The Holocaust, also known as Ha-Shoah (Hebrew: השואה), Khurbn (Yiddish: חורבן or Halokaust, האלאקאוסט) or Porajmos (Romani, also Samudaripen), is the name applied to the genocide of minority groups of Europe and North Africa during World War II by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.
Early elements of the Holocaust include the Kristallnacht pogrom of 8 and 9 November 1938 and the T-4 Euthanasia Program, leading to the later use of killing squads and extermination camps in a massive and centrally organized effort to exterminate every possible member of the populations targeted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
The Jews of Europe were the most numerous of the victims of the Holocaust in what the Nazis called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (die Endlösung der Judenfrage) or "the cleaning" (die Reinigung). It is commonly stated that approximately six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, though estimates by historians using, among other sources, records from the Nazi regime itself, range from five million to seven million.
Millions of other minority members also perished in the Holocaust. About 220,000 Sinti and Roma were murdered (some estimates are as high as 800,000) — between a quarter to a half of their European population. Other groups deemed by the Nazis to be "racially inferior" or "undesirable" included Poles (6 million killed, of whom 3 million were Christian, and the rest Jewish), Serbs (estimates vary between 500,000 and 1.2 million killed, mostly by Croat Ustaše), Soviet military prisoners of war and civilians in occupied territories including Russians and other East Slavs, the mentally or physically disabled, homosexuals, Africans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists and political dissidents, trade unionists, Freemasons, Eastern Christians, and Catholic and Protestant clergy, were also persecuted and killed.
Some scholars do not include the Nazi persecution of all of these groups in the definition of the Holocaust, rather limiting the Holocaust to the genocide of the Jews. However, taking into account all minority groups, the total death toll rises considerably; estimates generally place the total number of Holocaust victims at 9 to 11 million, though some estimates have been as high as 26 million.
Another group, whose deaths are related to the Holocaust but not always counted in the totals, comprise the thousands who committed suicide rather than face what they feared would be untold suffering ending in death. In 2006, the European Union financed a project to research these victims; despite religious prohibitions against suicide, it is estimated that in Berlin alone, 1,600 Jews killed themselves between 1938 and 1945.
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