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Roma Victims of the Holocaust, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1230

Essay

Discuss the T-4 Program and the other aspects of Nazi Eugenics from the early days of the Nazi regime through the concentration camp experimentation on camp inmates.

The T-4 Program was aimed at cleansing the population of Germany to ensure the purity of the Aryan blood and genes. The Nazis considered mentally ill, disabled, and elderly people not fit for the society, and without any use for the country. Hitler’s program, first introduced in 1939 targeted people who were believed to be unworthy of living (Lebensunswertes Leben). While previously genetic purification was restricted to forced sterilization of certain individuals, the introduction of Euthanasia in the Nazi practice went further than that. It simply eliminated people from Germany who did not represent the pure Aryan population, or belonged to the “degenerative human stock”. The Nazis enjoyed the backing of the scientific community, and justified the T-4 program with the cost of caring for disabled and mentally ill patients. The ideology of Kihn, published in 1932, in the Universal Journal of Psychiatry promoted the inhuman principles of eugenic marriage counseling, the destruction of the unworthy individuals, and the prohibition of marriage between the unfit and the Aryan. The program and mass euthanasia was later expanded to those who were thought to be genetically inferior, due to their race, such as the Jews and Gypsies. The concentration camps set up by the Nazis involved a technology of mass murder, and the gas chambers were first filled with the elderly residents or the sick, when the new groups arrived. What was first introduced as a child euthanasia program in 1939 to encourage the parents of mentally disabled children to admit them to specialist clinics (in reality killing wards) became a population-wide racial cleansing euthanasia initiative. Scientists used many camp inmates to carry out water, chemical, and blood experiments, and sterilize women.

How did the gypsy (Roma) population suffer during the Nazi terror? What were the prevailing attitudes towards gypsies prior to the Holocaust? And how were the gypsies treated in the concentration camps as opposed to the Jews, for example?

The gypsy (Roma) were believed to be morally and intellectually inferior to European people for many years before the Nazis rose to power. Settling in the Balkans in the Middle Ages and slowly moving into German States and the rest of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. The Roma were nomadic people, and their lifestyle, priorities, culture differed from Europeans’. As early as in 1905, a book claiming that the Roma were a plague on the European society was published.

The Nazis declared that solving  the “Zigeunerplage” (Gypsy plague) was a state’s responsibility, and created concentration camps for Gypsies. The largest of these camps was near Berlin, in  Marzahn, and the government managed to relocate the Roma in time for the 1936 Olympics to keep them out of sight. The Nurenberg Laws covered not only the Jews, but also the Roma. They were forced to live segregated from the society, on half the state benefits. They were restricted to ghettos first, however, after the concentration camps were established, they were treated differently from Jews, as there was no extensive ideology and scientific justification for their killings. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Roma were the Nazis’ racist dilemma. They were declared non-Aryans, and asocial. The Roma had their own camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and they were almost all immediately gassed after arrival. Those who did not, became “guinea pigs” for Nazi physicians. Out of 20.000 Gypsies living in Germany. 15.000 died by 1939 (Jewish Virtual Library).

How did Nazi sympathizers in occupied countries aid and abet the Germans in the annihilation of their Jewish citizens (i.e. Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine)?

The Germans took care to secure collaboration with the governments of occupied countries, and gain support for the Gestapo to carry out deportations to concentration camps. The anti- Jewish sentiment after the First World War in Europe was strong, and many governments were supporting the Nazis. Those that did not support them were replaced by the invaders.

Interestingly, in Hungary, where the first anti-Semitic laws of Europe were introduced,  the Nazis met a resistance from Miklos Horthy who called for the stop of deportations. The Nazis decided to remove the regent and appoint a more collaborative leader (Szalasi). Even though Hungary asked the Germans to stop sending Jews to ghettos and concentration camps, in the two months between May and July, 1944, more than 400.000 Hungarian Jews were deported.

In Poland, after the country’s occupation, a part of the country became integrated into the “Greater Reich”, and concentration camps were established in these regions. Hitler appointed a new leader to the Polish general government, Hans Frank. German officials were appointed to government offices in the country, and this made Poland become a “racial laboratory”. German policies in Poland were based on the original Nazi framework: making it compulsory for Jews to wear a yellow star. The government was given the authority to seize Jews’ property, who were sent to ghettos, relocated, and later transported to concentration camps. The Polish leaders, at this time now loyal to the Fuhrer, and were surrounded by Nazi officials.

In Ukraine, the “Holocaust of Bullets” started off the antisemitic actions of the government. There were organized attacks on Jews around the country, due to the antisemitic sentiment after the First World War. In 1941, the pogroms  (designating an attack in Russian) took over the power of the country, and started a mass murder rampage among the Jewish population. The racial atrocities started before the arrival of the German Army.

Likewise, in Romania, with the rise of the Goga-Cuza regime in 1937, anti-Jewish laws were already in place before the Germans could have a real influence on the government’s decisions. In 1941, over 100.000 Jews were massacred. The fascist dictator, Antonescu fully collaborated with the Nazis.

In what ways and under what circumstances did Chiune Sugihara help Jews who were trapped in Lithuania? What was Sugihara’s fate after the Second World War ended?

After learning about the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany and Poland, as well as Lithuania, Sugihara decided to help people, simply because they were human beings. Even though he had to go against his government’s policies, he believed that he was doing the right thing. While the Lithuanian Jewish population supported the refugees, they feared for their lives. When Sugihara went to Kaunas, the capital of Lithuania, he saw the Polish Jews arriving. While he tried to convince the Japanese government to allow him to issue visas for Jews, he got the permission denied three times. Even though this meant a risk of prosecution and sanctions against his family, he discussed the question with his wife and signed the visas. He wrote 300 visas each day. He knew that Lithuania would be the next country to be invaded by Germany, and listened to his conscience. At the time when every other diplomatic office declined visa requests, he opened a one-man consulate with his family.  He was placed in an internment camp by the Russians after the war. The family could only return to Japan in 1947. After his return, he was dismissed as a diplomat, and had to start over again. He worked as a part time translator and lost everything he built in politics because he wanted to save thousands of lives.

Works Cited

Jewish Virtual Library. “Roma Victims of the Holocaust: Roma in Auschwitz”. n.d. Web.

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