When Did the Holocaust Start – The Rise of Nazi Power
The question of when the Holocaust started is a difficult one to answer. Depending on the source, you may find this question addressed in many different ways. Some contend that the Holocaust began in 1933 when Hitler gained power in Germany. At this point in history, anti-Semitism was just beginning to take hold as part of government policy. Hitler's first acts against the Jews were easily accepted by many Germans because a general sense of anti-Semitism was already prevalent. In the early years of Hitler's reign, the Jewish people were certainly persecuted, but the true violence had not yet begun.
Some cite 1939 as the start of the Holocaust instead. This is when Jewish persecution reached new heights. Jews were confined to ghettos in many Polish cities. Here, multiple families would be forced to live in a single family apartment. Starvation rations of only about 800 calories a day were provided and hygiene was horrible. Many Jews would attempt to smuggle food in or smuggle their children out to escape the horrendous conditions. Eventually, these ghettos were sealed off completely so the Jews could not leave for any reason. Many died in the ghettos from starvation and disease. Others fell to random acts of Nazi violence.
The final date that might be considered as the start of the Holocaust is 1941. This is when the Nazis implemented the "Final Solution." This was a plan to exterminate all Jews in Europe. As part of the final solution, Jews were deported to concentration camps in great numbers. Many of these people were sent directly to death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the death camps, Jews were sent into gas chambers where they were killed in what the Nazis determined to be the most efficient manner. Millions were killed this way. This state-sanctioned genocide is the hallmark of the Holocaust.
Though killings took place for years prior, the Final Solution made the goals of the Third Reich very clear. However you want to look at it, the Holocaust was a horrific period of time that resulted in many Jewish deaths. Between 1933 and 1945, two thirds of all Jews in Europe were killed, numbering about 6 million. While many died in death camps, millions more succumbed to disease and starvation. Before the gas chambers were implemented, mobile killing units would execute great numbers of Jews by shooting them. Hitler's anti-Semitic movement would change the face of Europe forever, leaving a painful legacy for all survivors.