National Archives and Records Administration


American Originals Exhibit

The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)

World War II

"The things I saw beggar description. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick."
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to Gen. George C. Marshall
April 15, 1945
describing visit to a German concentration camp

Since World War II, "Holocaust" has come to denote the Nazi persecution of the Jews that took place from 1933 to 1945 and resulted in the systematic murder of 5 to 6 million Jewish people as well as millions of other innocent men, women, and children.

During the 12 years of the German Third Reich, government policies incorporated Nazi concepts of racial purity. The Jews of Germany were subjected to discrimination, loss of citizenship, loss of property, exile, and near systematic annihilation. The genocidal plan, Adolph Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish question," required the assembly and transportation of Jewish people from all corners of Europe to extermination sites in occupied Poland. Though classified as "ultra-secret," the plan generated paperwork that documents the horrific events known collectively as the Holocaust.

The National Archives and Records Administration holds one of the largest collections of Holocaust-related documents. They were captured by the Allies and used as evidence in war crimes trials held since 1945 at Nürnberg and elsewhere.
Notes of Heinrich Himmler, Chief of Nazi Guard (SS), for a speech to SS Generals, delivered October 4, 1943

Notes of Heinrich Himmler, Chief of Nazi Guard (SS), for a speech to SS Generals, delivered October 4, 1943
Translation of speech excerpt in which Himmler defines "evacuation" of the Jews as "extermination," official translation from the war crimes trials of Nazi leaders, held at Nürnberg, Germany, 1945

Translation of speech excerpt in which Himmler defines 'evacuation' of the Jews as 'extermination,' official translation from the war crimes trials of Nazi leaders, held at Nürnberg, Germany, 1945

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Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
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Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
American Originals 2



National Archives and Records Administration
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Last updated: July 22, 1998
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