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Nazism, War and GenocideNew Perspectives on the History of the Third Reich$
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Neil Gregor

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780859897457

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780859897457.001.0001

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Auschwitz and the Germans History, Knowledge, and Memory

Auschwitz and the Germans History, Knowledge, and Memory

(p.147) 9 Auschwitz and the Germans History, Knowledge, and Memory
Nazism, War and Genocide

Norbert Frei

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the development of Auschwitz during World War II as a concentration and extermination camp, as a site of economic activity, and as a model colonial settlement for thousands of Germans. It challenges the popular image of Auschwitz as a sealed-off space, an isolated centre of unimaginable horror deep in Poland, and instead suggests that it was located on a territory fully integrated into the Third Reich prior to 1945. The chapter also shows how the ever-expanding complex of camps, factories, and ‘model town’ in Auschwitz became home not only to thousands of SS men and their families, but also to German administrators, planners, businessmen, party functionaries, and even builders, guesthouse proprietors, and teachers. These people were part of the shared enterprise of the ‘Germanisation’ of the town and shared the ideological understandings of why they were there — and what this meant for the town's pre-existing residents, including Jews. The chapter concludes by explaining how the Germans' mass presence both in the town and in other killing fields gave rise to shared knowledge of genocide.

Keywords:   genocide, Auschwitz, World War II, Germans, Poland, Third Reich, model town, Germanisation, Jews

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