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26 Holocaust Facts

26 HOLOCAUST FACTS: The Holocaust is without a doubt one of the

darkest chapters in human history. Here are 26 facts about the Holocaust
which will hopefully help you understand the immensity of the tragedy.
WARNING: Some of the historical photos presented below are disturbing.
1. MEANING OF THE NAME: The term Holocaust comes from the Greek
wordhlos meaning whole, and kausts meaning burnt. The word
Holocaust had been used in English for hundreds of years to refer to huge
massacres, but since the 1960s its come to usually just refer to the genocide of
Jews in World War II.

Rows of dead
inmates at Gestapo Concentration Camp Lager Nordhausen
in Germany, 1945. This photo was taken by an American soldier.
@ Holocaust Facts

2. ALTERNATIVE NAME: The Holocaust is also known as the Shoah,

meaning catastrophe in Hebrew.

3. FINAL TOLL: About six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime.
Keep in mind there were only nine million Jews living in Europe before the
war began. About three million victims were men, two million were women
and one million were children.

A breakdown of Holocaust deaths.

@ Holocaust Facts4.

OTHERS KILLED:Although the term Holocaust is

often used to refer to the Jewish tragedy, between five and 11 million members
other minority groups were victims of Nazi genocide. These included Polish,
blacks, homosexuals, Romani and other gypsy groups, people with
disabilities, Jehovahs Witnesses, Freemasons, criminals, political prisoners
and Soviet civilians and prisoners of war.
5. SYMBOLS: Imprisoned Jews were identified by a yellow star on their
uniforms. Homosexuals had to wear pink inverted triangles and Jehovahs
Witnesses wore purple ones. Criminals wore green triangles, Roma and other
groups wore black or brown.
6. RELOCATION: Jews were often first sent to ghettos or concentration or
labor camps, where they would either be worked or starved to death or sent on
to extermination camps (also called death camps).
7. GHETTOS: These were parts of a city where Jews were compelled to live.
In the beginning many ghettos were open meaning Jews were allowed to

come and go, but later they were all walled off. The Warsaw Ghetto was the
largest with other 445,000 Jews packed into 3.4 square km (1.3 square miles).
In just two months in 1942 over 250,000 Jews were sent from the Warsaw
Ghetto to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp.

Jews being led

for deportation in the Warsaw Ghetto. This was taken during the Warsaw Ghetto
Uprising in 1943.@ Holocaust Facts

8. HITLER: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler voiced his plans for the Holocaust as
early as 1922. He then told a journalist: Once I really am in power, my first
and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the
power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows at the Marienplatz in
Munich, for example as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged
indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang
there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been
untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last
Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in
this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.
9. WANNSEE: The Holocaust was organized in Berlin at the Wannsee
Conference on 20 January 1942. Senior Nazi Reinhard Heydrich presented a
plan for the deportation and eventual extermination of all Jews from Europe
and French North Africa.

10. THE FINAL SOLUTION: Hitler called the Holocaust die Endlsung
der Judenfrage, the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. To justify the
killings Nazis also used the phrase Leben unwertes Leben Life unworthy of

A Zyklon-B container on display at

which is now a Holocaust museum. @ Holocaust Facts11.

ZYKLON-B: This was

the cyanide-based pesticide used in gas chambers at Auschwitz and other
camps. In quantitative terms only 5% of Zyklon-B delivered to Auschwitz was
used in the gas chambers, the rest was used for delousing prisoners. This
poison has become a central symbol of the Holocaust.
12. HIMMER: SS commander Heinrich Himmler is, other than Hitler, the
Nazi considered most responsible for the Holocaust. Himmler considered the
annihilation of the Jews a necessary step in the Germanization of Eastern
Europe. He was arrested by British soldiers at the end of the war and
committed suicide in his cell. In 2008 German news magazine Der Spiegel
called Himmler the greatest mass murderer of all time.
13. COLLABORATION: Practically every part of Nazi German society was
in some way, at least indirectly, involved with the Holocaust. Universities
refused to admit Jews, the Post Office delivered deportation and

denaturalization orders, churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth

records to show who was Jewish. In addition, companies fired Jewish
workers, drug companies used camp prisoners as guinea pigs and the victims
personal property was sent back to Germany to be reused.

A German soldier executes a

Jewish man in front of a mass grave
in Vinnitsa, Ukrain, in 1942.
On the photograph is written
"The last Jew in Vinnitsa".
@ Holocaust Facts14.

PUBLIC REACTION: Despite this after the war most

Germans claimed to be at most vaguely aware of the genocide. The common
belief was that the concentration camps in Germany itself were just prisons
and the Jews were being resettled in the East.
15. OTHERS RESPONSIBLE: Holocaust killings were not only perpetrated
by Germans. Local populations in occupied Soviet territories, Latvia,
Lithuania and Romania were also involved in the genocide.
16. EXCEPTED: People of Jewish ancestry were sometimes able to escape
being sent to the camps if their grandparents had converted to christianity

before 18 January, 1871. This date marked the start of Germanys unification
and the start of the German Empire
17. ORIGINS: Some scholars maintain that anti-Semitism had pervaded
German society since the Middle Ages. In the 1800s something called
the Vlkisch movement arose viewing the Jews as locked into mortal combat
with the Aryans for world domination. Scientific racists also believed that
some people were more valuable than others.
18. SOLITARY HORROR: Never before in word history had there been
places like the Holocaust extermination camps places which existed for the
sole purpose of killing en masse.
19. EXTERMINATION CAMPS: There were three types of extermination
camps. At Aktion Reinhardt extermination camps prisoners were
gassed upon arrival. At Concentrationextermination camps some
prisoners were chosen for slave labor instead of immediate death and minor
extermination camps operated as prisons and transit camps until late in
the war, when portable gas chambers and gas vans were used to execute the
20. NUMBERS OF VICTIMS: The deadliest extermination camps were
Auschwitz-Birkenau (where 1,100,000 died), Treblinka (700,00 800,000),
Majdanek (360,000), Chelmno (320,000) and Sobibor (250,000).
21. AHNIHILATION: About 90 per cent of Jews living in Germany, Austria,
Poland and the Baltic states were annihilated in the Holocaust.

The execution
of Kiev Jews in Ivangorod, the Ukraine, 1942. This photo was posted from the
Eastern Front back to Germany and intercepted by the Polish Resistance. @
Holocaust Facts

22. MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS: German doctors often used prisoners in

macabre medical experiments. These included freezing victims, amputations
of awake victims limbs, transplantations, placing them in pressure chambers,
drug testing and experiments with poison, malaria and mustard gas.

The "Angel of Death" Josef

Mengele. @ Holocaust Facts23.

ANGEL OF DEATH: One of the most

notorious of these physicians was Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of
Death. Mengele had a particular fascination with twins and performed
experiments on nearly 1500 sets of twins at Auschwitz. He escaped after the
war and lived in South America until 1979, despite being hunted as a Nazi war
24. RESISTANCE: Jews often tried to resist the genocide. The most famous
case of resistance was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in January 1943 which
went on for four weeks. Jews also fought as partisans in Eastern Europe and
were highly active in the French Resistance.
25. DENIAL: Some people believe the Holocaust never happened and is the
work of deliberate Jewish conspiracy. Holocaust denial is universally
condemned by scholars and is a crime in Germany, France, Poland,
Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Lithuania.
26. SCHINDLER: German businessman Oskar Schindler was a German
businessman who secretly opposed the Holocaust and saved over 1000 mostly

Polish-Jewish refugees by employing them in his factories. The

film Schindlers List, based on the novel Schindlers Ark, tells his story.