Homework: The Holocaust

This weekend, please review the following material on the Holocaust (or Shoah) as a continuation of our study of World War II:

World War II and Society

After reviewing the material above, please listen to the following radio broadcast by journalist Edward R. Murrow on the liberation of Buchenwald in April of 1945.  You will find that the sound quality is far from perfect– there are lots of hisses and pops and the whine of interference, as this is the actual recording from 1945.  If you would like to, you can follow this transcript of the broadcast while you listen– but please do listen.  Sometimes the tone of voice is just as important as the words themselves:

Liberation of Buchenwald, 15 April 1945, reported by Edward R. Murrow (CBS News)

In a thoughtful comment, please respond to the following prompts:

  1. Describe the events in Germany beginning in 1933 which led to the Final Solution.  What was their purpose?  How did these actions normalize discrimination?

  2. What were the conditions like in Buchenwald when Murrow and the American troops arrive?  What sort of men did Murrow encounter in the camp?  What do you think shocked Murrow the most about the experience?  What shocked you the most about his description?

  3. At the end of the broadcast, Murrow tells his audience that “if [he] has offended [them] by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, [he’s] not in the least bit sorry.”  What is Murrow’s tone when he delivers this line?  (That is, how does he sound?)

  4. Murrow, as a journalist, believed that it was his job to make an argument– NOT to be a mere reporter of facts.  What argument is he trying to make through this report?  What does he want his listeners to feel, learn, and believe as a result of his work?  Do you think that he achieved his goal?  Why or why not?

Remember, normal commenting rules apply: one thoughtful comment which addresses all of the discussion points thoroughly will receive up to 95%,  while you must comment and leave a response on someone else’s comment in order to earn full credit.

Try to get some rest this weekend, guys– we’ve got the final push coming up over the next two weeks.  Remember you have your Unit Six test on Thursday (12/10), and your Student Learning Objective exam on Friday (12/11), so let’s get ready to power through.



87 thoughts on “Homework: The Holocaust

  1. 1. Post WWI the Germans were very poor because of the stipulations set upon them by the treaty of Versailles. The huge debt they took on during that time that the were to pay to France and Great Britain left them very vulnerable to the ideals of a man called Adolf Hitler who offered an easy and quick solution to bring back the German empire. In this way he blamed Jewish people for all of Germany’s problems and united the people through one common enemy of the Jews.
    2. The conditions in Buchenwald are described as filthy from the outside and harsh and cruel from the inside. Within the camp dead bodies were scattered everywhere and the conditions were inhumane. The people encountered were usually very thin with little to no clothing and were from a variety of professions such as teachers or had been in the camp since little boys and girls. I think what shocked Murrow the most along with me would have been the smell but just the sight and the picture i created in my head after listening to his encounter with the concentration camp.
    3. Murrow at the end of the broadcast tone was stern and strong as if he wanted to make sure he gave a birds eye view of what the conditions were like along with making sure the Holocaust was forever remembered by many. He was not mad or upset with how he thought the audience would react but he wanted them to know what the Jewish people had gone through.
    4. I think Murrow made a strong argument of which was showing people the cruelty of war and how the German Regime and the way they went about their business. He wanted to teach people about war and what it was like to the furthest extent of which they can handle. So that they do get the point and grasp the true meanings behind his work. I believe he also achieved his goal through how well written and spoken his works were even without giving the whole story with every tiny detail it was still descriptive enough to give the reader or listener a strong feel of what took place.


  2. The Nazis first began their discrimination towards the Jews when they depicted them as a threatening group towards to Nazi regime. The Nazi began to place restrictions on the Jews known as the Nuremberg Laws. The laws decreased the interaction between Jews and the Germans. In addition, pogroms began, initially because of a Jewish teenager killing a German diplomat. . This also led to Jews being taken to ghettos, which overall led Jews to be seen as less than the population. Gradually the discrimination was built up, which tricked people to accept it easier. Also, the bad economic and political conditions that Germany was in made it easier for them to accept Hitler’s leadership.
    The conditions at Buchenwald were unsanitary and terrifying when Murrow and the American troops arrive. The people in the concentration camps received little nourishment, were overworked, and basically had no freedom. While Murrow was there he encountered men that used to play important roles in society before they were sent to the camp, such as the former mayor. The harsh conditions towards the many innocent people may have been what surprised him the most. For example, when he came across the young kids he may have had a moment of “what did these kids do to deserve this?” The large number deaths are another thing that could have shocked him the most because of how rapidly they occurred. The large number of deaths and harsh conditions is what surprised me the most as well.
    Murrow sounds like what his words portray, that he’s not sorry. He sounds upset by what he has just encountered, but at the same time he sounds monotone.
    Through his report, Murrow’s goal is to argue that the concentration camps were terrible and the Jews didn’t deserve that. He attempts to spread his feeling of disgust towards the conditions. He wants us to become aware of these conditions and realize that they’re unnecessary. I think he did achieve his goals because the way he expressed his experience made me receive a better understanding of what went on inside the camps and how unfair they were.


    • I agree with you in that Murrow’s goal was to argue that concentration camps were in fact bad things with no good intentions whatsoever. He definitely described the horrors on them in a way that caught attention.


  3. The Nazi party created laws that reinforced the idea of Jewish people being inferior. They separated them through marriage laws and employment opportunities. They made sure that they would only obtain lower-class jobs and Germans would only receive upper class jobs. This idea of Germans and Jewish people being so different lead them to do things as cruel as the final solution. The Nazi party primed the German people to the point that they staged pogroms. All of this eventually came to head with the final solution.
    Murrow encountered frail looking men in tattered clothes. He explained how weak and under-nourished they were, how some looked near the brink of death. The conditions in the camp were overcrowded and unsanitary. I think what shocked Murrow the most was seeing the bodies stacked in the courtyard. I think what shocked me were the children with the numbers tattooed on their arms. It shows the complete degradation of human life that these children would be reduced to merely a number.
    When Murrow delivers that sentence it sounds as if he is emphasizing that what the audience heard isn’t even the worst of it. He’s explaining that if someone thought what he just said was bad, they need to realize what actually occurred was much worse.
    Murrow was trying to move his audience emotionally. He wanted them to despise what the Germans had done and be appalled. He was trying to show why this war needed to be fought and why Roosevelt needed to be respected as a leader. He wants the audience to see the atrocities and understand the peoples’ hardships. Overall, he accomplishes this goal. He moves anyone who hears this to reflect on what they just heard and how someone could possibly do such a thing. I think Murrow accomplished his goal of moving his audience.


  4. 1) Because of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany owed large debts to countries and was in need of someone to blame for this struggle. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were passed, prohibiting Jews from using hospitals and visiting the park. Next, there were organized pogroms, or massacres. Ghettos were established for the concentration of the Jewish people. This then led to concentration camps, then extermination camps. The purpose of the Final Solution was to eliminate the Jewish population of Europe. These actions cumulatively normalized discrimination, from legal action to massacres to crowding and to eventually, murder.
    2) When Murrow and the American troops arrived, there were poor conditions in Buchenwald. Because it was so unsanitary and crowded, several people died each day. Murrow encountered Jews and communists and the “living dead.” Murrow was probably most shocked about the number of people dying and how the Germans were so well-dressed compared to the people they imprisoned. I was most shocked at the description of the white bodies that laid piled on top of one another.
    3) When Murrow delivered the line of how he is not sorry for offending anyone that was listening, his tone was unashamed. He knew that it was best to share his encounter with an audience. No one should have been left in the dark, uninformed and ignorant of what was happening.
    4) Murrow was trying to argue that it was inappropriate what happened at these concentration camps. He wanted his listeners to feel and experience the encounter and its wrongdoing in Germany. He wanted them to feel the sympathy for the prisoners. He definitely achieved his goal because it is very much so agreed upon that the Holocaust was a very bad thing that occurred in history. People were fed up with Germany’s criminality and inhumanity.


  5. 1. After world war one the Germans were very poor and in debt due to the treaty of Versailles. The nation was in a huge amount of debt to Great Britain and France. The nation’s debt left the economy in shambles and the people were desperate. The nation needed someone to rally behind and soften there hardships, and this man was Adolf Hitler. He blamed the Jewish people and the countries they fought during WWI for all of Germany’s problems rallying the German people behind one enemy.
    2 Buchenwald was described as filthy inside and out. Inside the camp dead bodies were littered the floor and the conditions were horrendous. The people inside the camps were emaciated and sickly. What bothered Murrow the most was awful smell throughout the camp.
    3. At the end of the broadcast Murrow apologizes for his report on the camp but it’s obvious he wants to let everyone know about the cruelties inside the camp and didn’t want to make it sound better than it actually was.
    4. Murrow is trying to show how cruel the Germans really were. He didn’t want to lighten or hide the facts of the holocaust so that everyone knew exactly what the Nazis were doing. He did this very well.


  6. 1. The demands from the Treaty of Versailles had left most Germans poor and vengeful. The Nazi party’s promises of revenge and power had filled the German people with hope, but the minorities and opposers of this regime were far less lucky. Among Communists, Blacks, Socialists, homosexuals, disabled people, and many other “threatening” groups, Jews were persecuted for their better financial power and most likely due to preexisting prejudices that have plagued Europe for centuries. What is important to remember is that Adolf Hitler did not invent anti-Semitism, he merely provided a catalyst for it to grow and take shape. During this build-up of racial tension, the Nuremberg Laws went into effect, stripping Jews of the rights to marry non-Jews, using hospitals, going to public parks, and becoming doctors. Eventually, these injustices done to the Jewish people would lead to massive state-sponsored attacks against Jews and synagogues within Germany, and finally result in the relocation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps.
    2. The conditions in Buchenwald were far from sanitary and safe for prisoners. Most of the prisoners there were starved to the point of perpetual fatigue, and their appearance drastically changed to look more like that of a skeleton than a living, breathing human being. Upon arrival, Murrow notes that many of the emaciated inmates attempted to touch his clothing. I was most shocked by the fact that about 900 people died every day during the winter. Murrow seemed most appalled by the fact that so many thousands of people were thin and scarcely clothed while the Germans running the camp were immaculately dressed.
    3. I personally love the way in which Murrow cynically addresses the tame details of his visit to Buchenwald. He is unapologetic and sincere in his tone, and it is apparent in how he intentionally omits details that would be too gruesome for the sensitive public to hear. The people must know about the horrors taking place in Germany during this time, whether they wish to face the realities or not.
    4. Murrow’s report was clearly designed to stir disgust and anger in Americans. I believe that he is trying to breed more contempt towards the Germans by describing the apparent apathy they show towards the suffering of the Jews and communists kept locked away in concentration camps. I think he did this very effectively in his grim tone and matter-of-fact demeanor.


Comments are closed.