Other Victims of the Holocaust

Although the phrase holocaust victims usually refers to Jews, millions of members of other groups and nationalities who were considered inferior were killed by the Nazis. Along with Jews, the Nazis targeted Slavic people, Polish people, Russians and gypsies and anybody who did not belong to the Aryan race. The mentally retarded, the deaf, homosexuals, the physically disabled, religious dissidents and opponents were also systematically killed. When adding up all those killed by the Nazis, the number reaches a staggering 11 million people.

The question always asked is why did Hitler kill 11 million people? It is first important to understand Hitler's maniacal ideologies. Hitler came to power in 1933 as Germany was in the midst of a severe economic depression. He maintained his power by promising the German people prosperity and wealth and that only through his military planning and actions would Germany attain its status as a world power. Hitler put forth his Aryan master race plan that he claimed would control all of Europe. Using some very conniving, effective and compelling propaganda, he was able to convince the German people that if they annihilated all the people who were "unwanteds," degenerates and all those who obstructed the plan, the Germans would become great and powerful.

Poland was Hitler's first target. Poland was a country that was militarily weak and surrendered within one month. Hitler proceeded to wipe out Poland's leading class, the intelligentsia, and rounded up millions of Polish citizens and sent them to forced labor on farms or in factories while others were sent to concentration camps to meet their deaths. Young Poles were conscripted into the German army and those with blond hair were "Germanized" and trained as Nazis.

In Germany and in other countries, there were those who opposed the Nazi ideology and were ready to fight and die for their beliefs. The Jehovah's Witnesses was one of those groups that refused to recognize Hitler and were considered dangerous traitors. They were forced to wear purple armbands and many were imprisoned and killed.

The Roma Gypsies and the Jews were both chosen for total destruction and annihilation strictly because of their race. Although Jews were characterized by their religion, nevertheless Hitler viewed them as a race that had to be eradicated. The Roma Gypsies were also a group that throughout history had been persecuted. Just as with the Jews, Hitler believed that the Gypsies were decadent, depraved and inferior. Almost the entire Gypsy population of Eastern Europe, nearly half a million people, were killed.

Hitler's plan was not only to rule over all of Europe, but he also wanted to make a new religion which would replace Jesus as the deity people worshiped. He wanted the followers of this new religion to worship the Nazi beliefs. He wanted the Christian pastors and Catholic priests to influence their followers to change beliefs. As they refused, thousands of religious leaders were forced into concentration camps where they were executed or starved to death.

In keeping with Hitler's "cleansing program," it was considered a waste of money and a waste of time to sustain the mentally and physically disabled. Thousands of people with various handicaps were rounded up and put to death. Also as part of the program, homosexuals were not tolerated. Male homosexuals from any country including Germany were sent to concentration camps and were forced to wear pink triangles on their clothing in order to humiliate them even further.

During World War I and during the Allied occupation of Germany, France brought over black African soldiers who stayed in Germany after the war. Most German citizens despised the "invasion" of the dark-skinned people. Hitler made good on his promise of cleaning Germany, and killed most of the black Africans because he called them an insult to the German nation.

Those of the Jewish faith who intermarried were faced with a dilemma. Hitler did not allow "interracial" marriages, which meant either divorce or getting sent to concentration camps. Many chose to remain married and were sent to concentration camps and were killed.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution
Henry Friedlander.
University of North Carolina Press, 1995
From `Mercy Death' to Genocide: Julian Reed-Purvis Examines the Origins and Consequences of Nazi Euthanasia. (the Unpredictable Past)
Reed-Purvis, Julian.
History Review, March 2003
Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans
Eric A. Johnson.
Basic Books, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Paying the Price of Resistance: Jehovah's Witnesses" begins on p. 238
The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies
Guenter Lewy.
Oxford University Press, 2000
National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria
Erika Thurner; Gilya Gerda Schmidt.
University of Alabama Press, 1998
The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust
Donald Niewyk; Francis Nicosia.
Columbia University Press, 2000
Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath
Joshua D. Zimmerman.
Rutgers University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust"
Bent Straight: The Destruction of Self in Martin Sherman's Bent
Sterling, Eric.
Journal of European Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Answering for the Past, Shaping the Future: In Memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Huber, Wolfgang.
The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 47, No. 3, July 1995
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