The Holocaust was the systematic murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War. This programme of targeted mass murder was a central part of the Nazis’ broader plans to create a new world order based on their ideology.

The Nazis’ programme of anti-Jewish persecution began as soon as Hitler came to power in 1933. At first, they used antisemitic legislation and restrictions alongside vicious propaganda to create a culture of segregation and hostility. This process of victimisation was intended to isolate Jewish people from the wider population in order to encourage them to emigrate. In reality, the number of people leaving fluctuated – finding places to go was difficult and the costs of doing so were high.

The process of persecution escalated in the late 1930s, before developing into a campaign of mass murder during the course of the Second World War. The large scale killing began during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Mobile execution squads known as Einsatzgruppen made up of Nazis and supported by local collaborators operated behind the advancing German line. They massacred over a million Jewish civilians in their newly occupied territories in the name of security. Tens of thousands of Roma were murdered alongside Jews as part of this operation.

From the beginning of 1942 these massacres were consolidated into a programme of co-ordinated annihilation. Millions of Jews were deported from ghettos or holding camps to be killed. Most were sent to a small number of purpose-built killing centres called death camps, but as the war developed, thousands more were sent to concentration camps to be worked to death in service of Germany’s deteriorating war effort. This Nazis were central to this process, but they did not act alone and relied on the support and complicity of hundreds of thousands of people across Europe.

Jewish people sent to concentration camps were incarcerated alongside hundreds of thousands of others who had been enslaved and victimised by the Nazis in pursuit of their new world order. Political opponents, homosexuals, prisoners of conscience, Roma, Jehovah Witnesses, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and others were killed or died in camps as a result of neglect, starvation or disease.

WARNING: Please be aware that these videos contains footage of that some viewers may find disturbing.

James Bulgin and Lauren Willmott are curators for The Holocaust Galleries at IWM London. The galleries explore the history of how these events happened.

The objects featured in these videos - Leibish Engleberg's Auschwitz jacket, Gena Turgel's wedding dress, and a tile from the Treblinka death camp - are all on display in the new galleries.

This two-part video series is an introduction to this complex history.

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Rudy Kennedy 1927-2008 © Step Haiselden
Rudy Kennedy 1927-2008 © Step Haiselden

How Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives After 1945

What happened to Holocaust survivors after the Second World War? How did they rebuild their lives in the years that followed their release from Nazi persecution?  
Holocaust Survivor Jan Imich.

Holocaust survivor Jan Imich and How Life Goes On

Jan Imich was nine years old when the Second World War broke out. As a Jewish Pole, he was arrested and imprisoned in a series of concentration camps. During his time in one camp, he was forced to work at the crematorium, hauling coal to fuel the furnace.  
There are two main portraits showing a woman and a man with their heads covered facing the viewer, but inclining their heads towards each other. In the lower left corner there are two other, smaller faces also facing the viewer. In the upper right corner of the canvas the face of a mother with a child is visible. The child's face partially obscures the mother's downcast face.
Transport, 1974, by Roman Halter. © artist's estate.

Ghettos In The Holocaust

After the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939, they began segregating Jews in ghettos, usually in the most run-down area of a city. By mid-1941, nearly all Jews in occupied Poland had been forced into these overcrowded districts.
Still from © IWM (ARY 172) - young Holocaust survivors on their way to Britain

Rare Footage Of Young Holocaust Survivors On Their Way To Britain

In August 1945, a group of teenagers and younger children who had survived the concentration camps were flown to the UK by the RAF. The group of refugees arrived from Prague airport on Stirling bombers, touching down at the aerodrome at Crosby on Eden in Cumberland, where they began their long recuperation. 
Wearing protective clothing, men of 11 Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps evacuate inmates from one of the huts at Belsen.
Men of 11th Light Field Ambulance evacuate prisoners from one of the huts at Bergen-Belsen, 22 April 1945.

The Liberation Of Bergen-Belsen

British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945. Thousands of bodies lay unburied around the camp and some 60,000 starving and mortally ill people were packed together without food, water or basic sanitation. Many were suffering from typhus, dysentery and starvation.
Holocaust exhibition with two visitors
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The Holocaust

Based on IWM’s ground-breaking new Second World War and Holocaust Galleries, this publication examines the development of the Holocaust as it appeared to those who witnessed it.

The Diary Of A Young Girl - Definitive Edition
£ 8.99

In Amsterdam in the summer of 1942 the Nazis forced teenager Anne Frank and her family into hiding. For over two years they another family and a German dentist lived in a 'secret annexe' fearing discovery. All that time Anne kept a diary.

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (DVD / BluRay)
£ 24.99

On 29 September 1945, the incomplete rough-cut of a disturbing yet compelling documentary revealing the horrors of the German concentration camps was screened at the Ministry of Information in London. For five months, Sidney Bernstein led a small team – which included Stewart McAllister, Richard Crossman and Alfred Hitchcock – to complete the film from hours of footage.