It’s known as the Holocaust. Most people alive today would not have been around to witness the horror that took place during World War II, but we must never overlook how the Holocaust became one of the most devastating events in world history.
1. The term “holocaust” refers to an event in which many people are killed and many things are destroyed, especially by fire. Jews refer to this historic event as Shoah, which means “The Catastrophe.”
2. Jews weren’t the only people sent to concentration camps. Christians standing up to Nazi ideology, communists, socialists, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and others seen as having socially deviant behavior were also sent.
3. Not all concentration camps were death camps. Many were prisons and labor camps, though the horrible conditions still caused many to die from exhaustion and starvation.
4. Concentration camps were primarily used for detention and cheap labor. Other camps, like Auschwitz and Chelmno, were almost exclusively used as death factories.
5. In Auschwitz, at the height of the deportation, 6,000 Jews a day were sent through deadly gas chambers. There were at least 6 killing centers like Auschwitz running at the time.
6. Certain Christians, such as Corrie ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, were imprisoned for standing up against the evils of the day.
7. An estimated 1/3 of all Jews alive at the time were systematically killed during the Holocaust.
8. 2/3 of all European Jews were killed. Of the 9 million Jews living in Europe when the war began, only 3 million were alive when it ended.
9. Between 1945 and 1985, 5,000 Nazi war criminals were executed, and 10,000 were imprisoned for their crimes. The German government is still holding trials and convicting war criminals today.
10. There is a movement afoot to deny the reality of the Holocaust. The deniers, also known as “revisionists,” believe Jews were simply deported and that they invented the Holocaust to serve their own financial and political ends. But historical records and eyewitness accounts support the validity of the Holocaust.
One film that has captured a powerful story of hope amidst human suffering is The Hiding Place. It follows the story of the ten Boom family who hid hundreds of Jews in their home during the Holocaust before they themselves were found out and sent to concentration camps. Only Corrie survived.
*Some facts acquired from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.