The extermination of the Jewish people that happened during World War 2 was one of the most horrible events in history. Not only did this happen to the adults, but innocent children were also targeted. Children were seen as vulnerable, dangerous, unwanted people. This was because they were the beginning of new generations. The Nazis were afraid that children would eventually make a larger population of Jewish people, so their main goal was to eliminate them. None of these children were persecuted because of something that they did.
When Hitler rose to power and started “The Final Solution”, or the mass killing of Jewish people, he ordered children and their families to migrate to a place called the ghettos. The conditions within the ghettos were very poor. They were run down, isolated sections of town that were very often unsanitary, filthy and crowded with people. Many of the children who lived there were separated from their parents, who were sent to work in forced labour factories. The chances of survival for children were scarce. The main reason for this was because they were seen as “useless eaters” (ushmm.org/1). The younger ones could not work, and therefore, they were the first ones to be forced to leave the ghettos to be sent to the death camps.
Upon arrival at the concentration camps, most of the children had already died in the cars that had brought them there. For a young child, standing up in a crowded vehicle for up to seven days without food or restrooms is impossible. If they happened to survive, the young ones were sent immediately to the “showers” (an acronym used by the Nazis to disguise the gas chambers). Once they were all packed in to this very small, air tight room, toxic gasses were released into the air, and everyone died within 2 or 3 minutes (ushmm.org/1). As for the older children, they were inspected by Nazi officers to see if they were healthy and strong enough to work. If they passed the test, the children were sent to perform forced labour tasks such as carrying heavy materials, or pushing carts. This slavery was often done without adequate clothing or nutrition. If the children became weak or stopped working, they were immediately shot (ushmm.org/1). The Nazis clearly felt no mercy for them just because they were children.
Many of the children were killed in what was called the “euthanasia program”.
“The term “euthanasia” usually refers to a painless death for a suffering individual. In the Nazi context, however, “euthanasia” represented a systematic murder program targeting mentally and physically disabled youth. There were between 5000 and 7000 children killed in this program” (ushmm.org/4).
The victims had probably been living an enjoyable life, but the Nazis had organized this for an excuse to kill them faster.
The human experimentation that occurred during World War 2 was commonly focused on young children, as they were considered useless, because they could not work. Josef Mengele was the most popular physician who performed this on child victims of the holocaust. He preferred to experiment on identical and fraternal twins, in order to trace the genetic origins of various diseases (ushmm.org/3). This was also torturous to the siblings because they were forced to watch one another suffer. In an effort to change Jewish children into “pure Germans”, Mengele tried things like