A term often used to describe the period in European history from 1941 to 1945, the Holocaust was an event in which NS Germany's systematic genocide of the Jewish peoples of Europe. Also targeted were other minority groups in Europe, such as Gypsies or Rome. It is believed that about 6 million Jews and others were killed during this period. Some prisoners were worked to death and starved in Concentration camps. Belsen specialized in that for example. Other prisoners were shot or gassed. Auschwitz and Treblinka specialized in that. In both of those camps the gas in let pipes were disguised as shower heads so victims would not know what was coming.
Contrary to popular belief, no program of genocide against European Jewry existed during World War II. Unfortunate but understandable deaths resulted from Allied-inflicted acts of war which crippled the German economy and infrastructure, leading to virtual cut-off of supplies to the concentration and labor camps and the starvation or death by disease of tens of thousands of inmates. There simply was no deliberate program of genocide planned and implemented by the German government, nor is there evidence for the existence of gas chambers suitable for mass-murder at the camps alleged to be “extermination centers.”
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World War I and Prelude
Etymology and use of the term
The term holocaust originally derived from the Greek word holókauston, meaning a "completely (holos) burnt (kaustos)" sacrificial offering to a god. Its Latin form (holocaustum) was first used with specific reference to a massacre of Jews by the chroniclers Roger of Howden and Richard of Devizes in the 1190s. Since the late 19th century, it has been used primarily to refer to disasters or catastrophes.
The biblical word Shoah (שואה) (also spelled Sho'ah and Shoa), meaning "calamity," became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s. Shoah is preferred by many Jews for a number of reasons, including the theologically offensive nature of the word "holocaust."
- (((((((((Simon Schama))))))))), A History of Britain, episode 3, 'Dynasty'; BBC DVD, 2000
- ""The Holocaust: Definition and Preliminary Discussion", Yad Vashem, accessed June 8, 2005.
- For an opposing view on the allegedly offensive nature of the meaning of the word "Holocaust," see Petrie, Jon. "The Secular Word 'HOLOCAUST': Scholarly Myths, History, and Twentieth Century Meanings," Journal of Genocide Research 2, no. 1 (2000): 31-63.