Impact of World War II on Society and the Holocaust

Life and Society During the War

The Second World War affected almost the entire population of the world because of the large number of countries that were involved in the war.

The development of the war had drastic effects on people’s daily lives

  1. Investment in military resources had a negative effect on society. The civilian population suffered from shortages and rationing systems were introduced to distribute basic products, such as bread, flour, and cooking oil
  2. Part of the population was evacuated to rural areas because the towns and cities were being constantly bombed
  3. Many people had to change their habits to protect themselves from nighttime bombing raids

In countries occupied by Germany, there were other changes

  1. A resistance movement formed who fought against German occupying forces. This consisted of secret groups of civilians who cooperated with the Allies against the Germans
  2. Collaborators were civilians living in countries occupied by Germany who supported the Nazis
  3. The number of exiles increased as millions of people left their homes in fear of being arrested or executed and looked for refuge in other countries. Those who could not escape were deported
  4. The Nazis persecuted and killed Jewish people because Hitler blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s problems

The Holocaust

Was the systematic extermination of Jewish people by the Nazis during the Second World War, in all countries occupied by the Axis powers. Hitler’s racial policies aimed at the extermination of the entire Jewish race, which he believed to be inferior to the Aryan race.

First Measures in Germany

When Hitler came to power, he passed the following racial laws aimed at excluding Jews from economic activity and removing civil rights from the Jewish population

  1. A law excluded Jews from public administration
  2. Mixed marriages were prohibited and annulled
  3. Jews were prohibited from occupying liberal professions
  4. There was a pogrom known as ‘The night of broken glass’
  5. Jewish businesses were closed down, and their property was expropriated
  6. Jews were forced to live in ghettos surrounded by walls or fences
  7. Masses of Jews were deported to concentration camps, where they were exterminated

The Final Solution

In 1942, at the Wannsee Conference, the Nazis decided to annihilate the Jewish population definitively. Jews were to be transported to concentration camps in Auschwitz or Treblinka. There, they would be forced to work until they died or gassed to death in gas chambers. A total of six million Jews were killed in the concentration camps

The Creation of Concentration Camps in Europe

As the war developed, German expansion extended all over Europe. There were more Jews within their territory or sent by collaborating countries. The Germans built forced labor camps near mines, quarries, and factories, where the Jews were sent to work to increase German military production. The objective was to execute the Jews. The first people to be killed were the sick and those unable to work. Others were subjected to terrible scientific experiments in laboratories

The Battle of Stalingrad: (1942-1943)

German forces occupied the city, but the Soviet army counter-attacked and surrounded the German forces for months, during a very cold winter

Expansionist Policies

Germany, Italy, and Japan wanted to expand their territories to acquire more raw materials and satisfy their territorial demands

Appeasement Policies: Great Britain supported a policy of appeasement towards Germany and Italy. As a result, the territorial expansion of these countries was tolerated

Blue Division: Volunteer troops sent by Franco to support the German army’s fight against the Soviet Union

Kamikaze Pilots: were Japanese suicide bombers that attacked the Allies’ ships

Second World War: was a military conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945. The war involved almost all of the European countries, Japan, the United States, China, and the European colonies in North Africa, Asia, and Oceania

Lightning War: were rapid, successive attacks on the enemy front

Normandy Landings: on 6 June 1944, the Allied troops landed on the coast of Normandy in France. Following a difficult battle against the Germans, they finally managed to force them to retreat as far as Paris. Paris was finally liberated in August 1944

Humanitarian Aid

Thousands of Jews were saved thanks to the help of people around the world. The first people organized themselves through associations such as the Movement for the Care of Children, which rescued 10,000 European Jewish children. Angel Sans-Briz saved 5,200 Hungarian Jews by giving them Spanish passports. This exempted them from deportation because they belonged to a neutral city.