Hitler then had six “death camps” built in Poland. There, the Nazis shipped Jews and others marked for extermination from all over occupied Europe. Nazi engineers designed efficient means of killing millions of men, women, and children.

As the prisoners reached the camps, they were stripped of their clothes and valuables. Their heads were shaved. Guards separated men from women, and children from their parents. The young, elderly, and sick were murdered immediately. Falsely told they were to be disinfected, they were herded into fake “shower rooms” and gassed. Then their bodies were burned in specially designed crematoriums. The Nazis worked younger, healthier prisoners to death or used them for their inhumane “medical” experiments.

By June 1945, the Nazis had massacred more than six million Jews. Almost as many other “undesirable” people were killed as well.

Jewish Resistance

Jewish people resisted the Nazis even though they knew their efforts could not succeed. In the early 1940s, Jews in the ghettos of Eastern Europe at times took up arms. The largest uprising occurred in the Warsaw ghetto in occupied Poland.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

In July 1942, the Nazis began sending Polish Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp and to slave labor camps. As the mass deportations continued, Jewish groups organized an underground resistance movement.

By the spring of 1943, the German plan to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto was clear, and resistance groups planned a full-scale revolt. Armed with smuggled weapons and homemade bombs, the Jews took over the ghetto and prepared to fight to the end.

After holding out for a month, the resistance forces were crushed. The ghetto was in ruins, and thousands were killed in the fighting. Any survivors were sent to death camps or forced labor camps. Although the uprising was doomed, the courage of the resistance inspired uprisings elsewhere

Continuing Resistance

A few Jews escaped the Warsaw ghetto and from ghettos elsewhere in Eastern Europe. About 25,000 Jews, many of them teenagers, joined resistance groups waging guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. These fighters were called partisans. Some joined Soviet units or formed their own Jewish units. In Western Europe, Jews were active in the French and Belgian resistance movements.

Jewish resistance took different forms. In addition to armed uprisings and fighting with guerrilla forces, a few Jews challenged Nazi death camps. Uprisings occurred at Treblinka and Sobibor. In October 1944, a group of Jews in Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp, destroyed one of the gas chambers.

Jews also resisted by hiding or sending their children into hiding. And despite Nazi persecution, they preserved their culture and traditions as best they could.

Photo of a young girl in profile leaning out of a window. Notes to the side of the photo are in Dutch.

Anne Frank was one of over a million Jewish children who was murdered by the Nazis or died of disease in the horrifying conditions of the concentration camps. She and her family lived in hiding in Amsterdam for over two years until they were found and sent to concentration camps. Anne's diary remains a key document of the Holocaust.

Hiding Jews

In some parts of Europe, friends, neighbors, or even strangers protected Jews. When Mussolini undertook a vicious campaign against Italian Jews, peasants hid Jews in their villages. Denmark and Bulgaria saved almost all their Jewish populations. The Danish resistance movement, assisted by many common citizens, coordinated the flight of over 7,000 Jews to safety in nearby Sweden.

Many individuals who were not Jewish took great risks to save Jewish lives.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments