The Final Solution is a term used to denote the murder of six million European Jews by the Nazis. The “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was the last and most extreme cycle of repression visited upon the Jewish population of Europe. Nazi repressive policies towards Jews began with the adoption of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which, among other measures, banned mixed German-Jewish marriage, stripped Jews of property rights, and the ability to hold government jobs. The persecution of the Jews was a pillar of Nazi racial ideology, which stated that Jewish blood polluted the German population, and therefore the Jewish problem had to be solved with the utmost severity.

After the German occupation of Poland, which contained a sizeable Jewish population, Jews were herded into ghettos. Soon after the German invasion of the USSR, the high Nazi leadership made a decision that the Jewish question required a ‘final solution;’ European Jewry was to be liquidated. This decision was reached at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. The Jews who had been herded into ghettos were transported to specially set up death camps, at which those who could not work were immediately put to death, while those who were still capable of working were worked to death. At the most notorious death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, more than 1.5 million people were murdered, more than 800 000 of who were Jews. It is estimated that three million Polish Jews and one million Soviet Jews were murdered in the Final Solution.  The most widely used method of murder was the use of poison gas; execution by shooting was also common.

From 1939 to 1945 some six million Jews were murdered. This represented one third of the world’s Jewish population. The Nazis’ Final Solution stands as a testament to the possibilities of man’s inhumanity to man; the barbarity of the Final Solution has few, if any, parallels in human history.