How was Poland affected by the Holocaust?

After being invaded by Germany and the soviet union Poland suffered about 6 million dead during the war out of a total population off about 36 million. Of the 6 million dead more than 3 million were Jews. Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other groups were targets for annihilation under the German occupation government, but the Jews were the largest group. Before the war there where about 3.5 million Jews in Poland, the largest population anywhere in the world. (The Germans built the extermination camps mostly in Poland because that is where the Jews where! ) 90% of the polish Jews would perish in the holocaust, a much higher percentage than in other countries. Of the few hundred thousand that survived either escaped the country or were hidden by poles - this was especially true of children who were sent to live in polish families as poles. Despite the fact that only in German occupied Poland hiding Jews was a crime punishable by death, tens of the thousands of Jews survived the war because they were hidden by sympathetic poles. Only a few thousand Jews survived the German concentration camps through to the end of the war.

Before the war Jews had an important place in the polish society and economy, many of them being intellectual and social leaders. Jews and Poles had lived side by side in Poland for many centuries, and although it was not always a harmonious relationship Jews often had more freedom and equality than anywhere else. The result was that the Jewish culture was an important part of the social fabric of Poland and of outsized economic importance. The entire loss of this segment of the population was a direct impedement to the reconstruction of the country after the war, and played into the soviet hands as they wished a subservient Poland that they could dominate.