|Niemollers Poem and Address|
Pastor Martin Niemoller, Berlin, 1939
"In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Approximately 11 million people were killed because of Nazi genocidal policy.
5 million of those murdered were non-Jewish.
Others were Nazi victims because of what they did, who they were, their genetic or cultural origins, or health conditions.
It was the explicit aim of Hitler's regime to create a European world both dominated and populated by the Aryan race. The Nazi machinery was dedicated to eradicating millions of people it deemed undesirable.
Some people were undesirable by Nazi standards because of who they were, their genetic or cultural origins, or health conditions. These included Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other Slavs, and people with physical or mental disabilities.
Others were Nazi victims because of what they did. These victims of the Nazi regime included Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, the dissenting clergy, Communists, Socialists, ‘asocial’s, and other political enemies.
Those believed by Hitler and the Nazis to be enemies of the state were banished to camps. Inside the concentration camps, prisoners were forced to wear various coloured triangles, each colour denoting a different group.
The letters on the triangular badges designated the prisoners' countries of origin.
Poles and other Slavs
Christian Poles and other Slavs, notably Ukrainians and Byelorussians, were also primary targets of Nazi Germany hatred during World War II.
To the Nazis, the Slavs were considered Untermenschen,or subhumans, and nothing more than obstacles to gaining territory necessary for the superior German race.
There was not one badge designation for Poles and other Slavs. Rather, a Polish or Slavic person was categorized as a criminal, asocial, political prisoner, and so on.
The Roma, a nomadic people believed to have come originally from northwest India, consisted of several tribes or nations.
|Roma prisoners in concentration camp|
Most of the Roma who had settled in Germany belonged to the Sinti nation.
The Sinti and Roma had been persecuted for centuries. The Nazi regime continued the persecution, viewing the Roma both as asocial and as racially inferior to Germans.
Like Jews, they were deprived of their civil rights. In June 1936, a Central Office to "Combat the Gypsy Nuisance" opened in Munich. By 1938, Sinti and Roma were being deported to concentration camps.
By 1943, a large area of the camp complex Auschwitz-Birkenau was assigned to house deported Sinti and Roma.
|Chart showing concentration camp badges|
The number of inmates is estimated to have been some 23,000. Many became the victim of medical experiments; others died of exhaustion or were suffocated by poison gas.
The camp was dissolved in August 1944. Many of its prisoners were murdered or transferred to other camps. Gypsies wore brown cloth triangles.
A state policy of persecution of homosexuals began in Germany in 1933.
Publications by and about homosexuals were prohibited and burned.
In 1934, a special Gestapo division on homosexuals was set up. German police raided gay clubs and bars and made arrests.
Some homosexuals spent time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000-15,000 were sent to concentration camps.
Those defined as homosexuals were designated by a triangle of pink cloth attached to their clothing.
In 1933, the Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany totaled about twenty thousand.
In 1934, Jehovah's Witnesses attempted to fend off Nazi attacks by having congregations send letters to the government explaining their beliefs and political neutrality.
The group was banned by national law in April 1935. Those Witnesses who defied the ban on their activities were arrested and sent to prisons and concentration camps.
Jehovah’s witnesses were marked with purple triangular badges. Approximately 2,500 to 5,000 died in Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and other camps.
Physical & Mentally Disabled
These people never were assigned a badge because they were rarely sent to concentration camps.
Persons with physical or mental disabilities threatened the Nazi plan for human "perfection."
In 1934, forced sterilization programs sterilized 300,000 - 400,000 people, mainly those in mental hospitals and other institutions.
Political and religious Dissidents
The remnants of the Communist and Socialist parties and members of the trade unions resisted the Nazi regime.
|Pastor Martin Niemoller|
As did any members of the clergy, of all denominations, who like Pastor Martin Niemöller , opposed Adolf Hitler's efforts to bring the German churches under control of the Nazis.
He also founded the Pastors' Emergency League, a group, among its other activities, helped combat rising discrimination against Christians of Jewish background.
In 1937, Niemoller was imprisoned for four years in solitary confinement and eventually sent to Sachsenhausen and then to Dachau concentration camps, he was moved in 1945 to the Tirol, where Allied forces freed him at the end of World War II.
In the early years of the Third Reich, political prisoners were a significant portion of the concentration camp inmates. At the end of July 1933, about 27,000 political prisoners were being held in concentration camps in "protective custody."
Dachau was always a camp for political prisoners.
|Nazi's promoted racist propaganda |
When the Nazis came to power there were hundreds of African-German
children living in the Rhineland, the offspring of German mothers and African soldiers brought in during the French occupation.
Hitler claimed these children were part of a Jewish plot to begin "bastardising
the European continent at its core." Under the Nazi regime, African-German
children were labeled "Rhineland Bastards" and forcibly sterilized.