Nazi Persecution: 1933 – 1945

Nazi Persecution: 1933 – 1945

In addition to singling out Jews for complete annihilation, the Nazis targeted for discrimination and persecution, anyone they believed threatened their ideal of a ‘pure Aryan race’.

Nazi beliefs categorised people by race, and Hitler used the word ‘Aryan’ for his idea of a ‘pure German race’. The Nazis believed Aryan people were superior to all others. Their devotion to what they believed was racial purity and their opposition to racial mixing partly explains their hatred towards Jews, Roma and Sinti people (sometimes referred to as ‘Gypsies’) and black people. Slavic people, such as those from Poland and Russia, were considered inferior and were targeted because they lived in areas needed for German expansion.

The Nazis wanted to ‘improve’ the genetic make-up of the population and so persecuted people they deemed to be disabled, either mentally or physically, as well as gay people. Political opponents, primarily communists, trade unionists and social democrats, as well as those whose religious beliefs conflicted with Nazi ideology, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, were also targeted for persecution.

Hundreds of thousands of lives were destroyed because of Nazi persecution, and many groups did not receive acknowledgement of their suffering until years after 1945.

Image: Auschwitz I Camp - Oswiecim, Poland © Adam Jones

Anna Maria 'Settela' Steinbach

Anna Maria 'Settela' Steinbach

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Anna Lehnkering

Anna Lehnkering

Researching her family history, Sigrid Falkenstein found her aunt’s name – Anna Lehnkering – on a list of 30,000 people who were murdered by the Nazis as part of the Aktion T4 project in the year 1940/1941.

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Pierre Seel

Pierre Seel

Pierre Seel grew up in France, and was imprisoned by the Nazis for being gay at the age of 17. This life story explains how Pierre spoke out about his persecution.

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