Although Jews were the primary target of the Nazi regime, several other minority groups suffered during the Holocaust as well.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were a small protestant Christian sect in Germany. But unlike the larger Catholic and Protestant churches, they refused to bend under Nazi pressure. Members refused to use the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” because it would mean elevating Hitler above God. They also refused to fight in the Nazi army. As a result, the Nazis persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and sent them to concentration camps. They could gain release by renouncing their faith, but none did.
The Gypsies consisted of nomadic tribes from India who settled in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. Tens of thousands of Gypsies (many from the Roma and Sinti tribes) were hunted down and exterminated by the Nazis. At least 23,000 were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and in one night alone – August 2, 1944 – 2,897 men, women and children were gassed there. All told, the Nazis exterminated between 20 and 50 percent of the Sinti and Roma population, which amounted to nearly 500,000 people.
Under Nazi rule, homosexuality was a crime. Thus, although early 20th century Berlin had once boasted a vibrant gay culture, bars and clubs were shut down under Nazi rule and homosexuality became a taboo subject that could not be discussed in magazines or films. Accusations of homosexuality often resulted in imprisonment in a concentration camp, where abuse and torture was the norm.
The Nazis were as brutal with their political opponents as they were with other persecuted minorities. Communists, Social Democrats, Conservatives, Catholics and even Nazis who were suspected of being disloyal were rounded up and executed, or sent to concentration camps. Hermann Göring once boasted “whoever raises a hand against us shall lose his head.”
As shown above, homosexual prisoners were usually marked with a pink triangle on their uniforms.