The Holocaust

The Holocaust

Overview

The Holocaust also known as the Shoah (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: , HaShoah, "catastrophe"; Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

: , Churben or Hurban, from the Hebrew for "destruction"), was the genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, led by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, throughout Nazi-occupied territory. Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds perished.
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The Holocaust also known as the Shoah (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: , HaShoah, "catastrophe"; Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

: , Churben or Hurban, from the Hebrew for "destruction"), was the genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, led by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, throughout Nazi-occupied territory. Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds perished. More than one million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men. Broad definitions of the Holocaust include the Nazis' genocide of millions of people in other groups, including Romani
Porajmos
The Porajmos was the attempt made by Nazi Germany, the Independent State of Croatia, Horthy's Hungary and their allies to exterminate the Romani people of Europe during World War II...

 (more commonly known in English by the exonym "Gypsies"), Sinti
Sinti
Sinti or Sinta or Sinte is the name of a Romani or Gypsy population in Europe. Traditionally nomadic, today only a small percentage of the group remains unsettled...

, Soviet prisoners of war
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs
The Nazi crimes against Soviet Prisoners of War relate to the deliberately genocidal policies taken towards the captured soldiers of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany...

, Polish
Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles
In addition to about 2.9 million Polish Jews , about 2.8 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished during the course of the war...

 and Soviet
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

 civilians, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Jehovah's Witnesses
Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Nazi Germany
Jehovah's Witnesses were persecuted in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. Members of the religious group refused to serve in the German military or give allegiance to the Nazi government, for which hundreds were executed. An estimated 10,000 were sent to concentration camps where approximately...

 and other political and religious opponents
Holocaust victims
While the term Holocaust victims generally refers to Jews, the Nazis also persecuted and often killed millions of members of other groups they considered inferior , undesirable or dangerous....

, which occurred regardless of whether they were of German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 or non-German ethnic origin
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

. Using this definition, the total number of civilians murdered
Holocaust victims
While the term Holocaust victims generally refers to Jews, the Nazis also persecuted and often killed millions of members of other groups they considered inferior , undesirable or dangerous....

 by the Nazis is between 10 million and 11 million (around 5.7 million Jews and a roughly equal number of non-Jews) The mini-series Holocaust is credited with introducing the term into common parlance after 1978.

The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Various legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 to remove the Jews from civil society, predominantly the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

, was enacted in Nazi Germany years before the outbreak of World War II. Concentration camp
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

s were established in which inmates were used as slave labor until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Third Reich conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. The Third Reich required Jews and Romani to be confined in overcrowded ghettos before being transported by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were systematically killed in gas chambers.

Every arm of Nazi Germany's bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 was involved in the logistics
Logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal state". Opinions differ on how much the civilian population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of Germany knew about the government conspiracy against the Jewish population. Most historians claim that the civilian population was unaware of the atrocities that were carried out, especially in the extermination camps, which were located outside of Germany in Nazi-occupied Europe. The historian Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately is a Newfoundland-born Canadian academic who is one of the leading historians of modern Europe, particularly during World War II and the Cold War era. He is presently Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University....

, however, claims that the government openly announced the conspiracy through the media, and that civilians were aware of its every aspect except for the use of gas chambers. Significant historical evidence points to the idea that the vast majority of Holocaust victims, prior to their deportation to concentration camps, were either unaware of the fate that awaited them, or were in disbelief; they honestly believed that they were to be resettled.

Etymology and use of the term



The term holocaust comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word holókauston
Holocaust (sacrifice)
A holocaust is a religious animal sacrifice that is completely consumed by fire. The word derives from the Ancient Greek holocaustos , which is used solely for one of the major forms of sacrifice....

, an animal sacrifice
Animal sacrifice
Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practised by many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature...

 offered to a god in which the whole (holos) animal is completely burnt (kaustos). For hundreds of years, the word "holocaust" was used in English to denote great massacres, but since the 1960s, the term has come to be used by scholars and popular writers to refer exclusively to the genocide of Jews. The mini-series Holocaust is credited with introducing the term into common parlance after 1978.

The biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 word Shoah (שואה) (also spelled Sho'ah and Shoa), meaning "calamity", became the standard Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel. Shoah is preferred by many Jews for a number of reasons, including the theologically
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 offensive nature of the word "holocaust", which they take to refer to the Greek pagan custom.

The Nazis used a euphemistic
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 phrase, the "Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 to the Jewish Question" (German: Endlösung der Judenfrage), and the phrase "Final Solution" has been widely used as a term for the genocide of the Jews subsequently. Nazis also used the euphemism, “Leben unwertes Leben” or Life unworthy of life
Life unworthy of life
The phrase "life unworthy of life" was a Nazi designation for the segments of populace which had no right to live and thus were to be "euthanized". The term included people with serious medical problems and those considered grossly inferior according to racial policy of the Third Reich...

 in an attempt to justify the killings philosophically.

Institutional collaboration



Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and film-maker, who specializes in the study of the memorialization of the Holocaust...

 writes that Germany became a "genocidal state." "Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders." The universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag
Dehomag
Dehomag was a German subsidiary of IBM with monopoly in the German market before and during World War II. The word was an acronym for Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH . Hollerith refers to the German-American inventor of the technology of punched cards, Herman Hollerith.Under Nazi...

 (IBM Germany) company's punch card
Punched card
A punched card, punch card, IBM card, or Hollerith card is a piece of stiff paper that contains digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions...

 machines, producing meticulous records of the killings. As prisoners entered the death camps, they were made to surrender all personal property, which was carefully catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled. Berenbaum writes that the Final Solution of the Jewish question was "in the eyes of the perpetrators ... Germany's greatest achievement."

Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

 writes that: "Not one social group, not one religious community, not one scholarly institution or professional association in Germany and throughout Europe declared its solidarity with the Jews." He writes that some Christian churches declared that converted Jews should be regarded as part of the flock, but even then only up to a point.

Friedländer argues that this makes the Holocaust distinctive because antisemitic policies were able to unfold without the interference of countervailing forces of the kind normally found in advanced societies, such as industry, small businesses, churches, and other vested interests and lobby
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 groups.

Ideology and scale


In other genocides, pragmatic considerations such as control of territory and resources were central to the genocide policy. Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

 argues that:
Responding to the German philosopher Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte is a German historian and philosopher. Nolte’s major interest is the comparative studies of Fascism and Communism. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin, where he taught from 1973 to 1991. He was previously a Professor at the University of Marburg...

, who claimed that the Holocaust was not unique, the German historian Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

 wrote in 1986 that the Holocaust was unique because:
The slaughter was systematically conducted in virtually all areas of Nazi-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries. It was at its worst in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 and Greece. The Wannsee Protocol
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

 makes it clear that the Nazis intended to carry their "final solution of the Jewish question" to Britain and all the other neutral states in Europe, such as Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Sweden, Portugal and Spain.

Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated without exception. In other genocides, people were able to escape death by converting
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 to another religion or in some other way assimilating
Religious assimilation
In religion, assimilation refers to the passive or active inclusion of persons or aspects of another religion as members or elements within a particular faith or belief system...

. This option was not available to the Jews of occupied Europe, unless their grandparents had converted before January 18, 1871. All persons of recent Jewish ancestry were to be exterminated in lands controlled by Germany.

Extermination camps



The use of camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before in history had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse.

Medical experiments



Another distinctive feature of the Holocaust was the extensive use of human subjects in medical experiments. German physicians carried out such experiments at Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

 and Natzweiler concentration camps.

The most notorious of these physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes and various amputations and other brutal surgeries. The full extent of his work will never be known because the truckload of records he sent to Dr. Otmar von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute
The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science was a German scientific institution established in 1911. It was implicated in Nazi science, and after the Second World War was wound up and its functions replaced by the Max Planck Society...

 was destroyed by von Verschuer. Subjects who survived Mengele's experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterwards.

He seemed particularly keen on working with Romani children. He would bring them sweets and toys, and personally take them to the gas chamber. They would call him "Onkel Mengele". Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins:

Origins


Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

, Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final...

 and Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Schildkret Dawidowicz was an American historian and an author of books on modern Jewish history, in particular books on the Holocaust.-Life:...

 maintained that from the Middle Ages onward, German society and culture were suffused with anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

, and that there was a direct link from medieval pogroms to the Nazi death camps.
The second half of the 19th century saw the emergence in Germany
History of Germany
The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

 and Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 of the so-called Völkisch movement
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

, which as developed by such thinkers as Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and the German composer Richard Wagner. He later became a German citizen. Chamberlain married Wagner's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death...

 and Paul de Lagarde
Paul de Lagarde
Paul Anton de Lagarde was a polymath German biblical scholar and orientalist. He also took some part in politics. He belonged to the Prussian Conservative party, and was a violent antisemite. The bitterness which he felt appeared in his writings...

, presented a pseudo-scientific, biologically-based racism that saw Jews as a "race" locked into mortal combat with the "Aryan" race for world domination. Völkisch anti-Semitism, though drawing upon stereotypes from Christian anti-Semitism, differed from the latter in that Jews were considered to be a "race" rather than a religion. In 1895, one of the völkisch leaders, Hermann Ahlwardt, in a speech before the Reichstag, called Jews "predators" and "cholera bacilli" who should be "exterminated" for the good of the German people. In his best-selling 1912 book Wenn ich der Kaiser wär (If I were the Kaiser), Heinrich Class
Heinrich Class
Heinrich Claß was a German right-wing politician and president of the Pan-German League from 1908 to 1939. He is commonly known for his books about far-right policy, written under the pseudonym Daniel Frymann or Einhart...

, the leader of one of the more powerful völkisch groups, the Alldeutscher Verband, urged that all German Jews be stripped of their German citizenship and be reduced to Fremdenrecht (alien status). Class also urged that Jews be excluded from all aspects of German life, forbidden to own land, hold public office, or participate in journalism, banking, and the liberal professions. Class defined a Jew as anyone, regardless of their religion, whose grandparents or parents were Jews in 1871. The British historian of modern Germany Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 wrote that during the Imperial period in German history, völkisch and scientific racist ideas had become very common and accepted in many quarters in Germany. Though the völkisch parties suffered a crushing defeat in the 1912 Reichstag elections, being all but wiped out, this had less to do with the unpopularity of their anti-Semitism than the way the mainstream German parties had incorporated it into their own platforms—which helps to explain why Nazi anti-Semitism created so little opposition during the Weimar Republic. The National Socialist German Workers' Party was founded in 1919 as an offshoot of the völkisch movement, and adopted their anti-Semitism. In a 1986 essay, the German historian Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 wrote about the situation in post–World War I Germany that:

The tremendous scientific and technological changes in Germany of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, together with the growth of the welfare state, created widespread hopes that "utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

" was at hand and that soon all social problems could be solved. At the same time, owing to the great prestige of science, a scientific racist, social Darwinist and eugenicist world-view which declared some people to be more biologically "valuable" than others was common amongst German elites. The historian Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert was a German historian, noted for his studies of the relationship between what he called the "spirit of science" and the Holocaust and in social history and the Weimar Republic. Peukert taught modern history at the University of Essen and served as director of the Research Institute...

 in his 1989 essay "The Genesis of the 'Final Solution' from the Spirit of Science" declared that the Shoah was not the result solely of anti-Semitism, but was instead a product of the "cumulative radicalization" in which "numerous smaller currents" fed into the "broad current" that led to genocide. After the First World War, the pre-war mood of optimism gave way to disillusionment as German bureaucrats found social problems to be more insoluble than previously thought, which in turn led them to place increasing emphasis on saving the biologically "fit" while the biologically "unfit" were to be written off. The economic strains caused by the Great Depression had led to many in the German medical establishment to advocate with increasing vigor the idea of selective killings of the "incurable" mentally and physically disabled as a cost-saving measure in order to free up money to care for the curable. Thus by the time the Nazis had come to power in 1933, a huge boost was given to the already existing tendency in German social policy to save the racially "valuable" while seeking to rid society of the racially "undesirable".

The persecution and exodus of Germany's 525,000 Jews began almost as soon as the Nazis came to power on January 30, 1933. In Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, Hitler had been open about his hatred of Jews, and gave ample warning of his intention to drive them from Germany's political, intellectual, and cultural life. He did not write that he would attempt to exterminate them, but he is reported to have been more explicit in private. As early as 1922, he allegedly told Major Joseph Hell, at the time a journalist:
The German historian Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 claimed that there were three types of anti-Semitism in Germany:

Legal repression and emigration



Right from the beginning of the Third Reich, Nazi leaders had proclaimed the existence of a Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft is a German expression meaning "people's community". Originally appearing during World War I as Germans rallied behind the war, it derived its popularity as a means to break down elitism and class divides...

(People's Community). Nazi policies divided the population into two categories, the Volksgenossen ("National Comrades") who belonged to the Volksgemeinschaft and the Gemeinschaftsfremde ("Community Aliens") who did not. Nazi policies about repression divided into three types of enemies, the "racial" enemies such as the Jews and the Gypsies who were viewed as enemies because of their "blood"; political opponents such as Marxists, liberals, Christians and the "reactionaries" who were viewed as wayward "National Comrades"; and moral opponents such as homosexuals, the "work-shy" and habitual criminals, also seen as wayward "National Comrades". The last two groups were to be sent to concentration camps for "re-education", with the aim of eventual absorption into the Volksgemeinschaft, though some of the moral opponents were to be sterilized as they were regarded as "genetically inferior". "Racial" enemies such as the Jews could, by definition, never belong to the Volksgemeinschaft, thus requiring their total removal from society. The German historian Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert was a German historian, noted for his studies of the relationship between what he called the "spirit of science" and the Holocaust and in social history and the Weimar Republic. Peukert taught modern history at the University of Essen and served as director of the Research Institute...

 wrote that the National Socialists' "goal was an utopian Volksgemeinschaft, totally under police surveillance, in which any attempt at nonconformist behaviour, or even any hint or intention of such behaviour, would be visited with terror". In support of this, Peukert quoted policy documents on the "Treatment of Community Aliens" from 1944, which (though never implemented) showed the full intentions of Nazi social policy: "persons who ... show themselves [to be] unable to comply by their own efforts with the minimum requirements of the national community" were to be placed under police supervision, and if this did not reform them, they were to be taken to a concentration camp.

Leading up to the March 1933 Reichstag elections, the Nazis intensified their campaign of violence against the opposition. With the co-operation of local authorities, they set up concentration camps for extrajudicial imprisonment of their opponents. One of the first was Dachau, which opened in March 1933. These early camps were meant for political prisoners only, such as Communists and Social Democrats, and were not killing centres like the latter death camps. Other early prisons for example, basements and storehouses run by the SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 and less commonly by SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

  were consolidated by mid-1934 into purpose-built camps outside the cities, exclusively run by the SS. The main purposes of the concentration camps was to serve as a deterrent by terrorizing those Germans who were unable or unwilling to join the Volksgemeinschaft in conformity Those sent to the concentration camps were in turn divided into the "educable" whose wills could be broken into becoming "National Comrades" and the "biologically depraved" were to be sterilized, were to be held permanently, and over time were increasingly subject to "annihilation through labour", i.e. being worked to death

Throughout the 1930s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews were steadily restricted. In legally defining who is Jew, the Nazis considered anyone of Jewish descent, even the descendants of converts who converted from Judaism after January 18, 1871, (the founding of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

) were still considered Jews. The Israeli historian Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

 writes that, for the Nazis, Germany drew its strength for its "purity of blood" and its "rootedness in the sacred German earth." On April 1, 1933, there occurred boycott
Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses
The Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany took place on 1 April 1933, soon after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor on 30 January 1933...

 of Jewish businesses, which was the first national anti-Semitic campaign, initially planned for a week, but called off after one day owing to lack of popular support. In 1933, a series of laws were passed which contained "Aryan paragraph
Aryan paragraph
An Aryan paragraph is a clause in the statutes of an organization, corporation, or real estate deed that reserves membership and/or right of residence solely for members of the Aryan race and excludes from such rights any non-Aryans, particularly Jews or those of Jewish descent, as well as to those...

s" to exclude Jews from key areas: the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , also known as Civil Service Law, Civil Service Restoration Act, and Law to Re-establish the Civil Service, was a law passed by the National Socialist regime on April 7, 1933, two months after Adolf...

, the first anti-Semitic law passed in the Third Reich; the physicians' law; and the farm law, forbidding Jews from owning farms or taking part in agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. Jewish lawyers were disbarred
Disbarment
Disbarment is the removal of a lawyer from a bar association or the practice of law, thus revoking his or her law license or admission to practice law...

, and in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Jewish lawyers and judges were dragged out of their offices and courtrooms, and beaten. At the insistence of then president Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, Hitler added an exemption allowing Jewish civil servants who were veterans of the First World War, or whose fathers or sons had served, to remain in office. Hitler revoked this exemption in 1937. Jews were excluded from schools and universities (the Law to prevent overcrowding in schools), from belonging to the Journalists' Association, and from being owners or editors of newspapers. The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of April 27, 1933 wrote:
In July 1933, the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring
Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring
Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring or "Sterilization Law" was a statute in Nazi Germany enacted on July 14, 1933, which allowed the compulsory sterilization of any citizen who in the opinion of a "Genetic Health Court" Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring...

 calling for compulsory sterilization of the "inferior" was passed. This major eugenic
Nazi eugenics
Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany's racially-based social policies that placed the improvement of the Aryan race through eugenics at the center of their concerns...

 policy led to over 200 Hereditary Health Court
Hereditary Health Court
The Hereditary Health Court , also known as, the Genetic Health Court, were courts that decided whether people should be forcibly sterilized in Nazi Germany....

s being set up, under whose rulings over 400,000 people were sterilized against their will during the Nazi period.


In 1935, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

, which: prohibited Jews from marrying or having sex with "Aryans" (the Law for the protection of German blood and German honor), stripped German Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of all civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

. In his speech introducing the laws, Hitler said that if the "Jewish problem" cannot be solved by these laws, it "must then be handed over by law to the National-Socialist Party for a final solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 (Endlösung)." The expression "Endlösung" became the standard Nazi euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 for the extermination of the Jews. In January 1939, he said in a public speech: "If international-finance Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed once more in plunging the nations into yet another world war, the consequences will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation (vernichtung) of the Jewish race in Europe." Footage from this speech was used to conclude the 1940 Nazi propaganda movie The Eternal Jew (Der ewige Jude), whose purpose was to provide a rationale and blueprint for eliminating the Jews from Europe.

Jewish intellectuals were among the first to leave. The philosopher Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

 left for Paris on March 18, 1933. Novelist Leon Feuchtwanger went to Switzerland. The conductor Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor. He is considered one of the best known conductors of the 20th century. Walter was born in Berlin, but is known to have lived in several countries between 1933 and 1939, before finally settling in the United States in 1939...

 fled after being told that the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic would be burned down if he conducted a concert there: the Frankfurter Zeitung
Frankfurter Zeitung
The Frankfurter Zeitung was a German language newspaper that appeared from 1856 to 1943. It emerged from a market letter that was published in Frankfurt...

explained on April 6 that Walter and fellow conductor Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the leading conductors of the 20th century.-Biography:Otto Klemperer was born in Breslau, Silesia Province, then in Germany...

 had been forced to flee because the government was unable to protect them against the mood of the German public, which had been provoked by "Jewish artistic liquidators." Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 was visiting the U.S. on January 30, 1933. He returned to Ostende in Belgium, never to set foot in Germany again, and calling events there a "psychic illness of the masses"; he was expelled from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and his citizenship was rescinded. When the Nazis annexed Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 in 1938, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 and his family fled from Vienna to England. Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

 writes that when Max Liebermann
Max Liebermann
Max Liebermann was a German-Jewish painter and printmaker best known for his etching and lithography.-Biography:...

, honorary president of the Prussian Academy of Arts, resigned his position, not one of his colleagues expressed a word of sympathy, and he was still ostracized at his death two years later. When the police arrived in 1943 with a stretcher to deport his 85-year-old bedridden widow, she committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 with an overdose
Drug overdose
The term drug overdose describes the ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than are recommended or generally practiced...

 of barbiturate
Barbiturate
Barbiturates are drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, as hypnotics, and as anticonvulsants...

s rather than be taken.

Kristallnacht (1938)



On November 7, 1938, Jewish minor Herschel Grünspan assassinated Nazi German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 diplomat Ernst vom Rath
Ernst vom Rath
Ernst Eduard vom Rath was a German diplomat, remembered for his assassination in Paris in 1938 by a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan. The assassination triggered Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass"....

 in Paris. This incident was used by the Nazis as a pretext to go beyond legal repression to large-scale physical violence against Jewish Germans. What the Nazis claimed to be spontaneous "public outrage" was in fact a wave of pogroms instigated by the Nazi party, and carried out by SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 members and affiliates throughout Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, at the time consisting of Germany proper, Austria and Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

. These pogroms became known as Reichskristallnacht ("the Night of Broken Glass", literally "Crystal Night"), or November pogroms. Jews were attacked and Jewish property was vandalized, over 7,000 Jewish shops and 1,668 synagogues (almost every synagogue in Germany) were damaged or destroyed. The death toll is assumed to be much higher than the official number of 91 dead. 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, including Dachau, Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

, Buchenwald
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

, and Oranienburg concentration camp
Oranienburg concentration camp
Oranienburg concentration camp was one of the first detention facilities established by the Nazis when they gained power in 1933. It held the Nazis' political opponents from the Berlin region, mostly members of the Communist Party of Germany and social-democrats, as well as a number of homosexual...

, where they were kept for several weeks, and released when they could either prove that they were about to emigrate in the near future, or transferred their property to the Nazis. Coinciding with Kristallnacht was the November 11, 1938 passage of Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons, which made it illegal for Jews to possess firearms or other weapons (see The 1938 German Weapons Act). German Jewry was collectively made responsible for restitution of the material damage of the pogroms, amounting to several hundred thousand Reichsmarks, and furthermore had to pay an "atonement tax" of more than a billion Reichsmarks.

After these pogroms, Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 accelerated, while public Jewish life in Germany ceased to exist.

Resettlement and deportation


Before the war, the Nazis considered mass exportation of German (and subsequently the European) Jewry from Europe. Plans to reclaim former German colonies such as Tanganyika
Tanganyika
Tanganyika , later formally the Republic of Tanganyika, was a sovereign state in East Africa from 1961 to 1964. It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika...

 and South West Africa
South West Africa
South-West Africa was the name that was used for the modern day Republic of Namibia during the earlier eras when the territory was controlled by the German Empire and later by South Africa....

 for Jewish resettlement were halted by Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, who argued that no place where "so much blood of heroic Germans had been spilled" should be made available as a residence for the "worst enemies of the Germans". Diplomatic efforts were undertaken to convince the other former colonial powers, primarily the United Kingdom and France, to accept expelled Jews in their colonies. Areas considered for possible resettlement included British Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Italian Abyssinia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, British Rhodesia
Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

, French Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, and Australia.

Of these areas, Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 was the most seriously discussed. Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 called the Madagascar Plan
Madagascar Plan
The Madagascar Plan was a suggested policy of the Nazi government of Germany to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar.-Origins:The evacuation of European Jews to the island of Madagascar was not a new concept...

 a "territorial final solution"; it was a remote location, and the island's unfavorable conditions would hasten deaths. In retrospect, although futile, this plan did constitute an important psychological step on the path to the Holocaust. Approved by Hitler in 1938, the resettlement planning was carried out by Eichmann's
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 office, only being abandoned once the mass killing of Jews began in 1941. The end of the Madagascar Plan was announced on February 10, 1942. The German Foreign Office was given the official explanation that, due to the war with the Soviet Union, Jews were to be "sent to the east".

Palestine was the only location to which any Nazi relocation plan succeeded in producing significant results, by means of an agreement begun in 1933 between the Zionist Federation of Germany (die Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland) and the Nazi government, the Haavara Agreement
Haavara Agreement
The Haavara Agreement was signed on 25 August 1933 after three months of talks by the Zionist Federation of Germany , the Anglo-Palestine Bank and the economic authorities of Nazi Germany...

. This agreement resulted in the transfer of about 60,000 German Jews and $100 million from Germany to Palestine, up until the outbreak of World War II.

In German occupied Poland


The question of the treatment of the Jews became an urgent one for the Nazis after September 1939, when they invaded the western half of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

, home to about two million Jews. The pre-war Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 had been divided between Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and the Soviet Union, in the preceding Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

. Of the German share of Poland, the north-western parts were annexed
Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
At the beginning of World War II, nearly a quarter of the pre-war Polish areas were annexed by Nazi Germany and placed directly under German civil administration, while the rest of Nazi occupied Poland was named as General Government...

, while the south-eastern parts were made the Generalgouvernement
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

, administered by Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

. The invasion led Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and France to declare war—World War II had started.

Himmler's right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

, recommended concentrating all the Polish Jews in ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s in major cities, where they would be put to work for the German war industry. The ghettos would be in cities located on railway junctions, so that, in Heydrich's words, "future measures can be accomplished more easily." During his interrogation in 1961, Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 testified that the expression "future measures" was understood to mean "physical extermination."

In September, Himmler appointed Heydrich head of the Reich Main Security Office
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

 (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA, not be to confused with the RuSHA
RuSHA
The Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt-SS , , was the organization responsible for "safeguarding the racial 'purity' of the SS" within Nazi Germany....

). This body was to oversee the work of the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

, the Security Police
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 (SD), and the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 in occupied Poland, and carry out the policy towards the Jews described in Heydrich's report. The first organized murders of Jews by German forces occurred during Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost...

 and through Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz stands for two organisations:# A name used by a number of paramilitary organisations created by ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe# A name for self-defence measures and units in ethnic German, Austrian, and Swiss civil defence....

 units. Later, the Jews were herded into ghettos, mostly in the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 area of central Poland, where they were put to work under the Reich Labor Office headed by Fritz Sauckel
Fritz Sauckel
Ernst Friedrich Christoph "Fritz" Sauckel was a Nazi war criminal, who organized the systematic enslavement of millions from lands occupied by Nazi Germany...

. Here many thousands died from maltreatment, disease, starvation, and exhaustion, but there was still no program of systematic killing. There is no doubt, however, that the Nazis saw forced labor as a form of extermination. The expression Vernichtung durch Arbeit ("destruction through work") was frequently used.
Although it was clear by 1941 that the SS hierarchy was determined to embark on a policy of killing all the Jews under German control, there was still opposition to this policy within the Nazi regime, although the motive was economic, not humanitarian. Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, who had overall control of the German war industry, and the German army's Economics Department, argued that the enormous Jewish labor force assembled in the General Government area (more than a million able-bodied workers) was an asset too valuable to waste while Germany was preparing to invade the Soviet Union.

In other occupied countries


When Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France in 1940, and Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, anti-Semitic measures were also introduced into these countries, although the pace and severity varied greatly from country to country according to local political circumstances. Jews were removed from economic and cultural life and were subject to various restrictive laws, but physical deportation did not occur in most places before 1942. The Vichy
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 regime in occupied France actively collaborated in persecuting French Jews. Germany's allies Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland were pressured to introduce antisemitic measures, but for the most part they did not comply until compelled to do so. The German puppet regime in Croatia, on the other hand, began actively persecuting Jews on its own initiative.

General Government and Lublin reservation (Nisko plan)


On September 28, 1939, Germany gained control over the Lublin area through the German-Soviet agreement in exchange for Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. According to the Nisko Plan
Nisko Plan
The Nisko Plan, also Lublin Plan or Nisko-Lublin Plan , was developed in September 1939 by the Nazi German Schutzstaffel as a "territorial solution to the Jewish Question"...

, they set up the Lublin-Lipowa Reservation in the area. The reservation was designated by Adolf Eichmann, who was assigned the task of removing all Jews from Germany, Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was the majority ethnic-Czech protectorate which Nazi Germany established in the central parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia in what is today the Czech Republic...

. They shipped the first Jews to Lublin less than three weeks later on October 18, 1939. The first train loads consisted of Jews deported from Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was the majority ethnic-Czech protectorate which Nazi Germany established in the central parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia in what is today the Czech Republic...

. By January 30, 1940, a total of 78,000 Jews had been deported to Lublin from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. On 12 and February 13, 1940, the Pomeranian Jews were deported to the Lublin reservation, resulting in Pomeranian Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 Franz Schwede-Coburg to be the first to declare his Gau "judenrein" ("free of Jews"). On March 24, 1940 Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 put the Nisko Plan on hold, and abandoned it entirely by the end of April. By the time the Nisko Plan was stopped, the total number of Jews who had been transported to Nisko had reached 95,000, many of whom had died from starvation.

In July 1940, due to the difficulties of supporting the increased population in the General Gouvernment, Hitler had the deportations temporarily halted.

In October 1940, Gauleiters Josef Bürckel
Josef Bürckel
Joseph Bürckel was a German politician and a member of the German parliament...

 and Robert Heinrich Wagner
Robert Heinrich Wagner
Robert Heinrich Wagner was Gauleiter of Baden and Head of the Civil Government of Alsace during the German occupation of France in World War II....

 oversaw Operation Bürckel, the expulsion of the Jews into unoccupied France from their Gaues and the parts of Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 that had been annexed that summer to the Reich. Only those Jews in mixed marriages were not expelled. The 6,500 Jews affected by Operation Bürckel were given at most two hours warning on the night of October 22–23, 1940, before being rounded up. The nine trains carrying the deported Jews crossed over into France "without any warning to the French authorities", who were not happy to receive them. The deportees had not been allowed to take any of their possessions with them, these being confiscated by the German authorities. The German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

 treated the ensuing complaints by the Vichy government over the expulsions in a "most dilatory fashion". As a result, the Jews expelled in Operation Bürckel were interned in harsh conditions by the Vichy authorities at the camps in Gurs, Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-People:Rivesaltes was the birthplace of Joseph Joffre , general who became prominent in the battles of World War I.-The Rivesaltes memorial museum:...

 and Les Milles
Camp des Milles
The Camp des Milles was a French internment camp, opened in September 1939, in a former tile factory near the village of Les Milles, part of the commune of Aix-en-Provence .-History:...

 while awaiting a chance to return them to Germany.

During 1940 and 1941, murder of large numbers of Jews in German-occupied Poland continued, and the deportation of Jews to the General Gouvernment was undertaken. The deportation of Jews from Germany, particularly Berlin, was not officially completed until 1943. (Many Berlin Jews were able to survive in hiding.) By December 1939, 3.5 million Jews were crowded into the General Gouvernment area.

Concentration and labor camps (1933–1945)



From the beginning of the Third Reich concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 were founded, initially as places of incarceration. Though the death rate in the concentration camps was high, with a mortality rate of 50%, they were not designed to be killing centres. (By 1942, six large extermination camps had been established in Nazi-occupied Poland, which were built solely for mass killings.) After 1939, the camps increasingly became places where Jews and POWs were either killed or made to work as slave laborers, undernourished and tortured. It is estimated that the Germans established 15,000 camps and subcamps in the occupied countries, mostly in eastern Europe. New camps were founded in areas with large Jewish, Polish intelligentsia, communist, or Roma and Sinti populations, including inside Germany. The transportation of prisoners was often carried out under horrifying conditions using rail freight cars, in which many died before reaching their destination.

Extermination through labour
Extermination through labour
Extermination through labor is a principle that guided the operation of the Nazi concentration camp system, defined as the willful or accepted killing of forced laborers or prisoners through excessive heavy labor, malnutrition and inadequate care....

 was a policy of systematic extermination — camp inmates would literally be worked to death, or worked to physical exhaustion, when they would be gassed or shot. Slave labour was used in war production, for example producing V-2 rockets at Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany....

, and various armaments around the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the...

 complex.

Upon admission, some camps tattooed prisoners
Identification in Nazi camps
Identification of inmates in Nazi concentration camps was performed in two ways: by special badges and by identification numbers.-Badges:...

 with a prisoner ID. Those fit for work were dispatched for 12 to 14 hour shifts. Before and after, there were roll calls that could sometimes last for hours, with prisoners regularly dying of exposure.

Ghettos (1940–1945)


Main ghettos: Białystok, Budapest
Budapest ghetto
The Budapest Ghetto was a ghetto where Jews were forced to live in Budapest, Hungary during the Second World War.- History :The area consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter of the city surrounding the main synagogue, and was surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that was guarded...

, Kraków
Kraków Ghetto
The Kraków Ghetto was one of five major, metropolitan Jewish ghettos created by Nazi Germany in the General Government territory for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation of Polish Jews during the German occupation of Poland in World War II...

, Kovno, Łódź, Lwów
Lwów Ghetto
The Lvov Ghetto or the Lwów Ghetto was a World War II ghetto set up in the city of Lwów on the territory of Nazi-administered General Government in German-occupied Poland. It was one of the largest Jewish ghettos established by Nazi Germany after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland...

, Riga
Riga Ghetto
The Riga Ghetto was a small area in Maskavas Forštate, neighborhood of Riga, Latvia, designated by the Nazis where Jews from Latvia, and later from Germany, were forced to live during World War II. On October 25, 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto while the...

, Vilna
Vilna Ghetto
The Vilna Ghetto or Vilnius Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto established by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius in the occupied Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic , during the Holocaust in World War II...

, Warsaw
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...



After the invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

, the Nazis established ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s in which Jews and some Romani were confined, until they were eventually shipped to extermination camps to be murdered. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest, with 380,000 people, and the Łódź Ghetto the second largest, holding 160,000. They were, in effect, immensely crowded prisons, described by Michael Berenbaum as instruments of "slow, passive murder." Though the Warsaw Ghetto contained 400,000 people—30% of the population of Warsaw—it occupied only 2.4% of the city's area, averaging 9.2 people per room.

From 1940 through 1942, starvation and disease, especially typhoid
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

, killed hundreds of thousands. Over 43,000 residents of the Warsaw ghetto died there in 1941, more than one in ten; in Theresienstadt, more than half the residents died in 1942.
Each ghetto was run by a Judenrat
Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

(Jewish council) of German-appointed Jewish community leaders, who were responsible for the day-to-day running of the ghetto, including the distribution of food, water, heat, medicine, and shelter, and who were also expected to make arrangements for deportations to extermination camps. Himmler ordered the start of the deportations on July 19, 1942, and three days later, on July 22, the deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto began; over the next 52 days, until September 12, 300,000 people from Warsaw alone were transported in freight trains
Holocaust trains
The Holocaust trains were railway transports run by German Nazis and their collaborators to forcibly deport interned Jews and other victims of the Holocaust to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps....

 to the Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

. Many other ghettos were completely depopulated.

Berenbaum writes that the defining moment that tested the courage and character of each Judenrat came when they were asked to provide a list of names of the next group to be deported. The Judenrat members went through the tried and tested methods of delay, bribery, stonewalling, pleading, and argumentation, until finally a decision had to be made. Some, like Chaim Rumkowski
Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski
Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski was a Polish Jew and functioned as the German Nazi-nominated head of the Ältestenrat , or Jewish authorities in the Łódź Ghetto....

, argued that their responsibility was to save the Jews who could be saved, and that therefore others had to be sacrificed; others argued, following Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, that not a single individual should be handed over who had not committed a capital crime. Judenrat leaders such as Dr. Joseph Parnas in Lviv
Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...

, who refused to compile a list, were shot. On October 14, 1942, the entire Judenrat of Byaroza committed suicide rather than cooperate with the deportations.

The first ghetto uprising
Ghetto uprising
Ghetto uprisings were armed revolts by Jews and other groups incarcerated in ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europes during World War II against the plans to deport the inhabitants to concentration and extermination camps....

 occurred in September 1942 in the small town of Łachwa
Lakhva
Lakhva is a small town in southern Belarus, with a population of approximately 2100. Lakhva is considered to have been the location of one of the first, and possibly the first, Jewish ghetto uprisings of the Second World War.-Geography:Lakhva is located in the Luninets district of the Brest...

 in south-east Poland. Though there were armed resistance attempts in the larger ghettos in 1943, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 and the Białystok Ghetto Uprising, in every case they failed against the overwhelming Nazi military force, and the remaining Jews were either killed or deported to the death camps.

Pogroms (1939–1942)



A number of deadly pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s by local populations occurred during the Second World War, some with Nazi encouragement, and some spontaneously. This included the Iaşi pogrom
Iasi pogrom
The Iaşi pogrom or Jassy pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.-Background:]During...

 in Romania on June 30, 1941, in which as many as 14,000 Jews were killed by Romanian residents and police, and the Jedwabne pogrom, in which between 380 and 1,600 Jews were killed by local Poles in July 1941.

Death squads (1941–1943)


The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 opened a new phase. The Holocaust intensified after the Nazis occupied Lithuania, where close to 80% of Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

 were exterminated before the end of the year. The Soviet territories occupied by early 1942, including all of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 and most Russian territory west of the line Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

-Moscow-Rostov
Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

, contained about three million Jews, including hundreds of thousands who had fled Poland in 1939.

Members of the local populations in certain occupied Soviet territories participated actively in the killings of Jews and others. In Lithuania, Latvia and western Ukraine, locals were deeply involved in the murder of Jews from the very beginning of the German occupation. The Latvian Arajs Kommando was an example of an auxiliary unit involved in these killings. To the south, Ukrainians killed approximately 24,000 Jews. In addition, Latvian and Lithuanian units left their own countries, and committed murders of Jews in Belarus, and Ukrainians served as concentration and death camp guards in Poland. Ustaše
Ustaše
The Ustaša - Croatian Revolutionary Movement was a Croatian fascist anti-Yugoslav separatist movement. The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Nazism, and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the River Drina and to the border...

 militia in Croatian areas also carried out acts of persecution and murder. Ultimately it was the Germans who organized and channelled these local participants in the Holocaust.

Many of the mass killings were carried out in public, a change from previous practice. German witnesses to these killings emphasized the participation of the locals. The massacres committed by the Einsatzgruppen were usually justified under the grounds of anti-partisan or anti-bandit operations, but the German historian Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 wrote that this was merely an excuse for the German Army's considerable involvement in the Holocaust in Russia and the terms "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" were indeed correct labels for what happened. Hillgruber maintained that the slaughter of about 2.2 million defenceless men, women and children for the reasons of racist ideology cannot possibly be justified for any reason, and that those German generals who claimed that the Einsatzgruppen were a necessary anti-partisan response were lying.

Army co-operation with the SS in anti-partisan and anti-Jewish operations was close and intensive. In the summer of 1941, the SS Cavalry Brigade
SS Cavalry Brigade
The SS Cavalry Brigade was a unit of the Waffen SS formed in 1940, from cavalry regiments created for occupation duties in German-occupied Poland. Later, while serving in German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union, the brigade was involved in the genocide of the Jewish population and anti-partisan...

 commanded by Hermann Fegelein
Hermann Fegelein
SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein was a General of the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany, a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage, brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl, and husband of the sister-in-law to Adolf Hitler through Hitler's marriage to Eva...

 during the course of "anti-partisan" operations
Pripyat swamps (punitive operation)
"Pripyat swamps" , also "Pripyat march" was the codename of the punitive operation conducted by the German forces in July and August 1941. The operation was aimed at the mass murder of the local Jewish population, brought from the territories of 9 rayons of Byelorussian SSR and 3 rayons of...

 in the Pripyat Marshes killed 699 Red Army soldiers, 1,100 partisans and 14,178 Jews. Before the operation, Fegelein had been ordered to shoot all adult Jews while driving the women and children into the marshes. After the operation, General Max von Schenckendorff, who commanded the rear areas of Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct German strategic army groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union...

 ordered on August 10, 1941 that all Wehrmacht security divisions
Security Division (Germany)
The Wehrmacht Security Divisions were German military units which operated during World War II.-History and organisation:...

 when on anti-partisan duty to emulate Fegelein's example, and organized in Mogilev
Mogilev
Mogilev is a city in eastern Belarus, about 76 km from the border with Russia's Smolensk Oblast and 105 km from the border with Russia's Bryansk Oblast. It has more than 367,788 inhabitants...

 between September 24–26, 1941 a joint SS-Wehrmacht seminar on how best to murder Jews. The seminar ended with the 7th Company of Police Battalion 322 shooting 32 Jews at village called Knjashizy before the assembled officers as an example of how to "screen" the population for partisans. As the war diary of the Battalion 322 read:

Based on what they had learned during the Mogilev seminar, one Wehrmacht officer told his men "Where the partisan is, there is the Jew and where the Jew is, there is the partisan". In Order #24 of November 24, 1941, the commander of the 707th division declared:
The German historian Jürgen Förster, a leading expert on the subject of Wehrmacht war crimes argued the Wehrmacht played a key role in the Holocaust, and it is wrong to describe the Shoah as solely the work of the SS with the Wehrmacht as a passive and disapproving bystander.

Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final...

 writes that the German Einsatzgruppen commanders were ordinary citizens; the great majority were university-educated professionals. They used their skills to become efficient killers, according to Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and film-maker, who specializes in the study of the memorialization of the Holocaust...

.

The large-scale killings of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories was assigned to SS formations called Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

("task groups"), under the overall command of Heydrich. These had been used on a limited scale in Poland in 1939, but were now organized on a much larger scale. Einsatzgruppe A was assigned to the Baltic area, Einsatzgruppe B to Belarus, Einsatzgruppe C to north and central Ukraine, and Einsatzgruppe D to Moldova, south Ukraine, the Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

, and, during 1942, the north Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

.

According to Ohlendorf at his trial
Einsatzgruppen Trial
The Einsatzgruppen Trial was the ninth of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S...

, "the Einsatzgruppen had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, Gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security." In practice, their victims were nearly all defenseless Jewish civilians (not a single Einsatzgruppe member was killed in action during these operations). By December 1941, the four Einsatzgruppen listed above had killed, respectively, 125,000, 45,000, 75,000, and 55,000 people—a total of 300,000 people—mainly by shooting or with hand grenades at mass killing sites outside the major towns.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum tells the story of one survivor of the Einsatzgruppen in Piryatin, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, when they killed 1,600 Jews on April 6, 1942, the second day of Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

:
The most notorious massacre of Jews in the Soviet Union was at a ravine called Babi Yar
Babi Yar
Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a...

 outside Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on September 29–30, 1941. The killing of all the Jews in Kiev was decided on by the military governor (Major-General Friedrich Eberhardt
Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt
Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt was a Generalleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

), the Police Commander for Army Group South (SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln
Friedrich Jeckeln
Friedrich Jeckeln was an SS-Obergruppenführer who served as an SS and Police Leader in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II...

) and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. It was carried out by a mixture of SS, SD and Security Police, assisted by Ukrainian police.

On Monday the Jews of Kiev gathered by the cemetery
Cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

, expecting to be loaded onto trains. The crowd was large enough that most of the men, women, and children could not have known what was happening until it was too late: by the time they heard the machine-gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and then shot. A truck driver described the scene, as
In August 1941 Himmler travelled to Minsk
Minsk
- Ecological situation :The ecological situation is monitored by Republican Center of Radioactive and Environmental Control .During 2003–2008 the overall weight of contaminants increased from 186,000 to 247,400 tons. The change of gas as industrial fuel to mazut for financial reasons has worsened...

, where he personally witnessed 100 Jews being shot in a ditch outside the town, an event described by Karl Wolff
Karl Wolff
Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff was a high-ranking member of the Nazi Schutzstaffel , ultimately holding the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS. He became Chief of Personal Staff to the Reichsführer and SS Liaison Officer to Hitler until his replacement in 1943...

 in his diary. "Himmler's face was green. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his cheek where a piece of brain had squirted up onto it. Then he vomited." After recovering his composure, he lectured the SS men on the need to follow the "highest moral law of the Party" in carrying out their tasks.

New methods of mass murder


Starting in December 1939, the Nazis introduced new methods of mass murder by using gas. First, experimental gas van
Gas van
The gas van or gas wagon was an extermination method devised by Nazi Germany to kill victims of the regime. It was also rumored that analog of such device was used by the Soviet Union on an experimental basis during the Great Purge-Nazi Germany:...

s equipped with gas cylinders and a sealed trunk compartment, were used to kill mental care clients of sanatoria in Pomerania, East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

, and occupied Poland, as part of an operation termed Action T4
Action T4
Action T4 was the name used after World War II for Nazi Germany's eugenics-based "euthanasia" program during which physicians killed thousands of people who were "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination"...

. In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

, larger vans holding up to 100 people were used from November 1941, using the engine's exhaust rather than a cylinder. These vans were introduced to the Chełmno concentration camp in December 1941, and another 15 of them were used by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet Union
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. These gas vans were developed and run under supervision of the Reich Main Security Office, and were used to kill about 500,000 people, primarily Jews, but also Romani and others. The vans were carefully monitored and after a month of observation a report stated that 'ninety seven thousand have been processed using three vans, without any defects showing up in the machines'.

A need for new mass murder techniques was also expressed by Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

, governor of the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

, who noted that this many people could not be simply shot. "We shall have to take steps, however, designed in some way to eliminate them." It was this problem which led the SS to experiment with large-scale killings using poison gas. Finally, Christian Wirth
Christian Wirth
Christian Wirth was a German police and SS officer who was one of the leading contributors to the program to exterminate the Jewish people of Poland, known as Operation Reinhard....

 seems to have been the inventor of the gas chamber.

Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution (1942–1945)


























By the end of 1941, Himmler was becoming increasingly impatient with the progress of the Final Solution. His main opponent was Göring, who had succeeded in exempting Jewish industrial workers from the orders to deport all Jews to the General Government and who had allied himself with the Army commanders who were opposing the extermination of the Jews out of a mixture of economic calculation, distaste for the SS and humanitarian sentiment. Although Göring's power had declined since the defeat of his Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, he still had privileged access to Hitler.

Heydrich therefore convened the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to finalize a plan for the extermination of the Jews. The plan became known as Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard) after Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

, who chaired the conference. Also present were Eichmann, Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, and representatives of the branches of government which would be involved.

A plan was presented for killing all the Jews in Europe, including 330,000 Jews in England and 4,000 in Ireland, although the minutes taken by Eichmann refer to this only through euphemisms, such as " ... emigration has now been replaced by evacuation to the East. This operation should be regarded only as a provisional option, though in view of the coming final solution of the Jewish question it is already supplying practical experience of vital importance."

The officials were told there were 2.3 million Jews in the General Government, 850,000 in Hungary, 1.1 million in the other occupied countries, and up to 5 million in the USSR, although 2 million of these were in areas still under Soviet control — a total of about 6.5 million. These would all be transported by train to extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) in Poland, where almost all of them would be gassed at once. In some camps, such as Auschwitz, those fit for work would be kept alive for a while, but eventually all would be killed. Göring's representative, Dr. Erich Neumann
Erich Neumann (politician)
Erich Neumann was a Nazi politician.Neumann was born in Forst into a Protestant family. His father was a factory-owner....

, gained a limited exemption for some classes of industrial workers.

German public reaction


In his 1983 book, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 examined the Alltagsgeschichte
Alltagsgeschichte
Alltagsgeschichte is a form of microhistory that was particularly prevalent amongst German historians during the 1980s. It was founded by historians Alf Luedtke and Hans Medick....

(history of everyday life) in Bavaria during the Nazi period. Describing the attitudes of most Bavarians, Kershaw argued that the most common viewpoint was indifference towards what was happening to the Jews. Kershaw argued that most Bavarians were vaguely aware of the Shoah, but were vastly more concerned about the war than about the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Kershaw made the claim that "the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference".

Kershaw's assessment that most Bavarians, and by implication most Germans, were indifferent to the Shoah faced criticism from the Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka, an expert on public opinion in Nazi Germany, and the Canadian historian Michael Kater. Kater contended that Kershaw downplayed the extent of popular antisemitism, and that though admitting that most of the "spontaneous" antisemitic actions of Nazi Germany were staged, argued that because these actions involved substantial numbers of Germans, it is wrong to see the extreme antisemitism of the Nazis as coming solely from above. Kulka argued that most Germans were more anti-Semitic than Kershaw portrayed them in Popular Opinion and Political Dissent, and that rather than "indifference", "passive complicity" would be a better term to describe the reaction of the German people.

In a study focusing only on the views about Jews of Germans opposed to the Nazi regime, the German historian Christof Dipper in his 1983 essay "Der Deutsche Widerstand und die Juden" (translated into English as "The German Resistance and the Jews" in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume 16, 1984) argued that the majority of the anti-Nazi national-conservatives were antisemitic. Dipper wrote that for the majority of the national-conservatives "the bureaucratic, pseudo-legal deprivation of the Jews practiced until 1938 was still considered acceptable". Though Dipper noted no one in the German resistance
German Resistance
The German resistance was the opposition by individuals and groups in Germany to Adolf Hitler or the National Socialist regime between 1933 and 1945. Some of these engaged in active plans to remove Adolf Hitler from power and overthrow his regime...

 supported the Holocaust, he also commented that the national-conservatives did not intend to restore civil rights to the Jews after the planned overthrow of Hitler. Dipper went on to argue that, based on such views held by opponents of the regime, "a large part of the German people...believed that a "Jewish Question" existed and had to be solved...".

Motivation


In his 1965 essay "Command and Compliance", which originated in his work as an expert witness for the prosecution at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials
Frankfurt Auschwitz trials
The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, known in German as der Auschwitz-Prozess or der zweite Auschwitz-Prozess, was a series of trials running from December 20, 1963 to August 10, 1965, charging 22 defendants under German penal law for their roles in the Holocaust as mid- to lower-level officials in the...

, the German historian Hans Buchheim wrote there was no coercion to murder Jews and others, and all who committed such actions did so out of free will. Buchheim wrote that chances to avoid executing criminal orders "...were both more numerous and more real than those concerned are generally prepared to admit...", and that he found no evidence that SS men who refused to carry out criminal orders were sent to a concentration camps or executed. Moreover, SS rules prohibited acts of gratuitous sadism, as Himmler wished for his men to remain "decent", and that acts of sadism were taken on the individual initiative of those who were either especially cruel or who wished to prove themselves ardent National Socialists. Finally, he argued that those of a non-criminal bent who committed crimes did so because they wished to conform to the values of the group they had joined and were afraid of being branded "weak" by their by colleagues if they refused.

In his 1992 book Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Christopher Browning
Christopher Browning
Christopher Robert Browning is an American historian of the Holocaust.-Education:Browning received his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1968 and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1975. He taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1974 to 1999, eventually becoming...

 examined the German Ordnungspolizei
Ordnungspolizei
The Ordnungspolizei or Orpo were the uniformed regular police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. It was increasingly absorbed into the Nazi police system. Owing to their green uniforms, they were also referred to as Grüne Polizei...

Reserve Battalion 101, used to massacre and round up Jews for deportation to the Nazi death camps. The men of the battalion were middle-aged men of working class background from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, who were unfit for military duty and were given no special training for genocide. The commander of the unit gave his men the choice of opting out of direct participation if they found it too unpleasant (for example, by being part of a passive cordon round the area of the killing). The majority chose not to exercise that option— fewer than 15 men out of a battalion of 500 did so. Much-influenced by the work of Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist most notable for his controversial study known as the Milgram Experiment. The study was conducted in the 1960s during Milgram's professorship at Yale...

, Browning argued that the men of the battalion killed out of obedience to authority and peer pressure, not blood-lust or hatred. The general implication of the book is that when placed in a cohesive group setting, most people will obey commands given by an authority-figure seen as legitimate, even if they find them morally reprehensible— a hypothesis studied in the Milgram Experiment
Milgram experiment
The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of notable social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that...

.

The Russian historian Sergei Kudryashov studied the guards trained at the Trawniki concentration camp
Trawniki concentration camp
Trawniki concentration camp, in the village of Trawniki about 40 km southeast of Lublin in Poland, was an SS labour camp which provided forced labourers for a nearby industrial plant to work in appalling conditions with little food...

, who provided the bulk of personnel for the Operation Reinhard
Operation Reinhard
Operation Reinhard was the code name given to the Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews in the General Government, and marked the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps...

 death camps. Some Trawniki guards were Red Army POWs who volunteered to join the SS in order to get out of the POW camps. The majority of the Trawniki men were Ukrainians or Volksdeutche, though there were also Russians, Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Tartars, Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis amongst them. Kudryashov reported that he found there was little sign of antisemitism or any attraction to National Socialism among the Trawniki men, many of whom prior to their capture had been Communists. Despite the generally apathetic views of the Trawniki guards, the vast majority faithfully carried out the SS's expectations of how to mistreat Jews; the mistreatment of Jews by the Trawniki guards was "systematic and without any particular cause". Many, through not all of the Trawniki men executed Jews, and almost all of them while working as guards in the Operation Reinhard camps personally killed dozens of Jews. Following Christopher Browning, Kudryashov argued that the Trawniki men were examples of ordinary people becoming willing killers out of peer pressure and obedience to authority.

Extermination camps


Approx. number killed at each extermination camp
Camp nameKilledCoordinates
Geographic coordinate system
A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on the Earth to be specified by a set of numbers. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represent vertical position, and two or three of the numbers represent horizontal position...

Ref.
Auschwitz II
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

1,000,000 50°2′9"N 19°10′42"E
Belzec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

600,000 50°22′18"N 23°27′27"E
Chełmno 320,000 52°9′27"N 18°43′43"E
Jasenovac
Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia and occupied Yugoslavia during World War II...

58–97,000 45°16′54"N 16°56′6"E
Majdanek
Majdanek
Majdanek was a German Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland, established during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. The camp operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, when it was captured nearly intact by the advancing Soviet Red Army...

360,000 51°13′13"N 22°36′0"E
Maly Trostinets
Maly Trostenets extermination camp
Maly Trastsianiets extermination camp , located near a small village on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, was the site of a Nazi extermination camp.- History :...

65,000 53°51′4"N 27°42′17"E
Sobibor
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

250,000 51°26′50"N 23°35′37"E
Treblinka
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

870,000 52°37′35"N 22°2′49"E


During 1942, in addition to Auschwitz, five other camps were designated as extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) for the carrying out of the Reinhard plan
Operation Reinhard
Operation Reinhard was the code name given to the Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews in the General Government, and marked the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps...

. Two of these, Chełmno (also known as Kulmhof) and Majdanek
Majdanek
Majdanek was a German Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland, established during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. The camp operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, when it was captured nearly intact by the advancing Soviet Red Army...

 were already functioning as labor camps: these now had extermination facilities added to them. Three new camps were built for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of Jews as quickly as possible, at Belzec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

, Sobibor
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

 and Treblinka. A seventh camp, at Maly Trostinets in Belarus, was also used for this purpose. Jasenovac
Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia and occupied Yugoslavia during World War II...

 was an extermination camp where mostly ethnic Serbs
Serbs
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

 were killed.

Extermination camps are frequently confused with concentration camps such as Dachau and Belsen, which were mostly located in Germany and intended as places of incarceration and forced labor for a variety of enemies of the Nazi regime (such as Communists and homosexuals). They should also be distinguished from slave labor camps, which were set up in all German-occupied countries to exploit the labor of prisoners of various kinds, including prisoners of war. In all Nazi camps there were very high death rates as a result of starvation, disease and exhaustion, but only the extermination camps were designed specifically for mass killing.
The extermination camps were run by SS officers, but most of the guards were Ukrainian or Baltic auxiliaries. Regular German soldiers were kept well away.

Gas chambers


At the extermination camps with gas chambers all the prisoners arrived by train. Sometimes entire trainloads were sent straight to the gas chambers, but usually the camp doctor on duty subjected individuals to selections, where a small percentage were deemed fit to work in the slave labor camps; the majority were taken directly from the platforms to a reception area where all their clothes and other possessions were seized by the Nazis to help fund the war. They were then herded naked into the gas chambers. Usually they were told these were showers or delousing chambers, and there were signs outside saying "baths" and "sauna." They were sometimes given a small piece of soap and a towel so as to avoid panic, and were told to remember where they had put their belongings for the same reason. When they asked for water because they were thirsty after the long journey in the cattle trains, they were told to hurry up, because coffee was waiting for them in the camp, and it was getting cold.
According to Rudolf Höß
Rudolf Höß
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss was an SS-Obersturmbannführer , and from 4 May 1940 to November 1943, the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were murdered...

, commandant of Auschwitz, bunker 1 held 800 people, and bunker 2 held 1,200. Once the chamber was full, the doors were screwed shut and solid pellets of Zyklon-B were dropped into the chambers through vents in the side walls, releasing toxic HCN, or hydrogen cyanide. Those inside died within 20 minutes; the speed of death depended on how close the inmate was standing to a gas vent, according to Höß, who estimated that about one third of the victims died immediately. Joann Kremer, an SS doctor who oversaw the gassings, testified that: "Shouting and screaming of the victims could be heard through the opening and it was clear that they fought for their lives." When they were removed, if the chamber had been very congested, as they often were, the victims were found half-squatting, their skin colored pink with red and green spots, some foaming at the mouth or bleeding from the ears.

The gas was then pumped out, the bodies were removed (which would take up to four hours), gold fillings in their teeth were extracted with pliers by dentist prisoners, and women's hair was cut. The floor of the gas chamber was cleaned, and the walls whitewashed. The work was done by the Sonderkommando
Sonderkommando
Sonderkommandos were work units of Nazi death camp prisoners, composed almost entirely of Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during The Holocaust...

,
which were work units of Jewish prisoners. In crematoria 1 and 2, the Sonderkommando lived in an attic above the crematoria; in crematoria 3 and 4, they lived inside the gas chambers. When the Sonderkommando had finished with the bodies, the SS conducted spot checks to make sure all the gold had been removed from the victims' mouths. If a check revealed that gold had been missed, the Sonderkommando prisoner responsible was thrown into the furnace alive as punishment.

At first, the bodies were buried in deep pits and covered with lime, but between September and November 1942, on the orders of Himmler, they were dug up and burned. In the spring of 1943, new gas chambers and crematoria were built to accommodate the numbers.

Jewish resistance




Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

 and other historians argue that resistance consisted not only of physical opposition, but of any activity that gave the Jews dignity and humanity in humiliating and inhumane conditions.
There are many examples of Jewish resistance, most notably the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 of January 1943, when thousands of poorly armed Jewish fighters held the SS at bay for four weeks before being crushed by overwhelmingly superior forces. According to Jewish accounts, several hundred Germans were killed, while the Germans claimed to have lost 17 dead and 93 wounded. 13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising, and 57,885 were deported and gassed according to German figures. This uprising was followed by the uprising in the Treblinka extermination camp in May 1943, when about 200 inmates escaped from the camp after overpowering the guards. They killed a number of German guards and set the camp buildings ablaze, but 900 inmates were also killed, and out of the 600 who successfully escaped, only 40 survived the war. Two weeks later, there was an uprising in the Białystok ghetto. In September, there was a short-lived uprising in the Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 ghetto. In October, 600 Jewish prisoners, including Jewish Soviet prisoners of war, attempted an escape at the Sobibor death camp. The prisoners killed 11 German SS officers and a number of camp guards. However, the killings were discovered, and the inmates were forced to run for their lives under heavy fire. 300 of the prisoners were killed during the escape. Most of the survivors either died in the minefields surrounding the camp or were recaptured and executed. About 60 survived and joined the Soviet partisans. On October 7, 1944, 250 Jewish Sonderkommando
Sonderkommando
Sonderkommandos were work units of Nazi death camp prisoners, composed almost entirely of Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during The Holocaust...

s
(laborers) at Auschwitz attacked their guards and blew up Crematorium IV with explosives female prisoners had smuggled in from a nearby factory. Three German guards were killed during the uprising, one of whom was stuffed into an oven. The Sonderkommandos attempted a mass breakout, but all 250 were killed soon after.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish partisans
Jewish partisans
Jewish partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the Jewish resistance movement against Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II....

 (see the list at the top of this section) actively fought the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe. They engaged in guerilla warfare and sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 against the Nazis, instigated Ghetto uprisings, and freed prisoners. In Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 alone, they killed approximately 3,000 German soldiers. As many as 1.4 million Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 armies. Of these, approximately 40% served in the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. About 200,000 Jewish soldiers serving in the Red Army died in the war. The Jewish Brigade
Jewish Brigade
The Jewish Infantry Brigade Group was a military formation of the British Army that served in Europe during the Second World War. The brigade was formed in late 1944, and its personnel fought the Germans in Italy...

, a unit of 5,000 Jewish volunteers from the British Mandate of Palestine, fought in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. German-speaking Jewish volunteers from the Special Interrogation Group
Special Interrogation Group
The Special Interrogation Group was a unit of the British Army during World War II. It was organized from German-speaking Jewish volunteers from the British Mandate of Palestine...

 performed commando and sabotage operations against the Nazis behind front lines in the Western Desert Campaign
Western Desert Campaign
The Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War, was the initial stage of the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign was heavily influenced by the availability of supplies and transport. The ability of the Allied forces, operating from besieged Malta, to...

.

In occupied Poland and Soviet territories, thousands of Jews fled into the swamps or forests and joined the partisans, although the partisan movements did not always welcome them. In Lithuania and Belarus, an area with a heavy concentration of Jews, and also an area which suited partisan operations, Jewish partisan groups saved thousands of Jewish civilians from extermination. No such opportunities existed for the Jewish populations of cities such as Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

. However in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, and other parts of the Netherlands, many Jews were active in the Dutch Resistance
Dutch resistance
Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II can be mainly characterized by its prominent non-violence, summitting in over 300,000 people in hiding in the autumn of 1944, tended to by some 60,000 to 200,000 illegal landlords and caretakers and tolerated knowingly...

. Timothy Snyder
Timothy Snyder
Timothy D. Snyder is an American professor of history at Yale University, specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Holocaust...

 wrote that "Other combatants in the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 were veterans of the ghetto uprising of 1943. Most of these Jews joined the Home Army
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

; others found the People's Army
Armia Ludowa
Armia Ludowa was a communist partisan force set up by the Polish Workers' Party during World War II. Its aims were to support the military of the Soviet Union against German forces and aid the creation of a pro-Soviet communist government in Poland...

, or even the anti-Semitic National Armed Forces. Some Jews (or Poles of Jewish origin) were already enlisted in the Home Army and the People's Army. Almost certainly, more Jews fought in the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944 than in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943." Joining the partisans was an option only for the young and the fit who were willing to leave their families. Many Jewish families preferred to die together rather than be separated.

French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Jews were also highly active in the French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

, which conducted a massive guerilla campaign against the Nazis and Vichy French authorities, assisted the Allies in their sweep across France, and supported Allied including Free French
Free French Forces
The Free French Forces were French partisans in World War II who decided to continue fighting against the forces of the Axis powers after the surrender of France and subsequent German occupation and, in the case of Vichy France, collaboration with the Germans.-Definition:In many sources, Free...

 forces in the liberation of many occupied French cities. Although Jews made up only one percent of the French population, they made up fifteen to twenty percent of the French Resistance. The Jewish youth movement EEIF, which had originally shown support for the Vichy regime, was banned in 1943, and many of its older members formed armed resistance units. Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 Jews also formed the Armee Juive
Armee Juive
Armée Juive or Jewish Army, was a Zionist resistance movement in Nazi occupied World War II France which was created during January 1942 in Toulouse...

 (Jewish Army), which participated in armed resistance under a Zionist flag, and smuggled Jews out of the country. Both organizations merged in 1944, and participated in the liberation of Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

, and Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

.
For the great majority of Jews resistance could take only the passive forms of delay, evasion, negotiation, bargaining and, where possible, bribery of German officials. The Nazis encouraged this by forcing the Jewish communities to police themselves, through bodies such as the Reich Association of Jews (Reichsvereinigung der Juden) in Germany and the Jewish Councils (Judenräte
Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

) in the urban ghettos in occupied Poland. They held out the promise of concessions in exchange for each surrender, enmeshing the Jewish leadership so deeply in well-intentioned compromise that a decision to stand and fight was never possible. Holocaust survivor Alexander Kimel wrote: "The youth in the Ghettos dreamed about fighting. I believe that although there were many factors that inhibited our responses, the most important factors were isolation and historical conditioning to accepting martyrdom."

The historical conditioning of the Jewish communities of Europe to accept persecution and avert disaster through compromise and negotiation was the most important factor in the failure to resist until the very end. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising took place only when the Jewish population had been reduced from 500,000 to 100,000, and it was obvious that no further compromise was possible. Paul Johnson writes: "The Jews had been persecuted for a millennium and a half and had learned from long experience that resistance cost lives rather than saved them. Their history, their theology, their folklore, their social structure, even their vocabulary trained them to negotiate, to pay, to plead, to protest, not to fight."

The Jewish communities were also systematically deceived about German intentions, and were cut off from most sources of news from the outside world. The Germans told the Jews that they were being deported to work camps euphemistically calling it "resettlement in the East" and maintained this illusion through elaborate deceptions all the way to the gas chamber doors (which were marked with labels stating that the chambers were for removal of lice) to avoid uprisings. As photographs testify, Jews disembarked at the railway stations at Auschwitz and other extermination camps carrying sacks and suitcases, clearly having no idea of the fate that awaited them. Rumours of the reality of the extermination camps filtered back only slowly to the ghettos, and were usually not believed, just as they were not believed when couriers such as Jan Karski
Jan Karski
Jan Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later scholar at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and...

, the Polish resistance fighter, conveyed them to the western Allies.

Climax



Heydrich was assassinated in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 in June 1942. He was succeeded as head of the RSHA by Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

. Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann, under Himmler's close supervision, oversaw the climax of the Final Solution. During 1943 and 1944, the extermination camps worked at a furious rate to kill the hundreds of thousands of people shipped to them by rail from almost every country within the German sphere of influence. By the spring of 1944, up to 8,000 people were being gassed every day at Auschwitz.

Despite the high productivity of the war industries based in the Jewish ghettos in the General Government, during 1943 they were liquidated, and their populations shipped to the camps for extermination. The largest of these operations, the deportation of 100,000 people from the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

 in early 1943, provoked the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

, which was suppressed with great brutality. Approximately 42,000 Jews were shot during the Operation Harvest Festival on November 3–4, 1943. At the same time, rail shipments arrived regularly from western and southern Europe. Few Jews were shipped from the occupied Soviet territories to the camps: the killing of Jews in this zone was left in the hands of the SS, aided by locally recruited auxiliaries. In any case, by the end of 1943 the Germans had been driven from most Soviet territory.

Shipments of Jews to the camps had priority on the German railways, and continued even in the face of the increasingly dire military situation after the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 at the end of 1942 and the escalating Allied air attacks on German industry and transport. Army leaders and economic managers complained at this diversion of resources and at the killing of irreplaceable skilled Jewish workers. By 1944, moreover, it was evident to most Germans not blinded by Nazi fanaticism that Germany was losing the war. Many senior officials began to fear the retribution that might await Germany and them personally for the crimes being committed in their name. But the power of Himmler and the SS within the German Reich was too great to resist, and Himmler could always evoke Hitler's authority for his demands.


In October 1943, Himmler gave a speech to senior Nazi Party officials gathered in Posen (now Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 in western Poland). Here he came closer than ever before to stating explicitly that he was intent on exterminating the Jews of Europe:
The audience for this speech included Admiral Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

 and Armaments Minister Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, both of whom successfully claimed at the Nuremberg trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 that they had had no knowledge of the Final Solution. The text of this speech was not known at the time of their trials.

The scale of extermination slackened somewhat at the beginning of 1944 once the ghettos in occupied Poland were emptied, but on March 19, 1944, Hitler ordered the military occupation of Hungary
Operation Margarethe
During World War II, the Germans planned two discrete operations using the codename Margarethe.Operation Margarethe I was the occupation of Hungary by German forces on 19 March 1944. The Hungarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, but had been discussing an armistice with the Allies...

, and Eichmann was dispatched to Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 to supervise the deportation of Hungary's 800,000 Jews. Hitler had personally complained to the Hungarian regent Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

 on the previous day, March 18, 1944, that:

More than half of them were shipped to Auschwitz in the course of the year. The commandant, Rudolf Höß, said at his trial that he killed 400,000 Hungarian Jews in three months.

"Blood for Goods"


The operation to kill Hungarian Jews met strong opposition within the Nazi hierarchy, and there were some suggestions that Hitler should offer the Allies a deal where they would be spared in exchange for a favorable peace settlement. There were unofficial negotiations in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 between Himmler's agents, British agents, and representatives of Jewish organizations; at one point an attempt by Eichmann to exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks—the so-called "blood for goods" proposal—but there was no real possibility of such a deal being struck.

Escapes, publication of existence (April–June 1944)



Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside. In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that "the local population is fanatically Polish and ... prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead."

In February 1942, an escaped inmate from the Chełmno extermination camp, Jacob Grojanowski, reached the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

, where he gave detailed information about the Chełmno camp to the Oneg Shabbat
Oyneg Shabbos (group)
Oyneg Shabbos was the code name of a group led by Jewish historian Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi-German occupation of Warsaw in World War II. The group, which included historians, writers, rabbis and social workers, was dedicated to chronicling life in the Ghetto...

 group. His report, which became known as the Grojanowski Report
Grojanowski Report
The Grojanowski Report was written by Szlamek Bajler, under the pseudonym of Yakov Grojanowski, who escaped from the Chełmno extermination camp and described in detail the atrocities that he witnessed there....

, was smuggled out of the ghetto through the channels of the Polish underground to the Delegatura, and reached London by June 1942. It is unclear what was done with the report at that point. In the meantime, by February 1, the United States Office of War Information
United States Office of War Information
The United States Office of War Information was a U.S. government agency created during World War II to consolidate government information services. It operated from June 1942 until September 1945...

 had decided not to release information about the extermination of the Jews because it was felt that it would mislead the public into thinking the war was simply a Jewish problem.

By at least October 9, 1942, British radio had broadcast news of gassing of Jews to The Netherlands. In December 1942, the western Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 released the Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations
Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations
The Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations was a statement issued on on December 17, 1942 by the American and British governments on behalf of the Allied Powers...

, that described how "Hitler's oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe" was being carried out and which declared that they "condemn in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination."

In 1942, Jan Karski
Jan Karski
Jan Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later scholar at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and...

 reported to the Polish, British and U.S. governments on the situation in Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust of the Jews. He met with Polish politicians in exile including the prime minister, as well as members of political parties such as the PPS, SN, SP
Stronnictwo Pracy
Stronnictwo Pracy was a Polish Christian democratic political party, active from 1937 in the Second Polish Republic and later part of the Polish government in exile. Its founder and main activist was Karol Popiel....

, SL
Stronnictwo Ludowe
The People's Party was a Polish political party, active from 1931 in the Second Polish Republic. An agrarian populist party, its power base was composed mostly from peasants....

, Jewish Bund
General Jewish Labour Bund in Poland
The General Jewish Labour Bund in Poland was a Jewish socialist party in Poland which promoted the political, cultural and social autonomy of Jewish workers, sought to combat antisemitism and was generally opposed to Zionism.-Creation of the Polish Bund:...

 and Poalei Zion. He also spoke to Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

, the British foreign secretary, and included a detailed statement on what he had seen in Warsaw and Bełżec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

. In 1943 in London he met the then-well-known journalist Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler CBE was a Hungarian author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria...

. He then traveled to the United States and reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. His report was a major factor in informing the West.

In July 1943, Karski again personally reported to Roosevelt about the situation in Poland. During their meeting Roosevelt suddenly interrupted his report and asked about the condition of horses in occupied Poland. He also met with many other government and civic leaders in the United States, including Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Early life:Frankfurter was born into a Jewish family on November 15, 1882, in Vienna, Austria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. He was the third of six children of Leopold and Emma Frankfurter...

, Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

, William Joseph Donovan
William Joseph Donovan
William Joseph Donovan was a United States soldier, lawyer and intelligence officer, best remembered as the wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services...

, and Stephen Wise
Stephen Samuel Wise
Stephen Samuel Wise was an Austro-Hungarian-born American Reform rabbi and Zionist leader.-Early life:...

. Karski also presented his report to media, bishops of various denominations (including Cardinal Samuel Stritch), members of the Hollywood film industry and artists, but without success. Many of those he spoke to did not believe him, or supposed that his testimony was much exaggerated or was propaganda from the Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

.

News about gassing Jews was also published in illegal newspapers of the Dutch resistance
Dutch resistance
Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II can be mainly characterized by its prominent non-violence, summitting in over 300,000 people in hiding in the autumn of 1944, tended to by some 60,000 to 200,000 illegal landlords and caretakers and tolerated knowingly...

, like in the issue of Het Parool
Het Parool
Het Parool is an Amsterdam-based daily newspaper. It was founded as a resistance paper during World War II by Frans Van Heuven Goedhart and Jaap Nunes Vaz...

 of September 27, 1943. However, the news was so unbelievable that many assumed it was merely war propaganda. The publications were halted because they were counter-productive for the Dutch resistance. Nevertheless, many Jews were warned that they would be murdered, but as escape was impossible for most of them, they preferred to believe that the warnings were false.


In September 1940, Captain Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...

, a member of the Polish underground and a soldier of the Home Army, worked out a plan to enter Auschwitz and volunteered to be sent there, the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz. He organized an underground network Związek Organizacji Wojskowej
Zwiazek Organizacji Wojskowej
Związek Organizacji Wojskowej was an underground resistance organization formed by Witold Pilecki at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1940.-Beginning:...

 (translation: "Union of Military Organizations") that was ready to initiate an uprising but it was decided that the probability of success was too low for the uprising to succeed. UMO's numerous and detailed reports became later a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz with information that became the basis of a two-part report in August 1943 that was sent to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London. The report included details about the gas chambers, about "selection", and about the sterilization experiments. It stated that there were three crematoria in Birkenau able to burn 10,000 people daily, and that 30,000 people had been gassed in one day. The author wrote: "History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life." Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final...

 writes that the report was filed away with a note that there was no indication as to the reliability of the source. When Pilecki returned to Poland after the war the communist authorities arrested and accused him of spying for the Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

. He was sentenced to death in a show trial and was executed on May 25, 1948.

Before Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz the most spectacular escape took place on June 20, 1942, when Ukrainian Eugeniusz Bendera and three Poles, Kazimierz Piechowski
Kazimierz Piechowski
Kazimierz Piechowski is a retired engineer, a Boy Scout during the Second Polish Republic, a political prisoner of the Nazis at Auschwitz concentration camp, a soldier in the Polish Home Army then a prisoner for seven years of the communist government of Poland...

, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster and Józef Lempart made a daring escape. The escapees were dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände
3rd SS Division Totenkopf
The SS Division Totenkopf , also known as 3. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf and 3. SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf, was one of the 38 divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Prior to achieving division status, the formation was known as Kampfgruppe Eicke...

, fully armed and in an SS staff car. They drove out the main gate in a stolen Rudolf Hoss automobile Steyr
Steyr automobile
Steyr was an Austrian automotive company from 1915 until 1990.Formed as a branch of Steyr Osterreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft in 1915, to diversify manufacturing, the founders hired 38-year-old designer Hans Ledwinka after he resigned from Nesselsdorfer-Wagenbau...

 220 with a smuggled first report from Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...

 to Polish resistance
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 about the Holocaust. The Germans never recaptured any of them.

Rudolf Vrba
Rudolf Vrba
Rudolf "Rudi" Vrba, born Walter Rosenberg was a Slovak-Canadian professor of pharmacology at the University of British Columbia, who came to public attention during the Second World War when, in April 1944, he escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland with the first...

 and Alfred Wetzler
Alfréd Wetzler
Alfréd Israel Wetzler , who later wrote under the alias Jozef Lánik, was a Slovak Jew, and one of a very small number of Jews known to have escaped from the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust. Wetzler was born on 10 May 1918, in the Slovak town of Trnava where he was a worker in the period...

, Jewish inmates, escaped from Auschwitz in April 1944, eventually reaching Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

. The 32-page document they dictated to Jewish officials about the mass murder at Auschwitz became known as the Vrba-Wetzler report
Vrba-Wetzler report
The Vrba-Wetzler report, also known as the Vrba-Wetzler statement, the Auschwitz Protocols, and the Auschwitz notebook, is a 32-page document about the German Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland during the Holocaust...

. Vrba had an eidetic memory
Eidetic memory
Eidetic , commonly referred to as photographic memory, is a medical term, popularly defined as the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme precision and in abundant volume. The word eidetic, referring to extraordinarily detailed and vivid recall not limited to, but...

 and had worked on the Judenrampe, where Jews disembarked from the trains to be "selected" either for the gas chamber or slave labor. The level of detail with which he described the transports allowed Slovakian officials to compare his account with their own deportation records, and the corroboration convinced the Allies to take the report seriously.

Two other Auschwitz inmates, Arnost Rosin and Czesław Mordowicz escaped on May 27, 1944, arriving in Slovakia on June 6, the day of the Normandy landing (D-Day
D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

). Hearing about Normandy, they believed the war was over and got drunk to celebrate, using dollars they'd smuggled out of the camp. They were arrested for violating currency laws, and spent eight days in prison, before the Judenrat
Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

paid their fines. The additional information they offered the Judenrat was added to Vrba and Wetzler's report and became known as the Auschwitz Protocols. They reported that, between May 15 and May 27, 1944, 100,000 Hungarian Jews had arrived at Birkenau, and had been killed at an unprecedented rate, with human fat being used to accelerate the burning.

The BBC and The New York Times published material from the Vrba-Wetzler report on June 15 June 20, July 3 and July 6 1944. The subsequent pressure from world leaders persuaded Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

 to bring the mass deportations of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz to a halt on July 9, saving up to 200,000 Jews from the extermination camps.

On November 14, 2001, in the 150th anniversary issue, The New York Times ran an article by former editor Max Frankel
Max Frankel
Max Frankel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.Frankel came to the United States in 1940. He attended Columbia College and began part-time work for The New York Times in his sophomore year. He received his B.A. degree in 1952 and an M.A. in American government from Columbia in 1953.He joined...

 reporting that before and during World War II, the Times had maintained a strict policy in their news reporting and editorials to minimize reports on the Holocaust. The Times accepted the detailed analysis and findings of journalism professor Laurel Leff, who had published an article the year before in the Harvard International Journal of the Press and Politics, that The New York Times had deliberately suppressed news of the Third Reich’s persecution and murder of Jews.
Leff concluded that New York Times reporting and editorial policies made it virtually impossible for American Jews to impress Congress, church or government leaders with the importance of helping Europe’s Jews.

Death marches (1944–1945)




By mid 1944, the Final Solution had largely run its course. Those Jewish communities within easy reach of the Nazi regime had been largely exterminated, in proportions ranging from about 25 percent in France to more than 90 percent in Poland. In May, Himmler claimed in a speech that "The Jewish question in Germany and the occupied countries has been solved." During 1944, in any case, the task became steadily more difficult. German armies were evicted from the Soviet Union, the Balkans and Italy, and German allies were either defeated or were switching sides to the Allies. In June, the western Allies landed in France. Allied air attacks and the operations of partisans made rail transport increasingly difficult, and the objections of the military to the diversion of rail transport for carrying Jews to Poland more urgent and harder to ignore.

At this time, as the Soviet armed forces approached, the camps in eastern Poland were closed down, any surviving inmates being shipped west to camps closer to Germany, first to Auschwitz and later to Gross Rosen in Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

. Auschwitz itself was closed as the Soviets advanced through Poland. The last 13 prisoners, all women, were killed in Auschwitz II on November 25, 1944; records show they were "unmittelbar getötet" ("killed outright"), leaving open whether they were gassed or otherwise disposed of.

Despite the desperate military situation, great efforts were made to conceal evidence of what had happened in the camps. The gas chambers were dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, mass graves dug up and the corpses cremated, and Polish farmers were induced to plant crops on the sites to give the impression that they had never existed. Local commanders continued to kill Jews, and to shuttle them from camp to camp by forced "death marches" until the last weeks of the war.

Already sick after months or years of violence and starvation, prisoners were forced to march for tens of miles in the snow to train stations; then transported for days at a time without food or shelter in freight trains with open carriages; and forced to march again at the other end to the new camp. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot. Around 250,000 Jews died during these marches.

The largest and best-known of the death marches took place in January 1945, when the Soviet army advanced on Poland. Nine days before the Soviets arrived at Auschwitz, the SS marched 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Wodzislaw, 56 km (34.8 mi) away, where they were put on freight trains to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way. Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel
Sir Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE; born September 30, 1928) is a Hungarian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and...

 and his father, Shlomo, were among the marchers:

Liberation





The first major camp, Majdanek, was discovered by the advancing Soviets on July 23, 1944. Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

 was liberated, also by the Soviets, on January 27, 1945; Buchenwald
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

 by the Americans on April 11; Bergen-Belsen
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Bergen-Belsen was a Nazi concentration camp in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle...

 by the British on April 15; Dachau by the Americans on April 29; Ravensbrück
Ravensbrück concentration camp
Ravensbrück was a notorious women's concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück ....

 by the Soviets on the same day; Mauthausen
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the...

 by the Americans on May 5; and Theresienstadt
Theresienstadt concentration camp
Theresienstadt concentration camp was a Nazi German ghetto during World War II. It was established by the Gestapo in the fortress and garrison city of Terezín , located in what is now the Czech Republic.-History:The fortress of Terezín was constructed between the years 1780 and 1790 by the orders...

 by the Soviets on May 8. Treblinka
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

, Sobibor
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

, and Bełżec were never liberated, but were destroyed by the Nazis in 1943. Colonel William W. Quinn of the U.S. 7th Army said of Dachau: "There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind."

In most of the camps discovered by the Soviets, almost all the prisoners had already been removed, leaving only a few thousand alive—7,000 inmates were found in Auschwitz, including 180 children who had been experimented on by doctors. Some 60,000 prisoners were discovered at Bergen-Belsen by the British 11th Armoured Division, 13,000 corpses lay unburied, and another 10,000 died from typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 or malnutrition over the following weeks. The British forced the remaining SS guards to gather up the corpses and place them in mass graves.

The BBC's Richard Dimbleby
Richard Dimbleby
Richard Dimbleby CBE was an English journalist and broadcaster widely acknowledged as one of the greatest figures in British broadcasting history.-Early life:...

 described the scenes that greeted him and the British Army at Belsen:

Victims and death toll




VictimsKilledSource
Jews 5.9 million
Soviet POWs 2–3 million
Ethnic Poles 1.8–2 million
Romani 220,000–1,500,000
Disabled 200,000–250,000
Freemasons 80,000
Slovenes 20,000–25,000
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000
Jehovah's
Witnesses
2,500–5,000

The number of victims depends on which definition of "the Holocaust" is used. Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia write in The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust that the term is commonly defined as the mass murder, and attempt to wipe out, European Jewry, which would bring the total number of victims to just under six million—around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time.

Broader definitions include approximately 2 to 3 million Soviet POWs, 2 million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals and 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, bringing the death toll to around 11 million. The broadest definition would include 6 million Soviet civilians, raising the death toll to 17 million. R.J. Rummel estimates the total democide
Democide
Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as "the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder." Rummel created the term as an extended concept to include forms of government murder that are not covered by the...

 death toll of Nazi Germany to be 21 million. Other estimates put total casualties of Soviet Union's citizens alone to about 26 million.

Jewish


Since 1945, the most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed has been six million. The Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, writes that there is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed. The figure most commonly used is the six million attributed to Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official. Early calculations range from 5.1 million from Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final...

, to 5.95 million from Jacob Leschinsky. Yisrael Gutman and Robert Rozett in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust estimate 5.59–5.86 million. A study led by Wolfgang Benz of the Technical University of Berlin suggests 5.29–6.2 million. Yad Vashem writes that the main sources for these statistics are comparisons of prewar and postwar censuses and population estimates, and Nazi documentation on deportations and murders. Its Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names currently holds close to 3 million names of Holocaust victims, all accessible online. Yad Vashem continues its project of collecting names of Jewish victims from historical documents and individual memories.

Hilberg's estimate of 5.1 million, in the third edition of The Destruction of the European Jews
The Destruction of the European Jews
The Destruction of the European Jews is a book published in 1961 by historian Raul Hilberg. Hilberg revised his work in 1985, and it appeared in a new three-volume edition. It is largely held to be the first comprehensive historical study of the Holocaust. According to Holocaust historian, Michael R...

, includes over 800,000 who died from "ghettoization and general privation"; 1,400,000 killed in open-air shootings; and up to 2,900,000 who perished in camps. Hilberg estimates the death toll of Jews in Poland as up to 3,000,000. Hilberg's numbers are generally considered to be a conservative estimate, as they typically include only those deaths for which records are available, avoiding statistical adjustment.

British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 historian Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, PC is a British historian and Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history...

 arrived at a "minimum estimate" of over 5.75 million Jewish victims. Lucy S. Dawidowicz
Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Schildkret Dawidowicz was an American historian and an author of books on modern Jewish history, in particular books on the Holocaust.-Life:...

 used pre-war census figures to estimate that 5.934 million Jews died (see table below).

There were about 8 to 10 million Jews in the territories controlled directly or indirectly by the Nazis (the uncertainty arises from the lack of knowledge about how many Jews there were in the Soviet Union). The six million killed in the Holocaust thus represent 60 to 75 percent of these Jews. Of Poland's 3.3 million Jews, over 90 percent were killed. The same proportion were killed in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, but most of Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

's Jews were evacuated in time. Of the 750,000 Jews in Germany and Austria in 1933, only about a quarter survived. Although many German Jews emigrated before 1939, the majority of these fled to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, France or the Netherlands, from where they were later deported to their deaths. In Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, over 70 percent were killed. More than 50 percent were killed in Belgium, Hungary, and Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. It is likely that a similar proportion were killed in Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, but these figures are less certain. Countries with notably lower proportions of deaths include Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Denmark, France, Italy, and Norway. Albania was the only country occupied by the Nazis that had a significantly larger Jewish population in 1945 than in 1939. About two hundred native Jews and over a thousand refugees were provided with false documents, hidden when necessary, and generally treated as honored guests in a country whose population was roughly 60% Muslim. Additionally, Japan, as an Axis member, had its own unique response to Nazi policies regarding Jews; see Shanghai Ghetto
Shanghai ghetto
The Shanghai ghetto, formally known as the , was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai, to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless...

.
YearJews killed
1933–1940 under 100,000
1941 1,100,000
1942 2,700,000
1943 500,000
1944 600,000
1945 100,000
Extermination CampEstimate of number killed
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

1 million;
Treblinka 870,000;
Belzec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

600,000;
Majdanek
Majdanek
Majdanek was a German Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland, established during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. The camp operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, when it was captured nearly intact by the advancing Soviet Red Army...

79,000 – 235,000;
Chełmno 320,000;
Sobibor
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

250,000.

This gives a total of over 3.8 million; of these, 80–90% were estimated to be Jews. These seven camps thus accounted for half the total number of Jews killed in the entire Nazi Holocaust. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Poland died in these camps.

In addition to those who died in the above extermination camps, at least half a million Jews died in other camps, including the major concentration camps in Germany. These were not extermination camps, but had large numbers of Jewish prisoners at various times, particularly in the last year of the war as the Nazis withdrew from Poland. About a million people died in these camps, and although the proportion of Jews is not known with certainty, it was estimated to be at least 50 percent. Another 800,000 to one million Jews were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet territories (an approximate figure, since the Einsatzgruppen killings were frequently undocumented). Many more died through execution or of disease and malnutrition in the ghettos of Poland before they could be deported.

By country

The following figures from Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Schildkret Dawidowicz was an American historian and an author of books on modern Jewish history, in particular books on the Holocaust.-Life:...

 show the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe by (pre-war) country:
Country Estimated Pre-War
Jewish population
Estimated killed Percent killed
Poland 3,300,000 3,000,000 90
Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

253,000 228,000 90
Germany & Austria 240,000 210,000 90
Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 & Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

90,000 80,000 89
Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

90,000 75,000 83
Greece 70,000 54,000 77
Netherlands 140,000 105,000 75
Hungary 650,000 450,000 70
Byelorussian SSR
Byelorussian SSR
The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union. It was one of the four original founding members of the Soviet Union in 1922, together with the Ukrainian SSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic...

375,000 245,000 65
Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

1,500,000 900,000 60
Belgium 65,000 40,000 60
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

43,000 26,000 60
Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

600,000 300,000 50
Norway 2,173 890 41
France 350,000 90,000 26
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

64,000 14,000 22
Italy 40,000 8,000 20
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

5,000 1,000 20
Russian SFSR 975,000 107,000 11
Finland 2,000 22 1
Denmark 8,000 52 <1
Total 8,861,800 5,933,900 67

In the 1990s, the opening of government archives in Eastern Europe resulted in the adjustment of the death tolls published in the pioneering work by Hilberg, Dawidowicz and Gilbert, (i.e. compare Gilbert's estimation of 2 million deaths in Auswitz-Burkenau with the updated figure of 1 million in the Extermination Camp data box.) As pointed out above, Wolfgang Benz has been carrying out work on the more recent data. He concluded in 1999:

"The goal of annihilating all of the Jews of Europe, as it was proclaimed at the conference in the villa Am Grossen Wannsee in January 1942, was not reached. Yet the six million murder victims make the holocaust a unique crime in the history of mankind. The number of victims—and with certainty the following represent the minimum number in each case—cannot express that adequately. Numbers are just too abstract. However they must be stated in order to make clear the dimension of the genocide: 165,000 Jews from Germany, 65,000 from Austria, 32,000 from France and Belgium, more than 100,000 from the Netherlands, 60,000 from Greece, the same number from Yugoslavia, more than 140,000 from Czechoslovakia, half a million from Hungary, 2.2 million from the Soviet Union, and 2.7 million from Poland. To these numbers must be added all those killed in the pogroms and massacres in Romania and Transitrien (over 200,000) and the deported and murdered Jews from Albania and Norway, Denmark and Italy, from Luxembourg and Bulgaria."


As most of the victims of the Holocaust were speakers of Yiddish, the Holocaust had a profound and permanent effect on the fate of Yiddish language and culture. On the eve of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, there were 11 to 13 million Yiddish speakers in the world. The Holocaust, however, led to a dramatic, sudden decline in the use of Yiddish, as the extensive Jewish communities, both secular and religious, that used Yiddish in their day-to-day life were largely destroyed. Around 5 million, or 85%, of the victims of the Holocaust, were speakers of Yiddish.

Slavs



One of Hitler's ambitions at the start of the war was to exterminate, expel, or enslave most or all Slavs from their native lands so as to make living space
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 for German settlers. This plan of genocide was to be carried into effect gradually over a period of 25–30 years.
Ethnic Poles





German Nazi planners had in November 1939 called for "the complete destruction" of all Poles. "All Poles", Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 swore, "will disappear from the world". The Polish state under German occupation was to be cleared of ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists. Of the Poles, by 1952 only about 3–4 million of them were to be left in the former Poland, and only to serve as slaves for German settlers. They were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist. On August 22, 1939, about one week before the onset of the war, Hitler had "prepared, for the moment only in the East, my 'Death's Head
SS-Totenkopfverbände
SS-Totenkopfverbände , meaning "Death's-Head Units", was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps for the Third Reich....

' formations with orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or language
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need." Nazi planners decided against a genocide of ethnic Poles on the same scale as against ethnic Jews, it could not proceed in the short run since "such a solution to the Polish question would represent a burden to the German people into the distant future, and everywhere rob us of all understanding, not least in that neighbouring peoples would have to reckon at some appropriate time, with a similar fate".

The actions taken against ethnic Poles were not on the scale of the genocide of the Jews. Most Polish Jews (perhaps 90% of their antebellum population) perished during the Holocaust, while most Christian Poles survived the brutal German occupation. Between 1.8 and 2.1 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished in German hands during the course of the war, about four-fifths of whom were ethnic Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 with the remaining fifth being ethnic minorities of Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 and Belarusians
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

, the vast majority of them civilians. At least 200,000 of these victims died in concentration camps with about 146,000 being killed in Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

. Many others died as a result of general massacres such as in the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 where between 120,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed. The policy of the Germans in Poland included diminishing food rations, conscious lowering of the state of hygiene and depriving the population of medical services. The general mortality rate rose from 13 to 18 per thousand. Overall, about 5.6 million of the victims World War II were Polish citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and over the course of the war Poland lost 16 percent of its pre-war population; approximately 3.1 million of the 3.3 million Polish Jews and approximately 2 million of the 31.7 million non-Jewish Polish citizens died at German hands during the war. According to recent (2009) estimates by IPN
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

, over 2.5 million non-Jewish Polish citizens died as a result of the German occupation. Over 90 percent of the death toll came through non-military losses, as most of the civilians were targeted by various deliberate actions by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Ethnic Serbs and other South Slavs


In the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, up to 581,000 Yugoslavs were killed by the Nazis and their Ustaše
Ustaše
The Ustaša - Croatian Revolutionary Movement was a Croatian fascist anti-Yugoslav separatist movement. The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Nazism, and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the River Drina and to the border...

 fascist allies in Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

. German forces, under express orders from Hitler, fought with a special vengeance against the Serbs, who were considered Untermensch
Untermensch
Untermensch is a term that became infamous when the Nazi racial ideology used it to describe "inferior people", especially "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Serbs, Belarussians and Ukrainians...

. The Ustaše
Ustaše
The Ustaša - Croatian Revolutionary Movement was a Croatian fascist anti-Yugoslav separatist movement. The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Nazism, and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the River Drina and to the border...

 collaborators conducted a systematic extermination of large numbers of people for political, religious or racial reasons. The most numerous victims were Serbs
Serbs
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

.

As a direct consequence of Nazi rule, between 20,000 and 25,000 thousand Slovenes were killed (counting only civilian victims). These number does not include Carinthian Slovenes
Carinthian Slovenes
Carinthian Slovenes are the Slovene-speaking population group in the Austrian State of Carinthia. The Carinthian Slovenes send representatives to the National Ethnic Groups Advisory Council...

, Slovenes from Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

 and Gorizia
Gorizia
Gorizia is a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia. It is the capital of the Province of Gorizia, and it is a local center of tourism, industry, and commerce. Since 1947, a twin...

, and those Slovenes killed by Nazi collaborators. The overall number of Slovene civilians killed by the Nazis and their allies is thus estimated at around 33,000 (this number does not include killed prisoners of war). The majority of these victims were from Lower Styria
Lower Styria
Lower Styria or Slovenian Styria is a traditional region in northeastern Slovenia, comprising the southern third of the former Duchy of Styria. The population of Lower Styria in its historical boundaries amounts to around 705,000 inhabitants, or 34.5% of the population of Slovenia...

, Upper Carniola
Upper Carniola
Upper Carniola is a traditional region of Slovenia, the northern mountainous part of the larger Carniola region. The centre of the region is Kranj, while other urban centers include Jesenice, Tržič, Škofja Loka, Kamnik, and Domžale.- Historical background :...

, Zasavje
Zasavje
The Central Sava Valley is a region in central Slovenia. The region consists of five municipalities: Zagorje ob Savi, Trbovlje, Hrastnik, Litija, and Šmartno pri Litiji...

 and Slovenian Carinthia, that is from Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

n regions occupied by the Nazis after the invasion of Yugoslavia
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The Invasion of Yugoslavia , also known as the April War , was the Axis Powers' attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II...

 in April 1941, and annexed to the Reich soon after.

Bosniaks
Bosniaks
The Bosniaks or Bosniacs are a South Slavic ethnic group, living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a smaller minority also present in other lands of the Balkan Peninsula especially in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia...

 and Croats
Croats
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...

 were also victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp. According to the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

"The Ustaša authorities established numerous concentration camps in Croatia between 1941 and 1945. These camps were used to isolate and murder Serbs, Jews, Roma, Muslims [Bosniaks], and other non-Catholic minorities, as well as Croatian political and religious opponents of the regime."

The USHMM and Jewish Virtual Library
Jewish Virtual Library
Jewish Virtual Library is an online encyclopedia published by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise . Established in 1993, it is a comprehensive website covering Israel, the Jewish people, and Jewish culture.-History:...

 report between 56,000 and 97,000 persons were killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia and occupied Yugoslavia during World War II...

. Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 reports an overall number of over 500,000 murders of Serbs "in horribly sadistic
ways" at the hands of the Ustaša.

As per the most recent study, Bosnjaci u Jasenovackom logoru ("Bosniaks in Jasenovac concentration camp") by the author Nihad Halilbegovic, at least 103,000 Bosniaks
Bosniaks
The Bosniaks or Bosniacs are a South Slavic ethnic group, living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a smaller minority also present in other lands of the Balkan Peninsula especially in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia...

 (Bosnian Muslim Slavs) perished during Holocaust at the hands of the Nazi regime and Croatian Ustaše. According to the study "unknown is the full number of Bosniaks who were murdered under Serb or Croat alias or national name" and "large numbers of Bosniaks were killed and listed under Roma populations", therefore in advance sentenced to death and extermination.
East Slavs


Soviet civilian populations in the occupied areas were also heavily persecuted (in addition to the barbarity of the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 frontline warfare manifesting itself in episodes such as the siege of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

 in which more than 1 million civilians died). Thousands of peasant villages across Russia
Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia usually refers to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. It may also denote:* Soviet Russia , magazine of the Friends of Soviet Russia in the United States...

, Belarus and Ukraine were annihilated by German troops. Bohdan Wytwycky has estimated that as many as one quarter of all Soviet civilian deaths
World War II casualties of the Soviet Union
World War II casualties of the Soviet Union from all related causes are commonly estimated in excess of 20,000,000, both civilians and military, although the statistics vary to a great extent. Most of the casualties occurred from 22 June 1941, after Nazi Germany invaded the USSR.-Military losses:In...

 at the hands of the Nazis and their allies were racially motivated. The Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995 reported civilian victims in the USSR at German hands, including Jews, totaled 13.7 million dead, 20% of the 68 million persons in the occupied USSR. This included 7.4 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals.

In Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Nazi Germany imposed a regime in the country that was responsible for burning down some 9,000 villages, deporting some 380,000 people for slave labour, and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. More than 600 villages, like Khatyn, were burned along with their entire population and at least 5,295 Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

ian settlements were destroyed by the Nazis and some or all of their inhabitants killed. Altogether, 1,670,000 civilians (18 percent of the population) were killed during the three years of German occupation, including 245,000 Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

.

Soviet POWs


According to Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum
Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and film-maker, who specializes in the study of the memorialization of the Holocaust...

, between two and three million Soviet prisoners-of-war—or around 57 percent of all Soviet POWs—died of starvation, mistreatment, or executions between June 1941 and May 1945, and most those during their first year of captivity. According to other estimates by Daniel Goldhagen
Daniel Goldhagen
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is an American author and former Associate Professor of Political Science and Social Studies at Harvard University. Goldhagen reached international attention and broad criticism as the author of two controversial books about the Holocaust, Hitler's Willing Executioners and...

, an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs died in eight months in 1941–42, with a total of 3.5 million by mid-1944. The USHMM
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history...

 has estimated that 3.3 million of the 5.7 million Soviet POWs died in German custody—compared to 8,300 of 231,000 British and American prisoners. The death rates decreased as the POWs were needed to work as slaves to help the German war effort; by 1943, half a million of them had been deployed as slave labor.

Romani people


Because the Roma and Sinti are traditionally a secretive people with a culture based on oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

, less is known about their experience of the genocide than about that of any other group. Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

 writes that the lack of information can be attributed to the Roma's distrust and suspicion, and to their humiliation, because some of the basic taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

s of Romani culture regarding hygiene and sexual contact were violated at Auschwitz. Bauer writes that "most [Roma] could not relate their stories involving these torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

s; as a result, most kept silent and thus increased the effects of the massive trauma
Psychological trauma
Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event...

 they had undergone."

The treatment of Romanis was not consistent in the different areas that Nazi Germany conquered. In some areas (e.g. Luxembourg and the Baltic countries), the Nazis killed virtually the entire Romani population. In other areas (e.g. Denmark, Greece), there is no record of Romanis being subjected to mass killings.

Donald Niewyk and Frances Nicosia write that the death toll was at least 130,000 of the nearly one million Roma and Sinti in Nazi-controlled Europe. Michael Berenbaum writes that serious scholarly estimates lie between 90,000 and 220,000. A study by Sybil Milton, senior historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, calculated a death toll of at least 220,000 and possibly closer to 500,000, but this study explicitly excluded the Independent State of Croatia
Independent State of Croatia
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

 where the genocide of Romanies was intense. Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, PC is a British historian and Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history...

 estimates a total of more than 220,000 of the 700,000 Romani in Europe. Ian Hancock
Ian Hancock
Ian Hancock is a linguist, Romani scholar, and political advocate. He was born and raised in England, and is one of the main contributors in the field of Romani studies....

, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued in favour of a higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000. Hancock writes that, proportionately, the death toll equaled "and almost certainly exceed[ed], that of Jewish victims."

Before being sent to the camps, the victims were herded into ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s, including several hundred into the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

. Further east, teams of Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 tracked down Romani encampments and murdered the inhabitants on the spot, leaving no records of the victims. They were also targeted by the puppet regimes that cooperated with the Nazis, e.g. the Ustaše
Ustaše
The Ustaša - Croatian Revolutionary Movement was a Croatian fascist anti-Yugoslav separatist movement. The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Nazism, and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the River Drina and to the border...

 regime in Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, where a large number of Romani were killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia and occupied Yugoslavia during World War II...

. The genocide analyst Helen Fein
Helen Fein
Helen Fein is a historical sociologist, Professor, specialized on genocide, human rights, collective violence and other issues. She is an author and editor of 12 books and monographs, Associate of International Security Program , a founder and first President of the International Association of...

 has stated that the Ustashe killed virtually every Romani in Croatia.

In May 1942, the Romani were placed under the same labor and social laws as the Jews. On December 16, 1942, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, Commander of the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 and regarded as the "architect" of the Nazi genocide, issued a decree that "Gypsy Mischlinge (mixed breeds), Romani, and members of the clans of Balkan origins who are not of German blood" should be sent to Auschwitz, unless they had served in the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

. On January 29, 1943, another decree ordered the deportation of all German Romani to Auschwitz.

This was adjusted on November 15, 1943, when Himmler ordered that, in the occupied Soviet areas, "sedentary Gypsies and part-Gypsies (Mischlinge) are to be treated as citizens of the country. Nomadic Gypsies and part-Gypsies are to be placed on the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps." Bauer argues that this adjustment reflected Nazi ideology that the Roma, originally an Aryan population, had been "spoiled" by non-Romani blood.

Persons of color



The number of black people in Germany when the Nazis came to power is variously estimated at 5,000–25,000. It is not clear whether these figures included Asians. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., “The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and other groups.” Meanwhile, Afrikaaners, Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ians and Pre-Partition Indians were classified as Aryans, so not persecuted (see main article).

Disabled and mentally ill



Action T4 was a program established in 1939 to maintain the gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

tic purity of the German population by killing or sterilizing German and Austrian citizens who were judged to be disabled or suffering from mental disorder.

Between 1939 and 1941, 80,000 to 100,000 mentally ill adults in institutions were killed; 5,000 children in institutions; and 1,000 Jews in institutions. Outside the mental health institutions, the figures are estimated as 20,000 (according to Dr. Georg Renno, the deputy director of Schloss Hartheim
Schloss Hartheim
Schloss Hartheim, located at Alkoven in Upper Austria, some 14 km. from Linz, Austria, became notorious as one of the Nazi Euthanasia killing centers, where the killing program Action T4 took place.The castle was built by Jakob von Aspen in 1600...

, one of the euthanasia centers) or 400,000 (according to Frank Zeireis, the commandant of Mauthausen concentration camp). Another 300,000 were forcibly sterilized. Overall it has been estimated that over 200,000 individuals with mental disorders of all kinds were put to death, although their mass murder has received relatively little historical attention. Despite not being formally ordered to take part, psychiatrist
Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. All psychiatrists are trained in diagnostic evaluation and in psychotherapy...

s and psychiatric institutions were at the center of justifying, planning and carrying out the atrocities at every stage, and "constituted the connection" to the later annihilation of Jews and other "undesirables" in the Holocaust.
After strong protests by the German Catholic and Protestant churches on August 24, 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program.

The program was named after Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten
Tiergarten
Tiergarten is a locality within the borough of Mitte, in central Berlin . Notable for the great and homonymous urban park, before German reunification, it was a part of West Berlin...

, the headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil und Anstaltspflege (General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care), led by Philipp Bouhler
Philipp Bouhler
Philipp Bouhler was a senior Nazi Party official who was both a Reichsleiter and Chief of the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP...

, head of Hitler's private chancellery (Kanzlei des Führer der NSDAP) and Karl Brandt
Karl Brandt
Karl Brandt was a German Nazi war criminal. He rose to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS. Among other positions, Brandt headed the administration of the Nazi euthanasia program from 1939 onwards and was selected as Adolf Hitler's personal...

, Hitler's personal physician.

Brandt was tried in December 1946 at Nuremberg
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, along with 22 others, in a case known as United States of America vs. Karl Brandt et al., also known as the Doctors' Trial
Doctors' Trial
The Doctors' Trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S...

. He was hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 at Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison is a penal facility located in the town of Landsberg am Lech in the southwest of the German state of Bavaria, about west of Munich and south of Augsburg....

 on June 2, 1948.

Homosexuals




Between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexuals of German nationality are estimated to have been sent to concentration camps. James D. Steakley writes that what mattered in Germany was criminal intent or character, rather than criminal acts, and the "gesundes Volksempfinden" ("healthy sensibility of the people") became the leading normative legal principle. In 1936, Himmler created the "Reichszentrale zur Bekämpfung der Homosexualität und Abtreibung" ("Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion"). Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular sentiment," and homosexuals were consequently regarded as "defilers of German blood." The Gestapo raided gay bar
Gay bar
A gay bar is a drinking establishment that caters to an exclusively or predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clientele; the term gay is used as a broadly inclusive concept for LGBT and queer communities...

s, tracked individuals using the address books of those they arrested, used the subscription lists of gay magazines to find others, and encouraged people to report suspected homosexual behavior and to scrutinize the behavior of their neighbours.

Tens of thousands were convicted between 1933 and 1944 and sent to camps for "rehabilitation", where they were identified by yellow armbands and later pink triangles worn on the left side of the jacket and the right trouser leg, which singled them out for sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

. Hundreds were castrated
Castration
Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.-Humans:...

 by court order
Court order
A court order is an official proclamation by a judge that defines the legal relationships between the parties to a hearing, a trial, an appeal or other court proceedings. Such ruling requires or authorizes the carrying out of certain steps by one or more parties to a case...

. They were humiliated, tortured, used in hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

 experiments conducted by SS doctors, and killed. Steakley writes that the full extent of gay suffering was slow to emerge after the war. Many victims kept their stories to themselves because homosexuality remained criminalized in postwar Germany. Around two percent of German homosexuals were persecuted by Nazis.

The political left


German communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, socialists and trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

ists were among the earliest domestic opponents of Nazism and were also among the first to be sent to concentration camps. Hitler claimed that communism was a Jewish ideology which the Nazis termed "Judeo-Bolshevism". Fear of communist agitation was used as justification for the Enabling Act of 1933, the law which gave Hitler his original dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

ial powers. Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 later testified at the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 that the Nazis' willingness to repress German communists prompted President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 and the German elite to cooperate with the Nazis. The first concentration camp was built at Dachau, in March 1933, to imprison German communists, socialists, trade unionists and others opposed to the Nazis. Communists, social democrats and other political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s were forced to wear a red triangle
Nazi concentration camp badges
Nazi concentration camp badges, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in Nazi camps. They were used in the concentration camps in the Nazi-occupied countries to identify the reason the prisoners had been placed there. The triangles were made of fabric and were sewn on...

.

Hitler and the Nazis also hated German leftists because of their resistance to the party's racism. Many leaders of German leftist groups were Jews, and Jews were especially prominent among the leaders of the Spartacist uprising
Spartacist uprising
The Spartacist Uprising , also known as the January uprising , was a general strike in Germany from January 5 to January 15, 1919. Its suppression marked the end of the German Revolution...

 in 1919. Hitler already referred to Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and "Bolshevism" as a means of "the international Jew" to undermine "racial purity" and survival of the Nordics or Aryans, as well to stir up socioeconomic class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 tension and labor unions against the government or state-owned businesses. Within the concentration camps such as Buchenwald, German communists were privileged in comparison to Jews because of their "racial purity".

Whenever the Nazis occupied a new territory, members of communist, socialist, or anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 groups were normally to be the first persons detained or executed. Evidence of this is found in Hitler's infamous Commissar Order
Commissar Order
The Commissar Order was a written order given by Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941, prior to Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars...

, in which he ordered the summary execution of all political commissar
Commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...

s captured among Soviet soldiers, as well as the execution of all Communist Party members in German held territory. Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

carried out these executions in the east.

Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel was a directive of Adolf Hitler on 7 December 1941 signed and implemented by Armed Forces High Command Chief Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in the kidnapping and forced disappearance of many political activists and resistance 'helpers' throughout Nazi Germany's occupied...

 (German for "Night and Fog") was a directive of Hitler on December 7, 1941 signed and implemented by Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

, resulting in kidnapping
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 and disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

 of many political activists throughout Nazi Germany's occupied territories.

Freemasons




In Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 had "succumbed" to the Jews: "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry is then transmitted to the masses of society by the Jewish press." Freemasons were sent to concentration camps as political prisoners, and forced to wear an inverted red triangle
Nazi concentration camp badges
Nazi concentration camp badges, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in Nazi camps. They were used in the concentration camps in the Nazi-occupied countries to identify the reason the prisoners had been placed there. The triangles were made of fabric and were sewn on...

. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum believes "because many of the Freemasons who were arrested were also Jews and/or members of the political opposition, it is not known how many individuals were placed in Nazi concentration camps and/or were targeted only because they were Freemasons." However, the Grand Lodge of Scotland estimates the number of Freemasons executed between 80,000 and 200,000.

Jehovah's Witnesses



Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Nazi party or to serve in the military, roughly 12,000 Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 were forced to wear a purple triangle and were placed in camps where they were given the option of renouncing their faith and submitting to the state's authority. Between 2,500 and 5,000 were killed. Historian Detlef Garbe, director at the Neuengamme (Hamburg) Memorial, writes that "no other religious movement resisted the pressure to conform to National Socialism with comparable unanimity and steadfastness."

Uniqueness


Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for International Liaison of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, describes the acrimonious debate that exists between "specifists" and "universalists". The former fear debasement
Debasement
Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins...

 of the Holocaust by invidious comparisons, while the latter places the Holocaust alongside non-Jewish experiences of mass extermination as part and parcel of the global context of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

. Dr. Samuels considers the debate, ipso facto
Ipso facto
Ipso facto is a Latin phrase, directly translated as "by the fact itself," which means that a certain phenomenon is a direct consequence, a resultant effect, of the action in question, instead of being brought about by a subsequent action such as the verdict of a tribunal. It is a term of art used...

, to dishonour the memory of the respective victims of each genocide. In his words, "Each case is specific as a threshold phenomenon, while each also adds its unique memory as signposts along an incremental continuum of horror." Adam Jones
Adam Jones (Canadian scholar)
Adam Jones is a political scientist, writer, and photojournalist based at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna, BC, Canada. He is executive director of the nongovernmental organization Gendercide Watch...

, professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, believes that claims of uniqueness for the Holocaust have become less common since the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

. In 1997, the publication of The Black Book of Communism
The Black Book of Communism
The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression is a book authored by several European academics and edited by Stéphane Courtois, which describes a history of repressions, both political and civilian, by Communist states, including genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, and...

led to further debate on the comparison between Soviet and Nazi crimes; the book argued that Nazi crimes were not very different from the Soviet ones, and that Nazi methods were to a significant extent adopted from Soviet methods; in the course of the debate, the term "Red Holocaust" appeared in discourse. In The Holocaust Industry
The Holocaust Industry
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a book published in 2000 by Norman G. Finkelstein, that argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of...

, Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein
Norman Gary Finkelstein is an American political scientist, activist and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust. He is a graduate of Binghamton University and received his Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton University...

 writes that the uniqueness theory first appeared in public discourse in 1967, but that it does not figure in scholarship of the Nazi Holocaust.

Related articles



  • The Holocaust in Poland
  • The Holocaust in Ukraine
  • The Holocaust in Lithuania
  • The Holocaust in Latvia

  • The Holocaust in Estonia
  • The Holocaust in Belarus
  • The Holocaust in Russia
  • The Holocaust in Norway


Involvement of other countries and nationals


General:
  • Évian Conference
    Evian Conference
    The Évian Conference was convened at the initiative of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938 to discuss the issue of increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. For eight days, from July 6 to July 13, representatives from 31 countries met at Évian-les-Bains, France...

  • Bermuda Conference
    Bermuda Conference
    The Bermuda Conference was an international conference between the United Kingdom and the United States held on April 19, 1943 at Hamilton, Bermuda, Bermuda Triangle. Discussions included the question of Jewish refugees who had been liberated by Allied forces and those who still remained...

  • International response to the Holocaust
    International response to the Holocaust
    In the decades since the Holocaust, some national governments, international bodies and world leaders have been criticized for their failure to take appropriate action to save the millions of European Jews, Roma, homosexuals and other victims of the Holocaust...

  • Struma
  • Voyage of the Damned


Collaborators
  • The response of individual states.


Rescuers:
  • List of people who assisted Jews during the Holocaust
  • List of Righteous Among the Nations by country
  • Rescue of the Danish Jews
    Rescue of the Danish Jews
    The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1st 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported...

  • Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust
    Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust
    Polish Jews were the primary victims of the German Nazi-organized Holocaust. Throughout the German occupation of Poland, many Polish Gentiles risked their own lives—and the lives of their families—to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the biggest number of people...

  • Righteous Among the Nations
    Righteous Among the Nations
    Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

  • Związek Organizacji Wojskowej
    Zwiazek Organizacji Wojskowej
    Związek Organizacji Wojskowej was an underground resistance organization formed by Witold Pilecki at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1940.-Beginning:...

  • Żegota
    Zegota
    "Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

  • Arab rescue efforts during the Holocaust
    Arab rescue efforts during the Holocaust
    A number of Arabs participated in efforts to help save Jewish residents of Arab lands from the Holocaust while fascist regimes controlled the territory. From June 1940 through May 1943, Axis powers, namely Germany and Italy, controlled large portions of North Africa...


  • Albert Battel
    Albert Battel
    Dr. Albert Battel was a German Wehrmacht army lieutenant and lawyer recognized for his resistance during World War II to the Nazi plans for the 1942 liquidation of the Przemyśl Jewish ghetto. He was posthumously recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1981.-Biography:Battel was born in...

  • Ángel Sanz Briz
    Ángel Sanz Briz
    Ángel Sanz Briz was a Spanish diplomat during World War II who helped save many Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution.After studying law, his first diplomatic posting was to Cairo...

  • Aristides de Sousa Mendes
    Aristides de Sousa Mendes
    Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches, GCC, OL was a Portuguese diplomat. He ignored and defied the orders of his own government for the safety of war refugees fleeing from invading German military forces in the early years of World War II...

  • Chiune Sugihara
    Chiune Sugihara
    was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from...

  • Corrie ten Boom
    Corrie ten Boom
    Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom was a Dutch Christian, who with her father and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. Her family was arrested due to an informant in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison where they were first held...

  • Folke Bernadotte
    Folke Bernadotte
    Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

  • Henryk Slawik
    Henryk Slawik
    Henryk Sławik, born 16 July 1894 in Szeroka , was executed by Nazi Germans in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp on 26 August 1944...

  • Ho Feng Shan
    Ho Feng Shan
    Dr. Ho Feng-Shan born September 10, 1901, Yiyang, Hunan, China—died September 28, 1997, San Francisco, California, USA) was a Chinese diplomat in Vienna who saved more than one thousand Jews, risking his own life and his career. Ho's actions were recognized posthumously when he was awarded the...


  • Hugh O'Flaherty
    Hugh O'Flaherty
    Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, CBE was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and senior official of the Roman Curia. During World War II, he was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews...

  • Irena Sendler
    Irena Sendler
    Irena Sendler was a Polish Catholic social worker who served in the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II...

  • Jan Karski
    Jan Karski
    Jan Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later scholar at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and...

  • Jorge Pelasca
  • Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas
    Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas
    Luis Martins de Souza Dantas was a Brazilian diplomat who was awarded the Righteous Among The Nations by the Israeli Supreme Court in June 2003 for his participation during the Holocaust in helping Jews in France escape. It is estimated he saved 800 people, 425 confirmed to be Jewish...

  • Oskar Schindler
    Oskar Schindler
    Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia. He is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively.He is the subject of the...

  • Raoul Wallenberg
    Raoul Wallenberg
    Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for his successful efforts to rescue thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary from the Holocaust, during the later stages of World War II...

  • Witold Pilecki
    Witold Pilecki
    Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...



Aftermath and historiography


General discussion:
  • Aftermath of the Holocaust
  • Aftermath of World War II
    Aftermath of World War II
    After World War II a new era of tensions emerged based on opposing ideologies, mutual distrust between nations, and a nuclear arms race. This emerged into an environment dominated by a international balance of power that had changed significantly from the status quo before the war...

  • Denazification
    Denazification
    Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...



Legal response:
  • Command responsibility
    Command responsibility
    Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes....

  • UN Resolution against genocide
    Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
    The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260. The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951. It defines genocide in legal terms, and is the culmination of...

  • Doctors' Trial
    Doctors' Trial
    The Doctors' Trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S...

  • German war crimes
    German war crimes
    The government of Germany ordered, organized and condoned several war crimes in both World War I and World War II. The most notable of these is the Holocaust in which millions of people were murdered or died from abuse and neglect, 60% of them Jews...

  • Nuremberg Trials
    Nuremberg Trials
    The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

  • Trial of Adolf Eichmann
  • War crimes of the Wehrmacht
    War crimes of the Wehrmacht
    War crimes of the Wehrmacht were those carried out by the German armed forces during World War II. While the principal perpetrators of the Holocaust amongst German armed forces were the Nazi German 'political' armies , the regular armed forces represented by the Wehrmacht committed war crimes of...



Victims:

Survivors:
  • List of famous Holocaust survivors
  • List of survivors of Sobibor
  • Sh'erit ha-Pletah
    Sh'erit ha-Pletah
    Sh'erit ha-Pletah is a biblical term used by Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust to refer to themselves and the communities they formed following their liberation in the spring of 1945....

  • Wiedergutmachung
    Wiedergutmachung
    The German word Wiedergutmachung after World War II refers to the reparations that the German government agreed to pay to the direct survivors of the Holocaust, and to those who were made to work as forced labour or who otherwise became victims of the Nazis.The noun Wiedergutmachung is the general...


Memorials:
  • Holocaust memorials
    Holocaust memorials
    A number of organizations, museums and monuments are intended to serve as memorials to the Holocaust and its millions of victims. They include:-Argentina:* Museo del Holocausto de Buenos Aires -Australia:...

  • Yom HaShoah
    Yom HaShoah
    Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah , known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the...

  • Yad Vashem
    Yad Vashem
    Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....



Cultural, political, and scholarly responses:
  • Holocaust research
    Holocaust research
    Holocaust research is a scholarly discipline that encompasses the historical research and study of the Holocaust.Among the research institutions and academic programmes specializing in Holocaust research are the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, the...

  • Holocaust theology
    Holocaust theology
    Holocaust theology refers to a body of theological and philosophical debate and reflection, and related literature, primarily within Judaism, that attempts to come to grips with various conflicting views about the role of God in the universe and the human world in light of the Holocaust of the late...

  • The Holocaust in art and literature
    The Holocaust in art and literature
    There is a wide range of ways in which people have represented the Holocaust in popular culture.-Literature:Some of the more famous works are by Holocaust survivors or victims, such as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Tadeusz Borowski, Jerzy Kosinski , Imre Kertész, Jean Améry, Edgar Hilsenrath, Anne...

  • Holocaust denial
    Holocaust denial
    Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

  • Criticism of Holocaust denial
  • Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
    Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
    The Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust is an annual 8-day period designated by the United States Congress for civic commemorations and special educational programs that help citizens remember and draw lessons from the Holocaust...



Issue of responsibility:
  • The Holocaust (responsibility)
  • Command responsibility
    Command responsibility
    Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes....

  • List of major perpetrators of the Holocaust


Historiographical
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 positions:
  • Functionalism versus intentionalism
    Functionalism versus intentionalism
    Functionalism versus intentionalism is a historiographical debate about the origins of the Holocaust as well as most aspects of the Third Reich, such as foreign policy...

     and Historikerstreit
    Historikerstreit
    The Historikerstreit was an intellectual and political controversy in late 20th-century West Germany about the historical interpretation of the Holocaust. The German word Streit translates variously as "quarrel", "dispute", or "conflict"...

    .


Further resources:
  • Holocaust (resources)
    Holocaust (resources)
    This is a selected bibliography and other resources for The Holocaust.- Historical studies :* Bauer, Yehuda. Rethinking the Holocaust. Yale University Press; New Ed edition, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09300-4....



Miscellaneous

  • Animal rights and the Holocaust
    Animal rights and the Holocaust
    Several writers, including Jewish Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, and animal rights groups have drawn a comparison between the treatment of animals and the Holocaust...

  • Anti-Semitism
    Anti-Semitism
    Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

  • Antiziganism
    Antiziganism
    Antiziganism or Anti-Romanyism is hostility, prejudice or racism directed at the Romani people, also known as Gypsies.As an endogamous culture with a tendency to practise self-segregation, the Romanis have generally resisted assimilation with the indigenous communities of whichever countries they...

  • Aryanization
    Aryanization
    Aryanization is a term coined during Nazism referring to the forced expulsion of so-called "non-Aryans", mainly Jews, from business life in Nazi Germany and the territories it controlled....

  • Bereavement in Judaism
    Bereavement in Judaism
    Bereavement in Judaism is a combination of minhag and mitzvah derived from Judaism's classical Torah and rabbinic texts...

  • Holocaust trivialization debate
    Holocaust trivialization debate
    Holocaust trivialization is the term used to describe the metaphorical use of the word "Holocaust." Numerous authors argue that such uses trivialize the meaning of the Holocaust, and many consider them offensive. In the words of Holocaust survivor and novelist Elie Wiesel,I cannot use [the word...

  • Jews outside Europe under Nazi occupation
    Jews outside Europe under Nazi occupation
    -Jews of Algeria:Vichy rule cancelled the citizenship of the Jews and instituted the same restrictions that applied to the Jews of France . In 1941 the property of the Jews was confiscated...


Related links



  • Armenian genocide
    Armenian Genocide
    The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

  • Bosnian genocide
    Bosnian Genocide
    The term Bosnian Genocide refers to either the genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in 1995 or the ethnic cleansing campaign that took place throughout areas controlled by the Bosnian Serb Army during the 1992–1995 Bosnian War....

  • Darfur genocide
  • Genocide
    Genocide
    Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

  • Herero and Namaqua Genocide
    Herero and Namaqua Genocide
    The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa , during the scramble for Africa...

  • Holodomor
    Holodomor
    The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...


  • Japanese war crimes
    Japanese war crimes
    Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Some of the incidents have also been described as an Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities...

  • Katyn Massacre
    Katyn massacre
    The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

  • Maafa
    Maafa
    The Maafa refers to the 500 years of suffering of Africans and the African diaspora, through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasion, oppression, dehumanization and exploitation...

  • Mass killings under Communist regimes
    Mass killings under Communist regimes
    Mass killings occurred under some Communist regimes during the twentieth century with an estimated death toll numbering between 85 and 100 million. Scholarship focuses on the causes of mass killings in single societies, though some claims of common causes for mass killings have been made...

  • Rwandan genocide
    Rwandan Genocide
    The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

  • The Killing Fields
    The Killing Fields
    The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War ....



Further reading


  • External links, references, and other resources are listed at Holocaust (resources)
    Holocaust (resources)
    This is a selected bibliography and other resources for The Holocaust.- Historical studies :* Bauer, Yehuda. Rethinking the Holocaust. Yale University Press; New Ed edition, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09300-4....

    .