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DOCUMENT-BASED QUESTION

This question is based on the accompanying documents. The question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, take into account the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.

Historical Context: Throughout history, governments have adopted policies or have taken actions that have contributed to the denial of human rights to certain groups. These groups include Ukrainians, Jews in Europe, and the Chinese. This denial of human rights has had an impact on the region in which it occurred as well as on the international community. Efforts by governments, groups, and individuals to resolve these human rights violations have met with mixed results.



Task: Select two groups from the historical context who have experienced human rights violations and for each
• Discuss the historical circumstances that contributed to the denial of this group’s human rights

• Describe the human rights violation

• Discuss the extent to which a government, a group, or an individual made an attempt to resolve this human rights violation




In developing your answers, be sure to keep these general definitions in mind:

(a) Describe means “to illustrate something in words or tell about it”

(b) Discuss means “to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail”

Short-Answer Questions

Directions: Analyze the documents and answer the short-answer questions that follow each document in the

space provided.


Document 1

…Stalin came to power after Lenin’s death in 1924, inheriting a government that was still struggling to control an unwieldy empire. The new premier [leader] soon turned his attention toward Ukraine, the largest and most troublesome of the non-Russian Soviet republics. The Ukrainians were a fiercely independent people, given to ignoring directives from Moscow and stubbornly maintaining their individualistic, agrarian way of life. That independent spirit made them a problem. At a time when Stalin wanted to build a strong industrial base, they clung to their rural peasant traditions. At a time when he wanted to abolish private ownership of land, they refused to surrender their farms. In short, the Ukrainians had become a threat to the revolution….

Source: Linda Jacobs Altman, Genocide: The Systematic Killing of a People, Enslow Publishers


1 What was one way in which the Ukrainian people were a threat to Stalin’s power according to Linda Jacobs Altman? [1]

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Document 2

In 1929, Stalin’s policy of all-out collectivization had disastrous effects on agricultural productivity. He increased the amount of grain to be exported from Ukraine. This action resulted in famine among the Ukrainian peasants and resistance among the landowners.
Addendum to the minutes of [December 6, 1932] Politburo [meeting] No. 93.

The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee resolve:

To place the following villages on the black list for overt disruption of the grain collection plan and for malicious sabotage, organized by kulak [wealthy Ukrainian farmers] and counterrevolutionary elements: …

The following measures should be undertaken with respect to these villages: 1. Immediate cessation [stoppage] of delivery of goods, complete suspension of cooperative and state trade in the villages, and removal of all available goods from cooperative and state stores.…

The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee call upon all collective and private farmers who are honest and dedicated to Soviet rule to organize all their efforts for a merciless struggle against kulaks and their accomplices in order to: defeat in their villages the kulak sabotage of grain collection; fulfill honestly and conscientiously their grain collection obligations to the Soviet authorities; and strengthen collective farms.

CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE’S COMMISSARS OF THE UKRAINIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC — V. CHUBAR. SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY (BOLSHEVIK) OF UKRAINE — S. KOSIOR. 6 December 1932.



Source: Soviet Archives Exhibit, Library of Congress (adapted)

2 According to this document, what was one action the Soviet government proposed to enforce its policies of

collectivization and grain quotas?

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Document 3

[As Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky] stood before a new memorial to the victims of the famine, he recalled his decision [not to cover up evidence of the Ukrainian famine] as one turning point in a movement lasting decades to unearth the truth about that period. And the memorial itself, shaped like a towering candle with a golden eternal flame, seemed to him in some sense a culmination of this effort. “It is a sign of our respect for the past,” Professor Kulchytsky said. “Because everyone was silent about the famine for many years. And when it became possible to talk about it, nothing was said. Three generations on.”

The concrete memorial was dedicated last November, the 75th anniversary of the famine, in a park in Kiev, on a hillside overlooking the Dnieper River in the shadow of the onion domes of a revered Orthodox Christian monastery. More than 100 feet tall, the memorial will eventually house a small museum that will offer testimony from survivors, as well as information about the Ukrainian villages that suffered.

In the Soviet Union, the authorities all but banned discussion of the famine, but by the 1980s the United States and other countries were pressing their own inquiries, often at the urging of Ukrainian immigrants. In response, Communist officials embarked on a propaganda drive to play down the famine and show that the deaths were caused by unforeseen food shortages or drought. Professor Kulchytsky said he had been given the task of gathering research but concluded that the famine had been man-made. “I became convinced that everything was not as I once thought,” he said.

He refused to falsify his findings and instead released them publicly, escaping punishment only because glasnost had begun under the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Source: New York Times, March 16, 2009

3 According to Professor Kulchytsky, what were two challenges faced by those seeking to memorialize the famine?

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Document 4a

. . . On the night of May 10, 1933, thousands of Nazi students, along with many professors, stormed universities, libraries, and bookstores in thirty cities throughout Germany. They removed hundreds of thousands of books and cast them onto bonfires. In Berlin alone, more than twenty thousand books were burned. The book burnings were part of a calculated effort to “purify” German culture. Since April 12, the Nazi German Student Association had been purging libraries, working from lists of books deemed “un-German.” The authors of some of the books were Jews, but most were not. . . .

Source: Michael Berenbaum, The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Little, Brown and Co.

4a According to Michael Berenbaum, what was one way the Nazi Party attempted to control the thoughts of

the German people? [1]

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Document 4b

. . . The Hitler Youth movement was formed for the express purpose of creating loyal subjects to the state. By 1935, over three million boys and girls aged 10 and older were enrolled. “We were born to die for Germany” was one of their popular slogans. In addition to a strenuous physical fitness program, they received training in the use of weapons and heard lectures on Nazi ideology.

Source: Chartock and Spencer eds., Can It Happen Again?, Black Dog & Leventhal

4b According to the editors of Can It Happen Again, what was one method used by the Nazi Party to influence

the thinking of the young people of Germany?

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Document 5

This is an excerpt from the opening statement of Chief Prosecutor Robert H. Jackson at the trial of the major

war criminals before the International Military Tribunal given on November 21, 1945.

. . . Germany became one vast torture chamber. Cries of its victims were heard round the world and brought shudders to civilized people everywhere. I am one who received during this war most atrocity tales with suspicion and scepticism [doubt]. But the proof here will be so overwhelming that I venture to predict not one word I have spoken will be denied. These defendants will only deny personal responsibility or knowledge.

Under the clutch of the most intricate web of espionage and intrigue that any modern state has endured, and persecution and torture of a kind that has not been visited upon the world in many centuries, the elements of the German population which were both decent and courageous were annihilated [reduced to nothing]. Those which were decent but weak were intimidated. Open resistance, which had never been more than feeble and irresolute, disappeared. But resistance, I am happy to say, always remained, although it was manifest in only such events as the abortive effort to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. With resistance driven underground, the Nazi had

the German State in his own hands. But the Nazis not only silenced discordant voices. They created positive controls as effective as their negative ones. Propaganda organs, on a scale never before known, stimulated the Party and Party formations with a permanent enthusiasm and abandon such as we, democratic people, can work up only for a few days before a general election. They inculcated [impressed upon] and practiced the Führerprinzip [leadership principle] which centralized control of the Party and of the Party-controlled State over the lives and thought of the German people, who are accustomed to look upon the German State, by whomever controlled, with a mysticism [a power to believe] that is incomprehensible to my people [the United States public]. . . .

Source: Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945–1 October 1946

5 According to Chief Prosecutor Jackson, what was one effect the Nazi government’s actions had on the

people of Germany?

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Document 6

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948, by the United

Nations General Assembly.



Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. . . .

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. . . .

Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. . . .

Source: United Nations


6 State two rights that all people have according to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Document 7

One day Second Lieutenant Ono said to us, “You have never killed anyone yet, so today we shall have some killing practice. You must not consider the Chinese as a human being, but only as something of rather less value than a dog or cat. Be brave! Now, those who wish to volunteer for killing practice, step forward.”
No one moved. The lieutenant lost his temper.
“You cowards!” he shouted. “Not one of you is fit to call himself a Japanese soldier. So no one will volunteer? Well then, I’ll order you.” And he began to call out names, “Otani—Furukawa—Ueno—Tajima!” (My God—me too!)
I raised my bayoneted gun with trembling hands, and—directed by the lieutenant’s almost hysterical cursing—I walked slowly towards the terror-stricken Chinese standing beside the pit—the grave he had helped to dig. In my heart, I begged his pardon, and—with my eyes shut and the lieutenant’s curses in my ears—I plunged the bayonet into the petrified Chinese. When I opened my eyes again, he had slumped down into the pit. “Murderer! Criminal!” I called myself.

Source: Testimony of Japanese private named Tajima

7 Why did Tajima execute Chinese citizens?

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Document 8

They would continue by raping the women and girls and killing anything and anyone that offered any resistance, attempted to run away from them or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were girls under the age of 8 and women over the age of 70 who were raped and then, in the most brutal way possible, knocked down and beat up. We found corpses of women on beer glasses and others who had been lanced by bamboo shoots. I saw the victims with my own eyes—I talked to some of them right before their deaths and had their bodies brought to the morgue at the Kulo hospital so that I could be personally convinced that all of these reports had touched on the truth.

Source: Testimony of John Rabe, Nazi businessman living in the international “safe zone” of Nanking. He is known to have sheltered thousands of Chinese. He was reported appalled by the rape in the city (NB: and estimated 80,000 women were raped and then killed) In this report he writes to Hitler.

8 State one way the rights of the Chinese were violated.

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Document 9

The Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1946-1948)
Occupation official turned historian Richard B. Finn notes, "World War II was the first major conflict in history in which the victors carried out trials and punishment of thousands of persons in the defeated nations for 'crimes against peace' and 'crimes against humanity,' two new and broadly defined categories of international crime." For most people, this calls to mind the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. But an equally difficult, fascinating, and controversial set of trials occurred in Tokyo, under the watchful eye of Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur.

The Tokyo trials were not the only forum for the punishment of Japanese war criminals, merely the most visible. In fact, the Asian countries victimized by the Japanese war machine tried far more Japanese -- an estimated five thousand, executing as many as 900 and sentencing more than half to life in prison. But with Japan under the control of the Americans, the most prominent Japanese war leaders came under MacArthur's jurisdiction.

The Potsdam declaration of July 1945 had called for trials and purges of those who had "deceived and misled" the Japanese people into war. That was the simple part; there was major disagreement, both among the Allies and within the U.S., about whom to try and how to try them. Despite the lack of consensus, MacArthur lost no time, ordering the arrest of thirty-nine suspects -- most of them members of General Tojo's war cabinet -- on September 11, just over a week after the surrender. Perhaps caught off guard, Tojo tried to committ suicide, but was resuscitated with the help of American doctors eager to deny him even that means of escape.
On October 6 MacArthur received a directive, soon approved by the other Allied powers, granting him the authority to proceed with the major trials and giving him basic guidelines for their conduct. As they had done in Germany, the Allies set up three broad categories. "Class A" charges alleging "crimes against peace" were to be brought against Japan's top leaders who had planned and directed the war. Class B and C charges, which could be leveled at Japanese of any rank, covered "conventional war crimes" and "crimes against humanity," respectively. In early November, the supreme commander was given authority to purge other war time leaders from public life. Again, MacArthur moved quickly: by December 8 he had set up an international prosecution section under former U.S. assistant attorney general Joseph Keenan, which began gathering evidence and preparing for the high-profile Class A trials.

On January 19, 1946, MacArthur announced the establishment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMFTE), and a few weeks later selected its eleven judges from names submitted to him by the governments sitting on the Allied Far Eastern Commission. He also named Keenan the chief prosecutor and Australian Sir William Webb the tribunal's president. Twenty-eight high-ranking political and military leaders were indicted on 55 counts of "crimes against peace, conventional war crimes, and crimes against humanity."

The Tokyo trials began on May 3, 1946, and lasted two and a half years. Although an improvement over the hasty Manila trials, which were also organized by MacArthur and resulted in the executions of Generals Yamashita and Homma, the Tokyo trials have been criticized as another example of "victors' justice." One of the more authoratative studies condemns them strongly: "We have found its foundation in international law to be shaky. We have seen that its process was seriously flawed. We have examined the verdict's inadequacy as history."

On November 4, 1948, Webb announced that all of the defendants had been found guilty. Seven were sentenced to death, sixteen to life terms, two to lesser terms, two had died during the trials and one had been found insane. After reviewing their decisions, MacArthur expressed his regrets but praised the work of the tribunal and upheld the verdicts. Although calling the duty "utterly repugnant to me," MacArthur went on to say, "No human decision is infallible but I can conceive of no judicial process where greater safeguard was made to evolve justice."

On December 23, 1948, General Tojo and six others were hung at Sugamo prison. MacArthur, afraid of embarrassing and antagonizing the Japanese people, defied the wishes of President Truman and barred photography of any kind, instead bringing in four members of the Allied Council to act as official witnesses.
Source: PBS

9a. Identify two types of crimes of which the defendants were accused.

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9b. Discuss the verdicts and sentences set down by the tribunal.

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