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What is the Holocaust?
The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War 2. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. The European Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust. But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.

How many Jews were murdered?

While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Jewish victims, statistics indicate that the total was over 5,830,000. Six million is the round figure accepted by most authorities.


How many children were murdered?

The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.

Why did Hitler hate the Jews?
Holocaust happened because Hitler and the Nazis were racist. They believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated.

How did the Nazis carry our their policy of genocide?
In the late 1930's the Nazis killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns. Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method of killing. Six extermination centers were established in occupied Poland where large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were conducted systematically. Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease, and execution.

When was the first concentration camp established?
Dachau was the first concentration camp established and was opened on March 22, 1933. The camp's first inmates were primarily political prisoners (Communists or Social Democrats), habitual criminals, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and anti-socials (beggars, vagrants, hawkers). Others considered problematic by the Nazis were also included (Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists, and political

What is a death camp? How many? Where?
A death camp camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Tremblinka. All were located in Poland.

What was Auschwitz-Birkenau?
Auschwitz-Birkenau became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill  prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.

The Story of
Rivka Yosselevska

Sources:
Sir Martin Gilbert: The Holocaust
Sir Martin Gilbert: The Righteous
Klee, Ernst, Willi Dressen and Volker Riess, editors. The Good Old Days. New York: The Free Press. 1988.
The Nizkor Project
The Einsatzgruppen
David Graham: The Holocaust

 

 

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