Jewish population of Europe

In 1933, over 9 million Jews lived in Europe (1.7% of the total population). This represented more than 60% of the world’s Jewish population, with the majority living in Eastern Europe. Jewish culture in Europe was as rich and diverse as the countries where Jews lived. They drew from hundreds and, in some areas, a thousand or more years of Jewish life on the continent.

Following the Nazi rise to power, Adolf Hitler’s government began preparing to wage war. Nazi foreign policy was guided by the belief that Germany must expand eastward by military force. They believed the racially superior Germans should rule Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In Hitler’s vision, Germans would populate this area and the Slavic population would be enslaved or driven out. Jews would disappear entirely from all German-dominated territory.

During World War II, the Nazis and their collaborators invaded, conquered, occupied, or annexed much of continental Europe and parts of North Africa. In the process, they murdered two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population. 

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