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Adolf Hitler surrounded himself with a small clique of fanatical, ruthless henchmen - a violent group of outsiders who rose to power in the Third Reich and established political and economic institutions of legitimized terror.

His SS Men
wor
e black uniforms with a skeleton's head on their hats, the motto Unsere Ehre heisst Treue on their belts and their symbol was the double S-rune. These masterminds of death had sworn eternal faith to Hitler and they were men often seen as the very personifications of evil.

Hitler's henchmen were found to be quite psychologically normal. They were men of fine standing, husbands who morning and night kissed their wives, fathers who tucked their children into bed.

But inhuman acts were an everyday occurrence - killings, mass gassing of men, women and children, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, medical experiments ..

In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed by the SS Men. The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews.



But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.

The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of the children will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of handicapped children.

Plucked from their homes and stripped of their childhoods, the children had witnessed the murder of parents, siblings, and relatives. They faced starvation, illness and brutal labor, until they were consigned to the gas chambers.


Holocaust Deaths

Country/Region

Estimate

Germany (1938 Borders)

130,000

Austria

65,000

Belgium & Luxembourg

29,000

Bulgaria

7,000

Czechoslovakia

277,000

France

83,000

Greece

65,000

Hungary & Ukraine

402,000

Italy

8,000

Netherlands

106,000

Norway

760

Poland & USSR

4,565,000

Romania

220,000

Yugoslavia

60,000

TOTAL

6,017,760


   Source:
Nizkor Project statistics derived from Yad Vashem and Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution.

 

The Holocaust is a history of enduring horror and sorrow. It seems as though there is no spark of human concern, no act of humanity, to lighten that dark history. In his book Sheltering The Jews the Holocaust historian Mordecai Paldiel later wrote:

"Never before in history had children been singled out for destruction for no other reason than having been born. Children, of course, were no match for the Nazis' mighty and sophisticated killing machine .."


The Holocaust survivor, the author Elie Wiesel, has dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget what happened to the Jews. The Nobel Prize recipient wrote:

"In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted an attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care."



- Louis Bülow
  www.auschwitz.dk

 

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