The SS Men
wore black uniforms with a skeleton's head on their hats, the motto Unsere
Ehre heisst Treue on their belts and their symbol was the double S-rune.
They had sworn eternal faith to Adolf Hitler and they were his most
ruthless henchmen, men often seen as the very personifications of evil. A violent
group who rose to power in a democracy and established
institutions of legitimized terror.
These masterminds of death were found to be quite psychologically normal. They were
men of fine standing, husbands who morning and night kissed their wives,
fathers who tucked their children into bed.
But murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman
acts were an everyday occurrence.
In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in
the countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By
1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed by the SS Men. The
Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews.
But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi
regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or
physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet
prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses,
homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish
intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and
aggression carried out by the Nazis.
The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full
statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some
estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes
more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and
thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under
Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.
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