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What is the Holocaust?
The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War 2. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. The European Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust. 

But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.


How many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?
While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Jewish victims, statistics indicate that the total was over 5,830,000. Six million is the round figure accepted by most authorities.


What does Final Solution mean?
The term Final Solution (Die Endlosung) refers to the Germans’ plan to physically liquidate all Jews in Europe. The term was used at the Wannsee Conference held in Berlin on January 20, 1942, where German officials discussed its implementation.


How many children were murdered during the Holocaust?
The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.


Why did Hitler hate the Jews?
Holocaust happened because Hitler and the Nazis were racist. They believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated.


How did the Nazis carry our their policy of genocide?
In the late 1930's the Nazis killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns. 

Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method of killing. Six extermination centers were established in occupied Poland where large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were conducted systematically. Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease, and execution.


When was the first concentration camp established?
Dachau was the first concentration camp established and was opened on March 22, 1933. The camp's first inmates were primarily political prisoners (Communists or Social Democrats), habitual criminals, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and anti-socials (beggars, vagrants, hawkers). Others considered problematic by the Nazis were also included (Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists).


What is a death camp? How many? Where?

A death camp camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Tremblinka. All were located in Poland.


What was Auschwitz-Birkenau?
Auschwitz-Birkenau became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill  prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.


Did the Jews resist?
Many Jews simply could not believe that Hitler really meant to kill them all. But once the Nazis had complete control and the Jews were being relocated to ghettos, rations were reduced, conditions were horrible and the Jews did not have the strength, physically, emotionally, or militarily, to resist. There were uprisings in the camps, but it was incredibly difficult and rarely successful.

Elie Wiesel put it this way: "The question is not why all the Jews did not fight, but how so many of them did. Tormented, beaten, starved, where did they find the strength - spiritual and physical - to resist?" Those attempting to resist faced almost impossible odds.
 

The Holocaust FAQ


bibliography:
Gerald L. Posner and John Ware: Mengele

Robert Jay Lifton: The Nazi Doctors
Hermann Langbein: Menschen in Auschwitz
Thomas (Toivi) Blatt:
Sobibor - The forgotten Revolt
Micah Killian- The Forgotten Revolt (Selected Material)
Sir Martin Gilbert:
The Holocaust - The Jewish Tragedy
Louis L. Snyder:
 Encyclopedia of the Third Reich
Richard Rashke: Escape from Sobibor
University of Illinois Press, 1982, 1995
Dr. Stuart D. Stein
Web Genocide Documentation Centre
Kalmen Wewryk:
To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account
Yitzhak Arad:
Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka -
 the Operation Reinhard Death Camps,
Indiana University Press, 1987.
A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust
Simon Wiesenthal Center

The Nizkor Project
The History Place
Yad Vashem

USHMM

German Crimes in Poland. Volume I., Warsaw, 1946


 

 

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