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How long did the Holocaust last?

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Quick Answer

The Holocaust unofficially began on January 30, 1933, and ended on May 8, 1945. The Holocaust's beginning is often linked to when Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. As a result of the Holocaust, 6 million Jews would die at the hands of Nazi oppressors by the war's end.

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How long did the Holocaust last?
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Full Answer

Following World War I Germany went through a period of economic and political instability. The Weimar Republic, a parliamentary form of government, took over from the once-powerful German Empire. In the midst of the political instability, Adolf Hitler was elected as the chancellor of Germany on January 30 1933. Adolf Hitler's party, the National Socialist German Worker's (Nazi) Party, promoted propaganda against their political opponents after Hitler's election, including the Weimar Republic, communists, and the Jewish people.

Hitler began campaigning for his party to gain full control over the German parliament, known as the Reichstag. Following a fire that damaged much of the parliament building in 1933, the Nazis were able to capitalize off of the resulting fear and chaos to consolidate their power in Germany. Once they gained full control of parliament, new measures were enacted giving Adolf Hitler dictatorial power. This power was supported and enforced by the special police forces of the Nazi party, the Gestapo and the SS.

Once Hitler had secured his power over German parliament, the Nazi party ramped up their efforts to isolate and persecute Jews within the country. Believing them to be a weak race that would, over time, naturally become extinct, Hitler began to enact laws that banned Jews from attending public schools, owning property, or participating in public events.

As a result, Jews began to attempt to flee to the neighboring countries of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, England, and France. While it was relatively easy to immigrate to other European countries, it became much harder during this time period for Jews to leave Europe in search of safety in other parts of the world. Strict immigration quotas were put into place, effectively trapping Jews within Europe.

In 1939, German armed forces took control of Poland and began to forcibly isolate Polish Jews in ghettos, where living conditions were extremely poor. Many died in these ghettos due to starvation, exposure, or disease.

In 1941, Germany began to implement what they referred to as "The Final Solution." In countries controlled by Nazis, Jews were forced to wear special identification, isolated in ghettos or camps, then rounded up and transported to work or death camps, where they were methodically killed. Jews who were young or healthy were often put to work building machinery and weaponry for the war, while those who were weak, very old, or very young were killed upon arrival in the death camps.

The Holocaust continued until the end of World War II when German armed forces surrendered to the Allied forces. During the final months of the war, camp inmates were forced to go on death marches as a way to prevent the Allies from liberating them. At the end of the Holocaust, some of the surviving Jews found shelter in displaced person camps administrated by the Allied powers. Approximately 700,000 Jewish survivors emigrated to Israel between 1948 and 1951.

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