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Which countries' Jewish populations were affected by the Holocaust?

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Curtis Peter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Holocaust was carried out by Nazi Germany under the orders of their leader, Adolf Hitler, between the years of 1933 and 1945. One of Hitler's core beliefs was that of the racial superiority of the German people. He also declared that there were racially inferior people. During the Holocaust, Hitler and the Nazis aimed to rid the world of those they deemed as being racially inferior. Some of those deemed racially inferior were Slavs, Roma, blacks, Jews, and those with disabilities. Hitler and the Nazis also persecuted people with whom they had ideological differences, including Communists, homosexuals, and political opponents. The end of the Holocaust came with the downfall of Hitler and Nazi Germany in 1945 as the Allied Powers closed in and captured the German capital of Berlin.

The total amount of Holocaust victims ranges from estimates of 12 million to more than 20 million people. The estimated number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is approximately 6 million people. Prior to the Holocaust, the Jewish population in Europe was recorded at a little more than 9 million. This means that the Holocaust resulted in the deaths of approximately two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. The Holocaust was carried out in the countries of Europe that were conquered by Germany during World War II.

After the German army conquered territory, mobile death squads known as the Einsatzgruppen operated in the newly conquered land. The job of the Einsatzgruppen was to round up those deemed racially inferior and the political opponents of Germany and to execute them. With the construction of death camps in conquered Polish territory, the process also included the rounding up of those deemed racially inferior for them to eventually be sent to death camps for execution. In some cases, particularly for young adults who were fit, prisoners would instead be sent to labor camps, where they would be forced into slave labor.

Below is a list of countries and regions affected by the Holocaust. It also includes the percentage of the Jewish population of that country or territory that was lost. This is according to estimates by the Jewish Virtual Library.

  • Poland: 90% of Jews killed
  • Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia): 90% of Jews killed
  • Germany/Austria: 88% of Jews killed
  • Czechoslovakia: 83% of Jews killed
  • Greece: 77% of Jews killed
  • The Netherlands: 75% of Jews killed
  • Hungary: 70% of Jews killed
  • Belarus (at the time part of the Soviet Union): 65% of Jews killed
  • Ukraine (at the time part of the Soviet Union): 60% of Jews killed
  • Belgium: 60% of Jews killed
  • Yugoslavia: 60% of Jews killed
  • Romania: 50% of Jews killed
  • Norway: 50% of Jews killed
  • France: 26% of Jews killed
  • Bulgaria: 22% of Jews killed
  • Italy: 20% of Jews killed
  • Luxembourg: 20% of Jews killed
  • Russia: 11% of Jews killed

There are also inconclusive numbers of the Jewish populations of Denmark and Finland who were killed.

Poland experienced the highest total number of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, at approximately 3,000,000 total. This makes sense when one considers the fact that the Germans constructed most of their large death camps in conquered Polish territory. Ukraine, with 900,000 murdered Jews, was the second highest total by number.

As we can see by the statistics, the Holocaust marked one of the darkest times in world history. The impact on the Jewish population in Europe was devastating, and many countries have still not seen a recovery of their Jewish populations. No country that was invaded by the Nazis remained immune to the horrors they committed.

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The Holocaust took place in Europe during World War II. It occurred in countries and territories that Nazi Germany controlled, had invaded or were allied with.  This included all of the following countries listed:

Germany

Poland

Czechoslovakia

Yugoslavia

Greece

Soviet Union

France

Belgium

Netherlands

Denmark

Austria

Hungary

Romania

Bulgaria

Norway

Specifically, Hitler ordered the construction of a vast network of labor camps and death camps to carry out the "Final Solution" to the Jewish question, over 1200 of them in all.  5 camps were specially designed to murder as many people as possible on an industrial scale.  These were Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec.

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