German Public Knowledge of Concentration Camps
How much did the German public knowledge of the activities of its government was perpetrating upon the victims within its many concentration camps? This question has enjoyed a strange duality in that most ‘ordinary’ German citizens of the era claim to have known little or nothing about the holocaust yet it seems inconceivable in ways that they could not have known.
Writing a Research Paper on German Public Knowledge of Concentration Camps
One of the most oft studied topics of Nazi Germany is what exactly the public knew about Hitler’s activities. In hindsight, the rest of the world shudders to understand how the general public could have let the concentration camps endure. Your research paper can explore many aspects of public perception regarding the camps. Paper Masters suggests that you begin with Heinrich Himmler and work down from there.
Hitler’s right-hand man, Heinrich Himmler, was arguably the most instrumental and influential Nazi responsible for devising and carrying out what became known as the final solution for Europe’s Jews. Yet, the activities of the death camps were, to an extent, a guarded secret as is indicated by statements made by Himmler concerning his holocaust plans. It seems that Himmler,
… was no less adept at deception. Horrifed by the November 9, 1938, Reichskristalnacht, [Himmler] declared that the punishment of Jews “had to be done quietly–not out in the open, in front of foreigners and reporters.
THe following were reasons the Concentration Camps were not well-known to the German public:
- Certainly, the gates to the German concentration camps were not left open to the public.
- The Nazi party was shrewd enough not to publicize its perpetration of the holocaust.
- The German public was undoubtedly either indifferent to the matter or afraid to inquire – let alone protest.
There are many known examples where German citizens who did not fall in line with the Nazi’s joined the fate of the Jews in the concentration camps. One liberator recalls finding a young German woman in a concentration camp who “… looked like an old hag…”. When asked about why she was there, she replied, “I am twenty-one… I said that I did not wish to enlist in the woman’s organization and they put me in here…”. Clearly, public dissent and protest over what was going on inside the concentration camps would have brought those of the German public the same fate. However, the question stands as to what extent the German public was informed about the Nazi’s death camp activities – both on and off German soil?