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The Holocaust

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A trip to one of the most infamous sites of recent world history provides a moment for reflection. The EURO 2012 championship, a team event for players and photographers is a whirl of activity, but...

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One of the most horrific terms in history was used by Nazi Germany to designate human beings whose lives were unimportant, or those who should be killed outright: Lebensunwertes Leben, or "life unworthy of life". First applied to the mentally impaired, later to the "racially inferior", or "sexually deviant", or merely "enemies of the state" both internal and external. From very early in the war, part of Nazi policy was to murder civilians en masse, especially targeting Jews -- which later in the war became Hitler's "final solution", the complete extermination of the Jews. Beginning with Einsatzgruppen death squads in the East, killing some 1,000,000 people in numerous massacres, later in concentration camps where prisoners were actively denied proper food and health care, and ending with the construction of extermination camps -- government facilities whose entire purpose was the systematic murder and disposal of massive numbers of people. In 1945, as advancing Allied troops began discovering many camps, they found the results of these policies: hundreds of thousands of starving and sick prisoners locked in with more thousands of dead bodies. Evidence of gas chambers, high-volume crematoriums, thousands of mass graves, documentation of awful medical experimentation, and much more. The Nazis killed more than 10 million people in this manner, including 6 million Jews. (This entry is Part 18 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]

Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. There are many dead bodies. The photographs are graphic and stark. This is the reality of genocide, and of an important part of World War II and human history.

An emaciated 18-year-old Russian girl looks into the camera lens during the liberation of Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Dachau was the first German concentration camp, opened in 1933. More than 200,000 people were detained between 1933 and 1945, and 31,591 deaths were declared, most from disease, malnutrition and suicide. Unlike Auschwitz, Dachau was not explicitly an extermination camp, but conditions were so horrific that hundreds died every week. (Eric Schwab/AFP/Getty Images)

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