Non-Jewish Survivors and Victims
Harry W. Mazal answers:
I am one of the persons in the Holocaust History Project who responds to queries from our readers. It is possible that some of my colleagues will also respond to your question.
There are a number of organizations who represent the interest of non- Jewish victims of the Nazis. You might want to visit the following sites:
If there is any information in particular that these sites don't offer, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Harry W. Mazal OBE
Yale F. Edeiken answers:
I am one of the people who answers questions for The Holocaust History Project:
The list of groups persecuted by the Third Reich is, really, a long one.
There were several groups persecuted because the racist philosophy behind National Socialism taught that they were sub-human. The most notable of these groups was the Jews, but the Slavs were also included. A more difficult problem is the Roma and Sinta (better known as Gypsies). At first the Nazis thought that they could be "re-educated." In about 1940, the Nazis changed their minds and decided to exterminate them as they did the Jews.
The second major group were religious people. Part of this was that the leadership of the Third Reich was committed to an eventual wiping out of traditional religions. The group that felt the brunt of this attack were the Jehovah's Witnesses. In Poland almost 3,000 Catholic priests were murdered; this was about 1/3 of the parish priests in that country.
The third major group were those that the Nazis thought would resist the over-all plan of National Socialism. In Germany, the first victims were the socialists. In Poland and the Soviet Union, the intellectual elites were targeted for murder. In all areas conquered by the Third Reich dissenters were targeted for persecution.
The fourth major group was the population of many of the occupied countries. Their rations were cut to the point of starvation and they were placed under a harsh and repressive rule. In Poland about 3,000,000 people (about 10% of the population) died as a result of the Nazi occupation. Even in countries where the Nazi occupation was not a harsh as in eastern Europe -- the Netherlands, for example -- there was severe persecution of the citizens.
The final major group persecuted by the Nazis were the Germans themselves. They were placed under a regime that deprived them of all human rights. The system of criminal justice was perverted to the point that even those acquitted of crimes were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Further, in a program of "euthanasia" about 150,000 Germans were murdered because they were "life not worthy of life." This group included crippled children and mental patients.
There are many books that tell of the various persecutions. Unless you are interested in a specific group I suggest you begin with William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which will give you a good idea of how Hitler treated the people under his control.
I hope this answers your question.
--Yale F. Edeiken
I just got into a horrible argument with a friend, who is Russian, who claims that the Communists were as hated by the Nazis as the jews, and thus, murdered with as much, from the same agenda. I vehemently disagreed, and feel this must be leftover Soviet propaganda... and I said that although Hitler said they were both evil, the Jews were his, and the Nazis', primary focus for elimination. Furthemore, is it not true that the jews were singled out as the only group Hitler wanted to eradicate from the face of the earth?
Yale F. Edeiken answers:
Unfortunately your friend was correct in both respects.
There are numerous orders, including the orders given to the Einsatzgruppen (the murderers sent into the Soviet Union to accomplish the genocide planned by the Third Reich) to murder "commisars." In fact, those orders predate the order to murder Jews. There are also order issued to other groups, such as those in charge of prisoner of war camps to locate and murder captured soldiers who were adherents of the Communist Party. This was confirmed by Otto Ohlendorff, the commander of Einsatzgruppen D, when he testified at his trial. At that time he confirmed the eradication of the "commisars" although unlike the Jews, their familes were not to be murdered.
Nor were the Jews the only ethnic group targeted for eradication. The "gypsies" (and they should be referred to as "Romany") were targeted as well. At his trial Otto Ohlendorff, when asked about the Romany, stated that they were to be treated the same as Jews. There was a Romany camp at Auschwitz and many wer fassed just as the Jews were. The ROmany refer to this period as "the devouring."
Additionaly, Jews and Romany were just the first of te groups that the national socialists targeted for extermination. Had that evil regime been allowed to continue there were other ethnic groups -- such as the Slavs -- and some religious groups -- such as Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses -- that would likely have been targeted for eradication as well.
--Yale F. Edeiken
The Holocaust History Project
Hello, my name is XXXX and I am doing a history project on the holocaust. I need to know the answer to my question by the 20th of May so please hurry. I need to know who else were killed by the Nazis in the holocaust(except Jews) and why they were killed. Thank you.
Ralf P. Loserth answers:
I am one of the persons who answers question for the Holocaust History Project.
Thanks very much for your question.
By far, the Jews were the largest single group of people singled out for killing by the Nazis, but many others were also identified to be undesirable. Some of these included the mentally ill, homosexuals, gypsies and Jehovah's Witnesses. A colleague of mine, Gordon McFee has written an excellent article on the subject at http://www.holocaust-history.org/jews-central/; please feel free to read it. Thanks again for your question.
Ralf P. Loserth
Richard J. Green responds:Thanks for your question to the Holocaust History Project. I am one of the people who answers such question.
We at the Holocaust History Project do not write out other nations that were torn apart, nor do we ignore other lives that were lost. It is true beyond doubt that our website only tells a small part of the story of the crimes of the Nazis. No site could possibly tell the whole story. We are always building, however. There are many aspects that we need to address more completely, for example the Project Reinhard Camps.
As for the role of Poles, and other nationalities, we do have articles and links to other sites about many of these issues. Might I politely suggest that a more complete look at our site is in order before accusing us of intentionally writing people out of history?
In particular, I suggest the following links:
Forgotten Holocaust http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/
Unfortunately, your question was more of a polemic than a question. If you have legitimate questions about trying to learn more about what happened to non-Jewish victims of the Nazis, we are happy to help, but this service is really meant for such legitimate questions, not unfounded accusations.
In short, the claim that we have "intentionally" written anyone out of history is inaccurate, inadequately researched, and presumptuous.
Hi At your website (http://www.holocaust-history.org/questions/non-jewish.shtml ) you state (in reference to the Gypsies [Roma/Sinta]: At first the Nazis thought that they could be "re-educated." In about 1940, the Nazis changed their minds and decided to exterminate them as they did the Jews. Does this not however make it sound as if the Nazis had decided on a policy of exterminating the Jews of Europe by 1940? My understanding is that this decision was not finalized until the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, and that even the activities of the Einsatzgruppen could not have taken place before the second half of 1941, after the invasion of the Soviet Union (although you could argue that those killings [primarily shootings] were already planned in 1940, I am not aware that that has ever been proven conclusively [as indeed the plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union itself had not been finalized at the time, if I remember correctly, Hitler was still occupied with the possibility of defeating Britain]). Thank you.
Gord McFee Responds:Hi, I am one of the volunteers who answers these questions. Although I am not certain, I believe my colleague meant that the decision to classify Gypsies in the same way as Jews, i.e. treat them as Jews, was taken in 1940. The actual decision to exterminate the Jews was likely taken in 1941. See:
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Last modified: January 3, 2004