Hitler and the Nazi Party

You can’t really talk about the Nazi Party without talking about Hitler. The two are so intertwined, that it can often be questioned whether history would have been different if one had not found the other. But they did, and they both made a huge impact.

Adolf Hitler was born at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Braunau am Inn, Austria–Hungary, the fourth of Alois and Klara Hitler's six children. Hitler was close to his mother, but had a troubled relationship with his father, an authoritarian who frequently beat him, especially in the years after Alois's retirement and disappointed farming efforts. He was a poor student, which he later attributed to rebellion against his father, who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as a custom’s official

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna on an orphan's pension and support from his mother. He was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1907–1908), citing "unfitness for painting", and was told his abilities lay instead in the field of architecture. Some think that this was where he got his severe dislike for Jews, due to the antisemitic undercurrent during this time. But at this stage he worked closely with many Jews and would later serve with them. So, it seems unlikely. However, there was an interesting comment allegedly said by a modern art critic, who was not told who the artist was when he evaluated the work that Hitler did during this time. He said, ‘they were quite good, but that the different style in which he drew human figures represented a profound disinterest in people.’

In World War 1 Hitler served in France and Belgium in the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment.  He was a runner, one of the most dangerous jobs on the Western Front and was often exposed to enemy fire. Twice decorated for bravery, he received the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914 and Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918, an honour rarely given to a Gefreiter. However, because the regimental staff thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, he was never promoted. Other historians say that the reason he was not promoted is that he was not a German citizen. His duties at regimental headquarters, while often dangerous, gave Hitler time to pursue his artwork. He drew cartoons and instructional drawings for an army newspaper. In 1916, he was wounded in either the groin area or the left thigh during the Battle of the Somme but returned to the front in March 1917.

The treaty of Versailles was a key factor in both the social and political conditions encountered by Hitler and his Nazis as they sought power. Hitler and his party used the signing of the treaty by the "November Criminals" as a reason to build up Germany so that it could never happen again. He also used the "November Criminals" as scapegoats, although at the Paris peace conference, these politicians had had little choice in the matter.

Hitler joined the German Workers Party as its 55th Member (No. 555).  The 500 was added to make the group appear larger, but later the number was reduced to create the impression that Hitler was one of the founding members.  Hitler had wanted to create his own party but was ordered by his superiors in the Reichswehr to infiltrate an existing one instead.

In July 1919, Hitler was tasked by Verbindungsmann (police spy) of an Aufklärungskommando (Intelligence Commando) of the Reichswehr the German Workers' Party (DAP).  But instead, he was impressed by the party and joined the party’s executive committee. To increase the party's appeal, the party changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party.

It was here that Eckart became Hitler's mentor, grooming and introducing Hitler to the right people.  Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and by early 1921, Hitler was becoming known as a well-established orator and spoke to over five and a half thousand people in Munich that February.

The NSDAP were based in Munich and soon noted that Hitler would be a suitable figure head for their cause.  In 1921 a chaotic revolt planned without the knowledge of Hitler ended in his promotion to Chairman with unlimited powers.  After a brief negotiation Adolf Hitler was named Fuhrer of the National Socialist German Workers party on 29 July 1921

On 8 November 1923 an attempted revolt on the Bavarian War Ministry ended in 16 NSDAP members being shot and Hitler fleeing to his home.  He was later arrested for High Treason and sentenced to Landsberg Prison.  He served less than a year.   During this time, he dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf to his deputy Rudolf Hess. 

When Hitler's release, the economy had improved and the political situation in Germany was more stable. This meant Hitler's previous tactics for agitation were less likely to work. Goebbels joined Hitler in 1926.  Hitler put more controls in the party, leading to having a Führerprinzip ("Leader principle"). People were not elected to positions, but instead appointed by Senior officials. This led to those below being obedient and unquestioning in their duties.

The group led by Harro Schulze Boysen and Arvid Harnack for example did have Soviet contacts. They started a group as they were not happy with the Versaille's aggreement. They had watched how the Soviet economy had grown and believed that certain aspects of the model would work in Germany. Both men were notable members of the Nazi regime, Harnack worked at the Reich Ministry of Economics and Schulze Boysen was a publicist and Luftwaffe officer. At one point during the groups run, they met with Albrecht Haushofer. The groups main duties were researching war crimes and relaying the information to its Soviets contacts. They also organised "AGIS" pamphlets which were distributed to the public to try and counteract the German Propaganda. Harro and his wife were caught and executed on the 19th December 1942. On that day Arvid and his wife were arrested. Arvid was executed on 22nd December and his wife executed on 16th February 1943. Hitler had ordered a retrial after she had been sentenced to prison, as he wanted her executed. It is also of interest that Arvid's brother was part of the White Rose resistance group and managed to survive the war. He participated in the arranging of a cenotaph in memory of the group.

Hitler hooked into the general feel of the public in relation to the frustration of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was punished both financially and physically for the first world war. They lost territories, and owed 132 billion marks, as reparations. This was the perfect storm for the Nazi party. However, their initial attempts at blaming the Jews, were unsuccessful. So they began their subtle propaganda, which they would learn to hone to an whole new level during the war years. They found the successful focus for gaining support was by attacking both the Jews and the Weimar System and in turn all the parties that believed in it.

Hitler had learnt his lesson during the failed coup and now realised that he would have to attain his goals legally or at the very least as close to the legal line as possible. Hitler found his way in during the Depression in 1930, where the government were tearing themselves apart in disagreement and eventually fell apart. The new Chancellor put in emergency decrees with the help of the president but could not unite the parties for a number of parliament. The people of the country were feeling the uncertainty and Germany was coming veering towards gaining an authoritarian government, maybe even a dictatorship. Due to the chaos, elections were moved up to September 1930. The Nazi’s got a larger share of the votes, which meant that the Republicans lost their majority and any hope of a coalition party.

Trying to stabilise the country, Brüning pushed through a budget, but it did little to improve the situation, and was extremely unpopular. Hitler made the most of those disgruntled, which included farmers, veterans and the middle class. They had been hit hard by the economy and were looking for change.

In 1932, Hitler intended to run for elections. His January 27, 1932 speech to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf won him, for the first time, support from a wide range of Germany's most powerful industrialists. Though Hitler had left Austria in 1913, he still had not acquired German citizenship and could not run for public office. In February, the state government of Brunswick, in which the Nazi Party participated, appointed Hitler to a minor administrative post and thereby made him a citizen of Brunswick as of the 25 February 1932.  In those days, the states authorised citizenship, so this automatically made Hitler a citizen of Germany and also eligible to run for president.

Hindenburg appointed Franz von Papen as Chancellor, heading a "Cabinet of Barons". Papen wanted an authoritarian rule and due to the fact that in the Reichstag only the conservative German National People's Party (DNVP) supported his administration, he immediately called for new elections in July. In these elections, the Nazis achieved their biggest success yet and won 230 seats, becoming the largest party in the Reichstag.

Papen knew he was not able to hold the government together, and initially tried to bring Hitler in as Vice chancellor. But Hitler knew he would push for more and said he would only offer support for the Chancellorship. Hedging his bets Hitler simultaneously was negotiating with the Centre party. But Hindenburg pushed back refusing the "Bohemian lance corporal"

After a vote of no confidence, the Reichstag was dissolved again, and new elections began. Although the Nazi’s lost seats, they became the biggest party. Again Papen dissolved the parliament, but this time the Military withdrew their support. Papen was dismissed and General Von Schliecher was appointed. His task was to secure approval from trade unions and Social Democrats, but he failed. He asked for emergency powers and was fired. Realising he had few options, Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of a coalition. He believed that Hitler would be the figurehead that would help stabilise the government. Hitler had other ideas and gave some Nazi’s key positions, including making Goring a minister without portfolio. Hitler immediately asked for another election. The Nazi’s realised this was a temporary government and continued to campaign, by wiping up hysteria and violence via propaganda and more discrete encouragement.

In the evening of the 27th February,the Reichstag building was set a light. It was soon claimed that it had been started by the communists and this reinforced by all media at the time.

A little side note here, Walter Gempp was assigned the investigation. He presented evidence that the fire had in fact been started by Nazi’s. This was due to eyewitness accounts and his own experience in trying to fight the fire. But this was dismissed. In 1937 he was arrested for ‘abuse of power’, which he appealed, but was strangled in prison on the 2nd of May 1939

The Fire was fortunate for Hitler as on the 28th February he presented the Reichstag Fire degree to Hindenburg, which was signed into law. This basically took away peoples human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, no recourse to wrongful imprisonment and the ability for the state to monitor post and telephone communications. It also took away the right to public assembly and started building the foundations of how the Nazi’s would control Germany till the end of the war. The election on the 6th March saw the Nazi’s increase to 43.9% but it still was not enough for an absolute majority.

The next campaign that the Nazi’s started was intimation surrounding a new law that Hitler wanted to bring into effect. The Enabling Act. This gave the Nazi party, in particular Hitler the ultimate power. It meant that he no longer had to involve Hindenburg or the government in any policy or decision making. It was passed on the 23rd March and the Nazi party had full control of the country, with Hitler being its Dictator.

The next campaign that the Nazi’s started was intimation surrounding a new law that Hitler wanted to bring into effect. The Enabling Act. This gave the Nazi party, in particular Hitler the ultimate power. It meant that he no longer had to involve Hindenburg or the government in any policy or decision making. It was passed on the 23rd March and the Nazi party had full control of the country, with Hitler being its Dictator.

Slowly the Nazi party banned the other political parties, and took control of other organisations, including the Labour unions. The state government was striped of its powers. The Nazi’s started cleaning opposition, including that of the military, which culminated on Night of the Long Knives. Under the guise of a plot by SA leader Ernst Rohm, the SA was purged, and others deemed possible problems to the Nazi’s such as Strasser and Von Schleicher were also executed.

When Hindenburg died on 2 August, 1934, Hitler decided there was no need for a president and merged the outstanding powers into his own role. He was now in total control. Oaths were changed so instead of swearing loyalty to the Country, Soldiers and Military leaders, swore loyalty to Hitler.

Hitlers next step was to win the hearts of the people. They needed someone to blame for their present predicament (the Depression) and they needed hope from their leader. So Hitler focussed on the economy and expansion, most of which lead to going against the Treaty of Versailles, in expanding the military. He encouraged the women to ‘stay at home’ and look after the family, giving rewards to those with more that four babies. This meant that unemployment appeared to drop. Women were to leave their jobs and men were to take them. So technically less people were looking for work, which was spun to a great success by the media.

There was also a lot of work that went into infrastructure such as the building of dams, rail roads and roads. But Germany still didn’t have money, so although most people were employed wages were low and the standard of living were not increased

In 1934, Hitler hinted to the British Lord Privy Seal that Germany had an air force, (which was against the Treaty of Versailles). It wasn’t until March 1935 that Hitler publicly announced they had expanded their army to 6 times the agreed amount, was launching their Air force and increasing their Navy. The league of Nations of course was quick to condemn these, but were placated when Hitler assured them, he was only interested in peace. The following year Berlin hosted the summer Olympic games. The show they put on for this was mostly received well, but there was an undercurrent felt by some groups.

To a certain extent, the Nazi’s had created a monster in regard to their rhetoric. By April 1935 people were becoming frustrated with the lack of speed in which the Nazi’s were tackling the ‘Jewish problem’. Society was still being hit by shortages, and the Jewish scapegoats were not being dealt with. But a Gestapo report in the spring of that year whipped up a wave of assaults, boycotts and vandalism targeted towards the German Jews

Due to food shortages, Hitler cut military spending and focussed on creating food for the people. The military however were not happy as they were under strict instructions for rearmament. He needed to create a distraction, from the failing economy and a win for the military, so in March 1936, Germany reoccupied the Rhineland. There was no response. In July the Spanish War began, and Hitler sent troops to Franco. Having built an alliance with Franco, Hitler set his sights on the United Kingdom. Offering to provide protection to the British Colonies from the Japanese. They said no. Hitler was more successful with Benito Mussolini forming an agreement on the 25th of October 1936 and entered into a pact with Japan a month later. And in 1938 Germany ended its Pact with China, which caused delays with Hitler’s rearmament

In August 1936, Hitler issued his infamous ‘Four year memorandum’, which ordered Germany to be ready to go to war in 4 years. The following year he would lay down the plans for this by pushing for Lebensraum, increasing the borders of Germany to reach out across Europe for the Great German Reich. By November 39 secret meeting were taking place about the fact that German must expand East by 1943 securing that area, before turning their attentions towards France and England.

The first step in the process was to annex Austria. This was a very easy triumph for Hitler and the German army received little resistance. The British Ambassador visited Hitler with a proposal to join a Consortium to rule Africa, if they agreed not to move further east. There was a heated discussion which resulted in Hitler stating that he would rather wait twenty years for the return of the former colonies than accept British conditions for avoiding war.

The next part of the strategy was to raise tensions in Sudentenland districts of Czechoslovakia. In April plans for operation Fall Grün. Rumours flew around about an intended invasion into the area near the end of May. This seemed likely due to the discussions that Hitler had with the Ambassador previously, the way that the tensions were in the area and the fact that elections were occurring there. Troops were mobilised to protect the area, and warnings were issued about the possibility of war against the United Kingdom and France. Although Hitler had not planned to invade at that time, he felt that others would take it as a defeat, so he became more convinced that he would invade and eventually take on Britain.

In August 1938, Hitler stated his intentions of invasion, saying that he did not believe that Britain would risk war. General Becks, urged Hitler not to embark on this, saying that he felt it would lead to a world war that they could not win. On 4th August, a secret meeting was held with senior members of the armed forces. Becks felt after this discussion that they would all resign their posts to make it impossible for the invasion to occur. The idea was to inform the British that the attack was going to be sanctioned, and if this did occur that the group would have Hitler arrested, if they had the support of Britain and France, who would have to declare that if the invasion took place they would declare war. Becks was the only General to resign his post. Britain and France decided not to threaten war and to strive for peace instead.

The guise that Hitler was using to take Sudetenland, was the fact that the people there were suffering. The Czechoslovakian government agreed with the people in the area to reorganise the country to cover some of their demands. Germany’s answer was to ramp up clashes to show the unrest. Chamberlain visited Hitler, to try to stop an invasion by saying that he would organise the transfer of land over in a peaceful manner. Hitler was still trying to give the pretence that he wanted peace, so he agreed expecting Chamberlain to fail, but with help from Franco, he was successful. Happy with the outcome Chamberlain came back to visit Hitler on the 22nd. Only to be told that the terms had changed, he wanted Sudetenland by the 28th with no other conditions against it, and with no interference. He stated to the group that he would not rule out war for this. The British stopped all metal supply to Germany, refused to sail anything to German and detained an Oil tanker. The German Economics Ministry told Hitler, they did not have enough oil for the invasion and that Britain could put a blockade on German Oil supply.

On the 30th September 1938 Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Daladier, signed the Munich Agreement handing Sudetenland over to Germany. Chamberland thought it was his victory for peace, Hitler was just buying time. He was infuriated that he had been stopped by the UK and realised that they would become a problem. Having secured the Sudetenland districts, in March 1939 he pushed through taking the rest of Czechoslovakia. The main reason for this was to secure more resources. His next step was Poland. Having tried to negotiate Poland into a satellite state, three times, he decided to invade. “...establish a acceptable relationship with Poland in order to fight against the West” but since the Poles would not co-operate in setting up an “acceptable relationship, believed he had no other choice other than wiping Poland off the map”

Hitler needed another guise to get into Poland. He claimed that there was a need for roads across the polish corridor to Danzig. But there was a problem. Hitler didn’t have the resources to take on Poland, if Britain and France helped it. His foreign minister Ribbentrop investigated the matter and said that his contacts had said that if was unlikely that Britain would honour its commitment to Poland. Also that allegedly, France recognised ‘Eastern Europe as Germany’s exclusive sphere.’ This was enough to reassure Hitler. Hitler entered into another pact on the 23rd Aug 39, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, between Germany and Russia. Britain’s answer to this was to sign an Anglo-Polish alliance. This did give Hitler pause, especially as Mussolini said he would be unable to honour the steel pact they had made. But it did not delay him for long, as Germany invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1939. Then to a very confused Hitler, Britain and France declared war on Germany on the 3rd September 1939. The Soviets invaded eastern Poland on the 17th September.

This had a big knock on effect for a number of different things. The unrest that it caused was not just with in Germany. Countries in the east including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, signed pacts with Russia to allow military bases on their soil. Bulgaria and Hungary took land from Romania, which ended up becoming a dictatorship. Germany made a defensive strike in April 1940, but invading Denmark (a few hours) and Norway (two months) to protect provisions from Sweden.

Chamberlin resigned and Churchill became the Prime Minister of Britain on the 10th May. Which was also when Germany invaded, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands. This was an 18 day campaign in which the allies sent troops, that eventually got cornered in Dunkirk and resulted in a large number of troops evacuated, but also many left behind and all the equipment they had brought over.

On the 10th June Italy assisted Germany by invading France. The German army came south towards them. Paris fell on the 14th and France signed an armistice on the 22nd. With Germany now taking possession of equipment stored by France and other allies, England attacked the French fleet to ensure it could not be used by the Germans.

The next step taken was into the Mediterranean. Italy attacked Malta in June 1940 then moved on to British Somaliland and some of Egypt, then attached Greece. All of these countries had connections with Britain who launched a very successful counterattack. Germany sent support to North Africa and pushed the Commonwealth forces back towards Egypt.

In September 190, Japan, Italy, and Germany united as the Axis powers. In November Hungary, Slovakia and Romania joined as well.

Germany now had three fronts. They had walked across Europe with relative ease, but they were now in bombing distance of Britain. So, the Legendary Battle of Britain began in early July 1940 and although it continued through out the war, the last intensive bombing by the Luftwaffe was in May 1941. Around the night Rudolf Hess flew to Scotland. Then for some reason, Hitler lost interest in invading Britain and turned his attention elsewhere.

Some believe that the Nazi’s defeat started early on, with the invasion of Russia, others believe that the African campaign was the tipping point. But from a strategic point of view, both gave Germany similar problems. The Germans were fighting in extreme terrains, and they did not have the supply chains in place to support the fights.

Although their resistence was simple and only carried out by the two of them, it was effective and had the Gestapo searching for them for almost two years. They hand wrote over 200 postcards urging people to stand up to the Nazi regime and to stop donating to the party. They wanted to encourage people to 'open their eyes' to what was happening and to get rid of the party. They left these postcards around the city. They were left in mailboxes, on stairs and in places that the public could see them. Most of the postcards were handed in to the Gestapo. They were eventually arrested and executed on the 8th April 1943

Operation Barbarosa commenced on the 22nd June 1941. This started with the bombing of Soviet controlled Polish cities. Then approximately 3 million Nazi soldiers walked into Russia in a three-pronged attack. Stalin did not believe it at first, after all they had a Pact. He issued a counterattack but because of the surprise and delay, the Soviets did not know how much they had initially been defeated. Their forces on the front were in disarray. Thousand of aircrafts were destroyed on the ground by the Luftwaffe. Although they also took casualties and could not make the most of what they had achieved due to the expanse of land they had to cover. The German Panzer units were devastating through the Eastern block and into Russia. Kyiv held out, but eventually fell. And by the 8th August the Panzer unit was within 48 kilometres of Leningrad. On the 7th September Leningrad was completely cut off, but still heavily guarded and the Siege of Leningrad began. Casualties mounted on the German side, and they could not overrun the city. Hitler ordered them to not push forward anymore but to wait and starve out the city’s inhabitants. But during this time the German Army Group Centre, had been left vulnerable due to the lack of Panzer units and in Yelnya, the Germans had suffered their first defeat in Russia.

Meanwhile another battle was playing out. The battle of Moscow. This looked like it would be successful, it was even publicly predicted in Germany. They made their way to strategic points surrounding the Russians and capturing hundreds of thousands along the way. But then the weather turned. It started to rain, making the roads into mud and then started to snow. The Germanys were so far into Russian territory that their supply chains were stretched thin. And in the time it took them to try and regroup, the Russians were regrouping too. But they were on home soil, used to its conditions and heavily supplied. The Germans got within 24 km of Moscow, before they were caught in a blizzard on the 2nd December. On the 5th of December, the soviets were ready for a counterattack and the drove the Germans back 200 km from Moscow.

The fight in Russia continued for several years. The Germans tried to get to Baku so that they could have oil supplies and establish a supply chain, but It ended in a terrible defeat in Stalingrad, in February 1943. The Germans led an assault on Kursk with 1 million German troops, but they were met with 2.5 million Soviets. They defeated the Germans and then with 6 million troops walked west towards Berlin, which they got to in May 1945.

The African campaign was fought at the same but actually was quite a different story. Having been pushed back in Africa the British regrouped and built-up supplies. The Russians were stretched thin and although they had alliances in place didn’t fully trust them, so they were never armed to their full potential. This would work against them eventually.

By now America was in the war, Pearl Harbour had been bombed and the US realised that at some stage they would have to fight Germany in Europe to ensure the Axis did not invade other continents. From December 41 to late January 42 there were discussions between the military leaders of the UK and US. The US wanted to push into France and clear out Europe. The UK wanted to finish the African campaign first. They were more battle wary than the US and understood the German techniques more. Neither would compromise until Roosevelt stepped in and told the US they would fight in Africa first.

A little note, the Conference created a number of agreements, some of which were very short lived, but the one that you may be aware of is the Declaration by the United Nations, which became the basis of the United Nations and was formalised at the end of the war

The British American alliance suffered great losses, but also gained a lot of ground. The British found that although the Americans were inexperienced at the German style of war they were quick learners. Another tool that the British has was Ultra, you may know it in connection with the Enigma machine. The British went to great lengths to protect the fact that they were decoding the messages sent by the Germans, by having planes going off course or chance encounters. They also embarked on disguising transports to help boast their supplies by using cardboard and wood to change the shapes of vehicles.

The US UK and Commonwealth Troops eventually pushed the Germans back to Tunisia. Hitler ordered for the Germans to fortify the city, against Military advice. This meant pulling troops and supplies from other areas, and in turn stretching resources thin. This helped the Russians and in turn the other allied forces move on to German.

As the Russians approached the city, it was clear to all senior Nazi officials that the war was lost. Hitler declared an attack, which was not launched.

  • Knowing that Hitler was not going to leave Berlin, Goring assumed acting leader on the 23rd April, on behalf of Hitler. (He had been names as successor previously in a 1941 decree).
  • He sent a telegram to Hitler, which was intercepted by Bormann who convinced Hitler that it was in fact a power play. Goring was branded a traitor and arrested on the 26th April.
  • Himmler tried to negotiate surrender with the Allies. Hitler heard about this on the 28th April.
  • He was branded a traitor by Hitler and his representative shot.
  • Dontz was appointed Hitler’s successor and would be the last official representative of the Nazi leadership at the time of its collapse

On the 20th April Hitler celebrated his 50th birthday, in a bunker in Berlin. Hitler would have been able to hear the advancing Russians and the bombing of his city. On the 29th April he married Eva Braun and on the 30th April he and Eva took cyanide capsules and apparently Hitler also shot himself. Upon their death their bodies were carried outside, doused with gasoline, and burnt. Goebbels, Magda and their 6 children were also discovered in the bunker. The children were aged between 4 to 11 years old) had been poisoned by their parents with cyanide, before their parents themselves committed suicide.

I think it is important that we recognise that there are two major areas in which people lost their lives during the second world war. There is the Holocaust, which I will mention in a moment, but there was also the war itself, which affected troops and civilians. In the battle of Stalingrad, it is estimated, that 45,000 civilians died of starvation, and 1.2 million Soviets in military action.

Between 1939 – 1945 the Nazi regime killed approximately (as there are slightly varying reports and not all were documented) 18.8 – 19.5 million people who were captured and either killed, whether that be systematically or as POW. This does not include the political opponents and resistance outside of Germany. The Jewish people suffered large loses, but there were many groups of people that were affected. These are approximate and do not include Jewish people unless stated

  • Jewish people approximately 6 million
  • Soviets approximately 7.8 million
  • Polish approximately 1.8 million
  • Serbians approximately 312,000
  • Disabled people approximately 250,000
  • Roma approximately 500,000
  • Asocial approximately 70,000
  • Homosexuals approximately 20,000

These are just the documented and categorised victims of the Holocaust and don't include those persecuted for other religious beliefs. However in the territories, the records are not as well kept, so these totals are assumed to be the minimums.

This was an horrific attack by one group of people against any that challenged them or made them feel uncomfortable. By grouping people into categories, it was easy to encourage hate and persecution within the occupied countries and beyond. And yet in the heart of Germany there were cases of Jewish people that were certified as German, so they escaped the fate of so many others, but this was based on who they knew. Knowing people as individuals as opposed to as their group, makes it harder to build up the kind of hate that propelled Germany through the 2nd world war.