systematic annihilation of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War
2. In 1933 approximately 9 million Jews lived in the 21 countries of
Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out
of every three European Jews had been killed. The European Jews were the
primary victims of the Holocaust.
But the Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler's Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.
The KZ Camp Dachau was the first concentration camp established in Nazi Germany - the camp was opened on March 22, 1933. In the late 1930's the Nazis killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns.
Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method of killing. Extermination centers were established in occupied Poland with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Giant death machines. Six such death camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were conducted systematically by the Nazis and Hitler's SS men ..
Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease, and execution.
The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.
The Holocaust happened because Hitler and the Nazis were racist. They believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated.