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The Holocaust

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The Holocaust Begins

Part of Hitler's new order for Europe included getting rid of inferior people. Hitler believed that the Aryans, or German peoples, were a master race. He had a deep-seated hatred of people who were not German. He particularly hated Jews. This led to the Holocaust, the killing of millions of Jews and other civilians.

During the 1930s, Hitler passed laws that took away the rights of German Jews. One night in November 1938, Nazi mobs attacked Jews throughout Germany. They destroyed homes and businesses and killed or beat many people. This night became known as Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass.

Kristallnacht was a major step-up in the Nazi policy of persecuting the Jews. The future for the Jews in Germany looked grim. Thousands of Jews tried to leave Germany. Other countries accepted a large number but were unwilling to take all those who wished to leave.

Hitler ordered all Jews in Germany and his conquered lands to live in certain parts of cities called ghettos. The Nazis then sealed off the ghettos with barbed wire and stone walls. They wanted the Jews inside to starve or die of disease. Even under these horrible conditions, the Jews hung on.

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The Final Solution

Hitler soon got tired of waiting for the Jews to starve or die of disease in the ghettos. He decided to take more direct action. He was going to kill as many Jews as possible.

Hitler’s plan was the Final Solution to what the Nazis called the Jewish problem. It was genocide, the systematic killing of an entire people. The Nazis also wanted to wipe out many other people to protect the purity of the Aryan race. These people included Roma (gypsies), Poles, Russians, and those who were mentally or physically disabled. The Germans paid the most attention on Jews, however.

Thousands of Jews were shot to death by killing squads. Millions were gathered and placed in concentration camps. These prisons used the inmates as slave workers. Many in the camps died of starvation or disease.

Starting in 1942, the Nazis built death camps. At these camps, thousands of Jews were gassed to death in huge gas chambers. In the end, six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. Fewer than four million European Jews survived.

What was the Final Solution and how was it carried out?
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