World War II
Before the Holocaust
Up to 1870s, there is evidence of hostility toward Jews long before the Holocaust–even as far back as the ancient world, when Roman authorities destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and forced Jews to leave Palestine. The Enlightenment, during the 17th and 18th centuries, emphasized religious toleration, and in the 19th century Napoleon and other European rulers enacted a law that ended long-standing restrictions on Jews. Anti-Semitic feeling endured, however, in many cases taking on a racial character rather than a religious one.
What is the Holocaust?
Concentration camps were an integral feature of the regime in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. A concentration camp is a camp in which people are detain or confined, usually under harsh conditions.
History of Concentration Camps
Nazi Rule Comes to an End, as the Holocaust Continued
By the spring of 1945, German leadership was dissolving amid internal dissent. In Hitler last will and political testament, dictated in a German bunker that April 29, Hitler blamed the war on “International Jewry and its helpers” and urged the German leaders and people to follow “the strict observance of the racial laws and with merciless resistance against the universal poisoners of all peoples (the Jews). The following day, April 30, Hitler committed suicide. Germany’s formal surrender in World War II came barely a week later, on May 8, 1945. German forces had begun evacuating many of the death camps in the fall of 1944, sending inmates under guard to march further from the advancing enemy’s front line. These so-called “death marches” continued all the way up to the German surrender, resulting in the deaths of some 250,000 to 375,000 people.
The End of the Holocaust
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of the survivors found shelter in displaced person camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Other Jewish displaced persons emigrated to the United States and other nations. The last displaced person camp closed in 1957. The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely.