During the first six years of the Nazi regime, thousands of Germans were detained or confined extra-legally. The conditions were usually harsh and there was no regard to the legal norms of arrest and imprisonment of a constitutional democracy in terms of arrest and imprisonment.
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 sites for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and for mass murder.
As Allied and Soviet troops moved across Europe against Nazi Germany in 1944 and 1945, they encountered concentration camps, mass graves, and other sites of Nazi crimes. The unspeakable conditions the liberators confronted shed light on the full scope of Nazi horrors. 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from Nazi concentration camps and the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe.
The Nazis demanded that Germans accept the premises of the Nazi worldview and live their lives accordingly. They tolerated no criticism, dissent, or nonconformity. Hitler's political opponents were the first victims of systematic Nazi persecution.
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.