There were many events leading up to the Holocaust, and it is perhaps unfair to claim that the Holocaust “mainly” happened in 1944, after the death camps were activated and placed into full operations throughout Germany. Although the “Final Solution” came into being officially in 1944, the death camps had already been operating at a lower level in secret and had led to many deaths.
Likewise, it is important to understand that there were many different victims of the Holocaust and that they came from all walks of life. About six million Jews were killed, among them one million Jewish children. The Jewish people hold the deepest memory of the Holocaust because Hitler’s goal was to wipe out Jews all throughout Europe.
However, Hitler and the Nazis also used the Holocaust to “purge” Germany of many others who they considered to be inferior. Some of these people were targeted because they were threats to the regime. Others were “undesirables” who were executed so that they would not taint the “Aryan” people of Germany.
Here is a Holocaust article summarizing some of the other major groups of victims:
Poles: Poland was one of the countries in Europe with the most active military resistance to Hitler, and it also had one of the largest population of Jews in Europe at that time. Over a million died in the ghettos.
Russia: Although Hitler worked with Stalin to rearm Nazi Germany and to terrorize the Polish people into compliance, Hitler and many other Nazis considered Russians to be inferior. They looked forward to a day when Soviet Russia could be crushed and its people turned into slaves in service to Nazi “pioneers.”
Communists: Although the Nazi ideology was called “National Socialism,” it is important to understand that this name is also a propaganda ploy. The Nazis were fascists, believing that moneyed interests, the government, and the military should work together. They eradicated Communists as Stalinist enemies.
Intellectuals: Anyone who had the education and the influence to stand against Nazi race theories was considered dangerous. College professors were victims of targeted campaigns of intimidation, and some were deported.
Clergy: Although Hitler could not risk acting openly against the Catholic Church, Nazi thugs intimidated, spied on and stalked members of the clergy to threaten them into silence.
Others included gays and lesbians, the ill or disabled, and those with mental disabilities. Anyone who did not fit Hitler’s vision of the “perfect” German could be targeted!
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