Background to the Holocaust

During the Second World War, the Nazi party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler tried to kill all the Jews in Europe.. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered six million Jewish people, including 1,500,000 children. This terrible period in history is now referred to as the Holocaust.

Jewish people had lived in Europe for over 2000 years. Originally Jews lived in Palestine but the Romans drove them out of this land in ancient times. Consequently the Jews settled in different places around the world. They often lived peacefully alongside their non-Jewish neighbours.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Germany was experiencing great economic and social hardship. The Germans had been defeated in the First World War, and had been forced to pay huge reparations to the Allies. As a result, Germany suffered terrible inflation and mass unemployment. Hitler blamed the Jews for the hardship that weighed down upon his country. His anti-Semitic policies eventually led to an intricate plan to exterminate the Jewish people. It is unknown whether this was his original intention, as it seems he initially planned simply to force the Jews out of Germany.