to apply for posts in any of the states.

Federal Republic of Germany Edit

Since the 1990s, a few changes have been taking place in many schools:

  • Introduction of bilingual education in some subjects
  • Experimentation with different styles of teaching
  • Equipping all schools with computers and Internet access
  • Creation of local school philosophy and teaching goals (Schulprogramm), to be evaluated regularly
  • Reduction of Gymnasium school years (Abitur after grade 12) and introduction of afternoon periods as in many other western countries (turned down in 2019)

In 2000 after much public debate about Germany's perceived low international ranking in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), there has been a trend towards a less ideological discussion on how to develop schools. These are some of the new trends:

  • Establishing federal standards on quality of teaching
  • More practical orientation in teacher training
  • Transfer of some responsibility from the Ministry of Education to local school
    now requires mandatory English lessons in Grundschule
  • The educational act (Bildungspakt) in 2019 is designed to increase the use of the internet and computers in schools.

In Germany, education is the responsibility of the states (Länder) and part of their constitutional sovereignty (Kulturhoheit der Länder). Teachers are employed by the Ministry of Education for the state and usually have a job for life after a certain period (verbeamtet) (which, however, is not comparable in timeframe nor competitiveness to the typical tenure track, e.g. at universities in the US). This practice depends on the state and is currently changing. A parents' council is elected to voice the parents' views to the school's administration. Each class elects one or two Klassensprecher (class presidents if two are elected usually one is male and the other female), who meet several times a year as the Schülerrat (students' council).

A team of school presidents is also elected by the pupils each year, whose main purpose is organizing school parties, sports tournaments and the like for their fellow students. The local town is responsible for the school building and employs the janitorial and secretarial staff. For an average school of 600 – 800 students, there may be two janitors and one secretary. School administration is the responsibility of the teachers, who receive a reduction in their teaching hours if they participate.

Church and state are separated in Germany. Compulsory school prayers and compulsory attendance at religious services at state schools are against the constitution. (It is expected, though, to stand politely for the school prayer even if one does not pray along.)

Literacy Edit

Over 99% of Germans aged 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write. [17]

German preschool is known as a Kindergarten (plural Kindergärten) or Kita, short for Kindertagesstätte (meaning "children's daycare center"). Children between the ages of 2 and 6 attend Kindergärten, which are not part of the school system. They are often run by city or town administrations, churches, or registered societies, many of which follow a certain educational approach as represented, e.g., by Montessori or Reggio Emilia or Berliner Bildungsprogramm . Forest kindergartens are well established. Attending a Kindergarten is neither mandatory nor free of charge, but can be partly or wholly funded, depending on the local authority and the income of the parents. All caretakers in Kita or Kindergarten must have a three-year qualified education, or be under special supervision during training.

Kindergärten can be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or longer and may also house a Kinderkrippe, meaning crèche, for children between the ages of eight weeks and three years, and possibly an afternoon Hort (often associated with a primary school) for school-age children aged 6 to 10 who spend the time after their lessons there. Alongside nurseries, there are day-care nurses (called Tagesmutter, plural Tagesmütter—the formal, gender-neutral form is Tagespflegeperson(en)) working independently from any pre-school institution in individual homes and looking after only three to five children typically up to three years of age. These nurses are supported and supervised by local authorities.

The term Vorschule, meaning 'pre-school', is used both for educational efforts in Kindergärten and for a mandatory class that is usually connected to a primary school. Both systems are handled differently in each German state. The Schulkindergarten is a type of Vorschule.

During the German Empire, children were able to pass directly into secondary education after attending a privately run, fee-based Vorschule which then was another sort of primary school. The Weimar Constitution banned these, feeling them to be an unjustified privilege, and the Basic Law still contains the constitutional rule (Art. 7 Sect. VI) that: Pre-schools shall remain abolished.

Homeschooling Edit

Homeschooling is – between Schulpflicht (compulsory schooling) beginning with elementary school to 18 years – illegal in Germany. The illegality has to do with the prioritization of children's rights over the rights of parents: children have the right to the company of other children and adults who are not their parents, also parents cannot opt their kids out of sexual education classes because the state considers a child's right to information to be more important than a parent's desire to withhold it. [18]

Parents looking for a suitable school for their child have a wide choice of elementary schools

  • State school. State schools do not charge tuition fees. The majority of pupils attend state schools in their neighbourhood. Schools in affluent areas tend to be better than those in deprived areas. Once children reach school age, many middle-class and working-class families move away from deprived areas. [citation needed]
  • or, alternatively
    • Waldorf school (2,006 schools in 2007) (covers grades from 1–13) school (272)
    • Freie Alternativschule (free alternative school) (85 [19] ) (63) or Catholic (114) parochial schools

    The entry year can vary between 5 and 7, while stepping back or skipping a grade is also possible.

    After children complete their primary education (at 10 years of age, 12 in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are five options for secondary schooling:

    1. Gymnasium (grammar school) until grade 12 or 13 (with Abitur as exit exam, qualifying for university) and
    2. Fachoberschule admission after grade ten until grade twelve (with Fachhochschulreife (between Abitur and Realschulabschluss) as exit exam). It is also possible to leave after grade thirteen and receive either the fachgebundene Abitur (if one hasn't learned a foreign language other than English) or the Abitur (with a second language at European level B1)
    3. Realschule until grade ten (with Mittlere Reife (Realschulabschluss) as exit exam)
    4. Mittelschule (the least academic, much like a modernized Volksschule [elementary school]) until grade nine (with Hauptschulabschluss and in some cases Mittlere Reife = Realschulabschuss as exit exam) in some federal states the Hauptschule does not exist and pupils are mainstreamed into a Mittelschule or Regionale Schule instead.
    5. Gesamtschule (comprehensive school)

    After passing through any of the above schools, pupils can start a career with an apprenticeship in the Berufsschule (vocational school). The Berufsschule is normally attended twice a week during a two, three, or three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship the other days are spent working at a company. This is intended to provide a knowledge of theory and practice. The company is obliged to accept the apprentice on its apprenticeship scheme. After this, the apprentice is registered on a list at the Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK) (chamber of industry and commerce). During the apprenticeship, the apprentice is a part-time salaried employee of the company. After passing the Berufsschule and the exit exams of the IHK, a certificate is awarded and the young person is ready for a career up to a low management level. In some areas, the schemes teach certain skills that are a legal requirement (special positions in a bank, legal assistants).

    Some special areas provide different paths. After attending any of the above schools and gaining a leaving certificate like Hauptschulabschluss, Mittlere Reife (or Realschulabschuss, from a Realschule) or Abitur from a Gymnasium or a Gesamtschule, school leavers can start a career with an apprenticeship at a Berufsschule (vocational school). Here the student is registered with certain bodies, e.g. associations such as the German Bar Association (Deutsche Rechtsanwaltskammer, GBA) (board of directors). During the apprenticeship, the young person is a part-time salaried employee of the institution, bank, physician or attorney's office. After leaving the Berufsfachschule and passing the exit examinations set by the German Bar Association or other relevant associations, the apprentice receives a certificate and is ready for a career at all levels except in positions which require a specific higher degree, such as a doctorate. In some areas, the apprenticeship scheme teaches skills that are required by law, including certain positions in a bank or those as legal assistants. The 16 states have exclusive responsibility in the field of education and professional education. The federal parliament and the federal government can influence the educational system only by financial aid to the states. There are many different school systems, but in each state the starting point is always the Grundschule (elementary school) for a period of four years or six years in the case of Berlin and Brandenburg.

    Percentage of jobholders holding Hauptschulabschluss, Realschulabschluss or Abitur in Germany [20]
    1970 1982 1991 2000
    Hauptschulabschluss 87.7% 79.3% 66.5% 54.9%
    Realschulabschluss 10.9% 17.7% 27% 34.1%
    Abitur 1.4% 3% 6.5% 11%

    Grades 5 and 6 form an orientation or testing phase (Orientierungs- or Erprobungsstufe) during which students, their parents and teachers decide which of the above-mentioned paths the students should follow. In all states except Berlin and Brandenburg, this orientation phase is embedded into the program of the secondary schools. The decision for a secondary school influences the student's future, but during this phase changes can be made more easily. In practice this rarely comes to bear because teachers are afraid of sending pupils to more academic schools whereas parents are afraid of sending their children to less academic schools. In Berlin and Brandenburg, the orientation is embedded into that of the elementary schools. Teachers give a so-called educational (path) recommendation (Bildungs(gang)empfehlung) based on scholastic achievements in the main subjects (mathematics, German, natural sciences, foreign language) and classroom behavior with details and legal implications differing from state to state: in some German states, those wishing to apply to a Gymnasium or Realschule require such a recommendation stating that the student is likely to make a successful transition to that type of school in other cases anyone may apply. In Berlin 30% – 35% of Gymnasium places are allocated by lottery. A student's performance at primary school is immaterial. [ citation needed ] While the entry year is depending on the last year in the Grundschule stepping back or skipping a grade is possible between 7th and 10th grade and only stepping back between 5th and 6th grade (so called Erprobungsstufe, meaning testing grade) and 11th and 12th grade.

    The eastern states Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia combine Hauptschule and Realschule into Sekundarschule, Mittelschule and Regelschule respectively. All German states have Gymnasium as one possibility for the more able children, and all states—except Saxony—have some Gesamtschulen, but in different forms. The states of Berlin and Hamburg have only two types of schools: comprehensive schools and Gymnasium.

    Learning a foreign language is compulsory throughout Germany in secondary schools and English is one of the more popular choices. Students at certain Gymnasium are required to learn Latin as their first foreign language and choose a second foreign language. The list of available foreign languages as well as the hours of compulsory foreign language lessons differ from state to state, but the more common choices besides Latin are English, French, Spanish, and ancient Greek. Many schools also offer voluntary study groups for the purpose of learning other languages. At which stage students begin learning a foreign language differs from state to state and is tailored to the cultural and socio-economical dynamics of each state. In some states, foreign language education starts in Grundschule (primary school). For example, in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, English starts in the third year of elementary school. Baden-Württemberg starts with English or French in the first year. The Saarland, which borders France, begins with French in the third year of primary school and French is taught in high school as the main foreign language.

    It may cause problems in terms of education for families that plan to move from one German state to another as there are partially completely different curricula for nearly every subject. [ citation needed ]

    Realschule students gain the chance to take their Abitur at a Gymnasium with a good degree in the Realschulabschluss. Stepping up is always provided by the school system. [ clarification needed ] Adults who did not achieve a Realschulabschluss or Abitur, or reached its equivalent, have the option of attending evening classes at an Abendgymnasium or Abendrealschule.

    Nazi Destruction of Educational Facilities - HISTORY

    It is estimated that over a third of all German books had already been destroyed by bombing in West Germany alone, * and this does not include those books in the areas taken from Germany after the war. Added to the millions of German books destroyed worldwide during the anti-German hysteria of World War One, far more German books were destroyed in the twentieth century than likely exist today. But before we discuss it further, let us go back in time a bit.

    Until the advent of the printing press, books were hand-scribed and existed in only one or a few copies. Burning them ensured that no one would ever read them. One man would soon change that.In 1454, Johannes Gutenberg began to print the first book made by movable type. He put six presses in operation and he set type for his most monumental task: printing the entire Bible. At the time, Bibles were rare and hard to find. Even Martin Luther did not see a complete Bible until adulthood. Gutenberg’s excellent workmanship paid off and his Bible was the first book ever printed considered by many to be the most beautiful book as well. Each Bible had 1,282 pages with 42 lines on a page divided into two columns. He printed 300 copes of each page and bound them to make 300 identical Bibles. In 1519, there were only 900 books printed in Germany. By 1521, there were half a million Luther bibles alone printed.

    Now German rather than Latin Bibles were published at such a low price that the masses could own and read one without priestly interpretation. Within 50 years, more than nine million copies of books had been printed, and book burning was no longer an effective thought-control measure.

    Little is known about Gutenberg and not a single proven portrait of him exists, but he may have looked down from the heavens as Germany’s first official censorship office was established 20 years after his bible was printed and a local Archbishop pleaded with town officials to censor “dangerous publications.” In England, Henry VIII required printers to submit all manuscripts to the Church of England for approval, and he outlawed all imported publications in 1529. French king Francis I issued an edict prohibiting the printing of books in 1535. By 1559, in reaction to the spread of Protestantism and scientific inquiry, the Roman Catholic Church issued the Index Librorum Prohibitorum to guide censors as to which publications to allow. The Index eventually listed 5,000 titles and existed until 1966.

    While the European kings and priests were busy burning, over in the new world of 1650, the Puritan general court in Massachusetts confiscated and condemned a religious pamphlet by William Pynchon and it was burned in the Boston marketplace in what was probably the first American book-burning.

    Beginning with the 1735 trial of New York publisher John Peter Zenger, however, the laws governing censorship in the United States have been clear. Truth is an absolute protection for those charged with making hurtful, damaging, or embarrassing statements about anyone or anything.

    Zenger was a German immigrant who came to America as an indentured servant and experienced tyranny in his new homeland first hand. Against incredible odds he succeeded in a world which had regarded him as an inferior. Yet so strong was his faith in freedom and in the rights of man to form his own opinions, that he risked his life for these tenets of a free society. Zenger’s Trial

    During the Age of Enlightenment, more freedom to read material of one’s choice was enjoyed in Europe than in today’s European Union, and this contributed to an intellectually curious society. But soon calls for censorship arose, cloaked in sanctimonious prattle such as “preventing corruption of the young” (ironically a concept often cited in the German censorship laws today).

    Later, in the USA, Special Agent of the U.S. Post Office Anthony Comstock founded the “New York Society for the Suppression of Vice” in 1872 and convinced Congress to pass the “Comstock Law” which banned the mailing of “lewd, indecent, filthy or obscene” materials which included, among other classics, The Arabian Nights, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Authors Censored under the Comstock Law include Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Victor Hugo, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, and Eugene O’Neill.

    We might think those days were long behind a progressive society, but not under certain circumstances, and “re-education” of Germans was one a circumstance.

    The Allied consensus upon victory was the doctrine of collective guilt: all Germans, young or old, shared the blame for the war. The idea was entrenched enough that it caused no surprise when U.S. President Harry S. Truman refused to alleviate the famine of the German population in December, 1945, stating : “though all Germans might not be guilty for the war, it would be too difficult to try to single out for better treatment those who had nothing to do with the Nazi regime and its crimes.” Apparently this applied even to babies and young children. It was during this time, when German cities were in rubble, millions were dead or missing and anywhere up to 20 million homeless Germans were living on food rations of less than 1,000 calories a day, that both the British and the Americans took control of German media to instill a sense of collective guilt in the population.

    Not only was there was unfettered plunder and looting of German libraries and schools, the Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) had been fully organized in anticipation of victory and almost instantly embarked upon an intense, well-mapped psychological propaganda campaign for the purpose of developing a German sense of collective guilt and, using the American controlled German media, launched a massive campaign to shock and subjugate the German mind. This including control over what they read. SHAEF

    All German literature found in both the Soviet and the Western Occupation Zones was subjected to censorship. In the U.S. zone, it was regulated by the occupation directive JCS 1067 valid until July 1947, and in the May 1946 order valid for all zones until 1950. Allied Control Authority Order No. 4 stated: “Confiscation of Literature and Material of a Nazi and Militarist Nature” dictated that all confiscated literature was reduced to pulp instead of burning to avoid accusations of book burning! Unfortunately, those in charge of disposal often didn’t know Goethe from Goofy, and thousands of innocuous, even rare, books were “pulped.”

    The first such list of material was followed by three supplements, totaling 35,000 books and a ban was applied to all textbooks published from 1933 to 1945. All such publications and materials were ordered by the Allied “re-education” teams to be “released to the Commanders of each Zone to be destroyed” and all books having “National Socialist propaganda, racial teachings and calls to violence or propaganda directed against the United Nations, etc.” were removed from all libraries, schools, universities, research institutes, academies, technical or academic societies, bookstores, publishing houses and even from some private homes. and then destroyed. This massive, haphazard vandalism was carried out by unqualified people from 1946 to 1952, and many books were lost forever due to careless storage and handling, all under the battle cry of making the world a safer place.

    This was the greatest campaign of book destruction of all time and ended up being applied not only to the offending books, but to poetry, philosophy, musical verse, calendars, horse books, books about trade and agriculture, driving manuals, books about flowers, home building, barns, astronomy, plumbing, poets, tennis and books about gardening. Hundreds of years of German history and culture were lost due to this arrogant abuse of authority, brazen incompetence and total ignorance.

    Books about birds made the list, as well as books by Friedrich the Great and Bismarck and antique European military history books. Popular children’s books, including rare editions of the Brothers Grimm, were pulped on the grounds that they “provoked violence.” Everything about the Olympic Games of 1936 was banned. Books by the ancient poets were pulped. Even books once banned by the NS were destroyed! Sloppy handling caused the loss of the entire musical works of Richard Strauss and several Gutenberg bibles were fried in this orgy of stupidity. TIME Article

    Greed also played a part. The British Library was so disgusted and frightened by German books that it alone possesses about 12,000 books the Allies seized from German libraries and institutions between June 1944 and 1947. The US Library of Congress was so appalled by dangerous German books that it obtained over 819,000 Allied confiscated German books by 1948 and 2 million other pieces of German literature. Congress kept 28% of the stock, including Hitler’s private library, and sent 72% to the Association of Research Libraries. Only a small portion was ever returned to Germany. The French take is unclear, but the Soviets stole a lion’s share, especially rare illuminated medieval manuscripts, but they were at least direct: since “Germany started the war” they deserved to loot German cultural history. Millions of other German books that survived the bombings and looting were stolen by occupying soldiers.

    Beginning with “re-education” at the end of the War, Germany has continued the strict censorship imposed by the Soviet and the Allied occupiers. Even today, using the “special history” excuse, “nationalistic” books, songs and symbols are illegal even in private in Austria and Germany, and Germany has been aggressive in trying to expand its own strict laws beyond its borders. Almost all prosecutions of censorship violations have taken place in connection with what they term holocaust “revisionism” or “denial.” Merely questioning an aspect, re-analyzing data, expressing a maverick theory or trying to revise a statistic pertaining to this subject is lumped under “holocaust denial” which is illegal not only in Germany and Austria, but in most of Europe. “To have failed to write about a particular historical event in a balanced manner” (?) is a crime that can send an amateur historian to jail and he will often serve a longer sentence than a child molester or serial rapist.

    Thousands of people have been convicted of violating European “denial” laws and they are currently languishing in European dungeons. Cases prosecuted under these laws go unchallenged even when the convicted parties were pacifists and never proposed violence but were simply expressing their opinion. In the cases of scientists, artists, singers or writers convicted of this offense, their homes and businesses are raided and their work is destroyed by the state. Worse, the definition of “denial” is being broadened and is defined today as “hard-core” and “soft-core” denial, the latter including discussion of the Allied bombing campaign against Germany as well as the Expulsions of ethnic German civilians after the war. Even liberal writers extremely critical of the Third Reich have been tarnished as “soft-core deniers” when they came out with books discussing the heavy toll of Allied bombing upon the German civilians in the war.

    Canadians are now also paying the price for exercising their right to free expression. Their Human Rights Act “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” and this has been interpreted by the Canadian courts and Human Rights Commission in a such manner which makes its constitutional guarantee of free speech pretty much meaningless when compared to other “collective rights and interests.” It is utterly useless in protecting free speech when that speech might offend someone as this turns an insult into “hate speech.” The Act states: “Freedom of expression ceases to be a fundamental characteristic of democratic values when it becomes a vehicle for the promotion of hate.” Exactly how hate is defined is left up to the courts, bureaucrats, special interest groups, panels and politicians. Books and videos of an “offending” nature are destroyed and such material found by Canadian customs guards at the US border is destroyed.

    Like European “anti-racism” and “denial” laws, the persistent efforts to curb free speech in the US have generally been proposed under the guise of preventing “racial hatred.” The US, with its foundations rooted in individual liberty, does not have censorship laws as such, but it is being steadily pressured in that direction by proposals of insidiously twined “hate crime” laws with censorship laws. These zealous efforts, however innocuous on the surface, quickly escalate into full fledged assaults upon individual liberties and cherished legal traditions of free speech. The prosecution needs only to show that someone became or could become a “hater” due to reading an offending book, viewing an offending website or listening to an offending speech or song, the authors of such books, sites or songs therefore become guilty of “spreading hate” by default! By this fancy footwork, an illegal act is redefined from what one DID DO into what one MIGHT DO, or more aptly, what one MIGHT THINK, and this is followed by a mess of judicial silliness and sloppy prosecutions based on emotion, politics and hurt feelings rather than respectable jurisprudence.

    In short, with language straight out of 16th century religious heresy or witch trials, today’s efforts to impose censorship are in reality just an extension of an age old struggle. Only the names, dates and stated intentions have changed.

    * Allied bombing of Germany caused extensive destruction of German libraries, including but not limited to the Library of the Technical University of Aachen (50,000 volumes), the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (2 million volumes), the Berlin University Library (20,000 volumes), the Bonn University Library (25% of its holdings), the Bremen Staatsbibliothek (150,000 volumes), the Hessische Landesbibliothek in Darmstadt (760,000 volumes), the Library of the Technical University in Darmstadt (two thirds of its collection), the Stadt- und Landesbibliothek in Dortmund (250,000 of 320,000 volumes), the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden (300,000 volumes), the Stadtbibliothek in Dresden (200,000 volumes), the Essen Stadtbücherei (130,000 volumes), the Frankfurt Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek (550,000 volumes, 440,000 doctoral dissertations, 750,000 patents), the Giessen University Library (nine tenths of its collection), the Greifswald University Library (17,000 volumes), the Hamburg Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (600,000 volumes), the Hamburg Commerz-Bibliothek (174,000 of 188,000 volumes), the Hannover Stadtbibliothek (125,000 volumes), the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe (360,000 volumes), the Library of the Technical University in Karlsruhe (63,000 volumes), the Kassel Landesbibliothek (350,000 of 400,000 volumes), the Murhardsche Bibliothek in Kassel (100,000 volumes), the Kiel University Library (250,000 volumes), the Leipzig Stadtbibliothek (175,000 of 181,000 volumes), the Magdeburg Stadtbibliothek (140,000 of 180,000 volumes), the Marburg University Library (50,000 volumes), the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (500,000 volumes), the Munich University Library (350,000 volumes), the Munich Stadtbibliothek (80,000 volumes), the Munich Benedictine Library (120,000 volumes), the Münster University Library (360,000 volumes), the Nürnberg Stadtbibliothek (100,000 volumes), the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart (580,000 volumes), the Library of the Technical University in Stuttgart (50,000 volumes), the Würzburg University Library (200,000 volumes and 230,000 doctoral dissertations). Source: UNESCO. General Information Programme and UNISIST, “Lost Memory – Libraries and Archives Destroyed in the Twentieth Century” 1996.

    Cutting Off Nazi Oil Production – The Incredibly Costly Ploiesti Mission – Pictures

    In the midst of WW2, on August 1, 1943, the Ploiesti Oil Raid took place over Romania. It was a USAAF Operation with the codename “Tidal Wave.” The American planes attacked the Romanian refineries from bases in Italy and Libya, North Africa.

    The city of Ploiesti represented a major part of Romanian oil production. At the time, Romania’s oil production was nearly unrivalled in Europe – and the oil was all supporting the Axis powers, Romania being an ally of Nazi Germany. In all, the Romanian refineries in Ploiesti represented a full 30% of Axis oil requirements. Unfortunately, because the refineries had already been operating at reduced capacity, the costly raids actually made little difference to overall production.

    And the mission was costly. A huge fleet of 178 B-24 bombers took off for the mission, but only 88 returned to the bases in Libya.

    On the Allied side, more than three hundred men died in the operation. Many were also captured. After the raid, the refineries were repaired and upgraded, and within a few weeks were actually producing more than before.

    It was the second-worst loss ever suffered by the USAAF on a single mission and its date was later referred to as “Black Sunday”. Five Medals of Honor and numerous Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to “Operation Tidal Wave” crew members.

    The raid has gone down in USAAF history as “Black Sunday.” Indeed, it is the second-most costly mission in USAAF history. Many Distinguished Service Crosses and five Medals of Honor were awarded to those who took part in the mission.

    It’s not surprising that this mission was considered a tactical failure by the Allies in WW2. We have collected 22 pictures which will give you a greater insight into this tragic day for the USAAF.

    Consolidated B-24D-55-CO Liberator 42-40402, “The Sandman,” ready to take off at its base in Libya. Destination Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943. Bombers B-24 “Liberator” of the 98th American Bomber Group at the Benghazi airport in Libya Consolidated B-24D-155-CO Liberator 42-72772 and flight cross the Mediterranean Sea at very low level. A gunner stands in the waist position. The bomber’s belly turret is retracted. 1 August 1943 Approximate bomber route for Operation Tidal Wave, the low-level bombing raid on the oil fields around Ploiesti, Romania, Aug 1st 1943

    Reconnaissance photo of the two primary oil refineries in Ploiesti Romania taken in preparation of the low-level B-24 Liberator bomber attack of Aug 1 ,1943 German FlaK, the weapon that took down many American bombers that day. 1943. Photo Credit Map of the refineries in the immediate vicinity of Ploiesti in 1940. Photo Credit A B-24 flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943 American heavy bombers – Consolidated B-24 Liberator – in the raid on the refinery Smoke rises from the “Astra Romana” refinery in Ploiesti after low-level bombing attacks of B-24 Liberators. 1 August 1943 Oil storage tanks at the “Columbia Aquila” refinery burning after the raid of B-24 Liberator bombers of the United States Army Air Force. Some of the structures have been camouflaged. Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943 31 American bombers B-24 “Liberator” approach to their targets in Ploiesti B-24 Liberator during a low-level attack of the Ploesti oil refineries, Romania. 1 August 1943

    One of the most famous images of World War II shows “The Sandman”, piloted by Robert Sternfels, as it emerges from a pall of smoke during the “Operation Tidal Wave” B-24 Liberator on Ploiesti Raid U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 bombers clearing a target at Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943. A pair of American B-24 “Liberator” in flight over Ploiesti on a background of fire 2nd wave of B-24 Liberators approach the Ploiesti oil refineries, Romania. 14 B-24s can be seen in this image. 1 August 1943 Bombers B-24 in flight over the Romanian oil fields at Ploiesti. In the foreground – the plane B-24 “Joisey Bounce” from the 93rd Bomb Group 8th Air US Army. The aircraft will be lost during a raid on the German city of Bremen on 13 November 1943. Photo Credit Columbia Aquila refinery after the bombing, with bomb craters, largely intact Damaged empennage bomber B-24 “Daisy Mae” (Consolidated B-24D-CO Liberator, serial number 41-11815) 415th Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group after the American raid on Ploiesti

    Key Dates

    February 24, 1920
    Nazis outline political agenda

    The first public meeting of the Nazi Party, then called the German Workers’ Party, takes place in Munich, Germany. Adolf Hitler issues a "25 Point Program" outlining the party's political agenda. The party platform embodies racism. It demands racial purity in Germany proclaims Germany's destiny to rule over inferior races and identifies Jews as racial enemies. Point 4 concludes that "No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the Nation."

    July 18, 1925
    The first volume of Mein Kampf appears

    Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf while in prison for treason following his failed attempt to seize power in 1923. In Mein Kampf, he outlined his racial ideas. Hitler saw history as the struggle between races for living space. He envisioned a war of conquest in the east, with the Slavic peoples enslaved to German interests. He believed the Jews to be an exceptional evil, working within the nation to subvert "racial purity." He urged the "removal" of Jews from Germany.

    July 14, 1933
    Nazi state enacts racial purity law

    Believing that "racial purity" requires state regulation of human reproduction, Adolf Hitler issues the Law to Prevent Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. Among other provisions, the measure prohibits "undesirables" from having children and mandates forced sterilization of certain physically or mentally impaired individuals. The law will affect some 400,000 people over the next 18 months.