Polish citizens - Hitler's First Target
the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
to Witness: Growing Up
Black in Nazi Germany
of the Flames
Million Forgotten - Holocaust's Non-Jewish Victims
|Neighboring Poland - The First Target: "All Poles will disappear from the world.... It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles." Heinrich Himmler|
Hitler's first target was Germany's closest neighbor to the east, Poland. An agricultural country with little military power. Hitler attacked Poland from three directions on September 1, 1939 and in just over one month, Poland surrendered -- unable to defend itself against the powerful German prowess.
In Poland, Hitler saw an agricultural land in close proximity to Germany, populated by modest but strong and healthy farmers. Hitler quickly took control of Poland by specifically wiping out the Polish leading class -- the Intelligentsia. During the next few years, millions of other Polish citizens were rounded up and either placed in slave labor for German farmers and factories or taken to concentration camps where many were either 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 out. The Germans took over the ranches, farms and Polish factories. Most healthy citizens were forced into slave labor. Young Polish men were drafted into the German army. Blond haired children were "Germanized" and trained from an early age to be Nazi supporters. More on Polish Non-Jews
Every European 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 particularly 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..
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. Like the Jews, the Rom Gypsies also were a nomadic people that were persecuted throughout history. Both groups were denied certain privileges in many European countries. The Germans believed both the Jews and the 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.
Every European nation had its courageous resisters. Poland's Underground army - made up of children, teenagers, and regular 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. Even though most German citizens were supportive of Hitler's plan to control Europe, there were German citizens who died because they refused to go along with Hitler's plan.
Hitler wanted not only to conquer all of Europe, but Hitler 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 sought out by the Nazis very early. Thousands of Catholic priests and Christian 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.
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. The 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. "Members and Friends of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors"
The Nazis decided that it was a waste of time and money to support the disabled. During Hitler's "cleansing program", thousands of people with various handicaps were deemed useless and simply put to death like dogs and cats.
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 said 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 "Rhineland Bastards" to keep intact the purity of the Aryan race. In 1937, all local authorities in Germany were to submit a list of all the mulattos. 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.
Many husbands and wives of Jews in Germany were forced to choose between divorce or concentration camps. Hitler would not allow "interracial" marriages. Those that chose to remain married were punished by imprisonment in camps where many died. By: Terese Pencak Schwartz - Copyright 2012