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The Holocaust was the effort of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany to exterminate the Jews and other people that they considered to be inferior. As a result about 12,000,000 people - about half of them Jews - were murdered. The murders were done by every means imaginable but most of the victims perished as a result of shooting, starvation, disease, and poison gas. Others were tortured to death or died in horrible medical experiments.

Hitler took power in Germany in 1933 and almost immediately began the chain of events that led to the Holocaust. 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…...

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