The Facts and Figures
- Persecution of minorities varied
- Families with hereditary illnesses were compulisory sterilised- over 300,000 men and women were forcefully sterilised between 1934 & 45
- A 'euthansia' programme was begun in 1939
- At least 5000 severly disabled babies and children were killed between 1939 & 45, by injection or starvation
- Between 1939 and 41, 72000 mentally ill patients were gassed before a public outcry
- However, there was no complaint about the extermination of gypsies, 5 out of 6 gypsies in germany were killed in 1939
- There was little complaint about the treatment of 'asocials'- homosexuals, prostitutes, beggars, criminals and the homeless, who were rounded up off the streets & sent to concentration camps
- Jews had experienced discrimination for hundreds of years, they were blamed for the death of Jesus and people were jealous because they were educated and had good jobs
- Hitler hated the Jews, in his years of poverty he became obseesed by the fact jews had sucesful businesses and department stores. He blamed for Germany's defeated in WWI
- When Hitler took power in 1933 he immediately took action:
- Jews were banned from public service jobs
- The SA & SS enforced boycotts of jewish shops
- In 1935 the Nuremburg laws:
- Took away citizenship from Jews
- They were forbidden to marry Aryans
- Goebbels bombarded Germany with anti-jewish messages and they were refused jobs, not served in shops and segregated from society
Kristallnacht to the Death Camps
In November 1938 a young jew killed a diplomat in Paris, and this was used as an exscuse to launch a violent revenge. Plain clothes SS officers were issued to destroy jewish homes and businesses. People were told that this was a reaction of ordinary people, but no one believed this. It was the day the Germans fully realised what was going on.
After the outbreak of war, persecution got intenser. After defeating Poland, it had to be 'Germanised' and jews were sent to live in sealed ghettos and were used as slave labour. When Russia was invaded, the Nazis found there were an additional 3 million jews, so to solve this they ordered shootings of jews by members of the SS called Einsatzgruppen.
In January 1942, Nazis had a conference at Wanasee To discuss 'the final solution to the jewish question' and it was decided Himmler (head of the Gestapo & SS) would be in charge. Death camps were built at many places. The able bodied were used as slave labour, the rest killed, some used for appalling medical experiments. Countless millions were killed.
Was it planned from the start and resistance
- Intentionalists believe that the final solution was the long term plan of Hitler, Srtucturalists say there was no clear plan, the policy evolved.
- It is hard to tell as there is little evidence or records but eventually it was down to Hitler, but wouldn't have worked without Police forces, the SS, armed forces, Industry and the German people
- However, some escaped before the killing or lived in hiding
- There were 28 known jewish fighting groups
- In 1945 the jews at the warsaw ghetto rose up against the Nazis & held out for 4 weeks and 5 concentration camps saw uprisings
- Many people helped the jews by hiding them, smuggling them our or protecting them such as Oskar Schindler & Raoul Wallenberg
- However, the most sucessful resistors were low profile and not discovered by Nazis, or historians today