In the fall of 1940, German authorities established a ghetto in Warsaw, Poland’s largest city with the largest Jewish population. Almost 30 percent of Warsaw’s population was packed into 2.4 percent of the city's area.
German troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, triggering World War II. In response to German aggression, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany.
In January 1945, the Third Reich stood on the verge of military defeat. As Allied forces approached Nazi camps, the SS organized “death marches” (forced evacuations) of concentration camp inmates, in part to keep large numbers of concentration camp prisoners from falling into Allied hands.
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 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.
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.
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 Minsk ghetto.
We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.