One of the toughest questions we are asked at the Holocaust History Project is when someone says "tell me everything you can about the Holocaust."
It is difficult because we know that this person wants to know about the Holocaust, but does not yet know enough to ask the right questions. There is so much information about the Holocaust that it is impossible to describe it all in a simple answer. We can, however, tell you what the Holocaust was and - most importantly - where you can read about it.
The Holocaust was the effort of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany to exterminate the ...view middle of the document...
This first phase was the persecution of Jews in Germany and the other countries invaded by Hitler. It lasted until 1941. During this period, while Hitler built his power, Jews were persecuted and brutalized but there was no organized effort to systematically murder them.
In late 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. In mid-1941 Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. At about the same time - historians do not agree on exactly when - Hitler also decided that there should be a "Final Solution" to "the Jewish question."
The "Final Solution" was the murder of the Jews and was mainly carried out by a military group known as the SS and a security service known as the SD. The Gestapo was part of the SD. They arrested Jews and other victims, ran the concentration camps and organized the murder squads.
During the first part of this extermination 1,500,000 Jews and other people were murdered by military groups which rounded them up and shot them. Gradually the emphasis changed to concentration camps, where the prisoners were worked to death as slave laborers, and extermination camps, where they were murdered in the gas chambers. The most famous of these was Auschwitz, which was both a labor camp and an extermination camp. About 1,300,000 people perished at Auschwitz; approximately 1,000,000 of those died in the gas chambers.