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after the genocide

The survivors are taken to camps for Displaced Persons. It will take over five years to find homes for many of them. Some Jews return to Poland, to find their homes occupied by Poles who are unwilling to leave, and to face violence: over 1,000 returning Polish Jews are killed by non-Jewish civilians. Further migration to Palestine is blocked by Britain; some Jews who ignore the British ban are interned in camps in Cyprus, and even in Germany. Poland is reconstructed; part of east Germany is now incorporated, from which the Poles immediately expel German nationals. The Commandant of Belsen and 10 of his staff are tried (for torture, shooting and gassing of thousands of inmates) by a British military tribunal and executed in 1945. The international trials in Nuremberg of 22 leading Nazis begin in 1945; 12 are sentenced to be hanged in 1946, 7 are imprisoned and 3 acquitted. Both the owner and the manager of the company that made the poison gas (Zyklon B) used in the death camps are also executed in 1946. Several thousand individual Nazi criminals are hunted and tried in courts in Germany or the country of their capture; about 450 are executed. Most are imprisoned; some in Germany are later released before serving their full sentence. Many Nazis flee to hide in South American or Arabian countries. (Between 1945 and 1985 up to 5,000 convicted war criminals are executed and 10,000 imprisoned.)

The Commandant of Auschwitz is tried and executed in Warsaw, having been found guilty of overseeing the murder of 4 million Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other Slavs. (He does not deny the charge but pleads that he acted under orders from a higher authority.) Auschwitz-Birkenau is designated a memorial and museum. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world.

British administration of Palestine (under a mandate of the League of Nations) ends, and within hours the State of Israel is founded, amidst fierce war with Palestinian and other Arabs. (War or armed violence between Israelis and Palestinians will break out repeatedly through the rest of the century.) About 100,000 Jews - half the number who survive the Holocaust - are now living in Israel.

An archive about the Warsaw ghetto and its uprising is set up in Israel.

The Israeli parliament passes a law making it their duty to recognise the work of non-Jews who managed to save Jewish lives during the Second World War. Such people become known as 'Righteous Gentiles', changed later to 'Righteous Persons'. In 1962 an Avenue of the Righteous is created in Jerusalem, in which every non-Jew who helped Jews plants a tree or has one planted in his or her name. Righteous Person awards and medals have been given to the Norwegian and Danish resisters who helped Jews escape to Sweden, and to villages and families who hid, fed and helped Jews either to escape or to survive. By 1999 16,540 'righteous persons' had been honoured with this title. Over 5,000 are Polish, over 4,000 are Dutch, over 1,700 are French, over 1,200 are Ukrainian and over 1,000 are Belgian. 327 are German. 11 are British.

A leading Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, is seized in Argentina by Israeli secret police, who abduct him to Israel where he is tried and hanged. The pursuit of war criminals, and the capture of a few of them, is revived, and has continued to this day. Elie Wiesel, a survivor, publishes 'Night', a book about his experience during the Holocaust. The history of the Holocaust is now becoming more widely known and studied. Many survivors, however, find it very difficult to speak about the horrors they experienced. All lament that their own children have been deprived of an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum, opens.

Faced with a return of anti-Semitism in Poland, Polish Jews emigrate to Israel. A museum is opened at the site of Treblinka death camp.

First issue of 'The Voices of Auschwitz Survivors', a newsletter for survivors. In America the Simon Wiesenthal centre in Los Angeles is opened, named after the Viennese Austrian who has made the pursuit of Nazi war criminals his life's work. A Museum of Tolerance, containing a section devoted to the Holocaust, is added later.

First international gathering of Holocaust survivors, in Jerusalem.

Claude Lanzmann releases 'Shoah', his documentary film about the Holocaust and its aftermath.

With the collapse of communism several thousand Soviet Jewish survivors emigrate to Israel, America and also Germany.

In this decade new evidence of the savage persecution of Jews in Europe during the Second World War continues to appear. Disputes and claims over money and property confiscated at that time become more frequent, and reparation is sought for this and for the use of Jews as slave labourers in the factories of still-existing businesses. Public advertisements invite the submission of claims by due dates. The responsibility of the German people is revived as a controversial subject, after published research into civilian-staffed paramilitary and killing units. 'Holocaust denial' becomes a phenomenon, and an historian who promotes this view loses a highly-publicised court case. Active Neo-Nazism is also a growing problem in Germany and some other European countries.

A Holocaust museum is opened on the site of the former ghetto of Theresienstadt.

In the USA, film director Steven Spielberg (whose 1993 film 'Schindler's List' tells the story of a man who saved the lives of over 1,000 Jews) sets up the Shoah Foundation project to record the testimonies of survivors. Washington's Holocaust Memorial Museum opens, including a library of 100,000 books about the Holocaust. Since then Holocaust memorials and museums have opened in many other American cities, and elsewhere in the world, including Berlin.

Britain's first Holocaust memorial centre, Beth Shalom, opens.

The Imperial War Museum in London opens its permanent Holocaust Exhibition. On January 27 Britain's first national Holocaust Memorial Day is observed. It was thought that after the Holocaust genocide could and would never happen again; but it has, and part of the purpose of remembering genocide is to continue to strive to prevent it.

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