Quick read

What Was The Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the systematic murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War. For the first time in history, industrial methods were used for the mass extermination of a whole people.

Between 1933 and 1945, Jews were targeted for discrimination, segregation and extermination. On coming to power in 1933, the Nazis began to actively persecute the Jews of Germany with the introduction of discriminatory legislation accompanied by vicious antisemitic propaganda. With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the process escalated and Jews throughout Nazi-controlled Europe came under the threat of death.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 was accompanied by the mass shootings of Jews by mobile killing squads - Einsatzgruppen - made up of Nazis and local collaborators. In 1942, following the Wannsee Conference of senior Nazi officials, the Nazis began the methodical deportation and extermination of Europe's Jews. Trains transported them from ghettos and other holding centres to extermination or labour camps, where they were gassed, shot or worked to death.

The Nazis enslaved and murdered millions of others as well. Political opponents, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), homosexuals, prisoners of conscience, people with physical and mental disabilities, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and others were killed or died in camps as a result of neglect, starvation or disease.