World Wars

Doris L. Bergen

in The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211869
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

World Wars

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This article traces the complex relationships between the two world wars and the Holocaust, as seen by contemporaries and as understood in hindsight. Jewish diarists knew their fates were linked to the war's outcome; some also noted that atrocity propaganda during the previous world war predisposed the Allies to dismiss evidence of the destruction of Jews. Hitler and other Nazis believed in the stab-in-the-back myth as an explanation of Germany's defeat in World War I and prepared for and fought their own war accordingly, using massive plunder and slave labour to keep the home front happy and coming to insist on the total annihilation of all Jews everywhere as the only way to prevent another defeat. War enabled mass killing of disabled people and brought an ever-widening circle of victims into German hands: Poles, black French soldiers, Soviet POWs, and millions of Jews, although the effects of specific military developments on the fate of Jews were often neither intended nor foreseeable.

Keywords: World War I; World War II; slavery; Jews; Allies; propaganda; Hitler; Nazis; mass killing

Article.  7274 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies

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