(1) base for the soldiers.” This did not

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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.

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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
Category: History

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