What It Means
The word holocaust, in Greek
means complete destruction by
Hitler didn’t like anyone that
wasn’t Aryan and was willing to
Aryan means that you are pure
white and not mixed with other
That includes Serbs, Jews,
Gypies, the mentally ill.
• The word Holocaust describes the complete
destruction of non-Aryans by Hitler and the
• Anti-Semitism is the word to describe
discrimination against the Jews throughout
Hitler’s Rise to Power
After the War I, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of
Versailles, depriving it of land, population and resources. The
German economy crashed and its people fell into poverty and
ruin. The Government tried to make more money by printing
more banknotes but this lead to hyperinflation and hence money
became worthless. A lady
money as it
500,000 deutschmark note
Out of these ashes rose a leader
who claimed he could solve all
of Germany’s problems by
blaming the past problems on
non-Aryan people but mainly the
Jews. Germany would have to
cleanse itself from these
‘enemies’ and then it would
become the great country it once
was. In early 1933 Hitler
became the Chancellor of
Germany, answerable only to
President Hindenburg. He
started reclaiming all that
Germany had lost through the
Adolf Hitler wearing Nazi uniform
Treaty of Versailles and won
Few dared criticise Hitler, so when President Hindenburg
died in 1934, he declared himself as absolute leader. He set
up secret police, the Gestapo, one of Hitler’s ministers,
Goebbels, used propaganda to persuade the population that
Jews were enemies of the state. Hitler gave people jobs and
Germany appeared to recover. Anti-Semitism was
ingrained into school children, producing a new generation
of Nazi supporters.
Nazi flag with
Swastika in the
In 1935, new Nuremberg laws
were passed, depriving Jews of
many of their rights. On 9th
November 1938 anti-Jewish
riots were started over Germany
and what followed was called
‘Night of the broken glass’ or
‘Kristallnacht’. 20,000 Jews
were taken to concentration
camps, Synagogues were burned
and many Jews emigrated.
Jewish shop the morning after ‘Kristallnacht’
World War II
Hitler had begun extending
Germany since 1935 but in
1939 Britain and France
declared war on Germany.
Hitler’s armies swept
through the Low Countries:
Poland, Yugoslavia, Norway
and France, bringing with it
prisoners of war and plenty
of people for the newly built
concentration camps in
Map of the progressions of World War II
Poland and Czechoslovakia.
After the war had started the
mass killings began. Many
Jews in Poland and Russia
were transported hundreds of
miles in squalid conditions to
Concentrations camps over
Europe. Jews were now
humiliated by people in the
street and forced to wear
yellow armbands. They had to
carry identity cards and were
not allowed professional jobs
or work with Aryans. Jews wearing yellow armbands and
Jews were not only
segregated but also isolated.
They had to live in Ghettos,
in the poorest, most
dilapidated parts of cities.
Overcrowding and disease
spread with little sanitation,
food or education. However, A Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
some Jews tried to continue
as normal, running schools,
printing newspapers and
Concentration & Extermination
The first Concentration camps
were in Germany, like Dachau
which I have already mentioned.
Nevertheless, when Eastern
Europe was invaded, many
camps were built there, away
from the masses and where
genocide could begin
undisturbed. On arrival,
prisoners were stripped of their
possessions, identity and clothes,
given uniforms and a number Entrance to Dachau.
was tattooed on their arm.
Prisoners would be shot or tortured for
the slightest misdemeanour or brutally
used as animals in horrible medical
experiments. Sometimes they were told
the only right they had was to die. In
extermination camps, those considered
unfit to work as slave labour (women, Barbed wire, electric fence
children, sick and elderly) were gassed guarded by the gunmen in watch
with Zyklon-B, a crystalline form of tower.
Shows where the pistol
range used to be as
The two original furnaces where bodies
Dachau is now a memorial.
were taken after being gassed.
In Eastern Europe, not only were there
Concentration and Extermination camps but
also a groups of Nazis who would round up all
the Jews and separate them into those who
could work and those who were to die
immediately. Those who could work were
transported in cattle trucks for days on end and
used as slave labour. Those who couldn’t work
were taken by death squads, called
‘Einsatzgruppen’ (part of the SS) into the
woods and shot. Sometimes they would line
SS promotion poster – it
Jews up along a riverbank and use them as says you can join at the age
target practice. of 17.
Resistance & Helpers
The Nazis final solution (the extermination of all Jews) did not always
go smoothly. In Sobibor death camp, the Jews revolted, killing guards
and freeing 600 of their own. There were uprisings in the Ghettoes,
such as Bialystock in Poland, where 40,000 Jews died but most
famously in Warsaw, April 1943, where the Jews held the Nazis back
for some weeks as the guards tried to round up all the inhabitants and
send them to the concentration camps.
Oscar Schindler’s factory today.
As the allies advanced, the
German army realised they
would be unable to complete the
Final Solution. Instead there
were death marches, marching
the few survivors from one camp
to another. Even when the Allies
liberated the camps, those who
were left were often too weak
and malnourished to pull
through, many died. The Dachau liberation.
survivors were displaced and
were frequently refused back
into their own homes.
In 1945, 22 Nazi leaders were put on
trial in Nuremberg for war crimes. This
was the first time someone’s guilt was
gauged on their individual responsibility,
19 were found guilty and hanged, from
evidence they had compiled themselves.
However, it didn’t stop there and those
who had fled, like Eichmann, were
eventually captured and tried for their
crimes. The Commandant of Auschwitz,
Rudolf Hess, was hanged on gallows
erected just outside the concentration
camp in which he killed over a million.
Location of concentration and
death camps all over Europe.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in 1948,
entitling all human beings to minimum rights, such as freedom
from death, slavery and torture.
A memorial for the holocaust.
A memorial at Auschwitz
One of many memorials at
Spires of Harrisburg