Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites (including ghettos). The perpetrators used these locations for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people deemed to be "enemies of the state," and mass murder. Millions of people suffered and died or were killed. Among these sites was Majdanek.
During the Holocaust, the creation of ghettos was a key step in the Nazi process of brutally separating, persecuting, and ultimately destroying Europe's Jews. Ghettos isolated Jews from the non-Jewish population and from other Jewish communities. Living conditions were miserable. Among them was the Vilna ghetto.
During the Holocaust, the creation of ghettos was a key step in the Nazi process of marginalizing, persecuting, and ultimately destroying Europe's Jews. Ghettos separated Jews from the non-Jewish population and concentrated them for later deportation and mass murder. Living conditions for the imprisoned Jewish communities were appalling. One of the most well-known ghettos in the German-occupied east was the Kovno ghetto.
The term antisemitism was coined only in the nineteenth century, but anti-Jewish hatred and Judeophobia (fear of Jews) date back to ancient times and have a variety of causes.
The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. These three countries recognized German domination over most of continental Europe; Italian domination over the Mediterranean Sea; and Japanese domination over East Asia and the Pacific.
Forced labor played a crucial role in the wartime German economy. German military, SS, and civilian authorities brutally exploited Jews, Poles,Soviet civilians, and concentration camp prisoners for the war effort. Many forced laborers died as the result of ill-treatment, disease, and starvation.
German troops overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France in six weeks starting in May 1940. France signed an armistice in late June 1940, leaving Great Britain as the only country fighting Nazi Germany. Germany and collaborating authorities soon initiated anti-Jewish policies and laws in occupied western Europe.
Americans had access to reliable information about the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews as it happened, but most could not imagine that a mass murder campaign was possible. Though most Americans sympathized with the plight of European Jews, assisting refugees and rescuing the victims of Nazism never became a national priority.
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