|One of Hitler's central and most controversial ideologies was the concept of what he and his followers termed racial hygiene. On 15 September 1935 he presented two laws—known as the Nuremberg Laws—to the Reichstag. The laws banned marriage between non-Jewish and Jewish Germans, and forbade the employment of non-Jewish women under the age of 45 in Jewish households. The laws deprived so-called "non-Aryans" of the benefits of German citizenship.
Hitler's early eugenic policies targeted children with physical and developmental disabilities in a programme dubbed Action T4.
Hitler's idea of Lebensraum, espoused in Mein Kampf, focused on acquiring new territory for German settlement in Eastern Europe. The Generalplan Ost ("General Plan for the East") called for the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to be deported to West Siberia, used as slave labour, or murdered; the conquered territories were to be colonised by German or "Germanised" settlers.
The original plan called for this process to begin after the conquest of the Soviet Union, but when that failed to happen, Hitler moved the plans forward. By January 1942 the decision had been taken to kill the Jews and other deportees that were considered undesirable.
| The Holocaust (the "Endlösung der jüdischen Frage" or "Final Solution of the Jewish Question") was organised and executed by Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. The records of the Wannsee Conference—held on 20 January 1942 and led by Reinhard Heydrich, with fifteen senior Nazi officials (including Adolf Eichmann) participating—provide the clearest evidence of systematic planning for the Holocaust. On 22 February Hitler was recorded saying to his associates, "we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews".Approximately thirty Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps were used for this purpose. By summer 1942 the facility at Auschwitz concentration camp was modified to accept large numbers of deportees for killing or enslavement. An American soldier stands near a wagon piled high with corpses outside the crematorium in the newly liberated Buchenwald concentration camp (April 1945)
Although no specific order from Hitler authorising the mass killings has surfaced, he approved the Einsatzgruppen, killing squads that followed the German army through Poland and Russia, and he was well informed about their activities. During interrogations by Soviet intelligence officers, the records of which were declassified over fifty years later, Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, and his adjutant, Otto Günsche, stated that Hitler had a direct interest in the development of gas chambers.
Between 1939 and 1945, the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, were responsible for the deaths of eleven to fourteen million people, including about six million Jews, representing two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe, and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma. Deaths took place in concentration and extermination camps, ghettos, and through mass executions. Many victims of the Holocaust were gassed to death, whereas others died of starvation or disease while working as slave labourers.
Hitler's policies also resulted in the killings of Poles and Soviet prisoners of war, communists and other political opponents, homosexuals, the physically and mentally disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, and trade unionists. Hitler never appeared to have visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly about the killings.