(1) INTRODUCTION The Holocaust is the most horrifyingcrime against humanity of all times. “Hitler, in an attempt toestablish the pure Aryan race, decided that all mentally ill,gypsies, non supporters of Nazism, and Jews were to beeliminated from the German population. He proceeded toreach his goal in a systematic scheme.
” One of his mainmethods of “doing away” with these “undesirable” wasthrough the use of concentration camps. “In January 1941, ina meeting with his top officials the ‘final solution’ wasdecided”. Jews were to be eliminated from the population. Auschwitz was the concentration camp that carried outHitler’s “final solution” in greater numbers than any other. Inthis paper I will discuss concentration camps with a detaileddescription of the most well- known one, Auschwitz. (2)CONCENTRATION CAMPS The first concentrationcamps were set up in 1933.Order now
In the early days of Hitler,concentration camps were places that held people inprotective custody. Victims for protective custody includedthose who were both physically and mentally ill, gypsies,homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and anyone againstthe Nazi regime. “Gypsies were classified as people withatleast two gypsy great grandparents. ” By the end of 1933there were atleast fifty concentration camps throughoutoccupied Europe. “At first, the camps were controlled by theGestapo (police), but by 1934 the S.
S. (Hitler’s personalsecurity force) were ordered, by Hitler, to control thecamps. ” Camps were set up for different purposes. Somefor forced labor, others for medical experiments and, lateron, for death/ extermination. Transition camps were set upas holding places for death camps.
“Henrick Himmler, chiefof the German police, the Gestapo, thought that the campswould provide an economic base for the soldiers. ” This didnot happen. The work force was poorly organized andworking conditions were inhumane. Therefore, productivitywas minimal.
Camps were set up along railroad lines, so thatthe prisoners would be conveniently close to theirdestination. As they were being transported, the soldierskept telling the Jews to have hope. (3) When the campswere finally opened, most of the families who were shippedout together ended up being separated. Often, the transportswere a sampling of what went on in the camps, cruelty bythe officers, near starvation of those being transported, fetidand unsanitary conditions on the trains. “On the trains, Jewswere starved of food and water for days.
Many people didnot survive the ride to arrive at the camp. ” Jews were forcedto obey the guard’s orders from the moment they arrived atthe camps. “If they didn’t, they would be beaten, put intosolitary confinement or shot. ” The prisoners usually hadmarks on their clothes or numbers on their arms to identifythem.
The sanitary conditions of the camps were horrible. “There was only one bathroom for four hundred people. They had to stand for hours in snow, rain, heat, or cold forrole-call, which was twice a day. ” Within the first few daysof being at the camps, thousands of people died of hunger,starvation and disease.
Other people died from the cruelpunishments of the guards; beatings and torture. “Typhus, adisease caused by germs carried by flies, was the maindisease that spread throughout the camps. Even whenpeople were sick, they still continued working because theydid not see that sickness meant death. ” In 1937, 7,000 Jewswere in camps.
By 1938, 10,000 more Jews were sent tocamps. “Jews were taken to camps if they expressednegative feelings about the government, if they married anon-Jew, if they were sick (mentally or physically), or if theyhad a police record. ” (4) When someone escaped from thecamp, all the prisoners in that group were shot. Nazis, whoclaimed that they did not necessarily hate Jews, but wantedto preserve the Aryan race, seemed to enjoy making theJews suffer. They also felt that slavery was better than killingtheir prisoners.
“Gold fillings, wedding bands, jewelry, shoesand clothing were taken from the prisoners when they firstentered the camps and were sold. ” Surrounding some of thecamps in Poland was a forest, that the Jews who planned toescape would flee into. Before the escaped prisoners gotvery far, they were killed. “When the Germans caught a Jewplanning a rebellion, and the Jew refused to name his/herassociates, the Germans would bring everyone from his/herbarracks out and force him/her to watch the Germansmutilate the others. ” The people who could not run awayfrom the camps dreamt about revolt. Special areas of acamp were set aside for medical experiments.
One doctor ina medical unit performed an experiment in sterilization. “Heinjected a substance into women’s ovaries to sterilize them. The injection resulted in temperature and inflammation of theovaries. ” Joseph Mengels, one of the most notorious Nazidoctors, hummed opera tunes when selecting among the newarrivals the victims for the gas chambers or medicalexperiments. His women victims for sterilization were usually20-30 years of age. “Other experiments included puttinginmates into high pressure chambers to test the effects ofaltitude on pilots.
Some inmates were frozen to (5)determine the best way to revive frozen German soldiers. “(6) DEATH CAMPS “The first death camp, Chelmno, wasset up in Poland on December 8, 1941. This was five weeksbefore the Wannsee Conference at which time the ‘finalsolution’ was planned out. ” Usually, the death camps werepart of existing camps, but some new ones were just set upfor this purpose.
When the prisoners first arrived at thecamps, those sent to the left were transferred to deathcamps. When Jews entered the death camps, their suitcases,baby bottles, shawls, and eyeglasses were taken and weresold. Once in the death camps the prisoners were againdivided. Women were sent to one side to have their hairshaven and the men to the other. “They were all sent to theshowers, naked with a bar of soap, so as to deceive theminto believing that they were truly going into a shower.
Mostpeople smelled the burning bodies and knew the truth. “There were six death camps; Chelmno, Treblinka,Auschwitz (Birkenau), Sobibor, Maidanek, and Belzec. These camps used gas from the shower heads to murdertheir victims. A seventh death camp, Mauthausen, used amethod called “extermination through labor”. (7)AUSCHWITZ Auschwitz, located in Poland, was NaziGermany’s largest concentration camp.
It was established byorder of Himmler on April 27, 1940. At first, it was smallbecause it was a work camp for Polish and Soviet prisonersof war. It became a death camp in 1941. “Auschwitz wasdivided into three areas: Auschwitz 1 was the campcommander’s headquarters and administrative offices.
Auschwitz 2 was called Birkenau and it was the death campwith forty gas chambers. Auschwitz 3 was a slave laborcamp. ” “On the gate of Auschwitz was a sign in Germanwhich read, ‘Arbeit macht frei’, which means work makesyou free. ” Auschwitz included camp sites a few miles awayfrom the main complex. At these sites, slave labor was usedto kill the people. The working conditions were so poor thatdeath was a sure result.
” In March 26, 1942, Auschwitztook women prisoners, but after August 16, 1942 thewomen were housed in Birkenau. ” When the Jews arrived atAuschwitz, they were met with threats and promises. “If theydidn’t do exactly as they were told, they would be beaten,deprived of food, or shot. From time to time, they would beassured that things would get better. ” The daily meals inAuschwitz consisted of watery soup, distributed once a day,with a small piece of bread. In addition, they got extraallowance consisting of 3/4 ounce of margarine, a little pieceof cheese or a spoonful of watered jam.
Everyone in thecamp was so malnourished that if a drop of soup spilled (8)prisoners would rush from all sides to see if they could getsome of the soup. “Because of the bad sanitary conditions,the inadequate diet, the hard labor and other torturousconditions in Auschwitz, most people died after a fewmonths of their arrival. ” The few people who managed tostay alive for longer were the ones who were assigned betterjobs. “The prisoners slept on three shelves of wooden slabswith six of these units to each tier. They had to stand forhours in the wet and mud during role call, which was twice aday.
Some people thought the reason hundreds of peopledied, daily, was because when it rained they lay with wetclothes in their bunks. ” In place of toilets, there werewooden boards with round holes and underneath themconcretes troughs. Two or three hundred people could sit onthem at once. While they were on these troughs they werewatched in order to assure that they did not stay too long. “There was no toilet paper, so the prisoners used linings ofjackets.
If they didn’t have they might steal from someoneelse. ” The smells were horrible because there wasn’t enoughwater to clean the Latrine, the so called bathrooms. Whenpeople were loaded onto trains to be taken to the gaschambers, they were told that they were being “resettled” inlabor camps. This was one of the many lies told. It wasimpossible for the Jews to make out which building was thegas chambers because they looked presentable from theoutside, just like any other building. Over the gas chamberswere well kept lawns with flowers bordering them.
When theJews were being taken to the gas chambers, (9) they thoughtthey were being taken to the baths. “While people werewaiting for them ‘baths’, a group of women prisoners,dressed in navy skirts and white shirts, played very delightfulmusic. ” “In Auschwitz, Jews were killed by something calledLykon B. It was hydrogen cyanide which was pouredthrough the ceiling of the gas chambers and turned into gas.
The S. S. commanders of Auschwitz preferred Lykon B. because it worked fast. ” At first, there were five gaschambers in Auschwitz, the procedure for gassing was asfollows : “About 900 people were gassed at a time.
Firstthey undressed in a nearby room. Then, they were told to gointo another room to be deloused, They filled the gaschambers like packed like sardines. After a few minutes ofhorrible suffering, the victims died. The bodies were thentransported to ovens where they were burned. ” The gaschambers were not large enough to execute great numbers ata time, so crematoria were built. The crematoria would burn2,000 bodies in less than 24 hours.
An elevator would takethem from the dressing room to the crematoria. “It took 30minutes to kill 2,500 victims, but close to 24 hours to burnthe bodies. ” Many Jews and non – Jews tried to escape fromAuschwitz. Some succeeded.
Of course they wanted toinform the world of what was going on. Those who escapedwrote descriptions of the horrors they suffered. Informationspread to many countries, yet no countries seemed to doanything to help the situation. In fact, as the war progressed,the number of prisoners increased.
“In total, between 1. 5and 3. 5 million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz betweenthe (10) years 1940 and 1945. ” Where were our brothers inAmerica when millions of Jews died? (11) CONCLUSIONThe Nazis, under Hitler, organized the destruction of theJews. Why they did it is unknown. Perhaps it was becauseof a history of tension between the Christians and Jews, orperhaps, because Hitler needed a scapegoat for Germany’sproblems.
People throughout history have been murdered;but never as many people as during the Holocaust in such ashort period of time. 1/3 of all the Jews in the world wereeliminated. “The estimated total is somewhere around sixmillion. This number included Jews from all over Europe. There were also 500,000 non- Jews murdered. ” Hitler’smethod of killing the jews and other undesirable people wasfirst by torture and then by plain murder.
In the early days ofhis leadership, he took away their rights as citizens and thenas people. They were treated like slaves and lived likeanimals. After 1942, his goal was to exterminate all Jewishand “unpure” people. Many Jews were killed before thatdate, but they were a small number compared to the massmurdering of the Holocaust. ” We Must Never Forget ” arethe words that every Jew must remember. By not forgetting,we are preventing another holocaust from occurring.
We arealso letting the entire world know and remember the millionsof loved ones lost in the horrible killing that we call theholocaust. (12) BIBLIOGRAPHY Bauer, Yehuda. AHistory of the Holocaust. New York: Franklin Watts, 1982. Chartock, Roselle.
The Holocaust Years: Society on Trial. New York: Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, 1978. Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust – A History of the Jews ofEurope During the Second World War.
New York: Holt,Reinhardt & Winston, 1985. Meltzer, Milton. Never toForget the Jews of the Holocaust. New York: Harper &Row, 1976. Rossel, Seymour. The Holocaust.
New York:Franklin Watts, 1981. “Concentration Camps”,Encyclopedia Judaica. 1972 ed. , Keter Publishers.
“Concentration Camp Conditions Reported Worse”, NewYork Times, (March 7, 1940), page 8. “It Happened toMe”, Sassy, (May 1991), page 24. TABLE OFCONTENTS Introduction page 1 Concentration Campspages 2-5 Death Camps page 6 Auschwitz pages 7-10Conclusion page 11 Bibliography page 12 Endnotes pages13-14 AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP /DEATH CAMP CLASS 8-J . Milton Meltzer. Never toForget the Jew of the Holocaust.
(New York; Harper &Row, 1976) page 3 . Meltzer, page 5 . Yehuda Bauer. AHistory of the Holocaust. (New York; Franklin Watts,1982) page 205 .
Meltzer, page 28 . Bauer, page 208 . Seymour Rossel. The Holocaust. (New York; FranklinWatts, 1981) page 76 .
Rossel, page 77 . Rossel, page 77 . Rossel, page 78 . Martin Gilbert. The Holocaust – A Historyof the Jews of Europe During the Second World War.
(NewYork; Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1985) page 127 . Rossel,page 86 . Rossel, page 101 . Bauer, page 219 . Bauer, page219 . Bauer, page 208 .
Rossel, page 79 . Gilbert, page 210. Bauer, page 214 . ” It Happened to Me “. Sassy, NewYork. May, 1991, page 24 .
“Auschwitz”. EncyclopediaJudaica, Volume 1, page 854 . Gilbert, page 376 . RoselleChartock, The Holocaust Year; Society on Trial. (NewYork; Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, 1978) page 5.
Chartock, page 4 . Chartock, page 7 . Chartock, page 3 . Meltzer, page 130 . “Concentration Camp ConditionsReported Worse”.
The New York Times, New York,March 7, 1940, page 8 . Baker, page 215 . Baker , page215 . Rossel, page 1Category: History