The Causes of the Holocaust The Holocaust was the systematic killing of approximately six million Jewish people during World War Two. There were many factors which led to the holocaust. The three main causes were: 1. THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR 0NE In November 1918, as World War One drew to a close, there was significant unrest in Germany. It had become clear to the German people that losing the war was inevitable. They were disillusioned with the politics and harsh conditions of war, and many lent their support to extremist parties which had emerged all over Germany. After World War One Germany was made to pay reparations to other European countries which it had invaded and the German economy was almost bankrupt. Under the Treaty of Versailles, clause 231, the ‘War Guilt Clause’, it had to accept complete responsibility for the war. Germany lost 13% of its land and 12% of its population to the Allies. This land made up 48% of Germany’s iron production and a large proportion of its coal productions so losing it limited its economic power severely. The effects on the people were morally and economically devastating and feelings of anger and resentment lingered for many years. 2. ANTISEMITISM Anti-Semitism is prejudice against or hatred of Jews. This existed throughout Europe before World War Two but it was legitimized and encouraged by the Nazis in Germany and in surrounding countries which Germany invaded during the 1930’s. Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race of people, who set out to weaken other races and take over the world. Hitler believed that Jews were particularly destructive to the German ‘Aryan’ race, and did not have any place in Nazi Germany. 3. HITLER AND THE NAZIS When Hitler came to power in Germany he began enacting laws which discriminated against the Jews. He recruited thugs and criminals to ransack Jewish homes and businesses and to murder Jewish people, often at night and in secret. German Police were instructed to remove Jewish people from their homes and to send them to concentration camps. Often when this happened, nonJewish people would loot the Jewish homes that had been left behind. Hitler planned what was known as “the Final Solution”. This involved the building of camps, which contained “shower blocks” which were really gas chambers, and crematoriums to burn the bodies once the people were gassed to death. It is estimated that over six million people died at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis during the war.