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Hitler's GeographiesThe Spatialities of the Third Reich$
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Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226274423

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226274560.001.0001

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Spaces of Engagement and the Geographies of Obligation: Responses to the Holocaust

Spaces of Engagement and the Geographies of Obligation: Responses to the Holocaust

(p.282) 13 Spaces of Engagement and the Geographies of Obligation: Responses to the Holocaust
Hitler's Geographies

Michael Fleming

University of Chicago Press

The Nazi destruction of Polish Jewry progressed incrementally from 1939 to 1945 through legal restrictions, confiscations, deportations, ghettoization, slave labor, death camps, and death marches. Knowledge of the Nazi programs increased in Poland and in the West over time, but the way this knowledge was comprehended and responded to by different actors varied. This chapter argues that the ‘spaces of engagement’ where knowledge of the unfolding Jewish tragedy was acquired crucially influenced responses to it. To illustrate this point it focuses on the reactions of the British Foreign Office, the Polish Government in Exile (based in London) and the Polish Underground in Poland itself. In addition, understandings of the Holocaust were heavily influenced by geographies of obligation - that is, the hierarchies of responsibility and consideration between different groups at various spatial scales. This issue has been extensively debated in the last decades, but largely in the context of Polish-Jewish relations. This chapter expands the scale of analysis and explores how the notion of geographies of obligation can help deepen understandings of the way different institutions and key actors responded to the Holocaust as it was taking place.

Keywords:   Polish government in exile, resistance, holocaust, geographies of obligation, spaces of engagement, antisemitism

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