The Nazis used the euphemistic term “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” when referring to their plans to annihilate all of European Jewry.
Shortly after its ascent to power, the Nazi Party assumed control of the German media to spread propaganda supporting their new antisemitic ideology. It is generally assumed that the decision to annihilate all Jews was made in the summer of 1941, with the military invasion of the Soviet Union. Implementation the Final Solution itself was the culmination of many events over the previous decade.
The early stages of the Final Solution can be traced to the German invasion of Poland in 1939. At that point, the murder and ghettoization of Jews began immediately and spread quickly. Polish Jews were initially forced into ghettos that ran rampant with starvation, disease, and unsanitary living environments. Many died as a result of the inhumane conditions in the ghettos. Later, mobile killing units known as Einsatzgruppen moved through German-occupied areas systematically murdering Jews and other undesirables. These mobile killing units were made up of German SS and police personnel and used mass shootings and gassing vans to murder Jews all across German-occupied Europe.
In January 1942, the Wannsee Conference at the outskirts of Berlin, Germany, mapped out the implementation of the Final Solution. This marks in many ways the beginning of mass extermination. Eventually, the Nazi Party gave orders to eliminate anyone considered a threat to German rule—including Jews. The first extermination camp opened in 1941. Beginning in 1942, most Jews living in ghettos were transported to a concentration, forced labor, or extermination camp. Those located in the Będzin ghetto were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious killing center in the Nazi regime.
As Allied troops threatened German forces, Nazi authorities began evacuating most camps. They forced most prisoners on what became known as death marches toward the German Reich. In total, around six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi implementation of the Final Solution.
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