for Black Youth

Gypsies: Executed
for Their Race

Jehovah Witnesses Stood Firm

No Need for the Disabled

Pink Triangles for Homosexuals

The Survivors Personal Stories

The Legacy - 2nd Generation

The Rescuers:
Heroes & Heroines

Is Remembering the Non-Jewish Victims Important to All?


Holocaust - Non-Jewish Holocaust Victims

Raised by parents who had survived the Holocaust, I heard many stories about the atrocities of this World War II horror. I learned how one of my family's homes in Poland was burned to the ground by Nazis. I learned that my uncle, Józef GNIDU£A, was shot in the head by Nazi soldiers because his family was hiding a Jewish woman. Painful as it was for them to speak about it, my parents [Frank and Ewa Pencak] felt it was important that I knew the stories of the Holocaust.

Holocaust montage by young German student

It was only after I moved to the Los Angeles area several years ago that I realized that many people were not aware that millions of victims of the Holocaust were NOT Jewish. Outside the Polish community, I heard very little mention about the five million non-Jewish victims -- usually referred to as "the others".

Whenever I mentioned that my parents were survivors of the Holocaust, people would look at me oddly and say, "Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish?"

I realized that most people were not aware of any other Holocaust victims except Jews.

I am Jewish. I converted in 1978 after studying at the University of Judaism one year before marrying a Jewish man. I belong to a temple where my daughter attends religious school. I love the Jewish religion and I admire the Jewish community. In no way do I want to diminish the enormous magnitude of the victimization and murder of the 5,860,000 Jewish people. The Jews were singled out by the Nazis for total extermination -- a significant fact that I do not repudiate, nor want to diminish in any way. The Jewish people have done an extraordinary job of making the younger generation around the world aware of their persecution and the immense tragedy of the Holocaust.

But what about "the others"? There were five million of them. Who were they? Whose children, whose mothers and fathers were they? How could five million human beings have been killed and forgotten?

After studying carefully-documented books, and interviewing non-Jewish survivors, I found more information about the five million forgotten than I had ever imagined -- information that most people are not aware of. Polish citizens suffered enormously during the Holocaust -- Jews and non-Jews.

Eleven million precious lives were lost during the Holocaust of World War II. Six million of these were Polish citizens. Half of these Polish citizens were non-Jews.

While there is no argument that Hitler abhorred the Jews and caused almost six million to be ruthlessly killed, often non-Jewish victims are tragically forgotten from Holocaust remembrances. Eleven million precious human lives were lost during the Holocaust. Five million of these were non-Jewish. Three million were Polish Christians and Catholics. It would be very sad to forget even one precious life extinguished so ruthlessly. It would be a tragedy to forget five million.
© 1997 - 2012 - Terese Pencak Schwartz


Death Camp of the Third Reich

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Thank you for your information on non-Jewish Holocaust victims. I am a teacher and I have been searching for the information that you have shared. My students will now know about ALL of the groups effected by the Nazis.
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