The modern Zionist movement, begun in the 19th century, was launched to bring about the return of Jews to Jerusalem. The movement was founded by Theodore Herzl (1860-1904), a Viennese journalist. He strove to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, the obvious place for it. Not every Jew supported the idea, as many believed that only the Messiah could restore Jerusalem. During the 19th century, Russia carried out a series of anti-Semitic attacks, known as pogroms, on Jewish settlements.
“I believe in the sun,
even when it is not shining,
I believe in love, even
When I am not feeling it,
I believe in God, even
when He is silent”
In Germany, Adolph Hitler believed all Jews to be degenerate and they were made to wear the yellow six-pointed Star of David to advertise their Jewishness. Persecution of the Jews in Germany started in 1933, and thousands of synagogues and buildings belonging to Jews were destroyed by the Nazis, and efforts were made to exterminate all the Jews in Europe. During this period, known as the Holocaust, which lasted until 1945 when around six million Jews died in concentration camps in Europe. This genocide convinced many that only by establishing a homeland of their own could Jews find a safe refuge against anti-Semitism. The United Nations agreed and in 1948 the modern State of Israel was founded. Following this, Jewish communities around the world settled in Israel.
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps were erected in Germany in 1933, immediately after Hitler became Chancellor. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps held around 45,000 prisoners by 1933 and were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire. Hitler allowed Himmler to start using the camps’ facilities and personnel to purge German society of so-called “racially undesirable elements” such as Jews, criminals, homosexuals, and Romani people. Between 1939 and 1942, the number of camps exploded to more than 300. Hostage camps where hostages were held and killed as reprisals. Labor camps were concentration camps where interned inmates had to do hard physical labor under inhumane conditions and cruel treatment. Some of these camps were sub-camps of bigger camps, or “operational camps”, established for a temporary need. POW (prisoner of war) camps were concentration camps where prisoners of war were held after capture. POWs were usually soon assigned to labor camps. Camps for rehabilitation and re-education of the intelligentsia were held, and “re-educated” according to Nazi values. Transit and collection camps, where inmates were collected and routed to main camps, or temporarily held. Extermination camps, differed from the rest, where all new-arrivals were simply killed, the industrial-scale mass murder of the predominantly Jewish ghetto and concentration camp populations like, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Chelmno, Auschwitz and Majdanek. Although none of the categories is independent, and many camps could be classified as a mixture of several of the above. Others like Maly Trostenets were at times classified as minor extermination camps.