The Holocaust

Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 06b
The Holocaust is the name we give to the systematic arrest, deportation, and extermination of Jewish people by Nazi Germany during the years of 1934-1945. During this time about six million Jewish people were killed, roughly 67% of the Jewish population of Europe. Maus is a story about how two Jews from Poland survived this period of time. It is important to understand a little about this event when reading the book. Read through the information below. After you are finished, complete the Holocaust section of the worksheet found here.

Hitler's Dream for Europe

Auschwitz Liberated January 1945

Adolf Hitler is the person most responsible for the Holocaust. Early in his political career he laid out a vision for Germany and Europe without Jews in it. He blamed Jews for Germany's defeat in WWI and though speeches and propaganda, made the German people hate them too. Riding this tide of hate and unhappiness toward Jews, Hitler began to take away the rights of German Jews in 1935. Slowly, they began to lose their citizenship as Germans. By the time the war began in 1939, Jews were already being rounded up and put into camps. 

Timeline of the Holocaust

By 1944, Jews from all over Europe are being taken by trains form their homelands into Poland to be worked or killed in gas chambers. The list of horrors that happened during the Holocaust is achingly long. It is perhaps the saddest chapter in human history. Please read through the timeline below that lays out the slow progression of laws and events that took European Jews from happy, contribution citizens to being placed in cattle cars and sent to death camps.

Bundesarchiv Bild 175-04413, KZ Auschwitz, Einfahrt

The Camps

While many Jews escaped Nazi detection, most European Jews spent time inside Nazi camps. If they were lucky, they merely found themselves in a work camp, working long hours at hard labor for no money and little food. The unlucky ended up at the death camps where they were put into shower rooms and then forced to breathe in a toxic gas called Zyklon-B. Other types of caps included transit camps and concentration camps. These camps were spread all over Nazi controlled Europe, but were concentrated in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Please see the map below to get a better idea of the Nazi camp system.

Click on the map to make it larger.

Map of the Holocaust

The Human Toll

The Holocaust resulted in the deaths of more than six million Jews and other people Hitler and his Nazis found undesirable. Countries in Eastern Europe were the hardest hit with some, like Poland losing more than 90% of its Jewish population. Use the table, chart, and map below to help you better understand the distribution and sheer volume of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Information like this makes Vladek's survival during the war seem even more miraculous.

This map to the right shows the percent of the Jewish population in each country killed during the Holocaust. The darker the red, the greater percent of the Jewish population murdered.