08 War, Genocides, and The Holocaust

Unit Overview

Student Contribution #1

The rise of communism in Vietnam introduces the unit investigating wars, genocides, andthe Holocaust in our world’s history. In this era, there was a distinct inequality betweenlandowners and the peasants that worked the land. The wealth wasn’t shared equally and peoplelived in poverty. Industrialization was proposed to provide more jobs and better pay for theworkers, essentially to get rid of the separation between the two social groups. North Vietnam ended up prospering through industrialization and had improved the lives of many peasants. Communism was very attractive to the residents of the South side because they wanted to see change and fair treatment as well.

After the Vietnam war, many Hmong people were butchered and killed in the Secret War that occurred. The U.S. didn’t take action and broke promises to stop violence against the Hmong, they just wanted to be gone. Moving on to genocides, nationalism and racism are lumped together and many people can see a similarity with imperialism. When one country believes they’re better and superior, sometimes ignorant to another people’s culture, they want to take control. In modern day genocides we see murder, rape, and the term “ethnic cleansing” basically used to describe the stripping of someone’s culture.

Anti-Semitism had been around for hundreds of years, but the acts done by the Nazis in the Holocaust brought that hatred for Semites to a violent, horrific level. The Nazi’s began to see the Jews as a race rather than a religion. They believed the people as a whole shouldn’t be allowed citizenship, given voting rights or allowed access to media. These foundations for anti-semitism progressed violence to persecution of the Jews. Businesses were boycotted and eventually destroyed (Kristallnacht) and jobs were taken away in the government as well as the media. Nuremberg Laws came about and excluded Jewish citizenship and all rights as a human being were essentially lost.

The Jewish people were banned from public transportation, even public areas as a whole. The Nazi movement wanted to rid these people from the public view, making it easier to get rid of them entirely. They treated them like they weren’t humans anymore, forcing them to label themselves by wearing the Star of David. The next step to get closer to the goal was to concentrate the Jews in one place, and that’s when the ghettos were created. Then the concentration camps came and the Jews were brutally murdered in masses. Upon arriving at the camps, if they hadn’t died in the cattle cars on the way, the people were evaluated to see if they were healthy; the troops would keep them for labor. Meanwhile, the guards would cut everyone’s hair, take the shoes and clothes off their backs, and keep any valuables they found. Inside the camps, there was lack of food and all around terrible, crowded living conditions. In the end, when the gas chambers came around, masses of people even died leaned up on another from lack of space.

In the end, we can’t forget what genocides and the Holocaust are all about. Specific groups are identified as being lesser and are degraded by a “superior” group. In these genocides, people were forced to live in poor conditions, refused a healthy food supply, and denied personal cultural/religious expression. A lot of damage has been done to specific groups of people, and we mustn't fall for the Auschwitz Syndrome because the Jewish people weren’t the only people that were affected by genocide. After liberation, the Nazis tried covering up for their wrongdoings by shutting down camps and burning the crematorias as well as the prisoners, whether they were dead or alive

Key Vocabulary Terms

Set #1:

  • The Holocaust - A term that has a meaning of “sacrifice by fire” according to the Greek origin meaning. The holocaust was a tragic time of when the Nazis murdered and tortured almost six million Jews with the intentions of wiping them out from the world. Which led the Nazis to capture millions of Jews to isolate them into many concentration camps. It was an act of genocide yet still isn’t defined as that because the torture was much more than genocide.
  • Genocide - A term used for intending to eliminate an entire or part of a national, racial, religious, and ethnical group. During the secret war of Vietnam, the Lao communists wanted to eliminate the whole race of the Hmong people. Therefore, the Lao communists chased the Hmong people through mountains, this caused the Hmong people to migrate towards Thailand to cross the Mekong river. As Lao communists discovered Hmong people during the chases, they murdered, rape, and tortured the Hmong people.
  • Concentration Camps - A term used for a place that holds a huge amount of people together as prisoners and minorities to have them work, tortured, and more. Within these camps, the people (prisoners and minorities) are forced to work or else was told to wait until their execution. The Nazis gather millions of Jews in concentration camps and murdered, tortured, and made the work. Even going as far as to perform painful experiments on the Jews without permission.
  • "Final solution" - A term that the Nazis used to define their plan of their murders, discrimination, genocide, extermination and experimenting of the six millions of Jews in the concentration camps that were held captive. But this term was not known to the world when it was used by the Nazi leaders had defined their acts on the Jews as the “final solution”. It was then later found out that the Nazis used this term to code was their plan.
  • Antisemitism - A term used for those who have discriminations, hate, or even with the intentions of harming towards the Jews. Similarly used as racism, except it is used only against the Jews. In example, the Nazis showed signs of antisemitism by discriminating against the Jews and isolating them into concentration camps to murder them. The nazis not only murdered the Jews but also experimented on them without consent and made them work hard labor.
  • Semite people - A term used for cultures or for the people who spoke semitic languages. Semitic languages is a part of the Afroasiatic family that originated from the Middle East. This term was first used in the 1780s by members who came from Shen, which is one the the three sons of Noah (The Book of Genesis).
  • Nuremberg trials - This was the time when Nazis created laws called the Nuremberg Laws, which was created to “protect the Aryan race.” But with these laws, they had taken many rights from the Jews such as having the right to vote, categorizing individuals, and discriminating against interracial relationships and marriages.
  • Holocaust scientific experiments - A term used to describe the experiments that the Nazis performed on the Jews in the concentration camps without their consent. These experiments were awfully painful and dreadful. There was experiments that were put into three separate categories. First category was experiments that were aimed to make possibilities of survival of the Axis military personnel. Second category was the experiments that was targeted for the try-outs and development of drugs (medicine) and other treatments for injuries or diseases or illnesses. The last category was experiments to advance the racial and ideology of the Nazis’ worldview.
  • "Secret War" of Vietnam conflict: This is a time when there was a rise in communism which led to inequalities between workers and landowners included with domination and elections that had reunited the North and South Vietnam. There was involvement from France, Japan, Dutch, and Great Britain which also led to the communism rising although Laos claimed themselves as “neutral”. The Hmong people had aid the United States to receive support and possible benefits, and with their involvement made Lao communists chase after them as well.

Set #2

  • Yellow Badge - Referred to as a Jewish badge and was a cloth patch that Jewish people were ordered to sew on their outer garments to mark them as Jews in public at certain times in certain countries, serving as a badge of shame.
  • Jewish ghettos - parts of a number of cities in Europe in which Jews were forced to live. Jews were placed under strict regulations and disabilities in many European cities.
  • Warsaw ghetto uprising - 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II.
  • Social Darwinism - Used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention and reform. the theory that individuals, groups, and peoples are subject to the same Darwinian laws of natural selection as plants and animals. Now largely discredited, social Darwinism was advocated by Herbert Spencer and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention and reform.
  • Nuremberg Laws - Excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of "German or related blood."
  • Night of the Broken Glass - A massive, coordinated attack on Jews throughout the German Reich on the night of November 9, 1938, into the next day, has come to be known as Kristallnacht. On the night of November 9, 1938, violence against Jews broke out across the Reich. It appeared to be unplanned, set off by Germans' anger over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager. In fact, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazis carefully organized the pogroms. In two days, over 250 synagogues were burned, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," for the shattered glass from the store windows that littered the streets.
  • Nanjing Massacre: In late 1937, over a period of six weeks, Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people–including both soldiers and civilians–in the Chinese city of Nanking.
  • Cambodian genocide: Refers to the attempt of Khmer Rouge party leader “Pol Pot” to nationalize and centralize the peasant farming society of Cambodia virtually overnight, in accordance with the Chinese Communist agricultural model. This resulted in the gradual devastation of over 25% of the country’s population in just three short years.

Potential Essay Questions:

Potential Essay #1: Trace the historic origins of discrimination against the Jews and how those ideas and actions created the environment for the execution of the Jews and eventually other groups targeted by the Nazis?

Much of this essay question can use material from your lecture notes and especially Hitler's quotations from "Mein Kampf".

Student Contribution #1

Potential Essay #2: In addition to anti-semitic hatred, what were other motivations for brutal treatment, theft, and murder of Jews and non-Jews. Speculate why the German people permitted the initial persecutions and later murders to occur.

For this essay question, in addition to material from the class lecture and notes from the videos played during the lectures, several of the assigned readings are important to use as source material: Beyond the Auschwitz Syndrome and Perils of Indifference (Genocides and the Holocaust).

Student Contribution #1


- Briefly speak about the mistreatment of Jews and non-Jews from the Germans.

- Also mention anti-Semitic hatred and how many influencers caused this


A) German Price

- After being blamed from WWI, Germans were in trouble and found themselves needing reassurance and pride.

- Leaders like Adolf Hitler became the face of the movement

B) Use if Propaganda

-Differentiated the ideal physique and physical appearances of a “German” compared to everyone else

-Labeling outcasts

C) Economic Factors

-Beyond Auschwitz Syndrome (talks about how Nazi’s being thieves)

-Provides the economics of the holocaust (insight on the values of all the things taken from Jews/non-Jews


- Talk about anti-Semitic views

- Summarize the main points of German Pride, Propaganda, and Economic Factors