There has been so much written about the Holocaust that it is extraordinarily difficult to make sense of it. Historians have tended to investigate separate aspects of the Holocaust as distinct micro-research areas. This explains why finding a satisfactory overall synthesis becomes ever more difficult. The scale of the Holocaust is certainly without precedent. There were nine million Jews in Europe in 1939 and only three million were left alive by the time the Third Reich collapsed in the ruins of Berlin. The killing was not just limited to Jews in the Soviet Union or Germany, but encompassed Jews from all over Europe. Every single Jew was sentenced to death by the Nazi regime simply for exist ing. No differentiation was made in terms of gender, class, occupation or geographical location. Jews were not defined by the Nazis according to culture, religion or nationality. They were a separate and ‘parasitic race’ that had to be eliminated. Other potential victims of Nazi genocide might survive by changing political or national allegiance, but for the Jews there was no escape. All Jews were to be first identified then isolated and finally erased.
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