Origins and Causes of the Holocaust

  • The Holocaust occurred during World War II, when approximately six million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.
  • Hitler believed that the “Aryan race” was superior and that Jews were a threat to the racial purity of Germany.
  • The Nuremberg laws of 1935 stripped Jews of their rights, marking the beginning of the legal persecution of Jews in Germany.
  • The policies of the allied powers before the war, including the Evian Conference of 1938, contributed to Jewish vulnerability as they failed to provide sufficient opportunities for Jewish refugees.

Key Events during the Holocaust

  • The Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) was a state-sanctioned terror attack on Jews that marked the beginning of mass violence against Jews.
  • The Wannsee Conference in January 1942 formalised the plan for the ‘Final Solution’, resulting in the extermination of six million Jews.
  • Jews were transported from across Europe under Nazi influence to concentration and extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka.

Resistance and Reaction

  • The Jewish populations did not remain passive. Instances of resistance included the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the revolt at the Sobibor extermination camp.
  • International reaction was largely characterised by indifference, denial and disbelief. For example, the Bermuda Conference in 1943 failed to achieve significant results for the rescue of European Jewry.

Aftermath and Legacy

  • The Nuremberg Trials brought many responsible Nazis to justice and acknowledged crimes against humanity as an international legal concept.
  • The establishment of Israel in 1948 provided a homeland for Jewish survivors, but also triggered the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • The Holocaust has shaped perceptions and definitions of genocide, racism and human rights, impacting international law and global human rights norms.

Remember, the Holocaust was a complex and vast event with countless individual experiences. This summary provides an overview of the main events and issues but deeper research is always necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the subject.