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Education: FAQs Page
What was the Holocaust?
How many people were murdered in the Holocaust?
Who were the Nazis?
How did the situation change in Germany once the Nazis came to power?
What is a Jew?
Who did the Nazis define as Jews?
What was a death camp and where were they?
What does the term "Final Solution" mean and what is its origin?
When was the first concentration camp established and who was imprisoned there?
Who did the Nazis consider enemies of the state?
Why were the Jews singled out for extermination?

What was the Holocaust?

The Holocaust was the systematic and bureaucratic annihilation of six million Jews as well as other "undesirables" by the Nazi regime and their collaborators as a central act of state during World War II. The Holocaust took place in Europe from January 30, 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945 when the war ended in Europe.

The European Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust—up to two out of every three Jews in Europe were killed. Jews, however, were certainly not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, Polish intelligentsia and other "undesirables" were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.

How many people were murdered in the Holocaust?

While it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of victims, statistics indicate that the total number of Jews murdered was over 5,830,000. Six million Jewish victims is the round figure accepted by most authorities.  There were many millions of additional victims, including Communists, trade unionists, Socialists, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), Jehova's Witnesses, Soviet citizens, Soviet prisoners of war, and homosexuals.

Who were the Nazis?

"Nazi" is a term used for members of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). This right-wing political party was formed primarily by unemployed German veterans of World War I in 1919, just after the end of the war and Germany’s defeat. In 1921 Adolph Hitler became the head of the party, and the Nazis slowly became a powerful political force under his leadership. The Nazi Party ideology was largely based on nationalism and racism. They promoted Germany as superior to all other nations and promised to restore it to greatness, while championing a scientific "theory" of racism, in which the "Aryan" (German) people were racially superior to all others, especially the "mongrel" race of the Jews.

How did the situation change in Germany once the Nazis came to power?
In 1933 the Nazi Party descended upon the German government. Hitler quickly squelched democracy and severely restricted basic civil rights, such as freedom of speech, the press, and assembly. In a series of both quasi-legal and illegal measures, the Nazi party became the German government. The SS took over the police force and began to rule in a militaristic police state, dealing with all opposition by either taking them away to concentration camps or killing them. The Gestapo, or Secret Police, spied on those citizens thought to be suspicious and reported them to the government. Often citizens were persecuted simply because they were Communists, Socialists, or Jews. In addition, many laws established that all sport, recreation, and social clubs must be "Nazified." Within a short time the Nazis invaded all aspects of German life and created an atmosphere of terror, suspicion, and distrust.
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." Anyone may become a Jew through study and steps leading to religious conversion.
Who did the Nazis define as Jews?

Immediately following the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, the Nazis issued the official definition of a Jew. According to German law, anyone with three Jewish grandparents was a Jew. In addition, anyone married to a Jewish person or who had one Jewish parent was also considered a Jew in the eyes of the law.

Those not classified as Jews under German law, but had some "Jewish blood," were categorized as Mischlinge, or hybrids. Those with two Jewish grandparents were to be known as Mischlinge of the first degree, while those with one Jewish grandparent were of the second degree. In short, Judaism for the Nazis was something racial, something someone was born into and about which they could do nothing.

What was a death camp and where were they?

A death camp, or extermination camp, was a concentration camp with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder, like gas chambers. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. All were located in Poland.

What does the term "Final Solution" mean and what is its origin?
The term Final Solution (Endlosung) refers to the Germans’ plan to physically liquidate all Jews in Europe. The term was used at the Wannsee Conference (held in Berlin suburb on January 20, 1942) where German officials discussed its implementation.
When was the first concentration camp established and who was imprisoned there?

The first concentration camp established was Dachau, which was opened on March 20, 1933. The camp’s first inmates were primarily political prisoners (most of whom were either Communists or Social Democrats), habitual criminals, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anti-socials (beggars and vagrants). The camp also housed those considered problematic by the Nazis such as Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists and officials.

Who did the Nazis consider enemies of the state?

The following were considered enemies of the Third Reich, and, therefore, were persecuted by Nazi authorities: Jews, Communists, Social Democrats, other opposing politicians, opponents of Nazism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, habitual criminals, anti-socials, the mentally ill, and anyone considered a threat to the Nazis.

Why were the Jews singled out for extermination?

The explanation of the Nazis’ implacable hatred for the Jews rests in their distorted world view that saw history as a racial struggle. They considered the Jews a race whose goal was world domination and, therefore, was an obstruction to Aryan dominance. They believed this struggle would resolve itself with the Aryans in control. Moreover, in their eyes, the Jews’ racial origin made them habitual criminals who could never be rehabilitated and were hopelessly corrupt and inferior. There is no doubt that other factors contributed to the Nazis’ hatred of the Jews and their distorted image of Jewish people. Among them were the centuries-old tradition of Christian anti-Semitism, which propagated a negative stereotype of the Jew as a Christ-killer, agent of the devil, and practitioner of witchcraft. Anti-Semitism was still accepted in the latter half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. This attitude singled out the Jew as a threat to the "master" race. These factors combined to point to the Jew as a target for persecution by the Nazis.

Source: Simon Wiesenthal Center
Upcoming Events for Educators
Address and Directions
Holocaust Museum Houston
Morgan Family Center
5401 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77004-6804
Phone: 713-942-8000

Holocaust Museum Houston is a member of the Houston Museum District Association and is located in Houston's Museum District.

Holocaust Museum Houston is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums.

Hours and Admission
The Museum is open to the public seven days a week.

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.

The Laurie and Milton Boniuk Resource Center and Library is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Library is closed Sundays.

The Museum is closed for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For other holiday hours, visit the "Events" tab on the Museum’s Web site at www.hmh.org.

Effective April 15, 2014, admission rates for Holocaust Museum Houston will change. Please note the new rates:

Members FREE
Children under age 6 FREE
Students age 6-18 FREE
College-level with valid school ID FREE
Seniors age 65+ $8
Active-Duty Military $8
General Admission $12

Holocaust Museum Houston is free each Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Memorial Day (May 26, 2014), D-Day (June 6, 2014), Kristallnacht (Nov. 9, 2014) and International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27, 2015).

Teacher Programs and Resources
Curriculum Trunks Program
Holocaust Museum Houston's outstanding Curriculum Trunk Program provides teachers with all the tools necessary to bring the history and the lessons of the Holocaust into the classroom.

Training Teachers on the Holocaust
Holocaust Museum Houston offers a wide variety of trainings, from Trunk Trainings, to general Holocaust workshops, to the Summer Institute, to the Warren Fellowship.

Guidelines to Teach the Holocaust
There are many ways to incorporate a study of the Holocaust into a curriculum. Here are seven guidelines for incorporating a study of the Holocaust into any curriculum.

Resources to Download
The Teacher Packet contains a wealth of information regarding the reasons for studying the Holocaust, frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, and more.

Curriculum Trunks
Review the content of our curriculum trunks:

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