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Few Jews in Europe survived Holocaust

DEBRA G. LESTER, Staff Writer
Published March 19, 2006

Before World War II, the Jewish population of Europe was estimated at 9.5 million.

But as Adolf Hitler marched across Europe, more than 6 million would be killed. On their road to the death chambers, Jews were deported, gathered in ghettos and placed in work camps. We call this genocide the Holocaust.

Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on Jan. 30, 1933, and was named fuhrer in 1934. As he became chancellor, the nation of Germany had a Jewish population of 566,000.

He ordered a concentration camp built at Dachau in March 1933, and many others would follow. But this was only the beginning of the state-sponsored persecution and genocide of the Jews of Europe before the last death camp, Mauthausen in Austria, was liberated on May 5, 1945.

After the war, Jews who survived were liberated from the camps and the lucky ones came out of hiding. One of those was Sylvia Rex, 80, of Spartanburg. Her time in hiding was brief compared to many others, including the well-known Anne Frank who hid with her family more than two years, but the dates are etched in her mind.