Holocaust

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Holocaust

Systematic state-sponsored killing of Jews and others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. Fueled by anti-Semitism, the Nazi persecution of Jews began soon after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933 with a boycott of Jewish businesses and the dismissal of Jewish civil servants. Under the Nürnberg Laws (1935), Jews lost their citizenship. About 7,500 Jewish businesses were gutted and some 1,000 synagogues burned or damaged in the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, and thereafter Jews were imprisoned in concentration camps or forced into ghettos. German victories early in World War II (1939–45) brought most European Jews under the control of the Nazis and their satellites. As German armies moved into Poland, the Balkans, and the Soviet Union, special mobile killing units, the Einsatzgruppen, rounded up and killed Jews, Roma (Gypsies), communists, political leaders, and intellectuals. Other groups targeted by the Nazis included homosexuals and the mentally retarded, physically disabled, and emotionally disturbed. At the Wannsee Conference (1942), a “final solution” was formulated for the extermination of European Jewry, and thereafter Jews from all over Nazi-occupied Europe were systematically evacuated to concentration and extermination camps, where they were either killed or forced into slave labour. Underground resistance movements arose in several countries, and Jewish risings took place against overwhelming odds in the ghettos of Poland (see Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). Individuals such as Raoul Wallenberg saved thousands by their efforts; whether the Allied governments and the Vatican could have done more to aid Jews has long been a matter of controversy. By the end of the war, an estimated six million Jews and millions of others had been killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

Variants of HOLOCAUST

Holocaust Hebrew Sho'ah

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Holocaust, visit Britannica.com.

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