Wikijunior:World War II/Concentration camps, slave work, and The Holocaust

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The Holocaust


The Holocaust is a name given to the genocide (the mass murder of a specific group) or 'Final Solution' the Nazis carried out against groups they deemed unacceptable. The aim of this policy was the complete destruction of the groups concerned. These people were called "Undesirables" or "Untermensch" ("Under-men" or "Sub-human"), and consisted mainly of Jewish people but there were also many Gypsies (Roma), Polish and Slavic people, homosexuals, and people with mental or physical impairments.

Whilst the Nazis targeted many groups (including Poles, Serbs and Roma), by far the greatest victims were the Jews. It is estimated that between five and seven million Jews were killed as a direct result of 'The Holocaust'. For example, in Central Europe, where pre-war there had been a substantial Jewish population, over 70% died. Even today the exact number of deaths remains unknown.

To kill on such scale, the Nazis had established "Death Camps". In these camps, poison gas was used to kill the victims, the bodies being burnt in huge furnaces. Even those that were not killed straight away, faced harsh conditions. The regime in such camps was brutal. Those imprisoned were forced to work unpaid for 10-14 hours a day. Disease was also common. The Holocaust was so brutal and horrible that some people today still cannot accept that it happened.