The Holocaust (WWII)
(German Occupied Europe – 1941-1945)
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.
The murders were carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; by a policy of extermination through work in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka in occupied Poland.
Germany implemented the persecution in stages. Following Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933, the regime built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and those deemed “undesirable”, starting with Dachau on 22 March 1933. After the passing of the Enabling Act on 24 March, which gave Hitler plenary powers, the government began isolating Jews from civil society; this included boycotting Jewish businesses in April 1933 and enacting the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935. On 9–10 November 1938, eight months after Germany annexed Austria, Jewish businesses and other buildings were ransacked or set on fire throughout Germany and Austria during what became known as Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”). After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, triggering World War II, the regime set up ghettos to segregate Jews. Eventually thousands of camps and other detention sites were established across German-occupied Europe.
The segregation of Jews in ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the Final Solution to the Jewish Question, discussed by senior Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January 1942. As German forces captured territories in the East, all anti-Jewish measures were radicalized. Under the coordination of the SS, with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, killings were committed within Germany itself, throughout occupied Europe, and within territories controlled by Germany’s allies.
Paramilitary death squads called Einsatzgruppen, in cooperation with the German Army and local collaborators, murdered around 1.3 million Jews in mass shootings and pogroms between 1941 and 1945. By mid-1942, victims were being deported from ghettos across Europe in sealed freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, they were gassed, worked or beaten to death, or killed by disease, medical experiments, or during death marches. The killing continued until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945.
The European Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era (1933–1945), in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of others, including ethnic Poles, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, the Roma, the disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political dissidents, gay men, and Black Germans.
The Jews killed represented around one third of world Jewry and about two-thirds of European Jewry, based on a pre-war figure of 9.7 million Jews in Europe. The most commonly cited death toll is the six million given by Adolf Eichmann to SS member Wilhelm Höttl, who signed an affidavit mentioning this figure in 1945. Jack Fischel writes that historians’ estimates range from 4,204,000 to 7,000,000, “with the use of the round figure of six million Jews murdered as the best estimate”. David M. Crowe’s range is 4.7 to 7.4 million. According to Yad Vashem, “[a]ll the serious research” confirms that between five and six million Jews died. Early postwar calculations were 4.2–4.5 million from Gerald Reitlinger, 5.1 million from Raul Hilberg, and 5.95 million from Jacob Lestschinsky. In 1990 Yehuda Bauer and Robert Rozett estimated 5.59–5.86 million, and in 1991 Wolfgang Benz suggested 5.29 to just over 6 million. The figures include over one million children.
Much of the uncertainty stems from the lack of a reliable figure for Jews in Europe in 1939, border changes that make double-counting of victims difficult to avoid, lack of accurate records from the perpetrators, and uncertainty about whether to include post-liberation deaths caused by the persecution.
The death camps in occupied Poland accounted for half the Jews killed. At Auschwitz the Jewish death toll was 960,000; Treblinka 870,000; Bełżec 600,000; Chełmno 320,000; Sobibór 250,000; and Majdanek 79,000.
Death rates were heavily dependent on the survival of European states willing to protect their Jewish citizens. In countries allied to Germany, the state’s control over its citizens, including the Jews, was sometimes seen as a matter of sovereignty. The continuous presence of state institutions thereby prevented the Jewish communities’ complete destruction. In occupied countries, the survival of the state was likewise correlated with lower Jewish death rates: 75 percent of Jews survived in France and 99 percent in Denmark, but 75 percent died in the Netherlands, as did 99 percent of Jews who were in Estonia when the Germans arrived—the Nazis declared Estonia Judenfrei (“free of Jews”) in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference.
The survival of Jews in countries where states were not destroyed demonstrates the “crucial” influence of non-Germans (governments and others), according to Christian Gerlach. Jews who lived where pre-war statehood was destroyed (Poland and the Baltic states) or displaced (western USSR) were at the mercy of sometimes-hostile local populations, in addition to German power. Almost all Jews in German-occupied Poland, Baltic states and the USSR were killed, with a 5 percent chance of survival on average. Of Poland’s 3.3 million Jews, about 90 percent were killed.
A false flag is a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.
The Holocaust (WWII, 1941-1945)
Photographic & Illustrative Subliminals
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Section 1 – The Holocaust
Section 2 – Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Section 3 – Notable People
Section 4 – Holocaust Companies
(Past and Present)
Final Holocaust Death Toll Across Europe
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