Racism fueled Nazi ideology and policies. The Nazis viewed the world as being divided up into competing inferior and superior races, each struggling for survival and dominance. They believed the Jews were not a religious denomination, but a dangerous non-European “race.” Nazi racism would produce murder on an unprecedented scale.
In the fall of 1941, Nazi Germany implemented a plan to systematically murder the Jews in the General Government. This plan was codenamed “Operation Reinhard.” Three killing centers were established as part of this action: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Operation Reinhard marked the deadliest phase of Nazi Germany’s intention to commit genocide against the Jewish people.
The goal of the Nazi Euthanasia Program was to kill people with mental and physical disabilities. In the Nazi view, this would cleanse the “Aryan” race of people considered genetically defective and a financial burden to society.
German policies varied from country to country, including direct, brutal occupation and reliance upon collaborating regimes. France was divided into occupied and unoccupied zones, with differing policies in each.
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.
Despite the varied and courageous efforts of Jewish groups leading to the rescue of thousands of their co-religionists, they could do little to save millions of European Jews from the Nazi genocide.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. It opened in April 1993.
When World War II ended in 1945, six million European Jews were dead, killed in the Holocaust. About 1.5 million of the victims were children. Some children survived, however, because they were hidden. With identities disguised, and often physically concealed from the outside world, these youngsters had faced constant fear, dilemmas, and danger.
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