How did the Nazis kill the Jews?
- Mass open air shootings.
- Extermination camps.
- Many Jews were worked to death by being forced to do heavy
manual labour on grossly inadequate rations.
- Many Jews were forced to live on very little food in
desperately overcrowded and insanitary ghettos, especially in
Nazi-occupied Poland. Many died of disease and starvation.
- In the final few months of the war some were killed on death
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941,
mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began
shooting massive numbers of Jews and Roma (Gypsies) in open fields
and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns.
Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method
of killing enormous numbers of civilians -- six extermination
centers were established in occupied Poland where large-scale
murder by gas and body disposal by cremation were systematically
conducted. Victims were deported to these centers from Western
Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had
established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and
concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation,
exposure, brutality, disease and execution.
In the beginning the Jews were primarily shot. Execution squads
would drive large groups of Jews to remote locations (usually in
forests) and shoot them there. Sometimes mass grave were prepared
beforehand, sometimes the victims had to dig them.
However, it became quickly apparent that this method had several
flaws. First, it was "inefficient"; the amount of manpower and
equipment (bullets, trucks, gas) needed was so much, that the goal
of the extermination of all Jews in Europe would not have been
attainable. Also, the direct involvement of soldiers with the mass
executions caused psychological problems.
The next step was gas trucks, which had gas chambers big enough
to hold about 100 persons mounted in the back. But again, while
more efficient this too did not achieve the numbers desired by Nazi
That was when plans were drawn up for centralized Extermination
Camps, in which the Jews were herded into large chambers (800-1200
in Auschwitz) under the pretense of being disinfected or deloused -
the Nazis even went so far as to hand out soap and towels to elicit
cooperation to the last moment - just to be then poisoned using
HCn, Hydrogen Cyanide (released from "Zykon-B") , in a process
lasting up to 20 min. Afterward, depending on location and/or time
frame, the bodies where either dumped in mass graves or
Many victims died of diseases they got from the poor hygiene and
nutrition. The Holocaust Museum website, as well as the Anne Frank
memorial website, offer much more information. Some of it is