What People Don’t Know (but Think They Do) About the Holocaust

Nine historical facts to remember about the Nazis' mass murder of Jews at this most solemn time of year

by Leah Jessen | Updated 24 Apr 2017 at 3:43 PM

Millions of people around the world are remembering the outrageous mass murders that took place decades ago under Adolf Hitler’s reign in Germany. Holocaust Remembrance Day began on Sunday night, April 23, and concludes Monday the 24th at sundown. In Hebrew, the day is called Yom Hashoah.

“I think the important thing to understand about this cataclysmic event is that it happened in the heart of Europe,” Sara Bloomfield, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., said in a video produced by the museum.

“Germany was respected around the world for its leading scientists, its physicians, its theologians,” Bloomfield said. “It was a very civilized, advanced country. It was a young democracy, but it was a democracy. And yet it descended not only into social collapse but world war and eventually mass murder.”

Here are nine things to remember about the Holocaust genocide.

1.) The Holocaust lasted from January 1933 to May 1945.

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2.) The Nazis murdered approximately 11 million men, women and children. About six million of those murdered were of Jewish ancestry. Other groups murdered included gay people, priests, gypsies, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

3.) Some of those killed during the Holocaust were professing Jewish Christians. “During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Jews turned to Jesus as Jewish redeemer and the universal savior, intermarrying with non-Jews, and assimilating into the German nation,” Judith Rood wrote on JewsforJesus.org.

4.) “When Allied troops entered the concentration camps, they discovered piles of corpses, bones, and human ashes — testimony to Nazi mass murder,” according to the website of the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum.

5.) Jews who fled Germany caused a refugee crisis in Europe. “President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian, France, in July 1938,” according to the Holocaust museum. “Despite the participation of delegates from 32 countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Australia, only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept additional refugees.”

6.) “Every arm of the government played a role” in the annihilation of the Jewish people, according to factretreiver.com. It adds: “Parish churches provided the birth records of the Jews. The Finance Ministry took Jewish wealth and property. Universities researched more efficient ways to murder. And government transportation bureaus paid for the trains that carried the Jews to their death.”

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7.) Soviet troops first liberated the Nazi concentration camps near Lubin, Poland, in July 1944. “Surprised by the rapid Soviet advance, the Germans attempted to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp,” the Holocaust museum website says. “Camp staff set fire to the large crematorium used to burn bodies of murdered prisoners, but in the hasty evacuation the gas chambers were left standing.”

8.) Pregnant woman were sentenced to death in concentration camps. "Miriam Rosenthal was four months pregnant, starving, bone-tired, cold, filthy and afraid when an SS officer in big black boots and a crisp uniform appeared before the barracks in Auschwitz with a loudspeaker in hand," the Canadian National Post reported in 2012. "'All pregnant women line up,' he barked. 'Line up, line up — your food portions are being doubled.'"

"Even women who were not pregnant stepped forward," Miriam Rosenthal told the publication. "I was standing with my younger cousin, but I wouldn't go." She and her unborn baby somehow survived — while more than 200 women went to the gas chamber that day, the National Post reported.

9.) At the worst of it, almost 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest killing center, in Poland, according to multiple sources.

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