Holocaust comes from ancient Greek and it means “burn all”. Basically, that is what Nazi regime did. They exterminate the impressive amount of 6 million Jews.
But where did this hate towards Jews came from?
Well, Jews in Europe have been discriminated and persecuted during centuries. They have always been accused of being responsible for the bad things that have happened during history such as the Plague pandemic during the 14th century or the death of a Russian Czar at the end of the 19th century.
With the emergence of the racial mindset, the idea of Jewish people being a different race and therefore not belonging to the populations where they lived, settled down.
When Germany lost the first World War, Jews where blamed of the enormous debt generated and accused of being in favour of the communism. However, the first intentions of the Nazi regime where not to kill Jewish people, but to force them to leave the country. Subsequently, Jews started to be persecuted in 1933, saw their rights limited with the proclamation of Nuremberg laws in 1935 and evolved to systematic violence against them after the night of broken glass at the end of 1938.
The beginning of 1939 brought a more violent phase against Jewish People. The possibility of being able to emigrate and leave the country is almost impossible with the war and Jews are confined in Ghettos and forced to live in very poor conditions, with violence and the constant fear of being deported to concentration camps.
In 1941 Germany invades the Soviet Union and Hitler’s actions get more radicle. Einsatzgruppen (paramilitary death squads) start killing not only man between 15 and 60 but also elderly, women and children and massive killing appears as a solution to speed the process of Jews eradication. Thence, in 1942 “Operation Reinhard” comes up and extermination camps are built. These camps are different from concentration camps, people sent in them are killed shortly after arriving and only a small group is kept alive to maintain the functioning of the camp. In November 1943 Operation Reinhard ends and the camps are dismantled, and the victim corps burnt.
At least 1,75 million Jews were killed during Operation Reinhard.
During 1943 and 1944 Jews from other parts of Europe are sent to concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, like Italy, Hungary, Turkey, the Balkans and Greece. During 1944, the German army and naval units concentrated the Jews residing in the former Italian occupation zone in Greece at assembly points. German officials then deported 800 Jews from Athens, almost 2,000 from Corfu, and almost 2,000 from Rhodes to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Only when Allies are getting close to Germany, Jews persecution comes to an end. During the last months of the war Jews are killed in the called “Death Marchs” as a way of evacuating the concentration camps to avoid them form being rescued by the Allies. Even after the end of the war and the liberation of the camps, a lot of Jews die due to the hunger, illnesses and exhaustion.
As we mentioned above, the Nazis killed the impressive amount of 6 million Jews and the purpose of remembering the horrors lived during the Holocaust every 27 January is that Humankind learns from its errors and doesn’t fall into the same mistakes over and over again.