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Essay/Term paper: Aushwitz (holocaust)

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Political Science

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(1) INTRODUCTION The Holocaust is the most horrifying

crime against humanity of all times. "Hitler, in an attempt to

establish the pure Aryan race, decided that all mentally ill,

gypsies, non supporters of Nazism, and Jews were to be

eliminated from the German population. He proceeded to

reach his goal in a systematic scheme." One of his main

methods of "doing away" with these "undesirable" was

through the use of concentration camps. "In January 1941, in

a meeting with his top officials the 'final solution' was

decided". Jews were to be eliminated from the population.

Auschwitz was the concentration camp that carried out

Hitler's "final solution" in greater numbers than any other. In

this paper I will discuss concentration camps with a detailed

description of the most well- known one, Auschwitz. (2)

CONCENTRATION CAMPS The first concentration

camps were set up in 1933. In the early days of Hitler,

concentration camps were places that held people in

protective custody. Victims for protective custody included

those who were both physically and mentally ill, gypsies,

homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and anyone against

the Nazi regime. "Gypsies were classified as people with

atleast two gypsy great grandparents." By the end of 1933

there were atleast fifty concentration camps throughout

occupied Europe. "At first, the camps were controlled by the

Gestapo (police), but by 1934 the S.S. (Hitler's personal

security force) were ordered, by Hitler, to control the

camps." Camps were set up for different purposes. Some

for forced labor, others for medical experiments and, later

on, for death/ extermination. Transition camps were set up

as holding places for death camps. "Henrick Himmler, chief

of the German police, the Gestapo, thought that the camps

would provide an economic base for the soldiers." This did

not happen. The work force was poorly organized and

working conditions were inhumane. Therefore, productivity

was minimal. Camps were set up along railroad lines, so that

the prisoners would be conveniently close to their

destination. As they were being transported, the soldiers

kept telling the Jews to have hope. (3) When the camps

were finally opened, most of the families who were shipped

out together ended up being separated. Often, the transports

were a sampling of what went on in the camps, cruelty by

the officers, near starvation of those being transported, fetid

and unsanitary conditions on the trains. "On the trains, Jews

were starved of food and water for days. Many people did

not survive the ride to arrive at the camp." Jews were forced

to obey the guard's orders from the moment they arrived at

the camps. "If they didn't, they would be beaten, put into

solitary confinement or shot." The prisoners usually had

marks on their clothes or numbers on their arms to identify

them. 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 for

role-call, which was twice a day." Within the first few days

of being at the camps, thousands of people died of hunger,

starvation and disease. Other people died from the cruel

punishments of the guards; beatings and torture. "Typhus, a

disease caused by germs carried by flies, was the main

disease that spread throughout the camps. Even when

people were sick, they still continued working because they

did not see that sickness meant death." In 1937, 7,000 Jews

were in camps. By 1938, 10,000 more Jews were sent to

camps. "Jews were taken to camps if they expressed

negative feelings about the government, if they married a

non-Jew, if they were sick (mentally or physically), or if they

had a police record." (4) When someone escaped from the

camp, all the prisoners in that group were shot. Nazis, who

claimed that they did not necessarily hate Jews, but wanted

to preserve the Aryan race, seemed to enjoy making the

Jews suffer. They also felt that slavery was better than killing

their prisoners. "Gold fillings, wedding bands, jewelry, shoes

and clothing were taken from the prisoners when they first

entered the camps and were sold." Surrounding some of the

camps in Poland was a forest, that the Jews who planned to

escape would flee into. Before the escaped prisoners got

very far, they were killed. "When the Germans caught a Jew

planning a rebellion, and the Jew refused to name his/her

associates, the Germans would bring everyone from his/her

barracks out and force him/her to watch the Germans

mutilate the others." The people who could not run away

from the camps dreamt about revolt. Special areas of a

camp were set aside for medical experiments. One doctor in

a medical unit performed an experiment in sterilization. "He

injected a substance into women's ovaries to sterilize them.

The injection resulted in temperature and inflammation of the

ovaries." Joseph Mengels, one of the most notorious Nazi

doctors, hummed opera tunes when selecting among the new

arrivals the victims for the gas chambers or medical

experiments. His women victims for sterilization were usually

20-30 years of age. "Other experiments included putting

inmates into high pressure chambers to test the effects of

altitude 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, was

set up in Poland on December 8, 1941. This was five weeks

before the Wannsee Conference at which time the 'final

solution' was planned out." Usually, the death camps were

part of existing camps, but some new ones were just set up

for this purpose. When the prisoners first arrived at the

camps, those sent to the left were transferred to death

camps. When Jews entered the death camps, their suitcases,

baby bottles, shawls, and eyeglasses were taken and were

sold. Once in the death camps the prisoners were again

divided. Women were sent to one side to have their hair

shaven and the men to the other. "They were all sent to the

showers, naked with a bar of soap, so as to deceive them

into believing that they were truly going into a shower. Most

people 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 murder

their victims. A seventh death camp, Mauthausen, used a

method called "extermination through labor". (7)

AUSCHWITZ Auschwitz, located in Poland, was Nazi

Germany's largest concentration camp. It was established by

order of Himmler on April 27, 1940. At first, it was small

because it was a work camp for Polish and Soviet prisoners

of war. It became a death camp in 1941. "Auschwitz was

divided into three areas: Auschwitz 1 was the camp

commander's headquarters and administrative offices.

Auschwitz 2 was called Birkenau and it was the death camp

with forty gas chambers. Auschwitz 3 was a slave labor

camp." "On the gate of Auschwitz was a sign in German

which read, 'Arbeit macht frei', which means work makes

you free." Auschwitz included camp sites a few miles away

from the main complex. At these sites, slave labor was used

to kill the people. The working conditions were so poor that

death was a sure result. " In March 26, 1942, Auschwitz

took women prisoners, but after August 16, 1942 the

women were housed in Birkenau." When the Jews arrived at

Auschwitz, they were met with threats and promises. "If they

didn't do exactly as they were told, they would be beaten,

deprived of food, or shot. From time to time, they would be

assured that things would get better." The daily meals in

Auschwitz consisted of watery soup, distributed once a day,

with a small piece of bread. In addition, they got extra

allowance consisting of 3/4 ounce of margarine, a little piece

of cheese or a spoonful of watered jam. Everyone in the

camp was so malnourished that if a drop of soup spilled (8)

prisoners would rush from all sides to see if they could get

some of the soup. "Because of the bad sanitary conditions,

the inadequate diet, the hard labor and other torturous

conditions in Auschwitz, most people died after a few

months of their arrival." The few people who managed to

stay alive for longer were the ones who were assigned better

jobs. "The prisoners slept on three shelves of wooden slabs

with six of these units to each tier. They had to stand for

hours in the wet and mud during role call, which was twice a

day. Some people thought the reason hundreds of people

died, daily, was because when it rained they lay with wet

clothes in their bunks." In place of toilets, there were

wooden boards with round holes and underneath them

concretes troughs. Two or three hundred people could sit on

them at once. While they were on these troughs they were

watched in order to assure that they did not stay too long.

"There was no toilet paper, so the prisoners used linings of

jackets. If they didn't have they might steal from someone

else." The smells were horrible because there wasn't enough

water to clean the Latrine, the so called bathrooms. When

people were loaded onto trains to be taken to the gas

chambers, they were told that they were being "resettled" in

labor camps. This was one of the many lies told. It was

impossible for the Jews to make out which building was the

gas chambers because they looked presentable from the

outside, just like any other building. Over the gas chambers

were well kept lawns with flowers bordering them. When the

Jews were being taken to the gas chambers, (9) they thought

they were being taken to the baths. "While people were

waiting for them 'baths', a group of women prisoners,

dressed in navy skirts and white shirts, played very delightful

music." "In Auschwitz, Jews were killed by something called

Lykon B. It was hydrogen cyanide which was poured

through 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 gas

chambers in Auschwitz, the procedure for gassing was as

follows : "About 900 people were gassed at a time. First

they undressed in a nearby room. Then, they were told to go

into another room to be deloused, They filled the gas

chambers like packed like sardines. After a few minutes of

horrible suffering, the victims died. The bodies were then

transported to ovens where they were burned." The gas

chambers were not large enough to execute great numbers at

a time, so crematoria were built. The crematoria would burn

2,000 bodies in less than 24 hours. An elevator would take

them from the dressing room to the crematoria. "It took 30

minutes to kill 2,500 victims, but close to 24 hours to burn

the bodies." Many Jews and non - Jews tried to escape from

Auschwitz. Some succeeded. Of course they wanted to

inform the world of what was going on. Those who escaped

wrote descriptions of the horrors they suffered. Information

spread to many countries, yet no countries seemed to do

anything to help the situation. In fact, as the war progressed,

the number of prisoners increased. "In total, between 1.5

and 3.5 million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz between

the (10) years 1940 and 1945." Where were our brothers in

America when millions of Jews died? (11) CONCLUSION

The Nazis, under Hitler, organized the destruction of the

Jews. Why they did it is unknown. Perhaps it was because

of a history of tension between the Christians and Jews, or

perhaps, because Hitler needed a scapegoat for Germany's

problems. People throughout history have been murdered;

but never as many people as during the Holocaust in such a

short period of time. 1/3 of all the Jews in the world were

eliminated. "The estimated total is somewhere around six

million. This number included Jews from all over Europe.

There were also 500,000 non- Jews murdered." Hitler's

method of killing the jews and other undesirable people was

first by torture and then by plain murder. In the early days of

his leadership, he took away their rights as citizens and then

as people. They were treated like slaves and lived like

animals. After 1942, his goal was to exterminate all Jewish

and "unpure" people. Many Jews were killed before that

date, but they were a small number compared to the mass

murdering of the Holocaust. " We Must Never Forget " are

the words that every Jew must remember. By not forgetting,

we are preventing another holocaust from occurring. We are

also letting the entire world know and remember the millions

of loved ones lost in the horrible killing that we call the

holocaust. (12) BIBLIOGRAPHY Bauer, Yehuda. A

History 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 of

Europe During the Second World War. New York: Holt,

Reinhardt & Winston, 1985. Meltzer, Milton. Never to

Forget 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", New

York Times, (March 7, 1940), page 8. "It Happened to

Me", Sassy, (May 1991), page 24. TABLE OF

CONTENTS Introduction page 1 Concentration Camps

pages 2-5 Death Camps page 6 Auschwitz pages 7-10

Conclusion page 11 Bibliography page 12 Endnotes pages


DEATH CAMP CLASS 8-J . Milton Meltzer. Never to

Forget the Jew of the Holocaust. (New York; Harper &

Row, 1976) page 3 . Meltzer, page 5 . Yehuda Bauer. A

History of the Holocaust. (New York; Franklin Watts,

1982) page 205 . Meltzer, page 28 . Bauer, page 208 .

Seymour Rossel. The Holocaust. (New York; Franklin

Watts, 1981) page 76 . Rossel, page 77 . Rossel, page 77 .

Rossel, page 78 . Martin Gilbert. The Holocaust - A History

of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. (New

York; Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1985) page 127 . Rossel,

page 86 . Rossel, page 101 . Bauer, page 219 . Bauer, page

219 . Bauer, page 208 . Rossel, page 79 . Gilbert, page 210

. Bauer, page 214 . " It Happened to Me ". Sassy, New

York. May, 1991, page 24 . "Auschwitz". Encyclopedia

Judaica, Volume 1, page 854 . Gilbert, page 376 . Roselle

Chartock, The Holocaust Year; Society on Trial. (New

York; Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, 1978) page 5

. Chartock, page 4 . Chartock, page 7 . Chartock, page 3 .

Meltzer, page 130 . "Concentration Camp Conditions

Reported Worse".The New York Times, New York,

March 7, 1940, page 8 . Baker, page 215 . Baker , page

215 . Rossel, page 1  

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