The Holocaust and Elie Wiesel
- Release Date: February 12, 2019
- Age Levels: Grade 10
- During World War II, Nazi Germany and its collaborators murdered approximately six million Jews. The Holocaust is the name used to refer to this systematic, bureaucratic, and statesponsored campaign of persecution and murder. Beginning with racially discriminatory laws in Germany, the Nazi campaign expanded to the mass murder of all European Jews.
Jewish Population of Europe
- In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany (the Third Reich) would occupy or influence during World War II. The Nazis established concentration camps to imprison Jews, other people targeted on ethnic or “racial” grounds, and political opponents. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, beginning World War II. Over the next two years, German forces conquered most of Europe.
Other Groups Targeted
- During the era of the Holocaust, the Nazis also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), people with disabilities, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.
Polish & Soviet Citizens
- As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans persecuted and murdered millions of other people. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, or maltreatment. The Germans killed tens of thousands of non-Jewish Polish intellectual and religious leaders, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet citizens for forced labor.
Creation of Prison Camps
- During the war years, the Nazis and their collaborators created ghettos (to isolate Jewish populations) and thousands of new camps for the imprisonment of targeted groups and forced labor. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) carried out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist party officials. More than a million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered by these units, usually in mass shootings.
- Between 1942 and 1944, Nazi Germany deported millions more Jews from occupied territories to extermination camps, where they murdered them in specially developed killing facilities using poison gas. At the largest killing center, Auschwitz-Birkenau, transports of Jews arrived almost daily from across Europe.
- Prisoners at forced labor in the brick factory at Neuengamme concentration camp. Germany, date uncertain.
- Hairbrushes of victims, found soon after the liberation of Auschwitz. Poland, after January 27, 1945.
The End of the War
- In the final months of the war, SS guards forced camp inmates to march hundreds of miles without shelter in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series of offensives, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners.
Surrender of Germans
- World War II ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender of German armed forces in the west on May 7 and in the east on May 9, 1945.
- By war’s end, close to two out of every three Jews in Europe had been murdered by Nazi Germany and its collaborators in the massive crime we now call the Holocaust.
- Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, was born in the provincial town of Sighet, Romania on September 30, 1928. A Jewish community had existed there since 1640, when it sought refuge from an outbreak of pogroms and persecution in Ukraine.
This is a powerpoint about Night and the Holocaust. This also contains some information about Farewell to Manzanar.