Shoah - Holocaust
the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime
during World War 2. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived
in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany
during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had
been killed. The European Jews were the primary victims of the
But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by
Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at
least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more
than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to
Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social
Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish
intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of
the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.
The KZ camp Dachau
was the first concentration camp established in Nazi Germany - the
camp was opened on March 22, 1933. In the late 1930's the Nazis
killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and
poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in
June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the
German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in
open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and
Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method
of killing. Extermination centers were established in occupied
Poland with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder.
Giant death machines. Six such death camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau,
Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.
Large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were
conducted systematically by the Nazis and Adolf Hitler's SS
Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and
from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established.
In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps
as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality,
disease, and execution.
The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not
fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who
died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5
million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2
million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and
thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were
murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.