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The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War 2. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. The European Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust.
But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.
The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.
The Holocaust happened because Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were racist. They believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated.
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