The Holocaust The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word ofGreek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were"racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so- called German racial community.
What was the Holocaust ?• The Holocaust was the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. Shortly after Adolf Hitler took over power in Germany in 1933 he began to implement eliminationist measures deigned to disenfranchise German Jews from economic and social positions. In 1935 the Nazis passed laws which stripped Jews of their German citizenship and took away their livelihood. Life for Jews became increasingly worse until the onset of WWII in 1939, when the Germans began to take away their lives. From that point onwards the Germans began deporting Jews to overcrowded• ghettos and concentration camps. Appalling conditions, disease, brutal treatment, exposure to the elements, forced starvation and labor killed thousands.
Who was involved ?• Important people from the Axis Power• Adolf Hitler- the dictator, then later on sole leader of Germany• Joseph Goebbels- propaganda minister for the Nazis, close follower of Hitler• Heinrich Himmler -controller of the SS, second in command of the Nazis• Benito Mussolini- prime minister of Italy, close ally of Hitler• Important people from the Allies•• Franklin Roosevelt- president of the United States• Winston Churchill- prime minister of the United Kingdom• Joesph Stalin- the leader and dictator of the Soviet Union
When did it happen ?• The "Holocaust" refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945 (V-E Day), the end of the war in Europe.
Where did it happen ?• The Holocaust took place mainly in Europe. Citizens - mainly Jews - of western European countries were deported to extermination camps, especially Auschwitz, where they were murdered with poison gas. Citizens of Poland, Russia, Hungary and several other central and eastern European countries were murdered by mobile shooting squads and by poison gas in extermination camps such as Auschwitz, Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor.
How did it happen ?• In purely organizational terms the victims were killed by:• Being forced into ghettos without sufficient food.• They were sent to concentration camps, where they were worked to death.• The Nazi mobile killing units (SD-Einsatzgruppen) killed many in mass, open air shootings.• Gassing at extermination centres.• Hitler was the driving force behind the obsessive and fanatical Nazi persecution and ultimately also the mass slaughter of the Jews and various other groups, though the details of implementation were left to the terror apparatus, headed by Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich.
Why did it happen ? The Jews had previously been subject to all kinds of earlier "religious" prejudices. From the 1870s onwards a new, racial antisemitism was added to this. There was widespread demonization of the Jews.• According to the first part of Ian Kershaws biography Hitler, 1889-1939 Hubris, Penguin Books 1998 Hitler was a "lazy leader" who did not like to bother himself much with formulating day-to-day policy ... As a result, his subordinates at various levels tried to guess what he wanted. This encouraged rapidly growing extremism. The terror apparatus, headed by Himmler and Heydrich, became a very powerful lobby.• There were all kinds of fanciful conspiracy theories about the Jews as the biological root of Communism. The Nazis kept on saying, without any evidence, that the Jews were enemies of Germany and so on. In fact, most German Jews were very pro-German indeed and had fought well for Germany in World War 1. Many were tragically in love with Germany, and some were reluctant to leave the country even if they were able to do so. However, fear of Communism was a powerful force in many parts of Central and Southern Europe in the interwar period, and was ruthlessly exploited by many politicians.• The Holocaust happened because Hitler wanted to purify Germany
Further input on the “Why” question.• Further input: Many Germans blamed the Jews for Germanys defeat in World War I, some even claiming that German Jews had betrayed the nation during the war. In addition, at the end of the war a Communist group attempted to carry out a Bolshevik-type revolution in the German state of Bavaria. Most of the leaders of that failed attempt were Jews. As a result, some Germans associated Jews with Bolsheviks and regarded both groups as dangerous enemies of Germany. After the war, a republic, later known as the Weimar Republic, was set up in Germany. Jewish politicians and intellectuals played an important role in German life during the Weimar Republic, and many non- Jews resented their influence. On the basis of his antisemitic views, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler attacked the impressive role Jews played in German society during the Weimar Republic, especially in the intellectual world and in left-wing politics. He referred to them as a plague and a cancer. In his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle, translated 1939), which was published in 1926, Hitler blamed the plight of Germany at the end of World War I on an international Jewish conspiracy and used terms such as extirpation and extermination in relation to the Jews. He claimed that the Jews had achieved economic dominance and the ability to control and manipulate the mass media to their own advantage. He wrote of the need to eradicate their powerful economic position, if necessary by means of their physical removal.