The Holocaust was the systematic killing of approximately 6 million European Jews coordinated by the Nazi government of Germany during the Second World War. This genocide began around 1940 through the use of military and civilian death squads, then accelerated in 1942 when the Nazis started shipping Jews to concentration camps in which prisoners were worked to death, subjected to medical experimentation, and exterminated. The process represented the Nazi government’s “Final Solution” to the “Jewish question,” through which it intended to eliminate the Jewish people from the earth. The Nazis also systematically executed Romani, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, disabled persons, and a variety of religious and political opponents, totaling between 5 and 11 million deaths in addition to the Jews. The Holocaust came to an end in 1945 after the fall of the Nazi regime upon Germany’s defeat.
The Holocaust resulted in the extermination of two-thirds of Europe’s pre-war Jewish population, permanently altering the fabric of many European societies. As the world came to learn about the events of the Holocaust after the war, international support for the creation of a sovereign Jewish state coalesced, and Jews, galvanized by their recent sufferings, went on to establish the state of Israel in 1948. The brutal results of Nazi prejudice acted as a wake-up call against bigotry, leading to significant decreases in anti-Semitism in many societies across the globe during the second half of the twentieth century. The Holocaust is widely regarded as one of the most barbaric episodes of human history, and its memory often serves as a rallying cry against genocides, religious and ethnic violence, and prejudice of all sorts.