The Five Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis
Six million Jewish people were murdered during the genocide in Europe in the years leading up to 1945, and the Jews are rightly remembered as the group that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party most savagely persecuted during the Holocaust.
But the Nazis targeted many other groups: for their race, beliefs or what they did.
Historians estimate the total number of deaths to be 11 million, with the victims encompassing gay people, priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters.
Homosexual men, and to a lesser extent women, were compelled to renounce their sexuality under the Nazi regime. An estimated 100,000 were arrested and some sent to prisons, while between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps, where some were forced to wear pink triangles on their uniform to denote being gay. As many as 60% of those send to the camps perished, according to German LGBT scholar Rüdiger Lautmann.
Romani gypsies were the second-largest group of people killed on racial grounds in the Holocaust. They were considered outsiders and “racially impure” by the Nazis and up to 1.5 million died in what is also known as the Porajmos (“mass killing” in Romani.) Like Jews, Roma people were murdered, sent to camps and gassed or used for forced labour. But only in the 1970s did the West German Federal Parliament classify their persecution as being racially motivated, and scholars largely ignored their deaths until the 1980s.
Those with mental and physical illnesses were regarded by the Nazis as “unworthy of life”, leading to a clandestine program of mass murder, under the cover of ‘mercy killings’.
Institutions were turned into mass killing centers, with SS officers wearing lab coats to keep up the appearance of a medical program. Families were told their relatives had died from illness and given faked death certificates, when in reality up to 300,000 people in German and Austria were systematically murdered, usually in gas chambers disguised as showers. Their organs were used for experiments.
Many members of the Christian clergy were either threatened with deportation and kept in custody, or sent to camps. The Catholic Church was particularly suppressed in Poland, where nearly a fifth of all priests – around 3,000 – were killed between 1939 and 1945, most in concentration camps