The Holocaust


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Since June , experiments with mass killing methods had been ongoing at the concentration camp of Auschwitz , near Krakow. The SS soon placed a huge order for the gas with a German pest-control firm, an ominous indicator of the comingHolocaust.

Beginning in late , the Germans began mass transports from the ghettoes in Poland to the concentration camps, starting with those people viewed as the least useful: the sick, old and weak and the very young. The first mass gassings began at the camp of Belzec, near Lublin, on March 17, Five more mass killing centers were built at camps in occupied Poland, including Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and the largest of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau. From to , Jews were deported to the camps from all over Europe, including German-controlled territory as well as those countries allied with Germany.

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The heaviest deportations took place during the summer and fall of , when more than , people were deported from the Warsaw ghetto alone. Fed up with the deportations, disease and constant hunger, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in armed revolt. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from April May 16, ended in the death of 7, Jews, with 50, survivors sent to extermination camps. But the resistance fighters had held off the Nazis for almost a month, and their revolt inspired revolts at camps and ghettos across German-occupied Europe.

Murder on an industrial scale

Though the Nazis tried to keep operation of camps secret, the scale of the killing made this virtually impossible. Eyewitnesses brought reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland to the Allied governments, who were harshly criticized after the war for their failure to respond, or to publicize news of the mass slaughter. This lack of action was likely mostly due to the Allied focus on winning the war at hand, but was also a result of the general incomprehension with which news of the Holocaust was met and the denial and disbelief that such atrocities could be occurring on such a scale.

At Auschwitz alone, more than 2 million people were murdered in a process resembling a large-scale industrial operation. A large population of Jewish and non-Jewish inmates worked in the labor camp there; though only Jews were gassed, thousands of others died of starvation or disease. And in , eugenicist Josef Mengele arrived in Auschwitz to begin his infamous experiments on Jewish prisoners. His special area of focus was conducting medical experiments on twins , injecting them with everything from petrol to chloroform under the guise of giving them medical treatment.

By the spring of , German leadership was dissolving amid internal dissent, with Goering and Himmler both seeking to distance themselves from Hitler and take power. The following day, Hitler committed suicide. The last trace of civilization had vanished around and inside us.

The work of bestial degradation, begun by the victorious Germans, had been carried to conclusion by the Germans in defeat. The wounds of the Holocaust—known in Hebrew as Shoah, or catastrophe—were slow to heal. Survivors of the camps found it nearly impossible to return home, as in many cases they had lost their families and been denounced by their non-Jewish neighbors. As a result, the late s saw an unprecedented number of refugees, POWs and other displaced populations moving across Europe.

However, despite Stone's claim that this issue was understudied, Browning argued that other researchers have also addressed the uneven, methodical way the Nazis killed their victims. For instance, in his own book "Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion and the Final Solution in Poland" HarperCollins, , Browning wrote, "In mid-March , some 75 to 80 percent of all victims of the Holocaust were still alive, while 20 to 25 percent had perished.

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A mere 11 months later, in mid-February , the percentages were exactly the reverse. In addition, the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust were very different events, making comparisons difficult, Browning noted. That's because there are two kinds of murder rates: average and peak.

If comparing the average murder rate of the main four years of the Holocaust to that of the day Rwanda genocide, then, yes, there was a more intense, average murder-rate in Rwanda, Browning said.

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1.32 Million Jews Were Killed in Just Three Months During the Holocaust

But the peak rate of deaths in the three months that Stone studied was, indeed, higher than the peak rate from the Rwandan genocide, Browning said. The study was published online Wednesday Jan. Editor's Note : A date in this story was corrected. Operation Reinhard lasted 21 months, from March to November Because of a typo, it originally said November Originally published on Live Science. Live Science.


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Information cards. Discover more about the background to the Holocaust.

The Holocaust in Poland

Subjects include Nazi policies, anti-semitism, religion and Anne Frank. Consult maps, statistics, a glossary of terms and a chronological chart tracing significant moments of the s and 40s. Suggestions for how to use the resources, helping you to question and explore this period of history. Teachers' pages.

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