The Holocaust was the mass killing of approximately six million Jews in Nazi occupied Europe. Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Holocaust and the Nazi party. His widely spread anti-Semitic sentiments resulted in the state-sanctioned genocide of the Jewish people. The Holocaust is generally considered to have begun in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor of Germany. He instituted anti-Semitic laws that put restrictions on the lives of German Jews almost immediately. Germany at this time was still suffering from the aftermath of World War I and Hitler roundly blamed this and all the country's troubles on the Jewish population.
Hitler's persecution of the Jews began with anti-Semitic propaganda which created a great deal of support from Aryan Germans. Gradually, Jews were excluded from more and more aspects of society. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws forbid Jews to marry non-Jews and stripped them of German citizenship. In coming years, Jews were restricted from a number of occupations including doctor, lawyer, and teacher. They were not permitted to own their own businesses. They could not attend schools with non-Jewish children. An increasing number of public places were made off limit to the Jewish population. At hotels, they had to dine in their rooms.
Jews were forced to identify themselves in increasingly obvious ways. They had to have a large red "J" stamped on their passport and were forced to add "Israel" or "Sarah" to their legal name. Curfews were enacted for German Jews. As Nazis began to invade other countries, similar restrictions followed for the Jews there. Though thousands of Jews fled Germany in the early years of the Holocaust, many were still captured as Nazi control spread throughout Europe. In 1940, Jews were forced into ghettos in horrendous living conditions. Many of these were later sealed off completely so none could escape.
In 1941, the Holocaust reached its peak and the Nazis enacted what was known as the "Final Solution." This was a plan to systematically exterminate all the Jews in Europe. Jews were sent to concentration camps where they were either placed into forced labor or immediately killed in gas chambers. The results of either course of action was usually death. In the labor camps, workers were fed starvation rations, kept in filthy housing, and forced to work long hours every day. Many died from disease and starvation. By the time the Allied forced liberated the camps and defeated the Nazis in 1945, two-thirds of all Jews in Europe had been killed.