A Brief Holocaust Summary

There are few periods of time in history that are darker or more shocking than the Holocaust. And while the majority of people today understand at least vaguely what the Holocaust was, there are actually a growing number of younger people that don’t fully understand or even know what it involved. Taking the time to understand the basics of the Holocaust is important and should serve as a good jumping-off point for understanding more about what happened during it.

The Holocaust is generally thought of as the genocide of roughly 6 million Jewish people during World War II. Some definitions include the mass murder of other groups as well including Romani gypsies, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, blacks, and more, and some numbers suggest that between 10 and 11 million civilians and POWs were murdered during this time period.

It’s important to understand that the genocide of Jews and others during the Holocaust didn’t occur in one fell swoop. Instead, it was a process that occurred in carefully orchestrated stages, gradually leading up to the implementation of the “Final Solution”.

It began with laws that required Jewish people to be removed from the rest of the general population. These laws generally forced Jews and Romani into ghettos, overcrowded and filthy areas of cities that were essentially used as holding areas.

During this time, concentration camps were also established, and Jews and Romani were pulled from the ghettos and placed into the concentration camps, where they were forced into slave labour until disease, starvation, or exhaustion killed them. As the Nazis continued to conquer new areas of Europe, new ghettos and concentration camps were set up. Additionally, death squads began to execute Jews and others in mass shootings, burying them in mass graves throughout the continent.

It was later in the course of WWII that the Nazis set the Final Solution into motion, and it was then that some of the concentration camps became extermination camps. The sole purpose of these camps was simply to execute as many people as possible in as efficient a manner as possible. Millions died in these death camps, and this is the phase of the Holocaust that most think of when they think of it.

Simply put, the Holocaust was one of the darkest periods of history, filled with madness and murder. Remembering it today helps honour those who perished and also ensures that such a thing won’t be repeated as years go by.


There are many names we now associate with evil due to the horrors their bearers committed during the Second World War. While their names inspire an almost instinctive revulsion, many don’t know what roles they actually played in the hierarchy of the Third Reich, or how they ultimately met their fate, the end of the Holocaust.
Heinrich Himmler-

Himmler was one of the most notorious men of the modern era. He was Hitler’s right hand and is one of the individuals most directly responsible for the implementation of the Final Solution and the establishment of extermination camps as well as the head of the feared Gestapo.

As the war drew to a close, his former subordinates and colleagues shunned him, hoping to avoid being associated with the horrors that Himmler instigated. He fled to southern Germany and assumed a new name: Heinrich Hitzinger. Eventually, he was detained at a routine civilian checkpoint and under interrogation admitted to who he was. During a medical examination, he bit a cyanide capsule and died in seconds. He was buried in an unmarked grave whose location remains unknown to this day.

Hermann Goering-

Hermann Goering founded the Gestapo and was the commander-in-chief of the feared Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force. He was eventually named Adolf Hitler’s successor to the Third Reich. He and his henchmen were largely responsible for the theft of countless riches “confiscated” from wealthy Jewish families and other enemies of the Reich. When he attempted to seize control of the Reich when informed of Hitler’s intent to self-terminate, he was arrested at Hitler’s order.
Goering was eventually tried and convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. However, like many Nazi leaders, he chose suicide over facing justice. He killed himself by ingesting a cyanide capsule while in prison.
Nikolaus Barbie-

Infamously referred to as the Butcher of Lyon, Nikolaus, or Klaus, Barbie gained a reputation for incredibly brutality and sadism. He personally participated in the torture of men, women and children detained by the Gestapo.

Unlike his superiors, Klaus Barbie did not commit suicide. He actually survived the war was recruited by British intelligence to act as anti-communist agents in continental Europe. When it was discovered that he was alive and in Allied hands, the French requested he is turned over, but the British and Americans colluded to have him shipped to South America where he participated in various revolutionary activities. Eventually, he was cast out by a government he had helped to establish and was extradited to France where he died in prison.

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