The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.
The Holocaust was the state-sponsored mass murder of some 6 million European Jews and millions of others by the German Nazis during World War II.
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six ...
Historians estimate that military casualties on all sides, in both the European and Pacific theaters, reached up to 25 million, and that civilian casualties ranged from 38 million to as high a figure as 55 million – meaning that somewhere between 3 and 4 percent of …Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins
The letter says, “In Hitler’s concentration and extermination camps, 6,000,000 Jews were tortured, gassed or burned to death.” The following are the USHMM’s best estimates of civilians and captured soldiers killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Number of Deaths. Jews: 6 million
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the Holocaust was "the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators". In addition, 11 million members of other groups were murdered during the "era of the Holocaust".Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins
Bergen, Doris Companies fired Jews and later used them as slave labor. Ungar said he had heard Stephen Wise on the underground radio in April say that two million Polish Jews had been murdered. The commandos described them as "Bolshevist functionaries" and similar. Non-Jewish Victims. Montague, Patrick Jews on selection ramp at Auschwitz, May Beginning in late , the Germans began mass transports from the ghettoes in Poland to the concentration camps, starting with those people viewed as the least useful: the sick, old and weak and the very young. Those with disabilities were among the first to be killed by the Nazis; according to the U. Germany and its allies killed up to , Roma , around 25 percent of the community in Europe. Main article: Kristallnacht. After opposition from both the government and public, eight non-Finnish Jews were deported in late ; only one survived the war. In Cesarani, David ed. By the spring of , German leadership was dissolving amid internal dissent, with Goering and Himmler both seeking to distance themselves from Hitler and take power. London, Louise Most notable among these were the Roma, or Gypsies, with estimates of the number killed ranging from 90, to 1. Berenbaum, Michael. Death rates were heavily dependent on the survival of European states willing to protect their Jewish citizens. Antisemitic laws, policies and government actions. The Holocaust in Greece. Introduction The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. But the resistance fighters had held off the Nazis for almost a month, and their revolt inspired revolts at camps and ghettos across German-occupied Europe. All 11, Jews from the annexed territories were sent to their deaths, and plans were made to deport 6,—8, Bulgarian Jews from Sofia to meet the quota. On 12 March , Germany annexed Austria. The Ungar story was discovered by historian Joel Rappel who surmised that Ungar came up with the number based on the estimated Jewish population of Europe. Because of this, few measures were taken against the Danish Jews before Engelking, Barbara; Leociak, Jacek Twelve thousand pots and pans. New York: St. The death camps in occupied Poland accounted for half the Jews killed. Category Commons Index. The Nazis. Fischer, Conan See Also Article Introduction to the Holocaust. Zuccotti, Susan Simon Wiesenthal's 36 Questions. Thank you for supporting our work We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. Namespaces Article Talk. Retrieved 6 October The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. Fisher, Ronit African black sub-Saharan or North African and Asian residents of Germany and black prisoners of war , such as French colonial troops and African Americans , were also victims of Nazi racial policy. Either the German authorities were a party to this outbreak or their powers over public order and a hooligan minority are not what they are proudly claimed to be. The Nazis claimed that high-degree Masons were willing members of "the Jewish conspiracy" and Freemasonry was a cause of Germany's defeat in World War I. German soldiers' letters and memoirs reveal their terrible reasoning: Slavs were 'the Asiatic-Bolshevik' horde, an inferior but threatening race. Archived from the original on 13 January
Holocaust victims were people targeted by the government of Nazi Germany based on their ethnicity , religion , political beliefs , or sexual orientation. The institutionalized practice by the Nazis of singling out and persecuting people resulted in the Holocaust , which began with legalized social discrimination against specific groups, involuntary hospitalization, euthanasia , and forced sterilization of persons considered physically or mentally unfit for society. The vast majority of the Nazi regime's victims were Jews, Sinti-Roma peoples, and Slavs but victims also encompassed people identified as social outsiders in the Nazi worldview, such as homosexuals, and political enemies. Nazi persecution escalated during World War II and included: non-judicial incarceration, confiscation of property, forced labor , sexual slavery , death through overwork, human experimentation , undernourishment, and execution through a variety of methods. For specified groups like the Jews, genocide was the Nazis' primary goal. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum USHMM , the Holocaust was "the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators". In addition, 11 million members of other groups were murdered during the "era of the Holocaust". While the term Holocaust generally refers to the systematic mass murder of the Jewish people in German-occupied Europe , the Nazis also murdered a large number of non-Jewish people who were also considered subhuman Untermenschen or undesirable. Some victims belonged to several categories targeted for extermination, e. Non-Jewish victims of Nazism included Slavs e. Taking into account all of the victims of persecution, the Nazis systematically murdered an estimated six million Jews and an additional 11 million people during the war. Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian deaths, would produce a death toll of 17 million. Despite widely varying treatment some groups were actively targeted for genocide while others were not , some died in concentration camps such as Dachau and others from various forms of Nazi brutality. According to extensive documentation written and photographic left by the Nazis, eyewitness testimony by survivors, perpetrators and bystanders and records of the occupied countries, most perished in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau. The military campaign to displace persons like the Jews from Germany and other German-held territories during World War II , often with extreme brutality, is known as the Holocaust. It was carried out primarily by German forces and collaborators, German and non-German. Early in the war, millions of Jews were concentrated in urban ghettos. In , Jews were massacred, and by December, Hitler had decided to exterminate all Jews living in Europe at that time. The European Jewish population was reduced from 9,, to 3,,; the world's Jewish population was reduced by one-third, from roughly Jewish populations were systematically deported from the ghettos and the occupied territories to the seven camps designated as Vernichtungslager extermination camps :. In , Sebastian Haffner wrote that in December , Hitler began to accept the failure of his primary goal—to dominate Europe, after his declaration of war against the United States, and his withdrawal—was compensated for by his secondary goal: the extermination of the Jews. Poland, home of the world's largest Jewish community before the war, lost 3,, 90 percent of its Jewish population. Denmark evacuated nearly all of its Jews to nearby neutral Sweden ; the Danish resistance movement , with the assistance of many Danish citizens, evacuated 7, of the country's 7, Jews by sea to Sweden,  in vessels ranging from fishing boats to private yachts. The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark's Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis. Although Jews are an ethnoreligious group , they were defined by the Nazis on purely racial grounds. The Nazi Party viewed the Jewish religion as irrelevant, persecuting Jews in accordance with antisemitic stereotypes of an alleged biologically determined heritage. Defining Jews as the chief enemy, Nazi racial ideology was also used to persecute other minorities. The Yad Vashem museum has created, in an ongoing collaboration with many partners, a database with the names and biographical details of close to 4. The names of more than one million victims remain unknown and are still being collected. The Slavs were one of the most widely persecuted groups during the war, with many Poles , Russians , Ukrainians , Slovenes , Serbs and others killed by the Nazis. According to British historian Ian Kershaw , the Nazis' genocide and brutality was their way of ensuring Lebensraum "living space" for those who met Hitler's narrow racial requirements; this necessitated the elimination of Bolsheviks and Slavs:. The Nazi revolution was broader than just the Holocaust. Most of their three million men, from generals to ordinary soldiers, helped exterminate captured Slav soldiers and civilians. This was sometimes cold and deliberate murder of individuals as with Jews , sometimes generalised brutality and neglect German soldiers' letters and memoirs reveal their terrible reasoning: Slavs were 'the Asiatic-Bolshevik' horde, an inferior but threatening race. The Nazi occupation of Poland was among the most brutal of the war, resulting in the death of more than 1. Intelligentsia , socially prominent, and influential people were primarily targeted, although ethnic Poles and other Slavic groups were also killed en masse. Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Poles were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps, and the intelligentsia were the first targets of the Einsatzgruppen death squads. Between and , approximately three million Ukrainian and other gentiles were killed as part of Nazi extermination policies in present-day Ukraine. During Operation Barbarossa the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union , millions of Red Army prisoners of war were summarily executed in the field by German armies the Waffen SS in particular , died under inhumane conditions in German prisoner of war camps , on death marches , or had been shipped to concentration camps for execution. The Germans killed an estimated 2. Holocaust Memorial Museum, by the winter of "starvation and disease resulted in mass death of unimaginable proportions". Soviet civilian populations in the occupied areas were severely persecuted and endured the treacherous conditions of the Eastern Front , which spawned atrocities such as the siege of Leningrad , when 1. Thousands of peasant villages across Russia, Belarus and Ukraine were annihilated by German troops. During the occupation, the Leningrad , Pskov and Novgorod regions lost about a quarter of their populations. An estimated one-quarter of Soviet civilian deaths at the hands of the Nazis and their allies five million Russians, three million Ukrainians and 1. The figure includes 7. An estimated three million people also died of starvation in unoccupied territory. The losses occurred within the — borders of the USSR, and include territories annexed in — The Nazi genocide of the Romani people was ignored by scholars until the s, and opinions continue to differ on its details. According to historians Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia, the genocide of the Romani began later than that of the Jews and a smaller percentage was killed. Despite discriminatory measures, some Romani including some of Germany's Sinti and Lalleri were spared deportation and death, with the remaining Romani groups suffering a fate similar to that of the Jews. Romani were deported to the Jewish ghettos, were shot by SS Einsatzgruppen in their villages, or deported and gassed in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. Thousands of Spanish Republican refugees were living in France at the time of its occupation by Nazi Germany in ; 15, were detained in concentration camps, including 7, in Mauthausen-Gusen.
Only one comprehensive statistical study conducted on behalf of SS chief Heinrich Himmler survived the war. Schelvis, Jules . Authority control. Yad Vashem itself also has its Names Database, an ongoing project in which it attempts to collect the name of every Jewish victim of the Nazis. The subsequent Nuremberg trials , —, tried another defendants. Martin's Press. Many homosexuals who were liberated from the concentration camps were persecuted in postwar Germany. The Holocaust in the Soviet Union. The USHMM does conclude, Virtually all deaths of Soviet, Polish, and Serb civilians during the course of military and anti-partisan operations had, however, a racist component. By the end of the war, they had killed around two million, including about 1. Himka, John-Paul German extermination and concentration camps built in occupied Poland. The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union have used most of these documents at one time or another as exhibits in criminal or civil proceedings against Nazi offenders. Main article: German mistreatment of Soviet prisoners of war. Further information: Hitler's prophecy and Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December Most notable among these were the Roma, or Gypsies, with estimates of the number killed ranging from 90, to 1. The segregation of Jews in ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the Final Solution to the Jewish Question , discussed by senior government officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January Strzelecka, Irena; Setkiewicz, Piotr Timeline of Jewish Persecution. On January 30, , he was named chancellor of Germany. As more documents come to light or as scholars arrive at a more precise understanding of the Holocaust, estimates of human losses may change. The Holocaust History Project. Towards the end of the war, the Nazis and their collaborators attempted to destroy much of the existing documentation and other physical evidence. ISBN , p. They included the head of the German Red Cross, tenured professors, clinic directors, and biomedical researchers. According to Dan Stone , only nine survived the war. Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis. Resistance Fighters. Early policies. Martin's Press. Wannsee Conference Operation Reinhard Holocaust trains. Fed up with the deportations, disease and constant hunger, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in armed revolt. Glossary Terms. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website, "Nazi Germany did not seek to kill all homosexuals. Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Poles were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps, and the intelligentsia were the first targets of the Einsatzgruppen death squads. The gas chambers were dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, and the mass graves dug up and corpses cremated. The Executions at Nuremburg. It also includes people caught in hiding and killed in Poland, Serbia, and elsewhere in German-occupied Europe. Either the German authorities were a party to this outbreak or their powers over public order and a hooligan minority are not what they are proudly claimed to be. Anti-miscegenation laws Biological determinism Ethnic conflict Ethnic hatred Ethnic jokes Ethnic slurs Ethnic stereotypes Hate crime Hate speech in early American film Censored Eleven in the work of Charles Dickens in horror films in music in porn in school curricula in sport association football baseball martial arts Racial hierarchy Casta Racial polarization Racial quota. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. Contemporary European History. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Munich: R. Bohemia and Moravia. Main article: Nuremberg Laws. The first mass gassings began at the camp of Belzec, near Lublin, on March 17, The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark's Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis. Retrieved 28 June Later, all Poles will disappear from this world. There is no single wartime document created by Nazi officials that spells out how many people were killed in the Holocaust or World War II.
Germany implemented the persecution in stages. Following Adolf Hitler 's appointment as Chancellor on 30 January , the regime built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and those deemed "undesirable", starting with Dachau on 22 March On 9—10 November , eight months after Germany annexed Austria , Jewish businesses and other buildings were ransacked or set on fire throughout Germany and Austria on what became known as Kristallnacht the "Night of Broken Glass". Eventually, thousands of camps and other detention sites were established across German-occupied Europe. The segregation of Jews in ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the Final Solution to the Jewish Question , discussed by senior government officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January As German forces captured territories in the East , all anti-Jewish measures were radicalized. Under the coordination of the SS , with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party , killings were committed within Germany itself, throughout occupied Europe, and within territories controlled by Germany's allies. Paramilitary death squads called Einsatzgruppen , in cooperation with the German Army and local collaborators, murdered around 1. By mid, victims were being deported from ghettos across Europe in sealed freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, they were gassed, worked or beaten to death, or killed by disease, medical experiments, or during death marches. The European Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era — ,  in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of others , including ethnic Poles , Soviet civilians and prisoners of war , the Roma , the disabled , political and religious dissidents , and gay men. The first recorded use of the term holocaust in its modern sense was in by The New York Times to describe the massacre of Armenian Christians by Ottoman Muslims. According to Haaretz , the writer Yehuda Erez may have been the first to describe events in Germany as the shoah. Davar and later Haaretz both used the term in September On 3 October the American Hebrew used the phrase "before the Holocaust", apparently to refer to the situation in France,  and in May the New York Times , discussing the Bermuda Conference , referred to the "hundreds of thousands of European Jews still surviving the Nazi Holocaust". Holocaust historians commonly define the Holocaust as the genocide of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between and Other groups targeted after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January  include those whom the Nazis viewed as inherently inferior some Slavic people , particularly Poles and Russians,  the Roma , and the disabled , and those targeted because of their beliefs or behavior such as Jehovah's Witnesses , communists, and homosexuals. For example, the Nazis' treatment of the Slavs consisted of "enslavement and gradual attrition", while some Slavs were favored; Hayes lists Bulgarians, Croats, Slovaks, and some Ukrainians. The logistics of the mass murder turned Germany into what Michael Berenbaum called a "genocidal state". Companies fired Jews and later used them as slave labor. Universities dismissed Jewish faculty and students. German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; other companies built the crematoria. At least 7, camp inmates were subjected to medical experiments; most died during them or as a result. After the war, 23 senior physicians and other medical personnel were charged at Nuremberg with crimes against humanity. They included the head of the German Red Cross, tenured professors, clinic directors, and biomedical researchers. One of Mengele's assistants said in that he was told to send organs of interest to the directors of the "Anthropological Institute in Berlin-Dahlem". Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were subjected to antisemitism based on Christian theology, which blamed them for killing Jesus. Even after the Reformation , Catholicism and Lutheranism continued to persecute Jews, accusing them of blood libels and subjecting them to pogroms and expulsions. The movement embraced a pseudo-scientific racism that viewed Jews as a race whose members were locked in mortal combat with the Aryan race for world domination. After World War I — , many Germans did not accept that their country had been defeated. A stab-in-the-back myth developed, insinuating that disloyal politicians, chiefly Jews and communists, had orchestrated Germany's surrender. Inflaming the anti-Jewish sentiment was the apparent over-representation of Jews in the leadership of communist revolutionary governments in Europe, such as Ernst Toller , head of a short-lived revolutionary government in Bavaria. This perception contributed to the canard of Jewish Bolshevism. 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 communism. Open about his hatred of Jews, he subscribed to common antisemitic stereotypes. He viewed Marxism as a Jewish doctrine, said he was fighting against "Jewish Marxism", and believed that Jews had created communism as part of a conspiracy to destroy Germany. With the appointment in January of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany and the Nazi's seizure of power , German leaders proclaimed the rebirth of the Volksgemeinschaft "people's community". Enemies were divided into three groups: the "racial" or "blood" enemies, such as the Jews and Roma; political opponents of Nazism, such as Marxists, liberals, Christians, and the "reactionaries" viewed as wayward "national comrades"; and moral opponents, such as gay men, the work-shy, and habitual criminals. The latter two groups were to be sent to concentration camps for "re-education", with the aim of eventual absorption into the Volksgemeinschaft. Before and after the March Reichstag elections , the Nazis intensified their campaign of violence against opponents,  setting up concentration camps for extrajudicial imprisonment. Throughout the s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews were steadily restricted. Works by Jewish composers,  authors, and artists were excluded from publications, performances, and exhibitions. The economic strain of the Great Depression led Protestant charities and some members of the German medical establishment to advocate compulsory sterilization of the "incurable" mentally and physically disabled,  people the Nazis called Lebensunwertes Leben life unworthy of life. The courts reached a decision in 64, of those cases; 56, were in favor of sterilization. In October Hitler signed a "euthanasia decree" backdated to 1 September that authorized Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler , the chief of Hitler's Chancellery , and Karl Brandt , Hitler's personal physician, to carry out a program of involuntary euthanasia. There were also dedicated killing centers, where the deaths were estimated at 20,, according to Georg Renno, deputy director of Schloss Hartheim , one of the euthanasia centers, or ,, according to Frank Zeireis, commandant of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Although not ordered to take part, psychiatrists and many psychiatric institutions were involved in the planning and carrying out of Aktion T4. The German neuroscientist Julius Hallervorden received brains from one hospital between and "I accepted these brains of course. Where they came from and how they came to me was really none of my business. The former said that only those of "German or kindred blood" could be citizens. Anyone with three or more Jewish grandparents was classified as a Jew. Although other European countries—Bulgaria, Independent State of Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Vichy France—passed similar legislation,  Gerlach notes that "Nazi Germany adopted more nationwide anti-Jewish laws and regulations about 1, than any other state. By the end of , 50, German Jews had left Germany,  and by the end of , approximately half the German Jewish population had left,  among them 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. On 12 March , Germany annexed Austria.