What was the Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the Final Solution,” the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

This 38-minute film was produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It examines the Nazi’s rise and consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda, and persecution of Jews and other victims. It also outlines the path by which the Nazis and their collaborators led a state to war and to the murder of millions of people.

Reliable Internet Resources

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, including its Holocaust Encyclopedia

Yad Vashem

USC Shoah Foundation

International Tracing Service

The Wiener Library

Yale’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies (more than 4,400 testimonies comprising 12,000 recorded hours of videotape)

Holocaust Remembrance Days

There are two main Holocaust Remembrance Days :

Yom Hashoah marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the liberation of Auschwitz.

Holocaust Timelines


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William Shirer

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 by Saul Friedlander

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 2:The Years of Extermination 1939-1945 by Saul Friedlander


Schindler’s List


Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide


12 Years That Shook the World - 12 Years That Shook the World” explores stories of real people, the choices they made, and specific moments in Holocaust history from 1933-1945. The podcast is produced by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On the Holocaust - This is the official podcast of Yad Vashem.