Why did the Holocaust happen? Why did some watch and do nothing to help? Why did others risk their lives to save total strangers? Why don't we learn from the past?

Never Stop Asking

With extremism, hatred, and antisemitism and on the rise, the Museum is seeking to spark a global conversation about why these forces persist, and what makes both individuals and societies resilient.

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Why did the Holocaust happen?

The Nazis found countless willing helpers who collaborated or were complicit in their crimes. What led so many individuals to abandon their fellow human beings? What were the motivations and pressures they faced? This short video explores these questions.

Timeline of Events

The origins of the Holocaust trace back to World War I. Learn about milestones during the Nazi rise to power.

Mobilizing a Population

Nazi propagandists used films, newspapers, and other media to spread their racist ideologies to a broad public.

American Responses

As early as 1933, Americans were reading newspaper articles about the persecution of Jews in Germany.

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Learn more at ushmm.org, or join the conversation with #AskWhy

Historic film in header video gift of Ann Major and courtesy of Filmoteka Narodowa, Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, and Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid.