| The Holocaust: n; from the Greek holos and kaustos, 'whole' and 'burnt' - the annihilation or near-annihilation of a group of animals or people, whether by natural or deliberate agency (The Oxford English Dictionary).|
There have been many holocausts over the years - the Rwandan genocide, the Sudra Holocaust in India, the African slave trade - all have been labelled as holocausts. But for sheer cruelty - in the systematic murder of millions of innocent people - it is impossible to look beyond the Holocaust - Adolf Hitler's Final Solution.
The Holocaust began, according to most historical records, in 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler's Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or the Nazi party as we know them now. Hitler's anti-Semitic hatred of the Jewish race was not concealed from the German public, but, rather, used by Hitler to rise to power. By casting the Jews as the scapegoat for all of Germany's problems (humiliated by deafeat in the First World War and by the Treaty of Versailles, and pretty much bankrupt during the Great Depression because of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the German people were largely unemployed and bitter), Hitler found support amongst Germany's jobless masses.
Having blamed the Jews for Germany's woes, and with the promise of a Greater Germany, Hitler set about concocting the Final Solution - laws restricting the rights of 'non-Aryans' (anyone outside of 'the perfect race') gradually became more numerous and more damaging, and the first concentration camps were designed and built soon after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933. A camp in Dachau, near Munich, was the first concentration camp, and here euthanasia was used by the Nazis on anyone deemed to deserve it.
The extermination camps we associate most readily with the Holocaust first sprung up in 1941, at Chelmno. Soon after, death camps appeared at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. In total, around 6 million and 5 million gentiles died at Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust - 11 million lives lost in the appalling conditions, right, of ghettos and camps.
The Holocaust finished in 1945, with Germany's defeat in the war and Hitler's death, and the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies. The first liberated camp was Majdanek, in 1944, by the Soviet troops, and the other camps were freed as the Allies approached.
There are now about 150,000 Holocaust survivors left, of many different nationalities.
A Polish Jew is abused in the Lodz ghetto by Nazi officers.
The conditions that inmates were kept in at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp.