In the fall of 1941, Nazi Germany implemented a plan to systematically murder the Jews in the General Government. This plan was codenamed “Operation Reinhard.” Three killing centers were established as part of this action: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Operation Reinhard marked the deadliest phase of Nazi Germany’s intention to commit genocide against the Jewish people.
The Gestapo was Nazi Germany’s infamous political police force. Over the course of the Nazi era, the institution of the Gestapo expanded and changed. The groups targeted by the Gestapo shifted with the regime’s policies and priorities. One thing remained consistent: the Gestapo was a reliably brutal tool that enforced Nazism’s most radical impulses.
In 1918, Germany transitioned from a semi-authoritarian empire to the Weimar Republic, a democracy that protected individual rights and limited police power. During the Weimar Republic, police struggled to respond to a rise in crime, political violence, and high unemployment. The Nazis promised to fix these problems, which helped policemen to eventually accept the new Nazi regime in 1933.
January 27 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). Since 2005, the UN and its member states have held commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
Under the Nazi regime, there was no official law or policy prohibiting sexual relations between women. Nonetheless, beginning in 1933, the Nazi regime harassed and destroyed lesbian communities and networks that had developed during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933). This created a climate of restriction and fear for many lesbians.
Genocide was first recognized as an international crime in 1948, when the United Nations adopted the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The first conviction for genocide only occurred nearly 50 years later in response to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Jean-Paul Akayesu, the mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Genocides have continued to occur since the Holocaust. This was the case, for example, in Rwanda in 1994. Over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, as many as one million people, mostly Tutsis, were massacred. This occurred when an extremist-led Hutu government launched a plan to wipe out Rwanda’s entire Tutsi minority and any others who opposed its policies.
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