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The Holocaust (from the Greek ( ): holos, "whole" and kaustos, "burnt"), also known as The Shoah (Hebrew: , Latinized ha'shoah; Yiddish: , Latinized churben or hurban) is the term generally used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, its allies, and collaborators.

Some scholars maintain that the definition of the Holocaust should also include the Nazis' systematic murder of millions of people in other groups, including Catholics, ethnic Poles, the Romani, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other political and religious opponents. By this definition, the total number of Holocaust victims would be between 11 million and 17 million people.

The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II. Concentration camp were established in which inmates were used as slave labor until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Third Reich conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppenmarker murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. Jews and Romani were confined in overcrowded ghettos before being transported by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were killed in gas chambers. Every arm of Nazi Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the mass murder, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal state".

Etymology and use of the term

The term holocaust originally derived from the Greek word holókauston, meaning a " whole (holos) burnt (kaustos)" sacrificial offering to a god. Its Latin form (holocaustum) was first used with specific reference to a massacre of Jews by the chroniclers Roger of Howden and Richard of Devizes in the 1190s. For hundreds of years, the word holocaust was used in English to denote massive sacrifices and great slaughters or massacres. During World War II, the word was used to describe Nazi atrocities regardless of whether the victims were Jews or non-Jews. Since the 1960s, the term has come to be used by scholars and popular writers to refer exclusively to the genocide of Jews.

The term entered common parlance after 1978, the year that the popular Holocaust was broadcast on the American NBC television network. With a cast of dozens, including a young Meryl Streep, this miniseries was sometimes accused of "trivializing" the concentration camps. However, the series proved that the subject matter could have popular appeal, as well as providing a convenient and enduring term.

The biblical word Shoah (שואה) (also spelled Sho'ah and Shoa), meaning "calamity," became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s. Shoah is preferred by many Jews for a number of reasons, including the theologically offensive nature of the word holocaust, as a Greek pagan custom.

Historical usage of Holocaust, Shoah, and Final Solution

The word holocaust has been used since the 18th century to refer to the violent deaths of a large number of people. For example, Winston Churchill and other contemporaneous writers used it before World War II to describe the Armenian Genocide of World War I. Since the 1950s its use has increasingly been restricted, with its usage now mainly used as a proper noun to describe the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

Holocaust was adopted as a translation of Shoah — a Hebrew word connoting catastrophe, calamity, disaster, and destruction— which was used in 1940 in Jerusalemmarker in a booklet called Sho'at Yehudei Polin, and translated as The Holocaust of the Jews of Poland. Shoah had earlier been used in the context of the Nazis as a translation of catastrophe. For example, in 1934, when Chaim Weizmann told the Zionist Action Committee that Hitler's rise to power was an "unvorhergesehene Katastrophe, etwa ein neuer Weltkrieg" ("an unforeseen catastrophe, comparable to another world war"), the Hebrew press translated Katastrophe as Shoah. In the spring of 1942, the Jerusalem historian BenZion Dinur (Dinaburg) used Shoah in a book published by the United Aid Committee for the Jews in Poland to describe the extermination of Europe's Jews, calling it a "catastrophe" that symbolized the unique situation of the Jewish people. The word Shoah was chosen in Israelmarker to describe the Holocaust, the term institutionalized by the Knessetmarker on April 12, 1951, when it established Yom Ha-Shoah Ve Mered Ha-Getaot, the national day of remembrance. In the 1950s, Yad Vashemmarker, the Israel "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority" was routinely translating this into English as "the Disaster". At that time, holocaust was often used to mean the conflagration of much of humanity in a nuclear war. Since then, Yad Vashem has changed its practice; the word Holocaust, usually now capitalized, has come to refer principally to the genocide of the European Jews.

The usual German term for the extermination of the Jews during the Nazi period was the euphemistic phrase Endlösung der Judenfrage (the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"). In both English and German, "Final Solution" is widely used as an alternative to "Holocaust". For a time after World War II, German historians also used the term Völkermord ("genocide"), or in full, der Völkermord an den Juden ("the genocide of the Jewish people"), while the prevalent term in Germany today is either Holocaust or increasingly Shoah.

Use of the term Holocaust for Jewish and non-Jewish victims

While the terms "Shoah" and "Final Solution" always refer to the fate of the Jews during the Nazi rule, the term "Holocaust" is sometimes used in a wider sense to describe other genocides of the Nazi and other regimes.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines "Holocaust" as "name given to the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany". The Compact Oxford English Dictionary and Microsoft Encarta give similar definitions. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines "Holocaust" as "the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II".

Scholars are divided on whether the term Holocaust should be applied to all victims of the Nazi mass murder campaign, with some using it synonymously with "Shoah" or "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", and others including the killing of Romani peoples (Roma and Sinti), Poles, the deaths of Sovietmarker prisoners of war, Slavs, gay men, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and political opponents.

Yehuda Bauer contends that the Holocaust should include only Jews because it was the intent of the Nazis to exterminate all Jews, while the other groups were not to be totally annihilated. Besides Bauer, scholars Xu Xin, Ben Kiernan, Edward Kissi, Simone Veil, Monika Richarz, and Francis Deng refer solely to the destruction of the European Jewry when using the term "Holocaust".

Inclusion of non-Jewish victims of the Nazis in the Holocaust is objected to by many persons including Elie Wiesel, and by organizations such as Yad Vashemmarker established to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. They say that the word was originally meant to describe the extermination of the Jews, and that the Jewish Holocaust was a crime on such a scale, and of such totality and specificity, as the culmination of the long history of European antisemitism, that it should not be subsumed into a general category with the other crimes of the Nazis.

Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann maintain that although all Jews were victims, the Holocaust transcended the confines of the Jewish community - other people shared the tragic fate of victimhood. László Teleki applies the term "Holocaust" to both the murder of Jews and Romani peoples by the Nazis.

Sometimes, the term "Holocaust" is used to describe events that have no connection with World War II. According to David Stannard, the "American Holocaust" involved killing of an estimated 50-100 million aboriginal people, and continues on a smaller scale throughout the Americas. The "Rwandanmarker Holocaust" refers to the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The "Cambodianmarker Holocaust" comprises the mass killings by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. "African Holocaust" describes the slave trade and the colonization of Africa, also known as the Maafa. Then there is the prospect of "Nuclear Armageddon", also known as "Nuclear Holocaust".

Distinctive features

Compliance of Germany's institutions

Michael Berenbaum writes that Germany became a "genocidal state." Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders; the universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag (IBM Germany) 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 catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled. Berenbaum writes that the Final Solution of the Jewish question was "in the eyes of the perpetrators … Germany's greatest achievement."

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

Friedländer argues that this makes the Holocaust distinctive because antisemitic policies were able to unfold without the interference of countervailing forces of the kind normally found in advanced societies, such as industry, small businesses, churches, and other vested interests and lobby groups.

Dominance of ideology and the scale of the genocide

In other genocides, pragmatic considerations such as control of territory and resources were central to the genocide policy. Yehuda Bauer argues that:

Responding to the German philosopher Ernst Nolte who claimed that the Holocaust was not unique, the German historian Eberhard Jäckel wrote in 1986 that the Holocaust was unique because:
"the National Socialist killing of the Jews was unique in that never before had a state with the authority of its responsible leader decided and announced that a specific human group, including its aged, its women and its children and infants, would be killed as quickly as possible, and then carried through this resolution using every possible means of state power".

The slaughter was systematically conducted in virtually all areas of Nazi-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries. It was at its worst in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Unionmarker. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Greece. The Wannsee Protocolmarker makes clear that the Nazis also intended to carry out their "final solution of the Jewish question" in England and Ireland.

Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated without exception. In other genocides, people were able to escape death by converting to another religion or in some other way assimilating. This option was not available to the Jews of occupied Europe, unless their grandparents had converted prior to January 18, 1871. All persons of recent Jewish ancestry were to be exterminated in lands controlled by Germany.

Medical experiments

Another distinctive feature of the Holocaust was the extensive use of human subjects in medical experiments. German physicians carried out such experiments at Auschwitzmarker, Dachaumarker, Buchenwaldmarker, Ravensbrückmarker, Sachsenhausenmarker and Natzweilermarker concentration camps.

The most notorious of these physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes and various amputations and other brutal surgeries. The full extent of his work will never be known because the truckload of records he sent to Dr. Otmar von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute were destroyed by von Verschuer. Subjects who survived Mengele's experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterwards.

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

Development and execution


Yehuda Bauer, Raul Hilberg and Lucy Dawidowicz maintained that from the Middle Ages onward, German society and culture were suffused with anti-Semitism and there was a direct link from medieval pogroms to the Nazi death camps of the 1940s.Hans Küng has written that "Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years' pre-history of 'Christian' anti-Judaism..."The Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, and the persecution and exodus of Germany's 525,000 Jews began almost immediately. In Mein Kampf (1925), Hitler had been open about his hatred of Jews, and gave ample warning of his intention to drive them from Germany's political, intellectual, and cultural life. He did not write that he would attempt to exterminate them, but he is reported to have been more explicit in private. As early as 1922, he allegedly told Major Joseph Hell, at the time a journalist:

Legal repression and emigration

Throughout the 1930s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews were steadily restricted. In legally defining "who is Jew", the Nazis considered anyone of Jewish descent, even the descendents of converts who converted from Judaism after January 18, 1871, (the founding of the German Empiremarker) were still considered Jews. Friedländer writes that, for the Nazis, Germany drew its strength for its "purity of blood" and its "rootedness in the sacred German earth." In 1933, a series of laws were passed which contained "Aryan paragraphs" to exclude Jews from key areas: the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service; the physicians' law; and the farm law, forbidding Jews from owning farms or taking part in agriculture. Jewish lawyers were disbarred, and in Dresdenmarker, Jewish lawyers and judges were dragged out of their offices and courtrooms, and beaten. At the insistence of then president Hindenburg, Hitler added an exemption allowing Jewish civil servants who were veterans of the first world war, or whose fathers or sons had served, to remain in office. (Hindenburg was disturbed that people who had fought and bled for Germany would be forced from their state jobs.) Hitler revoked this exemption in 1937. Jews were excluded from schools and universities, (Law to prevent overcrowding in schools) and from belonging to the Journalists' Association, or from being owners or editors of newspapers . The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of April 27, 1933 wrote:

In 1935, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws, which: prohibited Jews from marrying Aryans, annulled existing marriages between Jews and Aryans (the Law for the protection of German blood and German honor,) prohibited Jews from serving as civil servants, stripped German Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of all civil rights. In his speech introducing the laws, Hitler said that if the "Jewish problem" cannot be solved by these laws, it "must then be handed over by law to the National-Socialist Party for a final solution (Endlösung)." The expression "Endlösung" became the standard Nazi euphemism for the extermination of the Jews. In January 1939, he said in a public speech: "If international-finance Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed once more in plunging the nations into yet another world war, the consequences will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation (vernichtung) of the Jewish race in Europe."

Jewish intellectuals were among the first to leave. The philosopher Walter Benjamin left for Paris on March 18, 1933. Novelist Leon Feuchtwanger went to Switzerland. The conductor Bruno Walter fled after being told that the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic would be burned down if he conducted a concert there: the Frankfurter Zeitung explained on April 6 that Walter and fellow conductor Otto Klemperer had been forced to flee because the government was unable to protect them against the "mood" of the German public, which had been provoked by "Jewish artistic liquidators." Albert Einstein was visiting the U.S. on January 30, 1933. He returned to Ostende in Belgium, never to set foot in Germany again, and calling events there a "psychic illness of the masses"; he was expelled from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and his citizenship was rescinded. Saul Friedländer writes that when Max Liebermann, honorary president of the Prussian Academy of Arts, resigned his position, not one of his colleagues expressed a word of sympathy, and he died ostracized two years later. When the police arrived in 1943 with a stretcher to deport his 85-year-old bedridden widow, she committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates rather than be taken.

Kristallnacht (1938)

On November 7, 1938, Jewish minor Herschel Grünspan assassinated Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Parismarker. This incident was used by the Nazis to initiate the transition from legal repression to large-scale outright violence against Jewish Germans. What the Nazis claimed to be spontaneous "public outrage", was a concerted action of Nazi party and SAmarker members and affiliates, who after a Joseph Goebbels hate speech started mass pogroms throughout Nazi Germany, then consisting of Germany propermarker, Austriamarker and Sudetenland. The progroms became known as Kristallnacht ("the Night of Broken Glass", literally "Crystal Night"), or November pogroms. Jews were attacked and Jewish property was vandalized, over 7,000 Jewish shops and 1,668 synagogues (almost every synagogue in Germany) were damaged or destroyed. The death toll is assumed to be much higher than the official number of 91 dead. 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, including Dachaumarker, Sachsenhausenmarker, Buchenwaldmarker, and Oranienburg concentration campmarker, where they were kept for several weeks. and released when they could either prove that they were about to emigrate in the near future, or after property transfers to the Nazis. The German Jewry was collectively made responsible for restitution of the material damage of the pogrom, amounting to several hundreds of thousand Reichsmark, and furthermore had to pay collectively an "atonement tax" of more than a billion Reichsmark.

After these pogroms, Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany accelerated, while public Jewish life in Germany ceased to exist.

Early measures in German occupied Poland

The question of the treatment of the Jews became an urgent one for the Nazis after September 1939, when they invaded the western half of Poland, home to about two million Jews. The pre-war Second Polish Republicmarker had been split between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Unionmarker, in the preceding Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Of the German share of Poland, the northwestern parts were annexed, while the southeastern parts were made the Generalgouvernement led by Hans Frank. The invasion led Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and France to declare war - World War II had started.

Himmler's right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich, recommended concentrating all the Polish Jews in ghettos in major cities, where they would be put to work for the German war industry. The ghettos would be in cities located on railway junctions, so that, in Heydrich's words, "future measures can be accomplished more easily." During his interrogation in 1961, Adolf Eichmann testified that the expression "future measures" was understood to mean "physical extermination."

In September, Himmler appointed Reinhard Heydrich head of the Reich Security Head Officemarker (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA, not be to confused with the RuSHAmarker), a body overseeing the work of the SSmarker, the Security Policemarker (SD), and the Gestapomarker in occupied Poland and charged with carrying out the policy towards the Jews described in Heydrich's report. The first organized murders of Jews by German forces occurred during Operation Tannenberg and through Selbstschutz units. Later, the Jews were herded into ghettos, mostly in the General Government area of central Poland, where they were put to work under the Reich Labor Office headed by Fritz Saukel. Here many thousands were killed in various ways, and many more died of disease, starvation, and exhaustion, but there was still no program of systematic killing. There is no doubt, however, that the Nazis saw forced labor as a form of extermination. The expression Vernichtung durch Arbeit ("destruction through work") was frequently used.

Although it was clear by 1941 that the SS hierarchy led by Himmler and Heydrich was determined to embark on a policy of killing all the Jews under German control, there were important centers of opposition to this policy within the Nazi regime. The grounds for the opposition were mainly economic, not humanitarian. Hermann Göring, who had overall control of the German war industry, and the German army's Economics Department, representing the armaments industry, argued that the enormous Jewish labor force assembled in the General Government area (more than a million able-bodied workers) was an asset too valuable to waste while Germany was preparing to invade the Soviet Union.

Early measures in other occupied countries

When Nazi Germany occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France in 1940, and Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, anti-Semitic measures were also introduced into these countries, although the pace and severity varied greatly from country to country according to local political circumstances. Jews were removed from economic and cultural life and were subject to various restrictive laws, but physical deportation did not occur in most places before 1942. The Vichy regime in occupied France actively collaborated in persecuting French Jews. Germany's allies Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland were pressured to introduce antisemitic measures, but for the most part they did not comply until compelled to do so. The German puppet regime in Croatia, on the other hand, began actively persecuting Jews on its own initiative.

Resettlement and deportation to colonies and reservations

Madagascar and similar plans

Before the war, the Nazis had thought of mass resettlements of the German (and subsequently the European) Jewry to areas outside Europe. Because Germany had lost her colonies in World War I, diplomatic efforts were undertaken to negotiate arrangements with the colonial powers, primarily the United Kingdommarker and Francemarker. These efforts included plans to resettle Jews to British Palestine, Italian Abessiniamarker, British Guineamarker, British Rhodesia, French Madagascarmarker, and Australia.

Plans to reclaim former German colonies like Tanzania and Namibiamarker as a place to resettle Jews were halted by Adolf Hitler, who argued that no place where "so much blood of heroic Germans had been spilled" should be made available as a residence for the "worst enemies of the Germans".

Of the envisioned resettlement areas, Madagascarmarker was the most seriously discussed. While Jews had been murdered on mass scale since 1939, in 1940 some Nazis considered eliminating Jews by the unrealistic Madagascar Plan which, however futile, in retrospect did constitute an important psychological step on the path to the Holocaust. The planning was carried out by Eichmann's office; Heydrich called it a "territorial final solution". The plan was to ship all European Jews to Madagascarmarker. In view of the difficulties of supporting more population in the General Gouvernment in July 1940, Hitler, still hoping for success with the Madagascar plan, stopped the deportation of Jews there. This was temporary, however, as the military situation offered no possibility to conquer Britainmarker. The plan may have been foreseen as a remote and slower genocide through the unfavorable conditions on the island.Although the Final Solution was already in place and Jews were being exterminated, the formal declaration of the Plan's end was abandoned on February 10, 1942, when the German Foreign Office was given an official explanation that due to the war with the Soviet Union Jews are going to be "sent to the east".

General Government and Lublin reservation (Nisko plan)

On September 28, 1939, Germany gained control over the Lublin area through the German-Soviet agreement in exchange for Lithuaniamarker. According to the Nisko Plan, they set up the Lublin-Lipowa Reservation in the area. The reservation was designated by Adolf Eichmann, who was assigned the task of removing all Jews from Germany, Austriamarker and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. They shipped the first Jews to Lublin less than three weeks later on October 18, 1939. The first train loads consisted of Jews deported from Austriamarker and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. By January 30, 1940, historians estimate a total of 78,000 Jews had been deported to Lublin from Germany, Austriamarker and Czechoslovakiamarker. On 12 and February 13, 1940, the Pomeranian Jews were deported to the Lublin reservation, resulting in Pomeranianmarker Gauleiter Franz Schwede-Coburg to be the first to declare his Gau "judenrein" ("free of Jews"). On March 24, 1940 Hermann Göring put a hold on the Nisko Plan, and by the end of April, abandoned it entirely. By the time the Nisko Plan was stopped, the total number of Jews who had been transported to Nisko had reached 95,000, many of whom had died due to starvation.

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

Concentration and labor camps (1933–1945)

Major concentration and extermination camps: Auschwitzmarker, Belzecmarker, Bergen-Belsenmarker, Chełmnomarker, Dachaumarker, Flossenbürgmarker, Grinimarker, Jasenovacmarker, Kloogamarker, Majdanekmarker, Maly Trostinetsmarker, Mauthausen-Gusenmarker, Ravensbrückmarker, and Treblinkamarker
Nazi concentration camp badges: Black triangle, Pink triangle, Purple triangle, and Yellow badge

Leading up to the 1933 elections, the Nazis began intensifying acts of violence to wreak havoc among the opposition. With the cooperation of local authorities, they set up camps as concentration centers within Germany. One of the first was Dachaumarker, which opened in March 1933. These early camps were meant to hold, torture, or kill only political prisoners, such as Communists and Social Democrats.

These early prisons usually basements and storehouses were eventually consolidated into full-blown, centrally run camps outside the cities. By 1942, six large extermination camps had been established in Nazi-occupied Poland. After 1939, the camps increasingly became places where Jews and POWs were either killed or forced to live as slave laborers, undernourished and tortured. It is estimated that the Germans established 15,000 camps in the occupied countries, many of them in Poland.

New camps were focused on areas with large Jewish, Polish intelligentsia, communist, or Roma and Sinti populations, including inside Germany. The transportation of prisoners was often carried out under horrifying conditions using rail freight cars, in which many died before reaching their destination.

Extermination through labour, a means whereby camp inmates would literally be worked to death or frequently worked until they could no longer perform work tasks, followed by their selection for extermination was invoked as a further systematic extermination policy. Furthermore, while not designed as a method for systematic extermination, many camp prisoners died because of harsh overall conditions or from executions carried out on a whim after being allowed to live for days or months.

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

Ghettos (1940–1945)

Main ghettos: Kraków Ghettomarker, Łódź Ghetto, Lwów Ghettomarker, Warsaw Ghetto, Vilna Ghettomarker and Riga ghettomarker
A child dying in the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto
After the invasion of Poland, the German Nazis established ghettos in which Jews and some Romani were confined, until they were eventually shipped to death camps to be murdered. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest, with 380,000 people, and the Łódź Ghetto the second largest, holding 160,000. They were, in effect, immensely crowded prisons, described by Michael Berenbaum as instruments of "slow, passive murder." Though the Warsaw Ghetto contained 400,000 people—30% of the population of Warsaw—it occupied only 2.4% of the city's area, averaging 9.2 people per room.

From 1940 through 1942, starvation and disease, especially typhoid, killed hundreds of thousands. Over 43,000 residents of the Warsaw ghetto died there in 1941, more than one in ten; in Theresienstadtmarker, more than half the residents died in 1942.

Each ghetto was run by a Judenrat (Jewish council) of German-appointed Jewish community leaders, who were responsible for the day-to-day running of the ghetto, including the provision of food, water, heat, medicine, and shelter, and who were also expected to make arrangements for deportations to extermination camps. Heinrich Himmler ordered the start of the deportations on July 19, 1942, and three days later, on July 22, the deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto began; over the next 52 days, until September 12, 300,000 people from Warsaw alone were transported in freight trains to the Treblinka extermination campmarker. Many other ghettos were completely depopulated.

Berenbaum writes that the defining moment that tested the courage and character of each Judenrat came when they were asked to provide a list of names of the next group to be deported. The Judenrat members went through the tried and tested methods of delay, bribery, stonewalling, pleading, and argumentation, until finally a decision had to be made. Some argued that their responsibility was to save the Jews who could be saved, and that therefore others had to be sacrificed; others argued, following Maimonides, that not a single individual should be handed over who had not committed a capital crime. Judenrat leaders such as Dr. Joseph Parnas in Lvivmarker, who refused to compile a list, were shot. On October 14, 1942, the entire Judenrat of Byaroza committed suicide rather than cooperate with the deportations.

The first ghetto uprising occurred in September 1942 in the small town of Łachwamarker in southeast Poland. Though there were armed resistance attempts in the larger ghettos in 1943, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Białystok Ghetto Uprising, in every case they failed against the unmatched Nazi military force, and the remaining Jews were either killed or deported to the death camps, which the Germans euphemistically called "resettlement in the East."

Death squads (1941–1943)

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 opened a new phase. The Holocaust intensified after the Nazis occupied Lithuania, where close to 80 percent of Lithuanian Jews were exterminated before the end of the year. The Soviet territories occupied by early 1942, including all of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Moldovamarker and most Russian territory west of the line Leningradmarker-Moscow-Rostovmarker, contained about three million Jews, including hundreds of thousands who had fled Poland in 1939. Despite the chaos of the Soviet retreat, some effort was made to evacuate Jews, and about a million succeeded in escaping further east. The remaining three million were left at the mercy of the Nazis.[[File:Kiev Jew Killings in Ivangorod (1942).jpg|thumb|left|300px|Executions of Kiev Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorodmarker in the Ukrainemarker. The photo was mailed from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted by a member of the Polish resistance."]]Members of the local populations in certain occupied Soviet territories participated substantially in the killings of Jews and others.Browning, Christopher, and Matthäus, Jürgen, Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939 -March 1942, Yad Vashem / University of Nebraska Press 2004 ISBN 0-8032-1327-1, at pages 268-277. In Lithuania, Latvia and western Ukraine, locals were deeply involved in the murder of Jews from the very beginning of the German occupation. The Latvian Arajs Kommando was an example of such an operation. To the south, Ukrainians killed approximately 24,000 Jews. In addition, Latvian and Lithuanian units left their own countries, and committed murders of Jews in Belarus, and Ukrainians served as concentration and death camp guards in Poland. Many of the mass killings were carried out in public, a change from previous practice. German witnesses to these killings emphasized the participation of the locals. Ultimately it was the Germans who organized and channelled the local participants in The Holocaust.

Raul Hilberg writes that the German Einsatzgruppen commanders were ordinary citizens; the great majority were university-educated professionals. They used their skills to become efficient killers, according to Michael Berenbaum.

The large-scale killings of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories was assigned to SS formations called Einsatzgruppenmarker ("task groups"), under the overall command of Heydrich. These had been used on a limited scale in Poland in 1939, but were now organized on a much larger scale. Einsatzgruppe A (commanded by SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Franz Stahlecker) was assigned to the Baltic area, Einsatzgruppe B (SS-Brigadeführer Artur Nebe) to Belarus, Einsatzgruppe C (SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Otto Rasch) to north and central Ukraine, and Einsatzgruppe D (SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Otto Ohlendorf) to Moldova, south Ukraine, the Crimeamarker, and, during 1942, the north Caucasus. Of the four Einsatzgruppen, three were commanded by holders of doctorate degrees, of whom one (Rasch) held a double doctorate.

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

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museummarker tells the story of one survivor of the Einsatzgruppen in Piryatinmarker, Ukrainemarker, when they killed 1,600 Jews on April 6, 1942, the second day of Passover:

The most notorious massacre of Jews in the Soviet Union was at a ravine called Babi Yarmarker outside Kievmarker, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on September 29–30, 1941. The killing of all the Jews in Kiev was decided on by the military governor (Major-General Friedrich Eberhardt), the Police Commander for Army Group South (SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln) and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. It was carried out by a mixture of SS, SD and Security Police, assisted by Ukrainian police.

On Monday the Jews of Kiev gathered by the cemetery, expecting to be loaded onto trains. The crowd was large enough that most of the men, women, and children could not have known what was happening until it was too late: by the time they heard the machine-gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and then shot. A truck driver described the scene:

In August 1941 Himmler travelled to Minskmarker, where he personally witnessed 100 Jews being shot in a ditch outside the town, an event described by SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff in his diary. "Himmler's face was green. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his cheek where a piece of brain had squirted up on to it. Then he vomited." After recovering his composure, he lectured the SS men on the need to follow the "highest moral law of the Party" in carrying out their tasks.

Pogroms (1939–1942)

A number of deadly pogroms by local populations occurred during the Second World War, some with Nazi encouragement, and some spontaneously. This included the Iaşi pogrom in Romania on June 30, 1941, in which as many 14,000 Jews were killed by Romanian residents and police, and the Jedwabne pogrommarker, in which between 380 and 1,600 Jews were killed by local Poles in July 1941.

New methods of mass murder

Starting in December 1939, the Nazis introduced new methods of mass murder by using gas. First experimental vans, equipped with gas cylinders and a sealed trunk compartment, were used to kill mental care clients of sanatoria in Pomeraniamarker, East Prussia, and occupied Poland since 1939, as part of an operation termed Aktion T4. In the Sachsenhausen concentration campmarker, larger vans holding up to 100 people were used in a similar way since November 1941, yet the gas did not come from a cylinder but directly from the engine's exhaust. These vans were introduced to the Chelmno concentration campmarker in December 1941, and another 15 of them were used by the death squads in the occupied Soviet Union. These gas vans were developed and run under supervision of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Bureau), and were used to kill about 500,000 people, primarily Jews, but also Romani and others. The vans were carefully monitored and month later a report stated that 'ninety seven thousand have been processed using three vans, without any defects showing up in the machines'.

A need for new mass murder techniques was also expressed by Hans Frank, governor of the General Government, who noted that this many people could not be simply shot. "We shall have to take steps, however, designed in some way to eliminate them." It was this dilemma which led the SS to experiment with large-scale killings using poison gas. Finally, SS Obersturmführer Christian Wirth seems to have been the inventor of the gas chamber.

Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution (1942–1945)

By the end of 1941, Himmler and Heydrich were becoming increasingly impatient with the progress of the Final Solution. Their main opponent was Göring, who had succeeded in exempting Jewish industrial workers from the orders to deport all Jews to the General Government and who had allied himself with the Army commanders who were opposing the extermination of the Jews out of a mixture of economic calculation, distaste for the SSmarker and humanitarian sentiment. Although Göring's power had declined since the defeat of his Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, he still had privileged access to Hitler.
Heydrich therefore convened the Wannsee Conferencemarker on January 20, 1942 at a villa, Am Großen Wannsee No. 56-58, in the suburbs of Berlin to finalize a plan for the extermination of the Jews. The plan became known (after Heydrich) as Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard). Present were Heydrich, Eichmann, Heinrich Müller (head of the Gestapo), and representatives of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the Ministry for the Interior, the Four Year Plan Office, the Ministry of Justice, the General Government in Poland (where over two million Jews still lived), the Foreign Office, the Race and Resettlement Office, and the Nazi Party, and the office responsible for distributing Jewish property. Also present was SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Lange, the SD commander in Rigamarker, who, with Friedrich Jeckeln had recently carried out the liquidation of 24,000 Latvian Jews from the Riga ghetto in the Rumbula massacre.

Michael Berenbaum writes that the 15 men seated at the table were considered the best and the brightest; more than half of them held doctorates from German universities.

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

The officials were told there were 2.3 million Jews in the General Government, 850,000 in Hungary, 1.1 million in the other occupied countries, and up to 5 million in the Soviet Union (although only 3 million of these were in areas under German occupation) —a total of about 6.5 million. These would all be transported by train to extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) in Poland, where those unfit for work would be gassed at once. In some camps, such as Auschwitz, those fit for work would be kept alive for a while, but eventually all would be killed. Göring's representative, Dr. Erich Neumann, gained a limited exemption for some classes of industrial workers.

Extermination camps

Approx. number killed at each extermination camp (Source: Yad Vashemmarker); Help improve coordinates:
Camp name Killed Coordinates Ref.
Auschwitz IImarker 1,400,000
Belzecmarker 600,000
Chelmnomarker 320,000
Jasenovacmarker 600,000
Majdanekmarker 360,000
Maly Trostinetsmarker 65,000
Sobibórmarker 250,000
Treblinkamarker 870,000
During 1942, in addition to Auschwitz, five other camps were designated as extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) for the carrying out of the Reinhard plan. Two of these, Chelmnomarker (also known as Kulmhof) and Majdanekmarker were already functioning as labor camps: these now had extermination facilities added to them. Three new camps were built for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of Jews as quickly as possible, at Belzecmarker, Sobibórmarker and Treblinkamarker. A seventh camp, at Maly Trostinetsmarker in Belarus, was also used for this purpose. Jasenovacmarker was an extermination camp where mostly ethnic Serbs were killed.

Extermination camps are frequently confused with concentration camps such as Dachaumarker and Belsenmarker, which were mostly located in Germany and intended as places of incarceration and forced labor for a variety of enemies of the Nazi regime (such as Communists and gays). They should also be distinguished from slave labor camps, which were set up in all German-occupied countries to exploit the labor of prisoners of various kinds, including prisoners of war. In all Nazi camps there were very high death rates as a result of starvation, disease and exhaustion, but only the extermination camps were designed specifically for mass killing.

The extermination camps were run by SS officers, but most of the guards were Ukrainian or Baltic auxiliaries. Regular German soldiers were kept well away.

Gas chambers

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

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

The gas was then pumped out, the bodies were removed (which would take up to four hours), gold fillings in their teeth were extracted with pliers by dentist prisoners, and women's hair was cut. The floor of the gas chamber was cleaned, and the walls whitewashed. The work was done by the Sonderkommando prisoners, Jews who hoped to buy themselves a few extra months of life. In crematoria 1 and 2, the Sonderkommando lived in an attic above the crematoria; in crematoria 3 and 4, they lived inside the gas chambers. When the Sonderkommando had finished with the bodies, the SS conducted spot checks to make sure all the gold had been removed from the victims' mouths. If a check revealed that gold had been missed, the Sonderkommando prisoner responsible was thrown into the furnace alive as punishment.

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

Jewish resistance

Jews captured and forcibly pulled out from dug outs by the Germans during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
The photo is from Jurgen Stroop's report to Heinrich Himmler
Insurgents from Armia Krajowa (the Polish resistance movement) fighting during the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Yehuda Bauer and other historians argue that resistance consisted not only of physical opposition, but of any activity that gave the Jews dignity and humanity in humiliating and inhumane conditions.

There are many examples of Jewish resistance, most notably the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of January 1943, when thousands of poorly armed Jewish fighters held the SS at bay for four weeks, and killed several hundred Germans before being crushed by overwhelmingly superior forces. This was followed by the uprising in the Treblinka extermination camp in May 1943, when about 200 inmates escaped from the camp after overpowering the guards. Two weeks later, there was an uprising in the Bialystokmarker ghetto. In September, there was a short-lived uprising in the Vilniusmarker ghetto. In October, 600 Jewish and Russian prisoners attempted an escape at the Sobibór death camp. About 60 survived and joined the Soviet partisans. On October 7, 1944, the Jewish Sonderkommandos at Auschwitz staged an uprising. Female prisoners had smuggled in explosives from a weapons factory, and Crematorium IV was partly destroyed by an explosion. The prisoners then attempted a mass escape, but all 250 were killed soon after.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish partisans (see the list at the top of this section) actively fought the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe. Resistance During the Holocaust U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Jewish Brigade, a unit of 5,000 volunteers from the British Mandate of Palestine fought in the British Army. German-speaking volunteers from the Special Interrogation Group performed commando and sabotage operations against the Nazis behind front lines in the Western Desert Campaign.

In occupied Poland and Soviet territories, thousands of Jews fled into the swamps or forests and joined the partisans, although the partisan movements did not always welcome them. In Lithuania and Belarus, an area with a heavy concentration of Jews, and also an area which suited partisan operations, Jewish partisan groups saved thousands of Jewish civilians from extermination. No such opportunities existed for the Jewish populations of cities such as Budapestmarker. However in Amsterdammarker, and other parts of the Netherlands, many Jews were active in the Dutch Resistance. 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.

For the great majority of Jews resistance could take only the passive forms of delay, evasion, negotiation, bargaining and, where possible, bribery of German officials. The Nazis encouraged this by forcing the Jewish communities to police themselves, through bodies such as the Reich Association of Jews (Reichsvereinigung der Juden) in Germany and the Jewish Councils (Judenrate) in the urban ghettos in occupied Poland. They held out the promise of concessions in exchange for each surrender, enmeshing the Jewish leadership so deeply in well-intentioned compromise that a decision to stand and fight was never possible. Holocaust survivor Alexander Kimel wrote: "The youth in the Ghettos dreamed about fighting. I believe that although there were many factors that inhibited our responses, the most important factors were isolation and historical conditioning to accepting martyrdom."

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

The Jewish communities were also systematically deceived about German intentions, and were cut off from most sources of news from the outside world. The Germans told the Jews that they were being deported to work camps euphemistically calling it "resettlement in the East" and maintained this illusion through elaborate deceptions all the way to the gas chamber doors (which were marked with labels stating that the chambers were for removal of lice) to avoid uprisings. As photographs testify, Jews disembarked at the railway stations at Auschwitz and other extermination camps carrying sacks and suitcases, clearly having no idea of the fate that awaited them. Rumours of the reality of the extermination camps filtered back only slowly to the ghettos, and were usually not believed, just as they were not believed when couriers such as Jan Karski, the Polish resistance fighter, conveyed them to the western Allies.


Heydrich was assassinated in Praguemarker in June 1942. He was succeeded as head of the RSHA by Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann, under Himmler's close supervision, oversaw the climax of the Final Solution. During 1943 and 1944, the extermination camps worked at a furious rate to kill the hundreds of thousands of people shipped to them by rail from almost every country within the German sphere of influence. By the spring of 1944, up to 8,000 people were being gassed every day at Auschwitzmarker.

Despite the high productivity of the war industries based in the Jewish ghettos in the General Government, during 1943 they were liquidated, and their populations shipped to the camps for extermination. The largest of these operations, the deportation of 100,000 people from the Warsaw Ghetto in early 1943, provoked the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which was suppressed with great brutality. At the same time, rail shipments arrived regularly from western and southern Europe. Few Jews were shipped from the occupied Soviet territories to the camps: the killing of Jews in this zone was left in the hands of the SS, aided by locally recruited auxiliaries. In any case, by the end of 1943 the Germans had been driven from most Soviet territory.

Shipments of Jews to the camps had priority on the German railways, and continued even in the face of the increasingly dire military situation after the Battle of Stalingradmarker at the end of 1942 and the escalating Allied air attacks on German industry and transport. Army leaders and economic managers complained at this diversion of resources and at the killing of irreplaceable skilled Jewish workers. By 1944, moreover, it was evident to most Germans not blinded by Nazi fanaticism that Germany was losing the war. Many senior officials began to fear the retribution that might await Germany and them personally for the crimes being committed in their name. But the power of Himmler and the SS within the German Reich was too great to resist, and Himmler could always evoke Hitler's authority for his demands.
Budapest, Hungary - Captured Jewish women in Wesselényi Street, 20-22 October 1944
Budapest, Hungary - Hungarian and German soldiers drive arrested Jews into the municipal theatre dated October 1944.
In October 1943, Himmler gave a speech to senior Nazi Party officials gathered in Posenmarker (Poznanmarker in western Poland). Here he came closer than ever before to stating explicitly that he was intent on exterminating the Jews of Europe:

The audience for this speech included Admiral Karl Dönitz and Armaments Minister Albert Speer, both of whom successfully claimed at the Nuremberg trialsmarker that they had had no knowledge of the Final Solution. The text of this speech was not known at the time of their trials.

The scale of extermination slackened somewhat at the beginning of 1944 once the ghettos in occupied Poland were emptied, but in March 19, 1944, Hitler ordered the military occupation of Hungary, and Eichmann was dispatched to Budapestmarker to supervise the deportation of Hungary's 800,000 Jews. Hitler had personally complained to the Hungarian regent Admiral Miklos Horthy on the previous day, March 18, 1944, that:

More than half of them were shipped to Auschwitz in the course of the year. The commandant, Rudolf Höß, said at his trial that he killed 400,000 Hungarian Jews in three months. This operation met strong opposition within the Nazi hierarchy, and there were some suggestions that Hitler should offer the Allies a deal under which the Hungarian Jews would be spared in exchange for a favorable peace settlement. There were unofficial negotiations in Istanbulmarker between Himmler's agents, British agents, and representatives of Jewish organizations, and at one point an attempt by Eichmann to exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks—the so-called "blood for goods" proposal—but there was no real possibility of such a deal being struck (see Joel Brand and Rudolf Kastner).

Escapes, publication of news of the death camps (April–June 1944)

Auschwitz concentration camp photos of Pilecki (1941)
Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside. In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that "the local population is fanatically Polish and … prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead."

In February 1942, an escaped inmate from the Chelmno extermination campmarker, Jacob Grojanowski, reached the Warsaw Ghetto, where he gave detailed information about the Chelmno camp to the Oneg Shabbat group. His report, which became known as the Grojanowski Report, was smuggled out of the ghetto through the channels of the Polish underground to the Delegatura, and reached London by June 1942. It is unclear what was done with the report at that point. In the meantime, by the 1st of February, the United States Office of War Information had decided not to release information about the extermination of the Jews because it was felt that it would mislead the public into thinking the war was simply a Jewish problem.

In December 1942, the western Allies released a declaration, publicized on the New York Times front page, that described how "Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe" was being carried out and which declared that they "condemn in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination."

In 1943 the news about gassing Jews was broadcast from London to The Netherlands. It was also published in illegal newspapers of the Dutch resistance, like in the issue of Het Parool of September 27, 1943. However, the news was so unbelievable that many assumed it was merely war propaganda. The publications were halted because they were counter-productive for the Dutch resistance. Nevertheless, many Jews were warned that they would be murdered, but as escape was impossible for most of them, they preferred to believe that the warnings were false.

In September 1940, Captain Witold Pilecki, a member of the Polish underground and a soldier of the Home Army, worked out a plan to enter Auschwitz and volunteered to be sent there, the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz. He organized an underground network Związek Organizacji Wojskowej - (eng.Union of Military Organizations) that was ready to initiate an uprising but it was decided that the probability of success was too low for the uprising to succeed. UMO's numerous and detailed reports became later a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz with information that became the basis of a two-part report in August 1943 that was sent to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London. The report included details about the gas chambers, about "selection," and about the sterilization experiments. It stated that there were three crematoria in Birkenau able to burn 10,000 people daily, and that 30,000 people had been gassed in one day. The author wrote: "History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life." Raul Hilberg writes that the report was filed away with a note that there was no indication as to the reliability of the source. When Pilecki returned to Poland after the war the communist authorities arrested and accused him of spying for the Polish government in exile. He was sentenced to death in a show trial and was executed on May 25, 1948.

Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, Jewish inmates, escaped from Auschwitz in April 1944, eventually reaching Slovakiamarker. The 32-page document they dictated to Jewish officials about the mass murder at Auschwitz became known as the Vrba-Wetzler report. Vrba had an eidetic memory and had worked on the Judenrampe, where Jews disembarked from the trains to be "selected" either for the gas chamber or slave labor. The level of detail with which he described the transports allowed Slovakian officials to compare his account with their own deportation records, and the corroboration convinced the Allies to take the report seriously.

Two other Auschwitz inmates, Arnost Rosin and Czesław Mordowicz escaped on May 27, 1944, arriving in Slovakia on June 6, the day of the Normandy landing (D-Day). Hearing about Normandy, they believed the war was over and got drunk to celebrate, using dollars they'd smuggled out of the camp. They were arrested for violating currency laws, and spent eight days in prison, before the Judenrat paid their fines. The additional information they offered the Judenrat was added to Vrba and Wetzler's report and became known as the Auschwitz Protocols. They reported that, between May 15 and May 27, 1944, 100,000 Hungarian Jews had arrived at Birkenau, and had been killed at an unprecedented rate, with human fat being used to accelerate the burning.

The BBC and The New York Times published material from the Vrba-Wetzler report on June 15 and June 20, 1944. The subsequent pressure from world leaders persuaded Miklos Horthy to bring the mass deportations of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz to a halt on July 9, saving up to 200,000 Jews from the extermination camps.

Death marches (1944–1945)

Children from Auschwitz liberated by the Red Army in January, 1945.
Although most children were immediately killed upon arrival, this group includes Jewish twins kept alive to be used in Mengele's medical experiments
By mid 1944, the Final Solution had largely run its course. Those Jewish communities within easy reach of the Nazi regime had been largely exterminated, in proportions ranging from more than 90 percent in Poland to about 25 percent in France. In May, Himmler claimed in a speech that "The Jewish question in Germany and the occupied countries has been solved." During 1944, in any case, the task became steadily more difficult. German armies were evicted from the Soviet Union, the Balkans and Italy, and German allies were either defeated or were switching sides to the Allies. In June, the western Allies landed in France. Allied air attacks and the operations of partisans made rail transport increasingly difficult, and the objections of the military to the diversion of rail transport for carrying Jews to Poland more urgent and harder to ignore.

At this time, as the Soviet armed forces approached, the camps in eastern Poland were closed down, any surviving inmates being shipped west to camps closer to Germany, first to Auschwitz and later to Gross Rosenmarker in Silesia. Auschwitz itself was closed as the Soviets advanced through Poland. The last 13 prisoners, all women, were killed in Auschwitz II on November 25, 1944; records show they were "unmittelbar getötet" ("killed outright"), leaving open whether they were gassed or otherwise disposed of.

Despite the desperate military situation, great efforts were made to conceal evidence of what had happened in the camps. The gas chambers were dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, mass graves dug up and the corpses cremated, and Polish farmers were induced to plant crops on the sites to give the impression that they had never existed. In October 1944, Himmler, who is believed to have been negotiating a secret deal with the Allies behind Hitler's back, ordered an end to the Final Solution. But the hatred of the Jews in the ranks of the SS was so strong that Himmler's order was generally ignored. Local commanders continued to kill Jews, and to shuttle them from camp to camp by forced "death marches" until the last weeks of the war.

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

The largest and best-known of the death marches took place in January 1945, when the Soviet army advanced on Poland. Nine days before the Soviets arrived at Auschwitz, the SS marched 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Wodzislaw, 56 km (35 miles) away, where they were put on freight trains to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way. Elie Wiesel and his father, Shlomo, were among the marchers:


A grave inside Bergen-Belsen
Starving prisoners in Mauthausen camp liberated on May 5, 1945

The first major camp, Majdanekmarker, was discovered by the advancing Soviets on July 23, 1944. Auschwitzmarker was liberated, also by the Soviets, on January 27, 1945; Buchenwaldmarker by the Americans on April 11; Bergen-Belsen by the British on April 15; Dachaumarker by the Americans on April 29; Ravensbrück by the Soviets on the same day; Mauthausenmarker by the Americans on May 5; and Theresienstadtmarker by the Soviets on May 8. Treblinkamarker, Sobibormarker, and Belzecmarker were never liberated, but were destroyed by the Nazis in 1943. Colonel William W. Quinn of the U.S. 7th Army said of Dachau: "There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind."

In most of the camps discovered by the Soviets, almost all the prisoners had already been removed, leaving only a few thousand alive—7,000 inmates were found in Auschwitz, including 180 children who had been experimented on by doctors. Some 60,000 prisoners were discovered at Bergen-Belsen by the British 11th Armoured Division, 13,000 corpses lay unburied, and another 10,000 died from typhus or malnutrition over the following weeks. The British forced the remaining SS guards to gather up the corpses and place them in mass graves.

The BBC's Richard Dimbleby described the scenes that greeted him and the British Army at Belsen:

Victims and death toll

Victims Killed Source
Jews 5.9 million
Soviet POWs 2–3 million
Ethnic Poles 1.8–2 million
Romani 220,000–1,500,000
Disabled 200,000–250,000
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000

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

Broader definitions include between 220,000 and 500,000 Romani, and the 200,000 disabled and mentally ill who were also targeted for eradication. A broader definition still includes political and religious dissenters, two to three million Soviet POWs, and 5,000 to 15,000 gay men, bringing the death toll to nine million. This rises to 11 million if the deaths of 1.8 to 2 million ethnic Poles are included. The broadest definition would include 6 million Soviet civilians, raising the death toll to 17 million. R.J. Rummel estimates the total democide death toll of Nazi Germany to be 21 million. Other estimates put total casualties of Soviet Union's citizens alone to about 26 million

Since 1945, the most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed has been six million. The Yad Vashemmarker Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalemmarker, writes that there is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed. The figure most commonly used is the six million cited by Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official. Early calculations range from 5.1 million from Raul Hilberg, to 5.95 million from Jacob Leschinsky. Yisrael Gutman and Robert Rozett in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust estimate 5.59–5.86 million. A study led by Wolfgang Benz of the Technical University of Berlin suggests 5.29–6.2 million. Yad Vashem writes that the main sources for these statistics are comparisons of prewar and postwar censuses and population estimates, and Nazi documentation on deportations and murders. Its Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names currently holds close to 3 million names of Holocaust victims, all accessible online. Yad Vashem continues its project of collecting names of Jewish victims from historical documents and individual memories.


Entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1945
Hilberg's estimate of 5.1 million, in the third edition of The Destruction of the European Jews, includes over 800,000 who died from "ghettoization and general privation"; 1,400,000 killed in open-air shootings; and up to 2,900,000 who perished in camps. Hilberg estimates the death toll of Jews in Poland as up to 3,000,000. Hilberg's numbers are generally considered to be a conservative estimate, as they typically include only those deaths for which records are available, avoiding statistical adjustment.

British historian Martin Gilbert used a similar approach in his Atlas of the Holocaust, but arrived at a number of 5.75 million Jewish victims, since he estimated higher numbers of Jews killed in Russia and other locations. Lucy S. Dawidowicz used pre-war census figures to estimate that 5.934 million Jews died (see table below) here).

There were about 8 to 10 million Jews in the territories controlled directly or indirectly by the Nazis (the uncertainty arises from the lack of knowledge about how many Jews there were in the Soviet Union). The six million killed in the Holocaust thus represent 60 to 75 percent of these Jews. Of Poland's 3.3 million Jews, over 90 percent were killed. The same proportion were killed in Latviamarker and Lithuaniamarker, but most of Estoniamarker's Jews were evacuated in time. Of the 750,000 Jews in Germany and Austria in 1933, only about a quarter survived. Although many German Jews emigrated before 1939, the majority of these fled to Czechoslovakiamarker, France or the Netherlands, from where they were later deported to their deaths. In Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, over 70 percent were killed. More than 50 percent were killed in Belgium, Hungary, and Romaniamarker. It is likely that a similar proportion were killed in Belarusmarker and Ukrainemarker, but these figures are less certain. Countries with notably lower proportions of deaths include Bulgariamarker, Denmark, France, Italy, and Norway.
Year Jews Killed
1933–1940 under 100,000
1941 1,100,000
1942 2,700,000
1943 500,000
1944 600,000
1945 100,000
The number of people killed at the major extermination camps is estimated as: Auschwitz-Birkenaumarker: 1.4 million; Treblinkamarker: 870,000; Belzecmarker: 600,000; Majdanekmarker: 360,000; Chelmnomarker: 320,000; Sobibórmarker: 250,000. This gives a total of over 3.8 million; of these, 80–90% were estimated to be Jews. These seven camps thus accounted for half the total number of Jews killed in the entire Nazi Holocaust. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Poland died in these camps.

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

By country

The following figures from Lucy Dawidowicz show the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe by (pre-war) country:

Country Estimated Pre-War Jewish population Estimated Jewish population annihilated Percent killed
Polandmarker 3,300,000 3,000,000 90
Baltic countries 253,000 228,000 90
Germanymarker & Austriamarker 240,000 210,000 90
Bohemia & Moravia 90,000 80,000 89
Slovakiamarker 90,000 75,000 83
Greecemarker 70,000 54,000 77
Netherlandsmarker 140,000 105,000 75
Hungarymarker 650,000 450,000 70
Byelorussian SSR 375,000 245,000 65
Ukrainian SSR 1,500,000 900,000 60
Belgiummarker 65,000 40,000 60
Yugoslavia 43,000 26,000 60
Romaniamarker 600,000 300,000 50
Norwaymarker 2,173 890 41
Francemarker 350,000 90,000 26
Bulgariamarker 64,000 14,000 22
Italymarker 40,000 8,000 20
Luxembourgmarker 5,000 1,000 20
Russian SFSR 975,000 107,000 11
Denmarkmarker 8,000 52 <1<></1<>strong>
Finlandmarker 2,000 22 1
Total 8,861,800 5,933,900 67

Non Jewish victims

Note: Scholars differ on whether the definition of the Holocaust should also include the millions of non-Jewish victims of Nazi genocide.


One of Hitler's ambitions at the start of the war was to exterminate, expel, or enslave most or all Slavs from their native lands so as to make living space for German settlers. This plan of genocide was to be carried into effect gradually over a period of 25–30 years.

Ethnic Poles
Execution of Poles by Einsatzkommando, Leszno, October 1939
Announcement of death penalty for Poles helping Jews
Polish civilians executed in Warsaw

The actions taken against ethnic Poles were not on the scale of the genocide of the Jews. Most Polish Jews (90%) perished during the Holocaust, while most Christian Poles (94%) survived the brutal German occupation. German Nazi planners in November 1939 called for nothing less than "the complete destruction" of the Polish people. "All Poles", Heinrich Himmler swore, "will disappear from the world". The Polish state under German occupation was to be cleared of ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists. Of the Poles, by 1952 only about 3–4 million of them were supposed to be left residing in the former Poland, and then only to serve as slaves for German settlers. They were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist. On August 22, 1939, about one week before the onset of the war, Hitler "prepared, for the moment only in the East, my 'Death's Headmarker' formations with orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need."

Nazi planners decided against a genocide of ethnic Poles on the same scale as against ethnic Jews, it could not proceed in the short run since "such a solution to the Polish question would represent a burden to the German people into the distant future, and everywhere rob us of all understanding, not least in that neighbouring peoples would have to reckon at some appropriate time, with a similar fate". Between 1.8 and 2.1 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished in German hands during the course of the war, about four-fifths of whom were ethnic Poles with the remaining fifth being ethnic minorities of Ukrainians and Belarusians, the vast majority of them civilians. At least 200,000 of these victims died in concentration camps with about 146,000 being killed in Auschwitzmarker. Many others died as a result of general massacres such as in the Warsaw Uprising where between 120,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed. The policy of the Germans in Poland included diminishing food rations, conscious lowering of the state of hygiene and depriving the population of medical services. The general mortality rate rose from 13 to 18 per thousand. Overall, about 5.6 million of the victims WW2 were Polish citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and over the course of the war Poland lost 16 percent of its pre-war population; approx. 3.1 million of the 3.3 million Polish Jews and approx. 2 million of the 31.7 non-Jewish Polish citizens died at German hands during the war. Over 90 percent of the death toll came through non-military losses, as most of the civilians were targeted by various deliberate actions by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Ethnic Yugoslavs
In the Balkans, up to 581,000 Yugoslavs were killed by the Nazis and their Ustaše fascist allies in Yugoslavia. German forces, under express orders from Hitler, fought with a special vengeance against the Serbs, who were considered Untermensch. The Ustaše collaborators conducted a systematic extermination of large numbers of people for political, religious or racial reasons. The most numerous victims were Serbs.

Bosniaks and Croats were also victims of Jasenovac. According to the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

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

The USHMMmarker and Jewish Virtual Library report between 56,000 and 97,000 persons were killed at the Jasenovac concentration campmarker. However, Yad Vashemmarker reports 600,000 deaths at Jasenovacmarker.

As per the most recent study, Bosnjaci u Jasenovackom logoru ("Bosniaks in Jasenovac concentration camp") by the author Nihad Halilbegovic, at least 103,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim Slavs) perished during Holocaust at the hands of the Nazi regime and Croatian Ustaše. According to the study "unknown is the full number of Bosniaks who were murdered under Serb or Croat alias or national name" and "large numbers of Bosniaks were killed and listed under Roma populations", therefore in advance sentenced to death and extermination.

East Slavs
In Belarusmarker, Nazi Germany imposed a regime in the country that was responsible for burning down some 9,000 villages, deporting some 380,000 people for slave labour, and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. More than 600 villages, like Khatynmarker, were burned along with their entire population and at least 5,295 Belarusianmarker settlements were destroyed by the Nazis and some or all of their inhabitants killed. Altogether, 1,670,000 civilians (18 percent of the population) were killed during the three years of German occupation. including 245,000 Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppenmarker.

Soviet POWs

According to Michael Berenbaum, between two and three million Soviet prisoners-of-war—or around 57 percent of all Soviet POWs—died of starvation, mistreatment, or executions between June 1941 and May 1945, and most those during their first year of captivity. According to other estimates by Daniel Goldhagen, an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs died in eight months in 1941–42, with a total of 3.5 million by mid-1944. The USHMMmarker has estimated that 3.3 million of the 5.7 million Soviet POWs died in German custody—compared to 8,300 of 231,000 British and American prisoners. The death rates decreased as the POWs were needed to work as slaves to help the German war effort; by 1943, half a million of them had been deployed as slave labor.

Romani people

Map of persecution of the Roma.

Because the Roma and Sinti are traditionally a secretive people with a culture based on oral history, less is known about their experience of the genocide than about that of any other group. Yehuda Bauer writes that the lack of information can be attributed to the Roma's distrust and suspicion, and to their humiliation, because some of the basic taboos of Romani culture regarding hygiene and sexual contact were violated at Auschwitz. Bauer writes that "most [Roma] could not relate their stories involving these tortures; as a result, most kept silent and thus increased the effects of the massive trauma they had undergone."

Donald Niewyk and Frances Nicosia write that the death toll was at least 130,000 of the nearly one million Roma and Sinti in Nazi-controlled Europe. Michael Berenbaum writes that serious scholarly estimates lie between 90,000 and 220,000. A detailed study by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, calculated a death toll of at least 220,000, and possibly closer to 500,000. Martin Gilbert estimates a total of more than 220,000 of the 700,000 Romani in Europe. Ian Hancock, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued in favour of a higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000. Hancock writes that, proportionately, the death toll equaled "and almost certainly exceed[ed], that of Jewish victims."

Before being sent to the camps, the victims were herded into ghettos, including several hundred into the Warsaw Ghetto. Further east, teams of Einsatzgruppenmarker tracked down Romani encampments and murdered the inhabitants on the spot, leaving no records of the victims. They were also targeted by the puppet regimes that cooperated with the Nazis, e.g. the Ustaše regime in Croatiamarker, where a large number of Romani were killed in the Jasenovac concentration campmarker.

In May 1942, the Romani were placed under the same labor and social laws as the Jews. On December 16, 1942, Heinrich Himmler, Commander of the SSmarker and regarded as the "architect" of the Nazi genocide, issued a decree that "Gypsy Mischlinge (mixed breeds), Romani, and members of the clans of Balkan origins who are not of German blood" should be sent to Auschwitz, unless they had served in the Wehrmacht. On January 29, 1943, another decree ordered the deportation of all German Romani to Auschwitz.

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

Disabled and mentally ill

Action T4 was a program established in 1939 to maintain the genetic purity of the German population by killing or sterilizing German and Austrian citizens who were judged to be disabled or suffering from mental disorder.

Between 1939 and 1941, 80,000 to 100,000 mentally ill adults in institutions were killed; 5,000 children in institutions; and 1,000 Jews in institutions. Outside the mental health institutions, the figures are estimated as 20,000 (according to Dr. Georg Renno, the deputy director of Schloss Hartheimmarker, one of the euthanasia centers) or 400,000 (according to Frank Zeireis, the commandant of Mauthausen concentration campmarker). Another 300,000 were forcibly sterilized. Overall it has been estimated that over 200,000 individuals with mental disorders of all kinds were put to death, although their mass murder has received relatively little historical attention. Despite not being formally ordered to take part, psychiatrists and psychiatric institutions were at the center of justifying, planning and carrying out the atrocities at every stage, and "constituted the connection" to the later annihilation of Jews and other "undesirables" in the Holocaust.After strong protests by the German Catholic and Protestant churches on August 24, 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program

The program was named after Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergartenmarker, the headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil und Anstaltspflege (General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care), led by Philipp Bouhler, head of Hitler’s private chancellery (Kanzlei des Führer der NSDAP) and Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician.

Brandt was tried in December 1946 at Nurembergmarker, along with 22 others, in a case known as United States of America vs. Karl Brandt et al., also known as the Doctors' Trialmarker. He was hanged at Landsberg Prisonmarker on June 2, 1948.


Between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexuals of German nationality are estimated to have been sent to concentration camps. James D. Steakley writes that what mattered in Germany was criminal intent or character, rather than criminal acts, and the "gesundes Volksempfinden" ("healthy sensibility of the people") became the leading normative legal principle. In 1936, Himmler created the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion". Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular sentiment," and homosexuals were consequently regarded as "defilers of German blood." The Gestapo raided gay 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 neighbours.

Tens of thousands were convicted between 1933 and 1944 and sent to camps for "rehabilitation", where they were identified by yellow armbands"Non-Jewish victims of Nazism", Encyclopaedia Britannica. and later pink triangles worn on the left side of the jacket and the right trouser leg, which singled them out for sexual abuse. Hundreds were castrated by court order. They were humiliated, tortured, used in hormone experiments conducted by SS doctors, and killed. Steakley writes that the full extent of gay suffering was slow to emerge after the war. Many victims kept their stories to themselves because homosexuality remained criminalized in postwar Germany. Around two percent of German homosexuals were persecuted by Nazis.


In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry had "succumbed" to the Jews: "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry is then transmitted to the masses of society by the Jewish press." Freemasons were sent to concentration camps as political prisoners, and forced to wear an inverted red triangle. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum believes “because many of the Freemasons who were arrested were also Jews and/or members of the political opposition, it is not known how many individuals were placed in Nazi concentration camps and/or were targeted only because they were Freemasons.”

Jehovah's Witnesses

Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Nazi party or to serve in the military, roughly 12,000 Jehovah's Witnesses were forced to wear a purple triangle and placed in camps, where they were given the option of renouncing their faith and submitting to the state's authority. Between 2,500 and 5,000 were killed. Historian Detlef Garbe, director at the Neuengamme (Hamburg) Memorial, writes that "no other religious movement resisted the pressure to conform to National Socialism with comparable unanimity and steadfastness."

Political activists

German communists, socialists and trade unionists were among the earliest domestic opponents of Nazism and were also among the first to be sent to concentration camps. Hitler claimed that communism was a Jewish ideology which the Nazis termed "Judeo-Bolshevism". Fear of communist agitation was used as justification for the Enabling Act of 1933, the law which gave Hitler his original dictatorial powers. Herman Göring later testified at the Nuremberg Trialsmarker that the Nazis' willingness to repress German communists prompted President Paul von Hindenburg and the German elite to cooperate with the Nazis. The first concentration camp was built at Dachau, in March 1933, to imprison German communists, socialists, trade unionists and others opposed to the Nazis. Communists, social democrats and other political prisoners were forced to wear a red triangle.

Hitler and the Nazis also hated German leftists because of their resistance to the party's racism. Many leaders of German leftist groups were Jews, and Jews were especially prominent among the leaders of the Spartacist Uprising in 1919. Hitler already referred to Marxism and "Bolshevism" as a means of "the international Jew" to undermine "racial purity" and survival of the Nordics or Aryans, as well to stir up socioeconomic class tension and labor unions against the government or state-owned businesses. Within the concentration camps such as Buchenwaldmarker, German communists were privileged in comparison to Jews because of their "racial purity."

Whenever the Nazis occupied a new territory, members of communist, socialist, or anarchist groups were normally to be the first persons detained or executed. Evidence of this is found in Hitler's infamous Commissar Order, in which he ordered the summary execution of all political commissars captured among Soviet soldiers, as well as the execution of all Communist Party members in German held territory. Einsatzgruppenmarker carried out these executions in the east.

Nacht und Nebel (German for "Night and Fog") was a directive ( ) of Hitler on December 7, 1941 signed and implemented by Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in kidnapping and disappearance of many political activists throughout Nazi Germany's occupied territories.

See also

Involvement of other countries and nationals

Aftermath and historiography


Related links


  1. "Holocaust," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009: "the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this "the final solution to the Jewish question ..."
  2. Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than Jews by the Germans in World War II." Also see "The Holocaust", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007: "the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women and children, and millions of others, by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this "the final solution to the Jewish question".
  3. Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian deaths, would produce a death toll of 17 million. Google Books Estimates of the death toll of non-Jewish victims vary by millions, partly because the boundary between death by persecution and death by starvation and other means in a context of total war is unclear. Overall, about 5.7 million (78 percent) of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe perished (Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust 1988, pp. 242-244). Compared to five to 11 million (1.4 percent to 3.0 percent) of the 360 million non-Jews in German-dominated Europe. Small, Melvin and J. David Singer. Resort to Arms: International and civil Wars 1816-1980 and Berenbaum, Michael. A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. New York: New York University Press, 1990
  4. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know," United States Holocaust Museum, 2006, p. 103.
  5. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, vol.4, p.2859
  6. Simon Schama, A History of Britain, episode 3, 'Dynasty'; BBC DVD, 2000
  7. Alan Steinweis provides a survey of this phenomenon, "The Holocaust and American Culture," published in the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2001.
  8. " "The Holocaust: Definition and Preliminary Discussion", Yad Vashem. Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  9. For an opposing view on the allegedly offensive nature of the meaning of the word Holocaust, see Petrie, Jon. "The Secular Word 'HOLOCAUST': Scholarly Myths, History, and Twentieth Century Meanings," Journal of Genocide Research Vol. 2, no. 1 (2000): 31-63.
  10. The Oxford English Dictionary, Clarendon Press, 2nd ed.Oxford 1989, vol.VII p.315 sect c.'complete destruction, esp. of a large number of persons; a great slaughter or massacre' citing examples from 1711, 1833, and 1883 onwards.
  11. "As for the Turkish atrocities ... helpless Armenians, men, women, and children together, whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust - these were beyond human redress." (Winston Churchill, The World in Crisis, volume 4: The Aftermath, New York, 1923, p. 158).
  12. Setbon, Jessica. "Who Beat My Father? Issues of Terminology and Translation in Teaching the Holocaust", workshop from a May 2006 conference; see Yad Vashem website.
  13. Holocaust, Yad Vashem
  14. "Holocaust—Definition", Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Vol. II, MacMillan.
  15. Petrie, Jon. "The Secular Word 'HOLOCAUST': Scholarly Myths, History, and Twentieth Century Meanings," Journal of Genocide Research Vol 2, no. 1 (2000): 31-63.
  16. A useful analysis of the terms can be found in Bartov, Omer. "Antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Reinterpretation of National Socialism," in Berenbaum, Michael & Peck, Abraham J. (eds.) The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined. Bloomington 1998, pp. 75–98.
  18. "The Holocaust", Compact Oxford English Dictionary: "(the Holocaust) the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime in World War II."
  19. "Holocaust", Encarta: "Holocaust, the almost complete destruction of Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II (1939–1945). The leadership of Germany’s Nazi Party ordered the extermination of 5.6 million to 5.9 million Jews (see National Socialism). Jews often refer to the Holocaust as Shoah (from the Hebrew word for “catastrophe” or “total destruction”)."
  20. *Weissman, Gary. Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Attempts to Experience the Holocaust, Cornell University Press, 2004, ISBN 0801442532, p. 94: "Kren illustrates his point with his reference to the Kommissararbefehl. 'Should the (strikingly unreported) systematic mass starvation of Soviet prisoners of war be included in the Holocaust?' he asks. Many scholars would answer no, maintaining that 'the Holocaust' should refer strictly to those events involving the systematic killing of the Jews'." * "The Holocaust: Definition and Preliminary Discussion", Yad Vashem: "The Holocaust, as presented in this resource center, is defined as the sum total of all anti-Jewish actions carried out by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945: from stripping the German Jews of their legal and economic status in the 1930s, to segregating and starving Jews in the various occupied countries, to the murder of close to six million Jews in Europe. The Holocaust is part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and murder of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazis." *Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II. Not everyone finds this a fully satisfactory definition. The Nazis also killed millions of people belonging to other groups: Gypsies, the physically and mentally handicapped, Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, political prisoners, religious dissenters, and homosexuals." *Paulsson, Steve. "A View of the Holocaust", BBC: "The Holocaust was the Nazis' assault on the Jews between 1933 and 1945. It culminated in what the Nazis called the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe', in which six million Jews were murdered. The Jews were not the only victims of Nazism. It is estimated that as many as 15 million civilians were killed by this murderous and racist regime, including millions of Slavs and 'asiatics', 200,000 Gypsies and members of various other groups. Thousands of people, including Germans of African descent, were forcibly sterilised." * "The Holocaust", "The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War 2. In 1933 nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be military occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. 1.5 million children under the age of 12 were murdered. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of handicapped children." * "Holocaust—Definition", Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies: "HOLOCAUST (Heb., sho'ah). In the 1950s the term came to be applied primarily to the destruction of the Jews of Europe under the Nazi regime, and it is also employed in describing the annihilation of other groups of people in World War II. The mass extermination of Jews has become the archetype of genocide, and the terms sho'ah and "holocaust" have become linked to the attempt by the Nazi German state to destroy European Jewry during World War II … One of the first to use the term in the historical perspective was the Jerusalem historian BenZion Dinur (Dinaburg), who, in the spring of 1942, stated that the Holocaust was a "catastrophe" that symbolized the unique situation of the Jewish people among the nations of the world." *Also see the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies list of definitions: "Holocaust: A term for the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945." *The 33rd Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches defines the Holocaust as "the Nazi attempt to annihilate European Jewry," cited in Hancock, Ian. "Romanies and the Holocaust: A Reevaluation and an Overview" , Stone, Dan. (ed.) The Historiography of the Holocaust. Palgrave-Macmillan, New York 2004, pp. 383–396. *Bauer, Yehuda. Rethinking the Holocaust. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2001, p.10. *Dawidowicz, Lucy. The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945. Bantam, 1986, p.xxxvii: "'The Holocaust' is the term that Jews themselves have chosen to describe their fate during World War II."
  21. Yehuda Bauer A History of the Holocaust. F. Watts, 1982 ISBN 0531098621 p.331; chapter 1
  22. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Yehuda Bauer
  23. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Xu Xin
  24. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Ben Kiernan
  25. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Edward Kissi
  26. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Simone Veil
  27. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Monika Richarz
  28. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, Francis Deng
  29. Michael Berenbaum Berenbaum, Michael. A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, New York: New York University Press, 1990, pp.21-35
  30. Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann. The Racial State:Germany 1933-1945 ISBN 0521398029 Cambridge University Press 1991. This work favors a more expansive definition of the Holocaust, pointing out that Nazi Germany had a racist ideology by no means limited to anti-Semitism.
  31. Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Paper Series, László Teleki
  32. David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 268.
  33. Alan S Rosenbaum, Israel W. (FRW) Charny, Is the Holocaust Unique?
  34. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know," United States Holocaust Museum, 2006, p. 104.
  35. Maier, Charles The Unmasterable Past, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988 page 53
  36. Holocaust Map of Concentration and Death Camps
  37. Bauer, Yehuda. Rethinking the Holocaust New Haven: Yale UP, 2002, p. 49. For a good summary of this point, see Yehuda Bauer's Address to the Bundestag.
  38. Full text
  39. Full text
  40. "Boycotts", Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota. Retrieved September 6, 2006.
  41. Yehuda Bauer- A History of the Holocaust-1982
  42. Raul Hilberg- The Destruction of the European Jews-1961.
  43. Lucy Dawidowicz-The War Against the Jews-1975
  44. Hans Küng, On Being a Christian (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1976), p. 169.
  45. Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. First published 1997 by HarperCollins; this edition, HarperPerennial 1998, p. 33.
  46. Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. First published 1997 by HarperCollins; this edition, HarperPerennial 1998, p. 29.
  47. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, p. 57.
  48. Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. First published 1997 by HarperCollins; this edition, HarperPerennial 1998, p. 1.
  49. Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. First published 1997 by HarperCollins; this edition, HarperPerennial 1998, p. 12.
  50. Wolfgang Benz, Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen- das dritte Reich, 2nd edition, C.H.Beck, 2007, p.97, ISBN 3406568491
  51. Benz 2007:97 says 26,000 to Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen; Buchholz 1999:510 says Pomeranian Jews to Oranienburg
  52. Werner Buchholz, Pommern, Siedler, 1999, p.510, ISBN 3886802728
  53. Padfield, Peter. Himmler: Reichsfuhrer SS. Macmillian 1990, p. 270. Padfield gives as his source for both the Heydrich quote and Eichmann's comment on it J von Lang and C Sybill (eds) Eichmann Interrogated. Bodley Head, London 1982, pp. 92–93.
  54. Magnus Brechtken, Madagaskar für die Juden: antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1885-1945, 2nd edition, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1998, pp.196ff, ISBN 348656384
  55. Magnus Brechtken, Madagaskar für die Juden: antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1885-1945, 2nd edition, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1998, p.207, ISBN 348656384
  56. Joseph Poprzeczny, Odilo Globocnik, Hitler's man in the East, McFarland, 2004, p.150, ISBN 0786416254
  57. Magnus Brechtken, Madagaskar für die Juden: antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1885-1945, 2nd edition, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1998, p.197, ISBN 348656384
  58. Magnus Brechtken, Madagaskar für die Juden: antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1885-1945, 2nd edition, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1998, pp.200-201, ISBN 348656384
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  61. Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 153.
  62. Kats, Alfred, Poland's Ghettos at War, New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1970, 35.
  63. Yad ṿa-shem, rashut ha-zikaron la-Shoʾah ṿela-gevurah, Yad Vashem studies XXXI, Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, 2003, p.322
  64. Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 154.
  65. Dwork and Jan van Pelt, Holocaust: A History, 208.
  66. Full text
  67. "Concentration Camp Listing", Jewish Virtual Library.
  68. "The Forgotten Camps".
  69. Full text
  70. "Just a Normal Day in the Camps", JewishGen, January 6, 2007.
  71. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 114.
  72. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this edition 2006, pp. 81–83.
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  74. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd edition, 2006, p. 93.
  75. Dina Porat, “The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”, in David Cesarani, The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, Google Print, p. 159
  76. Konrad Kwiet, Rehearsing for Murder: The Beginning of the Final Solution in Lithuania in June 1941, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 12, Number 1, pp. 3-26, 1998,
  77. Hilberg, Raul cited in Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, John Hopkins University Press, 2nd edition, 2006, p. 93.
  78. Issacs, Jeremy. "Susan McConachy', The Guardian, November 23, 2006.
  79. The inscription on the memorial stone raised in the place of the barn at Jedwabne read: "Place of torture and execution of the Jewish population. The Gestapo and Nazi gendarmerie burned 1600 people alive on July 10, 1941." ( ). In 2001 the stone was removed and deposited in the Polish Army Museum in Białystok.
  80. Wolfgang Benz, Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen- das dritte Reich, 2nd edition, C.H.Beck, 2007, p.98, ISBN 3406568491
  81. Quoted in Kogon, E., H. Langbein, and A. Rueckerl (Eds.) 1993. Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  82. Letter from Reinhard Heydrich to Martin Luther, Foreign Office, February 26, 1942, regarding the minutes of the Wannsee Conference.
  83. Protocol of the Wannsee Conference, Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz.
  84. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this edition 2006, p. 101–102.
  85. Yad Vashem, Accessed May 7, 2007
  86. Per, Auschwitz II total numbers are "between 1.3M–1.5M", so we use the middle value 1.4M as estimate here.
  87. Coordinates from: Auschwitz concentration camp
  88. Coordinates from: Belzec extermination camp
  89. Coordinates from: Chelmno extermination camp
  90. Jasenovac, Yad Vashem.
  91. Coordinates from: Jasenovac concentration camp
  92. Coordinates from: Majdanek
  93. Maly Trostinets, Yad Vashem.
  94. Coordinates from: Maly Trostenets extermination camp
  95. Coordinates from: Sobibor extermination camp
  96. Coordinates from: Treblinka extermination camp
  97. Although Chelmno was not technically part of Aktion Reinhard, it began functioning as an extermination camp in December 1941.
  98. "The Auschwitz Album", Yad Vashem.
  99. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 162.
  100. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 170.
  101. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 163.
  102. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 163. Also in Goldensohn, Leon. Nuremberg Interviews, Vintage paperback 2005, p. 298: Goldensohn, an American psychiatrist, interviewed Rudolf Höß at Nuremberg on April 8, 1946. Höß told him: "We cut the hair from women after they had been exterminated in the gas chambers. The hair was then sent to factories, where it was woven into special fittings for gaskets." Höß said that only women's hair was cut and only after they were dead. He said he had first received the order to do this in 1943.
  103. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 172. For the living conditions of the Sonderkommando, Piper quotes survivor testimony from the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
  104. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 171.
  105. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 164.
  106. *Bauer, Yehuda. Forms of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust. In The Nazi Holocaust: Historical Articles on the Destruction of European Jews. Vol. 7: Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust, edited by Michael R. Marrus, 34–48. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989. *Bauer, Yehuda, They chose life: Jewish resistance in the Holocaust, New York, The American Jewish Committee, 1973. * Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Israel Gutman. Yad Vashem. * Resistance During the Holocaust U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum * Jewish Resistance. A Working Bibliography. The Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance. Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  107. Klempner, Mark. The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, The Pilgrim Press, 2006, pp. 145-146.
  108. Kimel, Alexander. "Holocaust Resistance", accessed May 4, 2007.
  109. Johnson, Paul. A History of the Jews, Harper Perennial, 1988, p. 506.
  110. Wood, Thomas E. & Jankowski, Stanisław M. Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust, 1994.
  111. Conway, John S. "The first report about Auschwitz", Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Annual 1 Chapter 07. Retrieved September 11, 2006.
  112. Linn, Ruth. Escaping Auschwitz. A culture of forgetting, Cornell University Press, 2004, p. 20.
  113. Swiebocki, Henryk. "Prisoner Escapes," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 505.
  114. Grojanowski Report
  115. Grojanowski Report, Yad Vashem
  116. Yad Vashem, "Diaries"
  117. Memorandum, Arthur Sweetser to Leo Rosten, February 1, 1942, quoted in Eric Hanin, "War on Our Minds: The American Mass Media in World War II" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1976), ch. 4, n.6
  118. Het Parool, September 27, page 4–5. Concentration camps: where the Nazi's bring their ideals in practice, NIOD (Dutch Institute of War Documentation), Amsterdam
  119. Het 'Illegale Parool'-archief 1940-1945 (4) and Het 'Illegale Parool'-archief 1940-1945 (5) (Het 'Illegale Parool'-archief 1940-1945, September 27, 1943, p 4–5)
  120. Linn, Ruth. "Rudolf Vrba", The Guardian, April 13, 2006.
  121. The BBC first broadcast information from the report on June 18, not June 15, according to Ruth Linn in Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting, p. 28.
  122. "Captured German sound recordings", The National Archives.
  123. using information from a series called Hefte von Auschwitz, and cited in Kárný, Miroslav. "The Vrba and Wetzler report," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, p. 564, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994. The original German is: "25. November Im KL Auschwitz II kommen 24 weibliche Häftlinge ums Leben, von denen 13 unmittelbar getötet werden."
  124. Maps of the main death marches, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  125. p. 649
  126. Holocaust: The events and their impact on real people, DK Publishing in conjunction with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, p. 146.
  127. A film with scenes from the liberation of Dachau, Buchenwald, Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps, supervised by the British Ministry of Information and the American Office of War Information, was begun but never finished or shown. It lay in archives until first aired on PBS's Frontline on May 7, 1985. The film, partly edited by Alfred Hitchcock, can be seen online at Memory of the Camps.
  128. Holocaust: The events and their impact on real people, DK Publishing in conjunction with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, p. 145.
  129. "The 11th Armoured Division (Great Britain)", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  130. "Bergen-Belsen", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  131. Wiesel, Elie. After the Darkness: Reflections on the Holocaust, Schocken Books, p. 41.
  132. "Liberation of Belsen", BBC News, April 15, 1945.
  133. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Oświęcim, Poland.
  134. Dawidowicz, Lucy. The War Against the Jews, Bantam, 1986.p. 403
  135. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 125.
  136. 1.8–1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens are estimated to have died as a result of the Nazi occupation and the war. Estimates are from Polish scholar, Franciszek Piper, the chief historian at Auschwitz. Poles: Victims of the Nazi Era at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  137. "Sinti and Roma", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). The USHMM places the scholarly estimates at 220,000–500,000. Michael Berenbaum in The World Must Know, also published by the USHMM, writes that "serious scholars estimate that between 90,000 and 220,000 were killed under German rule." (Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know," United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 126.
  138. Romanies and the Holocaust: a Reevaluation and Overview
  139. Donna F. Ryan, John S. Schuchman, Deaf People in Hitler's Europe, Gallaudet University Press 2002, 62
  140. The Holocaust Chronicle, Publications International Ltd., p. 108.
  141. Shulman, William L. A State of Terror: Germany 1933–1939. Bayside, New York: Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.
  142. Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust, 1988, pp. 242-244.
  143. Niewyk, Donald L. and Nicosia, Francis R. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 45-52.
  144. The Soviet Economy to the mid-1960s
  145. Israel Gutman. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Reference Books; Reference edition (October 1, 1995.
  146. "How many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust?", FAQs about the Holocaust, Yad Vashem.
  147. About: The Central Database of Shoah Victims Names, Yad Vashem web site.
  148. Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Yale University Press, 2003, c. 1961).
  149. Gilbert, Martin, Atlas of the Holocaust, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1993.
  150. p. 403
  151. The Destruction of the European Jews - Revised and Definite Edition 1985, Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc. Table B-3, p. 1220
  152. "Learning and Remembering about Auschwitz-Birkenau", Yad Vashem.
  153. Treblinka, Yad Vashem.
  154. Belzec, Yad Vashem.
  155. Majdanek, Yad Vashem.
  156. Chelmno, Yad Vashem.
  157. Sobibór, Yad Vashem.
  158. Dietrich Eichholtz "»Generalplan Ost« zur Versklavung osteuropäischer Völker"[1]
  159. Madajczyk, Czesław. "Die Besatzungssysteme der Achsenmächte. Versuch einer komparatistischen Analyse." Studia Historiae Oeconomicae vol. 14 (1980): pp. 105-122 Google Books in Hitler's War in the East, 1941–1945: A Critical Assessment by Gerd R. Uebersch̀ear and Rolf-Dieter Müller
  160. Israel Gutman, Unequal Victims Holocaust Library 1985
  161. Piotrowski, Tadeusz. "Project InPosterum: Poland WWII Casualties", accessed March 15, 2007; and Łuczak, Czesław. "Szanse i trudności bilansu demograficznego Polski w latach 1939–1945", Dzieje Najnowsze, issue 1994/2.
  162. See also review
  163. Nurowski, Roman. 1939–1945 War Losses in Poland, Warsaw 1960,
  164. Poland-WWII-casualties ,Piotrowski, Tadeusz. "Project InPosterum: Poland WWII Casualties"
  165. Žerjavić, VladimirYugoslavia manipulations with the number Second World War victims, Zagreb: Croatian Information center,1993 ISBN 0-919817-32-7 and
  166. Kočović,Bogoljub-Žrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji 1990 ISBN 8601019285
  167. Tomasevich, Jozo. War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0804736154
  168. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Holocaust Era in Croatia: 1941–1945, Jasenovac (go to section III Concentration Camps)[2],
  169. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Jasenovac.,
  170. Jasenovac
  171. Yadvashem. Jasenovac
  172. * Bosniaks in Jasenovac Concentration Camp — Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals, Sarajevo. ISBN 9789958471025. October 2006. (Holocaust Studies)
  173. of Bosniak victims of Jasenovac Meliha Pihura, Magazine, April 13, 2007.
  174. Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1
  175. Niewyk, Donald & Nicosia, Frances. "The Gypsies", The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, p. 47.
  176. "We had the same pain", The Guardian, November 29, 2004.
  177. Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 453.
  178. Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 126.
  179. cited in Re. Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks) Special Master's Proposals, September 11, 2000.
  180. "Sinti and Roma", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  181. (ref Map 182 p 141 with Romani deaths by country & Map 301 p 232) Note: formerly The Dent Atlas of the Holocaust; 1982, 1993.
  182. Hanock, Ian. "Romanies and the Holocaust: A Reevaluation and an Overview" , published in Stone, D. (ed.) (2004) The Historiography of the Holocaust. Palgrave, Basingstoke and New York.
  183. Hancock, Ian. Jewish Responses to the Porajmos (The Romani Holocaust), Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota.
  184. "Deportations to and from the Warsaw Ghetto", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  185. Breitman, Richard. Himmler and the Final Solution: The Architect of Genocide. Random House, 2004.
  186. Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies", in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 444.
  187. Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies", in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 445.
  188. Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies", in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 446.
  189. The word translated here as "fellow German" is Volksgenosse, a term used by the Nazis to signify pure German blood. The Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiterpartei 1920 manifesto stated: "Staatsbürger kann nur sein, wer Volksgenosse ist. Volksgenosse kann nur sein, wer deutschen Blutes ist, ohne Rücksichtnahme auf die Konfession. Kein Jude kann daher Volksgenosse sein." (A "citizen must be Volksgenosse. Volksgenosse must be of German blood, without regard to religious affiliation. No Jew can therefore be Volksgenosse.")
  190. Poster advertising Neues Volk, the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP.
  191. Kershaw, Ian. Hitler, volume II, Norton 2000, p. 430.
  192. Lifton, Robert J. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. London: Papermac, 1986 (reprinted 1990) p. 142.
  193. Neugebauer, Wolfgang. "Racial Hygiene in Vienna 1938", Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, special edition, March 1998.
  194. Rael D Strous (2007) Psychiatry during the Nazi era: ethical lessons for the modern professional Annals of General Psychiatry 2007, 6:8doi:10.1186/1744-859X-6-8
  195. Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, Basic Books 1986
  196. Sereny, Gitta. Into That Darkness, Pimlico 1974, p. 48.
  197. Steakley, James. "Homosexuals and the Third Reich", The Body Politic, Issue 11, January/February 1974.
  198. Giles, Geoffrey J. "The Most Unkindest Cut of All': Castration, Homosexuality and Nazi Justice", Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 1, (January 1992): pp. 41–61.
  199. Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf, pp. 315 and 320.
  200. Katz, Jews and Freemasons in Europe cited in The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, volume 2, page 531.
  201. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Freemasonry under the Nazi Regime
  202. Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime 1933–1945 Social Disinterest, Governmental Disinformation, Renewed Persecution, and Now Manipulation of History? p. 251.
  203. Non-Jewish Resistance, Holocaust Encyclopedia, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
  204. "Horrors of Auschwitz", Newsquest Media Group Newspapers, January 27, 2005
  205. Augustine, Dolores, Book Review of Niven, Bill, The Buchenwald Child: Truth, Fiction, and Propaganda in Central European History 41:01, Cambridge University Press
  206. "The war that time forgot", The Guardian, October 5, 1999
  207. Commissar Order
  208. Peter Hitchens, The Gathering Storm, April 9, 2008

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