The Holocaust, also known as The Shoah (Hebrew: HaShoah) and the Porrajmos in Romani, is the name applied to the systematic persecution and genocide of the Jews, other minority groups, those considered enemies of the state and also the disabled and mentally ill of Europe and North Africa during World War II by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Early elements of the Holocaust include the Kristallnacht pogrom of the November 8 and 9, 1938, and the T-4 Euthanasia Program, leading to the later use of killing squads and extermination camps in a massive and centrally organized effort to exterminate every possible member of the populations targeted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler’s concept of a racially pure, superior race did not have room for any whom he considered to be inferior. Jews were, in his view, not only racially sub-human but traitors involved in a timeless plot to dominate the world for their own purposes.
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The Jews of Europe were the main victims of the Holocaust in what the Nazis called the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”
The Jews of Europe were the main victims of the Holocaust in what the Nazis called the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” (die “Endlsung der Judenfrage”). The commonly used figure for the number of Jewish victims is six million, though estimates by historians using, among other sources, records from the Nazi regime itself, range from five million to seven million. Also, about 220,000 Sinti and Roma were murdered in the Holocaust (some estimates are as high as 800,000), between a quarter to a half of the European population. Other groups deemed “racially inferior” or “undesirable:” Poles (5 million killed, of whom 3 million were Jewish), Serbs (estimates vary between 100,000 and 700,000 killed, mostly by Croat Ustae), Bosniaks (estimates vary from 100,000 to 500,000), Soviet military prisoners of war and civilians on occupied territories including Russians and other East Slavs, the mentally or physically disabled, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists and political dissidents, trade unionists, Freemasons, and some Catholic and Protestant clergy. Some scholars limit the Holocaust to the genocide of the Jews; some to genocide of the Jews, Roma, and disabled; and some to all groups targeted by Nazi racism.
Profound moral questions result from the Holocaust. How could such highly educated and cultured people as Austrians and Germans do such a thing? Why did ordinary people participate or allow it to happen? Where was God? Where was humanity? Why did some people and nations refuse to be involved? People inside and outside Germany knew what was happening but took very little action. More than a million Germans were implicated in the Holocaust. Even when some Jews escaped, they risked being handed back to the authorities or simply shot by civilians. Had all involved taken the moral high ground and refused to carry out orders, could even the terror-machine that was the Nazi regime have continued with its evil policy? Few doubt, except for Holocaust deniers, that pure evil stalked the killing camps. The world is still trying to make sense of the Holocaust and the lessons that can be drawn from it.
The term holocaust originally derived from the Greek word holokauston, meaning a “completely (holos) burnt (kaustos)” sacrificial offering to a god. Since the late nineteenth century, “holocaust” has primarily been used to refer to disasters or catastrophes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was first used to describe Hitler’s treatment of the Jews from as early as 1942, though it did not become a standard reference until the 1950s. By the late 1970s, however, the conventional meaning of the word became the Nazi genocide.
The biblical word Shoa (), also spelled Shoah and Sho’ah, meaning “calamity” in Hebrew language, became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the early 1940s.Shoa is preferred by many Jews and a growing number of others for a number of reasons, including the potentially theologically offensive nature of the original meaning of the word holocaust. Some refer to the Holocaust as “Auschwitz,” transforming the most well known death camp into a symbol for the whole genocide.
The word “genocide” was coined during the Holocaust.
Michael Berenbaum writes that Germany became a “genocidal nation.” Every arm of the country’s sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and de-naturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders; the universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the ovens; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag company’s punch card machines, producing meticulous records of the killings. As prisoners entered the death camps, they were made to surrender all personal property, which was carefully cataloged and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled. Berenbaum writes that the Final Solution of the Jewish question was “in the eyes of the perpetrators Germany’s greatest achievement.”
Considerable effort was expended over the course of the Holocaust to find increasingly efficient means of killing more people. Early mass-murders by Nazi soldiers of thousands of Jews in Poland had caused widespread reports of discomfort and demoralization among Nazi troops. Commanders had complained to their superiors that the face-to-face killings had a severely negative psychological impact on soldiers. Committed to destroying the Jewish population, Berlin decided to pursue more mechanical methods, beginning with experiments in explosives and poisons.
Newly named in recognition of a $20 million gift from the Samerian Foundation, the Museums Simon-Skjodt Center is working to make genocide prevention a global priority.
During the spring of 1945, Allied forces liberated concentration camps throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, bringing to light the full extent of the Holocaust. Explore Museum collections and hear from those who first encountered the camps.
The Museum is greatly concerned about the alarming worldwide rise in antisemitism. This unique hatred has manifested itself in societies around the globe and presents a serious danger to Jews and others as well.
The destruction of the Armenians cast a long shadow into theHolocaust. View photos, artifacts, and eyewitness testimonies about what is sometimes called the first genocide of the 20th century.
Our collection of Holocaust-related materials is among the most comprehensive in the world. View photos, film, artifacts, oral histories, and more.
Listen to this program produced by the Museum and airing on public radio stations nationwide.
Whether you are just beginning to learn about the Holocaust or you are looking for more in-depth stories about the subject, this page is for you. The beginner will find a glossary, a timeline, a list of the camps, a map, and much more. Those more knowledgeable about the topic will find interesting stories about spies in the SS, detailed overviews of some of the camps, a history of the yellow badge, medical experimentation, and much more. Please read, learn, and remember.
This is the perfect place for the beginner to start learning about the Holocaust. Learn what the term “Holocaust” means, who the perpetrators were, who the victims were, what happened in the camps, what is meant by “Final Solution,” and so much more.
Although the term “concentration camps” is often used to describe all Nazi camps, there were actually a number of different kinds of camps, including transit camps, forced-labor camps, and death camps. In some of these camps there was at least a small chance to survive; while in others, there was no chance at all. When and where were these camps built? How many people were murdered in each one?
Pushed out of their homes, Jews were then forced to move into tiny, overcrowded quarters in a small section of the city. These areas, cordoned off by walls and barbed wire, were known as ghettos. Learn what life was really like in the ghettos, where each person was always awaiting the dreaded call for “resettlement.”
The Nazis targeted Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, twins, and the disabled. Some of these people tried to hide from the Nazis, like Anne Frank and her family. A few were successful; most were not. Those that were captured suffered sterilization, forced resettlement, separation from family and friends, beatings, torture, starvation, and/or death. Learn more about the victims of Nazi cruelty, both the children and the adults.
Before the Nazis began their mass slaughter of Jews, they created a number of laws that separated Jews from society. Especially potent was the law that forced all Jews to wear a yellow star upon their clothing. The Nazis also made laws that made it illegal for Jews to sit or eat in certain places and placed a boycott on Jewish-owned stores. Learn more about the persecution of Jews before the death camps.
Many people ask, “Why didn’t the Jews fight back?” Well, they did. With limited weapons and at a severe disadvantage, they found creative ways to subvert the Nazi system. They worked with partisans in the forests, fought to the last man in the Warsaw Ghetto, revolted at the Sobibor death camp, and blew up gas chambers at Auschwitz. Learn more about the resistance, both by Jews and non-Jews, to the Nazis.
The Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, were the perpetrators of the Holocaust. They used their belief in Lebensraum as the excuse for their territorial conquest and subjugation of people they categorized as “Untermenschen” (inferior people). Find out more about Hitler, the swastika, the Nazis, and what happened to them after the war.
For many people, history is a difficult thing to understand without a place or an item to connect it with. Thankfully, there are a number of museums that focus solely on collecting and displaying artifacts about the Holocaust. There are also a number of memorials, located around the world, that are dedicated to never forgetting the Holocaust or its victims.
Since the end of the Holocaust, succeeding generations have striven to understand how such a horrific event as the Holocaust could have taken place. How could people be “so evil”? In an attempt to explore the topic, you might consider reading some books or watching films about the Holocaust. Hopefully these reviews will help you decide where to begin.
The Holocaust (from the Greek holkaustos: hlos, “whole” and kausts, “burnt”), also known as the Shoah (Hebrew: , HaShoah, “the catastrophe”), was a genocide in which approximately six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Some historians use a definition of the Holocaust that includes the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to approximately eleven million. Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany and German-occupied territories.
From 1941 to 1945, Jews were targeted and methodically murdered in a genocide, one of the largest in history, and part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazis. Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the genocide, turning the Third Reich into “a genocidal state”. Non-Jewish victims of broader Nazi crimes include Gypsies, Poles, communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled. In total, approximately 11 million people were killed, including approximately one million Jewish children. Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories were used to concentrate, confine, and kill Jews and other victims. Between 100,000 and 500,000 people were direct participants in the planning and execution of the Holocaust.
The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Initially the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. A network of concentration camps was established starting in 1933 and ghettos were established following the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen were used to murder around two million Jews and “partisans”, often in mass shootings. By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight train to specially built extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. The campaign of murder continued until the end of World War II in Europe in AprilMay 1945.
Jewish armed resistance to the Nazis occurred throughout the Holocaust. One notable example was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, when thousands of poorly armed Jewish fighters held the SS at bay for four weeks. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish partisans actively fought the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe.French Jews were also highly active in the French Resistance, which conducted a guerilla campaign against the Nazis and Vichy French authorities. In total, there were over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings.
The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holkauston, referring to an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole (olos) animal is completely burnt (kaustos).
Writing in Latin, Richard of Devizes, a 12th-century monk, was the first recorded chronicler to use the term “holocaustum” in Britain. Sir Thomas Browne employed the word “holocaust” in his philosophical Discourse Urn Burial in 1658 and for centuries, the word was used generally in English to denote great massacres. Since the 1960s, the term has come to be used by scholars and popular writers to refer specifically to the Nazi genocide of Jews. The television mini-series Holocaust is credited with introducing the term into common parlance after 1978.
The biblical word shoah (; also transliterated sho’ah and shoa), meaning “calamity”, became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel.Shoah is preferred by some Jews for several reasons, including the theologically offensive nature of the word “holocaust”, which they take to refer to the Greek pagan custom.
The Nazis used a euphemistic phrase, the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” (German: Endlsung der Judenfrage), and the phrase “Final Solution” has been widely used as a term for the genocide of the Jews.
Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar, Michael Berenbaum, has called “a genocidal state”.
Every arm of the country’s sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders.
27-01-2012 20:05 http://www.euronews.net It is international Holocaust Remembrance Day. And at Auschwitz, survivors of Hitler’s Final Solution were among those marking 67 years exactly since the death camp’s liberation by the Red Army