The Holocaust is usually taught as the mass genocide of almost six million Jews in Europe during World War II. But, more millions of others were also persecuted, tortured, tattooed and killed. These millions included innocent citizens – men women and children.
The survivors and the families of these millions often feel left out — overshadowed by the Jewish casualties. Nonetheless, these people need to be recognized and memorialized. Many of these died for their race or their beliefs. Many of these died while helping their Jewish neighbors. They too deserve their place in history.
Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 when Germany was experiencing severe economic hardship. Hitler promised the Germans that he would bring them prosperity and power.
Hitler had a vision of a Master Race of Aryans that would control Europe.
He used powerful propaganda techniques to convince not only the German people, but countless others, that if they eliminated the people who stood in their way and the degenerates and racially inferior, they – “the great Germans” would prosper.
At Hadamar Hospital in Germany, more than 10,000 people with disabilities were killed between January and August of 1941. During the 1930s, people with disabilities in Germany are referred to as “useless eaters.”
In the American consciousness the Holocaust has become synonymous with Jewish history. Historical literature of the Holocaust has focused on the six million Jewish victims to the exclusion of the sixteen to twenty million Gentile victims.
How is it possible to define an historic event based on the lives of six million Jewish people and not acknowledge the millions more Gentile lives that were also lost? It is understandable that the historiography of the Holocaust emphasizes the Jewish people since they were the single most persecuted group by the Nazis, but why have they become the only focus?
There were thousands of victims during the Holocaust. Many victims survived and many did not. The victims described here are those who died during the Holocaust or immediately after as a direct result of mistreatment during the Holocaust.
Victims of the Holocaust are those groups of people targeted for immediate death by the Nazis and their accomplices, or treated in such a way so as to knowingly lead to their eventual deaths. Victims come from many countries throughout Europe and are not limited to strictly victims in Germany during World War II.
Prisoners standing for roll call at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, circa 1938. This twice-daily ordeal of several hours in all weather was so the SS guards could account for every single prisoner. Roll calls of many hours’ duration were used also as camp-wide punishment, often ending in death for the weakest. The prisoners’ uniforms bear classifying triangular badges and identification numbers. Homosexual prisoners were identified by pink triangle badges. UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM #367
The Holocaust was more than a Jewish event. Records kept by the Germans prove they exterminated millions of Communists, Czechs, Greeks, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mentally and physically handicapped, Poles, resistance fighters, Russians, Serbs, Socialists, Spanish Republicans, trade unionists, Ukrainians, Yugoslavians, prisoners of war of many nations, and still others whose identity may never be recognized.
Their victims, according to one survivor of four different concentration camps, “were of some thirty nationalities, from Nepalese to Andorrans, and of a variety of racial and linguistic stocks ranging from Basques to Buriats and from Ladinos to Lapps”.
When people were not immediately exterminated, they were sent to work and/or concentration camps. There the prisoners were divided into six penal categories and given patches on their clothing for identification purposes.
Ordinary criminals were assigned green; political prisoners wore red; black was worn by asocials (slackers, prostitutes, procurers, etc.); homosexuals wore pink; conscientious objectors wore purple, and the Jewish people wore yellow.
Humankind has always formed groups according to kinship, religion, nation, or other identity. Those not of the recognized group were outsiders, who became targets during times of upheaval. When the Nazis victimized the Jewish people, blaming them for Germany’s loss during World War I and for the economic crisis during the 1930s, this was not new.
The Jewish people had been outsiders in one form or another throughout the Christian world since the crucifixion of Christ. Two aspects of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, however, differed from any history had seen. The Nazis mobilized the resources of the state to single out the Jews to a degree which was unprecedented.
Unlike other instances of Jewish persecution, however, this anti-Semitism was something more; it also included other people not connected to the Jews. Policies and practices designed to exterminate one group of people (the Jews) were also employed to eliminate other people based on their race, religion, politics, health, or sexual orientation.
The Nazis’ extermination program was like a large fishing net which swept across the land, snaring people of many backgrounds.
Elie Wiesel, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, has said, “while not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims,” so careful handling of the definition of the Holocaust is important.
No one can deny that Jewish people were the primary targets of the Nazis, nor should one belittle their suffering. But neither should the millions of other victims of the Nazis be forgotten.
The same respect and remembrance afforded the Jewish victims should be extended to include the non-Jewish victims as well.
The Nazis sought to annihilate all Jews and all enemies of the state. Every Jew was to be wiped out, but not necessarily every Russian, Serb, or Yugoslavian.
That millions of non-Jews were also killed demonstrates the determination and magnitude of the Nazi extermination program to eliminate anyone who could even remotely be considered an enemy of the state.
Current estimates based on documents from Nazi war records, and official government documents of various countries, place the death toll of people murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust as conservatively over 15 million non-combatant people.
One official source estimates the number killed at 26 million. However, “with the mass graves on the eastern front, exact figures will never be known”.
These figures represent a common denominator between Jews and Gentiles — total lives lost. The “six million” figure used for Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust includes deaths attributable to starvation, beatings, street executions, concentration camp deaths, overwork, and relocations, to name just a few of the categories.
Nazis targeted Jews for complete extermination and used whatever means were necessary and available. Many non-Jewish victims also died in concentration camps by gassing, lethal experiments, starvation, overwork, or beatings, but a greater number perished because of the aggressive tactics of the Nazis in rounding up their victims and in street assassinations.
The death toll reported in Table 1 is of civilian lives lost unless otherwise noted. The Nazis deliberately killed these people who were undesirable to the Nazi vision of an Aryan state. Jews were the most intensely targeted victims, but the common denominator for all victims was death.
As is obvious from Table 1, no single group of people suffered as devastating a loss as did the Jewish people. Ukrainian deaths, however, ranged from five and a half million to seven million.
The Ukrainian deaths represent an area of conflict for people determining who were victims of the Holocaust and whose deaths should be counted as Holocaust-related. The Ukrainian and Russian people were at various times during the war both victims and perpetrators.
Should the vast majority of Ukrainian civilians killed by Nazis and Russians be discounted if some small group of Ukrainians turned perpetrator and killed Jews? Do Holocaust deaths only include people killed by the Nazis? Do Holocaust deaths only include those killed on German soil? Do Holocaust deaths only include deaths attributable to gassings in concentration camps?
Estimates of Non-Combatant Lives Lost During the Holocaust
Ukrainians 5.5 – 7 million
Jews (of all countries) 6 million +
Russian POWs 3.3 million +
Russian Civilians 2 million +
Poles 3 million +
Yugoslavians 1.5 million +
Gypsies 200,000 – 500,000
Mentally/Physically Disabled 70,000- 250,000
Homosexuals Tens of thousands
Spanish Republicans Tens of thousands
Jehovah’s Witnesses 2,500 – 5,000
Boy and Girl Scouts, Clergy, Communists, Czechs, Deportees, Greeks, Political Prisoners, Other POWs, Resistance Fighters, Serbs, Socialists, Trade Unionists, Others Unknown
Table assembled from figures quoted by Milton; Lukas 38-39, 232; Gilbert 824; Berenbaum 123; and Holocaust Internet information sites.
The six million figure used in the Jewish death toll is an estimate for total lives lost. These Jewish lives were taken by a number of groups, not just Nazis.
The six million figure includes Jewish lives lost in other countries as well, not just Germany, and by the various modes of killing, not just camp deaths.
Ukrainian deaths were due to Russian and Nazi perpetrators alike, some killed on “acquired” German soil, others killed on Russian soil, some killed outright, others slowly worked or starved to death.
If Russian Jews, killed on Russian soil by both Nazis and Russians, are considered Holocaust deaths, then the Ukrainians killed alongside them should also be categorized as Holocaust deaths.
When groups of people are killed side by side — in the same manner, by the same perpetrators, for the same reasons (their ethnic identity) — one cannot separate some from the group and call it a Holocaust and say the others were merely victims of war, or worse, completely ignore their numbers and leave them no record in history.
The criteria used to determine the six million Jewish deaths should be the same criteria used for the non-Jews. By using the same criteria for determining Holocaust deaths among all victims, the question of whether non-Jewish deaths were simply victims of war becomes irrelevant.
The numbers of lives lost for the Ukrainian people are astounding, more so given the fact that most Americans are completely unaware that any Ukrainians died, much less millions.
But their situation is unique in that the Soviet Union, until its collapse, had suppressed the facts of the Ukrainian Holocaust. This is in part because of the role the Soviets (Russians) played in the massacre of the Ukrainian people.
In Table 1, when the figure for the Ukrainian lives lost appears to be equal to or great than the Jewish lives lost, it must be noted the majority of Jewish lives lost were in street executions, roundups, and the concentration camps.
The majority of the Ukrainian lives lost were in slave labor, starvation, and executions. So while more Jews lost their lives upon entering the camps, more Ukrainians were worked to death or shot outside the camps.
When the figures for both Russian civilians and Russian prisoners of war are combined, the Russians lost conservatively five million, three hundred thousand people, compared to the six million Jewish lives lost.
Considering the mass graves on the Eastern front, the Russians probably lost more than these figures and should rightly claim a place as a major victim group. Yet little is said and even less written in the United States and Western Europe about Russian lives lost during the Holocaust. This is due to several factors.
To many in the West, the Russians’ changing roles during World War II as both aggressor and ally obscure their role as victim. Further, the Russians, though they lost large numbers of people to Nazi aggression, were themselves responsible for their own Holocaust and that of the Ukrainian people as a result of their involvement with and against the Nazis.
The subsequent Cold War and the Soviet Union’s anti-Semitic stand, especially toward Israel, further obscured the Soviet people as victims, and the Western anti-Communist attitudes made the Soviets into enemies. No sympathy or understanding is given to an enemy, much less accurate representation of their lives lost during the Holocaust in our history books.
Other groups listed in Table 1 have also lost a great number of people in the Holocaust;
Yugoslavia easily lost ten percent of its population, about one and a half million people. The three most prominent ways Yugoslavians were killed were the genocidal massacres by the Nazi-sponsored Ustash regime in Croatia, the veritable civil war between various ethnic groups and political movements in Yugoslavia unleashed by the German dismemberment of the country, and the occupation policies of the German military itself aimed at crushing partisan resistance.
Example of the various cruel atrocities of the Muslim and Catholic Ustasha (nazi) of WW2 Yugoslavia. Women, pregnant women, children, and Serbian orthodox priests, along with any Jews were their main targets.
The German occupation forces were indirectly responsible for the first two forms of death, and directly responsible for the third. In Yugoslavia at Novi Sad and Stari Becej in a period spanning six days (January 23-28, 1942) over 6,392 Serbs were executed along with 4,685 Jews.
With the invasion and occupation of Belgium and France, the Nazi elimination of undesirable people continued to spread throughout the Jewish population and beyond.
They targeted three main categories of people: racial enemies, social undesirables, and political enemies. Gypsies, Jews, and Blacks fell into the racial category.
Criminals, prostitutes, homosexuals, and mental patients were social undesirables.
Socialists, communists, pacifists, anti-Nazi refugees from Germany and Austria, members of the International Brigade, and Spanish Republican exiles were considered political enemies of the Nazi regime.
Anti-Nazi refugees and illegal refugees in Belgium and France numbered over 30,000. The International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War were a sub-group within the anti-Nazi refugees. These “freedom fighters” were imprisoned automatically when they crossed the border into France after the defeat of Republican Spain.
At the beginning of 1939, nearly one-half million refugees fled across the border to France. Almost one-third were women, children, and the elderly. These people chose exile in France over imprisonment in Spain.
Upon arriving in France, these Spaniards were herded into primitive beach concentration camps near the Mediterranean coast. When the Nazis invaded France two years later, many of the Spanish freedom fighters who were imprisoned in temporary camps in France were later deported to official concentration camps such as Mauthausen, Buchenwald, and Dachau.
In these camps the majority of the Spanish Republicans met their deaths. Tens of thousands of Spanish Republicans had been imprisoned in Mauthausen concentration camp. By early 1945 only 3,000 remained alive, and of these 2,163 were killed in a three-month time span from February through April of 1945.
The Polish people, who rank fourth behind the Ukrainians, Jews, and Russians in lives lost, are also largely overlooked as victims of the Holocaust.
The genocidal policies of the Nazis resulted in the deaths of about as many Polish Gentiles as Polish Jews, thus making them co-victims in a Forgotten Holocaust. This Holocaust has been largely ignored because historians who have written on the subject of the Holocaust have chosen to interpret the tragedy in exclusivistic terms–namely, as the most tragic period in the history of the Jewish Diaspora.
To them, the Holocaust was unique to the Jews, and they therefore have had little or nothing to say about the nine million Gentiles, including three million Poles, who also perished in the greatest tragedy the world has ever known. Little wonder that many people who experienced these events share the feeling of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, who anxious when the meaning of the word Holocaust undergoes gradual modifications, so that the word begins to belong to the history of the Jews exclusively, as if among the victims there were not also millions of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and prisoners of other nationalities. — Richard C. Lukas, preface to The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation 1939-1944
One week before Hitler’s forces invaded Poland, he told the Wehrmacht to “kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language . . . The destruction of Poland is our primary task.
The aim is not the arrival at a certain line but the annihilation of living forces. Be merciless. Be brutal. It is necessary to proceed with maximum severity. The war is to be a war of annihilation.
Clearly, the only differences between the intents of the Nazis toward the Jewish population and their intents toward the Polish population were in the timing and the writing.
The Nazis wrote their agenda for the Jewish people in their laws, the complete annihilation of the entire population of Jews.
They intended to completely wipe out the Polish population as well but never formally wrote it down.
The other aspect was the timing. Whereas the Nazis intended to wipe out the Jews immediately, they planned to use the Poles as forced labor before exterminating them.
Hitler’s viceroy in the General Government, Hans Frank, was quoted in Richard Lukas’ The Forgotten Holocaust, “As far as I am concerned,” he said, “the Poles and the Ukrainians and their like may be chopped into small pieces. Let it be, what should be.”
Unlike most of the Jewish people who died in gas chambers, most of the Polish people died in singular or mass executions. When they were not executed immediately, they were worked and/or starved to death.
However, a large number of Polish people were also gassed in the concentration camps. The first executions by gas at Auschwitz consisted of 300 Poles and 700 Soviet (Russian) prisoners of war.
During nearly six years of war, Poland lost 6,028,000 of its people, or twenty-two percent of its total population. This is the highest ratio of losses to population of any country in Europe. Over half of these victims were Polish Christians, victims of prisons, death camps, raids, executions, epidemics, starvation, excessive work, and ill treatment.
The treatment victims received varied as greatly as the types of victims themselves.
Large numbers of Jewish people went directly from the trains to the gas chambers, with their identities never recorded. Other groups died a slow, brutal death of starvation, overwork, physical violence, and/or medical experimentation.
In the camps, however, Nazis and prisoners alike consistently singled out one group for mistreatment. The tens of thousands of homosexuals incarcerated and killed in the camps were usually treated more harshly than other prisoners, and were also subjected to cruel medical experiments, like some other victims.
The Nazis often used charges of homosexuality to target or eliminate people not falling under the various “legal” categories for Nazi persecution.
The Nazis eliminated people within their own ranks in this manner. Ernst Röhm, chief of Sturmabteilung (the SA, Storm Troopers, Brown Shirts), and army supreme commander Von Fritsch, an opponent of Hitler’s military policy, were brutally murdered because of accusations of homosexuality. The Nazis also used charges of rampant homosexuality within the Catholic Church to undermine the power of the Church.
There are many other groups victimized and murdered by the Nazis whose stories deserve voice and whose lives need recognition. The perception of the word Holocaust, and even the event itself, should undergo a thorough examination and transformation because millions of other lives were lost.
Since the Holocaust should not be considered exclusively Jewish, it is important to isolate just when, how, and why it became perceived as a Jewish event.
The when can be answered easily–right from the beginning. The media have shaped the American public’s view of the Holocaust. Deborah Lipstadt found tendencies in reporting that altered the public’s perception of what was actually occurring.
She discovered that stories of the atrocities seldom received front-page coverage. Instead, such stories were confined to pages more distant from the front of the paper, with obscure headlines, small type, and limited information.
Lipstadt’s research examined numerous papers both in the United States and Britain for a number of years during the war. A limited sample from the New York Times also reveals Lipstadt’s findings to be accurate. Further, when the reportings on Jewish atrocities were hard to find, stories on the non-Jewish victims were even scarcer.
With the stories that were being reported, the Jews were always viewed as the victims. Non-Jews received little attention. When non-Jews were mentioned, it was usually in the categories of refugees, Catholics, or political prisoners.
Contemporaries placed little emphasis upon the identity or numbers of non-Jewish victims being exterminated daily. The focus, when there was one, was almost exclusively on the Jewish victims.
Non-Jewish victim information is found in the index for the New York Times‘ World War II back issues. When looking for information on World War II stories concerning victims, deaths, or concentration camps, one is directed to other sub-categories.
There are a number of steps to go through to find information concerning non-Jews. First one looks for “minorities,” then is directed to “World War II Prisoners,” at which point one is directed to look for “country headings,” where non-Jews lost their lives. Even looking under “genocide,” the coverage is in the various countries as it relates to Jews. It is incredibly difficult to find non-Jewish stories or information.
In a December 1938 edition of the New York Times, an article appears with the headline “Nazi Camps Release 7,000 Jews; Many Are Victims of Cold Wave.” This article, which actually combines two stories from different cities, details the circumstances of the Jewish imprisonment, release, health, and terrible living conditions within two camps.
Only two sentences out of the thirteen paragraphs mention the political prisoners who were also in these camps with the Jews. The report makes no mention of how many political prisoners were in the camps, if they suffered frostbite and amputations as did the Jews, or if there were prisoners of other categories as well.
The February 10, 1946, New York Times includes an article with the headline “Russians To Cite Crimes In Greece.” Detailing Nazi crimes against Greeks, this article appears on page 32, column 5 of the newspaper.
According to the article, the yearly death rate of Greeks during the war in various locations increased anywhere from 800 percent to 1000 percent. An example of German aggression was noted in “the bloody march.”
In early September of 1941, German soldiers “rounded up all males from 14 to 70 years of age….The Germans forced their captives to run from Sabac across the Sava River to Yarak in the Srem Province and back, a distance of 14.38 miles.
Those who lagged behind…were pitilessly killed on the spot….When the survivors of this group returned, another group of 800 peasants were forced to run along the same routes….Only 300 of this group reached Yarak alive.”
This article was not near the front of the paper, and the article actually dealt more with the dispute concerning who would present the evidence and the original loss and mishandling of the evidence than it did with the Greek victims.
Another article from the New York Times, February 16, 1946, concerns the Nuremberg trial of Hans Frank, Hitler’s viceroy in the General Government.
The subtitle of this article reads, “Frank Termed Himself No. 1 War Criminal–Blamed for Death of 3,000,000 Jews,” yet within this article there is no mention of Frank and others being linked to “the murder of millions of Russians, Poles, Yugoslavs and Czechoslovaks.”
In addition to highlighting the Jews as victims in the caption and the story, the article also describes the deaths of Jewish people in more graphic terms than the deaths of non-Jews.
It describes the way Nazis killed the Jewish people as “those who cut in two the bodies of children at the Yanov camp.” In contrast, the way Nazis killed non-Jews was described as “systematically exterminated.” The portrayal of the deaths thus sought to elicit more sympathy for the Jews.
A final example from the New York Times, December 23, 1946, page 5, is an article concerning Yugoslavian victims of the Nazi extermination policies. The headline, which is much smaller than the surrounding headlines, reads: “18 Former Nazi Officers Doomed by Yugoslavia.”
This article only mentions 150,000 Yugoslavian deaths of men, women, and children, which included 35,000 Jews. The Yugoslavs actually had a death toll of over 1.5 million.
This article also deals more with the men being tried for these crimes, and the events surrounding the trial than it does with the story surrounding the actual victims. A person reading this article would have no indication of the magnitude of the deaths in Yugoslavia.
In defense of the reporters of these four examples, it is possible no one in the media at that time had full statistics for how many people died in the various countries or in the various camps. Since then, no complete set of statistics has been compiled in one location; however, statistics are available from the various countries that were able to either maintain records during the Holocaust or create a census of the victims after the war had ended.
From this limited sample, three tendencies emerge. First, stories of the Nazis’ victims are hard to find within the newspaper. They are usually not in a section near the front of the paper, or near the front of the section within which they are found. Second, the headlines for these stories are unclear or in a typeface that is smaller than, and /or not in boldface as, are surrounding headlines of other stories. The focus of such articles is almost exclusively on the Jews as victims. Very little, if anything, is said about non-Jewish victims.
When the Holocaust became exclusively Jewish is clear–right from the beginning. Part of how is answered in the way the stories of the atrocities were covered. But newspapers were not the only places people went for information about the war and its victims.
Theatre and cinema of the day also contributed to the perceptions of the Holocaust in the selection of stories they chose to present to the public. What did they present?
Beginning in the 1950s, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl (1952) was presented in book, play, and movie–the story of Jewish victims, written by a Jewish victim. In the 1970s and 1980s, American television aired Gerald Green’s Holocaust (1978) and Herman Wouk’s Winds of War (1983) miniseries, both of which focused almost exclusively on the Jewish people as victims, while neglecting the non-Jewish victims.
In the 1990s, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) also dealt exclusively with Jewish victims. Typical of the treatment of non-Jews in newspapers and history books, the non-Jew star of Schindler’s List was in the role of hero/rescuer. Nowhere does this movie show the millions of non-Jews who also met their deaths in the concentration camps, raids, death marches, and invasions of the various countries.
While these examples are by no means all inclusive, they do demonstrate the overwhelming tendency of the entertainment media to consistently portray Jews as the exclusive victims of the Holocaust.
Remarkably, historians have repeated what newspapers and the entertainment media have done. Even though historians had access to first-hand accounts and official government documents, they too have focused on only one group of victims to the near exclusion of all others.
Some of the earliest histories of the Holocaust portrayed the event as a singularly Jewish experience. Not all, but the majority of the histories fall into one or more of the following three categories: (1) the author is Jewish; (2) the focus of the book is on Jewish victims; and (3) non-Jews are portrayed as rescuers, bystanders, or perpetrators, but are seldom highlighted as victims themselves.
Before 1980, no book in print focused entirely on non-Jewish victims or recognized the millions more non-Jewish dead of the Holocaust. It has only been since the 1980s that reports have been published centering on these other forgotten millions and recognizing the millions of victims that have previously been unacknowledged.
Since then, numerous records and government documents have identified the victims and chronicled the number of lives lost. Historians must use these sources to depict accurately this period in history from the perspectives of all the participants, not just one group.
The final question is why. Why with all this information, all these non-Jewish victims, and all these non-Jewish survivors, have so few stories and so little information been disseminated to the American public?
To understand the answer to this question, the Holocaust must be viewed in the context of the political environment of the West following World War II. The creation of the nation of Israel, its pivotal role as a bulwark against communism during the Cold War, and its close ties with the United States ensured that the definition of the Holocaust would take on a uniquely Jewish identity at the expense of the non-Jewish stories.
After the end of World War II, with the Jewish people seen as the victims of a Holocaust, those who had turned their backs on the exterminations felt a collective sympathy and guilt.
World guilt, anger, and outrage at the Jewish death toll spurred not only the global attitude favorable for a Jewish state, but also gave justification to the Jewish people to fight, and to see themselves as martyrs of the world.
This is an image that has been fostered and fiercely protected by the Jewish people since the end of World War II. As long as the Holocaust centers exclusively on the Jewish people, it reaffirms in the world consciousness the necessity to maintain the Jewish state of Israel, so an atrocity such as the Holocaust will never happen again to their people.
Given the powerful voice the Jewish people have through the government of Israel, it is not surprising that the focus of the Holocaust has been on Jewish victims. However, strong support for Israel within the United States reinforced this view of the Holocaust. After World War II, the United States quickly slid into a Cold War with the Soviet Union and all its communist states.
It is interesting to note that the majority of non-Jewish victims (Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, Yugoslavians, Gypsies, Czechs, and Serbs) came from nations that after 1945 were under Communist rule. During the Cold War, the communists were our enemies, and no American wanted to hear about victims of the Holocaust who were now in communist countries.
Israel consistently stood by the United States as an anti-Communist ally in the troubled Middle East. The Soviets themselves played a role in omitting their people as victims of the Holocaust, for in revealing their people as victims, they would also have to account for their own role in the deaths of so many millions of their own people.
Some Soviet scholars estimate between 5.5 million and 7 million of their people were victims of the Holocaust. This includes some 600,000 Jews who fell victim to the German extermination policy” as well. Thus, the players in the Cold War continued to shape the perception of the Holocaust as a Jewish event.
Numerous factors have contributed to the American public’s perception of the Holocaust as an exclusively Jewish event. Recognizing these factors–misinformation, misrepresentation, and political agendas–should be the first step in correcting America’s skewed version of Holocaust history.
The Holocaust was an event of mass prejudice and abuse of power. It entailed the murdering of many millions of people who were singled out for their differences, whether they be religious, ethnic, physical, political, social or national.
Over six million Jewish people were murdered by virtue of their ethnicity and religion, while somewhere between sixteen and twenty million non-Jews were also murdered because they did not fit the homogeneous mold the Nazi regime had selected for the German nation.
Consequently, the image of the Holocaust as strictly a Jewish event must be corrected. If not, millions of non-Jews will have died without a record in history, and the Holocaust will never be an accurate portrayal of the actual historical event.