Worsening Nazi treatment of Jews
As early as 1933, the Nazis had been sending people to concentration camps. Initially, these camps were located in Germany (like Dachau and Bergen-Belsen) and were used for "undesirable" people: To the Nazis, these undesirable people included Communists, Democrats, Socialists, political prisoners, homosexuals, and Jews. During the war, these camps also held Soviet prisoners of war and slave labourers. Executions were commonplace, and most inmates of the camps were simply worked to death. It wasn't until later, however, that the camps came to be associated with Jews. The death camps, on the other hand, were intended only for the Jews from the beginning; these were the camps the Nazis created in order to exterminate them.
As the Nazi control spread through Europe, the deportation of Jews to concentration camps and death camps grew: Between 1939 and 1941, Austria, Hungary, and even France (led by the Vichy government) deported Jews. Although Germany had been removing Jews from Germany for some time, it wasn't until 1941 that the Nazis began a massive deportation of Jews. The ghettos of Poland were another Nazi creation. To get the Lebensraum he wanted from Poland, Hitler needed to clear the Jews from the Polish countryside. To do this, the Nazis forced the Jewish population to sections of cities, which they were then forbidden to leave. Often, walls surrounded these areas, which were patrolled by heavily armed guards, trapping the people within. By 1942, as the Nazis implemented the last phases of the Final Solution, Jews were being sent from ghettos, concentration camps, and transit camps (essentially way stations) to their deaths.
Each ghetto had a Jewish council (the Judenrat), which was responsible for ensuring that people followed Nazi policies. The council, made up of rabbis and other leaders in the Jewish community, was also responsible for distributing food, policing the ghetto, and taking care of the health and...