Designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, the day solemnly notes the murder of 6 million Jewish people, or roughly two-thirds of the Jewish European population, at the hands of the Third Reich.
In addition, 5 million Slavs, 3 million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men and transgender women, as well as prisoners of war and political opponents were murdered in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust began after Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, starting with laws excluding Jewish people from German society.
The most well-known of these are the Nuremberg Laws, which prohibited marriage and intercourse between Jewish people and other Germans, the employment of German women under 45 in Jewish households, and disallowed Jewish people from being German citizens. Later versions of the Nuremberg Laws expanded them to include Romani people.
German concentration camps also began to be constructed in 1933, to hold people viewed as "undesirable." Jewish "ghettos" also formed after the invasion of Poland in 1939.
Hitler signed a "euthanasia decree" in 1939, which led to the deaths of over 150,000 mentally and physically handicapped people.
In 1942 as a conference in Berlin, senior officials of the Third Reich began to focus on a plan known as the Final Solution to the Jewish Question, which called for the murder of all Jewish people.
Over 7,600 people were liberated from Auschwitz-Birkenau, with tens of thousands more found at Bergen-Belsen. 13,000 corpses left unburied at the camp.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a reminder that we continue to educate others about the Holocaust to prevent genocidal pogroms akin to it from ever happening again.
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