Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources
Introduction: Nuremberg Race Laws | Kristallnacht | Ghettos
Concentration Camps: Dachau | Bergen-Belsen | Auschwitz
Righteous Among the Nations: Gies | Schindler | Winton | Grueninger
Primary Source and Analysis Tools | Library of Congress Resources
Primary Source Sets | PDF Version
On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, by March 1933 he would become dictator.1 How did Hitler and the Nazi party come to power and set a path of destruction? After World War I, Germany was in economic ruin. Unemployment was high, the majority of people were poor, the country was in a downward spiral and Germany's citizens wanted change. Hitler and the Nazi party capitalized on the power of persuasion and were masters at propaganda. Hitler told the German people what they needed to hear, that he could end their suffering and restore Germany's pride.
A scapegoat was needed for Germany's problems and Hitler blamed the Jewish community. Through Nazi propaganda, Jews were portrayed as an alien race that was poisoning German culture and bringing economic downfall and war to Germany. The Nazis flooded the country with anti-sematic speeches and posters and hatred towards the Jews grew. There was violence against Jewish citizens not to purchase items or services from Jewish businesses. Jewish families were no longer safe in their own neighborhoods and homes.
1. The Future of Freedom Foundation, How Hitler became a Dictator by Jacob
G. Hornberger. Accessed 8.1.12
1. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945
2. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, Roll call at a German concentration camp (from a Nazi photograph). Two prisoners in the foreground are supporting a comrade, as fainting was frequently an excuse for the guards to "liquidate" useless inmates.
3. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, Gomle (i.e. Gemel) Chesed Shel Cemetery. Gate 19.