The word “Holocaust,” from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned), was historically used to describe a sacrificial offering burned on an altar.
Since 1945, the word has taken on a new and horrible meaning: the mass murder of some 6 million European Jews (as well as members of some other persecuted groups, such as Gypsies and homosexuals) by the German Nazi regime during the Second World War.
To the anti-Semitic Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Jews were an inferior race, an alien threat to German racial purity and community. After years of Nazi rule in Germany, during which Jews were consistently persecuted, Hitler’s “final solution”–now known as the Holocaust–came to fruition under the cover of world war, with mass killing centers constructed in the concentration camps of occupied Poland.
The wounds of the Holocaust–known in Hebrew as Shoah, or
catastrophe–were slow to heal. Survivors of the camps found it nearly
impossible to return home, as in many cases they had lost their families
and been denounced by their non-Jewish neighbors.
As a result, the late 1940s saw an unprecedented number of refugees, POWs and other displaced populations moving across Europe. In an effort to punish the villains of the Holocaust, the Allies held the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, which brought Nazi atrocities to horrifying light. Increasing pressure on the Allied powers to create a homeland for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust would lead to a mandate for the creation of Israel in 1948.
Over the decades that followed, ordinary Germans struggled with the Holocaust’s bitter legacy, as survivors and the families of victims sought restitution of wealth and property confiscated during the Nazi years. Beginning in 1953, the German government made payments to individual Jews and to the Jewish people as a way of acknowledging the German people’s responsibility for the crimes committed in their name.
from: The Holocaust http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust
Genocide Under the Nazis
Why did Nazi Germany kill millions who did not conform to its ideas of racial-biological 'purity'?
(click on the map to enlarge)
Interactive Map of Auschwitz
This interactive map explores the complex and surprising evolution of Auschwitz, the scene of one of the worst crimes in human history. This was where more than a million men, women and children, most of them Jews, were murdered by the Nazis during the course of World War Two. But Auschwitz was never conceived as a place to kill Jews.
As the map demonstrates, the Auschwitz complex served as a concentration camp and an industrial centre for the exploitation of brutal slave labour - but it was the perpetration of genocide that became its pre-eminent purpose.
Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline (Animated)
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany persecuted and killed vast numbers of people who did not conform to its ideas of racial and biological 'purity'.
This timeline takes you through all 12 years of Nazi rule. Hitler did not take power with a clear plan for Jews, 'Gypsies', the disabled and other groups. Instead, his regime gradually adopted ever more radical 'solutions', culminating in genocide and mass murder.
The timeline will allow you to decide if you too would have accepted the drip-drip of events that led to killing on an unimaginable scale.
The Holocaust (Articles, Videos, Pictures and Speeches)
Concentration Camp Liberation (3 min)
As Allied troops move across Europe, they encounter the horror of thousands of prisoners in Nazi camps.
The term 'Genocide' was coined by Polish writer and attorney, Raphael Lemkin, in 1941 by combining the Greek word 'genos' (race) with the Latin word 'cide' (killing). Genocide as defined by the United Nations in 1948 means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including: (a) killing members of the group (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Recent to Past Occurrences
- Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 - 200,000 Deaths
- Rwanda: 1994 - 800,000 Deaths
- Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 - 2,000,000 Deaths
- Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 - 6,000,000 Deaths
- Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 - 300,000 Deaths
- Stalin's Forced Famine: 1932-1933 - 7,000,000 Deaths
- Armenians in Turkey: 1915-1918 - 1,500,000 Deaths
In 1948, the U.N. approved its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG).
The convention entered into force in 1951 and has since been ratified by more than 130 countries. Though the CPPCG established an awareness that the evils of genocide existed, its actual effectiveness in stopping such crimes remained to be seen: Not one country invoked the convention during 1975 to 1979, when the Khmer Rouge regime killed some 1.7 million people in Cambodia (a country that had ratified the CPPCG in 1950).
In 1992, the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia, and Bosnian Serb leaders targeted both Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croatian civilians for atrocious crimes resulting in the deaths of some 100,000 people by 1995. In 1993, the U.N. Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, in the Netherlands; it was the first international tribunal since Nuremburg and the first to have a mandate to prosecute the crime of genocide.
From April to mid-July 1994, members of the Hutu majority in Rwanda murdered some 500,000 to 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority, with horrifying brutality and speed. As with the former Yugoslavia, the international community did little to stop the crimes while they were occurring, but that fall the U.N. expanded the mandate of the ICTY to include the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Tanzania. The Yugoslav and Rwandan tribunals helped clarify exactly what types of actions could be classified as genocidal, as well as how criminal responsibility for these actions should be established. In 1998, the ICTR set the important precedent that systematic rape is in fact a crime of genocide; it also handed down the first conviction for genocide after a trial, that of the mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba.
from: What Is Genocide? http://www.history.com/topics/what-is-genocide