The National Socialist German Workers’ Party—also known as the Nazi Party—was the far-right racist and antisemitic political party led by Adolf Hitler. The Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933. It controlled all aspects of German life and persecuted German Jews. Its power only ended when Germany lost World War II.
Persecution of Jews and other groups was not solely the result of measures originating with Adolf Hitler and other Nazi zealots. Nazi leaders required the active help or cooperation of professionals working in diverse fields who in many instances were not convinced Nazis. The German medical profession played a central role in shaping and implementing many Nazi policies. A high number of doctors and nurses supported the regime, and many became complicit in Nazi crimes.
Janusz Korczak was a well-known doctor and author who ran a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw from 1911 to 1942. Korczak and his staff stayed with their children even as German authorities deported them all to their deaths at Treblinka in August 1942.
Throughout the 1930s, Charles E. Coughlin was one of the most influential men in the United States. He was a Catholic priest in the metro Detroit area who became politically active. Foreshadowing modern talk radio and televangelism, Coughlin led radio broadcasts that reached tens of millions listeners. He broadcast religious services with political overtones and expressed antisemitic views. He also voiced pro-Nazi opinions that made him a person of interest for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1942.
Persecution of Jews and other groups did not result solely from measures originating with Hitler and other Nazi zealots. Nazi leaders required the active help or cooperation of professionals working in diverse fields who in many instances were not convinced Nazis. Germany’s policemen played a key role in the consolidation of Nazi power and persecution and mass murder of Jews and other groups.
The Wannsee Protocol is one of the most important surviving German documents on the Holocaust.
The word Aryan has a long history. Initially, it was used to refer to groups of people who spoke a variety of related languages, including most of the European ones and several Asian ones. Over time, however, the word took on new and different meanings. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, some scholars and others transformed the Aryans into a mythical “race” that they claimed was superior to other races. In Germany, the Nazis promoted this false notion that glorified the German people as members of the "Aryan race," while denigrating Jews, Black people, and Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) as “non-Aryans.”
Benjamin B. Ferencz has devoted his life to creating an international system of justice that protects everyone's right to live in peace with dignity. As a war crimes investigator and a Nuremberg prosecutor, he witnessed the horrifying effects of Nazi crimes. He became convinced that the world can prevent such atrocities only by outlawing and systematically punishing aggressive war and acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Nazi authorities created the Lebensborn program to increase Germany’s population. Pregnant German women deemed “racially valuable” were encouraged to give birth to their children at Lebensborn homes. During World War II, the program became complicit in the kidnapping of foreign children with physical features considered “Aryan” by the Nazis.
Beginning in 1933, the Nazis took control of and subsequently transformed the police forces of the Weimar Republic into instruments of state repression and, eventually, of genocide. They did so by Nazifying policing. The new government removed anti-Nazi police leaders, reorganized Germany’s police forces, and reoriented police culture towards Nazism.
In late September 1941, SS and German police units and their auxiliaries perpetrated one of the largest massacres of World War II. It took place at a ravine called Babyn Yar (Babi Yar) just outside the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv.
The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators. The Holocaust was an evolving process that took place throughout Europe between 1933 and 1945.
SS physician Josef Mengele conducted inhumane medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz. He was the most prominent of a group of Nazi doctors who conducted experiments that often caused great harm or death to the prisoners.
In 1942 Hans Scholl, a medical student at the University of Munich, his sister Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell founded the “White Rose” movement, one of the few German groups that spoke out against Nazi genocidal policies.
Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935) was a German Jewish doctor and a leading researcher of sex, sexuality, and gender. He wrote and lectured widely on these topics, treated and advised patients, and worked to promote the rights of those who did not conform to existing gender or sexual norms. After Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933, Hirschfeld was forced to live in exile. The Nazis vandalized his Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin and forced it to close.
The Nazis killed millions of people in gas vans or in stationary gas chambers. The victims were people with disabilities and later Jews and other prisoners. The vast majority of those killed by gassing were Jews.
Elie Wiesel. Auschwitz survivor. Author of Night. Human rights activist. Wiesel devoted his life to educating the world about the Holocaust. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
January 27 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). Since 2005, the UN and its member states have held commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
Although the Nazis did not have an organized program to eliminate African Germans, many of them were persecuted, as were other people of African descent. Some Black people in Germany and German-occupied territories were isolated; an unknown number were sterilized, incarcerated or murdered.
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