The HOLOCAUST, also referred to as the SHOAH, was a genocide in
which some six million European
Jews were killed by
Adolf Hitler 's
Nazi Germany , and the
World War II
World War II collaborators with the Nazis. The
victims included 1.5 million children , and constituted about
two-thirds of the nine million
Jews who had previously resided in
Continental Europe . A broader definition of the Holocaust includes
non-Jewish victims, such as the Romani ,
Poles , members of other
Slavic ethnic groups , and
Aktion T4 patients who were killed because
they were mentally and physically disabled. An even broader definition
includes Soviet citizens , prisoners of war , homosexuals , Jehovah\'s
Witnesses , blacks , political opponents of the Nazis , and members of
other smaller groups.
From 1941 to 1945,
Jews were systematically murdered in a genocide,
which was part of a larger event that included the persecution and
murder of other peoples in Europe. Under the coordination of the SS ,
with directions from the highest leadership of the
Nazi Party , every
arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in both the logistics and
the carrying out of the mass murder. Killings were committed
German-occupied Europe , as well as within Nazi Germany
itself, and they were also committed across all territories controlled
by its allies . Other victims of Nazi crimes included ethnic
Ukrainians , and other
Slavs ; Soviet citizens and Soviet POWs ;
communists ; homosexuals ; Jehovah\'s Witnesses ; and others. Some
42,500 detention facilities were utilized in the concentration of
victims for the purpose of committing gross violations of human rights
. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have been Holocaust
The persecution was carried out in stages, culminating in the policy
of extermination which was termed the "
Final Solution to the Jewish
Question ". Following Hitler\'s rise to power , the German government
passed laws to exclude
Jews from civil society, most prominently the
Nuremberg Laws of 1935 . Starting in 1933 the Nazis began to establish
a network of concentration camps . After the outbreak of war in 1939
both German and foreign
Jews were herded into wartime ghettos . In
1941, as Germany began to conquer new territory in the East, all
anti-Jewish measures radicalized. Specialized paramilitary units
Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million
Jews in mass
shootings in less than a year. By mid-1942, victims were regularly
being transported by freight trains to extermination camps . Most who
survived the journey were systematically killed in gas chambers . This
continued until the end of
World War II
World War II in Europe in April–May 1945.
Jewish armed resistance was limited. The most notable exception was
Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, when thousands of poorly-armed
Jewish fighters held the
Waffen-SS at bay for four weeks. An estimated
Jewish partisans actively fought against the Nazis and
their collaborators in Eastern Europe. French
Jews took part in the
French Resistance , which conducted a guerilla campaign against both
the Nazis and the Vichy French authorities . Over a hundred armed
Jewish uprisings took place.
* 1 Etymology and definition
* 1.1 Etymology and alternate names
* 1.2 Definition
* 2 Distinctive features
* 2.1 Genocidal state
* 2.2 Ideology and scale
* 2.3 Industrialized murder
* 3 Origins
Antisemitism and racism
* 3.2 Germany after
World War I
World War I
* 3.3 Hitler\'s world view
* 4.1 Dictatorship and repression (1933–1939)
* 4.3 Emigration
Kristallnacht and afterwards
* 4.5 Territorial solution and resettlement
World War II
World War II
* 5.1 German-occupied Poland
* 5.1.1 Lublin reservation (Nisko plan)
* 5.2 Other occupied countries
* 5.3 Germany\'s allies
* 5.4 Concentration and labor camps
* 5.5 Ghettos
* 5.7 Death squads
* 5.8 Gas vans
* 6.2 Extermination camps
* 6.2.1 Gas chambers
* 6.3 Jewish resistance
* 6.3.1 Armed resistance
* 6.3.2 Partisan and resistance groups
Jews in the Allied forces
* 6.4 Medical experimentation
* 6.5 Climax
* 6.6 Escapes and early Allied responses
* 6.7 Death marches
* 6.8 Liberation
* 7 Responses to the Holocaust
* 7.1 Perpetrator\'s motivations
* 7.2 German public
* 8 Victims enumerated
* 8.1 Jewish death toll
* 8.1.1 Death camps
* 8.1.2 Other Jewish deaths
* 8.1.3 By country
* 8.2 Non-Jewish
* 126.96.36.199 Ethnic
* 188.8.131.52 Other West
* 184.108.40.206 Ethnic
Serbs and other South
* 220.127.116.11 East
* 18.104.22.168 Soviet POWs
* 8.2.3 Persons of color
* 8.3 Others
* 8.3.1 Disabled and mentally ill
* 8.3.2 Homosexuals
* 8.3.3 Political opponents
* 8.3.4 Jehovah\'s Witnesses
* 9 Uniqueness question
* 10 Aftermath
* 10.1 Trials
* 10.2 Effect on languages
* 10.3 Reparations
* 11 See also
* 12 Notes
* 13 Citations
* 14 References
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
ETYMOLOGY AND DEFINITION
Names of the Holocaust
ETYMOLOGY AND ALTERNATE NAMES
The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holókaustos which
refers to an animal sacrifice that is offered to a god in which the
whole animal is completely burnt. Later it came to denote a massacre
or slaughter of large numbers of people. The word shoah (שואה;
also transliterated sho'ah and shoa), meaning "calamity" became the
standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s.
"Holocaust" was used in the 1950s by historians as a translation of
the Jewish word shoah to refer specifically to the Nazi genocide of
the Jews. The television mini-series Holocaust is credited with
making the term the usual one for the Jewish genocide in the United
States. As the definition of the victims of the Holocaust has
expanded to include more than just Jews, shoah continues to retain its
meaning as specifically the genocide of the
Jews under the Nazis.
The Nazis used the phrase "
Final Solution to the Jewish Question" or
Final Solution " to refer to their genocide of the Jews. Historian
Peter Longerich writes that the term "final solution" and similar
euphemisms, were used by the Germans "as camouflage for mass murder".
The restrictive definition of the Holocaust is that it was a genocide
Jews by the Nazis. A broader definition of the Holocaust
includes some or all of the non-Jewish victims of the German mass
murder campaigns. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust limits the
definition of the Holocaust to Jews, Romani , and the Aktion T4
patients who were mentally and physically disabled. Its authors write
"all three groups, but only these groups, were equal victims of Nazi
racism and genocide." They also offer three additional definitions
which include the viewpoints of historians who identify several
additional victim groups. One is that the Holocaust only applied to
Jews, a second is that there were several different Holocausts, each
affecting a separate group, and a third would include all German
racially-motivated crimes. Timothy Snyder wrote: "The term Holocaust
is sometimes used in two other ways: to mean all German killing
policies during the war, or to mean all oppression of
Jews by the Nazi
Broader definitions of so-called "parallel Holocausts" include the
Soviet POWs who died as a result of mistreatment due to Nazi racial
policies, the non-Jewish ethnic
Poles who died from the conditions
that resulted from the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Soviet citizens
who died due to similar conditions in occupied parts of the Soviet
Union, mentally and physically disabled people who were killed in
Nazi Germany's eugenics program, the Gypsies, or the Romani and
Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious
Ghettos were established in which
Jews were confined before they
were shipped off to extermination camps .
The entirety of German society was engaged in activities relating to
the genocide, turning the
Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar,
Michael Berenbaum , has called "a genocidal state". Bureaucrats were
involved with finding records to identify who was a Jew, the
confiscation of property, and the scheduling of trains that deported
Jews. Companies fired Jewish employees, and later employed
slave labour. Universities dismissed Jewish students and faculty.
German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; other
companies built the crematoria . As prisoners entered the death
camps, they were ordered to surrender all personal property, which was
catalogued and tagged before it was sent to Germany to be reused or
recycled. Through a concealed account , the German National Bank
helped launder valuables stolen from the victims.
Saul Friedländer 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
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 to their most extreme levels without the interference of any
major countervailing interests".
IDEOLOGY AND SCALE
Part of a series on
History of antisemitism
* Gaza War
* Nation of Islam
* Kosher tax
* Z.O.G. conspiracy
* On the
Jews and Their Lies
La France juive
La France juive
* Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The International Jew
* The Secret Relationship
Between Blacks and
The Turner Diaries
The Turner Diaries
(William Luther Pierce) *
Culture of Critique
Culture of Critique
Antisemitism on the Web
* Ghettos in Europe
* The Holocaust
Community Security Trust
Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
Stephen Roth Institute
* Southern Poverty Law
Center (SPLC) *
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC)
* Union of Councils for
* Swedish Committee Against
Antisemitism (SCAA) *
Yehuda Bauer argues that the Holocaust was based on
ideology and myths rather than on practical considerations. Eberhard
Jäckel argues that one distinctive feature of the Holocaust was that
it was the first time in which a state put the full power behind its
declaration that a whole people would be completely wiped out without
exception and as quickly as possible.
Richard J. Evans noted the
"obsessivness" and "desire to be comprehensive" of the Germans during
the Holocaust as they tried to eliminate the
Jews throughout the
world, not just in Germany.
The killings were systematically conducted in virtually all areas of
German-occupied territory in more than 20 occupied countries. Close
to 3 million
Jews in occupied Poland and between 700,000 and 2.5
Jews in the
Soviet Union were killed. Hundreds of thousands
Jews also died in the rest of German-occupied Europe.
Discussions at the
Wannsee Conference make it clear that the Nazi
"final solution of the Jewish question" included Britain and all the
neutral states in Europe, such as
Portugal , and
Spain . Over 200,000 people are estimated to
have been Holocaust perpetrators.
The use of extermination camps, or death camps, equipped with gas
chambers for the systematic mass extermination of people was an
unprecedented feature of the Holocaust. They were built for the
systematic purpose of killing millions of people, primarily by gassing
. Stationary facilities built for the purpose of mass extermination
resulted from earlier Nazi experimentation with poison gas during the
Action T4 euthanasia programme against mental patients.
ANTISEMITISM AND RACISM
History of the Jews in Germany
History of the Jews in Germany ,
Christianity and antisemitism ,
Martin Luther and antisemitism ,
Religious antisemitism ,
Racial antisemitism , and Nazi boycott of
Middle Ages in Europe,
Jews were subjected to
antisemitism based on Christian theology, which blamed them for
rejecting and killing
Jesus . Even after the
Reformation , Catholicism
Lutheranism continued to persecute Jews, accusing them of blood
libels and subjecting them to pogroms and expulsions. The second
half of the 19th century saw the emergence in Germany and
Austria-Hungary of the
Völkisch movement which was developed by such
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain and
Paul de Lagarde . The
movement presented a pseudo-scientific, biologically based form of
racism that viewed
Jews as a race whose members were locked in mortal
combat with the
Aryan race for world domination.
Germany: on 1 April 1933 SA troopers urge a national boycott of Jewish
businesses. Here they are outside Israel\'s Department Store in
Berlin. The signs read: "Germans! Defend yourselves! Don't buy from
Jews." ("Deutsche! Wehrt Euch! Kauft nicht bei Juden!") The store was
later ransacked during
Kristallnacht in 1938, then handed over to a
In the German Empire, völkisch notions and pseudo-scientific racism
had become commonplace and they were accepted throughout Germany,
with the professional classes of the country adopting an ideology that
did not see humans as racial equals with equal hereditary value.
Though the völkisch parties were defeated in the 1912 Reichstag
elections, being all but wiped out, antisemitism was incorporated into
the platforms of the mainstream political parties.
GERMANY AFTER WORLD WAR I
The political situation in Germany and elsewhere in Europe after
World War I
World War I (1914–1918) also contributed to the rise of virulent
antisemitism. Many Germans did not accept the fact that their country
had been defeated in battle, giving rise to the Stab-in-the-back myth
. The myth insinuated that it was disloyal politicians, chiefly Jews
and Communists, who orchestrated Germany's surrender. Inflaming the
anti-Jewish sentiment espoused by the myth was the apparent
overrepresentation of ethnic
Jews in the leadership of Communist
revolutionary governments in Europe, such as
Ernst Toller , who was
the head of a short-lived revolutionary government in
Bavaria . This
perceived overrepresentation contributed to the canard of Jewish
The economic strains of the
Great Depression led some in the German
medical establishment to advocate the euthanization of the "incurable"
mentally and physically disabled as a cost-saving measure in order to
free up money to care for the curable. By the time the Nazis came to
power in 1933, a tendency already existed in the German social policy
which advocated the saving of the racially "valuable" while seeking to
rid society of the racially "undesirable".
The National Socialist German Workers\' Party , or Nazi Party, was
founded in 1920 as an offshoot of the völkisch movement and it
adopted that movement's form of antisemitism. Early antisemites in
Nazi Party included
Alfred Rosenberg , who in the 1920s wrote
antisemitic articles in the
Völkischer Beobachter , and Dietrich
Eckart , publisher of the Völkischer Beobachter. Rosenberg's vision
of a secretive Jewish conspiracy ruling the world would influence
Hitler's views of
Jews by making them the driving force behind
HITLER\'S WORLD VIEW
The origin and first expression of Hitler's antisemitism remain a
matter of debate. Central to Hitler's philosophy was the idea of
expansion and lebensraum (living space) for Germany.
Hitler was open
about his hatred of
Jews and he subscribed to most of the common
antisemitic stereotypes. From the early 1920s onwards,
Jews with germs and claimed that they should be dealt with in
exactly the same way.
Marxism as a Jewish doctrine and
proclaimed that he was fighting against "Jewish
Marxism ". He believed
Jews had created communism as part of a conspiracy to destroy
Germany. In the 1920s, the journalist Joseph Hell claimed that in
response to being asked what he would do to the
Jews once he gained
Hitler said that his "first and foremost task will be the
annihilation of the Jews".
DICTATORSHIP AND REPRESSION (1933–1939)
Further information: Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar
Nazi Germany ,
Racial policy of
Nazi Germany ,
Nuremberg Laws ,
Haavara Agreement ,
Jews escaping from Nazi Europe to Britain
With the establishment of the Third Reich, Nazi leaders proclaimed
the existence of a
Volksgemeinschaft ("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
divided people into three types of enemies, the "racial" enemies such
Jews and the Romani 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, who were 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. "Racial" enemies such as the
Jews could never
belong to the Volksgemeinschaft; they were to be totally removed from
Jewish refugees being marched away by British police at
Croydon airport in March 1939. They were put on a flight to Warsaw.
Leading up to the March 1933 Reichstag elections and after it, the
Nazis intensified their campaign of violence against their opponents.
They set up concentration camps for the extrajudicial imprisonment of
their opponents. One of the first, at Dachau , opened on 9 March
1933. Initially the camp primarily contained
Communists and Social
Democrats. Other early prisons were consolidated by mid-1934 into
purpose-built camps outside the cities, run exclusively by the SS.
The initial purpose of the camps was to serve as a deterrent by
terrorizing those Germans who did not conform to social norms.
Throughout the 1930s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews
were steadily restricted. On 1 April 1933, a boycott of Jewish
businesses occurred. On 7 April 1933, the Law for the Restoration of
the Professional Civil Service was passed which excluded all
other "non-Aryans" from the civil service. Jewish lawyers were
disbarred . Jewish students were restricted by quotas from attending
schools and universities, from belonging to the Journalists'
Association, and from being owners or editors of newspapers. Jewish
businesses were also targeted for either closure or "Aryanisation",
the forcible sale to Germans. Of the approximately 50,000 Jewish-owned
businesses in Germany in 1933, only about 7,000 were still
Jewish-owned in April 1939. Accompanying the removal of the
economic life, they were also gradually restricted from most social
activities and public areas. Works by Jewish composers, Jewish
authors, and Jewish artists were excluded from publications,
performances, or exhibitions.
In September 1935,
Hitler introduced the three
Nuremberg Laws ,
which prohibited Germans or those of "kindred blood", from having
sexual relations with or marrying Jews. The laws also stripped German
Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of all civil rights . At
the same time the Nazis used propaganda to justify the need for a
restrictive law, grouping these "crimes" under the concept of
Rassenschande (racial shame).
Nazi racial policy was aimed at forcing
Jews to emigrate. Fifty
Jews left Germany by the end of 1934, and by the end
of 1938, approximately half the German Jewish population had left the
country. Among the prominent
Jews who left was the conductor Bruno
Walter , who fled after being told that the hall of the Berlin
Philharmonic would be burned down if he conducted a concert there.
Albert Einstein , who was abroad when
Hitler came to power, never
returned to Germany. He was expelled from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society
Prussian Academy of Sciences
Prussian Academy of Sciences , and his citizenship was
revoked. Other Jewish scientists, including
Gustav Hertz and Erwin
Schrödinger , lost their teaching positions and left the country.
In March 1938, Germany annexed
Austria , which exposed the
Austria to Nazi antisemitism. Austrian Nazis broke into Jewish shops,
stole from Jewish homes and businesses, and forced
Jews to perform
humiliating acts such as scrubbing the streets or cleaning toilets.
Jewish businesses were "Aryanised" and all of the legal restrictions
Jews in Germany were imposed upon Austrian Jews. In August Adolf
Eichmann was put in charge of the Central Agency for Jewish Emigration
, which centralised the process of emigration and led about 100,000
Jews to leave the country by May 1939.
KRISTALLNACHT AND AFTERWARDS
Kristallnacht The synagogue in
Siegen burning on
10 November 1938.
On 7 November 1938,
Herschel Grynszpan , a Polish Jew, assassinated
the German diplomat
Ernst vom Rath
Ernst vom Rath in Paris in retaliation for the
expulsion of his parents from Germany. When vom Rath died on 9
November, the Nazis used his death as a pretext to instigate a pogrom
Jews in the Third Reich. Although the Nazis claimed the
pogrom was spontaneous, it was actually planned and ordered by Hitler
and Goebbels . This event became known as
Night" or the "Night of Broken Glass") and it was carried out by the
SS and the SA . Over 7,500 Jewish shops and more than 1,000
synagogues were either damaged or destroyed. The damage was estimated
at 39 million Reichmarks.
The death toll was officially given as 91, but it may have been
higher. 30,000 men were sent to the Dachau, Buchenwald and
Sachsenhausen concentration camps, but many of them were released
within weeks. Only 2,000 of them remained in the camps by early 1939.
German Jewry was made collectively responsible for restitution of the
damage resulting from the pogrom, and they also had to pay an
"atonement tax" of more than a billion Reichsmarks. Insurance payments
for damages to their property were confiscated by the government. A
decree on 12 November barred
Jews from most of the remaining
occupations that they had not yet been banned from. After
Jews caught in the
Third Reich stepped up their efforts
to leave the country. It also marked the end of any sort of public
Jewish activity and culture.
TERRITORIAL SOLUTION AND RESETTLEMENT
Jewish refugees aboard the
MS St. Louis
MS St. Louis were refused
entry to Cuba, the United States and Canada, and the ship was forced
to return to Europe. Further information:
World War II
World War II , the Nazis considered mass deportation of
German, and later European, Jewry from Europe. Among the areas
considered for possible resettlement were British Palestine , and
French Madagascar . After the war began, Nazi leaders considered the
idea of deporting Europe's
Siberia . German J stamped
passport used to escape Europe in 1940.The holder was interned on the
Mauritius from late 1940 until 1945.
Palestine was the only location to which any Nazi relocation plan
produced any results, via the
Haavara Agreement between the Zionist
Federation of Germany and the Nazi government. This agreement
resulted in the transfer of about 60,000 German
Jews and $100 million
from Germany to Palestine, but it ended with the outbreak of World War
In May 1940,
Madagascar became the focus of German deportation
efforts because it had unfavorable living conditions that would
hasten deaths. Some Nazis began discussing the idea in 1938 and Adolf
Eichmann 's office was ordered to carry out resettlement planning, but
no evidence of planning exists until after the fall of
France in June
1940. But the inability to defeat Great Britain prevented the
Jews across the seas, and the end of the
was announced on 10 February 1942.
WORLD WAR II
Main article: History of the
World War II
World War II
Nazi Germany before
Operation Barbarossa in 1941, with areas
annexed from Poland and the
General Government territory Main
The Holocaust in Poland
The Holocaust in Poland Further information: Invasion of
Occupation of Poland (1939–1945) , History of the
Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland , and General
When Germany invaded Poland , it gained control of about 2 million
Jews in the territory it occupied. The rest of Poland was occupied by
Soviet Union , which gained control of the rest of Poland's
pre-war population of 3.3 to 3.5 million Jews. German plans for
Poland included expelling the
Poles from large areas, the confining of
Jews, and settling Germans on the emptied lands. To help the process
Reinhard Heydrich , head of the
Reich Security Main Office
Reich Security Main Office ,
ordered that the "leadership class" in Poland must be killed and the
The Germans initiated a policy of sending
Jews from all the areas
they had recently annexed (
Czechoslovakia , and parts of
Poland) to the central section of Poland, which they called the
General Government . There the
Jews were concentrated in ghettos in
major cities. Cities chosen were located on railway lines in order to
facilitate later deportation. Food supplies were restricted and
public hygiene was difficult. The inhabitants were subjected to forced
labour . In the labour camps and ghettos at least half a million Jews
died of starvation, diseases, and poor living conditions. Jewish
mass grave near Złoczów (Nazi occupied Poland), now western Ukraine
. Photo was found by the Soviets at a former
Gestapo headquarters in
The ghettos were not initially considered a step along the way
towards the extermination of the Jews. Instead, they were one step
towards a policy of creating a territorial reservation used to contain
Lublin Reservation (Nisko Plan)
After the invasion of Poland, the Germans set up a "Jewish
reservation" in the Lublin area, the
Nisko Plan .
Adolf Eichmann was
assigned the task of removing all
Jews from Germany, Austria, and the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to this reservation. The first
Jews were sent there in October 1939. Although 80,000
initially planned to be deported, only 4700 were actually transported.
In late March 1940, Göring put the
Nisko Plan on hold, and it was
abandoned completely in April.
OTHER OCCUPIED COUNTRIES
The Holocaust in Norway
The Holocaust in Norway , Rescue of the Danish
Jews , The
The Holocaust in Luxembourg
The Holocaust in Luxembourg ,
The Holocaust in
The Holocaust in Serbia
The Holocaust in Serbia ,
The Holocaust in the Independent
Croatia , and
The Holocaust in Italian Libya
Norway in April 1940 and the country was completely
occupied by June. There were about 1800
Jews in Norway, and they were
initially persecuted by Norwegian Nazis. In late 1940, they were
banned from some occupations and in 1941 all
Jews had to register
their property with the government. Also in 1940, Germany invaded
Denmark , and there was no chance of resistance because the country
was overrun so quickly. Consequently, the Danish government stayed in
place and the Germans found it easier to work through it. Because of
this, few measures were taken against the Danish
Jews before 1942.
The Germans invaded the
Belgium , and
France in May 1940. In the Netherlands, the Germans installed Arthur
Reichskommissar , who quickly began to persecute the
approximately 140,000 Dutch Jews.
Jews were forced out of their jobs
and had to register with the government. Non-Jewish Dutch citizens
protested these measures and in February 1941 staged a strike that was
quickly crushed. After Belgium's surrender at the end of May 1940, it
was ruled by a German military governor,
Alexander von Falkenhausen
Alexander von Falkenhausen ,
which enacted anti-Jewish measures against the approximately 90,000
Jews in Belgium, many of whom were refugees from Germany or Eastern
France had approximately 300,000 Jews, divided between the
German-occupied northern part of France, and the unoccupied
collaborationist southern areas under the
Vichy regime . The occupied
regions were under the control of a military governor, and there,
anti-Jewish measures were not enacted as quickly as they were in the
In October 1940, Gauleiters
Josef Bürckel and Robert Heinrich Wagner
oversaw Operation Bürckel, the expulsion of the
Jews into unoccupied
France from their gaues and the parts of
Alsace-Lorraine that had been
annexed to Germany. Only those
Jews in mixed marriages were not
Jews expelled in Operation Bürckel were interned under
harsh conditions by the Vichy authorities at various camps.
Greece were invaded in April 1941, and both countries
surrendered before the end of the month. Germany and
Greece into occupation zones, but did not eliminate it as a country.
Yugoslavia was dismembered, with regions in the north being annexed by
Germany and regions along the coast were made part of Italy. The rest
of the country was divided into a puppet state of
Croatia , which was
nominally an ally of Germany, and
Serbia , which was governed by a
combination of military and police administrators. There were
Yugoslavia when it was invaded. The
ruling party in
Croatia , the
Ustashe , not only killed Jews, but also
murdered and expelled Orthodox Christian
Serbs and Muslims. One
difference between the Germans and the Croatians was the fact that the
Ustashe allowed its Jewish and Serbian victims to convert to
Catholicism so they could escape death.
Serbia was declared free of
Jews in August 1942.
Italy introduced some antisemitic measures, but there
was less antisemitism than there was in Germany. Italian-occupied
countries were generally safer for
Jews than German-occupied
territories. In some areas, the Italian authorities even attempted to
protect Jews, such as in the Croatian areas of the Balkans. But while
Italian forces in Russia were not as vicious towards
Jews as the
Germans, they did not try to stop German atrocities either. There were
no deportations of Italian
Jews to Germany while
Italy remained an
Finland was pressured to give the Germans its
Jews (who numbered
around 200) in 1942, but given the opposition among the people and
government, this did not happen. Eight non-Finnish
Jews were deported
in late 1942, but that was the only case. Finnish
Jews even fought in
the army during the period it was allied with Germany. Japan had
little antisemitism in its society, and did not persecute
Jews in most
of the territories it controlled.
Shanghai were confined, but
despite German pressure, they were not killed.
Romania implemented a number of anti-Jewish measures in May and June
1940 as part of its efforts towards an alliance with Germany. These
Jews from government service and relegation to the
status of second-class citizens.
Pogroms were also carried out and by
March 1941, Jewish property had been confiscated and all
their jobs. After
Romania joined the invasion of the
Soviet Union in
June 1941, Romanian troops carried out massacres in
Romanian-controlled territory, including the Odessa massacre of 20,000
Jews in Odessa in late 1941.
Romania also set up concentration camps
under its control in
Transnistria , where approximately 154,000 to
Jews were deported from 1941 to 1943.
Slovakia introduced anti-Jewish measures similar to those in Germany,
and would later deport its
Jews to German concentration and
Bulgaria introduced some anti-Jewish measures in
1940 and 1941, including the requirement to wear a yellow star, the
banning of mixed marriages, and the loss of property.
Jews in Thrace
and Macedonia, which were annexed by Bulgaria, were deported to
Treblinka in March 1943. But when plans to deport 6000 Bulgarian Jews
became public, the Orthodox Church and many Bulgarians protested, and
King Boris III banned the deportation of
Jews from pre-war Bulgaria.
Jews who were not Hungarian citizens from
its newly annexed lands in 1941, it did not deport most of the
Several forced labor camps for
Jews were established in
Italian-controlled Libya . Almost 2600 Libyan
Jews were sent to camps,
where 562 died. Vichy France's government implemented anti-Jewish
French Algeria and the two French Protectorates of Tunisia
and Morocco . Tunisia had 85,000
Jews when the Germans and Italians
arrived in November 1942. An estimated 5,000
Jews were subjected to
CONCENTRATION AND LABOR CAMPS
Nazi concentration camps , List of Nazi
concentration camps , and
Extermination through labor
Third Reich first used concentration camps as places of
incarceration, and large numbers of
Jews did not get sent there until
after Kristallnacht. They were not designed to be killing centers.
After the start of the war, new camps were established, and some were
located outside Germany in occupied Europe. The number of prisoners
also grew, to about 80,000. Most of these prisoners were not Germans,
but from other countries under the control of the Germans. It is
estimated in the occupied countries that Germans established 30,000
slave labor camps and subcamps, almost 1,000 concentration camps, and
another 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps.
After 1942, the economic functions of the camps, previously secondary
to their control and terrorism functions, came to the fore. Forced
labour of camp prisoners became commonplace and companies utilized
cheap prisoner labour. The guards became much more brutal, and the
death rate increased markedly as the guards not only beat and starved
prisoners, but also killed them more frequently. Extermination
through labour 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. For many prisoners, the Germans
estimated the average life span in a concentration camp at three
months, mainly due to lack of food and clothing, constant epidemics,
and frequent punishments for the most minor transgressions. The
shifts were long and often involved exposure to dangerous materials.
Safety was neglected.
Prisoner transportation between camps was often carried out in
freight cars with the prisoners packed very tightly. Long delays often
took place, with the prisoners confined in the cars on sidings for
days. In mid-1942 labour camps began requiring newly arrived
prisoners to be put into quarantine for four weeks. Some camps
tattooed prisoners with an identification number on arrival, but not
all did. Prisoners also had colored triangles on their uniforms, with
the color of the triangle denoting the reason for their incarceration.
A starving child lying in the streets of the
Warsaw Ghetto .
Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe , Jewish ghettos in
German-occupied Poland , and
List of Nazi-era ghettos Main ghettos:
Białystok , Budapest , Kraków , Kovno , Łódź , Lvov , Riga ,
Vilna , Warsaw .
After invading Poland, the Nazis established ghettos in the
incorporated territories and
General Government to confine Jews. The
ghettos were formed and closed off from the outside world at different
times and for different reasons. For example, the Łódź ghetto was
closed in April 1940, to force the
Jews inside to give up money and
valuables; the Warsaw ghetto was closed for health considerations
(for the people outside, not inside, the ghetto), but this did not
happen until November 1940; and the Krakow ghetto was not established
until March 1941. The
Warsaw Ghetto contained 380,000 people and was
the largest Polish ghetto; the
Łódź Ghetto was the second largest,
holding between 160,000 to 223,000. Because of the long drawn-out
process of establishing ghettos, it is unlikely that they were
originally considered part of a systematic attempt to eliminate Jews
The Germans required each ghetto to be run by a
Judenrat , or Jewish
council. Councils were responsible for a ghetto's day-to-day
operations, including distributing food, water, heat, medical care,
and shelter. The Germans also required councils to confiscate
property, organize forced labor, and, finally, facilitate deportations
to extermination camps. The councils' basic strategy was one of
trying to minimise losses, by cooperating with Nazi authorities,
bribing officials, and petitioning for better conditions or clemency.
Emaciated corpses of children in
Eventually the Germans ordered the councils to compile lists of names
of deportees to be sent for "resettlement". Although most ghetto
councils complied with these orders, many councils tried to send the
least useful workers or those unable to work. Leaders who refused
these orders were shot. Some individuals or even complete councils
committed suicide rather than cooperate with the deportations.
Chaim Rumkowski , who became the "dedicated autocrat" of
Łódź, argued that their responsibility was to save the
could be saved, and that therefore others had to be sacrificed. The
councils' actions in facilitating Germany's persecution and murder of
ghetto inhabitants was important to the Nazis. When cooperation
crumbled, as happened in the Warsaw ghetto after the Jewish Combat
Organisation displaced the council's authority, the Germans lost
Ghettos were intended to be temporary until the
Jews were deported to
other locations, which never happened. Instead, the inhabitants were
sent to extermination camps. The ghettos were, in effect, immensely
crowded prisons serving as instruments of "slow, passive murder."
Warsaw Ghetto contained 30% of Warsaw's population, it
occupied only 2.5% of the city's area, averaging over 9 people per
room. Between 1940 and 1942, starvation and disease, especially
typhoid , killed many in the ghettos. Over 43,000 Warsaw ghetto
residents, or one in ten of the total population, died in 1941; in
Theresienstadt , more than half the residents died in 1942.
Himmler ordered the closing of the Polish ghettos in mid-July 1942,
with most inhabitants going to extermination camps. Those
for war production would be confined at concentration camps. The
deportations from the
Warsaw Ghetto began on 22 July; over the almost
two months of the Aktion, until 12 September, the Warsaw ghetto went
from approximately 350,000 inhabitants to about 65,000. Those deported
were transported in freight trains to the Treblinka extermination camp
. Similar deportations happened in other ghettos, with many ghettos
The first ghetto uprisings occurred in mid-1942 in small community
ghettos. Although there were armed resistance attempts in both the
larger and smaller ghettos in 1943, in every case they failed against
the overwhelming Nazi military force, and the remaining
either killed or deported to the death camps.
Jewish woman chased by men and youth armed with clubs during the
Lviv pogroms , July 1941, then occupied Poland , now
Pogrom , Dorohoi
Iaşi pogrom ,
Jedwabne Massacre ,
Legionnaires\' Rebellion and Bucharest
Lviv pogroms , and
1941 Odessa massacre
A number of deadly pogroms occurred during the Holocaust. The Nazis
encouraged some and others were spontaneous. Some, such as the Iaşi
pogrom , were in lands controlled by Germany's allies. In the series
Lviv pogroms committed in occupied Poland , perhaps initiated by
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists , some 6,000 Polish Jews
were murdered in the streets in July 1941, on top of 3,000 arrests and
mass shootings by Einsatzgruppe C. During the
Jedwabne pogrom of July
1941, in the presence of the Nazi officers, several hundred
murdered by some local Poles, with some being burned alive in a barn.
Main articles: The
Holocaust in Ukraine ,
The Holocaust in Lithuania
The Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Latvia ,
The Holocaust in Estonia
The Holocaust in Estonia , The Holocaust
in Belarus ,
The Holocaust in Russia
The Holocaust in Russia ,
Einsatzgruppen , Mass graves in
Soviet Union ,
War crimes of the Wehrmacht , and Collaboration
with the Axis Powers during
World War II
World War II See also:
Babi Yar , Rumbula
Kamianets-Podilskyi Massacre , and
Jews by German army mobile killing units
Ivanhorod , now Ukraine. The photo was mailed
from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted by a member of the
Polish resistance .
Germany's invasion of the
Soviet Union in June 1941 opened a new
phase in the Holocaust. Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the
Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National
Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans
and the Jewish, Romani and Slavic
German police shooting women and children from the
Mizocz Ghetto , 14
Local populations in some occupied Soviet territories actively
participated in the killings of
Jews and others. Besides participating
in killings and pogroms, they helped identify
Jews for persecution and
Jews for German actions. German involvement ranged from
active instigation and involvement to more generalized guidance. In
Lithuania, Latvia, and western
Ukraine locals were deeply involved in
the murder of
Jews from the beginning of the German occupation. Some
of these Latvian and Lithuanian units also participated in the murder
Jews in Belarus. In the south, Ukrainians killed about 24,000 Jews
and some went to Poland to serve as concentration and death-camp
guards. Military units from some countries allied to Germany also
killed Jews. Romanian units were given orders to exterminate and wipe
Jews in areas they controlled.
Ustaše militia in Croatia
persecuted and murdered Jews, among others. Many of the killings were
carried out in public, a change from previous practice.
The mass killings of
Jews in the occupied Soviet territories was
assigned to four SS formations called
Einsatzgruppen ("task groups"),
which were under Heydrich's overall command. Similar formations had
been used to a limited extent in Poland in 1939, but the ones
operating in the Soviet territories were much larger. The
Einsatzgruppen's commanders were ordinary citizens: the great majority
were professionals and most were intellectuals. By the winter of
1941–1942, the four
Einsatzgruppen and their helpers had killed
almost 500,000 people. The mass murder of 2,749
Jews on the
beach near the city of Liepāja , in
Latvia , on 15–17 December
The largest massacre of
Jews by the mobile killing squads in the
Soviet Union was at a ravine called
Babi Yar outside
Kiev , where
Jews were killed in a single operation on 29–30 September
1941. A mixture of SS and Security Police, assisted by Ukrainian
police, carried out the killings. Although they did not actively
participate in the killings, men of the 6th Army helped round up the
Kiev and transport them to be shot.
By the end of the war, estimates of the number of victims of the
Einsatzgruppen and their helpers in the local population and the
German Army are about 2 million. Of those, about 1.3 million were Jews
and perhaps as many as quarter million were Roma.
As the mass shootings continued in Russia, the Germans began to
search for new methods of mass murder. This was driven by a need to
have a more efficient method than simply shooting millions of victims.
Himmler also feared that the mass shootings were causing psychological
problems in the SS. His concerns were shared by his subordinates in
the field. Starting in December 1939, another method besides shooting
was tried. Experimental gas vans equipped with gas cylinders and a
sealed compartment were used to kill the disabled and mentally-ill in
occupied Poland , as part of the
Action T4 . In the Sachsenhausen
concentration camp, larger vans holding up to 100 people were used
from November 1941, using the engine's exhaust rather than tanked
gases. Similar vans were introduced to the Chełmno extermination camp
in December 1941, and another 15 were used by the
Soviet Union . The vans were used to kill about 500,000
Jews but also Romani and others.
Reinhard Heydrich convened the
Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942
in Berlin's Wannsee suburb. It brought together Nazi leaders, from the
party and government departments responsible for policies linked to
Jewish issues. The conference's initial purpose was to discuss plans
for a comprehensive solution to the "Jewish question in Europe."
Heydrich was put in overall charge of "final solution" throughout
Europe. Heydrich meant for the conference to share information among
the officials so they would all share responsibility.
A copy of the minutes survives, but on Heydrich's instructions, they
were written in "euphemistic language" so the exact words used are not
known. But Heydrich announced that the immigration plan had been
replaced by an approach of deporting
Jews to the east. This was just a
provisional solution leading up to a final solution that would involve
some 11 million
Jews living not only in territories controlled by
Germany, but throughout continental Europe and areas adjacent to it.
There was little doubt what the solution was: "Heydrich also made it
clear what was understood by the phrase 'Final Solution': the Jews
were to be annihilated by a combination of forced labour and mass
Extermination camp and
Killing on a mass scale with gas as the main killing means is the
main difference between a death or extermination camp and the rest of
the German concentration and labour camps. During 1942 three camps
were built as extermination camps for
Operation Reinhard . About the
same time, two other camps, Chełmno and Majdanek which already
existed had extermination facilities added to them. The three new
camps were built for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of Jews
as quickly as possible – at Bełżec , Sobibór and Treblinka . At
around the same time, Auschwitz, which was actually three camps, was
experimenting with systematic killing. These six camps are generally
considered to be death camps or extermination camps. A few other camps
are occasionally also named as extermination camps, but there is no
scholarly agreement on the additional camps. Commonly mentioned as
"other" death camps are
Stutthof . There
may have been plans for camps at Mogilev and Lvov also, but they never
progressed past the planning stage.
Approx. number killed at each extermination camp
50°2′9″N 19°10′42″E / 50.03583°N 19.17833°E /
50.03583; 19.17833 (Oświęcim (Auschwitz, Poland))
50°22′18″N 23°27′27″E / 50.37167°N 23.45750°E
/ 50.37167; 23.45750 (Belzec (Poland))
52°9′27″N 18°43′43″E / 52.15750°N 18.72861°E /
52.15750; 18.72861 (Chełmno (Poland))
45°16′54″N 16°56′6″E / 45.28167°N 16.93500°E /
45.28167; 16.93500 (Jasenovac (Sisačko-Moslavačka, Croatia))
51°13′13″N 22°36′0″E / 51.22028°N 22.60000°E /
51.22028; 22.60000 (Majdanek (Poland))
53°51′4″N 27°42′17″E / 53.85111°N 27.70472°E /
53.85111; 27.70472 (Malyy Trostenets (Belarus))
51°26′50″N 23°35′37″E / 51.44722°N 23.59361°E
/ 51.44722; 23.59361 (Sobibór (Poland))
52°37′35″N 22°2′49″E / 52.62639°N 22.04694°E /
52.62639; 22.04694 (Treblinka (Poland))
Usually, victims arrived by train. Almost all arrivals at the
Operation Reinhard camps of Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec were
sent directly to the gas chambers, with occasional individuals
selected to replace dead workers. At Auschwitz, the camp officials
usually subjected individuals to selections and some of new arrivals
deemed fit to work were sent to slave labour. Those selected for
death at all camps were then told to undress and hand over their
valuables to camp workers. They were then herded naked into the gas
chambers. In order to prevent panic, the victims were often told these
were showers or delousing chambers. The procedure at Chełmno was
slightly different, as the victims were put into a mobile gas van and
asphyxiated while being driven to prepared burial pits in the nearby
forests. There the corpses were unloaded and buried. Picture of
Auschwitz–Birkenau taken by an American surveillance plane, 13
At Auschwitz, after the chambers were filled, the doors were shut and
Zyklon-B were dropped into the chambers through vents,
releasing toxic prussic acid, 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 the commandant
Rudolf Höss ,
who estimated that about one-third of the victims died immediately.
Johann 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." The gas
was then pumped out, the bodies were removed, gold fillings in their
teeth were extracted, and women's hair was cut. The work was done by
Sonderkommando , or work groups of Jewish prisoners. At first at
Auschwitz, 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 early 1943, new gas chambers and
crematoria were built to accommodate the numbers.
At the three Reinhard camps the victims were killed by the exhaust
fumes of stationary diesel engines. Gold fillings were pulled from
the corpses before burial, but the women's hair was cut before death.
At Treblinka, in order to calm the arriving victims, the arrival
platform was made to look like a train station, complete with fake
clock. Majdanek used
Zyklon-B gas in its gas chambers. In contrast
to Auschwitz, the three Reinhard camps were quite small. At these
camps, most of the initial victims were buried in pits, but in 1942 in
order to hide the evidence of the extermination, the exhumation of the
bodies and cremation of them was begun. Sobibór and Bełżec began
the process in late 1942 but Treblinka did not start until March 1943.
The bodies were burned in open fireplaces and the remaining bones were
crushed into powder.
Main article: Jewish resistance in
German-occupied Europe Armed
members of the Jewish resistance, the Fareynikte Partizaner
Organizatsye , active in the
Vilnius Ghetto . Ariadna
Scriabina , (a convert to
Judaism and a daughter of the Russian
Alexander Scriabin ), co-founded the
Armée Juive , becoming
a leader of the
French Resistance . She was killed by the pro-Nazi
milice in 1944. She was posthumously awarded the
Croix de guerre
Croix de guerre and
Médaille de la Résistance .
Peter Longerich observes that in the Polish ghettos by the end of
1942 that "there was practically no resistance." He argues that one
of the reasons for this were that there were no organized groups until
the early part of 1942.
Raul Hilberg accounts for this compliant
attitude by evoking the history of Jewish persecution : as had been
the case before in history, simply appealing to their oppressors, and
complying with orders, would hopefully avoid inflaming the situation
and so mitigate the damage until the onslaught abated. They were
"caught in the straitjacket of their history", and the realisation
that this time was different came too late.
Discussing the case of Warsaw, Timothy Snyder notes in a similar vein
that it was only during the three months after the massive
deportations of July–September 1942 that general agreement on the
need for armed resistance was reached. By the time of the biggest act
of armed resistance, the
Warsaw Ghetto uprising of spring 1943, only a
small minority of Polish
Jews were still alive.
Henri Michel argues that resistance consisted not only of physical
opposition, but of any activity that gave the
Jews dignity and
humanity in humiliating and inhumane conditions. Yehuda Bauer
restricts Michel's definition somewhat, making resistance as actions
that opposed somehow the German directives, laws, or conduct.
In every ghetto, in every deportation train, in every labour camp,
even in the death camps, the will to resist was strong, and took many
forms: fighting with sticks and knives, individual acts of defiance
and protest, the courage of obtaining food under the threat of death,
the nobility of refusing to allow the Germans their final wish to
gloat over panic and despair. Even passivity was a form of courage.
... To die with dignity was in itself courageous. To resist the
dehumanizing, brutalizing force of evil, to refuse to be abased to the
level of animals, to live through the torment, to outlive the
tormentors, these too were courageous. Merely to give a witness by
one's own testimony was, in the end, to contribute to a moral victory.
Simply to survive was a victory of the human spirit. — Martin
The Holocaust Captured members of the Jewish
resistance, Warsaw Ghetto, 1943.
Hilberg cautions against overstating the extent of Jewish resistance,
or using all-encompassing definitions of it like that deployed by
Gilbert; arguing that by turning isolated incidents into resistance,
it obscures the underlying German motivations and elevates the
slaughter of innocent people into some kind of battle. He also
contends that by ascribing to every European Jew acts of resistance,
it diminishes the heroism of those who to active measures to resist
the Germans. Finally he asserts that the blending of the passive
majority with the active few is a way of deflecting questions about
the survival strategies and leadership of the Jewish community.
Organized uprisings took place in at least 19 ghettos as well as some
of the camps. Groups such as the Jewish Fighting Organization in the
Warsaw Ghetto , or the
United Partisan Organization in Vilna, were
formed to resist through armed revolts or resistance. Over a hundred
revolts and uprisings are known to have occurred in ghettos and other
locations in Eastern Europe.
The best known example of Jewish armed resistance was the Warsaw
Ghetto Uprising of 1943, when around a thousand poorly armed Jewish
fighters held the SS off for four weeks before the German's superior
forces defeated them. According to Polish and Jewish accounts,
hundreds or thousands of Germans were killed, while the Germans
reported 16 dead. The Germans reported around 14,000
Jews killed and
between 53,000 and 56,000 deported. A revolt in the Treblinka
extermination camp occurred on 2 August 1943, when the inmates
revolted. They killed five or six guards and set fire to a few camp
buildings, Of the approximately 850 prisoners in the camp, only
around 350 or so escaped the immediate area of the camp, and 70 of
those survived the war. The camp itself was demolished soon after the
revolt by the Germans, who used recaptured prisoners for the work
before killing them. Another uprising occurred in the Białystok
Ghettoon 16 August 1943. The revolt began when the Germans announced
mass deportations and a group of Jewish insurgents revolted. The
fighting lasted five days, but the fighters were defeated by the
superior numbers of the Germans.
On 14 October 1943, Jewish prisoners in Sobibór, including Jewish
Soviet prisoners of war, attempted an escape. The prisoners killed 11
German SS officers and a couple of Ukrainian camp guards, but the
inmates were forced to run. About 300 prisoners escaped, but 100 were
recaptured and shot soon after escaping. About 50 survived the war.
In October 1944, Jewish Sonderkommandos at Auschwitz attacked their
guards and blew up Crematorium IV with explosives that had been
smuggled in. Three German guards were killed during the uprising, one
of whom was stuffed into an oven. The Sonderkommandos attempted a mass
breakout, but all were killed.
Partisan And Resistance Groups
While there were no independent Jewish resistance groups during the
war, many joined other active partisan groups. Estimates of total
Jewish participation in partisan units throughout Europe range from a
low of 20,000 to a high of 100,000.
In the occupied Polish and Soviet territories, thousands of
into the swamps or forests and joined the partisans, although the
partisan movements did not always welcome them. An estimated 20,000
Jews joined the Soviet partisan movement. One of the famous
Jewish partisan groups was the
Bielski partisans in Belarus, which was
led by the Bielski brothers. Some of the fighters in the Warsaw
Uprising of 1944 had participated in the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of
Jews also joined the Polish
Home Army or other Polish forces.
According to Timothy Snyder, "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.
Jews were also highly active in the
French Resistance , with
the percentage of
Jews belonging to resistance groups being many times
their percentage of the population. Zionist
Jews formed the Armee
Juive (Jewish Army), which participated in armed resistance under a
Zionist flag, smuggled
Jews out of the country, and participated in
the liberation of Paris and other cities.
Jews In The Allied Forces
As many as 1.4 million Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies.
including 500,000 in the
Red Army , 550,000 in the U.S. Army , 100,000
in the Polish army and 30,000 in the British army. About 200,000
Jewish soldiers serving in the
Red Army died in the war. The Jewish
Brigade , a unit of 5,000 Jewish volunteers from the British Mandate
of Palestine , fought in the
British Army .
Nazi human experimentation
The SS used the inmates of both the concentration and extermination
camps as subjects of medical experiments. Both Jewish and non-Jewish
prisoners were used for a variety of experiments. The most notorious
of these physicians was
Josef Mengele , who worked in Auschwitz. His
experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing
drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change their eye color by
injecting chemicals into children's eyes, and amputations and other
surgeries. Other experiments took place at Buchenwald , Dachau,
Natzweiler , Neuengamme , Ravensbrück , Sachsenhausen , and others.
Some of the experiments dealt with sterilization of men and women, the
treatment of war wounds, ways to counteract chemical weapons, research
into new vaccines and drugs, and survival of harsh conditions. These
experiments violated rules requiring consent for human experimentation
and were conducted without regard to medical ethics. At least 7000,
and likely more, prisoners were subjected to these experiments, and
most died either during the experiments or afterwards.
Budapest, Hungary—Hungarian and German soldiers drive arrested
Jews into the municipal theatre. October 1944.
Most of the Jewish ghettos of
General Government were liquidated in
1942–1943, and their populations shipped to the camps for
extermination. About 42,000
Jews were shot during the Operation
Harvest Festival on 3–4 November 1943. At the same time, rail
shipments arrived regularly from western and southern Europe at the
extermination camps. Few
Jews were shipped from the occupied Soviet
territories to the camps: the killing of
Jews in this zone was mostly
left in the hands of the SS, aided by locally recruited auxiliaries.
Jews to the camps had priority over anything but the
army's needs on the German railways, and continued even in the face of
the increasingly dire military situation at the end of 1942 Army
leaders and economic managers complained about this diversion of
resources and at the killing of skilled Jewish workers; however, Nazi
leaders rated ideological imperatives above economic considerations.
In fact, many of the war industries using slave labour were more
productive when SS supervision was removed; otherwise their brutality
proved counterproductive. Jewish women and children from
Carpatho-Ruthenia after their arrival at the Auschwitz death camp.
By 1943, it was evident to the armed forces leadership that Germany
was losing the war. In October 1943, Himmler gave a speech to senior
Nazi Party officials gathered in
Poznań . Here he came closer than
ever before to stating explicitly his intent to exterminate the Jews
I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination
of the Jewish people. It's one of those things that is easily said:
"The Jewish people are being exterminated", says every party member,
"this is very obvious, it's in our program, elimination of the Jews,
extermination, we're doing it, hah, a small matter." ... The hard
decision had to be made that this people should be caused to disappear
from earth…Perhaps, at a much later time, we can consider whether we
should say something more about this to the German people. I myself
believe that it is better for us—us together—to have borne this
for our people, that we have taken the responsibility for it on
ourselves (the responsibility for an act, not just for an idea), and
that we should now take this secret with us to the grave.
— Heinrich Himmler, "Secret Address to SS Officers" 10 June 1943,
quoted in Berel Lang Act and Idea in the Nazi
The scale of extermination slackened somewhat at the beginning of
1944 once the ghettos in occupied Poland were emptied, but on 19
Hitler ordered the military occupation of
Hungary , and
dispatched Eichmann to Budapest to supervise the deportation of
Hungarian Jews. More than 430,000 Hungarian
Jews were shipped to
Auschwitz after the occupation. During the deportations in May and
June 1944, up to 6,000 people were being gassed every day at
Auschwitz. During the Hungarian deportations, there were efforts to
negotiate with the Allies to rescue Jews; at one point there was an
attempt by Eichmann to exchange one million
Jews for 10,000 trucks
—the so-called "blood for goods " proposal was made—but there was
no real possibility of such a deal being struck on this scale.
ESCAPES AND EARLY ALLIED RESPONSES
"The Mass Extermination of
Jews in German Occupied Poland", by
Polish government-in-exile addressed to the wartime allies of the
then-United Nations , 1942. Further information: The New York Times
World War II
World War II ,
Jan Karski , and
Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. Assisting a Jew in
any way within Nazi-occupied Poland was life-threatening as a result
decrees ordering the death penalty for hiding a Jew, later expanded to
include the death penalty for any aid to Jews.
In February 1942, an escapee from Chełmno,
reached the Warsaw Ghetto, where he gave detailed information about
the camp to the Oneg Shabbat group. His report, which became known as
Grojanowski Report , was smuggled out of the ghetto and reached
London by June 1942. After being smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto
Jan Karski reported to Allies in 1942 on the situation in
Poland. In November and December 1942, the Polish government in-exile
condemned the murder of Polish
Jews and called on the Allies to find
ways to stop or at least slow the extermination. This report and the
Polish Government's lobbying efforts triggered the Joint Declaration
by Members of the United Nations of 17 December 1942 which made public
and condemned the mass extermination of the
Jews in Nazi-occupied
Bratislava , June–July 1944.
Rudolf Vrba (right)
escaped from Auschwitz on 7 April 1944. Arnost Rosin (left), escaped
on 27 May 1944.
Rudolf Vrba and
Alfred Wetzler , escaped from Auschwitz in
April 1944, eventually reaching
Slovakia . Their document about the
mass murder at Auschwitz became known as the
Vrba-Wetzler report .
The New York Times
The New York Times published material from the
Vrba-Wetzler report in
June and July 1944. The subsequent pressure persuaded Miklós Horthy
to bring the deportations of Hungarian
Jews to Auschwitz to a halt on
9 July, saving up to 200,000
Jews from death.
The British and American governmental information offices feared
publicising the information they had received. Although it was felt
that the information was correct, the offices were concerned that the
stories were so extreme that the public would discount them as
exaggerations and thus undermine the credibility of both governments.
The US government also hesitated to emphasise the atrocities against
Jews for fear of turning the war into a war about the Jews.
Anti-Semitism and isolationism were common beliefs in the US prior to
the US entry into the war, and the government wanted to avoid too
great a focus on Jewish suffering in order to keep isolationsim from
Death marches (Holocaust) Grave and Memorial in
Wodzisław of the most infamous Death march from Auschwitz Birkenau to
Wodzisław Śląski .
By mid-1944, 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. On 5
May, Himmler claimed in a speech that "the Jewish question has in
general been solved in Germany and in the countries occupied by
As the Soviet armed forces advanced, the camps in eastern Poland were
closed down, with surviving inmates shipped to camps closer to
Germany. Efforts were made to conceal evidence of what had happened
in the camps and in the mass shootings. The gas chambers were
dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, and the mass graves dug up and
the corpses cremated. 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 out of the camps. Some were marched to
train stations and then transported for days at a time without food or
shelter in open freight cars and forced to march again at the other
end to the new camp. Others were marched the entire distance to the
new camp. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot. Around 250,000
Jews died during these marches.
Battle of Berlin , Death of
Adolf Hitler , Prague
Offensive , and
Victory in Europe Day A grave inside
The first major camp to be encountered by Allied troops, Majdanek ,
was discovered by the advancing Soviets on 25 July 1944. Treblinka,
Sobibór, and Bełżec were never liberated, but were destroyed by the
Nazis in 1943. Auschwitz was liberated, also by the Soviets, on 27
January 1945; Buchenwald by the Americans on 11 April; Bergen-Belsen
was liberated by the British on 15 April; Dachau was liberated by the
Americans on 29 April; Ravensbrück was liberated by the Soviets on
Mauthausen was liberated by the Americans on 5 May; and
the Red Cross took control of
Theresienstadt on 4 May, some days
before the Soviets arrived. Starving prisoners in Mauthausen
camp liberated on 5 May 1945.
The Soviets found 7,600 inmates in Auschwitz. 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 or
malnutrition over the following weeks.
Richard Dimbleby described the scenes that greeted him and
British Army at Belsen:
Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not
see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the
corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of
emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of
life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible
sights around them… Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things
that could not live… A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British
sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into
his arms… He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for
days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.
— Richard Dimbleby, 1945
RESPONSES TO THE HOLOCAUST
International response to the Holocaust
German war crimes
German war crimes ,
War crimes of the Wehrmacht , and
Responsibility for the Holocaust
Responsibility for the Holocaust
In his 1965 essay "Command and Compliance", 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
the chances to avoid participating in killing
Jews were available for
perpetrators, although they did not often admit that after the war,
and that he found no evidence that SS men who refused to carry out
criminal orders were sent to concentration camps or executed.
Moreover, SS rules prohibited acts of gratuitous sadism and acts of
sadism were taken on the individual initiative of those who were
either especially cruel or who wished to prove themselves ardent
Nazis. Finally, he argued that those who committed crimes did so
because they wished to conform to the values of the group and were
afraid of being branded "weak" by their colleagues.
In his 1992 monograph Ordinary Men, the historian Christopher
Browning examined the deeds of German
Reserve Police Battalion 101
Reserve Police Battalion 101 ,
used for massacres and round-ups of
Jews as well as deportations to
the death camps. The members of the battalion were middle-aged men of
working-class background who were too old for regular military duty.
They were given no special training for genocide and at first, the
commander gave his men the choice of opting out of direct
participation in the killing of
Jews if they found it too unpleasant.
The majority chose not to opt out; fewer than 12 men, out of a
battalion of 500 did so on the first occasion. Browning argued that
the men of the battalion killed out of peer pressure, not blood-lust.
Historian Sergei Kudryashov studied the guards trained at the
Trawniki SS camp division ("
Trawniki men " or "Trawniki guards"), who
provided personnel for the
Operation Reinhard death camps and other
concentration camps. Most of them were former
Red Army soldiers who
volunteered to join the SS in order to get out of the POW camps. The
vast majority carried out the SS's expectations of how to treat Jews,
and most personally killed Jews. Agreeing with Browning, Kudryashov
argued that the
Trawniki men were examples of ordinary people becoming
Germans usually justified the Einsatzgruppen's massacres on the
grounds of anti-Bolshevik, anti-partisan or anti-bandit operations,
but the historian
Andreas Hillgruber aruges that this was merely an
excuse for the German Army's considerable involvement in the Holocaust
in Russia . Hillgruber maintained that those German generals who
claimed that the
Einsatzgruppen were a necessary anti-partisan
response were lying.
Jürgen Förster agrees, and argued that the
Wehrmacht played a key role in the Holocaust. He said it is wrong to
describe the Holocaust as solely the work of the SS with the Wehrmacht
as a passive and disapproving bystander.
Army co-operation with the SS in anti-Bolshevik, anti-partisan and
anti-Jewish operations was close and intensive. After a 1941 SS
"anti-partisan" operation which killed over 14,000
Jews and only 1000
Max von Schenckendorff , who commanded the Army
Group Center Rear Area , ordered that all
Wehrmacht security divisions
should emulate this example when on anti-partisan duty, and organized
a joint SS-
Wehrmacht seminar on how best to kill Jews. The event, that
became known as the
Mogilev Conference , ended with a German unit
Jews as a demonstration.
In his 1983 book, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third
Ian Kershaw examined everyday life in
Bavaria during the Nazi
period. Kershaw argued that the most common viewpoint of Bavarians was
indifference towards the persecution of Jews. Kershaw argued that most
Bavarians were vaguely aware of the genocide, but were vastly more
concerned about the war than the "Final Solution". Kershaw made the
analogy that "the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with
Kershaw's assessment that most Bavarians, and by implication most
Germans, were indifferent to the Holocaust faced criticism from
historians Otto Dov Kulka and Michael Kater. Kater maintained 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 antisemitic than Kershaw portrayed them
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 among Germans
opposed to the Nazi regime, historian Christof Dipper in his 1983
essay "Der Deutsche Widerstand und die Juden" argued that the majority
of the anti-Nazi national-conservatives were antisemitic. Though
Dipper noted no one in the
German resistance 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
Research by the United States Holocaust Museum has established that
because the camps were so widespread it is unlikely that the German
population could avoid knowing about the persecutions and killings.
Robert Gellately has argued that the German civilian population were,
by and large, aware of what was happening. According to Gellately, the
government openly announced the conspiracy through the media and
civilians were aware of its every aspect except for the use of gas
Niewyk "> Polish civilians executed in Warsaw.
German planners in November 1939 called for "the complete
destruction" of all
Poles . Poland under German occupation was to be
Poles and settled by German colonists. But Nazi planners
decided against a genocide of ethnic
Poles on the same scale as
against Jews, at least in the short term. Execution of
Leszno , October 1939.
Between 1.8 and 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished at
German hands during the course of the war, about four-fifths of whom
Poles with the rest ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians.
At least 200,000 of these victims died in concentration camps with
about 146,000 being killed in Auschwitz. Many others died as a result
of general massacres or uprisings such as the
Warsaw Uprising where
between 120,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed.
The policy of the Germans in Poland included reducing food rations,
deliberate lowering of public hygiene, and the deprivation of medical
services. The general mortality rate rose from 13 to 18 per thousand.
Overall, about 5.6 million of the victims of
World War II
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. Over 90 percent of
the death toll came through non-military losses, through various
deliberate actions by
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Polish
children were also kidnapped by the Germans in order to be
"Germanized", with perhaps as many as 200,000 children being stolen
from their families for this purpose.
Other West Slavs
Other West Slavic populations were persecuted. About 350,000
Czechoslovak citizens died as a result of German actions.
Serbs And Other South Slavs
World War II
World War II persecution of
Ustaše sawing off the head of Branko Jungić, an ethnic
The Germans had specific orders from
Hitler to fight ruthlessly
against the Serbs, who, besides being potential allies of the
Russians, were considered
Untermenschen (sub-humans). The Ustaše
collaborators conducted a systematic extermination of large numbers of
people for political, religious or racial reasons. The most numerous
Serbs , but
Croats and others were also
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that between
77,000 and 99,000 persons were killed at the Jasenovac concentration
camp , with estimates ranging from a low of 20,000 to as many as a
Yad Vashem reports that over 500,000
Serbs were murdered by
the Ustaše. Other, Serbian, estimates range from 600,000 to 1
million Serbian deaths during the war. Excluding
Italian rule, about 55,000 civilian
Slovenes were killed. Estimates
of Bosnian Muslims killed during the war range from 75,000 to
Albanian collaborationists cooperated with the Nazis in an extensive
persecution of non-Albanians. The Albanian SS Skenderbeg Division
participated in rounding up
Jews as well as the killing and looting of
Serbian areas. 3,000 to 10,000 Kosovo
Serbs were murdered by the
Albanians during the war, and another 30,000 to 100,000 were expelled.
Main articles: German occupation of Byelorussia during World War II
Mass murder of Soviet civilians
Minsk , Belarus, 1943
Soviet civilian populations in the occupied areas were also heavily
persecuted outside of events taking place in the frontline warfare of
the Eastern Front . Villages throughout the
Soviet Union were
destroyed by German troops. Germans rounded up civilians for forced
labour in Germany as well as causing famines by taking foodstuffs.
In 1995 The Russian Academy of Sciences reported that the number of
civilian victims in the USSR who were murdered 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.
Nazi Germany imposed a regime in the country that
deported some 380,000 people for slave labour and killed hundreds of
thousands of civilians. More than 600 villages had their entire
populations killed and at least 5,295 Belarusian settlements were
destroyed by the Nazis. According to Timothy Snyder, of "the nine
million people who were on the territory of Soviet Belarus in 1941,
some 1.6 million were killed by the Germans in actions away from
battlefields, including about 700,000 prisoners of war, 500,000 Jews,
and 320,000 people counted as partisans (the vast majority of whom
were unarmed civilians)".
German mistreatment of Soviet prisoners of war
Naked Soviet POWs in
Mauthausen concentration camp. Unknown date.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has estimated that 3.3
million of the 5.7 million Soviet POWs died in German custody. 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 labour .
Porajmos Further information:
The Romani were subject to discrimination under the
laws. The Germans saw the Romani as hereditary criminals and
"asocials" and this was reflected in their classification in the
concentration camps where they were usually counted among the asocials
and given black triangles to wear. Because the Romani are
traditionally private with a culture based on oral history , less is
known about their experience than is known about any other group.
Yehuda Bauer writes that the lack of information can be attributed to
the Romani's distrust and suspicion, and to their humiliation, because
some of the taboos in Romani culture regarding hygiene and sex were
violated at Auschwitz. Map of persecution of the Roma
The treatment of the Romani was not consistent across German-occupied
territories, with those in
France and the Low Countries subject to
restrictions on movement and some confinement to collection camps.
Those in Central and Eastern Europe were sent to concentration camps
and murdered by soldiers and execution squads. Before being sent to
the camps, the victims were herded into ghettos, including several
hundred into the
Warsaw Ghetto . Further east, teams of
Einsatzgruppen tracked down Romani encampments and murdered the
inhabitants on the spot, leaving no records of the victims. They were
also targeted by the allies of the Germans, such as the
Croatia , where a large number of Romani were killed in the
Jasenovac concentration camp.
In May 1942, the Romani were placed under similar labour and social
laws to the Jews. On 16 December 1942,
Heinrich Himmler issued a
decree that "Gypsy Mischlinge , Roma Gypsies, 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 . This was
adjusted on 15 November 1943, when Himmler ordered that, in the
occupied Soviet areas, "sedentary Gypsies and part-Gypsies 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 Romani, originally an Aryan population, had been "spoiled" by
Donald Niewyk and Frances Nicosia write that the death toll was at
least 130,000 of the nearly one million Romani in German-occupied
Michael Berenbaum writes that serious scholarly estimates lie
between 90,000 and 220,000. The United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum calculates a death toll of at least 220,000.
Ian Hancock has
argued in favour of a much higher figure of between 500,000 and
Persons Of Color
Main articles: Persecution of black people in
Nazi Germany ,
Rhineland Bastard , and Racial policy of
Nazi Germany § Other
The number of Afro-Germans 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. Although blacks in Germany and
German-occupied Europe were subjected to incarceration, sterilization,
murder, and other abuse, there was no programme to kill all of them as
there was for the Jews.
Hitler's order for Action T4.
Disabled And Mentally Ill
Nazi eugenics ,
Aktion T4 ,
Erbkrank , Law for the
Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring , Life unworthy of life
Nazis used the phrase Lebensunwertes Leben (
Life unworthy of life )
in reference to their disabled or mentally-ill victims. In July 1933,
the Sterilization Law allowing for compulsory sterilization of the
"inferior" was passed. In the first year of operation, this eugenics
policy had over 80,000 cases, which were decided in favour of
sterilization over 90 percent of the time. Estimates for the total
number of involuntary sterilizations during the whole of the Third
Reich range from 300,000 to 400,000. In October 1939 Adolf Hitler
signed a "euthanasia decree" backdated to 1 September 1939 that
Philipp Bouhler , the chief of Hitler\'s
Chancellery , and
Karl Brandt , Hitler's personal physician, to carry
out the programme of involuntary euthanasia, known as Action T4.
Action T4 programme aimed to maintain the racial purity of the
German people by killing or sterilizing citizens who were judged to be
disabled or suffering from mental disorders . The program was named
Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin
borough of Tiergarten , where the various organizations involved were
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. There were also specialized killing centres,
where the deaths are estimated as 20,000, according to Georg Renno,
the deputy director of
Schloss Hartheim , one of the euthanasia
centers, or 400,000, according to Frank Zeireis, the commandant of
Mauthausen concentration camp. Overall, the number of mentally and
physically handicapped murdered was about 150,000. Despite not being
formally ordered to take part, psychiatrists and many psychiatric
institutions took part in the planning and carrying out of the Action
T4 at every stage, and constituted the connection to the later
Jews and others in the Holocaust. After strong
protests by the German Catholic and Protestant churches in August 1941
Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program, although the
disabled and mentally-ill continued to be killed until the end of the
Himmler\'s executive order from 1938 for the establishment of
Reich\'s office against homosexuality. Main articles: Institut für
Pink triangle , and Persecution of homosexuals in
Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
Between 5,000 and 15,000 German homosexuals are estimated to have
been sent to concentration camps. James Steakley writes that what
mattered in Germany was criminal intent or character, rather than
acts, and the "gesundes Volksempfinden" ("healthy sensibility of the
people") became the guiding legal principle. In 1936, Himmler created
the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and
Abortion . Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular
Gestapo raided gay bars , 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
Tens of thousands were convicted between 1933 and 1944 and sent to
camps for "rehabilitation", where they were identified by pink
triangles. Hundreds were castrated , sometimes voluntarily in hopes
that they could avoid criminal sentences, although in some cases the
consent had been forced. They were abused, tortured, used in medical
experiments, 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
German opponent of
Nazism executed at Dachau.
German communists, socialists and trade unionists were among the
earliest opponents of the Nazis, and they were also among the first
to be sent to concentration camps.
Before the invasion of the Soviet Union,
Hitler issued the Commissar
Order , which ordered the execution of all political commissars and
Communist Party members captured.
Nacht und Nebel ("Night and Fog")
was a directive of
Hitler in December 1941, resulting in kidnapping
and the disappearance of political activists throughout the German
Main article: Persecution of Jehovah\'s Witnesses in
Because they refused to pledge allegiance to the Nazi party or to
serve in the military, Jehovah\'s Witnesses were sent to concentration
camps where they were given the option of renouncing their faith and
submitting to the state's authority. They were marked out by purple
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates
between 2700 and 3300 were sent to concentration camps, but Sybil
Milton states the number in the camps was 10,000. Between 1400 and
2500 died while in the camps. Historian Detlef Garbe writes that "no
other religious movement resisted the pressure to conform to National
Socialism with comparable unanimity and steadfastness."
Part of a series on
Genocide of indigenous peoples
Dzungar genocide (1750s)
Circassian genocide (1860s)
* Colonial genocides
* Selk\'nam genocide (1890s to 1900s)
* Herero and Namaqua
* Genocides by the Ottoman Empire
Greek genocide (1914–23)
Assyrian genocide (1914–25)
* Armenian genocide (1915–23)
* Soviet genocide and
Simele Massacre (1933)
* Soviet genocide of
* Great Purge Era (1937–38)
Occupation of Poland (1939–45)
Katyn massacre (1940)
* Nazi Holocaust and genocide (1941–45)
* Nazi genocide of
* Nazi crimes against ethnic
Nazi crimes against Soviet Civilians (1941–1945)
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs (1941–1945)
* Serbian genocide (1941-45)
* Indonesian massacres (1965–66)
1971 Bangladesh genocide (1971)
Burundian genocides (1972 padding-top:0.2em;">
Genocides in history
Khmer Rouge Killing Fields
Holodomor genocide question
Effects of genocide on youth
* List by death toll
Mass killings under Communist regimes
Anti-communist mass killings
* Mass Killings Compilation
Shimon Samuels says that one debate in Holocaust scholarship is
between "specifists" and "universalists". The former regards
comparisons of the Holocaust to other genocides to be invidious
trivialization , while the latter places the Holocaust alongside other
experiences of mass killings as part and parcel of the global context
of genocide and human suffering. Proponents of the Holocaust's
uniqueness argue that comparing it to other genocides trivializes the
Holocaust, with regards to its scope, scale, methods and motivations.
Opponents of this view consider it immoral and unjustified to hold any
tragedy as unique and beyond comparison. Others believe that debating
the Holocaust's uniqueness itself is offensive and misguided.
A 2010 survey by Dan Stone deemed the debate "irrelevant" in genocide
scholarship. However specific arguments about the Nazi Holocaust
continue to characterize the views of many specialists on the subject.
A 2015 view from a historian of the Third Reich,
Richard J. Evans :
Thus although the Nazi 'Final Solution' was one genocide among many,
it had features that made it stand out from all the rest as well.
Unlike all the others it was bounded neither by space nor by time. It
was launched not against a local or regional obstacle, but at a
world-enemy seen as operating on a global scale. It was bound to an
even larger plan of racial reordering and reconstruction involving
further genocidal killing on an almost unimaginable scale, aimed,
however, at clearing the way in a particular region – Eastern Europe
– for a further struggle against the
Jews and those the Nazis
regarded as their puppets. It was set in motion by ideologues who saw
world history in racial terms. It was, in part, carried out by
industrial methods. These things all make it unique. — Richard
Third Reich in History and Memory
Aftermath of the Holocaust
Nuremberg trials and
Dachau trials Defendants in
the dock at the
Nuremberg trials. The main target of the prosecution
Hermann Göring (at the left edge on the first row of benches),
considered to be the most important surviving official in the Third
Reich after Hitler's death. Göring later committed suicide.
Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals , held by
the Allied forces after
World War II
World War II in
Nuremberg , Germany, to
prosecute prominent members of the political, military, and economic
Nazi Germany . The first of these trials was the
1945–1946 trial of the major war criminals before the International
Military Tribunal (IMT). This tribunal tried 22 political and
military leaders of the Third Reich, except for
Adolf Hitler ,
Heinrich Himmler , and
Joseph Goebbels , all of whom had committed
suicide several months before.
The prosecution entered indictments against 24 major war criminals
and seven organizations—the leadership of the Nazi party, the Reich
Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the
Sturmabteilung (SA) and the "General Staff and High Command". The
indictments were for: participation in a common plan or conspiracy for
the accomplishment of a crime against peace ; planning, initiating and
waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace; war crimes ;
and crimes against humanity . The Tribunal passed out sentences
ranging from acquittal to death by hanging. Further trials at
Nuremberg took place between 1946 and 1949, which tried a further 185
EFFECT ON LANGUAGES
Entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1945.
The Holocaust greatly affected
Yiddish language and culture. On the
World War II
World War II , there were 11 to 13 million
Yiddish speakers in
the world. Five-sixths of the Jewish victims spoke Yiddish, which
greatly reduced the number of speakers throughout the world.
Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany
In March 1951, a request was made by
Israel which claimed global
Israel of $1.5 billion based on the financial cost
Israel for the rehabilitation of 500,000 Jewish survivors.
West German Chancellor
Konrad Adenauer accepted these terms and
declared he was ready to negotiate other reparations. A Conference on
Jewish Material Claims against Germany was opened in order to help
with individual claims. After negotiations, the claim was reduced to a
sum of $720 million in direct and indirect compensation to be paid
over a period of 12 years.
West Germany allocated another $125 million for reparations.
In 1999, many German industries such as
Deutsche Bank ,
Siemens or BMW
faced lawsuits for their role in the forced labour during World War II
. In order to dismiss these lawsuits, Germany agreed to raise $5
billion for reparations. In 2013, Germany agreed to pay a new
reparation of €772 million as a result of negotiations with Israel.
In 2014, the
SNCF , the French state-owned railway company, was
compelled to allocate $60 million to American Jewish Holocaust
survivors for its role in the transport of deportees to Germany.
These reparations were sometimes criticized in
Israel where they were
seen as "blood money".
Nazi Germany portal
* Human Rights portal
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* Politics portal
See also: Category:
The Holocaust by country
Bibliography of The Holocaust
* Individuals and groups who assisted
Jews during the Holocaust
* Rescue of
Poles during the Holocaust
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
International response to the Holocaust
* Holocaust memorials
List of Holocaust survivors
List of major perpetrators of the Holocaust
Righteous Among the Nations
Timeline of the Holocaust
* ^ The extended definition of the Holocaust includes other victims
of Nazi crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as the Romani
genocide , Germany\'s eugenics program , the German mistreatment of
Soviet prisoners of war , the Nazi crimes against the Polish nation
Slavs as well as political opponents, the persecution of
Nazi Germany and the Holocaust , and the persecution of
Jehovah\'s Witnesses in
Nazi Germany .
* ^ From the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos,
"whole" and kaustós, "burnt".
* ^ Hebrew : השואה, HASHOAH, "THE CATASTROPHE"
* ^ The Hebrew word churban is used by many Orthodox
Jews to refer
to the Holocaust.
* ^ Further examples include Ben Kiernan in Blood and Soil,
Stephen Atkins in Holocaust Denial as an International Movement,
Susan Zuccotti in The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews, Richard
Evans in Lying About Hitler,
Martin Gilbert in The Holocaust, and
Adam Jones in Genocide.
* ^ The French planned to try Grynszpan for murder, but the German
invasion in 1940 interrupted the proceedings. Grynszpan was handed
over to the Germans and his fate is unknown.
* ^ Only one would survive the war.
* ^ Red signified a political prisoner, Jehovah\'s Witnesses had
purple triangles, "asocials" and criminals wore black or green,
badges for homosexuals were pink, and yellow for Jews.
Jews had a
second yellow triangle which was worn with their original triangle,
with the two triangles forming a six-pointed star.
* ^ The exact details of who killed whom and when are murky and
have led to much debate in Poland.
* ^ The Germans continued to use the ravine for mass killings
throughout the war, and the total killed there could have been as high
* ^ Although not technically part of Operation Reinhard, Chełmno
began functioning as an extermination camp in December 1941.
* ^ Chełmno, which used gas vans rather than gas chambers to
commit mass murder, had its roots in the extension of the Euthanasia
Action T4 to the
Warthegau . The camp was established in
November 1941, but it did not begin the liquidation of large numbers
of that Gau
Jews until December 1941.
* ^ Majdanek began as a POW camp, but in August 1942 it had gas
* ^ The fighters probably only had, in the words of historian Doris
Bergen, "a very few submachine guns, and some rifles" in addition to
pistols, grenades, and homemade gasolene bombs.
* ^ About 7000 died during the fighting and around 7000 sent to
* ^ About 100 prisoners were either recaptured before leaving the
camp or did not even attempt to escape because of illness or other
conditions. Another 350 to 400 inmates were killed before getting
beyond the fence area. The rest of the prisoners managed to escape,
but only about 200 survived the first 24 hours,
* ^ The full extent of his work is unknown because Otmar von
Verschuer destroyed the correspondence Mengele sent to him while
Mengele was at Auschwitz.
* ^ The only exception was
Lodz Ghetto , which was not liquidated
* ^ One exception was the area around Bialystok, where over 100,000
Jews were deported to extermination camps – most going to Treblinka,
but a few to Auschwitz.
* ^ Some reports have Karski also infiltrating Bełżec disguised
as a guard, but other sources state he snuck into a transit camp
Jews were sent on to Bełżec.
* ^ According to Krakowski, death marches were a frequent
occurrence throughout the war. The inaugural one commenced on 14
January 1940 in occupied Poland, when the SS escorted 800 Jewish POWs
from the Polish army to Biała Podłaska from Lublin, a distance of
100 km in a matter of days in the depths of Polish winter. Massacred
all along the way, less than 5% of the 800 survived the journey.
* ^ There were over 42,000 camps and other facilities identified.
Even in Berlin there were 3,000 camps of various functions.
* ^ The
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum places the
scholarly estimates at 220,000–500,000. According to Berenbaum
"serious scholars estimate that between 90,000 and 220,000 were killed
under German rule."
* ^ 6300 were Danish citizens and about 1500 were refugees.
* ^ About a third of the French victims were citizens, the rest
were either immigrants after
World War I
World War I or refugees.
* ^ It did deport some
Jews from annexed regions, but these are
included in the figures for the original country.
* ^ Two of the indictments were dropped before the end of the
Robert Ley committed suicide in prison, and
Gustav Krupp was
judged unfit for trial.
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