Jewish Traditions

Short Answers (worth 25% total/5×5 each): answer the following questions in 1-3 sentences each.

a. Why were the roles of Jewish Councils in ghettos so controversial?

b. Why was the Warsaw Ghetto Archive significant?

c. What was the Aktion T4 program and why was it significant?

d. How did the “Holocaust by Bullets” differ from later stages of mass killing?

e. In what ways was the experience of the concentration camps different for women than it was for men?

Essay (worth 75%): Drawing from the readings and lecture material, pick one of the following questions in an 8-10 paragraph essay. Since this is a take-home exam, you may cite directly from texts provided, but you must use a correct citation style (either Chicago or MLA are fine for this exam) and provide an author’s name and page number.

a. According to historian Henry Friedlander, “I began to see that euthanasia was not simply a prologue but the first chapter of Nazi genocide” (Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide, xii). First, describe the Nazi euthanasia (T4) program. What was it? Who were the Nazis’ first victims, and why did they target this population? How did the Nazis carry out euthanasia? Why did they officially end the program? Second, explain the T4 program’s connection to the Holocaust in eastern Europe. Finally, interrogate Friedlander’s statement. What does he mean when he says it was the first chapter, not a prologue? What impact, would you argue, did the T4 program ultimately have on the outcome of the Holocaust and the systematic murder of European Jewry?

b. Here’s the scenario: you are an infrequent Twitter (currently known as X but no one seems to care) user. One day, you sign in to discover a troll posting common Holocaust denial tropes. Their specious claims include claims that Jews were responsible for their own demise; there is no proof of the Holocaust because Hitler never gave any direct orders to carry out mass killings; there were not 6 million victims, but rather “only” 2 million; and there was no evidence of mass murders at the camps when the Allies liberated them. Furthermore, they claim that current events are way worse than the Holocaust or the Nazis. First, explain Hitler’s intent behind invading eastern Europe and how the Holocaust, as we know it, took its final form. Second, address each false claim with evidence demonstrating why it is wrong. Finally, explain why taking a course on the Holocaust can inform our understanding of current events. To what extent can we draw comparisons between the Holocaust and current events? To what extent should we be careful with such comparisons?

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