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Account for the varying fates of the Jewish populations in different Balkan countries during World War II.

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Introduction

Account for the varying fates of the Jewish populations in different Balkan countries during World War II. Before the Second World War, more than a million Jews lived in the Balkan states. While more than 500,000 Jews from the Balkans were killed, the fate of the Balkan Jews following the rise of the Nazi's and the outbreak of World War Two varied widely (1). Some populations were almost totally exterminated, while others survived. The Balkan countries that will be examined are Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece. To fully understand the Holocaust in these countries, it will be necessary to firstly gather some background information on the Jews in each of the Balkan countries which will allow us to fully understand the degree of anti-Semitism that existed in these countries prior to World War II. It will also be necessary to identify the degree of collaboration between these countries and Nazi Germany. Finally academic theories related to the Holocaust will be analysed in order to explain, if they can why the death rates of Jews in the Balkans vary so much. Romania had the largest Jewish population in the Balkans, by 1930, they numbered over 800,000 (2). However there was little assimilation, in a country where 70 percent of the overall population was rural, 70 percent of Jews lived in cities. Jews were seen as alien and could not be assimilated, and this prejudice was exploited by ethnic nationalist leaders. Prior to 1923, Jews did not even have Romanian citizenship which prevented them from holding any public office, voting and owning land. As a result, Jews were forced to pursue social and economic lives which further distinguished them from the mass of Romanians. This added socio-economic tensions to the obvious religious and linguistic differences. (3) The 1930s saw a dramatic rise in support for the fascist Iron Guard regime, of which anti-Semitism was a major feature. ...read more.

Middle

Thousands of Jews residing in the German-occupied zone fled to the relative safety of the Italian occupation zone. It was only following the total German occupation of Greece in 1943 that Greece's Jews were left with little hope. (20) The remaining 53,000 Greek Jews lived in German-administered areas, mostly in Salonika. During a four month period in 1943 the Jewish population of that city was registered, concentrated in ghettos, and then sent to Auschwitz. Of Greece's 75,000 Jews at the beginning of World War Two, 77% (54,000) of them would die in the Holocaust, the highest percentage of any of the Balkan states. (21) A number of noted Holocaust scholars have made efforts to explain why some Jewish populations in the Balkans fared better during the Second World War than others. A particularly controversial Holocaust theory is that of eliminationist anti-Semitism in German society. This study by Daniel Goldhagen alleged that the Germans turn against the Jews were due to the fact that there was a particularly intense enthusiasm for anti-Semitism in this country. Goldhagen's theory has been met by approval and disdain in equal measure and one of its greatest criticisms is that it fails to see the Holocaust in a European context that includes the Balkans. Scholar Yehuda Bauer argues that if one accepts Goldhagen's theory of eliminationist anti-Semitism it can also be applied to the Balkans since the theory was less related to Germany as a nation as the nationalistic regime that existed there in the 1930's. If one accepts Goldhagen's theory, which Bauer contests, Bauer argued that the situation was very similar particularly in Romania where an authoritarian nationalistic regime was in power from 1940. (22) Of the Balkan states in the early part of the war, Romania was the one that took the greatest enthusiasm towards the Final Solution killing more than 250,000 Jews and a further 100,000 Ukrainian Jews (23). ...read more.

Conclusion

FOOTNOTES (1)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) Appendix B (2)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p575 (3)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p575 (4)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p575 (5)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p549 (6)http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/664239/posts (7)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) Appendix B (8)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p575 (9)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p 465 (10)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p707 (11)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p707 (12)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p 466 (13)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) Appendix B (14)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p 99 (15)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p 100 (16)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p 100 (17)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p 462 (18)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) Appendix B (19)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p 469 (20)Walter Laqueur (Editor), The Holocaust Encycolpedia, Yale University Press (2001) p 267 (21)Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-45, Penguin Books (1975) p 470 (22)Yehuda Bauer : Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press (2002) p106 (23)Yehuda Bauer : Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press (2002) p 106 (24)Yehuda Bauer : Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press (2002) p 107 (25)Hilberg, Raul : Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books (1961) p 507 (26)Richard Clogg, Greece 1940-1949: Occupation, Resistance, Civil War, Palgrave (2002) p104 (27)Mikhail Shkarovski, Remebering For The Future, The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide (Volume 2), Palgrave, (2001) p490 (28)Lucy S. ...read more.

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