Policies Towards the Jews 1940-41

Spreading and Development of Antisemitic Policies

In August 1939 Hitler and Stalin had concluded the NAZI Soviet pact, which was only ever intended to be a temporary truce. In October 1940 Hitler started detailed planning for the conquest of the USSR and in June 1941 he launched operation Barbarossa. German armies to control a all territories in Poland, the Baltic states, Western Russia and Ukraine. All of these events had an impact on the development of NAZI anti Semitic policy, since the war in the east was to be a war of racial annihilation, and it immediately bought more than three million Soviet Jews under German rule. There was no explicit Hitler order in June 1941 to kill the Jews of the Soviet Union but there was an atmosphere in which troops or killing as part of the information to eliminate the Bolshevik Jewish intelligentsia. The war with Soviet Russia intensified the pressure on Hitler to deal with the Jewish question in Germany as well as in the occupied territories, and a series of further isolationist measures were implemented on the Jews in German Society.



The NAZI regime needed a clear plan to deal with the huge Jewish populations that were displaced by military conquest and Germanisation. One solution may turn to was the creation of ghettos. In February 1940 the first get a were set up in Lodz, where 320,000 Jews were living and as the NAZI start they could not evacuate them they closed the ghetto and made the Jews build a surrounding wall. Jews sent to the ghetto have their homes confiscated, and most had to sell their valuables to survive. There was further economic exploitation in the form of forced labour. The Nazis’ restricted the amount of food, medical supplies and other goods and to the overcrowded ghettos although there was a black market, there were many more ways around these awful conditions. The ghettos had a legal schools and illegal printing presses and although the Elders did their best to relieve suffering some were accused of corruption or collaboration with the Nazis.


Special groups or Einsatzgruppen were sent in to eliminate communist officials, red army commissars, partisans and the Jewish Bolshevik intelligentsia. Their activities went far beyond their original remit as they carried out numerous mass killings possibly up to 0.5 million Soviet Jews were killed in this way. They were temporary units made up of police and regular troops commanded by men from the Gestapo and we used extensively in support of military operations. They played an important role in the ethnic cleansing of the territories in Western Poland that were incorporated into greater Germany. It is estimated that 7000 Jews were killed in Poland in 1939. The Einsatzgruppen were supported by police reserve units, who were made up of many ordinary men conscripted into the police instead of the regular army. Jewish men were routinely being shot, with the extra Manpower, Jewish women and children were now also to be shot.