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Holocaust: Non-Jewish Victims
Newsletter: Volume 1, Issue 1 F

Five Million Often Forgotten

The Holocaust is usually taught as the mass genocide of almost six million Jews in Europe during World War II. But, more than five million others were also persecuted, tortured, tattooed and killed. These five million included innocent citizens - men women and children. The survivors and the families of these five million often feel left out -- overshadowed by the Jewish casualties. Nonetheless, these people need to be recognized and memorialized. Many of these died for their race or their beliefs. Many of these died while helping their Jewish neighbors. They too deserve their place in history.

POLAND - Hitler's First Target

"All Polish people will disappear from the world….It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles." H. Himmler

Hitler's first target was Poland, an agricultural country with little military power and Germany's closest neighbor to the east. Hitler invaded Poland from three directions on September 1, 1939. In just over one month, Poland was forced to surrender -- unable to defend itself against the powerful German prowess. Hitler saw Poland as a rich agricultural land populated mostly by modest but strong and healthy farmers. Hitler quickly took control of Poland by specifically wiping the Polish leading class -- the Intelligentsia.

During the next few years, millions of other Polish citizens were rounded up and placed in slave labor for German farmers and factories or taken to concentration camps where many were starved and worked to death or used for scientific experiments. The Jews in Poland were forced inside ghettos, but the non-Jews were made prisoners inside their own country. No one was allowed to leave the country. The Germans took over the ranches, farms and factories. Most healthy citizens were forced into slave labor. Polish men were drafted into the German army. Blond children were "Germanized" and trained from an early age to be Nazi supporters - many taken from their parents to be raised by German families.

Of the 11 million people killed during the Holocaust, six million were Polish citizens. Three million were Polish Jews and another three million were Polish Catholics.

Hitler - the Ultimate Racist

Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 when Germany was experiencing severe economic hardship. Hitler promised the Germans that he would bring them prosperity and power. Hitler had a vision of a Master Race of Aryans that would control Europe. He used powerful propaganda techniques to convince not only the German people, but countless others, that if they eliminated the people who stood in their way and the degenerates and racially inferior, they - "the great Germans" would prosper.

Afro-Europeans: Mandatory Sterilization for Black Youth

Prior to World War I, there were very few dark-skinned people of African descent in Germany. But, during World War I, black African soldiers were brought in by the French during the Allied occupation. Most of the Germans, who were very race conscious, despised the dark-skinned "invasion". Some of these black soldiers married white German women that bore children referred to as "Rhineland Bastards" or the "Black Disgrace". In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that he would eliminate all the children born of African-German descent because he considered them an "insult" to the German nation. "The mulatto children came about through rape or the white mother was a whore," Hitler wrote. "In both cases, there is not the slightest moral duty regarding these offspring of a foreign race." The Nazis set up a secret group, Commission Number 3, to organize the sterilization of these offspring to keep intact the purity of the Aryan race. In 1937, all local authorities in Germany were to submit a list of all the children of African descent. Then, these children were taken from their homes or schools without parental permission and put before the commission. Once a child was decided to be of black descent, the child was taken immediately to a hospital and sterilized. About 400 children were medically sterilized -- many times without their parents' knowledge.

Jehovah Witnesses: Stood Firm

Every country, even Germany, had those who did not believe in the Nazi ideology and who were willing to die for their beliefs. Perhaps no other group stood so firmly in their beliefs as the Jehovah Witnesses. Hitler felt very threatened by this strong group of Christians because they, from the very beginning, refused to recognize any God other than Jehovah. When asked to sign documents of loyalty to the Nazi ideology, they refused. Jehovah Witnesses were forced to wear purple armbands and thousands were imprisoned as "dangerous" traitors because they refused to take a pledge of loyalty to the Third Reich.

Gypsies: Executed for Their Race

Like the Jews, the Rom Gypsies were chosen for total annihilation just because of their race. Even though Jews are defined by religion, Hitler saw the Jewish people as a race that he believed needed to be completely annihilated. The Rom Gypsies also were a nomadic people that were persecuted throughout history. Both groups were denied certain privileges in many European countries. The Nazis believed that both the Jews and Gypsies were racially inferior and degenerate and therefore worthless. Like the Jews, the Gypsies were also moved into special areas set up by the Nazis. Half a million Gypsies, almost the entire Eastern European Gypsy population, was wiped out during the Holocaust.

No Need for the Disabled

The Nazis decided that it was a waste of time and money to support the handicapped. During Hitler's "cleansing program", thousands of people with various disabilities were deemed useless and simply put to death like dogs and cats.

Homosexuals: Pink Triangles

Because Hitler's plan for a great Master Race had no room for any homosexuals, many males from all nations, including Germany, were persecuted, tortured and executed. Hitler even searched his own men and found suspected homosexuals that were sent to concentration camps wearing their S.S. uniforms and medals. Homosexual inmates were forced to wear pink triangles on their clothes so they could be easily recognized and further humiliated inside the camps. Between 5,000 to 15,000 homosexuals died in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Priests and Christian Leaders Killed For Their Religious Beliefs

Hitler wanted not only to conquer all of Europe, but he also wanted to create a new religion and to replace Jesus Christ as a person to be worshipped. Hitler expected his followers to worship the Nazi ideology. Since Catholic priests and Christian pastors were often influential leaders in their community, they were targeted by the Nazis. Thousands of priests and pastors were forced into concentration camps. A special barracks was set up at Dachau, the camp near Munich, Germany, for clergymen. A few survived; some were executed, but most were allowed to die slowly of starvation or disease.

Those That Resisted: Men and Women of Courage from All Nations

Every European nation had its brave resisters. Poland's underground army - made up of children, teens, and civilian men and women - was responsible for defending the lives of thousand of its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. Many were killed for their acts of courage against the Nazis. In Germany, most citizens supported Hitler's plan to control Europe. But, even in this dominated country, there were people who died because they refused to go along with Hitler's plan.

© 1999 - 2012 Terese Pencak Schwartz
Special permission is given to educators to print this Newsletter for non-profit classroom purposes.

This newsletter is published by Terese Pencak Schwartz, 4607 Lakeview Canyon Rd. #367, Westlake Village, California 91361. E-Mail Terese Pencak Schwartz.

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