The Holocaust in the sense of the systemtatic extermination (genocide) of the Jews lasted from 1941-45.
Obviously, ever since Hitler came to power in 1933, Jews had been persecuted, first in Germany and then in the various countries annexed and invaded by Germany. Important 'milestones' on the road to the holocaust include the establishment of ghettos where Jews were forced to live in intolerable conditions (Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow).
The Nazis started putting people in camps as early as 1933. Many people died in those camps before the "Final Solution" was developed. Those earlier years should be included. We should also include other targeted groups such as Gypsies, Slavs, the mentally retarded, and political prisoners.
Well, if you're going to include 'putting people in camps', then it was plain, ordinary persecution - like in Pinochet's Chile - and the word 'Holocaust' is just a melodramatic redundancy. In other words the last answer is profoundly wrong.
The Holocaust lasted as long as the Nazis were able to pursue that policy. That is, until they were defeated by force of arms in May 1945.It is debatable how much influence the Allies had on the Holocaust.By 1944 the Nazis had demanded and received Jews from almost all of the territories over whom they had influence. Most of the death camps had been dismantled and the evidence of their existence hidden. Auschwitz, the largest and last deaht camp had all but stopped gassings in the autumn of 1944, with the last session taking place at the begining of December. The gas chambers were dismantled and sent back to Germany.The bulk of the murders took place in 1942, when both the gas chambers and the Einsatzgruppen were active, by 1945 when the Allies were advancing on Germany, the Death Marches were the largest cause of death (ironically caused by the allies).The Holocaust lasted so long because the aims of the Holocaust were not completed, however, the last two and a half years of the Holocaust produced only a third of the number of victims as the previous year.
At many of the camps liberated by Allies, for example, Bergen-Belsen, highly infectious diseases such as typhus were rampant. Deaths from the Holocaust continued for quite a long time after the end of the war. At Bergen-Belsen it took several weeks to deal fully with the twofold problem of starvation and disease. In practice, it's not possible to point to any one individual and say that he or she was last victim to die in the Holocaust.
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