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Dr. Catherine Chatterley


Dr. Catherine Chatterley, Founding Director, Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) Adjunct Professor of History, University of Manitoba, March 24, 2012


The Dachau concentration camp display entitled Names Instead of Numbers [currently in Winnipeg] is not a Holocaust exhibit. The victims of the Hitler regime were indeed diverse but the victims of the Holocaust were Jewish.

This is a fundamental distinction and one that requires further elaboration given the exhibit's misleading and inaccurate promotion and press coverage (see links below). It should be mentioned that the German creators of the exhibit do not promote their display as a Holocaust exhibit but as an exhibit about National Socialism:

Three groups of people were targeted for destruction by Nazi Germany. Two groups were targeted and killed in partial and uneven ways and one by comprehesive and systematic means. Numbers actually reflect this historical reality.


From October 1939 throughout the war years, with a brief cessation from August 1941-August 1942, approximately 200,000 disabled people in six German asylums were murdered by gassing, starvation, and overdose. An unknown number of Germans were sterilized under this same so-called "Euthanasia" policy.

In 1940, 30,000 German and Austrian Roma and Sinti (better know by the term “Gypsy”) were incarcerated in camps away from the main population. In May, approximately 7000 of these people were deported to Jewish ghettos in the General Government. In December 1942, Himmler added these people and the remaining 23,000 German Roma and Sinti to the already existing extermination campaign against European Jewry. Historians estimate that 220,000 Roma were killed in Europe by the Germans and their allies (often added to killing operations for Jews) out of a pre-war population of approximately one million. The Roma call this "great devouring" of their people Porajmos.

The Nazis had only one Final Solution and it was to the so-called Jewish Question. The Germans slated the nine to eleven million Jews of Europe for total extermination across the continent and in all future German occupied territories (we know today that Hitler promised to annihilate the Jews of the Islamic world and the Jews of the yishuv as well).


Antisemitism was the central motivating factor of Hitler’s racist policies and of his war of aggression against his neighbors. Hitler believed that communism was a Jewish conspiracy, which worked in tandem with other aspects of a larger “International Jewish Conspiracy” to rule the planet and to destroy Germany. His war of annihilation against Stalin was a war against the Jews and what he termed "Judeo-Bolshevism." Under the umbrella of World War II, Hitler unleashed a massive racist engineering project upon Europe, in which the Slavic peoples would be reduced to a slave population to work vast tracts of the new Germania, where there would no longer be any Jews (there were debates about the fate of the Roma), and where “racially pure” German women would birth perfect “Aryan” soldiers for the Reich.

Before Hitler could unleash a continental war, however, he had to consolidate his power inside Germany. With this in mind, he focused on building his volksgemeinschaft (community of the people) and won enormous support from the German people for his dedication to their social welfare, re-employment, and national pride after the catastrophe of WWI. One of the first things Hitler did to consolidate his power was to create a system of prisons, or concentration camps, and Dachau was the first one to be opened in March 1933.


Dachau was a political prison camp that housed Germans who were arrested and sentenced by the regime for political crimes. The first prisoners were socialists, communists, and the odd monarchist, all of whom were anti-Nazi and about 10% also happened to be Jewish. In 1936, other political prisoners (clergy and Jehovah’s Witnesses) and non-political prisoners (Roma, gay men, vagrants, prostitutes, habitual criminals) were incarcerated in Dachau. Thirty-six thousand Jews were arrested on November 9-10, 1938 during Kristallnacht and 11,000 of them were sent to Dachau, most of whom were released after signing declarations that they would leave Germany. Once the decision was made to exterminate Europe’s Jews, the Jewish prisoners in Dachau and other concentration camps were deported to their deaths in the East. Jewish POWs from Eastern Europe were placed into Dachau and its subsidiary slave labor camps during 1944, and made up about 30% o

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