What was the Holocaust?

People at concentration camp in Auschwitz

The Holocaust was the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of other people leading up to, and during, World War II.

The killings took place in Europe between 1933 and 1945. They were organised by the German Nazi party which was led by Adolf Hitler.

The largest group of victims were Jewish people. Nearly 7 out of every 10 Jews living in Europe were killed.

Ricky hears two stories from Holocaust survivors

Most of the victims were killed because they belonged to certain racial or religious groups which the Nazis wanted to wipe out. This kind of killing is called genocide.

The Nazis also murdered politicians, trade unionists, journalists, teachers and anyone else who spoke out against Hitler.

We will never know exactly how many died but there were many millions of non-Jewish victims, including:

  • Civilians and soldiers from the Soviet Union
  • Catholics from Poland
  • Serbs
  • Disabled people
  • Homosexuals
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Polish civilians
  • Roma and Sinti people (Gypsies)
  • Slavic people

Background information courtesy of the Holocaust Educational Trust

More on This Story

  • Newsround logoWatch Newsround

    Watch the latest update from Newsround, CBBC's news programme for children.

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.