Holocaust

The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. From 1941 to 1945, Germany targeted European Jewry for extermination as part of a larger event that included the persecution and murder of other groups. A broader definition of the Holocaust includes the murder of the Roma and the "incurably sick". A broader definition still includes ethnic Poles, other Slavic groups, Soviet citizens and prisoners of war, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, black people, and political opponents. Under the coordination of the SS, with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, killings were committed throughout German-occupied Europe, as well as within Germany itself, and across all territories controlled by the Axis powers. Germany implemented the persecution in stages. Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. Starting in 1933, the Nazis built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and people deemed "undesirable". After the invasion of Poland in 1939, the regime set up ghettos to segregate Jews. Over 42,000 camps, ghettos, and other detention sites were established. The deportation of Jews to the ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". In 1941, as German forces captured territories in the East, all anti-Jewish measures were radicalized. Paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews in mass shootings in less than a year. By mid-1942, victims were being deported from the ghettos in sealed freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, they were killed in gas chambers. The killing continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945.