Located 21 miles or 34 km northwest of Berlin, the Nazi German concentration camp Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was established on July 12, 1936, and liberated on April 27, 1945
Located 21 miles or 34 km northwest of Berlin,
the Nazi German concentration camp Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg
was established on July 12, 1936, and liberated on April 27, 1945



The Holocaust took place during Hitler's reign from 1933-1945.
World War II was fought from 1939-1945.

Image Above

Two SA guards stand at the Oranienburg gate, 1933

US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of BPK

Origin of the Word Holocaust

The word holocaust stems from the Greek word for burnt offering or sacrifice by fire, holokauston. It combines holos (whole) and kaustos (to burn).

The word appears in the Old Testament. The New American Standard Bible translates Leviticus 6:23, in the context of regulations for burnt, grain, and sin offerings, as follows:

And every meal-offering of the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.

Here is the text in Greek from the Septuagint (LXX):

καὶ πᾶσα θυσία ἱερέως ὁλόκαυτος ἔσται καὶ οὐ βρωθήσεται

And here is the text in Hebrew from the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC):

.וְכָל־מִנְחַת כֹּהֵן כָּלִיל תִּהְיֶה לֹא תֵאָכֵֽל

According to Strong's Concordance כָּלִיל (kalil) translates as entire, whole, a holocaust, a sacrifice entirely consumed.

Since the 1940s, the term a holocaust was used to describe a large scale destruction in general.


The Holocaust

In modern history, the term Holocaust refers to the systematic killing of approx. six million Jews and millions of others who were in the way of the Nazis in Germany, who promoted anti-Semitism.

In this sense, the term Holocaust was first used in the 1950s. In Hebrew it was referred to as Shoah, or catastrophe. The Nazis themselves called this genocide the Final Solution.

Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and the Jewish population was targeted immediately, their businesses boycotted, their books burnt, Jewish individuals were excluded from civil service and their children banned from schools.

It went downhill from there.

Marriage between Jews and non-Jews was outlawed. Jews were barred from going to the theaters and had to travel and live separated from the rest. Finally their entire property was confiscated and they were forced into ghettos.

Many Jews emigrated, many more tried but weren't able to because countries limited the number of Jewish immigrants.

November 9, 1938, was a new all-time low.

It became known as the Kristallnacht, which means Crystal Night. For two days, Jewish synagogues and businesses were raided, 91 Jews were killed, and around 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.


In the Eyes of the Nazis, Who Was Officially a Jew?

The Nazis went by ancestry. You were a Jew when you had at least three Jewish grandparents. If you had one or two, you were a "mixed breed."


Besides Jews, Who Else Was Declared a Target in Nazi Germany?

Jews were the main target, but Nazi Germany also persecuted and annihilated

  • Gypsies (Sinti and Roma)

  • the mentally handicapped

  • the physically handicapped

  • Poles

  • homosexuals

  • Jehovah's Witnesses

  • Soviet prisoners of war

  • political dissidents


When Did the US Government Learn of the Nazis' Attempt to Kill the Entire Jewish Race?

August 1942.

For more details, see the answer to this question by the US Holocaust Museum.


Museums and Memorials

There are many memorial places to visit, among them are:


Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Holocaust Remembrance Day (Hebrew: Yom Hashoah) falls on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum,

the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, chose this date because it falls between the date on which the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began and Israel's Independence Day, and also because it occurs during the traditional Jewish period of mourning known as the Counting of the Omer.

These are the dates in the Gregorian calendar (the one we're using now):

2016: Thursday, May 5

2017: Monday, April 24

2018: Thursday, April 12

2019: Thursday, May 2

2020: Tuesday, April 21

2021: Thursday, April 8

2022: Thursday, April 28



What would you do if it turned out that one of your family members had been a prominent Nazi?

Read the BBC News article Nazi legacy: The troubled descendants


Researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe.

Read the New York Times article The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking published on March 1, 2013. This article includes maps of ghettos for Jews in Eastern Europe and SS Concentration Camps.


Here you can read Pope John Paul II's Yad Vashem Speech, which he delivered at Jerusalem on March 23, 2000.


And here is more on Anne Frank.




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