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An estimated 20,000–30,000 Jewish partisans actively fought against the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe.The earliest use of the word holocaust to denote a massacre recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1833 when the journalist Leitch Ritchie, describing the wars of the medieval French monarch Louis VII, wrote that he "once made a holocaust of thirteen hundred persons in a church", a massacre by fire of the inhabitants of Vitry-le-François in 1142.Nazis established a network of concentration camps starting in 1933 and ghettos following the outbreak of World War II in 1939.In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews, partisans, and others often in mass shootings.By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers.This continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945. The most notable exception was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, when thousands of poorly-armed Jewish fighters held the Waffen-SS at bay for four weeks.
Under the coordination of the SS, following directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics and the carrying out of the genocide.Some definitions of the Holocaust include the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to about 11 million.Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany, German-occupied territories and territories held by allies of Nazi Germany.The English poet John Milton had used the word to denote a conflagration in his 1671 poem Samson Agonistes and the word gradually developed to mean a massacre thereon.
All branches of Germany's bureaucracy were engaged in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar, Michael Berenbaum, has called "a genocidal state".
Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process.