Germany in WW2
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What was the difference between the persecution and murder of Jews and the persecution and murder of Christians and other groups classified as enemies of the Third Reich?

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2009-10-07 23:01:24

Some of the assumptions made in the question are inaccurate. In

particular, Christians as such were not 'classified as

enemies of the Third Reich'. Some Christians resisted

government interference in church life and therefore became

unpopular with the regime. A few of these were sent to

concentration camps, but very few were killed. Some

Christians also spoke out against various Nazi policies, especially

the killing of incurables. Very few Christians spoke out against

the persecution and genocide of the Jews, however. Nobody was

killed by the Nazis for simply 'being a Christian'. The

Nazi treated non-Jewish Poles very badly and oppressively, and the

main religion in Poland was (and still is) Roman Catholicism.

However, Poles who did not co-operate with the Nazis or who

resisted the Nazis were punished and killed for that - not for

being Roman Catholic. The Pope at the time, Pius XII, has been

severely criticized for failing to denounce Hitler clearly in

public. On the other hand two Roman Catholic bishops in Germany

spoke out against the Nazi policy of killing off the mentally ill

and incurables. At all stages, the Nazi regime was cautious in most

of its dealings with churches. In the case of the Jews, and to a

lesser extent the gypsies, the Nazis made a point, from about

October 1941, of trying to murder all of them - on 'ethnic'

('racial') grounds. The difference is enormous. The Jews were the

only group singled out for total systematic annihilation by the

Nazis. To escape the death sentence imposed by the Nazis, the Jews

could only leave Nazi-controlled Europe. Every single Jew in Europe

was to be killed according to the Nazis' plan. In the case of other

criminals or enemies of the Third Reich, their families were

usually not held accountable. Thus, if a person were executed or

sent to a concentration camp, it did not mean that each member of

his family would meet the same fate. Moreover, in most situations

the Nazis' enemies were classified as such because of their actions

or political affiliation (actions and/or opinions which could be

revised). In the case of the Jews, it was because of their racial

origin, which could never be changed. In the case of the other

groups the aim was generally less extreme. Even the genocide of the

Roma/Sinti (gypsies) was carried out much less thoroughly.

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