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The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the purposeful destruction of about 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazi governments in Germany and other European countries during 1933-1945. It reduced the Jewish population in Europe by two thirds and their worldwide one by a third.

The Jews were persecuted and killed because they were considered to be an “inferior race”, in contrast to the Germans who were proclaimed as “superior”. In addition, the Nazi propaganda portrayed Jewish people as the root of all the economic and social problems that Germany had experienced within the several decades before Hitler came to power. Der Sturmer, a Nazi newspaper with a weekly circulation of 500,000 copies, said on its front page: “The Jews are our misfortune!”

In Germany and all the countries occupied or influenced by the Nazis, the Jewish population was forcibly moved to ghettos – isolated city districts with poor living conditions and inadequate supply of food and water. For example, in the ghettos of Warsaw and Lodz, 112,000 people, or 20 percent of their inhabitants, died of starvation during 1941-1942.

Although the Nazi repressions were not limited to Jews only, the latter were the only group subject to total extermination. The special mobile killing units called Einsantzgruppen, which were used against the Jewish population in Poland and Soviet Union, had clear orders to execute all people of this nation, no matter men, women or children, in every city captured by the German army. Only in Kiev, Ukraine over 30,000 Jews were massacred in two days; they were shot down and buried alive in a mass grave in Babi Yar. The total number of Jews murdered by Einsantzgruppen is estimated at 1.3 million.

In 1942, Hitler’s government established the system of killing centers – a kind of concentration camps that served the sole purpose of destroying as many Jews as possible. Along with the activities of Einsantzgruppen, this was part of the plan called “The Final Solution,” the aim of which was reducing the Jewish population within the margins of Reich to zero. The Jews in death camps were either poisoned with gas or burned in crematoriums; the total number of victims in some camps reached 10,000 per day. The six largest killing centers (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor and Maidanek) together account for almost 3 million deaths.

To sum up, the Holocaust was one of the worst examples of genocide in human history, a terrible crime against the Jewish nation that resulted in devastation of Jewish communities throughout Europe.

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