The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the systematic, state-sponsored [[genocide]] carried out by the [[Nazis]] and their collaborators during World War II, between 1941 and 1945. The primary target of this genocide were Jews, but other groups such as Romani people, Poles, Soviet POWs, disabled individuals, homosexuals, and political dissidents were also persecuted and murdered.
The Holocaust was rooted in [[Adolf Hitler]]'s belief in a "pure" Aryan race and his deep-seated [[antisemitism]] and hatred towards Jews, which he blamed for many of Germany's problems. The Nazis began implementing discriminatory laws against Jews, such as the [[Nuremberg Laws]] in 1935, which stripped them of their rights as German citizens and restricted their social and economic freedoms. They also encouraged [[hate crimes]] against Jewish people by the German citizenry, and looked the other way as Germans turned on their Jewish neighbors in criminal and violent ways.
The Holocaust began to escalate in 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. SS (Schutzstaffel) paramilitary death squads called Einsatzgruppen were tasked with the mass murder of Jews, Romani people, and other targeted groups in the occupied territories. They rounded up civilians, executed them, and buried them in mass graves.
However, mass shootings were deemed inefficient, and in 1942, the [[Nazis]] implemented the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" during the Wannsee Conference, which aimed to exterminate the entire Jewish population in Europe. This decision led to the establishment of extermination camps, where victims were murdered on an industrial scale using gas chambers, such as in Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor.
In total, approximately six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, accounting for about two-thirds of the European Jewish population. Millions of others were also killed. The Holocaust remains one of the most horrific acts of [[genocide]] and a dark chapter in human history.
The Holocaust was brought to an end in 1945 when the Allied forces liberated the remaining concentration and extermination camps. The [[Nuremberg Trials]] were held between 1945 and 1946 to prosecute high-ranking Nazi officials for [[war crimes]] and crimes against humanity. Many of the perpetrators were sentenced to death or imprisoned. The Holocaust continues to be commemorated and studied, serving as a reminder of the dangers of hatred, [[prejudice]], [bigotry](https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/bigotry-is-bad-thinking/), and intolerance.
See also: [[World War II Timeline]]