Visit the Museum

Exhibitions

Learn about the Holocaust

Research and Collections

Remember Survivors and Victims

Genocide Prevention

Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial

Resources for Academics

Other Museum Websites

Background

References

Individual Choice Previous Conformity Next

Notes and citations for the background article follow:

[1] On the difficulties Europeans had confronting their collaboration with or accommodation to Nazi rule and policies, see Istvan Deak, Jan T. Gross and Tony Judt, eds. The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000).

[2] Gerald D. Feldman and Wolfgang Seibel. Networks of Nazi Persecution: Bureaucracy, Business and the Organization of the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005), esp. ch. 9; Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003), ch. 6. Analyzing Jewish sources recalling students’ both positive and negative experiences in the classroom, Koonz concludes that “the wide disparity in accounts of teachers’ actions in the Third Reich suggests that educators had more latitude for individual discretion than is commonly assumed.” (p. 150)

[3] Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[4] Feldman and Seibel, Networks; Frank Bajohr, ‘Aryanisation’ in Hamburg: the Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Confiscation of their Property in Nazi Germany. (Monographs in German History, Volume 7 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002).

[5] Donald Bloxham, The Final Solution: A Genocide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), esp. pp. 106–130, for an overview of the responses of German-controlled countries and its more independent allies to Nazis’ demands to give up Jews for deportation; see also Rab Bennett, Under the Shadow of the Swastika: The Moral Dilemmas of Resistance and Collaboration in Hitler’s Europe (New York: New York University Press, 1999); Yuri Radchenko,  “Accomplices to Extermination: Municipal Government and the Holocaust in Kharkiv, 1941–1942,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 27: 3 (Winter 2013): 443–463; Tim Cole, “Writing ‘Bystanders’ into Holocaust History in More Active Ways: ‘Non-Jewish’ Engagement with Ghettoisation, Hungary 1944,” Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, vol. 11, no. 1, summer 2005, 55–74.

[6] Notable discussions of “bystanders” are Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933–1945. New York: HarperCollins, 1992 and Victoria Barnett, Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity during the Holocaust (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).

[7] Cole, “Writing ‘Bystanders’ into Holocaust History in More Active Ways.”  

[8] Michael Wildt, Hitler’s Volksgemeinschaft and the Dynamics of Racial Exclusion: Violence against Jews in Provincial Germany, 1919–1939. Trans. from the German edition (2007) by Bernard Heise (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), pp. 4–5.

[9] Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), p. 77.

[10] Otto Dov Kulka and Eberhard Jäckel, The Jews in the Secret Nazi Reports on Popular Opinion in Germany, 1933–1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), p. XXVII.

[11] Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews, I, Years of Persecution, 1933–1939 (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), pp. 3–4; David Bankier, ed., Probing the Depths of German Antisemitism: German Society and the Persecution of the Jews, 1933–1941 (New York: Bergahn Books, 2000); David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism (Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers, 1992).

[12] Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution, pp. 85–88; Alan E. Steinweis, Kristallnacht 1938 (Cambridge, Mass. and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009).

[13] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889–1936 Hubris (New York.: W.W. Norton, 1998); and Hitler 1936–1945 Nemesis (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000).

[14] Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2015), pp. 117–177.

[15] Many scholars discuss the combination of motivations, including the belief in German victory and the quest for power and booty, operative in German-occupied eastern Europe: Martin Dean, Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941–44 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Martin Dean, “Microcosm: Collaboration and Resistance during the Holocaust in the Mir Rayon of Belarus, 1941–1944,” in David Gaunt, Paul A. Levine and Laura Palosuo, eds. Collaboration and Resistance during the Holocaust: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Bern: Peter Lang, 2004), pp. 223–259; Leopold Rein, “Local Collaboration in the Execution of the ‘Final Solution’ in Nazi-Occupied Belorussia,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 20:3 (Winter 2006): 381–409; Michael MacQueen, “Lithuanian Collaboration in the ‘Final Solution’: Motivations and Case Studies,” in United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Lithuania and the Jews: the Holocaust Chapter,” occasional paper, Washington, D.C., 2005, 1–9; Anton Weiss-Wendt, Anton. Murder without Hatred: Estonians and the Holocaust (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2009); Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), ch. 10; and Jan T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001). For a discussion of more positive relations between Nazi-persecuted Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors, see Barbara Epstein, “Allies in Resistance: Jews and Belarussians in German-Occupied Minsk,” in Gaunt, et al, eds., Collaboration and Resistance, pp. 431–437.

[16] For a review of recent social psychological literature on “good” and “evil,” see David R. Blumenthal, David R. The Banality of Good and Evil: Moral Lessons from the Shoah and Jewish Tradition (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2007). Blumenthal brings a social psychological perspective to this discussion, which provides a good review of recent literature on motivations for behavior—perpetrators and bystanders and rescuers—in the Holocaust; see also James Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[17] Ian Kershaw, Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution (New Haven, Conn. And London: Yale University Press, in association with International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. 2008), p. 140.

[18] Nathan Stoltzfus, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996).

[19] Michael H. Kater, Hitler Youth (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 121–133. On what ordinary Germans knew about the mass shootings (quite a lot) and gassings of Jews (much less), see Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), pp. 250–266; Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (London: John Murray, 1999), pp. 433–459.

[20] Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Collins, 1992. Revised edition, 1998). Compare Edward B. Westermann, Hitler’s Police Battalions: Enforcing Racial War in the East (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2005), which focuses on the organizational culture that promoted antisemitism and anti-Communism as institutional norms. On the involvement of soldiers at the eastern front in the crimes against Jews and other civilians, see Thomas Kühne, Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918–1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), chapter 4 (“Spreading Complicity: Pleasure and Qualms in the Cynical Army”); and his chapter in Olaf Jensen and Claus-Christian W. Szejnmann, eds. Ordinary People as Mass Murderers: Perpetrators in Comparative Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) in which he states regarding soldiers who killed Jewish civilians:   “It is not the comradeship (sociology) or anti-semitism (ideology) which explains the genocidal violence and the combat stamina of the soldiers, but the two together.” (p. 58)

[21] Compare the behavior and motivations of individuals in another murderous setting, the psychiatric nurses who participated in the killing of patients, in Bronwyn Rebekah McFarland-Icke, Nurses in Nazi Germany: Moral Choice in History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999). The discussions in both Ordinary Men and Nurses rely heavily on postwar trial records.

[22] Martin Dean, Robbing the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust, 1933–1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2008); Martin Dean, Constantin Goschler & Philipp Ther, eds. Robbery and Restitution: The Conflict over Jewish Property in Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007).

[23] Fritzsche, Life and Death, pp. 257–258.

[24] Emmanuel Ringelblum. Polish-Jewish Relations during the Second World War. Ed. By Joseph Kermish and Shmuel Krakowski; trans. by Dafna Allon, Danuta Dabrowska, and Dana Keren (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1992).

[25] For a chilling eyewitness account of the shootings and distribution of property at a site near Vilnius, Lithuania, see Kazimierz Sakowicz, Ponary Diary 1941–1943: A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder, Yitzhak Arad, ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).

[26] Calel Perechodnik, Am I A Murderer: Testament of a Jewish Ghetto Policeman. Ed. And trans. by Frank Fox (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996), p.11.

[27] Ibid, p. 22. For a more general recent discussion of economic gain by locals that synthesizes recent research, see Jan T. Gross, with Irena Grudzińska Gross. Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

[28] Jan Grabowski, “Je le connais, c’est un Juif!” Varsovie 1939–1943, Le chantage contre les Juifs [I know him. He’s a Jew! Blackmailing the Jews, Warsaw, 1939–1943] (Paris: Calmann-Lévy: Mémorial de la Shoah, 2008). p. 141.

[29] Gellately, Backing Hitler, pp.136–141. Gellately argues that even if people “took advantage of the system for selfish reasons,” “their act of collaboration” with the police “implied a degree of agreement with and support for [Nazi] beliefs, even if they did not accept everything. . . .Anyone who denounced someone for breaking with antisemitic measures, implicitly accepted that their informing helped to enforce the doctrine and supported the dictatorship.” (p. 138) Hence, a combination of belief and self-interest were in play, reinforcing each other. In addition, “there was a civic tradition in Germany that accepted and even promoted contacts between the people and the police” that one would not have found in other countries such as Italy, “with its distrust of the state,” and even France and Britain. (p.139)

[30] Olga Zabludoff and Lily Poritz Miller, eds. If I Forget Thee: The Destruction of the Shtetl Butimantz, trans. by Eva Tverskoy (Washington, D.C.: Remembrance Books, 1998), pp. 75–81.

[31] Mary Fulbrook, A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012) is a nuanced study of Udo Klausa, a German civil administrator serving in Będzin, Poland, based on a rich collection of personal letters and other archival sources.

[32] Peter Lunt, Stanley Milgram: Understanding Obedience and Its Implications (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009).

[33] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996); for a response to Goldhagen’s argument regarding the paramount importance of “eliminationist antisemitism,” as motivation for the killers, see the afterword in Browning, Ordinary Men, 1998. Also see, Geoff Eley, ed. The “Goldhagen Effect”: History, Memory, Nazism—Facing the German Past (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000).

[34] Kater, Hitler Youth; Kühne, Belonging and Genocide, chapter two (“Fabricating the Male Bond: The Racial Nation as a Training Camp”).

[35] Ervin Staub, “The Evolution of Bystanders, German Psychoanalysts, and Lessons for Today,” Political Psychology, vol. 10, no. 1, 1989, 42–45.

[36] Jan Grabowski, Rescue for Money: Paid Helpers in Poland, 1939–1945 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2008); Louis de Groot, interview 4661, May 31, 1998, Tape 4, 0:06:20–0:07:45, Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation. DeGroot was hidden as a teen by members of the Dutch resistance in the province of Friesland. Because he was too thin, his protectors decided not to place him with a farmer for fear that his inability to contribute through physical labor would ruin the chances to secure hiding places for other youth.

[37] Gunnar S. Paulsson, Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw 1940–1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).

[38] Feldman and Seibel, Networks of Persecution, especially the introduction and conclusion; Dean, Robbing the Jews, pp. 377–396.

[39] Willy Brandt quote in Frances Henry, Victims and Neighbors: A Small Town in Nazi Germany Remembered (South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 1984), p. viii.