Bundesarchiv Bild 183-N0827-318, Gradual drawing for children 6 years Auschwitz, Ankunft ungarischer Juden. Children were especially vulnerable to Nazi murder or death in the era of the Holocaust. 5 million children were murdered during the Holocaust, either directly or as a direct consequence of Nazi actions.
The Nazis advocated killing children of “unwanted” or “dangerous” groups in accordance with their ideological views, either as part of the “racial struggle” or as a measure of preventive security. This article deals with those 1,500,000 children who were killed by the Nazis. A much smaller number were saved. Some simply survived, often in a ghetto, occasionally in a concentration camp. Segregation in schools began in April 1933 when the “Law Against Overcrowding in German schools” was enacted and a restriction was set allowing only 1.
5 percent of Jewish children to be enrolled in public schools, this being a problem because 5 percent of the children in Germany were of Jewish descent. It continued to get worse as German schools began to Aryanize. This led to Jewish students feeling distant from their classmates and had different effects on different families. Some Jewish children began to form small strikes in their schools leaving without permission during hate speak during class, others tried to conform with no success, and some parents just took their children out of school. Many mothers were horrified to find out that their children were being emotionally and physically attacked by their classmates and teachers for being Jewish.
Eventually Jewish schools were built and the Jewish community jumped at the idea of their children being taught without fear of persecution, shown that only fourteen percent of Jewish children went to private school in 1932 to fifty-two percent in 1936. The Germans believed the Jews to be impure and wished to wipe out their whole population or make them slaves. This is when they invented things such as concentration camps and gas chambers. Most going to these were the surviving adults or older teenagers because children couldn’t work, therefore they were useless.
In the ghettos, which the Germans established early in the war in many Polish towns and cities such as Warsaw and Łódź, Jewish children died from starvation and exposure as well as lack of adequate clothing and shelter. The German authorities were indifferent to this mass death because they considered most of the younger ghetto children to be unproductive and hence “useless eaters”. Non-Jewish children from certain targeted groups were not spared. Soviet Union who were killed with their parents. Children rounded up for deportation to the Kulmhof extermination camp. Jewish twins kept alive to be used in Mengele’s medical experiments. These children were liberated from Auschwitz by the Red Army in January 1945.
The German authorities also incarcerated a number of children in concentration camps and transit camps. SS physicians and medical researchers used a number of children, including twins, in concentration camps for medical experiments that often resulted in the deaths of the children. In their “search to retrieve ‘Aryan blood'”or the perfect race, SS race experts ordered hundreds of children in occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union to be kidnapped and transferred to the Reich to be adopted by racially suitable German families. Although the basis for these decisions was “race-scientific,” often blond hair, blue eyes, or fair skin was sufficient to merit the “opportunity” to be “Germanized”. Transit camps were temporary stops on the way to concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Many children were brought with their families to transit camps, unsure of what awaited them. Some were filled with the hope of starting a new life and making friends in the camps, while many others were scared. Children brought to the transit camps came from all different backgrounds and were able to experience different worlds and viewpoints from other children. Children carried on with their normal lives in transit camps while bare bodies and metal frames for beds surrounded them.