The Holocaust by Geography

Western Europe

Belgium
France
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands/Holland


NORTHERN EUROPE

Denmark
Finland
Norway


CENTRAL, EASTERN & SOUTHERN EUROPE

Austria
Bulgaria
Czechoslovakia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Poland
Romania
Soviet Union & Baltics
Yugoslavia


Belgium France Italy Germany & Austria Luxemburg Netherlands/Holland Denmark Finland Norway Bulgaria Czechoslovakia Greece Hungary Poland Rumania Soviet Union & Baltics select a country on the map

Countries

The fate of the Jews within any particular European country depended largely on that country’s wartime relationship with Germany. It also depended on the traditional moral, cultural and social attitudes towards minorities that were prevalent within that country before the war. In actual fact, Germany was not the only country where Jews were regarded as belonging to an inferior class of people.

Wherever German rule was total and supreme, especially in the east where the culture and people were deemed inferior, the Jews were doomed to annihilation. In "Greater Germany", Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, Russia and the Baltics, where the Jews came under the direct authority and management of the Security Service apparatus, their fate was sealed. In countries allied to Germany and “neutral” countries, even if they had been invaded, some degree of autonomy remained and the fate of the Jewish population depended on commitment to equality, multiculturalism, and traditional or historic treatment of the Jews.

Even where the circumstances where similar, the effects of Nazi influence could be quite different. Sometimes countries which lacked a basic tradition or commitment to equal rights and which were even traditionally anti-Semitic could be influenced by moral or religious appeals (Slovakia), persuaded by bribes (Roumania), or even intimidated (Hungary) to protect their Jews. Some drew a distinction between their own national Jews whom they were willing to protect (Vichy France, Bulgaria) and foreign Jews whom they handed over with minimal resistance.

Geographic circumstances played a part too, with some countries providing a more convenient escape route than others from the otherwise ensnared trap that was occupied Europe. The size and acculturation of the local Jewish population such as distinctiveness of dress, looks, and language affected whether an individual, a family or even a large group might be concealed and hidden.

In Western Europe Jews lived and dressed in much the same way as the rest of their fellow citizens. In Eastern Europe, for a number of reasons, they were more distinct in appearance, spoke their own language (Yiddish), carried out specialised occupations, and lived in isolated segregated living areas, making them an easier target for scapegoating, identifying, and eventual “purging” from society.

A summary of all countries that participated in one way or another in World War II can be accessed through Wikipedia.