tv Why CSPAN February 26, 2017 4:00pm-5:23pm EST
times. the most powerful information sharing medium right now is facebook. .... >> it is my honor to welcome you on behalf of the united states holocaust memorial's museum to tonight's program. why did the holocaust happened? i like to welcome our digital audience joining us from around the globe. you may share your reflections
on asked questions on twitter and facebook with a # u.s. hmm why. the museum helps people think about how the holocaust happened and why it's possible in the most of in civilized regions of the world. if you were to look at europe in germany before hitler came to power, you would find democracy, struggling once, but still democracy. you would also find growing anxiety and fear as a result of the great war, the economic depression, and the rise of communism. you would find increasing anti-semitism which became a convenient explanation for every problem men crisis that beset european civilization. in germany you would find a highly educated nation in the world. 25% of the leadership had a phd or advanced degree. you find a country with a dynamic free press.
he would find a country with 39 nobel prize winners. the holocaust reminds us of them agility of human rights, that the on thinkable is always thinkable on that in all societies, human beings are susceptible of treating others as inferior. the abuse of power in the in tendency to justify any behavior. the museum is here to elicit the best in us and remind us with confidence that member has the capacity to transform on that the lessons of the holocaust has the capacity to inspire, that each of us has the ability and responsibility to act. what you do, what we do, what we have done and what we will achieve together, matters. this program is the first in a new series entitled the power of memory to shape our future.
it explores the power of our understanding of the holocaust and how we can use it to create a better world. please sign-up for emails and follow us on social media for more details on future programming in the series. tonight we are joined by peter hayes, professor professor emeritus of history in germany, and the holocaust education foundation studies at northwestern university. professor hayes earned his ba at bone collagen phd at yale. the other more than 80 articles and 12 books in several landmark studies on business and the third right including -- he has been funded by the guggenheim foundation, and in 1997 and 98 he was awarded jb and marie's see senior scholar scholarship. he also served as chairman of
the academic committee. in his new book, why, he answer some of the most basic questions that remain. why the jews and not another ethnic group? why the germans? why such a swift and sweeping extermination? why didn't more jews fight back more often? why didn't they receive more help? while responding to the questions he has been most frequently asked by students over the decade, peter brings a wealth of experience to bear unconventional popular views of the history. challenging some of the most prominent interpretations. he argues there's no single theory that explains the holocaust, rather the convergence of multiple forces at a particular moment in time that led to the catastrophe. tonight he will share the morning main points of the book and offer us a behind the scenes book detailing why he wrote his new book and why it took the form of data.
it is my great honor to welcome peter hayes to the stage. [applause] good evening. thank you all for coming. to hear about a book that you can get delivered in a brown paper wrapper to your front door. most historian books springs as it were, from the head of zeus. they usually are a full-blown idea that a person has about seen something in a new way. the other gets an idea, what we call in the trade, a thesis, and goes out and tries to find evidence that supports it. sometimes evidence that the refuted but more often we follow the path in mind. and and then
write an account that vindicates it. this book i have written is very different in the way it began. in the late 1980s i began to teach a course on the history of the holocaust. i have been trained as a german historian his research do not center on the holocaust. i set out to teach a course that i had to learn a great deal about. as as i learned about the course, about that subject and as i began teaching it, and as i began giving public lectures about it, i discovered most people who came to my talks, like most of the students enrolled in the class, had the very same questions about the subject. they brought to its certain issues that they wanted explained. this actually, this insight, dovetailed with a practical
consideration. when i started this course and for the whole 36 years of my academic career, i taught at the same institution. an institution that operates on something called the quarter system. the quarter system for those that you are not familiar with it is a barbarity afflicted on the students on a small number of america's leading universities. chicago, northwestern, and stanford and stanford are the examples i can think of. it is a racket for the teachers who teach on it. because it divides the academic year into teaching units of ten weeks. at the institution you have to teach were only two of those ten week units, you can do the math. you are in class and in front of the student something like 18 weeks per year. no wonder higher education gets criticized in this country. nonetheless, i found that i faced a problem. i had to teach the history of the holocaust and nine weeks.
how could i possibly can press this material in a sensible fashion into that frame of time. i realize that people who are coming to the class and coming to my lectures with the same questions were giving me the answer. they were telling me how to do it. and now my phone is telling me that i should have shut it off before i came appear. [laughter] so i wanted to take the lessons i have learned from these questions and the expense of trying to answer them into a book that would make sense to people. i did not want to write another narrative history of the holocaust. we have a great many excellent once. if you want one that consists of only 100 - 110 pages, read hundred ten pages, read one by david angle, it is superb. doris perkins history of the holocaust is longer and has won
a wide audience. if you the firm narrative of the history of the holocaust from beginning to end, from top to bottom, no one will ever do better then charles friedlander. what i wanted to do was bring some clarity to the subject. to look at the insights of scholars over the last 30 years of enormously productive work and bring the insights into service of the practical answers to the questions that people ask. i had two additional purposes. i wanted to close the gap which has become very wide, between what the general public thinks it knows about the holocaust and what scholars think they know about the subject. i wanted to set the record straight. i was haunted by an observation by a historian recently deceased, who quite rightly
wrote that "impossible to describe as it really was, the holocaust is inherently vulnerable to being remembered as it wasn't" the result of affect is a great deal of distortion about how and why it happened. the more i studied the subject, the more misconceptions i encountered in the more i thought that the sort of book i had in mind is needed. let me summarize for you the eight questions that propelled the book. it has a two chapters, each of which is devoted to answering one of those questions. obviously i cannot take you through all eight of those tonight. i know that comes as a source of relief to you at this hour. but the a questions boil down to
essentially to i want to devote my attention to tonight. the first is, why were the jews killed? the second, why didn't or couldn't anyone prevent this? i want to try to devote the time i have to knighted to giving you a sketch of the way i have tried to answer these questions. i should alert you in advance and to the fact that i am an old school guy. i am 70 years old born in 1946. i still remember radio. [laughter] i don't normally use visual aids, but the united states holocaust memorial museum has drag me into the 21st-century and i will come will come in the course of this presentation put some images up to give you an illustration of what i am thinking and talking about. some of these images are actually in the book and relate to arguments in the book, others
will be just there to give you a sense of reality of what i am talking about at the time. if you start with the long-term roots of the answer to why the jews were killed, one cannot avoid the long tradition in the western world of treating jews as contaminating. it is a tradition that runs through the last 2000 years. the first source of contamination was to the faith of christians. an excellent why jews had to be kept at a distance. to be prevented from interacting with non-jews on a high level, because they would corrupt the belief system of christians. by the late 18th century, as religious beliefs began to fade in their predominance in the west, thinkers presented jews as the embodiment of threat to
progress. people who close to tradition, faith, tradition and repetition of old-fashioned ways in ways that violated the visions of a future emancipation of human beings. then after that emancipation, actually -- jews and in the 18th century that had the opportunity to enter into all ranks of society. new forms are presenting them as contaminating arose. above all, that they were physically threatening. that they were, in a sense would undermine the health of the people. i argue in the book this is a tradition, remember i am am an undergraduate teacher, it's a tradition that presented jews as a backward and bacterial. over time each new argument as to why the jews were bad to not crowd out entirely the old ones, but it provided new arguments to
new sorts of people. the irony of the tradition of anti-semitism, i want to make two points to you, all anti-semitism is not a lot, modern anti-semitism is different than what became before. modern anti-semitism is a a movement that says jews are political and moral threat that must be combated politically. the irony is this is an attitude toward jews that first was vocal and was widespread in the 19th century in europe and was almost entirely a political failure. in the months leading up to world war i, almost no one in germany would have suspected that this movement will would become a powerful force after that conflict. anti-semites had run repeatedly in german elections, they had never gotten more than 4% of the vote to or 5% of the seats. as a political movement the notion that the jews were source of all misfortunes did not have
widespread traction. the important question is, to whom did it have traction? modern anti-semitism is the creation of the modern industrialization and the audience was expanded by the bolshevik revolution. the people who listen to the argument that jews were the source of all trouble in society, were often people who are the losers by virtue of the industrial revolution. they were terrified of the potential -- of the bolshevik revolution. at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century it was not unlike the audience of her populist nationalist in the world today at the dawn of the 20 first. not the victims of the industrial revolution anymore or the people panic by the bolshevik revolution, but the victims of the digital revolution and the people panic
by the threat of terrorism. the rise of anti-semitism was unable down by the power of these ideas alone. it was by the enormous crisis that was set off by world war i. germany would never have been the country in which this was centered if the defeat of the nation in 1918 had not set off a general sense of victimization by events. not only by economic trends that were endorsed but by also political defeat and humiliation. this is the context that created the opening for adolf hitler. even then, he almost and not succeed. when adolf hitler came to power in january 1933, 55% of the germans had never voted for him. he was at jobs into office by a coalition of powerful people who thought they could use him, he
had received and wanted to use them because he had received more votes than anyone else, but never a majority of the votes. this is an important point to make because when we try to explain why germany became the place where the holocaust was perpetrated, where the actors came from, the events that succeed 1933 are much more important than the events that preceded it. the long tradition of anti-semitism, that echoing of anti-semitic arguments did not matter politically until the minority of the people who believed in it acquire political power. power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. when people who hold beliefs that are regarded by the general
society is not quite acceptable become enormously powerful, their beliefs become steadily more acceptable. a famous historian of nazi germany once said, more people became anti-semites in germany because they became national socialist. this is another way of formulating what i just said. power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. if those who hold it appeared to be successful in realms that are important to some segments of the population, the segments of the population will come to think that those other ideas they hold might be more persuasive than i thought at first glance. if the economy flourishes in the 1930s as it appeared to many germans to do, then perhaps, the, the nazis were not so bad
after all. perhaps what they say about the jews is not so errant as we thought. at this twisted society that was thoroughly capable of creating an echo chamber, and ideological world in which only its ideas were presented to the public. and in which one cannot challenge those ideas without fear or punishment, and you create a situation that transforms a nation. in 1933 from one in which 55% of the germans had never voted for hitler, to one in 1938 and 39 is a ready to do to the jews, everything that hitler wanted it to do. it is ready to cooperate in every measure of persecution. none of which arouse a significant public opposition in the german populace.
this was what the nazi did. they created created an actual chamber in which only we matter. this is where the first visual aids come in. these are illustrations of nazi propagandists, on the left what you had was a children's book called the distance. the poisonous mushroom. this is a presentation to children of what jews embodied collectively. no difference among them. the nazi always spoke of nonoaud , they never spoke in the plural. all jews are alike. the collective is what matters, individualism is not. on the right you have a presentation on traditional christian semitism. that. that when you look at the cross, then think on the tear and cruel murder of the jews committed at calgary. that is the illustration that you are seen. the next illustration you get is
the notion that all life is struggle. this is the expectation of the sick and the week in nature. the way in which animals eat each other and destroyed the weaker zine by the stronger, the way in defective trees are cut down and so forth. so for the nazis the lessons imparted to all germans every day, relentlessly, life is a is a struggle between us and them. they are out to harm us, they must be because our life is a struggle. it is a zero-sum game. we must contest with them, we must remove them. the next illustration reveals what the positive is. the beauteous glorious folk that will be created by the state. the way in way in which politics will be acted out on people's bodies. that is enough of that. in the 1930s what the germans
preached was that juice and all others that were defective, deficient or it threatened the perfection of the people had to be removed. the verb they used was always in german, always to remove. remove. at the end of the 1930s, in 1938 they realize this was no longer adequate. they realized realized it because they did a little math. 1938 was the era the year in which the nazis expanded germany into austria and the munich conference. those moves, the expansion of the boundaries of the right line
most famous events in the history of the persecution of the jews. this is the event in which the third right went over to open violence on a massive scale against jews. november 1938. there had been individual violence before, round up of 5 million jews in the spring of 1938, ten to drive alien jews and foreigners out of the country. this was the moment at which the regime went to violence and sending 30,000 people people to concentration camps. smashing homes and shops. behind the scenes something much more faithful happened. the germans began speaking in new vocabulary.
the german and the foreign ministry went to paris to attend the funeral of the man who was assassinated in early november that triggered this. he set down with his colic, the swiss ambassador to paris and he said, if the jews do not leave germany , they are going sooner or later to their complete annihilation. it is the first recorded use of that word up by a senior german official and it occurs a few days after. [inaudible] late in the month that says magazine writes an article in which it says, if the jews don't leave the country they cannot expect the germans will suffer their presence any further. we'll have to extirpate them with fire and sword, they will be completely finished,
annihilated. on january 30, 1939 hitler proclaims that in the event of a new world war that will not mean the destruction of the german people in europe, that will mean their complete annihilation. for five years up until 1938 the vocabulary of nazi was to expel jews from germany, to remove them. but once the leaders of nazi germany realize that every foreign-policy game they made met more jews within the country , their projection was to advance to the east, austria, czechoslovakia, next was, next was poland, the home of 3.3 million jews. living space was to be found in the east, was white russia, ukraine, lithuania, this is, this is the old pail of
settlements. this is the location of more than half of the jews of europe in 1939 and 40. once they began to see that there one goal of expansion clashed with their other goal of racial purification, they began to think in a different term. they didn't yet begin to plan and that turn. but the work, the concept was already open. from 1939 - 41 the victories in the east increased, they had more territory and concentrated the jewish publish and forcibly with the objective of expelling it later to some destination. maybe an island off the coast of africa, maybe siberia, maybe northern russia if the soviet union conquered. they concentrated on these things. meanwhile what they did and this is the ghetto map would be next,
this is a demonstration of how they concentrated people in the various areas. now what happened when they decided to evade the soviet union in the summer, the decision was made in 1942 things come together. the nazis had long proclaimed a motive to kill the jews. they are are our mortal enemies always out to defeat us. they now had an opportunity to kill the jews. the cover of war as they expand into a territory where there are large numbers of jews i know foreign reporters, no one other than their own newsreels to report what is happening. they recognize by september 1941 that they have the means, motive, opportunity, means. then
over the last for the last two years they have been capable of killing the mentally and physically handicapped in their own mental institutions with carbon monoxide gas. they do a few experiments in august and september 1941 at a concentration camp in poland called auschwitz. they examine on soviet prisoners of war, they find out if they can kill them with the pesticide that they have it routinely on hand at the site in order to fumigate barracks and so forth. they discovered that in a basement through a window it will kill 600 soviet prisoners of war and about 90 minutes. by september 1941, they have a motive, an opportunity to multiple means of killing people. they begin doing that on a massive scale and eastern europe. now the map. this gives you a sense and i
will revert to a map later to reinforce this. each each of those dots represent the ghetto. a place where the germans concentrated the german population. look at the density of those dots. this gives you a physical image of how concentrated the jewish population was. this is very important because it unlocks the secret to something. of the few records we have of the planning to kill the jews of europe is the famous once a conference. they sat down with the bureaucratic representatives of all kind of german institutions and asserted his authority over the process and got their agreement to participate in it. he also said something that has often been quoted that was
deeply misleading. he said, europe will become to from west to east, and other words the jews would be killed first from france, the netherlands and so forth and then they would go across the continent. yet, anyone who study the holocaust knows that is exactly the opposite of the way it happened. the killing went from east to west at least on the northern half of the european continent. the million and a half victims of the holocaust who were dead by the end of 1941, so one quarter of the total lived almost entirely in the areas where you see those dots. occupied poland and the parts of the soviet union that were invaded 1941.
the few additional victims of the holocaust in 1941 are one are mostly german jews being deported from the country. in france, people were not being killed and the netherlands they were not being killed. why is this so? this is the last part of my first question, why were the jews killed? why did the killing start here? why why was it so intense here? i do not believe as timothy snyder has recently argued that the presence or absence of local governments that had anything to do with it. so-called statelessness. it is true that in most of these regions there were no independent governments, there is no polish government in the occupied part of poland, but there were in many cases local administrations. lithuania and latvia have public governments, they're both led by
former military leaders. all of these leaders had local administrations and local police forces. they were all thickly staffed with local collaborators through which the germans worked. the reason why the killing start here, look at the dots. the reason why the killing starts here is because this is where germany intended to expand. this is where the largest population of jews was. this is where the rest of the germans expected the rest of the population to comply or help with the killing of the jews. this is where the proximity of the fighting, remember they are still invading the soviet union. the fire line is the german advance, there still were going on here. unlike in western europe. this is where the fighting activated german paranoia about
partisans. and the jews being guerrilla fighters behind the lines. of which they were in fact, very few in 1941. in other words, the reason why the killing your first or so intense is because the german ideological fascination with the region, coupled with the density of the jewish population, the unlikely new set of local resistance to the killing of the jews in the presence of military activity, all combined to suggest the german policymakers that the solution, as they they called it to the long-standing jewish question, was to kill the people in their path. then it was a short step to killing the people behind them. the jews who were already in occupation and other parts of europe. i do not think as david says that expectations on the germans
part of either victory or defeat had anything to do with the decision. the momentum was rolling. by september and october of 1941, remember the experience in auschwitz? why are they testing gas on people at the end of august and beginning of september? because they're looking for another method. the momentary likelihood of either winning or losing the war could be, and was used throughout 1941 as a argument to expand the killing. hitler's confidence in defeating the soviet union waxed and waned it several times in the last half 1941. whether he thought he was winning or losing the momentum increased to killing the jews, who were defined as some verses and threats.
not only did they make a test in auschwitz in early september, the location of another death camps and construction of them begins on december 1. another is picked in mid-november. on november 18, a man who was designated to be the german administer of these areas told german reporters in berlin 90 background that the physical extinction of european jews is at hand. the invitation to the conference one out on november 20 ninth. it it was supposed to be held on december 7, no, ninth. the reason it wasn't held was because of the events of the japanese attack on pearl harbor, it was a soviet counterattack in front of moscow on december 5 and december 6, berlin was
thrown into consternation in the meeting canceled. therefore it occurred in january. we have absolutely no reason to think that the agenda of the meeting changed in the interval. when they called the meeting in november he knew what he intended to say and do. the preparations had already been made. why were the jews killed? because of a long-standing tradition of patron, activated under particular political circumstances and fermented by a regime that was thoroughly capable of whipping up the population to participate in it. then, undertook a war into a region where there were hundreds of thousands of the people it had defined as enemies and it resolved under the conditions of wartime to wipe these people out. why couldn't, didn't anyone stop
this? how was it that this process was allowed to unfold? the short answer is because the jews would internally divided and largely powerless in the face of the nazi onslaught. every other relevant party always has something else more important to do. germans themselves who may have been shocked by what the nazis seemed to be encouraging, they actually thought a 193333 about resigning. one of the little known facts of is that the ambassadors to washington, paris, london confronted in the spring of 1933 right after hitler was avoided about whether they should all resign. because they thought this was a
potentially criminal government. in the end, only one of them did, the man who is investor in washington. the other state on a man who was then best or non- slow who later became the second man in german foreign ministry offered this explanation for why, he said, one does not abandon one's country because it has a bad government. the leaders of german did not behave much better. there is a number of them who thought the future looked dark and that this regime was being troubled and many of them were deeply opposed to the anti-somatic policies they saw unfolding. many of them consulted in the course of 1933 about what they could do. almost all of them came up with rationalizations for saying that we should work from within and
do what we can to make it better. they had a very colorful phrase for this, he said we should do our best to see that this wild, grown juice becomes wine. that was their job. over and over and many of the industrialist and decided that what was being done to the jews was regrettable. the expulsion from the university teachers started very early, the expulsion of prominent economic position started early, they saw this. it was regrettable, but the economic revival, the improvement of conditions, the resurgence of national prestige, all of this outweighed what they called the inevitable successes that come with revolution.
one way or another germans found ways of rationalizing cooperation with the new regime. one of my favorite quotes in history is history never repeats itself, people always do. i do not need to tell you how many people in the spring of 1933, in prominent positions of german and life said, i have more to gain by going with the way these things are developing them by resisting them. so this helps to explain why so few germans stood up and resisted. europeans outside of germany had a horror of the repetition of world war i, they believed in noninterference of the internal affairs of other countries. they feared an influx of refugees.
in britain fear of immigration to palestine and the resulting political problems that will come for the british mandate was very strong. german propaganda at certain appeal because the germans kept saying, all we want to is a self determination. all we want is the right that you have claimed for yourselves for yourselves before we want to bring other germans back into our country. the austrians have never been german, but they spoke german. thus this was the idealistic appeal that was made. in the united states, combination of nativism, anti-semitism, fear of an influx of immigrants not from germany, there are only 560,000 german jews. even the opponents of immigration were not necessarily convinced that this country could not absorb half a million people. the problem was, there were
3.3 million jews in poland. there it hundred thousand jews in romania. there were almost 200,000 in lithuania. everyone of the governments in the late 1930s have publicly expressed the desire to reduce its jewish population. they had gone to the league of nations and asked for help in that respect. ambassador of poland and great britain in 1938 try to blackmail the british government into accepting 100,000 polish jewish immigrants your into british colonies or, he said, we will be compelled to adopt the policies of the germans right toward its german citizens. this was a world that was resistive to immigration was inflamed by a sense that the influx would be greater than predicted. the extent of u.s. nativism,
everybody will recognize illustrator, this is dr. seuss. in the 1940s on the left what you have is the logic of appeasement, this is actually from 1940. no matter how many countries the germans go after they will leave us alone because they will be tired. even more shocking illustration on the right they chewed up the children is that other bones but those were foreign children and it didn't really matter. northwestern has a very distinguished journalism school is named after a man who is the editor of the chicago tribune in the late 19th century, and a vicious opponent of irish immigration to the united states. it is the name that goes on a culture. but the school of journalism have a class them in
january 1939. these are journalism students. they were asked to assemble a list of the ten most significant historical events of 1938. this is like the sherlock holmes story about the dr. did not bark. what's [inaudible] the list -- the burning of the synagogues, the attack on the jews of germany was front-page in the chicago tribune in november 1938. on the mostly white anglo-saxon protestant students, northwestern was a methodist university in those days. on those students at that institution, even the journalism student, the attack on the jews of germany had made almost no impression judging from their list. this is the world outside of germany that german jews were facing.
now, the miracle is how many people who got away. 60% escaped and 67% of the austrian ones, little less than one quarter of the jews of the occupied check parts of that country. one of the reasons why this pattern of noninterference with the holocaust continues after the war has to do with the next illustration. as the world big jam and the united states came into weren't 41 this is a nazi nazi propaganda poster. it says behind the enemy powers is the jew. and notice the flakes, to britain, britain, the american flag and the soviet union. the depiction of all of these powers were tools of the jewish enemy. it was a central theme in nazi propaganda. but it it turned out to be wasn't inhibiting thing
and the ability of the american and british governments to react. what they worried about is if what if we speak out against the persecution of the jews we look like we are the tools of the jews. if we make the persecution of the jew central to the war effort we plan to nazi propaganda. you and i looking back on this may find that argument a little strange. i certainly do. at the time it was extremely powerful. though the allies could do not very much about the holocaust as it unfolded, but the only thing they could have done was to publicize it more. it's a rip up public opinion on the subject and this is the reason why they in large measure, did not. one of the most shocking facts i discovered was that the united states affect new about auschwitz about eight months earlier than our official
declaration show. we officially acknowledge the existence of auschwitz in the spring of 1944. we informed of it by the polish underground in early november november 1943. we got details about what was happening, we we knew the location the name. we consciously repress this information. the reason was in relation to this, the desire not to play into nazi propaganda. let me give you one other illustration of the difficulties of inhibiting or interfering with the holocaust. once my have recourse to a map. the map shows you the main routes by which people were deported to death camps in europe. the concentration of the death camps in the upper right is an important fact. what i did in the book and what i would like you to do with me
now mentally is to stick your finger on that map at vienna. in the middle. draw a lineup so vertical line up from vienna and a horizontal line to the right from vienna. what you have done is isolated the northeast quadrant of the european continent. 90% of the victims of the holocaust died there. three quarters of the victims of the holocaust came from there. nothing about what that means. this is a reinforcement of what i said before about europe not being called from west to east and this is where the visions of the presence of the jews in the fighting and absence of sympathy were the causes of carnage. the important point to note is that most of the world the only place the united states had
planes that could bomb the sites was great britain, over there in the upper left. a plane could not reach from great britain to the auschwitz camp which is almost the westernmost, auschwitz is almost westernmost. a plank cannot go from great britain to auschwitz and return on a single tank of gas without crashing. what this means is that until 1944 and until we had fought our way up the boot of italy to just northeast of rome would go fly a plane from there to assurance it was not within target range. every single other one of those death camps was close by the time we could do that in 1944. they were liberated by the
soviets just as auschwitz came within our reach. the ability to bomb and stop this process was not inhibited by lack of knowledge. we knew a great deal about what was happening. it was inhibited by the fact that it was geographically impossible until late in the war. indeed, most of the murder, the murder was as compressed in time as it was compressed spatially. 9090% in the northeast quadrant of the european continent recited 5% of the victims 75% of the victims were killed within 20 months. they were dead debt by the time the russian army surrounded. 75% of the victims of holocaust were killed while the germans were winning the war. when they stopped winning the
war their ability to kill jews declined greatly. for two reasons. they had virtually killed all her food jews where the jewish population was concentrated in the remaining jews lived in countries that were aligned with should not succumb in germany. all of concluded after the surrender of stolen guard that to cooperate further they would have a great deal to explain after the war. that the germans were likely to lose, the allies are likely to win, they are going to have to explain why they had cooperated and they largely stopped cooperating. the remaining government reneged on its promise to deliver the juice of the remaining homeland and they refused to deliver them to the nazis. though the romanian troops had
killed almost 400,000 jews in the soviet union. the bulgarians refused to deliver juice to the german settle aside from a small number and a part of greece they had taken over. the french began tracking their feet. more than half of the jews to porter from france were deported in 1942. the number of transports greatly declined and the willingness of french police to help round up jews also declined. these are some of the reasons why nobody else was able to stand in the way. let me conclude by saying a few things about the difficulties of the jews themselves. this is where we moved to the next two slides. this is probably the most famous image of the holocaust. this is the little boy in the class cap during the suppression
of the warsaw ghetto. this is part that's named after -- that put down the warsaw prizes. most everybody had seen this photograph. it appears in book after book. i don't think i have ever seen anyone say what i am about to say to you. the most remarkable thing in that photograph is there is a child in it. a child under the age of 10. in fact there are three or four children under the age of ten in that photograph. this is a photograph taken in the spring of 1943. when the population of the warsaw ghetto was down to about 50000, we know from the records of the warsaw ghetto administration how many children under ten were still alive know by the administration.
fewer than 500. there had been 50000 of them when the ghetto was closed. the next picture is a show people having been rounded up from the warsaw uprising and being marched off to where they were going to be sent to assurance. there is another child under the age of ten on the right. we know her name, we do not know the name of the boy the preceding photograph. what i want to try your attention to is something tragic about these pictures. who are these people? who could these children be? who is still alive under the age of ten in the warsaw ghetto after three years of german persecution and deportation, suffering, starvation, and so forth. who is still alive? a few months earlier the head of
the jewish administration had pleaded with the people, give me your children. the germans had demanded a number of people into my shipment, we do not want to give them to people who are working in factories because the germans might keep them alive. give me your children. they had sent off all of the children except the children of the jewish administration in the ghetto. except the children of the jewish police force. what children were still alive when the ghetto uprising was suppressed? the children of people who were connected. children whose parents had kept them alive somehow. but who had also probably participated in choosing who was to go on the transports and die.
what i say to my students when i show this picture and tell them the background story i say do you have any less sympathy for those kids now that you know that? i hope not. but that is illustration of the conditions in which the germans created in the ghettos. among the jews themselves, by definition the prevailing mentality was what was called, every person for himself. the choices available to the inmates of these places were all bad. and to expect they would somehow coalesced and reached a consensus on how to do this, at the risk to their children because if you chose to cooperate with their germans, and you were connected there was less chance your son or daughter
would be cut off than if you rebelled which is ultimately what happens when they do rebel, they are carted off. so if we ask why no one impeded this process, one reason is for the victims of it themselves standing up against it was impossible. it is cruel for subsequent generations to look at their history and say they should have done better. i want to say one more thing from one final illustration. this is an image everyone has the head of people being sent off to death camps and this is a boxcar which was a typical vehicle used in poland and in the east and occupied russia. it is not the typical vehicle
used for deportations to western europe. deportees from western europe and germany were often sent in third class passenger cars. that was part of camouflaging from the what their fate was going to be. what i want to underline for you is that boxcar, it's not apparent from the picture, but one of the reasons why the holocaust was so devastating was capable of wiping out two thirds of the jews of europe, three quarters of the jews the nazis ever got their hands on and this all in the space mostly of 20 months, half of the victims die in the 11 months before the surrender at the rate of 325,000 people per month. how can we do this? we tend to think they do it because they could apply the massive resources of a modern state, the murder process was factories of death industrialize
>> the rolling stock they devoted to this on any given day was infantecimal. most of the gas chambers were ram shack affairs. the first were built of two vertical stacks of wood with stand in between and tar paper on the outside. after a few months these werery placed by poured con treat. all of this was cheap. -- concrete. it could be paid for and more than paid for out of what they stole prom the jews of europe -- from. it was not technically difficult to do this because the people at
it was massively destructive. what i have tried to do and i know it is a depressing tale but i tried to explain why the jews are killed. i think many of the myths of the holocaust is to find way way out and find a mistake somebody made that could have turned this around and i can't find it. thank you very much. [applause]
that would have been a mistake. >> the soviets could have hit the camp. they knew about the camp by name and function months before we did even allowing for the suppression of the information from the polish people. stalin referred to the massacre of the jews just as infrequently as pope pius the 12th which is each gave a speech on what was happen. stalin on november 7th, 1941 while the germans were hurdling toward moscow. the pope in december of 1942, i believe, gave a christmas sermon and declared how sad it was many people in europe were dieing because of their race. he didn't mention the word jew. when the soviet armies got
within reach of auswitz nay were 160 kilometers around. the airfare was tactical mostly. that would have been a moment they could have struck the camp. the nkd knew about the camp but that didn't filter down to the troops on the line t. was never a priority to liberate the camp. if the united states and britain had been willing to pressure the soviets on this there is no sign they would have achieved success. the one issue on this that we tried to pressure the soviets on was if eewe were allowed to sen bombs from britain to relieve
the uprising of 1944, the polish population uprising. could we send the planes on and land them behind soviet lines and stalin said no. we would not have been able to prioritize this even if we wanted to. >> i wanted to ask: are you saying we allowed this to happen? >> i didn't hear this. >> i am asking are you saying we allowed this to happen? >> i still didn't understand. >> did we allow this to happen? well, you know, look. the one thing the united states could have done or western countries could have done at least in the mission stages was to let more people in in the 1930s. that would have put them out of
harms way. once the war started, we were restricted boy how much we could succeed after that. he could not compete. there are several remember what i said at the beginning. everybody else had something to do. why didn't the polish blow up the underground ways in eastern poland that connects north to south? they thought about it, considered it but the strategy was to conserve the strength
until the moment the germans were about to loose and then rebel because that is the moment when they could establish themselves as an independent political force that might be able to deal with stalin who was coming in from the east. that was their strategy and made them say we are not spending any information. >> i cdisagree with many things you said. i was late and i don't know if you talked about it but one of the main reasons for the holocaust was communism. >> you were late.
>> the fact remains industrial revolution caused and that is another reason why we had the second world war ii and holocaust happened, caused horrible conditions in the world and jews were the leader in promoting social justice in the 19th and 20th century. that was one reason and this is what hitler was using against them that you don't want the jews here because they are behind communism. another thing you didn't mention was the complicity of other country, including united states, again it was communism. the revolution took place at the same time as the first world war ended. the jews were blamed for being very active. they were socialists, zionist and always fighting for human
rights with we should be proud of that. that is what the jews were. this was the example in poland. the third thing you didn't discuss was collaboration and role of the church. in poland the reason so many jews died was that -- >> let me just say so we don't go on all night. >> you missed very important parts. >> no, if you read the book you will see i covered all those points. i cannot read to you a 400 page book. >> you don't have to you can make points. >> you points are well taken. i referred to the revolution at the beginning and it is important. i did leave out two things you said number one the role of communist in the role of the
eastern populations to collaborate and the role of the catholic church. i couldn't talk about everything. but please, there is a chapter devoted to the activities or non activities of the catholic church and there is half a chapter devoted to poland. >> you could take 20 minutes. >> i could take 20 minutes on an inf inf infinite number of subjects. >> that is why the holocaust happened. >> with all due respect, you write your book, and i write mine. >> i grew up with that. >> thank you very much. can we take the next question, please. >> sure. thank you for your presentation. my question pertains to civil registration documents and poplar registrations. when you see your opinion about
the civil registry in different countries amplified what was happening? there is a school of thought that says the civil registration documents or the population registries were misused and used to target the population. >> i have to confess. i am deaf in one here and not quite getting everything asked. what was the question? >> i believe the question was what extend population registrations were used to carry out deportations? so population and demographic reports. >> a lot less than you would think. in the first place, in the east in the parts of poland and the occupied soviet union where the great mass of the murders occurred, there are no population registries. the germans come and said all the jews have to go into the ghetto and if you don't you will be shot.
the enforcement mechanisms is the non-jews will denounce them. that is the neighbors will say but you should be there and the germans will shoot them. when the murders start the germans say you will assemble in the square of town and if you don't people will point you out and you will be shot. in most of europe, where these great numbers of shootings are taking place there is no registration process. there is none of that. one of the terrible tragedies of the motor process from the ghettos of poland where it is organized is the germans always delegate the dirty work to the people in the ghettos themselves. when they go to the head of the ghetto administration in war saw and say starting tomorrow 6,000 people every day at the assembly
point or we will take reprisals. they say it is better if we do it because we will be merse full and save the people we think are more worthwhile than the other people. they delegate the process. some of the people survived. the person who did this process survived and lived in israel for many years after the war and gave interviews and said was i wright? wrong? i asked the rabbis and they said it was okay. and so this was the impossible positions in which they put people. in germany and the netherlands where the written record of who is jew and who is not a jew they don't rely on census data. they don't.
the fs administration in berlin relies on the registration files of the national assembly of german jews. they think that file is better and easier to handle than the huge census records. so they basically take niece -- these files and send to the leading jewish organization and say were the next deportation we want men between the ages of 55-70 you pick em. or send us all the registration forms of all the men who are between 55-70 and we will pick chem. you remember the children? the number of the administration
are people are little children. they are placed in this position and give them the names or are they going to run the risks that will germans are going to come in and take them all? that is the way they experienced this impossible choice. yes, next question? >> i think you responded to this now but you said the people were divided amongst themselves and anyone who spoke up was killed
or made to suffer. i wondered too if people didn't ask because they didn't fully comprehend the horrors that were happening. the whole event is beyond imaging what any decent person could imagine. >> absolutely. at first they couldn't comprehend because it was unprecedented. what they heard was rumors, they didn't trust them. >> they deny this because how can you face it? there is a quotation in the book by a man who was a jew in occupied poland who for a while was part of the jewish police
force and went into the underground and resistance and died in 1944 but left behind a diary. one of the passages in the diary i found powerful is in his little town not far from warsaw, the rumors come in that a town has been liquidated where all the people have been killed. he gives four paragraph message of how the message is received. he said how can humans do it and by the last photograph he said there must be an explanation o who -- for why it happened to them. maybe they resisted.
it is hard to imagine how these people could comprehend this. the religious leader of the ghetto in occupied czech republic learned by mid-44 he knew what was happening to the people put on the trains and he decided not to tell the other people in the ghetto. and his explanation after the war was it would have been much harder to live with the certain knowledge of death than to live with the possibility that you would survive. here is somebody who understood,
knew and said it is better that they don't know. thank you all very much. [applause] hello, i'm the public manager here at the museum. i want to thank peter for joining us and delivering the program. very enlightening. i want to thank all the of in-studio audience and those who joined us online. as wendy mentioned, tonight's conversation is the first event in a programming series entitled the power of memory to shape our future that explores our collaborative understanding of the holocaust and how we can use it to create a better world. to learn more about the public
programs and digital content please visit the event calendar online and sign up for e-mails and also follow us on social media. we have both facebook and twitter channels. finally, you can purchase peter's incredible book, "why?: explaining the holocaust" as you exit this evening and peter is available to sign copies outside of the theater. thank you all for coming and have a wonderful evening. [applause]
this is booktv television for serious readers. tonight starting at 6:45, a history of civil wars is provided from errand the world. then at 7:45, how everyday items and occurrences can help explain physics. on after words at 9 p.m., sybrina and tracy martin parents of the late trayvon martin remember their sons life and death. at 10:00 a discussion of john adams and the political influence of the wealthy. we wrap up our sunday prime time with brad synder who reports on the impact of a political salon in washington, d.c. during the early 20th century. that happens tonight on c-span's booktv.