We often hear about WWII and the 6 million Jews who perished as well. However, the millions of other victims are often overlooked and need to be given there consideration. Are the Jews Central to the holocaust? Was there really other people discriminated as much? The first research in the late 1940 s and early 1950s focused on the Jewishness of the Holocaust. Modern research has begun to deal with the suddering of other victims of the Nazi genocide. For example, homosexuals, Gypsies, prisoners of war, Russians, poles, Catholic priests, Jehovah s Witnesses and other were more or less systematically murdered as the Holocaust continued. By the end of the war, as many as 6 million of these people had been killed, along with between 5 to 6 million Jews.
Roma (Gypsies) were among the groups singled out on racial grounds for persecution by the Nazi regime and most of its allies. The Nazis judged Roma to be “racially inferior,” and the fate of Roma in some ways paralleled that of the Jews. Roma were subjected to internment, forced labor, and massacre. They were also subject to deportation to extermination camps.Mobile killing units killed tens of thousands of Roma in the German-occupied eastern territories. Further, thousands were killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka extermination camps. The Nazis also incarcerated thousands of Roma in the Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.
There were nonetheless several deportations of Roma. About 2,500 Roma were deported to Poland in April and May 1940. Most of them were starved and worked to death. Those who fell sick or became crippled were shot. Another 5,000 Roma were deported to Lodz, where they were held in a separate area within the Lodz ghetto. Those who survived the horrible conditions in the Lodz ghetto were later deported from the ghetto to the Chelmno extermination camp, where they were killed in gas vans. Roma in Germany were deported to Auschwitz, where a special camp was designated for them in Auschwitz.”Gypsy family camp.” Entire families were incarcerated together. Twins and dwarves, however, were separated out and subjected to medical experiments under SS Captain Dr. Josef Mengele. Nazi physicians also used Romani prisoners in medical experiments at the Ravensbrueck, Natzweiler-Struthof, and Sachsenhausen camps.
In German-occupied areas of Europe, the fate of Roma varied from country to country, depending on local circumstances. The Nazis generally interned Roma and later transported them to Germany or Poland for use as forced laborers or to be killed. Many Roma from Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Albania were shot or were deported to extermination camps and killed. In the Baltic states and the German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union, mobile killing units killed Roma at the same time that they killed Jews and Communist leaders. Thousands of Romani men, women, and children were killed in these actions. Many Roma were shot along with Jews at Babi Yar, near Kiev, for example.
The “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz was riddled with epidemics–typhus, smallpox, and dysentery–which severely reduced the camp population. In May 1944, the Germans decided to liquidate the camp. As the SS surrounded the camp, they were met by Roma armed with iron pipes and the like. The Germans retreated and postponed the liquidation. Later that same month, the SS transferred about 1,500 Roma who were still capable of work out of the family camp. Almost 1,500 more were transferred in August. The remaining Roma, about 3,000, were killed. At least 19,000 of the 23,000 Roma sent to Auschwitz died there.
It is not known precisely how many Roma were killed in the Holocaust. While exact figures or percentages cannot be ascertained, people estimate that the Germans and their allies killed between 25 and 50 percent of all European Roma. Of the approximately one million Roma living in Europe before the war, up to 220,000 were killed. After the war, discrimination against Roma continued as the Federal Republic of Germany decided that all measures taken against Roma before 1943 were legitimate policies of state and were not subject to restitution.
Historians in Germany argue about how universal the historical character of national socialism was. One conservative faction would like to view the communist system as responsible for fascism. Because Marxism was
victorious in Russia, the Fascist parties were able to win in Italy and Germany. This speculation claims that the destruction of social class distinctions by the Bolsheviks prepared the way for racial murders of the Nazis. The extermination of the Jews is presented as a distorted copy of a previous model, rather
than as a unique occurrence. Other social scientists have protested against viewing Nazi crimes in such a relativistic way. They see an aura of normality being created and fear that the basic anti fascist consensus in the Federal republic might end. They are also apprehensive about the analogy to current politics and warn against a restoration by means of history.
Extermination or Reeducation? The concentration camp was one
weapon in the campaign to bring state and society into conformity with fascism. If physical extermination formed the most frightful instrument of that policy, it was not the only one. A range of attempts were made to isolate people and to use fear to inhibit “undesirable” behavior. Whatever the reasons for imprisonment, all
incarcerations were the result of Nazi ideology and posed a danger to the prisoner’s life. The categories of prisoners differed from one another in how they were selected and treated. Those groups whom the Nazis deemed inimical but not racially undesirable were not completely rounded up, but taken only in random samples They also fared differently within the camps. Homosexuals, political prisoners, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the groups who were
sent to the concentration camps for reeducation. They were supposed to renounce their particular orientation. The very fact of their incarceration
restrained their ideological comrades outside the camps from becoming active in the struggle against Nazism.
deviations from the norm concern not only criminality but also sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and attitudes toward work. The Nazi system was concerned with deviations in all these areas. It classified political, sexual, religious, and working-attitude deviations in separate categories. In all probability, the Hitler state required these definitions of the enemy and was, in its own terms, correct in its choice of these groups. Within a society, minority and separation groups represent a seedbed of possible revolt. Homosexuality has always and everywhere existed. Hitler considered homosexuality as a predisposition that could not be changed. It was assumed that a homosexual orientation could not
be eliminated, that only its manifestations could be blocked. Thus, the pink triangle worn by the homosexual in the concentration camp represented the Nazis’ intention to reeducate him.
No credence was placed in a simple change of opinion by homosexuals, such as was granted to Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were not taken entirely seriously, or even to political prisoners. Two categories were seen among homosexuals: the constitutionally hard-boiled homosexual and the occasional offender. Since in neither case was the Aryan status of the homosexual in doubt, all could remain alive. If necessary, homosexuals were to be castrated, but they were permitted to continue to work. As a matter of policy, extermination was therefore restrained. In practice there were other contrary impulses on the part of the SS, and those who wore the pink triangle met an unusually harsh fate. The social controls directed at homosexuals within the camp represented a continuation and an intensification of social controls imposed by society at large.
A nation with many children can gain supremacy and mastery of the world. A pure race with few children already as one foot in the grave; in fifty or a hundred years it will be of no significance; in two hundred years it will be extinct. It is essential to realize that if we allow this infection to continue in Germany without being able to fight it, it will be the end of Germany, of the Germanic world. Unfortunately this is not the simple matter it was for our forefathers. For them, the few isolated cases were simply abnormalities; they drowned them in bogs. Those who found bodies in the mire did not know that in 90% of the cases they found themselves face to face with a homosexual who had been drowned with all his belongings. This was not punishment, more the simple elimination of this particular abnormality. It is vital we rid ourselves of them; like weed we must pull them up, throw them on the fire and burn them. This is not out of a spirit of vengeance, but of necessity; these creatures must be exterminated.
Heinrich Himmler, February 18, 1937