The term "Holocaust" didn't exist in the German language until the 1980s. Due to the great success of this mini-series, it became common knowledge, and was chosen as "word of the year 1979" by the "Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache" (Society for German Language).
When this was aired on German television, police station switchboards were flooded with confessional calls during the "Krystallnacht" scene, where people were smashing the windows of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses. People who had participated in the actual event were calling to confess their participation, but the Statute of Limitation had taken effect, and no actions could be taken, despite their confessions. However, the furor arising from this problem led to the West German Government altering the relevant laws to extend such time limits under such circumstances to enable the prosecution of such perpetrators.
Because there was no Emmy category of Outstanding Supporting Actor or Actress in a Limited Series at the time, David Warner, Sam Wanamaker, Tovah Feldshuh, and Blanche Baker had to be nominated in the category Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Continuing Series, although this was, actually, a mini-series.
Some Holocaust survivors have criticized the portrayal of Dr. Weiss after he becomes a prisoner of Auschwitz, because his character is portrayed as working on road gangs and paving crews. Jewish doctors in Auschwitz were almost always assigned to the camp infirmary and placed in the moral dilemma of serving under German doctors. These Jewish doctors endured an "agony of conscience" as they were ordered to help prevent the spread of disease from Jewish inmates to German captors, and also participate in medical experiments and, in some cases, even selections for the gas chambers.
When broadcast in West Germany, it was shown simultaneously on all the regional broadcasting stations of ARD, the so called "Third Programs". It was watched by more than 20 million people and resulted in broad public discussion about genocide.