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
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
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
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
What is a death camp? How many?
A death camp camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus
especially designed for mass murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau,
Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor,
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
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.
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