Holocaust

The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was a genocide in which Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and its World War II collaborators killed some six million European Jews. The victims included 1.5 million children, and constituted about two-thirds of the nine million Jews in Continental Europe. A broader definition of the Holocaust includes non-Jewish victims such as the Romani, ethnic Poles, members of other Slavic ethnic groups and Aktion T4 patients who were mentally and physically disabled. An even broader definition includes Soviet citizens and prisoners of war, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, black people, political opponents of the Nazis, and members of other smaller groups. From 1941 to 1945, Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered Jews in a genocide, which was part of a larger event that included the persecution of other peoples in Europe. Under the coordination of the SS, with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in both the logistics and the carrying out of the mass murder. Killings were committed throughout German-occupied Europe, as well as within Nazi Germany itself, and across all territories controlled by the Axis powers. Some 42,500 detention facilities were utilized in the concentration of victims for the purpose of committing gross violations of human rights. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have been Holocaust perpetrators. Germany implemented the persecution in stages, culminating in the policy of extermination termed the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 depriving them of citizenship rights. Starting in 1933 Germany built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and people deemed 'undesirable'. After the invasion of Poland in 1939 the regime began setting up Nazi ghettos in order to segregate Jews from the rest of the conquered population, and to remove them from the Greater Germanic Reich. In 1941, as German forces captured huge territories in the East, all anti-Jewish measures radicalized. Specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews in mass shootings in less than a year. By mid-1942, most Holocaust victims – men, women and children – were deported from the ghettos in sealed Holocaust trains to extermination camps fitted with stationary gas chambers. Many thousands did not survive the journey. This continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945. Jewish resistance to the Nazis, although severely limited in terms of resources, was offered in over 100 locations. The most notable was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, when thousands of Jewish fighters held the Waffen-SS at bay for four weeks. An estimated 20,000–30,000 Jewish partisans actively fought against the Germans and their collaborators in Eastern Europe. French Jews took part in the French Resistance, which conducted a guerilla campaign against both the Germans and the Vichy French authorities. Jewish revolts occurred in at least 19 slave labor camps.

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