How Long Did the Holocaust Last?


The Holocaust began on January 30, 1933 when Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany and ended with the close of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, according to Jewish Virtual Library.

The Holocaust was the state-sponsored murder and persecution of Jews in Germany when Hitler came into power in 1933. Hitler and his supporters believed that Germans were a superior race to the Jews and that the Jews posed a severe threat to the German community. The Nazi policy was to murder Jews in Europe, and by the end of the Holocaust, more than 6 million of the 9 million Jews living in Europe were murdered.

Concentration Camps

In the early days of the Nazi regime, the government established concentration camps in which to detain Jews as well as political opponents and others who fell victim to Nazi racism. Millions of men, women and children resided in these camps during the war. Jews were moved to the camps so that they could be monitored and later deported out of Germany. There were also many forced-labor camps, where Nazis exploited manual labor from their detainees, as noted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Other Persecuted Peoples

Though the Jewish communities in Germany were the main targets during the Holocaust and lost the greatest number of people, there were several other populations deemed inferior by the Nazi regime. Roma (also known as Gypsies), Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled and homosexual people were all also imprisoned and exterminated during the Holocaust.

The Final Solution

Concentration camps were part of the “Final Solution,” in which Nazi’s aimed to exterminate all Jews from Germany. This was enacted in different stages. Mobile killing squads eliminated entire Jewish communities beginning in 1941. Thousands lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis in firing squads and gas chambers. In 1942, Nazis began moving people to extermination camps. They had several killing centers and gassing chambers throughout Germany and Poland that they used in the genocide of the Jewish people.

Escapes from the Concentration Camps

Two-thirds of the Jewish population were eliminated during this 12-year period, but some managed to escape from concentration and extermination camps with their lives. Towards the end of the war, Allied forces were able to liberate many Jewish prisoners. This often took place during the “death marches” when Nazis moved large groups of prisoners from one concentration camp to another either by train or by forcing them to walk. These marches took place until the day the German armed forces surrendered at the end of the war.

Holocaust Survivors

Following the Holocaust, many survivors found refuge in camps set up for displaced persons by the Allied Powers. More than 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, as estimated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Others left to establish new lives in the United States or other parts of Europe. Though World War II ended and victory declared on V-E Day (May 8, 1945), people displaced by the Holocaust remained in camps for many years to follow. The last Displaced Persons camp set up by the Allied Powers did not close until 1957 ‰ÛÓ 24 years after the start of the Holocaust.