Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject History Europe - Germany - National Socialism, World War II, grade: 1,7, University of Cape Town (Department of History / Jewish Studies Centre), course: The Holocaust, 4 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Historically the question of theJudenräte'srole in the holocaust has long been debated. One of the views taken is that, 'the Judenräte were forced to become an instrument of the anti-Jewish policies of the authorities. The blows of the Nazis were struck at the Jews through the Judenräte,which acted as an involuntary agent of the occupation in the Jewish community.' Yet at the same time others are inclined to view the Judenräte more favourably as an organization that made every effort to save as many people as possible. It is also important to remember thatJ udenräte operated differently within individual ghettos. While some Judenräte chairmen have been remembered in a positive light others have been largely vilified. When the Judenräte were first established, their members were unaware of the Nazis ultimate plans and concerned themselves primarily with the day to day operations of life within the ghetto. Food distribution, work permits, housing needs, generation of finances, these were all major concerns within the ghetto walls. As the horrific nature of Nazi plans became clear many Judenräte focused on saving as many people as possible. Of the labour forces created by the Judenräte Hilberg states: 'The factories bought time for tens of thousands, but the Jews were playing a determined game in which the outcome was always under German control.' However, in order to save lives,Judenräte were often put in the impossible position of creating a list of those who would be deported to their death. Some Judenräte refused to sacrifice any Jewish lives. Sadly, in the end the decision was taken out of their hands by the Nazis who did not require the Judenrat'sapproval in order to go about their grisly work. Many have argued that regardless of the perceived individual level of collaboration within the varying Judenräte,their very existence was the ultimate form of collaboration. They were entrusted with maintaining order within the ghettos, they created schools, set up newspapers, maintained cultural traditions, at the very moment as the Nazis were formulating plans for their mass murder. As Jewish councils attempted to reconstruct to some degree the trappings of normal life, the Nazis were drawing up the blue prints for the concentration camps.
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