The holocaust was the state sponsored bureaucratic, systematic persecution and murder of 6 million Jews including 1.5 million Jewish children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators in Europe. It occurred in 1933 to 1945. There are millions other people who were also caught up in the web of destruction woven by the Nazi’s.
In 1933, when Hitler became chancellor, the German government started passing laws that eliminated the rights of Jews as citizens. Eventually, in the German occupied Europe, the Jews were forced through laws to live in certain regions of the city known as ghettos. From there, many Jews were deported by the Nazis to death and labor camps.
Apart from the Jews the Nazis also targeted other minority groups such as political dissidents, those with genetic diseases, the Poles, male homosexuals, the disabled, Jehovah’s Witness and the gypsies or Roma. The anti-Semitic Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler believed the Jews were an inferior race and an alien threat to the racial purity of the Germans and the community.
After years of the Nazis ruling during which Jews were persecuted persistently, Hitler made ‘final solution’ which came to be known as the Holocaust. This was carried out under the disguise of World War 1 with mass killing centers constructed in concentration camps of occupied Poland.
Hitler’s worldview had two twin goals which included spatial expansion and racial purity. From 1933 onward, these goals would combine to form the driving force behind his domestic and foreign policy. The Nazis at first preserved their harshest persecution for political opponents like the social democrats and the communists.
They opened the first official concentration camp in 1933 March at Dachau (near Munich). Majority of the prisoners who were sent to the camp first were communists. Like other concentration camps that followed shortly afterwards and which served as the killing grounds, Dachau was under the command of Heinrich Himmler who was the head of the elite Nazi guard, the SS (Schutzstaffel) then later it was under the German police.
By 1933 July, the concentration camps held more than 27,000 people in protective custody. Huge symbolic acts and Nazi rallies like the public burning of Communists, books by Jews, foreigners and liberals aided in driving the desired message of the Nazis.
Because of Jews persecution, they numbered roughly 525,000 or 1% of the overall German population in 1933. In the next 6 years that followed, the Nazis undertook what was known as ‘Aryanization’ of Germany, liquidating businesses that were owned by the Jews, dismissing non-Aryans from the civil service and stripping Jewish doctors and lawyers of their clients. Under Nuremberg laws, anyone who had 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew while those with 2 were considered Mischlinge (half-breeds).
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