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Poster Translations

Some Were Neighbors: Choice, Human Behavior & the Holocaust

The following translations are intended for use with the Some Were Neighbors: Choice, Human Behavior & the Holocaust poster exhibition in Poland.

Poster 1: Some Were Neighbors: Choice, Human Behavior & the Holocaust

How was the Holocaust possible?

The central role of Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders is indisputable, but they depended on countless others. What role did ordinary people play? Why were there some zealous participants in the persecution of Jews, while most simply went along or joined in? Why did so few help the victims?

Within Nazi Germany and across German-dominated Europe, people behaved in a variety of ways, from small acts of solidarity with victims to active rescue efforts and from toleration of anti-Jewish measures to eager collaboration with Nazi perpetrators.

What motives and pressures influenced the choices and behaviors of individuals during the Holocaust? How did people respond to the plight of their Jewish classmates, coworkers, neighbors, and friends?

Photograph: Local residents look on as Austrian Nazis force Jews to scrub the pavement following the German annexation of Austria. Vienna, March 1938. Dokumentationsarchiv des oesterreichischen Widerstandes

Poster 2: True Believers, Opportunists, Conformists, Dissenters

Nazi Rule Stirs Support, Compliance, and Fear

After Hitler was appointed chancellor and established a dictatorship in 1933, extreme racism and antisemitism became official government policy. There were Germans who firmly believed in the claim of Nazi racial ideology that Jews posed a mortal threat to the survival of the “superior Aryan” people. Those Germans actively supported anti-Jewish policies that escalated from the social and economic isolation of Jews and forced emigration before World War II to the deportation of Jews to Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Some even supported the mass murder of Jews.

Many others were motivated to support anti-Jewish measures by less extreme forms of antisemitism, the desire to keep or improve their careers, and pressures in the workplace and community to conform to the new norms. In addition, many justified certain policies they did not actively support because of the Nazi regime’s successes, such as in foreign policy and in reducing unemployment and crime. These various motives shaped responses to the persecution of Jews, the Nazis’ primary “enemies.” They completely ignored the fact that these later “successes” were the result of crimes and plunder perpetrated by the Nazis against millions of innocent victims. These victims included citizens of occupied countries who were exploited for forced labor. Poland, terrorized by the German occupiers, is a striking example of one of these occupied countries.

Map: The map shows the extent of Nazi Germany in August 1939.

Photograph: Onlookers gather as a woman exits a store after breaking a Nazi boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. The banner she is ducking under reads: “The Jews are our misfortune.” Heilbronn, Germany, April 1, 1933. Stadtarchiv Heilbronn

Poster 3: Exclusion from the “National Community”

Many Germans who joined the Nazi Party and affiliated organizations, especially the SA (storm troopers) and the more elite Nazi paramilitary force, the SS, supported the Nazis’ call to hate “enemies of the nation” and drive Jews out of German economic, cultural, and social life. Their efforts also targeted Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, people with disabilities and mental illness, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and political opponents of the Nazi regime.

Over time many other Germans in their roles as employers, colleagues, classmates, neighbors, or consumers participated in the exclusion of Jews and these other groups from the “national community.”

Photograph (right): A skier at a lodge that prohibits entry to Jews. The lodge is run by the Berlin Women’s Association against Alcoholism. Women dedicated to addressing a serious social and health problem at the same time supported the persecution of Jews. Berlin, 1941. Ullstein Bild/The Granger Collection

Photograph (bottom): Two young women join a public humiliation of a German woman (holding the sign) accused of having sexual relations with a Jew. Norden, Germany, July 1935. There were many cases in which neighbors informed police about these relationships, which were forbidden by the Nuremberg Laws and other Nazi norms. Staatsarchiv Aurich

Poster 4: Responses to Violence

Nazi propaganda and policies created a climate in which Jews were assaulted at will. On November 9–10, 1938, there was a mass outbreak of violence, a pogrom, against Jews in Germany. A small number of non-Jewish Germans opposed the attacks. “We are not arsonists,” said the mayor of Fischach as he kept rioters from torching a synagogue.

In most places, however, community leaders, firefighters, and police obeyed official directives not to put out fires. Nazi Party officials and SA and SS men led the attacks, and locals joined in. Citizens often looted goods from Jewish shops.

Photograph (top): Teachers take students to watch SS men burn synagogue furnishings. Mosbach, Germany, November 10, 1938. Mosbach Stadtarchiv; Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart

Photograph (left): Police officer Erich Troch of Felsberg (Hessen) protected a Jewish family during the November 1938 pogrom. While on patrol, Troch protected Sigmund Weinstein and his family from a threatening mob of local civilians. The angry crowd ridiculed the officer; one man yelled, “Get with the times!” Stadtarchiv Felsberg/Klaus Troch

Poster 5: Who Benefited?

Having a Stake in Persecution

After the November 1938 pogrom, the Nazi regime stepped up the seizure of Jewish assets to further push Jews to leave Germany. Some non-Jewish Germans benefited from the liquidation or forced sale of Jewish businesses either directly, as new owners or employees, or indirectly, from less competition. Others took advantage and bought Jewish belongings sold at significantly discounted prices or at auctions organized by the state. Such actions gave individuals a continuing stake in the persecution of Jews. Also, non-Jewish owned businesses profited from the fact that competition suddenly disappeared.

Photograph (right): Civil servant Heinrich Heising headed one of 26 regional finance offices that collected special taxes placed on Jews and confiscated Jewish property following deportations. After the Holocaust many civil servants said that during the Nazi years they were just “doing their duty and following the law.” Heising, never a Nazi Party member, continued his career. His work included processing survivors’ claims to regain seized property. Photo from Networks of Nazi Persecution (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005)

Document (left): Anyone reading the Lörrach newspaper on November 22, 1940, could see the announcement of an auction of household belongings at 29 School Street. The Jewish residents of that address, unnamed in this listing, had been deported a month earlier to France. Two years later, Marie Grunkin was deported from France to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. Her mother, Fanny, survived. Stadtarchiv Lörrach

Movables – Auction

By order I will auction the following items in Lörrach on Saturday, November 23, 1940, at 10 AM in the house at 29 School Street:

1 bedroom suite consisting of 2 complete beds (steel), 1 wardrobe with double doors, 1 nightstand, 1 wash stand, 1 table, chairs, 1 console, 1 two-door cupboard, 1 rolltop desk, 1 small table, 1 large table, 1 rattan chair, 1 rattan table, 1 couch, a dressmaker’s sewing machine, 1 dress form, mirror, fire screen, ironing board, 1 shoe rack, 1 dresser, 1 clothing rack, 1 kitchen buffet, 1 kitchen table, 2 stools, 1 gas range, 1 heating pad, 1 table clock, bedside lamps, 1 boucle rug, household and kitchen appliances, and ceiling light fixtures.

Photograph (bottom): Local townspeople from Lörrach, Germany, attend a public auction where goods belonging to recently deported Jews are sold. The fact that this practice was legal may have helped distance the buyers, who had a rare opportunity to obtain consumer goods in wartime, from the former Jewish owners. November 1940. Stadtarchiv Lörrach

Poster 6: Wartime Identification of the “Enemy Within”

Persecution of Jews escalated in Germany following the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Soviet Union in 1941. One radical Nazi wartime measure forced Jews to wear a yellow cloth Star of David to make them readily identifiable to police and in shops that Jews could enter only at certain limited hours.

The stars made the wearers easy targets for Hitler Youth and others who randomly attacked Jews in public. Some Germans avoided eye contact with Jews, while others expressed sympathy.

In certain churches, members still welcomed baptized brethren defined as “Jews” by Nazi racial law and thus forced to wear the star. In general, German church leaders supported the Nazi persecution of Jews or quietly conformed to protect themselves.

“A yid, a yid!’ ... I can still hear them shouting and laughing outside.”
— Victor Klemperer, in a diary entry about being harassed by Hitler Youth members, Dresden, Germany, November 1, 1941
“Mrs. Reichenbach said (...) that a gentleman bowed to her at the door of the shop. Was he not mistaken as to the person? I do not know you, but you will now be greeted often. We are a group who say, ‘Hello,” to Jews wearing the star.”
— Victor Klemperer, in a diary entry about kindness toward those like himself, marked by the star, November 24, 1941

Photograph (bottom): Two Jewish youth wearing the Star of David badge on their coats walk down a busy street in Fürth, Germany, c. 1941. Stadtarchiv Fürth

Poster 7: Responses to Wartime Deportations

In 1939 and 1940, Nazi leaders took first steps toward “cleansing” the Greater German Reich of Jews as well as Roma and Sinti with forced relocation to German-occupied Poland. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Nazi policy turned to mass murder.

German church and civic leaders remained silent as mass deportations of Jews from Greater Germany into German-occupied eastern territories began. In some communities, police rounded up Jews on main streets within full view of onlookers who supported or went along with the removal of Jews from their midst. There were few individuals who expressed solidarity or said goodbye to former friends and neighbors.

Photograph (right): Townspeople watch as police march Sinti and Roma, scorned as “the Gypsy nuisance” and racially “alien,” to the train station for deportation to German-occupied Poland. Hohenasperg, Germany, May 18, 1940. Bundesarchiv, R 165 Bild-244-42

Photograph (bottom): Onlookers watch as police load Jews onto trucks for deportation. Kerpen, Germany, 1942. Stadtarchiv Kerpen

Poster 8

“One woman had the courage to come out and embrace my mother, to say goodbye. Nothing happened to her. If more people had done something like that, things may have changed.”
— Manfred Wildmann, recalling his family’s wartime deportation from Germany

Photograph: Onlookers watch from the balcony as Jewish men and women are led to trucks for deportation from Germany. Children peek from behind. Lörrach, Germany, October 22, 1940. Stadtarchiv Lörrach

Poster 9: German Occupiers, Local Recruits, Neighbors

Nazi Policies Heighten Ethnic Conflicts, Self-Interests and Fear

German forces became thinly spread across vast occupied areas. As a result, they needed tens of thousands of non-German local citizens to help implement occupation policies, including harsh racial measures that targeted Jews and others. Locals who cooperated with the Germans were motivated by a variety of factors, often in combination:

  • Antisemitism

  • The opportunity to acquire employment, food, or looted Jewish property

  • Eagerness to prove loyalty to the new masters

  • Hope of avoiding German occupation policies, such as deportation to forced labor

  • Desire to avenge suffering attributed to Jews during the Soviet occupation

  • Nationalist aspirations for independence

Collaborators operated in a climate of licensed violence against Jews and pervasive Nazi propaganda that fueled long-standing anti-Jewish hatred.

Map: The map shows the extent of Nazi Germany, the General Government, Reichskommissariat Ostland, and Reichskommissariat Ukraine in 1942.

Photograph: Onlookers whose ethnic identity (German or Polish) is unknown watch as German soldiers humiliate Jewish men by forcing one to cut the beard of another. Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, September–October 1939. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej

Poster 9.5: The Holocaust in Occupied Polish Territories

Nazi ideology was based on a racial worldview, in which the superior races needed to defend themselves against inferior races. They saw Poles as an inferior race suited only to serve as slaves to their German masters and they saw Jews also as an inferior race but one that posed an existential threat that needed to be eliminated.

This ideology shaped the brutal German occupation of Poland whose destruction as a nation was the ultimate goal. The invading German forces eliminated Polish leadership and elites, including priests, political leaders, and educators, and destroyed remnants of Polish culture. The remaining population was subject to harsh conditions and forced labor. Under the Nazi authorities, millions of Polish citizens were killed. The German occupiers also deported over 1.5 million people as forced laborers.

More than 10 percent of Poland’s pre-war population of 35 million was Jewish, constituting the largest Jewish community in Europe. Immediately following the German occupation of Poland the Jews were specially targeted.

The policy toward Jews—men, women, and children—was genocidal in Poland and throughout German dominated Europe. Fulfilling that policy, Nazi Germany built and operated 6 killing centers, part of what the Germans called “the final solution to the Jewish problem,” total extermination of the Jewish population. All of these killing centers were located in German occupied territories within the borders of prewar and contemporary Poland. Ultimately, Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed 6 million European Jews, half of them were from Poland.

German occupation policy was designed to “divide and conquer” and exploit pre-existing antisemitism. Nazi propaganda emphasized that the Jews were a common enemy and responsible for Poland’s misery. They also made hiding a Jew punishable by death. At great risk, some Poles saved Jews. Others collaborated with the Nazis, participating, for example, in “Jew hunts.” Most were indifferent. As elsewhere in German-dominated Europe, behavior patterns of the non-Jewish populations were dictated by antisemitism as well as opportunism, greed, community pressures, deference to authorities, and fear.

Photograph: Under SS command, ethnic Germans—members of a Selbstchutz (“Self-Defense”) unit—executed Piotr Sosnowski, a priest, in the Tuchola forest on October 27, 1939. Piotr was from nearby Byslaw, Poland, and one of 45 Polish civilians killed in this action, ostensibly in reprisal for the burning of two barns owned by ethnic Germans in Piastoszyn. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamięci Narodowej

Poster 10: Nazis Exploit Community Divisions

After the invasion of Poland, Nazi leaders aimed to keep conquered peoples from uniting against German rule by exploiting preexisting tensions and divisions among groups. Viewing the Jews as a racial threat to be completely eliminated, German officials forced them into “ghettos,” where many died from harsh conditions. German police, helped by local ethnic German militias, killed and imprisoned tens of thousands of priests, teachers, and other Polish elites and exploited the masses for forced labor.

Efforts to survive war and terror undermined trust between people and created a climate of indifference to the suffering of others. A survival strategy for some Jews was to leave possessions with non-Jewish neighbors that could be sold off little by little for food. Many of these neighbors simply kept the property for themselves. Others blackmailed Jews whom they had discovered living outside the ghetto or turned them over to German authorities for a reward.

Photograph (top): Some neighbors often drove hard bargains with ghettoized Jews who, deprived of employment, were forced to sell household belongings in exchange for food. Jewish women sit in the market of this unenclosed ghetto and barter with local non-Jews. Przemyśl, General Government (occupied Polish territory), July 1941–July 1942. Yivo Institute for Jewish Research

Photograph (bottom): Poles say goodbye to friends and relatives being deported by truck to work in factories and on farms in Nazi Germany. German occupation officials removed hundreds of thousands of eastern Europeans from their communities. Bełchatów, Polish territory annexed by Germany, 1941. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej

Poster 11: Perpetrators of Mass Murder and Their Helpers

In summer 1941, Nazi policy escalated to mass murder. Shooting operations, carried out by SS and ordinary German police units and intended to “secure” newly occupied Soviet territories, occurred in hundreds of communities. More than one million Jews were killed as well as approximately 300,000 Communist officials, Roma, and psychiatric patients.

German soldiers provided logistical support to the SS and police units, and some of them participated in the executions. German officials also relied on tens of thousands of non-German police, local officials, and citizens to assist them. In some areas during the transition from Soviet to German rule, radical nationalists, antisemites, and others seeking Jewish property or settlement of disputes robbed and killed Jews in violent pogroms that the Germans often encouraged.

Photograph (top): Auxiliary police, non-Germans marked with white armbands, guard Jewish women about to be killed under the supervision of German officers. Chernigov, Reichskommissariat Ukraine, 1942. Hungarian National Museum, Historical Photo Department

Photograph (center, left): An auxiliary policeman sells property of people just killed in German-organized shooting operations in which local Lithuanians participated. Utena, Reichskommissariat Ostland, July–August 1941. These local helpers often claimed victims’ homes. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Saulius Berzinis

Photograph (bottom, left): Locals and German soldiers watch as a man beats Jews to death. This pogrom involved radical Lithuanian nationalists who hoped Germany would grant their country independence in exchange for their cooperation. Kovno, Lithuania, June 27, 1941. Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen (Bundesarchiv-Aussenstelle)

Poster 12: Non-Germans Help to Guard and Liquidate the Ghettos

After Nazi leaders decided to annihilate all the Jews of Europe, Germans deported the inhabitants of ghettos in occupied Poland to the SS-run killing facilities at Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Majdanek, where they were killed primarily in gas chambers. Further east, ghetto residents were killed in mass shootings.

To empty the ghettos, the SS and German police deployed non-German auxiliaries and local police forces. Many of these forces supported the deportation of the Jews. Some, however, did not.

Photograph (top, right): A Polish “blue policeman” guards the boundary of the Warsaw ghetto along Krochmalna Street, c. 1941. Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris

Photograph (center, left): Auxiliaries from special units, composed of Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) and ethnic German and non-German recruits, stand over corpses of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. April 1943. Some Soviet POWs had volunteered for German service to escape likely death. More than three million Soviet POWs died in German captivity from executions and harsh treatment. Stroop Report, National Archives and Records Administration

Photograph (bottom): Residents of Warsaw watch as smoke rises over the ghetto during the uprising. German forces blew up and burned down the entire ghetto in April and May 1943 in response to armed resistance from the Jewish inhabitants. The Polish Home Army underground's official bulletin, the Biuletyn Informacyjny, stated: “Helping Jews who have fled the burning ghetto is, for us, a strict Christian duty.” Attitudes of the population varied. Some Warsaw residents sympathized and were ready to help. Many, however, were indifferent. And still others were even disdainful. Moreover, informers and blackmailers posed a danger to those who escaped from the ghetto. April–May 1943. Archiwum Akt Nowych

Poster 13: Local Responses to Persecution

Immediately after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, thousands of Jews were killed in pogroms, many by their neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances. Later, during the destruction of ghettos, cruelty and murder were common. German placards warned locals to stay inside and forbade help to Jews. Rewards were offered to help hunt down escapees. In ghettos cleared of Jews, looting by locals was common.

Photograph (top): A procession led by Father Cyprian Łozowski passes by German soldiers and local Jews whom the Germans have rounded up at the stone wall around the church yard. Jasionówka, June 28, 1941. Was it the priest’s attempt to prevent the escalation of atrocities?

After the Red Army retreated, a pogrom atmosphere and looting of Jewish property broke out [among the Polish population]. This occurred in towns like Jasionówka near Białystok, as well as in several dozen other towns located in territories previously occupied by the Soviets. In Jasionówka, a group of local residents and the parish priest, Cyprian Łozowski, actively opposed such behavior. The priest stigmatized it as a mortal sin. After entering the town, Wehrmacht soldiers set fire to several houses, accused the Jews of sabotage, and encouraged Poles to a pogrom. Father Łozowski and several other clergymen in these areas conducted themselves exceptionally, although their actions did not stop the violence and several dozen Jews were murdered that day in Jasionówka. More often the clergy was passive in the face of the persecution of Jews, but there were priests and members of religious orders who helped persecuted Jews obtain “Aryan papers,” and also hid and saved Jews. Jasionówka, June 28, 1941. Deutsches Historisches Museum / Gerhard Gronefeld, Wehrmacht photographer

Photograph (bottom, left): According to many testimonies, right after the deportation, when the ghetto was cleared of Jews, but unguarded by Germans, local residents came to loot whatever they could. The returning Germans completed the looting in a more organized manner. In this photo, locals, under German orders and supervision, remove items left by Jews cleared from the ghetto. Olkusz, Province of Silesia (Polish territory annexed by Nazi Germany), first half of June, 1942. Archiwum Akt Nowych

Poster 14: Choice: Should I Take the Risk to Help?

Risks for helping Jews were great. In Polish, Serbian, and Soviet territories occupied by the Germans, people were under threat of the death penalty for helping Jews. In most countries under German occupation, organized networks rescued the largest number of Jews. Those who acted individually were often motivated to help when they knew the victims as neighbors, customers, colleagues, friends, or relatives. Some even held antisemitic prejudices. Sometimes poor families helped Jews if they were paid, as the payment could help them survive hard times, but there were also those who turned helping Jews into a source of income.

The helpers had to secure extra food without attracting attention, turn Jewish belongings into cash, and vary hiding locations. As a result, many Jews had to find a chain of helpers, a dangerous task that made survival very unlikely.

Photograph (top, right): The farmers Bronisława and Szymon Czajkowski and their four children hid members of the Lipiner and Bergman families, as well as Chaskiel Morgenstern and Józef Brajtowicz, for over two years in a hiding place in their stable in the village of Zręcin. After escaping from the Krosno ghetto, these Jews reached the farm of the Czajkowskis, whom they knew from before the war, and asked for help. Years later, their son Andrzej Czajkowski said that despite being afraid of taking responsibility for nine lives and of facing the death penalty, they could not “remain passive in light of the fate these people faced.” Bronisława Czajkowska said that they would either survive the occupation together or die together. Throughout occupied Poland, a few hundred Poles were murdered because they helped Jews. In 1963, Yad Vashem awarded Bronisława and Szymon Czajkowski the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In the 1980s, their children were also awarded the title. Andrzej (son, left), Bronisława, and Szymon Czajkowski. Courtesy of the Lipiński family

Photograph (center, right): Chaskiel Morgenstern (center), his wife (left), and Bronisława Czajkowska (right) in Israel, 1963. Courtesy of the Lipiński family

Photograph (center, left): Neighbor Franciszka Gorski frequented Chaim Elster’s butcher shop in Sokołów Podlaski, a small Polish town. In 1942, Gorski and her husband agreed to hide the Elsters’ teenage daughter, Irena. Later, they also reluctantly took in Elster’s ten-year-old son, Aaron. After the war, Aaron recalled Mrs. Gorski’s antisemitism and her harsh treatment of him: “I open my hand, show the jewelry I am supposed to give in exchange for my rescue. (...) I burst out crying uncontrollably. Maybe because of the tears or because I might faint from exhaustion, Mrs. Górska finally says I can stay. (...) Time and again she reproaches me for being a burden to her and Mr. Górski, she reminds me that no one wants me here.” Nevertheless, years later, the siblings decided that the Górskis deserved the title of Righteous Among the Nations. They received it in 2009.

No one else in the Elster family survived. The youths’ mother was discovered in hiding on a farm nearby by two locals who knew her from the butcher shop; they turned her over to the German police, who shot her. Their younger sister and father were murdered at the Treblinka killing center. Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, gift of Aaron Elster

Photographs (bottom, right): Aaron Elster and his sister Irene survived in hiding with the Gorskis. Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, gift of Aaron Elster

Poster 15: Two Kinds of Neighbors

During the German occupation, the owners of this farm in Gniewczyna hid a Jewish neighbor and his son for months, until the Jews were discovered and shot by German police.

In a nearby home, 11 Jews who had evaded German roundups were held captive by a group of local men, members of the fire brigade. They raped the women and tortured the men, then they called the German police who shot everyone on the spot. The criminals’ motive: to find out where—with which trusted neighbors—the victims had hidden their belongings.

“This is how the basest instincts were unleashed. These same people, who were loving fathers in their families, became executioners of their Jewish neighbors’ children.… They became so blinded by their lust for rape and plunder that they were incapable of compassion, of selfless concern for what happened to other people, and of mindfully accepting the differences between people.”
— Tadeusz Markiel, recalling events he witnessed as a 12-year-old non-Jewish resident of Gniewczyna Łańcucka, in the General Government

Photograph: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Poster 16: Leaders, Public Servants, Onlookers

War and Antisemitism Impact the Will to Collaborate

In lands far from the killing sites in occupied eastern Europe, Nazi Germany also found many helpers in its “war against Jews.” Government leaders of countries allied with or occupied by Germany deployed police, officials at all levels, transportation workers, and others who usually “did their duty” by deferring to their superiors. They helped locate and register Jews, arrest and intern them, seize their property, put them on trains and boats, and hand them over to German officials for deportation “to the east.” The turning point came with the defeat of the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad (winter 1942–1943). It was only then that collaboration with the Nazi regime weakened in some places.

Some citizens helped the victims by providing false papers, warning of arrests, or publicly protesting. The possibilities for such acts were often easier outside of Nazi Germany or occupied eastern Europe. Actions to help Jews, like acts of collaboration, varied with local conditions, including levels of hostility toward Jews and the degree of Nazi control.

Map: The maps shows the extent of Nazi Germany in 1942.

Photograph: Two Dutch policemen converse with a German policeman. Behind them supplies are being handed out to Jews soon to be deported from the Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz-Birkenau or to the killing center in Sobibor. German-occupied Netherlands, 1942–1944. Beit Lohamei HaGetaot

Poster 17: Cooperation in Deportations from Western Europe

In summer 1942, a few thousand French policemen arrested 13,000 Jews in Paris. Under German supervision, French police held the Jews in a sports stadium, the Vélodrome d’Hiver, in terrible conditions, and later deported them to killing centers. Few returned. French leaders, who had independently enacted major anti-Jewish laws, willingly handed over foreign-born Jews and their children, who represented 75 percent of all Jewish deportees from France.

In the Netherlands, civil servants and police generally followed German directives. In Norway, Prime Minister Quisling and his government collaborated with the Germans and decided to get rid of the Jews and confiscate their property. With the participation of Norwegian police and cab drivers, 776 people were deported to a ship that took them to Szczecin. From there, they were transported to Auschwitz, where they died. Denmark, with a small, integrated Jewish population, was the only German-occupied country whose government refused to adopt anti-Jewish measures. When Germany moved to deport Denmark’s Jews, the Danes smuggled more than 90 percent of the Danish Jewish population to Sweden.

Photograph (top, right): Gendarme (militarily trained police) Théophile Larue warned his Jewish neighbors, the Lichtensztajns, before the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup and helped them escape to the unoccupied zone of France. Le Comité Français pour Yad Vashem

Photograph (center, right): Young anti-Nazi protesters in Paris made fake paper stars to express their solidarity with Jews forced to wear cloth Star of David badges. This star was seized when French gendarmes arrested the protesters in June 1942. Archives de la Préfecture de Police–Paris

Photograph (bottom): Buses from Paris’s public transportation system, the Compagnie du Métropolitain, used to transport Jews arrested by French police, at the entrance to the Vélodrome d’Hiver stadium. Paris, July 16–17, 1942. Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris

Poster 18: Zealous Collaboration Late in the War

Despite being Germany’s military ally and imposing anti-Jewish measures, including forced labor and the deportation of Jews without citizenship, Hungary generally resisted pressures to hand over Jews. When German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944, the Hungarian government finally agreed to deport the Jews from within its territory. Between April and July 1944, 14,000 Hungarian gendarmes, directed by district officials, forced 440,000 Jews into makeshift ghettos, stripped them of their belongings, and loaded them into trains. The gendarmes were a powerful tool for the small SS special unit charged with “cleansing” Hungary of its Jews.

Some 430,000 of the deportees went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where three out of four were gassed upon arrival.

“One of the nastiest memories I have is getting going on that journey, and people were lined up ... [by] the door ... waiting to ransack whatever we left behind, cursing at us, yelling at us, spitting at us, as we left.”
— Steven Fenves, deported in 1944 as a teenager with his family from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Photograph (top): Townspeople pass as Hungarian gendarmes march Jews to the train station for deportation from Hungary. Kőszeg, Hungary, 1944. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum Torteneti Fenykeptar

Document (bottom, left): A Hungarian woman (signature at bottom right) received this receipt for Jewish property, one of countless such transactions. A Hungarian gendarme signed on the left. In the heightened antisemitic climate, some Hungarians betrayed their Jewish neighbors not only under pressure to defer to authorities, but often motivated, as were many gendarmes and civil servants, by the desire for material gain. Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, Budapest

Proof of Receipt

The undersigned, Mrs. János Sebestyén, [who] moved from Budapest XIVth district Jerney St. 72 to Mezőkövesd, Hársfa St. 4, acknowledges that today I received the following items for temporary use from the personal effects that had been left behind by the Jews, but had not yet been listed:

  • 1 [illegible]

  • 1 broom

  • 3 [illegible]

  • 2 nightstands

  • 1 pair of children’s shoes

  • 1 brush

  • 1 mop

  • 1 scrub brush

  • 1 clothes hanger

  • 2 towels

Mezőkövesd, July 19, 1944

Issued by: Sándor Kakuk

Mrs. János Sebestyén

Poster 19: Choice: Helping the Victims

Why didn’t more people help the Jews? What role did antisemitism play? Were potential helpers too concerned with their own survival in wartime to help individuals seen as “outsiders” or “enemies”?

The risks for helping Jews were often lower in countries and regions of western and central Europe more distant from the Nazi terror and killing sites of German-occupied eastern Europe. In places where circumstances permitted, such as France, organized groups ramped up resistance and rescue activities after early 1943 when German defeat in the war seemed more likely. Still, in countries from the Netherlands to Slovakia, both neighbors and full-time “Jew-hunters” turned Jews in hiding over to the Germans in return for satisfaction and rewards, in some cases for as little as a bag of sugar.

Photograph (center, right): Nanny Frantiska Prva (center) cared for Renate (left) and Sylvia Schonberg after their parents obtained false papers to protect them from deportation from Hungary. Neither parent survived. The girls survived the war passing as non-Jews. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Renate Schonberg Winston

Photograph (bottom): Farmers Adrian and Marie Puyrajoux with Benno Ginsburg (left), a Jewish teenager whom they sheltered and came to depend on for farm labor until he left to join the French resistance. Had Benno remained in Paris, French police would have arrested him during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup in mid-July 1942. Neither his brother Alfred nor his aunt Esther survived their deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benny Guinossar

Poster 20: The Unknown and the Unimaginable

Most Jews deported from countries of western and southern Europe could not imagine what awaited them. Even most Jews deported in 1944 from Hungarian territories were uninformed. They had not heard or did not believe the reports about mass gassings circulating by then among foreign leaders and airing on the BBC radio channel.

Such unawareness is shown in a last note addressed to a relative and tossed from a train on September 16, 1942, by a young deportee. Henri Gransztajn (14 years old) and his sister, Thérèse (7), had been separated from their parents following the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup in Paris. Henri wrote: “We are headed for Metz [near the French-German border] to rejoin Mama. ... Be strong! We will see each other soon.” Henri, Thérèse, and their mother were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Photograph (top): Female auxiliaries and Nazi officers relax in Solahütte, an SS resort near their workplace, Auschwitz. This photo was taken soon after the mass murder of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau, July 1944. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Map: This map shows the deportation railway routes to Nazi killing centers.

Photograph (bottom): Jewish women and children from Hungary, who survived several days of transport in hot, overcrowded, and sealed freight cars with no food, water, or toilet. They are unaware that they will soon be herded into a gas chamber. Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 1944. Yad Vashem

Poster 21

“I feel such gratitude to those people that saved us. And these ... were ordinary people that will never be in history books.... In the era when goodness was very rare, they cultivated it.... They didn’t think of themselves.... This is something that I want the post-Holocaust generation to know, that people have choices....”
— Esther Bem, recalling how strangers helped her family survive in hiding

Photograph: Rescuers Anne and Paul Le Page. Le Vert Galant, France, c. 1941–1944. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Rene Lichtman

Poster 22

This poster set was based on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibition Some Were Neighbours: Collaboration and Complicity, and produced in partnership with the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in all United Nations official languages.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. By studying the choices made by individuals and institutions during the Holocaust, professionals from the fields of law enforcement, the judiciary, and the military, as well as diplomacy, medicine, education, and religion, gain fresh insight into their own responsibilities today. In addition to its leadership training programmes, the Museum sponsors onsite and traveling exhibitions, educational outreach, and Holocaust commemorations, including America's annual observance of the Days of Remembrance in the United States Capitol. Learn more at or follow the Museum on social media at

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by General Assembly Resolution 60/7, 2005, to encourage civil society to engage in Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide. Its multifaceted programme includes online and print educational resources, seminars, exhibitions, a film series, and the annual worldwide observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, held on 27 January. The Programme provides support to the global network of 59 United Nations Information Centres, enabling them to organize meaningful commemorative activities.

This exhibition is being presented in Krakow in cooperation with the Galicia Jewish Museum, June 20, 2022 – January 31, 2023. Learn more at and follow the Programme on