Nederlands Holocaust in Europe Persecution


The holocaust would have never happened if Hitler had not started the Second World War. The war began with the invasion of nazi Germany into Poland in September 1939. Poland was heavily bombed and surrendered within a few weeks. The country was divided between Germany and communist Soviet Union - two sworn enemies who had signed a secret agreement shortly before the invasion. The conquest of Poland and later (1941) the western part of the Soviet Union and the Baltic states meant that Hitler also gained control over millions of Jews. Their fate was sealed. Most of the European Jews lived in this part of Europe, making it the cultural centre of Jewish Europe. In 1939, approximately 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland, 350,000 Jews lived in the Baltic states, and between 1 and 1.5 million Jews lived in the Soviet Union (especially in White Russia and the western part of the Ukraine). The war in Eastern Europe was far fiercer than the war in Western Europe, which began in 1940. The National Socialists perceived the Western European countries as ‘Germanic brethren', but the Slavic people (Poles, Russians) were considered inferior Untermenschen. The war created a convenient environment for the nazis to act fiercely and mercilessly.

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  1. German soldiers demolishing a border crossing between Poland and Germany, September 1939.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  2. The war in Eastern Europe – a woman with a child on the run
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  3. German soldiers in the Netherlands, June 1940, one month after occupation
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
mass murder
perpetrators and victims
after 1945
guest book
national socialism
concentration camps

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