Children in the Holocaust
The children involved in the Holocaust were perhaps some of the most vulnerable victims of all. Hitler and his men advocated the murder of children that were a part of dangerous or unwanted groups, based on views or religions. There were an estimated 1.5 million or more children killed as a result of this 'racial struggle', including Jewish children, Romani children, Polish children, Soviet children, and German children that had mental or physical disabilities that caused them to be institutionalized. Essentially, if they weren't useful or they were a perceived threat, they were done away with according to Hitler's orders.
Teenagers and adolescents were much more likely to survive this ordeal because they could be put into forced labor. The 13-18 age group of Jewish and non-Jewish children was more likely to survive as they could be useful provided that they were not part of an unwanted group or culture. There were essentially five fates for children of the Holocaust:
-Children who were killed during 'anti-partisan' operations
-Children who were put into forced labor and used for medical experimentation
-Children killed when they arrived at camps or killing centers
-Children born in camps or ghettos who survived by being hidden
-Children killed in institutions or immediately after birth
Many of the children who weren't directly killed at the hands of the Nazis died from starvation, disease, exposure, and other conditions in the ghettos and camps where they were required to stay. German authorities were not concerned with this because ghetto children were 'unproductive' and therefore took up valuable space and resources since they weren't able to work in the forced labor camps. Typically, these children were first on the list for killing camps and mass graves, alongside the disabled, ill, and elderly populations.
Children were put in many different situations in the concentration camps and killing centers. Those that were not immediately killed were starved, forced to live in deplorable conditions, and put to work if they were old enough to be part of the labor force. Others were employed in medical experimentation that often led to their death. Even non-Jewish children weren't safe from the many fates at the hands of Nazis.
Of course, there are other children of the Holocaust. These children were on the other side of the genocide war, living happy childhood lives as their fathers and grandfathers served under Hitler's reign and killed millions of men, women, and children. Many had no idea that their ancestors weren't heroes until much later in life, and most have struggled to come to terms with their heritage because of their descent from murderers, war criminals, and sadists.