AuschwitzAuschwitzHow could all this have happened? Thisis one of the many questions associated with the Holocaust. The Third Reichof no doubt on of the world’s largest and most feared empires. It couldhave easily overthrown the Roman Empire and was the most worthy adversaryof the British Empire. The most overwhelming and terrifying aspect of theSecond World War has got to be the ghettos, concentration camps and ofcourse the death camps. The camp that stands out in everybody’s mind hasgot to be Auschwitz.
Out of the 6. 8 million killed there were 6000 killedat Auschwitz a day. What some people may not know is that Auschwitz wasactually three camps fused into one. The most potent and efficient wayof mass murder was the gas chamber.
That is if you lasted the trip there. But the most insulting part of the whole ordeal to the Jewish was beingburned in one of the many Crematoriums. The Nazis established Auschwitz in April1940 under the direction of Heinrich Himmler, chief of two Nazi organizations-theNazi guards known as the Schutzstaffel (SS), and the secret police knownas the Gestapo. The camp at Auschwitz originally housed political prisonersfrom occupied Poland and from concentration camps within Germany. Constructionof nearby Birkenau (Brzenzinka), also known as Auschwitz II, began in October1941 and included a women’s section after August 1942.
Birkenau had fourgas chambers, designed to resemble showers, and four crematoria, used toincinerate bodies. Approximately 40 more satellite campswere established around Auschwitz. These were forced labor camps and wereknown collectively as Auschwitz III. The first one was built at Monowitzand held Poles who had been forcibly evacuated from their hometowns bythe Nazis. Prisoners were transported from all over Nazi-occupied Europeby rail, arriving at Auschwitz in daily convoys.
Arrivals at the complexwere separated into three groups. One group went to the gas chambers withina few hours; these people were sent to the Birkenau camp, where more than20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazisused a cyanide gas called Zyklon-B, which was manufactured by a pest-controlcompany. A second group of prisoners were used as slave labor at industrialfactories for such companies as I. G. Farben and Krupp.
Camp CommandantRudolf Hoess admitted to a minimum figure of 2. 5 million deaths at Auschwitz. Reflecting back some years later on the experiments in the basement ofBlock 11 and later in Gas Chamber and Crematorium 1, Hoess said:” At the time I did not think aboutthe problem of killing Soviet prisoners of war. It was an order and I hadto execute it. However, I will say frankly that killing that group of peopleby gas relieved my anxieties.
It would soon be necessary to start the massextermination of the Jews, and until that moment neither I Eichmann hadknown how to conduct a mass killing. A sort of gas was to be used, butit was not known what kind of gas was meant and how to use it. Now we hadboth the gas and the way of using it. I had always been concerned at thethought of mass shootings, particularly of women and children.
I was alreadysick of executions. Now my mind was at ease. “Some prisoners survived through the helpof German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1000 Polish Jewsby diverting them from Auschwitz to work for him, first in his factorynear Krakow and later at a factory in what is now the Czech Republic. Athird group, mostly twins and dwarfs, underwent medical experiments atthe hands of doctors such as Josef Mengele, who was also known as the “Angelof Death. ” The camp was staffed partly by prisoners, some of whom wereselected to be kapos (orderlies) and sonderkommandos (workers at the crematoria).
Members of these groups were killed periodically. The kapos and sonderkommandoswere supervised by members of the SS; altogether 6000 SS members workedat Auschwitz. By 1943 resistance organizations had developed in the camp. These organizations helped a few prisoners escape; these escapees tookwith them news of exterminations, such as the killing of hundreds of thousandsof Jews transported from Hungary between May and July 1944. In October1944 a group of sonderkommandos destroyed one of the gas chambers at Birkenau.
They and their accomplices, a group of women from the Monowitz labor camp,were all put to death. When the Soviet army marched into Auschwitz to liberatethe camp on January 27, 1945, they found about 7600 survivors abandonedthere. More than 58,000 prisoners had already been evacuated by the Nazisand sent on a final death march to Germany. In 1946 Poland founded a museumat the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in remembrance of its victims. By 1994, about 22 million visitors-700,000 annually-had passed throughthe iron gates that bear the cynical motto Arbeit macht frei (work makesone free).
German war interests required the maximizationof economic benefits from this cold-blooded murder. Beforethe bodies were burned the victim’s hair was cut off and fillings and falseteeth made of precious metals were removed. The hair was used for makinghaircloth, and the metals were melted into bars and sent to Berlin. Afterthe liberation tons of hair were found in camp warehouses; the Nazis hadnot had time to process it all. Proof that this hair came from victimsof gassing was provided by The Krakow Institute of Judicial Expertise,whose analyses showed that traces of prussic acid, a poisonous componenttypical of Zyklon compounds, were present in the hair.
In 1941-1944 prisoner of KL Auschwitz,then of KL Gross-Rosen and KL Flossenburg-Leitmeritz, from which he escapedin April 1945. After the war, journalist, author of many articles aboutAuschwitz: active in many associations and organizations, acting, for exampleas Secretary General of the International Auschwitz Committee and memberof the Main Commission for the investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland.Deniers acknowledge that some Jews were incarcerated in places such asAuschwitz, but they maintain, as they did at the trial of a Holocaust denierin Canada, it was equipped with “all the luxuries of a country club,including a swimming pool, a dance hall and recreational facilities.” SomeJews may have died, they said, but this was the natural consequence ofwartime deprivations.”