The governments of the German Empire and Nazi Germany ordered, organized and condoned a substantial number of war crimes, first in the Herero and Namaqua genocide and then in World War I and World War II. The most notable of these is the Holocaust in which millions of Jews and Romani were systematically murdered. Millions of civilians and prisoners of war also died as a result of German abuse, mistreatment, and deliberate starvation policies in those two conflicts. Much of the evidence was deliberately destroyed by the perpetrators, such as in Sonderaktion 1005, in an attempt to conceal the crimes.
Considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century, the Herero and Namaqua Genocide was perpetrated by the German Empire between 1904 and 1907 in German South West Africa (modern day Namibia), during the scramble for Africa.On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero, rebelled against German colonialism. In August, General Lothar von Trotha of the Imperial German Army defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.
In total, from 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died.The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst because the Herero who fled the violence were prevented from returning from the Namib Desert. Some sources also claim that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert wells.
Documentation regarding German war crimes in World War I was seized and destroyed by Nazi Germany during World War II, after occupying France, along with monuments commemorating their victims.
Poison gas was first introduced as a weapon by Imperial Germany, and subsequently used by all major belligerents, in violation of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which explicitly forbade the use of "poison or poisoned weapons" in warfare.
In August 1914, as part of the Schlieffen Plan, the German Army invaded and occupied the neutral nation of Belgium without explicit warning, which violated a treaty of 1839 that the German chancellor dismissed as a "scrap of paper" and the 1907 Hague Convention on Opening of Hostilities.Within the first two months of the war, the German occupiers terrorized the Belgians, killing thousands of civilians and looting and burning scores of towns, including Leuven, which housed the country's preeminent university, mainly in retaliation for Belgian guerrilla warfare, (see francs-tireurs ). This action was in violation of the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare provisions that prohibited collective punishment of civilians and looting and destruction of civilian property in occupied territories.
The raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, which took place on December 16, 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British seaport towns of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool, and Whitby. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties. The raid was in violation of the ninth section of the 1907 Hague Convention which prohibited naval bombardments of undefended towns without warning, [ citation needed ]because only Hartlepool was protected by shore batteries. Germany was a signatory of the 1907 Hague Convention. Another attack followed on 26 April 1916 on the coastal towns of Yarmouth and Lowestoft but both were important naval bases and defended by shore batteries.
Unrestricted submarine warfare was instituted in 1915 in response to the British blockade of Germany and to the British Government's refusal to court-martial the perpetrators of the Baralong incidents. Prize rules, which were codified under the 1907 Hague Convention—such as those that required commerce raiders to warn their targets and allow time for the crew to board lifeboats—were disregarded and commercial vessels were sunk regardless of nationality, cargo, or destination. Following the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915 and subsequent public outcry in various neutral countries, including the United States, the practice was withdrawn. However, Germany resumed the practice on 1 February 1917 and declared that all merchant ships regardless of nationalities would be sunk without warning. This outraged the U.S. public, prompting the U.S. to break diplomatic relations with Germany two days later, and, along with the Zimmermann Telegram, led the U.S. entry into the war two months later on the side of the Allied Powers.
Chronologically, the first German World War II crime, and also the very first act of the war, was the bombing of Wieluń, a town where no targets of military value were present.
More significantly, The Holocaust of the Jews, the Action T4 killing of the disabled and the Porajmos of the Gypsies are the most notable war crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Not all of the crimes committed during the Holocaust and similar mass atrocities were war crimes. Telford Taylor (The U.S. prosecutor in the German High Command case at the Nuremberg Trials and Chief Counsel for the twelve trials before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals) explained in 1982:
as far as wartime actions against enemy nationals are concerned, the  Genocide Convention added virtually nothing to what was already covered (and had been since the Hague Convention of 1899) by the internationally accepted laws of land warfare, which require an occupying power to respect "family honors and rights, individual lives and private property, as well as religious convictions and liberty" of the enemy nationals. But the laws of war do not cover, in time of either war or peace, a government's actions against its own nationals (such as Nazi Germany's persecution of German Jews). And at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the tribunals rebuffed several efforts by the prosecution to bring such "domestic" atrocities within the scope of international law as "crimes against humanity."
In addition, more than 90 villages and towns are recorded from the Hellenic network of martyr cities.During the triple German, Italian and Bulgarian, occupation about 800,000 people lost their lives in Greece (see World War II casualties).
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German Navy December 1914 Hague Convention bombardment.
The Final Solution or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution to the Jewish question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geopolitical terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Around six million Polish citizens, are estimated to have perished during World War II. Most were civilians killed by the actions of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. At the International Military Tribunal held in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945–46, three categories of wartime criminality were juridically established: waging a war of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. These three crimes in international law were for the first time, from the end of the war, categorized as violations of fundamental human values and norms. These crimes were committed in occupied Poland on a tremendous scale.
The Herero and Nama genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century, waged by the German Empire against the Ovaherero, the Nama, and the San in German South West Africa. It occurred between 1904 and 1908.
Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
The pacification actions in German-occupied Poland during World War II were one of many punitive measures designed to inflict terror on the civilian population of local villages and towns with the use of military and police force. They were an integral part of the war of aggression against the Polish nation waged by Nazi Germany since September 1, 1939. The projected goal of pacification operations was to prevent and suppress the Polish resistance movement in World War II nevertheless, among the victims were children as young as 1.5 year old, women, fathers attempting to save their families, farmers rushing to rescue livestock from burning buildings, patients, victims already wounded, and hostages of many ethnicities including Poles and Jews.
Names of the Holocaust vary based on context. "The Holocaust" is the name commonly applied in English since the mid-1940s to the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II. The term is also used more broadly to include the Nazis' systematic murder of millions of people in other groups they determined were "untermensch" or "subhuman," which included primarily the Jews and the Slavs, the former having allegedly infected the latter, including ethnic Poles, the Serbs, Russians, the Czechs and others.
The Wola massacre was the systematic killing of between 40,000 and 50,000 Poles in the Wola suburb of Poland's capital city Warsaw by German Wehrmacht and fellow Axis collaborators in the Russian RONA forces during the early phase of the Warsaw Uprising. The massacre was ordered by Hitler who directed to kill "anything that moves".
During World War II, the Germans' combined armed forces committed systematic war crimes, including massacres, mass rape, looting, the exploitation of forced labor, the murder of three million Soviet prisoners of war, and participated in the extermination of Jews. While the Nazi Party's own SS forces of Nazi Germany was the organization most responsible for the genocidal killing of the Holocaust, the regular armed forces of the Wehrmacht committed many war crimes of their own, particularly on the Eastern Front in the war against the Soviet Union. According to a study by Alex J. Kay and David Stahel, the majority of the Wehrmacht soldiers deployed to the Soviet Union participated in war crimes.
The war crimes which were perpetrated by the Soviet Union and its armed forces from 1919 to 1991 include acts which were committed by the Red Army as well as acts which were committed by the NKVD, including acts which were committed by the NKVD's Internal Troops. In some cases, these acts were committed upon the orders of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in pursuance of the early Soviet Government's policy of Red Terror. In other instances they were committed without orders by Soviet troops against prisoners of war or civilians of countries that had been in armed conflict with the USSR, or they were committed during partisan warfare.
Crimes against the Polish nation committed by Nazi Germany and Axis collaborationist forces during the invasion of Poland, along with auxiliary battalions during the subsequent occupation of Poland in World War II, consisted of the murder of millions of ethnic Poles and the systematic extermination of Jewish Poles. The Germans justified these genocides on the basis of Nazi racial theory, which regarded Poles and other Slavic peoples as racially inferior Untermenschen and depicted Jews as a constant threat. By 1942, the Nazi Germans were implementing their plan to kill every Jew in German-occupied Europe, and had also developed plans to eliminate the Polish people through mass murder, ethnic cleansing, enslavement and extermination through labor, and assimilation into German identity of a small minority of Poles deemed "racially valuable". During World War II, the Germans not only murdered millions of Poles, but ethnically cleansed millions more through forced deportation to make room for “racially superior” German settlers. The genocides claimed the lives of 2.7 to 3 million Polish Jews and 1.8 to 2.77 million non-Jewish ethnic Poles, according to various sources such as Poland's Institute of National Remembrance
The 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division "Reichsführer-SS" was a motorised formation in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II.
The Holocaust in Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian (Litvaks) and Polish Jews, living in Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland within the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian SSR. Out of approximately 208,000–210,000 Jews, an estimated 190,000–195,000 were murdered before the end of World War II, most between June and December 1941. More than 95% of Lithuania's Jewish population was massacred over the three-year German occupation—a more complete destruction than befell any other country affected by the Holocaust. Historians attribute this to the massive collaboration in the genocide by the non-Jewish local paramilitaries, though the reasons for this collaboration are still debated. The Holocaust resulted in the largest-ever loss of life in so short a period of time in the history of Lithuania.
The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine, General Government, Crimean General Government and some areas under military control to the East of Reichskommissariat Ukraine as well as Transnistria Governorate and Northern Bukovina and Carpatho-Ukraine in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944 more than a million Jews living in the Soviet Union were murdered by Nazi Germany's Generalplan Ost and the Final Solution extermination policies. Most of them were killed in Ukraine because most pre-WWII Soviet Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement, of which Ukraine was the biggest part.
Anti-partisan operations during World War II were counter-insurgency operations against the various partisan resistance movements. During World War II those operations were primarily carried out by the invading and occupying Axis powers, although with changing fortune of the wars, the Soviet Union and the Allied powers also had to deal with partisans.
The Intelligenzaktion, or Intelligentsia mass shootings, was a, not always secret, mass murder conducted by Nazi Germany against the Polish intelligentsia early in the Second World War (1939–45). The operations were conducted to realise the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland, before territorial annexation to the German Reich.
The massacres in Piaśnica were a set of mass executions carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II, between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940 in Piaśnica Wielka in the Darzlubska Wilderness near Wejherowo. The exact number of people murdered is unknown, but estimates range between 12,000 and 14,000 victims. Most of them were Polish intellectuals from Gdańsk Pomerania, but Poles, Jews, Czechs and German inmates from mental hospitals from the General Government and the Third Reich were also murdered. After the Stutthof concentration camp, Piaśnica was the largest site of killings of Polish civilians in Pomerania by the Germans, and for this reason, is sometimes referred to as the "second" or "Pomeranian" Katyn. It was the first large scale Nazi atrocity in occupied Poland.
The Holocaust in Italy was the persecution, deportation, and murder of Jews between 1943 and 1945 in the Italian Social Republic, the part of the Kingdom of Italy occupied by Nazi Germany after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943, during World War II.
In German military history, Bandenbekämpfung refers to the concept and military doctrine of countering resistance or insurrection in the rear area during wartime. Another more common understanding of Bandenbekämpfung is anti-partisan warfare. The doctrine of "bandit-fighting" provided a rationale to target and murder any number of groups, from armed guerrillas to the civilian population, as "bandits" or "members of gangs". As applied by the German Empire and later by Nazi Germany, it became instrumental in the genocidal mass murders implemented by the two regimes, including the Holocaust.
Two of the three Axis powers of World War II—Nazi Germany and their Fascist Italian allies—committed war crimes in the Kingdom of Italy.