Holocaust (Shoah)

The holocaust (Latin ‘holocaustum’ from Greek ‘holókauston’ = sacrifice by fire): a term for the Nazi mass destruction, particulary Jews, during World War II.

The term ‘holocaust’ originally referred to ancient Greeks and Romans’ sacrifice by fire when a sacrificial animal was totally burnt. Later on this term became used as a synonym for a mass destruction of humans, usually by incineration. International historiography also uses the term Shoah (Hebrew HaShoah (unexpected) ruin, destruction), indicating the mass slaughter of Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The Holocaust was possible within the traditional environment of anti-Semitism, reaching its peak with the most radical mass slaughter of the Jews in their history.

Thus, when speaking about the Holocaust, we speak about the consequences of an ideology which wanted to have an ethnically, racially, and culturally pure society within the middle of Europe.

And indeed, we repeatedly have to emphasize that remembering the Holocaust requires courage from us to openly confront it by presenting this evil with no mercy, to suffer because of the inconsolable grief of children and parents, to feel the emptiness and loss, to read inconceivable testimonies on evil and depraved human minds, and to drag ourselves into the shadow of suspicion that the Holocaust tries to throw on the morality of all people and nations. Remembering the Holocaust and the tragedy of genocide should not just be the remembrance of the victims but also of those who have survived the greatest tragedy from the first half of the 20th century. For the deminishing generations of survivors’ sakes it is the duty of present generations and the historiography to prevent memory loss about one of the darkest sides of 20th century history.

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