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The Holocaust

When Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party took over control of Germany in January 1933, everything changed. With his known ability to convince people through his speeches, he made very clear his feelings and strong prejudice towards Jews. He wanted to create the perfect race of blonde haired blue eyed Germans, and to achieve his goals he exhorted people to support his ideas.

SinceHitler was a dictator, he used his absolute power to the best of his benefit, and convinced or threatened people to exterminate the Jews and other groups like Socialists, Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals, whom he considered inferior. Propaganda also worked as a very important tool to convince people who still weren’t supporting Adolf Hitler to approve, support and collaborate withtheir radical Nazi program.

Between 1933 and 1945, the so called “Holocaust” which is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire”, was just beginning and most people didn’t even expect it. About 20,000 Concentration camps were established by Nazi Germany, to imprison its many millions of victims. These camps were used for a range of purposes including forced-labor camps, transit campswhich served as temporary way stations, and extermination camps built primarily or exclusively for mass murder.

After Germany's annexation of Austria in March 1938, the Nazis arrested German and Austrian Jews and imprisoned them in the Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, all located in Germany. The Nazi camp system expanded rapidly, and soon new concentration camps werebuilt. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Nazis opened forced-labor camps where thousands of prisoners died from exhaustion, starvation, and exposure. Also in some camps, Nazi doctors performed medical experiments and surgeries on prisoners without anesthesia.

During World War II, ghettos were city districts, often enclosed, in which the Germans concentrated the municipaland sometimes regional Jewish population and forced them to live under miserable conditions. Ghettos isolated Jews by separating Jewish communities from the non-Jewish population and from other Jewish communities. The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone. German occupation authorities established the first ghetto in Poland inPiotrków Trybunalski in October 1939.

Following the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis increased the number of prisoner-of-war (POW) camps, such as Auschwitz, in occupied Poland and the camp at Lublin, later known as Majdanek, which was established in the autumn of 1941 as a POW camp and became a concentration camp in 1943. Thousands of Soviet POWs were shot or gassedthere with carbon monoxide gas generated by diesel engines.

For purposes of genocide and mass destruction of the Jews, extermination camps were designed for mass murder, one of them is Chelmno which opened in December 1941, and where thousands were gassed in mobile gas vans. Then in 1942, the Nazis opened the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps.

The Nazis began experimenting with poison gas forthe purpose of mass murder in late 1939 with the killing of mental patients ("euthanasia"). "Euthanasia" referred to the systematic killing of those Germans whom the Nazis deemed "unworthy of life" because of mental illness or physical disability. Because “gassing” proved to be less costly, gas chambers were constructed; these rooms filled with poison gas to kill those inside, increased killingefficiency and made the process more impersonal for the Nazis. At the Auschwitz camp complex, the Birkenau extermination camp had four gas chambers, where up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day.

One of the most discussed and known victims of the Holocaust is Anne Frank, who was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, to Otto and Edith Frank. For the first 5 years of...
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