The Holocaust was
the systematic annihilation of millions of 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
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.
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.
statistics derived from Yad Vashem and Fleming, Hitler
and the Final Solution.
world outside Nazi Europe received numerous press reports in the
1930s about the persecution of Jews. By 1942 the governments of the
United States and Great Britain had confirmed reports about the Final
Solution - Germany's intent to kill all the Jews of Europe.
However, influenced by antisemitism and fear of a massive influx of
refugees, neither country modified their refugee politics. No
specific attempts to stop or slow the genocide were made until
mounting pressure eventually forced the United States to undertake
limited rescue efforts in 1944.
Europe, rampant antisemitism incited citizens of many
German-occupied countries to collaborate with the Nazis in their
genocidal policies. There were, however, individuals and groups in
every occupied nation who, at great personal risk, helped hide those
targeted by the Nazis.
saved most of its Jews in a nighttime rescue operation in 1943 in
which Jews were ferried in fishing boats to safety in neutral