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When did the Holocaust Start?

Updated on April 21, 2021

What is the holocaust?

The Holocaust ( "Shoah" in Hebrew ) refers to the period where Hitler came to power ( January 30 1933 ) and to the 8th of May where the Nazi regime surrendered. During this period about 6,000,000 Jews ( 1,5 million being children where killed. About 5,000 Jewish communities where destructed. In other words, 1/3 of the Jewish world population was executed. This was done systematically by the Germans, as the goal was to annihilate the Jews in Europe, by Hitler called Endlösung

The interior of a Synagogue in Berlin after the Kristallnacht
The interior of a Synagogue in Berlin after the Kristallnacht
Construction of the wall at the Warsaw ghetto
Construction of the wall at the Warsaw ghetto
The infamous Auschwitz Entrance: "Arbeit macht Frei"
The infamous Auschwitz Entrance: "Arbeit macht Frei"

The Three Phases

One can divide the Holocaust into three phases:

1) The Persecution began in April 1933, only about two months after Hitler election as Chancellor. From 1933 to 1943 more than 430 anti-Jewish decree was made. The Nuremberg laws ( 1935 ) initially dismissed Jews from the public sector and later prevented Jews in running their own business. The last of the decrees stated that Jews suspected of crimes should be handed directly over to the Gestapo without being sent to court.

During this period the infamous Kristallnacht took place. It was designed to scare the Jews out of Germany. At this time extermination was not the issue.

2) The Ghettoization. From 1939 to 1941 Jews were further gathered into ghettos, as there should be no contact between Jews and Germans, be it professional or relational. The conditions in the ghettos were often horrible. They were overcrowded, with no medical help and insufficient amounts of food. In the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos many Jews died of disease or starvation.

3) The Genocide. The Final Solution was started in June 1941, a systematic extermination of the Jews in the Nazi controlled territories. Death squads followed the advancing German armies into the Soviet Union. Their first atrocities was in Kaunas, Lithuania, on June 25th 1941. Soon killings in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia followed.

Deportations of Jews from Berlin to Theresienstadt, Riga and Minsk started in October 1941. Riga and Minsk became virtually killing fields for Jews.

Mass gassings started in December 1941. Almost all extermination camps were situated in Poland.

The administrative details of the genocide was co-ordinated at a conference in Wahnsee on January 20th 1942

Two of Germany's allies, Romania and Croatia, also took part in the holocaust.

The Locations of the Genocide

The German's exterminated the Jewish - and other "inferior" - people wherever they conquered their enemies, often by mass open air shooting ( especially in The Soviet Union 9. Meanwhile almost all the extermination camps were placed in Poland. The extermination camps were:





Maly Trostenes ( Belarus )



Besides these Jews where deported to other harsh concentration camps where many died from exhaustion, doing heavy manual labour on insufficient food.

Though most of the killings happened in Poland and Russia, countries all over Europe ( and the U.S. ) were indirectly involved, as they started closing their borders to Jewish refugees.

End of the Holocaust

The Holocaust ended in May 1945 few days after Hitler committed suicide and Germany was collapsing, but some of the concentration camps were liberated already in 1944. However, the death tolls increased for several weeks after a camp was liberated, due to diseases and exhaustion.


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    • profile image

      mours sshields 

      9 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Great hub! Also, very informative concerning the different phases of the holocaust.


      Marcia Ours

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      9 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      THe history of Holocaust is written and re-written many times, but as long as there are people which can say about it, the books of this history will get new pages. Great hub! Shared


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