The Second World War Assignment | Homework Help Websites

Parker, The Second World War, Ch. 17, “The impact of war: the murder of the European Jews,” pages 264-280

Bess, Choices Under Fire, Ch. 4, “Bystanders: How Much is Not Enough?,” pages 79-87; Ch. 6, “Deep Evil and Deep Good: The Concept of Human Nature Confronts the Holocaust,” pages 111-135

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Required Viewing

See the Module Assignment before viewing this material. As a warning, it deals with profoundly disturbing subject matter that is necessary to a full understanding of the Nazi regime and its persecution of European Jews and others.

Particularly, Der Giftpilz (“The Poisonous Mushroom”),

Auschwitz-Birkenau on-line exhibit at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center, particularly on the architecture of Auschwitz and the photographic album from Auschwitz.


Essay 1:

The Nazis were prolific practitioners of propaganda and the extent of their obsession with “the Jew” is evident in much of their work. Indeed, this hatred lay at the heart of the Nazi worldview. Consequently, the Nazis went to great lengths to inculcate this hatred in the German people during the 1930s and World War II. The effectiveness of this propaganda is evident in the massive scope of the Holocaust, which was perpetrated not only by ideological die-hards in the Nazi Party and the ranks of the SS, but by average, everyday German soldiers, reservists, and police officers, along with auxiliaries drawn from the Baltic states and elsewhere who willingly participated in the slaughter. In this essay you must examine the themes and effectiveness of this anti-Semitic propaganda in a children’s book—Der Giftpilz (“the toadstool,” or “the poisonous mushroom”)—put out by one of the most virulent and crude Nazi propagandists, Julius Streicher. Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, a much more sophisticated propagandist, did not think much of Streicher or the book. Yet, it crystallizes much of the Nazi worldview and the common lines of attack against Jews in Germany as utilized in speeches, cartoons, posters, editorials, and other media. Examine the illustrations first and see what themes or storylines for each frame you can draw out: how are Jew and non-Jew portrayed? What physical and/or moral characteristics are assigned to each in these illustrations? What ideas would you expect a child to carry away from such a book? Then, go back and read the translations and see what themes the text conveys. For the essay, don’t analyze the whole book but only a few select frames where your interpretation was fairly accurate in relation to the text and which conveys your overall sense of how the Nazis propagandized the “Jewish question.”

Essay 2:

Describe the bureaucratic framework of the mass extermination of the Jewish population in Nazi death camps during World War II. Who were the key figures involved, what roles did they play, and how “successful” were they in implementing their vision? Utilize the short documentary on the architectural layout of the Auschwitz camp along with the Auschwitz photo album, both on the Yad Vashem website, as a means to explaining the efficiency of mass murder under the Nazi regime.

Each essay should be 2-3 pages

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