Most Asked Questions

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The 10 Most asked questions about the Holocaust


"Q: Who was Hitler and how did He get control of Germany?"
Special Feature: Adolph Hitler: Rise of A Tyrant!




1. Q: When Speaking about "The Holocaust", what time period are we referring to?


A: The term Holocaust is used to refer to the period between January 30, 1933 --when Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany-- and May 8, 1945 (V-E Day) when Germany surrendered and the War in Europe ended.


2. Q: How many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?


A: While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Jewish victims, statistical documentation shows that the total was over 5,830,000. Six million is the round figure that is accepted by most authorities.


3. Q: How many Jews were murdered in each country, and what percentages did they constitute of that country's pre-War Jewish population?



Austria 40,000 20% Hungary 200,000 50%
Belgium 40,000 67% Italy 8,000 16%
Bulgaria --- --- Latvia 80,000 84%
Czechoslovakia 315,000 88% Lithuania 135,000 87%
Denmark 500 08% Luxembourg 700 23%
Estonia 1,500 33% Norway 760 42%
Finland 8 01% Poland 2,850,000 88%
France 90,000 30% Rumania 425,000 50%
Germany 170,000 32% USSR 1,252,000 44%
Greece 60,000 80% Yugoslavia 60,000 80%
Holland 105,000 75%


4. Q: What is a Concentration Camp?


A: Concentration camps were special compounds established by the Nazis to detain "undesireables" and those considered a threat to the order of the Reich. The first such camp was Dachau, opened inside Germany in 1933. The first inmates were political prisoners and anti-socials, as well as homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses. In later years there were mass deportations of Jewish citizens to these camps, leading up to the implementation of the Final Solution: The systematic mass murder of Jews in the Death Camps. The Death Camps were all located in Poland. There were six camps designated primarily for killing: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.


Go to Consentration Camps Chart


5. Q: What were the first measures taken by the Nazis against the Jews?


A: The Nazi Party was always antisemitic, and soon after their rise to power in Germany they began to put their propaganda into the law of the land:

April 1, 1933 -- Nazi-sponsored boycott of Jewish shops and businesses.

April 7, 1933 -- Jews expelled from all civil service positions. Jews forbidden to practice law.

April 22, 1933 -- Medical services provided by Jewish doctors no longer covered by national insurance.

April 25, 1933 -- Most Jewish public school students expelled.



Go to Chronology


6. Q: Why were the Jews singled out for destruction by the Nazis?


A: There are many answers to this complex question, but the most direct goes back to the Nazi philosophy which looks at history and economics through the twisted perspective of racism. The Nazis erroneously considered the Jewish people a race, and ascribed to them sinister motivations of world control and domination over others. The Nazis also considered the blond haired, blue-eyed Nordic type to belong to a "pure" Aryan race, which had no basis in fact. The Nazis wanted to promote the ascendence of their own "Aryan race" over the so-called "Jewish race" which they claimed had been responsible for Germany's misfortunes following the first World War.

7. Q: Did the Jews try to fight back against the Nazis?


A: Despite the difficult conditions which Jews were subjected to in Nazi-occupied Europe, there was Jewish resistance against the Nazis. There were revolts in the ghettos and sabotage in the concentration camps; Jews joined the armed partisans (guerrilla warriors) and played a part in the Underground. It is important to understand that there was never any "Jewish Army" as such to directly oppose the Nazis. The Nazis had a trained, armed military force in place to enforce their edicts, and they were considered the offical, legitimate government of Germany by most for many years.


HRC Library: Books on Resistance
HRC Library: Videos on Resistance


8. Q: How did Germany's allies, Italy and Japan, treat the Jews in the lands they occupied?


A: Neither the Italians nor the Japanese, who were Germany's military allies in World War II, cooperated with the Nazi "Final Solution". Both countries resisted German pressures to deport their Jews to concentration camps.


Conditions in the parts of France, Yugoslavia and Greece that Italy occupied were relatively good for the Jews there until the Nazis overthrew the Italian government in 1943. Thereafter the Jews in these areas were subject to the Final Solution.


Jewish refugees in Japan and Japanese-occupied China and Malaysia were also treated fairly well. In 1943 they were forced to live in the Hongkew ghetto, where conditions were harsher, but still much better than in Nazi territory.


9: Q: Did anyone try to help the Jews when they were being persecuted and killed?


A: "Righteous Among the Nations" or "Righteous Gentiles" is the term used to refer to those non-Jews who aided Jews during the Holocaust. There were Righteous people in every country or territory that the Nazis held, and their deeds often saved Jewish lives.


By far the largest group that played a part in the Holocaust were the Bystanders -- ordinary citizens of Nazi-controlled areas who did nothing to oppose the Final Solution. Whether fearful or just apathetic to the plight of the Jews, the fact remains that many chose to ignore what the Nazis were doing to those around them.


HRC Library: Books: The Righteous
HRC Library: Videos:
The Righteous


10. Q: Were the Nazis ever punished for their crimes?


A: We do not know the exact number of those who committed Nazi crimes against humanity as the existing documentation in incomplete. Many of the documents that pertain to the Final Solution were destroyed by the Nazis themselves prior to the end of the War.


War Criminals can be divided into two main groups -- those who planned and directed the killing of the European Jews, and those who carried out their orders and did the killing directly. The first group is made up of the high officials of the Nazi Party, the German Military, the Gestapo and the S.S. The second group is much larger and includes hundreds of thousands of Gestapo, S.S., Einsatzgruppen, police, and soldiers, as well as civilians who aided and assisted the Nazi plan of murder.


Hilter himself escaped prosecution for all his crimes when he committed suicide in his bunker at the end of the War. Others in his Nazi inner circle, such as Himmler and Goebbels, also evaded justice through suicide. Over 5000 Nazi higher-ups were caught and convicted by the Allies between 1945 and 1949. In all, about 80,000 Germans have been tried and convicted of War Crimes.



HRC Library: Books: War Crimes
HRC Library: Videos:
War Crimes