Nazi Persecution of Jews and Minorities, Essay Example

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Essay

The Nazi regime, which came to power in 1933, had a vicious anti-Semitism at the heart of its philosophy. The Nazis held the Jews responsible for most of Germany’s post-World War One problems. This often contradictory worldview meant that Nazis believed Jews were responsible for both the rise of Communism, and the international, exploitative money markets, even though these two concepts are in opposition to each other.

The roots of much Nazi anti-Semitism can be traced back to German anti-Jewish feeling, which had grown in the late 19th century and up to the beginning of World War One. The economic woes experienced by Germany in the wake of the Great War meant that many ordinary Germans were looking for scapegoats. Hitler and the Nazis exploited this by blaming the Jews for the problems of Germany, and many believed them.

In January 1933, when the Nazis came to power, there were approximately between 500,000 and 550,000 Jews living in Germany, out of a total German population of 67 million. Jews were therefore around 0.75 per cent of the total population. By the time of 1939, on the eve of World War Two, many of these people had emigrated, either to the United States of America, to Palestine, or to other countries in western Europe. Estimates differ as to how many Jews had actually left Germany by this point.

But it was not just Jews who the Nazis looked to oppress and destroy. Other ethnic groups such as Roma Gypsies and Slavs were also regarded as inferior, and were imprisoned in concentration and extermination camps, or used as forced labor. Homosexuals, political opponents of the Nazis, Socialists, Communists and Trade Unionists were also persecuted by Hitler and his cronies. Figures obtained since the fall of the Soviet Union suggest that the Nazis murdered around 10 to 11 million people other than Jews, mainly Slavs, whom the Nazi regime wanted exterminated so that more Lebensraum, or living room, could be obtained for ‘pure’ Germans. Religious dissidents such as Jehovah’s Witnesses were  murdered in great numbers, and people with disabilities, both mental and physical, were also killed. Soviet prisoners of war were murdered in great numbers, while Black Africans, such as captured French colonial troops, were also persecuted.

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