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This Month in Holocaust History – Alfred Lerner Fellows – July 2022

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This Month in Holocaust History – July

German Chief Heinrich Himmler reviews a unit of SS-police in Krakow, Poland. March 13, 1942 (Photo Curtesy of USHMM)

"Resettlement" of All Jews Residing in the Generalgouvernment

On July 19, 1942, Heinrich Himmler, SS Chief, ordered the SS and police authorities to “resettle” all Jews residing in the Generalgouvernement (the area of German-controlled Poland not incorporated into the Reich), either to killing centers or in camps located in the major cities by December 31, 1942. This commenced the so-called Final Solution, or the systematic annihilation of the Jews, in these German-occupied Polish and Soviet territories.

By this time, Himmler was the key Nazi official responsible for implementing the systematic genocide of the Jews. He was in charge of the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) and other special units whose purpose was the mass murder of the Jews, Roma, and persons with disabilities. The killing centers set up in the spring and summer of 1942 with the sole purpose of mass murder were also under his purview.

Also noteworthy is the language that surrounded the implementation of the Final Solution, the term “resettlement” became a ubiquitous euphemism for murder. Although some Jews understood the coded language, many were led to believe until the moment of death, that they were in fact being resettled. Using such language further dehumanized the Jews, Roma and Sinti, and others by deceiving them until the last moments of their life.

When discussing this topic with your students, consider the role of senior ranking Nazi officials, other than Hitler, in how the Holocaust was carried out. How did the Holocaust take shape as a result of the ideas and power of various Nazi officials? You might want to examine the following: How and why was the Final Solution unique? Why was the deceptive language that was used (“resettlement” in lieu of “deportation” and “murder”) such a critical and horrifying element of the Final Solution?

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