The Holocaust – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on May 12, 2015

The Holocaust (from the Greek holkaustos: hlos, "whole" and kausts, "burnt"),[2] also known as the Shoah (Hebrew: , HaShoah, "the catastrophe"), was a genocide in which approximately six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.[3] Some historians use a definition of the Holocaust that includes the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to approximately eleven million. Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany and German-occupied territories.[4]

From 1941 to 1945, Jews were targeted and methodically murdered in a genocide, one of the largest in history, and part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazis.[5] Every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the genocide, turning the Third Reich into "a genocidal state".[6] Non-Jewish victims of broader Nazi crimes include Gypsies, Poles, communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled. In total, approximately 11 million people were killed, including approximately one million Jewish children.[7][8] Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed.[9] A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories were used to concentrate, confine, and kill Jews and other victims.[10] Between 100,000 and 500,000 people were direct participants in the planning and execution of the Holocaust.[11]

The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Initially the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. A network of concentration camps was established starting in 1933 and ghettos were established following the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen were used to murder around two million Jews and "partisans", often in mass shootings. By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight train to specially built extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. The campaign of murder continued until the end of World War II in Europe in AprilMay 1945.

Jewish armed resistance to the Nazis occurred throughout the Holocaust. One notable example was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, when thousands of poorly armed Jewish fighters held the SS at bay for four weeks. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish partisans actively fought the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe.[12][13]French Jews were also highly active in the French Resistance, which conducted a guerilla campaign against the Nazis and Vichy French authorities. In total, there were over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings.[14]

The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holkauston, referring to an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole (olos) animal is completely burnt (kaustos).[15]

Writing in Latin, Richard of Devizes, a 12th-century monk, was the first recorded chronicler to use the term "holocaustum" in Britain.[16] Sir Thomas Browne employed the word "holocaust" in his philosophical Discourse Urn Burial in 1658[17] and for centuries, the word was used generally in English to denote great massacres. Since the 1960s, the term has come to be used by scholars and popular writers to refer specifically to the Nazi genocide of Jews.[18] The television mini-series Holocaust is credited with introducing the term into common parlance after 1978.[19]

The biblical word shoah (; also transliterated sho'ah and shoa), meaning "calamity", became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel.[20]Shoah is preferred by some Jews for several reasons, including the theologically offensive nature of the word "holocaust", which they take to refer to the Greek pagan custom.[21]

The Nazis used a euphemistic phrase, the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" (German: Endlsung der Judenfrage), and the phrase "Final Solution" has been widely used as a term for the genocide of the Jews.

Every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar, Michael Berenbaum, has called "a genocidal state".[6]

Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders.

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The Holocaust - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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