The Holocaust, sometimes called The Shoah (Hebrew: השואה), was when Nazi Germany killed people in a planned and forced way during World War II. About six million Jews were killed, as well as five million of others that the Nazis said were bad (e.g., Romani/Roma people, homosexuals, communists, people who were not white, people with disabilities, Slavs, transgender people, and Jehovah's Witnesses). These people were rounded up, put in ghettos, forced to work in concentration camps and then killed in big gas chambers.
Why were the Jews killed?
- See also: Anti-Semitism
There was hatred and persecution of Jews (anti-Semitism) in Europe for hundreds of years. Many people wrongly thought that all Jews were rich, mean, and not social. These simple ideas were popular in the German-speaking world and elsewhere in the late 1800s. Adolf Hitler was born in Austria during this time, when many people disliked Jews. He may have been jealous of Jewish success in Austria. However, in a book he wrote called Mein Kampf ("My Struggle), he said it was the Jews' fault that Germany and Austria lost World War I. He also wrote that Germany's economic problems were the Jews' fault. Many people agreed with Hitler’s ideas and supported him as the leader of the Nazi Party.
The numbers below are not known entirely because many of those killed were never written down. The numbers given below are those most thinkers agree on.
- Jews (5.1–6 million killed), including:
- Polish Jews (3–3.5 million killed)
- Ethnic Poles (1.8-2 million killed)
- Romani/Roma people (200,000–800,000 killed),
- Disabled people (200,000–250,000 killed),
- Homosexuals (22,000–25,000 killed),
- Jehovah's Witnesses (950–2500 killed)
Led by Adolf Hitler, the Nazis killed millions of Jews. They forced Jews to wear the golden Star of David on their upper bodies. Jews were rounded up by the thousands and crammed into trains that took them to concentration camps as well as death camps. Most of the Jews killed in the Holocaust were not German; they were from Poland or the Soviet Union.
The Nazis killed millions of people, hundreds at a time, with poison gas in gas chambers. They forced others to dig giant holes in the ground where, after days of hard work, they were shot, buried, and burned in a mass grave. The Nazis executed many others by shooting, stabbing, or beating them to death. Still others died in forced marches from one camp to another. Many other people died of starvation, diseases, and freezing to death because of the terrible conditions in the concentration camps.
On the other hand, there were people who saved Jews from The Holocaust, because they thought it was the right thing to do. Some of them were later given "Righteous Among the Nations" awards by Yad Vashem.
Some people say the Holocaust did not happen at all, or was not as bad as historians say it was. This is called Holocaust denial. However, almost all historians agree that the Holocaust did happen, and has been described correctly. Some people that deny the Holocaust say that the Nazis did not kill as many people as historians say. Instead, they say many of these people died from diseases, and because there was not enough food. They say these people's deaths were not the Nazis' fault.
In some countries in Europe, it is against the law to say that the Holocaust never happened.
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