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What was the Holocaust? The Holocaust refers to a specific

genocidal event in twentieth-century history: the state sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi German and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.

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What does Holocaust Mean? “Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin

meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in

Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

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What does "State Sponsored" and "Systemic" Mean?

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State Sponsored and Systemic Mean… The government made decisions that

would support the “cleansing” of Germany at every level such at: school, police, politicians, and government officials.

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The Introduction of Hitler to Government

Following the appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor on January 30, 1933, the Nazi state (also referred to as the Third Reich) quickly became a regime in which Germans enjoyed no guaranteed basic rights. This applied TO ALL GERMANS!

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The People of Germany Were No Longer Safe!

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Killing of the Sick and Weak At least 200,000 mentally or physically

disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

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Killing Children The Reich Ministry of the Interior circulated

a decree compelling all physicians, nurses, and midwives to report newborn infants and children under the age of three who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability.

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Two young brothers, seated for a family photograph in the Kovno ghetto. One month later, they were deported to the Majdanek camp. Kovno, Lithuania, February 1944.

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Public health authorities began to encourage parents of children with disabilities to admit their young children to one of a number of specially designated pediatric clinics throughout Germany and Austria. The clinics were in reality children's killing wards where specially recruited medical staff murdered their young charges by lethal overdoses of medication or by starvation.

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The Germans and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children

The fate of Jewish and non-Jewish children can be categorized in the following way: 1) children killed when they arrived in killing centers; 2) children killed immediately after birth or in institutions; 3) children born in ghettos and camps who survived because prisoners hid them; 4) children, usually over age 12, who were used as laborers and as subjects of medical experiments; and 5) those children killed during reprisal operations or so-called anti-partisan operations.

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The Killing Spreads

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.

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Arresting Woman and Children

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The Ghettos

During World War II, ghettos were city districts (often enclosed) in which the Germans concentrated the municipal and sometimes regional Jewish population and forced them to live under miserable conditions.

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Warsaw Ghetto, 1940

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Jewish man and children in Kutno, 1940 (Photo: Getty Images)

More Photos…

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Emptying the Ghettos

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Railroad System

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The Camps-Dachau In the early years of the Nazi regime, the

National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents.

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Barracks in the quarry camp of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

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Aerial view of Neuengamme concentration camp.

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Prisoners Loading up On Cattle Cars to Auschwitz-Birkenau

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One Building of Barracks

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View of the walled entrance to the gas chamber in the main camp of Auschwitz (Auschwitz I). This gas chamber was in use for only a short time before being converted into a bomb shelter. In the background is a building used by the Gestapo as a regional headquarters. (April 1945)

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Canisters of Zyclon B

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Inside a Gas Chamber

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SS Soldiers

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Two ovens inside the crematorium at the Dachau concentration camp. (July 1, 1945)

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Railroad Entry to Auschwitz

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To Understand the Scale of Loss of Life….

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Life in the Camps

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Burning Bodies

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Mass Graves

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Mass Graves

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Corpses of Women Piled Up on the Floor of Block 11 (Fen.


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STILL FROM A POSTWAR SOVIET FILM: Jewish children, kept alive in the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) concentration camp, pose in concentration camp uniforms between two rows of barbed wire fencing after liberation. (After January 27, 1945)

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A prisoner being suspended and subjected to low pressure

experimentation. (March - August 1942)

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Burning the Bodies