What Happened in the Holocaust
The Holocaust was one of the largest cases of genocide in modern history, and while the term 'holocaust' has a general meaning from Greek origin that means 'sacrifice by fire', when people use this term they are generally referring to the Jewish Holocaust that took place during the years 1933-1945 when Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. The events that took place started out as simple discrimination but evolved into full-blown systematic murder of millions of Jews and others who were deemed 'inferior'. The Nazis believed that Jews and other inferiors were the reason for Germany's weakness as a country, and therefore wanted to eliminate them in order to make a more powerful society and country.
In 1933, there were more than 9 million Jews in Europe, many of whom lived in Germany and other countries that would become occupied by Germany during World War II. By the end of the war, more than 2/3 of the Jewish population had been killed by the Nazis as part of their 'Final Solution', which was simply their plan to murder Jews to create a 'Master Race' and turn Germany into a world power. Jews weren't the only ones killed, however. Hitler and his men also eliminated the disabled, the elderly, children, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others that were a detriment to society in their eyes.
Initially, people were simply removed from their homes, banned from normal day-to-day society, and forced to live in squalor in ghettos throughout Germany and the countries that the Nazis took over. Some were forced into labor, while others were imprisoned for their beliefs, race, religion, or for political purposes. Many died of exposure, disease, and starvation. Millions more were killed by Nazi leaders. Those who were killed in the Holocaust were initially shot, but as time went on, the Nazis developed new ways to eliminate people, including the gas chambers which became the leading cause of death for many Jews and other inferiors during World War II.
Crudely enough, many Jewish people had their cause of death recorded as "SB", which were the initials for the German word for the "Special Treatment" that Jews were to receive (death). From 1933 to 1945, more than 11 million people in total were killed at the hands of the Nazis before the Allies invaded and took back power. Some were tortured with medical experimentation or worked to death, but most were deliberately and systematically murdered for the 'greater good' of Nazi Germany.