Further resources for self-study, research, and teaching: textual sources, images, and videos with questions for discussion, and useful external links.
A. Textual materials and discussion questions
The following sources and questions may stimulate critical discussion of key issues.
- Conformity and compromiseA young woman’s experiences of life in 1930s Germany
- Kristallnacht: The difficulty of interpreting contemporary sourcesReports for the Social Democratic Party in Exile (Sopade)
- ‘Justifications’ for killingLetters sent to his wife by Walter Mattner
- Bystanders to deportationsExtracts from the Diary of Berlin journalist, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich
- Facilitating ‘Aryanisation’Report of an interrogation by Saul Padover and Lewis Gittler, Psychological Warfare Division, 12th Army Group US Army, with Arthur Koenig, 19 November 1944
- Innocent Bystanders?US Marine Corps Reserve Captain P. Dickson interrogated German civilians in the Rhineland in March 1945
- Knowledge about atrocitiesDaniel Lerner, Chief editor of the Allied Psychological Warfare Division, reported after travelling through occupied Germany in the first two weeks of April 1945
- Post-war justificationsHans Baumgartner, one of the former shooters involved in mass killings in Libau between July and December 1941, was interrogated by the Stasi in the GDR 1969-1970. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death.
- Conformity and HypocrisyElisabeth Langgässer (1899-1950) was a writer. The story ‘Start of the Season’ was published in 1947 in her collection of short stories, The Torso.
- Choices in dictatorshipsIn Imre Kertész’s novel Fiasco, Köves describes his experience of being called up to do military duty under the Hungarian regime of János Kádár (1956-1988). He was asked to sign a piece of paper committing him to become a prison guard in the central military prison. Despite not wishing to assume this role, he signed.
- The representation of violenceJonathan Littell’s novel The Kindly Ones depicts many scenes of graphic violence
B. Questions around visual images
1. Segregated park bench
The segregation of Jews from non-Jews affected all spheres of everyday life. Jews faced restrictions on public transport, food supply, employment, and medical care. ‘Only for Aryans’: Inscription on park bench in Berlin c.1935.
Can you think of other times and places where segregation took place?
What are the similarities and differences?
© Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 30022201. Photographer: unknown.
© Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, 1996/5252.33. Photographer: Raumbild-Verlag Otto Schönstein.
2. Hitler Youth pose under a sign saying ‘Jews not welcome’
German boys in the uniforms of the ‘Jungvolk’, the Nazi youth organisation for boys aged 10-14, pose under an antisemitic sign outside the entrance to Behringersdorf, a village near Nuremberg. The sign reads ‘Jews not welcome here’. Such signs became a common sight in shops, pubs, and village and town entrances in Germany from 1933. This image was taken in 1933 by Otto Schönstein, who aligned himself with National Socialism and created propagandistic photographs.
What might have been the purpose of this photo?
Does it tell us more about the extent of popular support for antisemitic policies and practice or more about the way in which the regime wanted to present itself?
3. Kristallnacht, 1938
Historians debate how to interpret evidence of popular opinion in a regime where few dared to express their true feelings and open opposition was violently suppressed. Germans widely criticised the destruction of property, and many said they were ‘ashamed’. Very few expressed support for Jews or intervened on their behalf in public, although some did in private, while many others joined in the jeering and looting. German onlookers outside burning synagogue at Steeler Strasse in Essen, 10 November 1938.
What do you think is the value of photographs of onlookers such as this?
© Stiftung Ruhrmuseum. Photographer: unknown
Bundesarchiv, B 162 Bild-04126.
4. Lietukis garage photo
This photograph shows Lithuanian nationalists – instigated and encouraged by a German Einsatzkommando and watched by german soldiers – beating Jews to death in Kovno (Kaunas) shortly after the German invasion in June 1941. There is considerable debate about showing images of victims of violence. Some see this as a form of ‘Holocaust pornography’, or a way of continuing the dehumanisation of victims. Others, including survivors and their relatives, think it is essential to bring home the horrific reality of what happened.
What do you think?
5. Hangings as public spectacles
German soldiers take photographs at a public hanging of several men and women as ‘partisans’ near Orel, Soviet Union, 1941/42.
Why do you think they took photographs – and what might have been the implications for wider knowledge within the Reich?
Who else can be seen in the photo?
How was the ‘anti-partisan’ fight related to the genocide of the Jews?
Bundesarchiv, Bild 101l-287-0872-28A. Photographer: Koll.
C. Questions about filmed interviews
Good times, bad rumours
Shame about a Nazi past
How to be a ‘decent’ Nazi
Victim as perpetrator?
Perpetrator as rescuer?
Keeping the trains rolling
D. Useful external resources
Encyclopaedia, online exhibitions, primary sources, and resources for educators.
Digital collections, online exhibitions, and educational materials.
Collections, research, and educational activities on the Holocaust and other genocides.
Portal connecting Holocaust-related collections, online resources, and online course for educators and students.
Videos and discussion questions for classroom learning.
Online exhibition on life and death in the Będzin ghetto with further resources.
Perpetrator Studies Network: Annotated bibliography.
Useful links to digital collections relevant to the study of perpetrators.
Mary Fulbrook explores complicity and perpetration in relation to the Nazi civilian administration of Bedzin, a small town just 25 miles from Auschwitz through which some 85,000 Jews passed on their way to slave labour or the gas chambers.