The Holocaust refers to the persecution and murder of Jews by Nazis under the German leader Adolf Hitler. This term is sometimes also used to describe genocide of Jewish people in other time periods or regimes as well. The origin of this word is likely from Greek origin (holokauston) where” holos” means whole and “kauston” means burnt. The holocaust lasted from April 1933 till the end of World War II.
The estimated number of people who were murdered during the holocaust adds up to 11 million, including many women and children. Out of these 6 million were Jewish, (about 66% of Jewish people in Europe), the rest were Gypsies, gays and lesbians, mainly those labeled as outcasts by the Nazis at that time.
In the beginning of the Nazi movement most Jewish establishments were boycotted and several laws were introduced to discriminate against them. This included laws against mixed marriages, appearance in public places, and against holding government jobs. They were also ordered to wear a label or yellow star which helped identify them in public places, and moved to confined spaces called the ghetto.
The first report of physical violence against the Jews came from Germany and Austria where the Jewish establishments were destroyed and looted, Jewish people were attacked and a large number were sent to concentration camps.
Then the Nazis started torturing and executing Jews, by transporting them from ghettos to concentration camps on the pretext of providing them with work. Camps were set up for different purposes. The different camps included concentration cams, extermination cams, labor camps, transit camps etc, where Jews were held for different time periods and purposes. From 1938 till the end of the war, these camps were the site where endless torture, medical experiments and murder was inflicted on Jews.
The conditions at these camps were beyond comprehension. People were not given enough food, given hard wooden beds to sleep on, and treated very unkindly. Many unethical medical experiments were also conducted on adults and children against their will. The concentration camps were designed for hard labor and those living there often died of starvation. The extermination camps were specifically set up to perform mass murders. The more famous extermination camp at Auschwitz is known to have killed more than 1 million Jews.
Those that survived the Holocaust were finally liberated from the camps by the allied forces, starting in mid 1944. By that time the Nazis had succeeded in destroying large amount of evidence implicating their role in the holocaust. However, the gruesome memory of the holocaust still remains fresh in people who survived this terrible ordeal.