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The Holocaust

The words "Shoah" and "Holocaust" are names used for the systematic murder of European Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War. Most of the victims were killed in Eastern Europe. Many Jews from Western Europe also met their deaths in the gas chambers of the death camps in Poland.

The final solution

The exact number of victims is unknown. Serious estimates range from 5 to 7 million, with 6 million being the generally accepted figure. This number represents about two-thirds of all Jews in Europe and one-third of all Jews in the world at that time. About 1.5 million of Jewish victims in the Holocaust were children. Some 5,000 Jewish communities throughout Europe were also destroyed. Jews were not the only civilian victims of Hitler’s regime, but they were the only group which the Nazis tried to wipe out completely. The German Nazi government’s plan to kill the entire Jewish population of Europa was called the “Final Solution” (Endlösung).

Accepted terms

Since the war, the words "Holocaust" and "Shoah" have become the accepted terms for the mass murder of the Jews during the Second World War. "Holocaust" is the most widely used term. Some people have objections to the word "Holocaust," because its original meaning is "sacrifice," and the mass murder of the Jews was not a sacrifice. In Israel, and in Jewish communities around the world, "Shoah" is the preferred term. This Hebrew word carries more of the meaning of "disaster," or more literally "a destructive whirlwind." The word was already used during the Second World War to refer to the murder of the Jews in Poland by the Nazis.
Anne Frank Guide
This day in history
Today: 12 December 2017
Then: 11 December 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; the U.S. respond in kind.

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