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What is a holocaust?

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The word holocaust has been used since the 18th century to refer to the violent deaths of a large number of people. For example, Winston Churchill and other contemporaneous writers used it before World War II to describe the Armenian Genocide of World War I. Since the 1950s its use has increasingly been restricted, with its usage now mainly used as a proper noun to describe the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany on the Jews between 1939-1945.

Holocaust was adopted as a translation of Shoah—a Hebrew word connoting catastrophe, calamity, disaster, and destruction

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