Hitler was seized by an
obsession with the Jews all his life. He had always been straightforward
about his plans - his dream of a racially pure empire would
tolerate no Jews. He announced at many occasions the annihilation of
the Jews living in the territory under his control.
In Adolf Hitler's mind, murdering millions of Jews could only be accomplished under the confusion of war - and from the beginning he was planning a war that would engulf Europe ..
The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of 6 million Jews - in 1933 9 million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Nazi 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 they were not the only group singled out for persecution by Adolf Hitler. As many as one-half million Gypsies, 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to his 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 KZ Camp Dachau was the first concentration camp established in Nazi Germany - the camp was opened on March 22, 1933. In the late 1930's the Nazis killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns.
Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method of killing. Extermination centers were established in occupied Poland with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Giant death machines. Six such death camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were conducted systematically by Hitler's SS men ..
Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease, and execution.
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.