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  Education > FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Below is a selection of questions about the Holocaust that are frequently asked.  For more information about the issues these questions raise, as well as other questions you may have, please refer to our selection of links or email us at Click a question below to see its answer:

What is the Holocaust?
The Holocaust is the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims -- six million were murdered; Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi Germany.

When is Holocaust Remembrance Day?
Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known by the Hebrew term Yom Hashoah, falls on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, chose this date because it falls between the date on which the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began and Israel's Independence Day, and also because it occurs during the traditional Jewish period of mourning known as the Counting of the Omer.

Listed below are the dates in the Gregorian calendar on which this memorial day will fall over the next ten years:

2009 Tuesday, April 21
2010 Sunday, April 11
2011 Sunday, May 1
2012 Thursday, April 19
2013 Sunday, April 7
2014 Sunday, April 27
2015 Thursday, April 16
2016 Thursday, May 5
2017 Sunday, April 23

Thursday, April 12

Can you provide me with a list of the Nazi concentration camps?
Since there were literally thousands of camps and subcamps established during the Nazi regime, it would be impossible to provide an all-inclusive list here. The following are the major camps and their locations:

Arbeitsdorf, Germany
Auschwitz/Birkenau, Poland
Belzec, Poland
Bergen-Belsen, Germany
Buchenwald, German
Chelmno, Poland
Dachau, Germany

Dora-Mittelbau, Germany
Flossenbürg, Germany
Gross-Rosen, Poland
Kaiserwald (Riga), Latvia
Klooga, Estonia
Majdanek, Poland
Mauthausen, Austria

Natzweiler-Struthof, France
Neuengamme, Germany
Plaszow, Poland
Ravensbrück, Germany
Sachsenhausen, Germany
Sobibor, Poland
Stutthof, Poland

Theresienstadt, Czech Republic
Treblinka, Poland
Vaivara, Latvia
Vught, The Netherlands
Westerbork, The Netherlands

What did each of the identifying badges mean?
The Nazis used triangular badges or patches to identify prisoners in the concentration camps. Different coloured patches represented different groups. The colors and their meanings were:

Yellow Jew

Violet Jehovah's Witness

Green Habitual criminal
Red Political prisoner


Blue Emigrant

The "Asocial" category was, perhaps, the most diverse, including prostitutes, vagrants, murderers, thieves, lesbians, and those who violated laws prohibiting sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews. In addition, while the brown triangle was used for gypsies under certain circumstances, they were more often forced to wear the black triangle categorizing them as "asocials."

For Jewish offenders, triangles of two different colors were combined to create a six-pointed star, one triangle yellow to denote a Jew, the second triangle another color to denote the added offense. For example, a Jewish criminal would wear a yellow triangle overlaid by a green one; Jewish homosexuals wore pink triangles over yellow.

Outside the camps, the occupying Nazi forces ordered Jews to wear patches or armbands marked with the star of David, though the specific characteristics of the badge (size, shape, color) varied by region. For example, some yellow stars were marked with a large "J" in the center, while elsewhere the patches had "Jude" (or "Jood," "Juif," etc.) stitched in the middle. Those who failed to wear the star were subject to arrest and deportation, a fate that frightened most Jews into compliance even though the patch subjected them to restrictions, harassment, and isolation.

What is a Jew?
The Jews are a diverse religious and cultural group whose origins are described in the Bible. The term Jewish is not a race in any sense of the word, since there are no physical characteristics that can be defined as Jewish. A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of religious conversion to Judaism. According to the Nazis, a jew was any person with at least one Jewish Grandparent.

What does Final Solution mean?
The term Final Solution (Die Endlosung) refers to the Germans’ plan to physically liquidate all Jews in Europe. The term was used at the Wannsee Conference held in Berlin on January 20, 1942, where German officials discussed its implementation.

When was the first concentration camp established?
Dachau was the first concentration camp established and was opened on March 22, 1933. The camp's first inmates were primarily political prisoners (Communists or Social Democrats), habitual criminals, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and anti-socials (beggars, vagrants, hawkers). Others considered problematic by the Nazis were also included (Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists).

What is a death camp? How many? Where?
A death camp camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. All were located in Poland.

What was Auschwitz-Birkenau?
Auschwitz-Birkenau became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill  prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.

Did the Jews resist?
Many Jews simply could not believe that Hitler really meant to kill them all. But once the Nazis had complete control and the Jews were being relocated to ghettos, rations were reduced, conditions were horrible and the Jews did not have the strength, physically, emotionally, or militarily, to resist. There were uprisings in the camps, but it was incredibly difficult and rarely successful. Elie Wiesel put it this way: "The question is not why all the Jews did not fight, but how so many of them did. Tormented, beaten, starved, where did they find the strength - spiritual and physical - to resist?" Those attempting to resist faced almost impossible odds.



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