The Holocaust in Europe: A Summation by Country


In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators murdered more than 11 million people in countries all throughout Europe. Concentration camps were established by the Nazi regime to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews beginning in 1939.

Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and, later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind German lines to carry out mass-murder operations against these same perceived threats. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi authorities deported millions of Jews to killing centers (extermination camps), where they were murdered in specially-developed gassing facilities.

This project seeks to detail how the Holocaust took place, and who made genocide possible, in each of the European countries.

- Summary of the Holocaust in Austria
- Summary of the Holocaust in Belgium
- Summary of the Holocaust in Belarus
- Summary of the Holocaust in Bulgaria
- Summary of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia
- Summary of the Holocaust in Estonia
- Summary of the Holocaust in France
- Summary of the Holocaust in Germany
- Summary of the Holocaust in Greece
- Summary of the Holocaust in Hungary
- Summary of the Holocaust in Italy
- Summary of the Holocaust in Latvia
- Summary of the Holocaust in Lithuania
- Summary of the Holocaust in the Netherlands
- Summary of the Holocaust in Poland
- Summary of the Holocaust in Romania
- Summary of the Holocaust in Ukraine
- Summary of the Holocaust in Yugoslavia
- Conclusion

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Jews played an important role in Austria's economic and cultural life. In 1938, Austria had a Jewish population of about 192,000, representing almost 4 percent of the total population. The overwhelming majority of Austrian Jews lived in Vienna, the capital, an important center of Jewish culture, Zionism, and education.

After a prolonged period of economic stagnation, political dictatorship, and intense Nazi propaganda inside Austria, German troops entered the country on March 12, 1938. They received the enthusiastic support of most of the population and immediately Austria was incorporated into Germany. An estimated 99% of the population of Austria voted for German-Austria unification, with Jews and Roma (Gypsies) excluded from voting.

The November 1938 Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom was particularly brutal in Austria. Most of the synagogues in Vienna were destroyed, burned in full view of fire departments and the public. Vienna erupted in anti-Semitic violence immediately after the Nazi takeover. Austrian civilians enthusiastically joined the Nazis in terrorizing Jews. Jewish women were forced to scrub the sidewalks. Jewish actresses were forced to clean Austrian Storm Troopers' toilets. Average Austrians forced Jews off public transportation. Austrian Hitler Youth pulled religious Jewish men around by their beards. This violence lasted as the Nazis ransacked Jewish shops and stores. Thousands of Jews were arrested and deported to the Dachau or Buchenwald concentration camps.

Jewish emigration out of Austria increased dramatically in response to the German incorporation of Austria and to Kristallnacht. Between 1938 and 1940, 117,000 Jews left Austria.

The Mauthausen concentration camp was established in the summer of 1938. Inmates were forced to carry heavy stone blocks up 186 steps from the camp quarry, the "Stairway of Death". It was a brutal concentration camp and the main camp that operated in Austria. Systematic mass deportations from Vienna, as elsewhere in Greater Germany, began in October 1941. In 1944, 60 subcamps under the administration of Mauthausen were established near armaments factories throughout northern Austria. These included Gusen, Gunskirchen, Melk, Ebensee, and Amstetten. Thousands of prisoners were worked to death. Other concentration camps included Lochau in the west and Strasshof in the east.

About 35,000 Jews were deported from Vienna to ghettos in eastern Europe, mostly to Minsk, Riga, and Lodz, and to
ghettos in the Lublin region of Poland. Most Jews sent to Minsk and Riga were shot by detachments of the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) shortly after arrival. Over 15,000 Jews from Vienna were deported to Theresienstadt. Thousands of Jews were also sent to concentration camps in Germany.

By November 1942 only about 7,000 Jews remained in Austria, most married to non-Jews. Soviet and American forces occupied Austria in April and May 1945. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Jews reside in Austria today, primarily in the capital city of Vienna.

WORKS CITED: "Austria" from USHMM (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

LINK: The Austrian Holocaust Project

PHOTO: Vienna, March 1938: Shortly after the German annexation of Austria, Nazi Storm
Troopers stand guard outside a Jewish-owned business. Graffiti painted on the window states:
"You Jewish pig - may your hands rot off!"

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In June 1941, at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, there were 670,000 Jews on the Polish side and 405,000 Jews on the Soviet side of Belarus. On 8 July 1941 the SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich gave the order for all male Jews in the occupied territory -- between the ages of 15 and 45 -- to be shot on sight as Soviet partisans. These murders were carried out by Eiseitzgruppen, Sicherheitsdienst and Orpo battalions aided by Schutzmannschaften. The Nazis quickly killed off children and the elderly, as well as the disabled Jews in the communities. Those who were not killed were forced to work in Nazi factories, building weaponry.

Belorussian Jews were slaughtered en masse by both S.S. troops who crusaded through the cities, and by local Belorussian police. Pogroms became common again, and any Jews who were not killed by Nazis or Nazi-supporters were forced into ghettos. Each of the ghettos established in Belarus are profiled
here. According to historian Timothy Snyder, one in five citizens of Belarus was killed in World War Two. The World Jewish Congress estimates that 90% of Belarus's Jewish community was murdered in the Shoah.

Because of the Communist Party's prohibition of Jewish organizations, Eastern Belorussian Jews were very quickly wiped out. The Jewish population there lacked solidarity and strength. Western Belorussia, on the other hand, had been annexed only two years before, and the Jewish community had not been entirely assimilated. As a result, the Nazis were unable to quickly destroy the Western Belorussian communities. Western ghettos contained underground choirs, Talmudic study, Zionist movements, and theater.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 Jews in Belarus joined the Soviet or Belorussian partisan groups and another 50,000 Jews (including some from areas outside of Belarus) fought with the Soviet army during World War II. Many of them hid their identities to avoid automatic execution by the Nazis and acts of hate by the Soviets.

The murders of 80 to 90 percent of the Jews of Belarus came mostly in the form of killing fields and massacres on the outskirts of cities throughout the country.

Since 2003, the Belarus Holocaust Memorial Project has placed memorials at the locations of Nazi massacres of the Belorussian Jewish community. Their goal is to place a memorial at each of the 400 massacre sites throughout Belarus.

WORKS CITED: "Belorussian Jews During the Holocaust". Jewish Virtual Library. Link here.
"Invisible Genocide. The Holocaust in Belarus" by Himka and Michlic.

PHOTO: Descendants of the Bielski brothers, four Jewish partisans from Belarus, gathered in Israel..

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After the Nazis conquered Belgium in May of 1940, the Belgian government fled to Great Britain and formed a government-in-exile in London. King Leopold III remained in Belgium under house arrest during the German occupation. A German military administration coexisted with the Belgian civil service.

Immediately after the occupation of Belgium, the Germans instituted anti-Jewish laws and ordinances. They restricted the civil rights of Jews, confiscated their property and businesses, banned Jews from certain professions, and required Jews to wear a yellow Star of David.

Belgian Jews were also rounded up for forced labor. They worked primarily in the construction of military fortifications in northern France, and also in construction projects, clothing and armaments factories, and stone quarries in Belgium.

The Nazi administration was responsible for the deportation of the Jews in Belgium. Under the German occupation, between 65,000 and 70,000 Jews lived in Belgium, primarily in Antwerp and Brussels. The overwhelming majority of them were foreign and stateless Jews, mostly from Poland. They had found refuge in Belgium after World War I. In the summer of 1940, some German Jews and political refugees were deported from Belgium to Gurs and St. Cyprien, internment camps in southern France.

There was considerable support in Belgium for resistance to the Nazi occupation. Over 25,000 Jews avoided deportation by hiding from the German authorities thanks to their Belgian neighbors. The Belgian civilian administration refused to cooperate in the deportations. Since most of the Jews in Belgium were immigrants, they tended to be mistrustful of official appeals and were less likely to report their whereabouts to the authorities. Additionally, more than 1,000 Belgium Jews fought with the Belgium partisans to resist the Nazi regime.

Over a period of two years between 1942 and 1944, a total of twenty trains with Jews set off to the unknown destination, carried out by the German military police. 25,000 Jews from Belgium on these trains were destined for the Auschwitz concentration camp, where most were murdered. Fewer than 2,000 deportees survived the Holocaust.

Allied forces liberated Belgium in September 1944. Around 30,000 of the 70,000 Jews in Belgium were murdered in the Holocaust. Today in Brussels is the National Monument to the Jewish Martyrs of Belgium, which has the names of 20,000 of the murdered inscribed on its walls. Today's Belgian Jewish population is well under 1% of the total population at 42,000 Jewish residents.

WORKS CITED: "The Destruction of the Jews of Belgium. HEART.
Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: Jewish partisan fighters and the Belgian Underground Movement.

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Between 1919 and 1945, Bulgaria was one of several kingdoms located in southeastern Europe ("the Balkans"). In 1934, Bulgaria had a population of more than six million people. In that year, Jews constituted nearly 1 percent of the total population, roughly 50,000 individuals.

After Bulgaria's defeat in World War I, the Allies stripped the country of territory and placed restrictions on the size of the Bulgarian armed forces. King Boris III established a military dictatorship in the early 1930s and aligned the country closely with Germany, its World War I ally, hoping to restore the territories it had lost. The military dictatorship removed all restrictions on Bulgaria's armed forces.

In early March 1941, Bulgaria joined the Axis alliance and, in April 1941, participated in the German-led attack on Yugoslavia and Greece. In return, Bulgaria received most of Thrace from Greece, and Macedonia as well as parts of eastern Serbia from Yugoslavia. Though Bulgaria participated in the Balkan Campaign, it refused to enter the war against the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Beginning in July 1940, Bulgaria instituted anti-Jewish legislation. Jews were excluded from public service, discriminated against in their choice of places of residence, and restricted economically. Marriage between Jews and non-Jews was prohibited.

In March 1943, Bulgarian authorities arrested all the Jews in Macedonia and Thrace. In Macedonia, formerly part of Yugoslavia, Bulgarian officials interned 7,000 Jews in a transit camp in Skopje. In Thrace, formerly a Bulgarian-occupied province of Greece, about 4,000 Jews were deported to Bulgarian assembly points at Gorna Dzhumaya and Dupnitsa and handed over to the Germans. In all, Bulgaria deported over 11,000 Jews to German-held territory. By the end of March 1943, most of them had been deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Jews of Bulgarian citizenship were relatively secure from deportation to German-held territory. However, all Bulgarian Jewish men between the ages of 20 and 40 were drafted for forced labor after 1941, and in May 1943 the Bulgarian government announced the expulsion of 20,000 Jews from the capital, Sofia, to the provinces.

In spring 1943, the Bulgarian government made extensive plans to comply with the Nazi demand to deport Bulgaria's Jews. Significant and public protest from key political and clerical leaders moved King Boris to cancel these deportation plans.

Although Bulgaria was allied with Nazi Germany, for most of the war the Soviet Union maintained diplomatic relations with the Balkan nation. But in 1944, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria. In October 1944, Bulgaria switched allegiances and declared war on Germany. Bulgaria retained the Dobruja region, which it had acquired from Romania in 1940. After the war, Yugoslavia and Greece took back the territories annexed by Bulgaria in 1941.

In 1945, the Jewish population of Bulgaria was still about 50,000, its prewar level. Beginning in 1948, however, more than 35,000 Bulgarian Jews chose to emigrate to the new state of Israel.

WORKS CITED: "Bulgaria" from USHMM (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum).
Link here.

PHOTO: Bulgarian Jewish students, undated photo.

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Founded in 1918, Czechoslovakia included the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakia, Subcarpathian Rus (Transcarpathian Ukraine), and portions of Austrian Silesia.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, many Jews from the neighboring countries of Austria, Hungary, and Germany fled to Czechoslovakia for safety where 356,830 Jews (3.59% of the total population) already lived.

The Sudetenland was a border area of Czechoslovakia containing a majority ethnic German population as well as all of the Czechoslovak Army's defensive positions in event of a war with Germany. The leaders of Britain, France, Italy, and Germany held a conference in Munich on September 29-30, 1938. In what became known as the Munich Pact, they agreed to the German annexation of the Sudetenland in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler.

Twenty thousand Jews were immediately rounded up and sent to their deaths.

In November 1941, RSHA chief Reinhard Heydrich ordered the creation of a camp-ghetto at Theresienstadt, 37.5 miles (60 km) north of Prague. Between 1941 and late 1944, the German authorities, assisted by local Czech gendarmerie, deported 73,603 Jews from Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc, and other towns of the Protectorate to Theresienstadt. Most stayed only briefly in Theresienstadt, which served as a transit camp for Protectorate Jews. S.S. and police personnel deported the vast majority to killing sites in the Baltic States and
transit camp-ghettos in District Lublin in occupied Poland in 1941-1942 and, from 1942 on, to the Auschwitz killing center.

Between October 15, 1941, and October 27, 1944, the German SS and police deported between 75,000 and 80,000 Czech Jews from Bohemia and Moravia to killing centers, killing sites, or forced-labor camps in the Generalgouvernment**, the German-occupied Baltic States, German-occupied Belorussia, and the Lodz ghetto. The Germans deported 60,382 of the Protectorate Jews via Theresienstadt to killing centers, killing sites, and forced-labor camps in the East.

German and Slovak authorities deported about 70,000 Jews from Slovakia; about 65,000 of them were murdered or died in concentration camps. The overall figures are inexact, partly because many Jews did not identify themselves, but one 2006 estimate is that approximately 105,000 Slovak Jews, or 77% of their prewar population, died during the war.

In total, the Germans and their collaborators killed approximately 263,000 Jews who had resided on the territory of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1938.

Following the end of the Cold War in 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the two independent states of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. There are currently around 4,000 Jews in the Czech Republic and 2,600 Jews in Slovakia.

** Generalgouvernement: that part of German-occupied Poland neither annexed directly to the German Reich nor attached to regions of the German-occupied Soviet Union.

WORKS CITED: "Theresienstadt" from USHMM. Link here.
"The Holocaust in Slovakia" from USHMM. Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

The Hlinka Guard cut the beard of a Jewish man during a deportation action in Stropkov, Slovakia.

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Estonia is the northernmost and smallest of the Baltic states. Between the end of World War I and 1940, Estonia was an independent republic. In 1939, the Jewish population of Estonia numbered about 4,500, a tiny percentage of the country's population. Almost half the Estonian Jews lived in Tallinn, the capital city. The rest lived in other towns, such as Tartu, Valga, Parnu, Narva, Viljandi, Rakvere, Voru, and Nomme.

The Soviet Union occupied Estonia in June 1940 and annexed the country in August of that year. Soviet authorities forced Jewish institutions to disband. At least half of Estonian Jewry left the country during this period. In summer of 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis gradually occupied Estonia.

During the German occupation, Estonia was included in the Reich Commissariat Ostland, a German civilian administration which included the Baltic states and western Belorussia. From early on, the Germans subjected Estonian Jews to harsh measures including confiscation of property and forcing them to wear yellow badges identifying them as Jews. These measures were only temporary as the Nazis prepared to murder all Estonian Jews. German S.S. and police units, together with Estonian auxiliaries, massacred the Jews of Estonia by the end of 1941. No ghettos were created in Estonia during the German occupation.

Starting in 1942, tens of thousands of Jews from other European countries were sent to forced-labor camps inside Estonia. The main camp was Vaivara.

Jewish forced laborers built military defenses for the German army and mined shale oil. Thousands of foreign Jews were also murdered at Kalevi Liiva.

With the advance of the Soviet army in the fall of 1944, the Nazis evacuated the Estonian camps, as well as other camps throughout the Baltics. Some Jews were transferred by sea to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig. Many thousands were forced on death marches along the Baltic coast. In September 1944 the Soviet Union once again annexed Estonia as one of its republics. Although Jews who had fled Estonia to relative safety within the Soviet Union returned after the war, virtually no Estonian Jews still in the country at the time of the German occupation survived. The current Jewish population of Estonia is 2,000 Jews.

WORKS CITED: Peeter Kaasik, "Holocaust in Estonia".
Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: A commemorative marker placed at Kohtla-Nomme, Estonia's forced
Labor Camp site. Rabbi Shmuel Kot places stones on the new matzevah-type memorial
(photo from Evgeni Kapov).

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During the interwar period, France was one of the more liberal countries in welcoming Jewish immigrants, many of them from eastern Europe. After WWI, thousands of Jews viewed France as a European land of equality and opportunity and helped to make its capital, Paris, a thriving center of Jewish cultural life. This began to change in the late 1930s.

Northern France was directly occupied by Nazi Germany beginning in 1940. Until November 1942, southern and eastern France remained unoccupied. But the French Vichy government that governed unoccupied France decided to collaborate with Adolf Hitler. The Vichy government passed anti-Semitic laws that excluded Jews from public life, dismissed Jews from civil service positions, and barred them from industrial, commerce, and trade professions like teaching, medicine, and law. In 1941 they adopted "Aryanization", appropriating Jewish-owned property for the French state and interning thousands of Jews in French-administered detention camps under deplorable conditions. By the autumn of 1942, some 42,000 Jews had passed through the Drancy transit camp, and all of them were then sent to Auschwitz.

There were approximately 350,000 Jews in France at the time of the country's defeat by Germany in 1940. German authorities reinstituted transports of Jews from France in January 1943 and continued the deportations until August 1944. In all, some 77,000 Jews living on French territory perished in concentration camps and killing centers. Of these, around 1/3 were French citizens and more than 8,000 were children under age 13. The Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 initiated the liberation of France.

In the wake of the Holocaust, around 180,000 Jews remained in France, many of whom were refugees from Eastern Europe who either could or would not return to their former home countries. The surviving French Jews were joined in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s by large numbers of Jews from north Africa as part of the
Jewish displacement from Arab countries. France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and the third largest Jewish population in the world (after Israel and the U.S.). The Jewish community in France is estimated to be around 500,000, although migration to Israel is quite popular among Jews living in France today.

WORKS CITED: "The Holocaust in France". Yad Vashem, Israel. Link here.
"The French Vichy Regime and the Holocaust". Jewish Virtual Library. Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: Jews being put into cattle cars destined for Auschwitz.

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In 1933 there were some 523,000 Jews in Germany, representing less than 1 percent of the country's total population. The Jewish population was predominantly urban and approximately 1/3 of German Jews lived in Berlin. The initial response to the Nazi takeover was a substantial wave of emigration, much of it to neighboring European countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland).

Most of these refugees were later caught by the Nazis after their conquest of western Europe in 1940. Jews who were politically active were especially likely to emigrate. Other measures that spurred decisions to emigrate in the early years of Nazi rule were the dismissal of Jews from the civil service, the Nazi-sponsored boycott of Jewish-owned stores, the degree of pressure placed on the Jewish community by the Nazi regime, and the willingness of other countries to admit Jewish immigrants.

The events of 1938 caused a dramatic increase in Jewish emigration. The German annexation of Austria in March, the increase in personal assaults on Jews during the spring and summer, the nationwide Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom in November, and the subsequent seizure of Jewish-owned property all caused a flood of visa applications. Although finding a destination proved difficult, about 36,000 Jews left Germany and Austria in 1938 and 77,000 in 1939.

The sudden flood of emigrants created a major refugee crisis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian, France, in July 1938. 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. The plight of German-Jewish refugees, persecuted at home and unwanted abroad, is also illustrated by the voyage of the "St. Louis" ship.

During 1938 and 1939, the United Kingdom admitted 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children on an emergency basis (known as the Kindertransport). 1939 also marked the first time the United States filled its combined German-Austrian quota (which now included annexed Czechoslovakia). However, this limit did not come close to meeting the demand; by the end of June 1939, 309,000 German, Austrian, and Czech Jews had applied for the 27,000 places available under the quota.

By September 1939, approximately 282,000 Jews had left Germany and 117,000 from annexed Austria. Of these, some 95,000 emigrated to the United States, 60,000 to Palestine, 40,000 to Great Britain, and about 75,000 to Central and South America, with the largest numbers entering Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia. More than 18,000 Jews from the German Reich were also able to find refuge in Shanghai in Japanese-occupied China.

At the end of 1939, about 202,000 Jews remained in Germany and 57,000 in annexed Austria, many of them elderly. By October 1941, when Jewish emigration was officially forbidden, the number of Jews in Germany had declined to 163,000. The vast majority of those Jews still in Germany were murdered in Nazi camps and ghettos during the Holocaust.

From 1940-1942 there was a decline in the number of emigrants. This trend may partly have been due to the stabilization of the domestic political situation, but was also caused by the strict enforcement of American immigration restrictions as well as the increasing reluctance of European and British Commonwealth countries to accept additional Jewish refugees.

Until October 1941, German policy officially encouraged Jewish emigration. Gradually, however, the Nazis sought to deprive Jews fleeing Germany of their property by levying an increasingly heavy emigration tax and by restricting the amount of money that could be transferred abroad from German banks.

A study conducted in 2012 established that in Berlin alone there were 3,000 camps of various function and another 1,300 were in Hamburg. It concluded that it is unlikely that the German population could avoid knowing about the persecution considering such prevalence. In his 1983 book, "Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich", Ian Kershaw examined the Alltagsgeschichte (history of everyday life) in Bavaria during the Nazi period. Describing the attitudes of most Bavarians, Kershaw argued that the most common viewpoint was indifference towards what was happening to the Jews. Kershaw argued that most Bavarians were vaguely aware of the Holocaust, but were vastly more concerned about the war than about the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" Kershaw made the analogy that "the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference".

Similarly, researcher Robert Gellately argued that the German civilian population were, by and large, aware of what was happening. According to Gellately, the government openly announced the conspiracy through the media and civilians were aware of its every aspect except for the use of gas chambers. In contrast, historical evidence indicates that the vast majority of Holocaust victims, prior to their deportation to concentration camps, were either unaware of the fate that awaited them or were in denial because they honestly believed that they were to be resettled.

The current Jewish population in Germany is around 200,000 people, including many Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union. In Germany it is a criminal act to deny the Holocaust.

WORKS CITED: "German Jews During the Shoah" from USHMM.
Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: Passengers aboard the "St. Louis" ship. These refugees from Nazi Germany
were forced to return to Europe after both Cuba and the U.S. denied them refuge. There were
nearly 950 people on the ship seeking refuge from Nazi Germany. Most of them died in the
Holocaust after being sent back to Europe.

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On April 6, 1941, the Germans and Italians, supported by Bulgarian and Hungarian units, attacked and conquered the Greek mainland and the islands by June of 1941. Leading up to this point, nearly 13,000 Greek Jews had fought for their country in the Greek Army.

After the Greeks surrendered, Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria divided the country into zones of occupation. On July 11, 1942, the Jews of Thessaloniki were rounded up in preparation for slave labor. 46,091 people were sent to Auschwitz, and most of their 60 synagogues and schools were destroyed. Less than 2,000 Jews of Thessaloniki survived.

In total, some 60,000 to 70,000 Greek Jews, more than 80 percent of the country's Jewish population, were murdered. Today, around 4,500 Jews live in Greece, mostly in Athens.

WORKS CITED: "Greece" from USHMM.
Link here.
"The Destruction of the Jews of Greece" from Project HEART. Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: A woman weeps during the deportation of the Jews of Ioannina on March 25, 1944.

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After losing in WWI, Hungary elected Admiral Miklos Horthy, who presided over a nationalist coalition. Pressured by domestic radical nationalists and fascists, Hungary fell increasingly under the influence of Germany as the Nazi regime consolidated itself in the 1930s. For example, Hungarian troops participated alongside German troops in the invasion of Yugoslavia (April 1941) and the Soviet Union (June 1941).

According to a 1941 census, Hungary, including its recently annexed territories (including southern Slovakia, Subcarpathian Rus, northern Transylvania, Backa region of Yugoslavia), had a Jewish population of 825,000, around 5 percent of the total population. Beginning in 1938, Hungarian racial laws reversed the equal citizenship status granted to Jews in 1867. The laws also barred employment of Jews in the civil service, restricted their opportunities in economic life, and banned intermarriage.

In 1939, the Hungarian government, having forbidden Jews to serve in the armed forces, established a forced-labor service for young men, which extended to all male Jews by 1940. The conditions were harsh, including extreme cold, no adequate shelter, food, or medical care. Many of these forced laborers died during the early years of WWII.

In the summer of 1941, Hungarian authorities deported some 20,000 Jews to Kamenets-Podolski in the German-occupied Ukraine, where they were shot by Nazi Einsatzgruppe (mobile killing unit) detachments. In January 1942, Hungarian military units murdered 3,000 Jews and Serbs in Novi Sad, the major city in Hungarian-annexed Yugoslavia.

When the German government began to pressure the Hungarians in 1942 to deliver Jews who were Hungarian citizens into German custody, however, Horthy's prime minister, Miklos Kallay, refused to deport the Hungarian Jews. Therefore most Hungarian Jews were thus spared deportation prior to the German occupation in on March 19, 1944. Kallay saved many lives.

In April 1944, Hungarian authorities ordered Hungarian Jews living outside Budapest (roughly 500,000) to concentrate in ghettos within larger cities. Food and water supplies were dangerously inadequate and medical care was virtually non-existent. Individual gendarmes often tortured Jews and extorted personal valuables from them.

In May 1944, the Hungarian authorities, in coordination with the German Security Police and Adolf Eichmann, began to systematically deport the Hungarian Jews. In less than two months, nearly 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary in more than 145 trains. Most were deported to Auschwitz, but thousands were also sent to the border with Austria to dig fortification trenches.

But by the end of 1944, almost all Hungarian Jews were deported to labor and concentration camps elsewhere. Survivors of the ghettos were liberated in January 1945, while those in the concentration camps were liberated in the spring of the same year by the Allied forces. In total, around 570,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered, including 63,000 before the Nazi occupation under the Hungarian regime.

Hungarian Jews were murdered on the Ukrainian snow-fields, on the streets of Budapest, in the countryside ghettos, behind the barbed wires of German concentration camps, in the gas chambers of Birkenau, and on the country roads. Every 10th victim of the Holocaust and every 3rd victim of Auschwitz were Hungarian.

Central Europe's largest Jewish community is in Hungary, but Hungarian Jews are still threatened to this day. Hungary's Jobbik party, a racist, anti-Jewish nationalist party, now comprises 12% of the country's national assembly legislature and won 17% of the popular vote in the 2010 elections. Political leaders in Hungary have failed to come to grips with Hungary's wartime record, failed to confront the Holocaust openly and honestly, and have still not publicly assumed national responsibility or apologized for the country's role in the Holocaust.

WORKS CITED: "The Holocaust in Hungary" from USHMM.
Link here.
"The Jews of Hungary During the Holocaust" from Yad Vashem. Link here.
"The Destruction of the Jews of Hungary" from Project HEART. Link here.

PHOTO: The Nazi Arrow Cross Party of Hungary carried out murders of Jews in
front of the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest.

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The Italian Jewish community, which had been among the oldest in Europe, numbered about 50,000 in 1933. Jews had lived in Italy for over two thousand years. Large Jewish communities existed in Rome, Venice, Trieste, Florence, Ferrara, Turin, and other cities. Largely urban, Italian Jews were traditionally secular and very integrated, often intermarrying with non-Jews.

By the 1930s, Italian Jews were fully integrated into Italian culture and society. There was relatively little overt anti-semitism among Italians although there were fanatical anti-semites among the Fascist leaders like Achille Stararce and Roberto Farinacci. Until 1938, Jews could join the Fascist Party.

In 1938, the Italian Fascist regime under Benito Mussolini enacted a series of racial laws that placed multiple restrictions on the country's Jewish population which removed Jews from government and education jobs, incarcerated the 9,000 foreign-born Jews, removed Jews from media positions, dismissed them from the armed forces, and banned intermarriage.

Having formally joined the Axis in 1939, Italy declared war on Britain and France in June 1940, entering World War II as Germany's ally. The Fascist regime hoped to establish a new "Roman" Empire, encompassing the Mediterranean Sea and beyond into North and East Africa and into Syria and Lebanon. Italy invaded and attacked France, Greece, and British-influenced Egypt in 1942. After suffering defeats, in July 1943, the Fascist regime fell.

In September 1943, Nazi German forces occupied the country as well as Italian zones in Yugoslavia, Greece, and France. They installed Mussolini as the head of a new Fascist regime, the Italian Social Republic, though real power was in the hands of the Germans. Italian military authorities generally refused to participate in mass murder of Jews or to permit deportations from Italy or Italian-occupied territory and the Fascist leadership was both unable and unwilling to force the issue. The Nazi operations had limited success, due in part to advance warning given to the Jews by Italian authorities and the Vatican, and in part to the unwillingness of many non-Jewish Italians, including police authorities, to participate in or facilitate the roundups.

September 1943 signaled the beginning of arrests and systematic deportations of Jews to the concentration and extermination camps in central and Eastern Europe. Estimates suggest that between September 1943 and March 1945, between 6,000 and 10,000 Jews were deported. The vast majority perished, principally at Auschwitz. German forces in Italy surrendered to the Allies on May 2, 1945. Italy's current Jewish population is around 28,000. There have been efforts to erect a Holocaust museum in Italy, but they have been stalled by bureaucratic obstacles and other local hurdles.

WORKS CITED: "The Holocaust in Italy" from USHMM.
Link here.

PHOTO: Guido, Dora, and Joshua -- fictional Italian characters from the movie "Life is Beautiful" (La vita e bella).

LINK: The Destruction of Italian Jews

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Latvia was an independent republic between the end of World War I and 1940. In 1935, 94,000 Jews lived in Latvia, making up about 5 percent of the total population. Approximately half of Latvian Jewry lived in Riga, the capital. Latvian Jews were represented in all social and economic classes. There was a well-developed network of Jewish schools, with over 100 institutions.

In June and July 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis occupied Latvia. Detachments of German Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), together with Latvian and Lithuanian auxiliaries, massacred most Latvian Jews.

Ghettos were established in the larger cities of Riga, Dvinsk, and Liepaja. Several hundred Jews in the Riga ghetto organized resistance against the Germans. Small groups sought to escape from the ghetto.

The Riga ghetto was also used to store large groups of Jews from Germany and Austria. By the beginning of 1943 only about 5,000 Jews remained in Latvia -- the rest (including those imported to Riga from other countries) were already murdered.

When the Soviets entered Latvia in 1944, only a few hundred Jews remained. Those combined with others who managed to escape Nazi tyranny totaled about 1,000 Jews. The horrendous losses sustained during the Nazi Holocaust utterly devastated Latvian Jewry. Around 6,500 Jews live in Latvia today, mostly in Riga.

WORKS CITED: "Latvia" from USHMM.
Link here.
"Mass murder of Jews in Latvia" from Project HEART. Link here.

PHOTO: Rashida Jones and her mom Peggy Lipton, both Hollywood actresses,
went back to Latvia to learn the terrifying fate of their family Benson in the Holocaust
in an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC.

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Leading up to WWII, the Jews of Lithuania had their own distinct and highly developed Jewish culture, including a special dialect of the Yiddish language and a population of 160,000, about 7 percent of the total population.

In June and July of 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans occupied Lithuania even though Germany and Lithuania had previously signed a non-aggression pact. By the end of August 1941, most Jews in rural Lithuania had been shot and by November of 1941 most Jews in ghettos were also murdered.

Violent riots led by the Lithuanians against the Jews broke out both before and after the Germans took control. In 1942, just 40,000 Jews remained. They were in the Vilna, Kovno, Siauliai, and Svencionys ghettos, and in various labor camps in Lithuania. Living conditions were miserable, with severe food shortages, outbreaks of disease, and overcrowding.

About 5,000 of the remaining Jews were deported to extermination camps in Poland and 15,000 Jews were deported to labor camps in Latvia and Estonia and another 10,000 were sent to concentration camps in Germany. Around 16,000 Jews survived their ordeals, meaning 90% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred. Three thousand Jews currently live in Lithuania, mostly in Vilna (Vilnius).

WORKS CITED: "Lithuania" from USHMM.
Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

LINK: Atlas of the Holocaust in Lithuania

PHOTO: The desecrated memorial stone to the Jews murdered in 1941 at the
Ponary Forest, Vilnius, Lithuania. The graffiti from 2011 reads "Hitler was right".

PHOTO: The Ponary Massacre was the mass murder of up to 100,000 people, mostly Jews, but
also Russians, Poles, Lithuanians and others, by German SD, SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators,
such as the Ypatingasis burys units, during World War II and the Holocaust in Reichskommissariat
Ostland. The executions took place between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station of
Ponary, a suburb of what is today Vilnius, Lithuania. Some 70,000 Jews were murdered in Ponary, along
with estimated 20,000 or more Poles and 8,000 Russians, many from nearby Vilnius.

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After the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, a civil administration was installed under S.S. auspices and Arthur Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reich Commissar. He presided over a German administration that included many Austrian-born Nazis. They supervised the Dutch civil service.

During 1940, the German authorities banned Jews from the civil service and required them to register the assets of their business enterprises. In January 1941, the German authorities required all Jews to register as Jews. A total of 159,806 persons registered, including 19,561 persons born of mixed marriages. The total included some 25,000 Jewish refugees from the German Reich.

Several hundred young Dutch Jews were sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. This led to a general strike by Dutch workers on February 25, 1941 but resulted in a hardening of Nazi policy. The Nazi authorities and their Dutch collaborators segregated Jews from the general Dutch population, and incarcerated 15,000 Jews in German-administered forced-labor camps.

Nazis then ordered the concentration of Jews in Amsterdam and sent foreign and stateless Jews to the Westerbork transit camp in northeast Netherlands. Some of the remaining provincial Jews were sent to the Vught camp. All Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.

Deportations of Jews from the Netherlands began in the summer of 1942. The last train left Westerbork for Auschwitz on September 3, 1944. During these two years, the Germans and their Dutch collaborators deported 107,000 Jews, mostly to Auschwitz and Sobibor, where they were murdered.

Only 5,200 survived. In addition, 25,000 to 30,000 Jews went into hiding, assisted by the Dutch underground. 2/3 of Dutch Jews in hiding managed to survive.
The geography of the Netherlands made escape difficult. The ruthless efficiency of the Nazi German administration and the willing cooperation of Dutch administrators and policemen doomed the Jews of the Netherlands.

Less than 25 percent of Dutch Jewry survived the Holocaust. The current Jewish population of the Netherlands is around 45,000, well below one percent of the total population.

WORKS CITED: "The Netherlands" from USHMM.
Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: Anne Frank, her parents Otto and Edith (who emigrated from
Germany to Holland), and her sister Margot [left]. Otto Frank was the only family member
to survive the Holocaust. He established the Anne Frank Foundation on May 3, 1957.

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German Invasion: One of Hitler's first major foreign policy initiatives after coming to power was to sign a nonaggression pact with Poland in January 1934. This move was not popular with many Germans who supported Hitler but resented the fact that Poland had received the former German provinces of West Prussia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia under the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. Hitler sought the nonaggression pact in order to neutralize the possibility of a French-Polish military alliance against Germany before Germany had a chance to rearm.

Britain and France essentially acquiesced to Germany's rearmament (1935-1937), remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936), and annexation of Austria (March 1938). In September 1938, after signing away the Czech border regions (the Sudetenland) to Germany at the Munich conference, British and French leaders pressured France's ally, Czechoslovakia, to yield to Germany's demand for the incorporation of those regions. Despite Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of Czechoslovakia, the Germans dismembered the Czechoslovak state in March 1939 in violation of the Munich agreement. Britain and France responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler responded by negotiating a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1939.

The German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which stated that Poland was to be partitioned between the two powers, enabled Germany to attack Poland without the fear of Soviet intervention.

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion. From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, German units, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack. After heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 27, 1939.

Britain and France, standing by their guarantee of Poland's border, had declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939. The demarcation line for the partition of German- and Soviet-occupied Poland was along the Bug River in modern east Poland.

In October 1939, Germany directly annexed those former Polish territories along German's eastern border: West Prussia, Poznan, Upper Silesia, and the former Free City of Danzig. The remainder of German-occupied Poland (including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Radom, and Lublin) was organized as the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government) under a civilian governor general, the Nazi party's Hans Frank.

Nazi Control: Anti-Jewish measures were enacted immediately after the German occupation in 1939: Jews were ordered to wear an armband with a Jewish star; their property was seized; and their movement was restricted.

The Nazis aimed to control this sizable Jewish population by forcing Jews to reside in marked-off sections of towns and cities the Nazis called "ghettos" or "Jewish residential quarters." Altogether, the Germans created at least 1,000 ghettos in occupied territories.

Many ghettos were set up in cities and towns where Jews were already concentrated. Jews as well as some Roma (Gypsies) were also brought to ghettos from surrounding regions and from western Europe. Between October and December 1941, thousands of German and Austrian Jews were transported to ghettos in eastern Europe. The Germans usually marked off the oldest, most run-down sections of cities for the ghettos. They sometimes had to evict non-Jewish residents from the buildings to make room for Jewish families. Many of the ghettos were enclosed by barbed-wire fences or walls, with entrances guarded by local and German police and S.S. members. During curfew hours at night the residents were forced to stay inside their apartments. Often times children, the weak, and the elderly were shot in the ghettos or died of starvation or disease.

Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.

The German occupation of Poland was unbelievably brutal. According to Jan Karski, a righteous non-Jew who resisted the Nazis in Poland, "Never in the history of mankind -- never anywhere in the realm of human relations -- did anything occur to compare to what was inflicted on the Jewish population of Poland. The images of what I saw in the death camp are, I'm afraid, my permanent possessions. I would like nothing better than to purge my mind of these memories."

Following the military defeat of Poland by Germany in September 1939, the Germans launched a campaign of terror. German police units shot thousands of Polish civilians and required all Polish males to perform forced labor. The Nazis sought to destroy Polish culture by eliminating the Polish political, religious, and intellectual leadership. This was done in part because of German contempt for Polish culture and in part to prevent resistance against the occupation.

In May 1940, the German occupation authorities launched AB-Aktion, a plan to eliminate the Polish intelligentsia and leadership class. The aim was to kill Polish leaders with great speed, thus instilling fear in the general population and discouraging resistance. The Germans shot thousands of teachers, priests, and other intellectuals in mass killings in and around Warsaw, especially in the city's Pawiak prison. The Nazis sent thousands more to Auschwitz and to the Stutthof concentration camp in northern Poland, and to other concentration camps in Germany where non-Jewish Poles constituted many of the inmates until 1942.

Forced Labor and Death Camps: The Nazis conducted indiscriminate retaliatory measures against populations in areas where resistance was encountered. These policies included mass expulsions. In November 1942, the Germans expelled over 100,000 people from the Zamosc region (southeast Poland); many were deported to the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps. Approximately 50,000 Polish children were taken from their families, transferred to the Reich, and subjected to "Germanization" policies.

The major concentration camps operated by the Nazis in Poland included Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec Death Camp, Chelmno Death Camp, Gross-Rosen, Majdanek Death Camp, Plaszow, Sobibor Death Camp, Stutthof, and Treblinka Death Camp. Each of these camps also had scores -- sometimes hundreds -- of sub-camps as well.

Following the annexation of western Poland to Germany, Hitler ordered the "Germanization" of Polish territory. Nazi governors (such as Arthur Greiser in the Warthegau and Albert Forster in Danzig-West Prussia) expelled hundreds of thousands of Poles from their homes in the Generalgouvernement. More than 500,000 ethnic Germans were then settled in these areas.

A Polish government-in-exile, led by Wladyslaw Sikorski, was established in London. It was represented on Polish soil by the underground "Delegatura," whose primary function was to coordinate the activities of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa). The Polish resistance staged a violent mass uprising against the Germans in Warsaw in August 1944. The rebellion lasted two months but was eventually crushed by the Germans. More than 200,000 Poles were killed in the uprising.

Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens were deported to German territory for forced labor. Hundreds of thousands were also imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps.

Killing Fields: More than 43,000 Jews were murdered in the Aktion Erntefest between November 3-4, 1943 in and around Majdanek/Lublin.

Resistance: The Germans decide to eliminate the Warsaw ghetto and announce new deportations in April 1943. The renewal of deportations is the signal for an armed uprising within the ghetto. Most people in the ghetto refuse to report for deportation. Many hide from the Germans in previously prepared bunkers and shelters. Jewish fighters battle the Germans in the streets and from the hidden bunkers. The Germans set fire to the ghetto to force the population into the open, reducing the ghetto area to rubble. On May 16, 1943, the battle is over. Thousands have been killed and most of the ghetto population is deported to forced-labor camps. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was the largest and most important Jewish uprising, and the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe.

There were also organized Jewish efforts to resist the Nazis in Belorussia (Bielski brothers), the Parczew forest, the Janow Lubelski forest, at Sobibor and Treblinka concentration camps, and elsewhere throughout Poland.

Conclusion: It is estimated that the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. In addition, the Germans murdered at least 3 million Polish Jews. At least 90 percent of Polish Jewry was murdered in the Holocaust. It is estimated that about 30,000 to 35,000 Jews, around one percent of all of Polish Jewry, were saved with the help of Poles and the Righteous Among the Nations. The current Jewish population in Poland, centered in Warsaw and Krakow, is around 5,000 people.

WORKS CITED: "A Timeline of the Holocaust" from JewishGen.
Link here.
"Ghettos in Poland" from USHMM. Link here.

LINKS: Polish Jewish Roots on Facebook
The Destroyed Jewish Communities of Poland
Remember Jewish Lublin - Index
JewishGen Shtetl Links - Poland

PHOTO: Jewish forced labor at the Belzec Extermination Camp, 1941 or 1942.

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The 1930 Romanian census recorded 728,115 persons who identified themselves as Jewish, comprising approximately 4 percent of the population. On November 20, 1940, Romania formally joined the Axis alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. General Ion Antonescu established a "National Legionary State" which promulgated a number of restrictive measures against the Jews of Romania, including robbing and seizing Jewish-owned businesses and assaulting and killing Jews on the streets.

Led by Antonescu, Romania participated fully in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Romania re-annexed Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Both in support of Nazi S.S. and police units and on their own initiative, Romanian army and gendarmerie (police) personnel massacred thousands of Jews in Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Transnistria. Any Jew who survived the massacre was put into a Concentration Camp or a forced labor camp, where most eventually died.

Meanwhile, pogroms were carried out against Jews in Iasi and Bucharest. After the victims were murdered, the perpetrators hung the bodies from meat hooks and mutilated them in a vicious parody of kosher slaughtering practices.

Even before Romania fell into the orbit of Nazi Germany, Romanian authorities pursued a policy of harsh, persecutory anti-Semitism -- particularly against Jews living in eastern borderlands, who were falsely associated with Soviet communism, and those living in Transylvania, who were identified with past Hungarian rule. Antonescu was convicted and executed, but most Romanian perpetrators were never brought to justice.

An estimated 480,000 to 530,000 Jews of Romania were murdered in the Holocaust. As a result of aliyah, the Romanian-Jewish community was gradually depleted. By 1987, just 23,000 Jews were left in Romania, half of whom were over 65 years old. The current Jewish population is around 3,500 people.

WORKS CITED: "The destruction of the Jews of Romania" from Project HEART.
Link here.

PHOTO: A young Elie Wiesel with two of his three sisters and his mother.
One of the three sisters and both of his parents were murdered in the Shoah. Wiesel
was born in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now a part of Romania.

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Ukraine once was home to the largest population of Jews in the Russian Empire, and on the eve of the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941 it was among the largest Jewish communities in Europe.

Between 1941 and 1944, some 1.4 million Jews were killed there and an estimated 3 million Ukrainian non-Jewish victims were also murdered. The most notorious massacre of Jews in Ukraine was at the Babi Yar ravine outside of Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation in September of 1941. Most of these victims were murdered by Nazi Einsatzgruppen firing squads (mobile execution units), Waffen S.S. units, the German police and local collaborators. A small minority were shot after having been deported to extermination camps. The Einsatzgruppen also murdered 15,000 Jews from Volodimir Volynskiy, a city that had many Jewish refugees who fled from the west, between September 1 and 3, 1942. These victims were murdered at a location called Piatydni, 12 kilometers west of Volodimir Volinskiy (Ludmir),

Much of what actually occurred is still unknown. The organization
Yahad - In Unum is working to interview surviving witnesses to document what can be discovered from them.

Anti-Semitism was endemic in the Ukraine long before the Nazis entered. A significant portion of the Ukrainian population acted upon that anti-Semitism by assisting in the perpetration of the Holocaust. There was a pool of willing Ukrainian volunteers -- numbering around 100,000 -- who assisted in the Holocaust. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was closely associated with the Nazis and helped carry out their murders.

According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, "Ukraine has never conducted a single investigation of a local Nazi war criminal, let alone prosecuted a Holocaust perpetrator." That said, the book "They Were True Heroes" by Yakov Suslenski chronicles the Ukrainian non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, around 2,270 of whom are honored at Yad Vashem in Israel.

Today, Ukraine had the 5th largest Jewish community in Europe and the 12th largest Jewish community in the world -- primarily in Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and Odessa. The current Jewish population of Ukraine is between 70,000 and 100,000 Jews.

PHOTO: A Nazi of Einsatzgruppe D is about to shoot a man sitting by a mass grave in
Vinnytsia, Ukraine in 1942. The back of the photograph is inscribed "The last Jew in Vinnitsa".

WORKS CITED: "The Holocaust in Ukraine" from Wikipedia. Link here.

LINKS: Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies
JewishGen SIG for Ukraine

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Formed in 1918, the Yugoslav Union encompassed Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and the former Turkish provinces of Kosovo and Metohija on the Albanian border. The population of the Yugoslav Union was perhaps more diverse than that of any other European country during the interwar period.

Scattered throughout the Yugoslav Union were approximately 78,000 Jews, including about 4,000 foreign or stateless Jews from Germany, Austria, and the Czech lands who had fled the Greater German Reich in the hopes of eventually emigrating to Palestine. Additionally, around 80,000 Roma (Gypsies) lived in the Yugoslav Union, mostly in rural areas.

Heightened ethnic and political tension exploded into murderous violence when the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. After the invasion, Germany divided the country among its Axis partners.

Yugoslavia's population of 80,000 Jews consisted of 40,000 in Croatia, 16,000 in Serbia, 16,000 in the Backa region, and 8,000 in Macedonia. How they were treated after the Germans invaded in 1941 depended on the region.

In Serbia, the Germans dealt with the region's Jews thoroughly, quickly, and cruelly. Right after they took over Serbia, they ordered the Jews to register themselves, and enacted anti-Jewish laws. For the next few months, most male Jews were forced to work at hard labor. After a Serbian revolt broke out in July 1941, all male Jews were put in Concentration Camps. Over the next year, all of Serbia's Jews were deported or murdered.

The Jews of Croatia were persecuted as part of a general Genocide of foreigners, including Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies. Jewish property and money were taken away, and by the end of 1941 about 2/3 of Croatia's Jews had been imprisoned. Many were killed by the Ustasa (Croatian Revolutionary Movement) government. Most of the rest of Croatia's Jews were deported to Auschwitz.

Macedonia was ruled by Bulgaria. In March 1943 Germany convinced Bulgaria to arrest the region's Jews and deport them to Treblinka. More than 7,000 Macedonian Jews were killed, and less than 1,000 survived.

Hungary had annexed the Backa region, and subjected it to its own anti-Jewish laws. In January 1942 the Hungarian army and police went on the "great raid" in which they murdered and plundered Backa's Jews. They then forced the young Jews to work at hard labor, and concentrated the rest of the Jews in three camps. In 1944 more than 10,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz.

Jews living in Montenegro or on Yugoslavia's Adriatic coast were fortunate. The Italian government, army, and foreign ministry worked together to protect their Jews from the Germans. They did so on principle, because they realized that the Germans were losing the war, and because they wanted to preserve their admired status in Yugoslavia. About 5,000 Jews were saved by the Italians.

Altogether, about 66,000 Yugoslav Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and altogether about one million Yugoslavians died in World War II. The Jewish population of Serbia is 1,400, the Jewish population of Croatia is 1,700, and the Jewish community of Slovenia is 100 people. Overall, the Jewish community in the former Yugoslavia is extremely tiny.

WORKS CITED: "Slovenia" from EHRI Portal.
Link here.
"The Holocaust in Croatia" from USHMM. Link here.
"The Holocaust in Serbia" from Wikipedia. Link here.
"Jewish Population of the World" from Jewish Virtual Library and the American Jewish Yearbook. Link here.

PHOTO: The Banjica Concentration Camp near Belgrade was primarily staffed by Serbs
who wore Nazi uniforms. The photo from Oct. 1941 shows Jews being executed by Serbian
Chetniks (Nazi collaborators) in Serbia.


Recent studies conclude that 40,000 Nazi camps and ghettos existed during Hitler's reign of terror between 1933 to 1945 (see: "
The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking," 2013). Researchers Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean compiled the thousands of sites in a multivolume encyclopedia that is being published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC. Each volume catalogs thousands of sites, providing a comprehensive history of the "living and working conditions, activities of the Jewish councils, Jewish responses to persecution, demographic changes, and details of the liquidation of the ghettos." This total is far higher than most historians had previously estimated.

The Nazis were aided in their crimes by collaborators from many of the Axis nations that were Germany's allies and the puppet states they set up in conquered territories. Each European nation responded differently to the Nazi extermination program, with significant variations in the level of cooperation and, occasionally, active opposition.

RELATED LINK: Which Countries Collaborated with Hitler and the Nazis? Index

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