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Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper

Where Their Lives Ended Concentration camps are widely involved in people s knowledge of the Holocaust. This is evident because death affects human emotions, and death is what occurred at the concentration camps. The Holocaust is remembered for all of the murdering committed, and these camps were where a majority of where it took place. The Final Solution was issued by Hitler and it was the plan to exterminate the Jewish race. Historians have generally thought that the Final Solution unfolded like this. First, the Einsatzgruppen (special task forces) entered the Soviet Union behind the invading armed forces in late June 1941 and began shooting Jews where they were found. Roughly 500,000 Jews were killed in this way between July and December 1941. At that time, the sheer number of Jews to be killed and the effect on the police of shooting women and children caused other methods to be investigated, culminating in the establishment of death camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor in early 1942, to which Jews were transported and gassed with carbon monoxide or prussic acid (Zyklon B). One can only speculate what finally catalyzed Hitler into making the ultimate decision in December 1941, but a look at the situation at that time suggests several factors played a role. First, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the American declaration of war to Japan, and Hitler’s own declaration of war against the United States, Hitler now had the “world” war referred to by Goebbels in his diary entry of December 12, 1941. This diary entry by Hitler stated that if the Jews were to cause a world war involving Germany, then they would be annihilated. Second, the first great reversal of German fortunes in the war against the Soviet Union had taken place. On December 5, at the very gates of Moscow, the German army was stopped its tracks by the onset of a vicious Russian winter. Temperatures dropped to 31 degrees below zero that day, and the next day to 36 below. The Germans were not equipped with winter gear, the panzers (Fast German tanks) broke down, and, on the 6th, General Zhukov attacked on 200-mile front before Moscow with 100 divisions that the Germans had not even known existed. Hitler must have known at this stage that his war effort was in serious, perhaps grave danger. Third, the sheer numbers of Jews to be killed and the difficulties doing it caused for the police who did the shooting were passed on by Himmler to Hitler. There had been discussions on the use of poisonous gas as a means of killing Jews and avoiding public spectacles that sometimes accompanied shooting throughout the autumn of 1941. These events led to the design of the concentration camp. The most infamous camp was Auschwitz. Auschwitz was more than a camp; in fact it was a vast complex consisting of more than 40 satellite camps: it was a prison camp, a labor camp, an industrial center and a death camp. The complex included the I.G. Farben Buna rubber plant, the Monowitz camp where Primo Levi was held, the main Auschwitz camp (Auschwitz I) and the Birkenau (Auschwitz II) extermination camp, three kilometers Northwest of the main camp, where the majority of mass murders by poison gas took place. In a recent estimate of the victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, Franciszek Piper estimates that at least 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau among whom 1.1 million were Jews. He estimates that of these 1.3 million at least 1.1 million were killed or died. Piper estimates a maximum of 1.5 million dead including 1.35 million Jews. It is a fact that an early Soviet estimate placed the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau at 4 million and that the communist regime in Poland adhered to this number long after it was known to be untrue. It is a favorite tactic of deniers to claim that the untruth of this number should somehow affect estimates of the total number of Jews killed in the Final Solution. This claim is invalid. With a few notable exceptions, historians did not take the 4 million number seriously. Additionally, estimates for the number of dead were generally made by the overall European demographics and therefore would not depend on an error in a single camp even if it were made. Both of these points are demonstrated by the conservative estimates of Raul Hilberg who estimates that 1 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau and that 5.1 million Jews were killed in all. Hilberg first made his estimate in 1961 and reaffirmed it in 1985 with the “revised and definitive” edition of his seminal work, The Destruction of the European Jews.

Murder by poison gas took place at several installations in Auschwitz-Birkenau: On 3 September 1941 a trial gassing was conducted in block 11 [of Auschwitz I]. Later, one room of the base-camp crematorium was equipped as a gas chamber [Krema I in Auschwitz I]. After these trials, in 1942, two abandoned thatch-roofed cottages in a wood at Birkenau were transformed into gas chambers; they were known as “the bunkers.” In the spring of 1943 construction of four modern crematoria [Kremas II-V] was completed on the site of Birkenau itself. Each was divided into three parts: a section for the crematory ovens, a place for prospective victims to undress, and a gas chamber. The bunkers were no longer used except in emergencies. The gas chambers were at first, a place of hope. The Nazis told the people that were led into the chambers that they were to shower in them so that they could go home clean. The gas chambers second, usually not widely known cause, came into effect here. The people would strip down and put their clothes into another gas room where the bacteria would be killed. The harsh living conditions caused Typhus to spread and the gas was used to get rid of the bacteria, while the chamber next-door had fake shower installations for the innocent. These showerheads had no water flow from them, they were props that added to the idea of showers for the people. The gas chambers were built with incinerators next to them so that after the people were killed, their bodies could be easily burned and disposed of. The smokestacks shed blood day and night while the ash fell upon the streets of the neighboring towns.The amount of information that is available to write about is enormous. The Auschwitz camp not only dealt with murdering people in gas chambers, but there were other ways for those innocent people to lose their lives. The concentration camps put people to work and they were provided with little food. Many people starved to death or died of other reasons caused by the harsh living conditions. Other times, they would make people dig large burials to bury their own friends and family. There were other digging instances where the soldiers made men dig a grave, and then shoot the gravedigger in the fresh earth that he just uncovered. The men would literally dig their own grave. I feel that digging a grave while knowing that it is meant for you is the hardest way to die, but that is just my opinion which is affected by my own imagination. Then there were death marches. The soldiers took thousands of people on a long march without food or anything. The purpose of the march was for them to die a horrible death.The Holocaust is remembered as a time when a man tried to exterminate a race. I put the word race in quotations because Judaism is wrongly interpreted as a race, not a religion. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, but he failed. However, his concentration camps succeeded in murdering millions of people, and the damage was done.

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Auschwitz Essay Research Paper The Nazi camp

Auschwitz Essay Research Paper The Nazi camp

Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper

The Nazi camp of Auschwitz, located thirty miles west of Krakow, was the largest, most deadly camp used during World War II (Friedrich 2). Built in 1940, it was the first camp located beyond the frontiers of the Third Reich (Friedrich 4). “According to various estimates, 1,600,000 people were murdered in the killing center?” (Yahil 372). Ninety percent of those who were murdered in Auschwitz were Jewish (Yahil 372).

Originally an Austrian artillery barracks, Auschwitz was to be supposed to be built at the intersection of the Sola River and the Vistula. Heinrich Himmler, commander of the Schutzstaffel (the Fuher’s private guard), was to lead the building of the camp. Himmler placed SS major Rudolph Hoess in charge of the construction (Friedrich 5).

The first people who worked to build the camp of Auschwitz were thirty German criminals, brought there on May 20,1940, by an SS officer named Gerhard Pallitzsch (Friedrich 7). The town council of Oswiecim cooperated with Hoess’s orders of rounding up, and enslaving over two hundred Jews to help work on the construction (Friedrich 7). Already, Hoess was receiving letters of when the camp would be ready to accept prisoners. Before he even had time to respond, the first trainload of 728 Polish political prisoners arrived on June 14, 1940. On July 6, a prisoner by the name of Tadeusz Wiejowski escaped. The SS and other various German groups searched for him for three days, but he was never found. This angered Hoess, causing him to declare that six villages that surrounded the area were now property of Auschwitz (Friedrich 7-8).

Heinrich Himmler, who wanted Auschwitz to be the agricultural center of the new Reich, was still dissatisfied (Friedrich 8). In March 1941, he ordered the erection of Auschwitz II, a second much larger section of the camp, which was located about three kilometers from the original camp (Gutman 107). Meanwhile, on June 22, Hitler’s panzer division began to plow across the Russian borders (Friedrich 8). Soon after, thousands of Russians were sent to build the second Auschwitz, known as Birkenau (Friedrich 9).

In early October, the first snow fell in the area (Adelsberger 49). No one, not the prisoners, nor those in charge of the camps were prepared for the harsh winter (Adelsberger 49). The majority of the prisoners had shoes (Adelsberger 50). There were no windows in the barracks, and barely any had heat (Adelsberger 50). That winter, thousands were either shot, or died of starvation (Adelsberger 50). They were buried in a mass grave that was approximately one-hundred-fifty feet wide, two-hundred feet long and fifteen feet deep (Friedrich 11). Of the twelve thousand Russians sent to Auschwitz, only a hundred and fifty were still alive by the next summer (Friedrich 11).

Local fisheries complained of fish dying due to the contamination of the soil around the area. The decomposition of the bodies of the prisoners was beginning to poison the earth. Hoess had to find another way to dispose of the bodies. Heinrich Himmler heard of the problem and sent Adolf Eichmann to help Hoess find a solution. What they found was a gas called Zyklon B that had the potential to kill up too eight hundred prisoners within minutes. Soon after, plans for the construction of four crematoria were approved, and the ability for the mass destruction of humans was reached (Friedrich 16-17).

The leaders and doctors of the camp would line up on the railway and wave the new prisoners into line. A wave to the left meant a straight trip to the gas chamber. Most woman and children were waved to the left along with the old and sick. Also everyone that wanted to remain with his or her families was waved to the left. A wave to the right meant hard labor in construction gangs, or slave labor (Gutman 109).

May 12 brought a turning point in the history of Auschwitz. The fifteen hundred Jews on the train from Sosnowiek that arrived that day were the first to go directly to the gas chambers. There was no selection on the ramp, and no wave to the right. Auschwitz finally became what it was originally planned to be: a Vermichtungslager- an extermination camp. The root word Vernichtung: “To make something into nothing. Total annihilation.” (Friedrich 19-30).

The summer of 1942 brought trainloads of Jews and other prisoners from France, Belgium, Holland, and Croatia. In November came those from Norway. In March 1943, the four crematoria were all up and running in Birkenau, and the camps began getting prisoners from Greece. In the spring, Polish prisoners from the ghettos arrived and were gassed. In October, Jews from Athens were shipped to Auschwitz (Friedrich 34).

The destination of the newcomers to Auschwitz was Bunker number 1, the gas chambers. SS First Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein witnessed the mass extermination of the Jews. He recalls:

The procession started to move. They all walked along the path, all naked,

men, women, and children. The sturdy SS man stood in the corner and told the

wretched people in a clerical voice: “Nothing at all is going to happen to you!

You must deep breath in the chambers. That expands the lungs. ” The

chambers filled. People were standing on other’s feet. The SS forced as

upright like basalt pillars, pressed together in the chambers. There would have not

have been room to fall or even bend over. One could see the families even in

death. They were still holding hands, stiffened to death, so that it was difficult to

tear them apart (Meltzer 128-129).

Those who were not sent to the gas chambers were sent to the part of the camp called the “quarantine.” But first they were taken to the camps bath, the “sauna.” There their cloths and every last personal belonging were taken from them, their hair was shorn-men and women alike-and they were given striped prisoners garb (Gutman 109). One survivor said “. they confiscated the very last of our belongings; nothing remained, none of our cloths or underwear, no soap, no towel, no needle, and no utensils, not even a spoon.” (Adelsberger 30).

The daily schedule started off with the roll call, the exercise performed in order to keep continuous records of the precise number of prisoners. It could last anywhere from one to forty-eight hours standing at attention in the broiling sun, in pouring rain, and even in frigid, subzero weather with howling winds (Adelsberger 48). Following the roll call, the prisoners were forced to do labor know as “sport.” “Sport” in Auschwitz consisted of jogging in place until the Kapos instructed them to hop like a frog, until they were told to run again. After that there was a fifteen-minute lunch break, then some form of class. For example, sometimes the Jewish prisoners were made to sing anti-Semitic songs. Following that was another time block for “sport”, and then the roll call completed the day (Gutman 111).

The prisoners slept in three-tiered wooden bunks with half a dozen men to each bunk. There were no mattresses or pillows. There was also no heat or ventilation at all. There was no segregation of those with diseases, so sometimes whole barracks would become infected. If someone died during the night, the rats would usually devour the corpse before morning. The dead prisoner would still be expected at roll call the next morning, so the remaining prisoners would be responsible for dragging the corpse out of the bed and to the line (Friedrich 40-41).

Of all the different blocks, block 11 was the harshest. One form of torture inflicted on the prisoners was where the SS would slowly pull out the prisoners’ fingernails with a pair of pliers. Another was the Boger swing. It was a steel bar, which the prisoner’s wrists and ankles were tied to. Gestapo Deputy Boger, who invented the device, would then run at the prisoners with a club, usually aiming for the genitals, who spun head over heals. There were also standing cells that the prisoners were sentenced to. They were three-foot by three-foot vertical tubes where the prisoner got no food, no water, and could not lie down (Friedrich 54-56).

Block 10 was even worse. Here, thousands of prisoners underwent pseudo-medical experiments. Doctor Josef Mengele, known as “the Angel of Death”, was most known for his experiments practiced on twins, women, and dwarfs (Gutman 111-112).

As the Germans began to lose the war, they sped up the extermination process. With such a large amount of prisoners being killed each day, and the crematoriums not doing the job fast enough, Hoess ordered nine gigantic pits dug on a slant. The bodies were thrown into the pits and burned so the fat of the corpses would run down the slopes of the pits and could be used again to help burn the next set of prisoners (Friedrich 73).

On January 12, 1945, the Soviet Armies, which had been stationed just outside the camp for more than a week, launched a full attack on Auschwitz. On January 18, the Germans ordered a full evacuation and everything burned. The prisoners were made to get into columns of five outside the camp. The prisoners, Kapos, and SS began their march through Silesia. Even as they tried to escape, the Russians opened fire on the Germans (Friedrich 74).

At the beginning of the march, over 60,000 prisoners started to head toward Gross-Rosen cap, which was a hundred and fifty miles to the west. Soon, they were made to run. Any prisoner who fumbled or fell was shot. One third of the prisoners died along the way (Friedrich 75).

Auschwitz was the largest graveyard in human history. The number of Jews killed in the gas chambers at Birkenau is estimated to be over one and a half million men, woman, and children. Best said by Isreal Gutman, “The horrors of Auschwitz have become legendary, and the name itself has passed into international usage as a byword for all that is bestial in humankind.” (Gutman 117).

Adelsberger, Lucie. Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Story. Boston: N.U.P. 1995.

Friedrich, Otto. The Kingdom of Auschwitz. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Gilbert, Martin. Auschwitz and Allies. New York: Holt Rinehart Winston, 1981.

Gutman, Isreal. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan, 1990.

Meltzer, Milton. Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of the European Jewry. New York: Oxford, 1990.

Реферат: Terror Of Auschwitz Essay Research Paper The

Terror Of Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper

The Terror of Auschwitz

The Holocaust refers to any widespread human disaster, but it is more widely known as

the almost complete destruction of the Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany. During the 19th century,

European Jewry was being emancipated, and, in most European countries, Jews achieved some

equality of status with non-Jews. Nonetheless, at times Jews were vilified and harassed by

anti-Semitic groups. Indeed, some anti-Semites believed that Jewry was an alien “race” not

assimilable into a European culture, but they did not formulate any coherent anti-Semitic

campaign. In 1940, Germany began sending Jews to Concentration Camps, a place where selected

groups of people (Jews) are confined, usually for political reasons and under inhumane conditions.

One of the largest concentration camps was located thirty-seven miles west of Krakow,

Poland. Auschwitz was the camp where Jewish people were worked and killed. This

camp, out of all the rest tortured the most people.

Auschwitz began as a barracks camp in the town of Oswiecim, for the polish army

in the early 1930’s. Germany then captured Poland and needed another location for Polish

political prisoners. In 1940, the German SS sent a commission to Oswiecim to see if the

barracks there could be used. The first inspection reported that it could not be used,

however, a later inspection stated that after a few minor changes it would be useable. On

May 4, 1940 Rudolf Hoss officially established it as a German concentration camp. Hoss

was Auschwitz’s first commandant. Auschwitz was originally intended for Polish political

prisoners and other Poles. In June of 1940, the first load of prisoners arrived. 728 Poles

and a handful of Jews. Soon, though, it became a melting pot of prisoners. Male Czechs,

Soviets, Yugoslavs, Jews, and Gypsies; were housed there. Not until 1942 did women

arrive. In January of 1942 it was decided that Auschwitz would become the main Jewish

extermination camp. Thereafter cattle cars brought in ship loads of Jews monthly. They

were brought from all over in these filthy cars, going for days without food, water, or

washing facilities. Many times these cars were so crowded that people were simply

crushed to death. During the first few months of operation, Auschwitz simply housed the

Jews because an effective method for mass extermination had not yet been found. They

performed many experiments on the prisoners to find a gas that was cheap and quickly

effective. Also, they had not yet begun cremating the bodies so they had prisoners dig

huge trenches 15 ft. wide, 15 ft. deep, and 150 yds. long to bury them. These massive

holes would be filled within days. However, during the summer, the bodies bloated and

rotted and a disgusting purplish liquid began seeping up from these graves, smelling of bile

and rotting flesh. Nearby fish farmers complained that their fish were dying from pollution

caused by the rotting bodies. Some other way to deal with the prisoners had to be found,

especially since their numbers were increasing with every arrival. The Nazis then

discovered Zyklon B. It was a very effective killing gas. Since they were then able to kill

more efficiently, they had to find a more efficient means of disposing of the bodies. Soon,

mass crematoriums were erected, capable of burning 2,000 bodies in a single day. Upon

arrival at camp, doctors made selections as to who would live and perform slave labor.

The others would be gassed. Two lines would be formed, one going in the direction of the

camp, and the other leading toward the ’shower rooms’. Those not selected for the ‘life’

line were told that they would be going to the showers for ‘delousing’. They were made to

fold their clothes neatly and put them in piles and march, naked, to the ’showers’. Those

rooms were equipped with fake shower heads and benches, but none of the shower heads

worked. The Jews would be herded into these rooms and the doors would lock. Then

vents in the ceiling would open and granules of Zyklon B would be released. Within 15

minutes, they would all be dead. Thirty minutes after they died, authorities would open the

doors and let it air out for two or three hours. Then they would send in slaves to remove

the bodies, taking them to the crematorium. The prisoners chosen for the ‘life’ line may

have had the worst fate though.

The conditions at Auschwitz were unthinkable. Prisoners slept six people to a

bunk, which was made for two. These bunks rose 6 feet high, sometimes with so much

weight on the tops of them, they would collapse and kill all the ones underneath. Sleep

was impossible for most though, beds were hard plank boards, over crowded and infested

with lice, ticks and bed bugs. The rats were so bad that if a prisoners died in the middle of

the night, the rats would have eaten him to the point where recognition was impossible.

Every morning prisoners had to stand or squat for hours at a time for roll call. They also

had to bring out the bodies of anyone who had died during the night and hold them up to

be counted. Then they were sent off to work. Work was long hours of hard labor building

more barracks, adding to the camp, or going off to the German factories. The Nazis rented

out slave labor very cheaply to the industries in the area. Some had a lunch of cabbage

stew, but those away on work crews did not. After work was another roll call, lasting for

hours. The living holding up the bodies of those who had died while working. Dinner for

the prisoners was rotten meat, stale bread, and ‘coffee’ made of warm, dirty water. Those

who had missed lunch were also given cold pulpy cabbage stew that had been poured at

noon. Prisoners were supposed to be broken and dehumanized. The Nazis shaved all their

body hair and took all their possessions. They were allowed 15 minutes every day to use

the lavatories. All 1,500 prisoners (per bunker) had 15 minutes to go to the bathroom with

no privacy whatsoever in the mornings before work. They weren’t allowed to go while

they were at work, and if they did, the punishment was so severe that few survived it.

The ‘Hospital’ was dreadful. The prisoners referred to it as the crematorium

waiting room. If one didn’t heal fast enough to suit the authorities, they gave him an

injection of phenol to the heart or they sent him to the gas chambers. There wasn t any

medication. The only advantage to the hospital was that one could spend his last few days

lying down rather than working. Many were sick but afraid to go to the hospital. As a

result, typhus and diarrhea were an epidemic.

The SS was corrupt. They would select the best rations for themselves and then

sell the stolen goods on the black market. The prisoners got whatever was left, no matter

how meager or rotted it was. SS officers however were fat and pig like. They had parties

where they were served pork sausages, potatoes, and vegetables by the women prisoners.

The professional criminals (burglars, murderers, rapists) at Auschwitz were entrusted with

special jobs. They were called ‘kapos’. It was the kapos job to wake prisoners in the

morning, beating them with sticks if they didn’t move fast enough. They also administered

some of the punishments, floggings and beatings mostly. Kapos were also not required to

do the menial slave labor. Punishment at Auschwitz was sever and biased. If an SS officer

didn’t like a particular prisoner for some reason then that poor prisoner was tormented and

beaten until the SS was satisfied, usually when the prisoner died. They had many ways of

punishing people. You could be beaten, flogged (75-100 lashes), or just plain shot. They

were creative and came up with many torments just to amuse themselves. They might

make you stand holding rocks over your head for one of the long roll call and shoot you if

you drop them. The SS might also force you to beat or torture your friends or family. The

worst thing they could do to you however was send you to Cell Block 11. Cell Block 11

was a torture chamber. There were ’standing’ cells, four feet square that prisoners were

packed into, sometimes twenty at a time. These cell had no room to lie down or even sit.

The ventilation consisted of two inch squares covered over with heavy wire mesh to deter

escape attempts. Many people suffocated, after being left in them for hours or days at a

time. Even if you did survive a standing cell you still had to go to work that day. Cell

Block 11 also contained starvation cells. These cells accommodated fifty people or more.

Prisoners were put here to die if one of them attempted to escape. They would lick the

walls and drink their own urine to stay alive just a little bit longer, some even resorted to

cannibalism. Outside Block 11 more murders took place. It was there that they held their

hangings and floggings. One wall was covered in cork and the ground in sand to help

absorb the blood from all the shootings that took place there. Cell Block 10 was just as

bad, it was here that ‘Doctor’ Menegal did his infamous research on twins and sterilization.

They tried many drugs and new procedures on helpless prisoners. They would inject

poisonous chemicals and compounds into the prisoners, just to see if some of them might

live. Most of them died of course. On a regular day in Cell Block 10 they would perform

mass sterilization, castrating around ninety Jewish men. Approximately twice that many

women were sterilized daily. They performed brain surgery and amputations just for

practice and send samples off to labs in other places. Prisoners would be given deadly

viruses to test antibiotics. They did experiments on pregnant women and their fetuses.

Many things they did were unthinkable.

Winter at Auschwitz was even worse. They had to stand outside for hours at a

time in the freezing snow and sleet for roll call every morning and every night. Frostbite

was very common, and after frostbite gangrene usually set in killing the already weak

prisoners within days.

In late 1945, Allies bombed the railroads that took the shiploads of Jews to

Auschwitz. It didn’t end the killing there though. The SS, knowing that liberation for the

Jews was probably coming soon started killing all the elite prisoners and the decorated

Jewish military men, the gypsies, and the kapos. Then in a frenzy, burned as many of their

incriminating files as they could before they fled taking all the prisoners able to march with

them. Today very few of the files from Auschwitz remain. Those prisoners left in the

camp, too sick or weak to walk were liberated a few days later by the Russian Army.

However only half of them lived to see the next week. All of that is in the past now

though. Today Auschwitz still stands. It has become a Polish museum honoring all the

Jews that died there.

Auschwitz Essay Research Paper Where Their Lives

Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper

Where Their Lives Ended Concentration camps are widely involved in people s knowledge of the Holocaust. This is evident because death affects human emotions, and death is what occurred at the concentration camps. The Holocaust is remembered for all of the murdering committed, and these camps were where a majority of where it took place. The Final Solution was issued by Hitler and it was the plan to exterminate the Jewish race. Historians have generally thought that the Final Solution unfolded like this. First, the Einsatzgruppen (special task forces) entered the Soviet Union behind the invading armed forces in late June 1941 and began shooting Jews where they were found. Roughly 500,000 Jews were killed in this way between July and December 1941. At that time, the sheer number of Jews to be killed and the effect on the police of shooting women and children caused other methods to be investigated, culminating in the establishment of death camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor in early 1942, to which Jews were transported and gassed with carbon monoxide or prussic acid (Zyklon B). One can only speculate what finally catalyzed Hitler into making the ultimate decision in December 1941, but a look at the situation at that time suggests several factors played a role. First, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the American declaration of war to Japan, and Hitler’s own declaration of war against the United States, Hitler now had the “world” war referred to by Goebbels in his diary entry of December 12, 1941. This diary entry by Hitler stated that if the Jews were to cause a world war involving Germany, then they would be annihilated. Second, the first great reversal of German fortunes in the war against the Soviet Union had taken place. On December 5, at the very gates of Moscow, the German army was stopped its tracks by the onset of a vicious Russian winter. Temperatures dropped to 31 degrees below zero that day, and the next day to 36 below. The Germans were not equipped with winter gear, the panzers (Fast German tanks) broke down, and, on the 6th, General Zhukov attacked on 200-mile front before Moscow with 100 divisions that the Germans had not even known existed. Hitler must have known at this stage that his war effort was in serious, perhaps grave danger. Third, the sheer numbers of Jews to be killed and the difficulties doing it caused for the police who did the shooting were passed on by Himmler to Hitler. There had been discussions on the use of poisonous gas as a means of killing Jews and avoiding public spectacles that sometimes accompanied shooting throughout the autumn of 1941. These events led to the design of the concentration camp. The most infamous camp was Auschwitz. Auschwitz was more than a camp; in fact it was a vast complex consisting of more than 40 satellite camps: it was a prison camp, a labor camp, an industrial center and a death camp. The complex included the I.G. Farben Buna rubber plant, the Monowitz camp where Primo Levi was held, the main Auschwitz camp (Auschwitz I) and the Birkenau (Auschwitz II) extermination camp, three kilometers Northwest of the main camp, where the majority of mass murders by poison gas took place. In a recent estimate of the victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, Franciszek Piper estimates that at least 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau among whom 1.1 million were Jews. He estimates that of these 1.3 million at least 1.1 million were killed or died. Piper estimates a maximum of 1.5 million dead including 1.35 million Jews. It is a fact that an early Soviet estimate placed the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau at 4 million and that the communist regime in Poland adhered to this number long after it was known to be untrue. It is a favorite tactic of deniers to claim that the untruth of this number should somehow affect estimates of the total number of Jews killed in the Final Solution. This claim is invalid. With a few notable exceptions, historians did not take the 4 million number seriously. Additionally, estimates for the number of dead were generally made by the overall European demographics and therefore would not depend on an error in a single camp even if it were made. Both of these points are demonstrated by the conservative estimates of Raul Hilberg who estimates that 1 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau and that 5.1 million Jews were killed in all. Hilberg first made his estimate in 1961 and reaffirmed it in 1985 with the “revised and definitive” edition of his seminal work, The Destruction of the European Jews.

Murder by poison gas took place at several installations in Auschwitz-Birkenau: On 3 September 1941 a trial gassing was conducted in block 11 [of Auschwitz I]. Later, one room of the base-camp crematorium was equipped as a gas chamber [Krema I in Auschwitz I]. After these trials, in 1942, two abandoned thatch-roofed cottages in a wood at Birkenau were transformed into gas chambers; they were known as “the bunkers.” In the spring of 1943 construction of four modern crematoria [Kremas II-V] was completed on the site of Birkenau itself. Each was divided into three parts: a section for the crematory ovens, a place for prospective victims to undress, and a gas chamber. The bunkers were no longer used except in emergencies. The gas chambers were at first, a place of hope. The Nazis told the people that were led into the chambers that they were to shower in them so that they could go home clean. The gas chambers second, usually not widely known cause, came into effect here. The people would strip down and put their clothes into another gas room where the bacteria would be killed. The harsh living conditions caused Typhus to spread and the gas was used to get rid of the bacteria, while the chamber next-door had fake shower installations for the innocent. These showerheads had no water flow from them, they were props that added to the idea of showers for the people. The gas chambers were built with incinerators next to them so that after the people were killed, their bodies could be easily burned and disposed of. The smokestacks shed blood day and night while the ash fell upon the streets of the neighboring towns.The amount of information that is available to write about is enormous. The Auschwitz camp not only dealt with murdering people in gas chambers, but there were other ways for those innocent people to lose their lives. The concentration camps put people to work and they were provided with little food. Many people starved to death or died of other reasons caused by the harsh living conditions. Other times, they would make people dig large burials to bury their own friends and family. There were other digging instances where the soldiers made men dig a grave, and then shoot the gravedigger in the fresh earth that he just uncovered. The men would literally dig their own grave. I feel that digging a grave while knowing that it is meant for you is the hardest way to die, but that is just my opinion which is affected by my own imagination. Then there were death marches. The soldiers took thousands of people on a long march without food or anything. The purpose of the march was for them to die a horrible death.The Holocaust is remembered as a time when a man tried to exterminate a race. I put the word race in quotations because Judaism is wrongly interpreted as a race, not a religion. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, but he failed. However, his concentration camps succeeded in murdering millions of people, and the damage was done.

Auschwitz Essay Research Paper The Nazi camp

Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper

The Nazi camp of Auschwitz, located thirty miles west of Krakow, was the largest, most deadly camp used during World War II (Friedrich 2). Built in 1940, it was the first camp located beyond the frontiers of the Third Reich (Friedrich 4). “According to various estimates, 1,600,000 people were murdered in the killing center?” (Yahil 372). Ninety percent of those who were murdered in Auschwitz were Jewish (Yahil 372).

Originally an Austrian artillery barracks, Auschwitz was to be supposed to be built at the intersection of the Sola River and the Vistula. Heinrich Himmler, commander of the Schutzstaffel (the Fuher’s private guard), was to lead the building of the camp. Himmler placed SS major Rudolph Hoess in charge of the construction (Friedrich 5).

The first people who worked to build the camp of Auschwitz were thirty German criminals, brought there on May 20,1940, by an SS officer named Gerhard Pallitzsch (Friedrich 7). The town council of Oswiecim cooperated with Hoess’s orders of rounding up, and enslaving over two hundred Jews to help work on the construction (Friedrich 7). Already, Hoess was receiving letters of when the camp would be ready to accept prisoners. Before he even had time to respond, the first trainload of 728 Polish political prisoners arrived on June 14, 1940. On July 6, a prisoner by the name of Tadeusz Wiejowski escaped. The SS and other various German groups searched for him for three days, but he was never found. This angered Hoess, causing him to declare that six villages that surrounded the area were now property of Auschwitz (Friedrich 7-8).

Heinrich Himmler, who wanted Auschwitz to be the agricultural center of the new Reich, was still dissatisfied (Friedrich 8). In March 1941, he ordered the erection of Auschwitz II, a second much larger section of the camp, which was located about three kilometers from the original camp (Gutman 107). Meanwhile, on June 22, Hitler’s panzer division began to plow across the Russian borders (Friedrich 8). Soon after, thousands of Russians were sent to build the second Auschwitz, known as Birkenau (Friedrich 9).

In early October, the first snow fell in the area (Adelsberger 49). No one, not the prisoners, nor those in charge of the camps were prepared for the harsh winter (Adelsberger 49). The majority of the prisoners had shoes (Adelsberger 50). There were no windows in the barracks, and barely any had heat (Adelsberger 50). That winter, thousands were either shot, or died of starvation (Adelsberger 50). They were buried in a mass grave that was approximately one-hundred-fifty feet wide, two-hundred feet long and fifteen feet deep (Friedrich 11). Of the twelve thousand Russians sent to Auschwitz, only a hundred and fifty were still alive by the next summer (Friedrich 11).

Local fisheries complained of fish dying due to the contamination of the soil around the area. The decomposition of the bodies of the prisoners was beginning to poison the earth. Hoess had to find another way to dispose of the bodies. Heinrich Himmler heard of the problem and sent Adolf Eichmann to help Hoess find a solution. What they found was a gas called Zyklon B that had the potential to kill up too eight hundred prisoners within minutes. Soon after, plans for the construction of four crematoria were approved, and the ability for the mass destruction of humans was reached (Friedrich 16-17).

The leaders and doctors of the camp would line up on the railway and wave the new prisoners into line. A wave to the left meant a straight trip to the gas chamber. Most woman and children were waved to the left along with the old and sick. Also everyone that wanted to remain with his or her families was waved to the left. A wave to the right meant hard labor in construction gangs, or slave labor (Gutman 109).

May 12 brought a turning point in the history of Auschwitz. The fifteen hundred Jews on the train from Sosnowiek that arrived that day were the first to go directly to the gas chambers. There was no selection on the ramp, and no wave to the right. Auschwitz finally became what it was originally planned to be: a Vermichtungslager- an extermination camp. The root word Vernichtung: “To make something into nothing. Total annihilation.” (Friedrich 19-30).

The summer of 1942 brought trainloads of Jews and other prisoners from France, Belgium, Holland, and Croatia. In November came those from Norway. In March 1943, the four crematoria were all up and running in Birkenau, and the camps began getting prisoners from Greece. In the spring, Polish prisoners from the ghettos arrived and were gassed. In October, Jews from Athens were shipped to Auschwitz (Friedrich 34).

The destination of the newcomers to Auschwitz was Bunker number 1, the gas chambers. SS First Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein witnessed the mass extermination of the Jews. He recalls:

The procession started to move. They all walked along the path, all naked,

men, women, and children. The sturdy SS man stood in the corner and told the

wretched people in a clerical voice: “Nothing at all is going to happen to you!

You must deep breath in the chambers. That expands the lungs. ” The

chambers filled. People were standing on other’s feet. The SS forced as

many in together as physically possible. The doors closed. Men of the work

squad opened the wooden doors from the other side. The dead were standing

upright like basalt pillars, pressed together in the chambers. There would have not

have been room to fall or even bend over. One could see the families even in

death. They were still holding hands, stiffened to death, so that it was difficult to

tear them apart (Meltzer 128-129).

Those who were not sent to the gas chambers were sent to the part of the camp called the “quarantine.” But first they were taken to the camps bath, the “sauna.” There their cloths and every last personal belonging were taken from them, their hair was shorn-men and women alike-and they were given striped prisoners garb (Gutman 109). One survivor said “. they confiscated the very last of our belongings; nothing remained, none of our cloths or underwear, no soap, no towel, no needle, and no utensils, not even a spoon.” (Adelsberger 30).

The daily schedule started off with the roll call, the exercise performed in order to keep continuous records of the precise number of prisoners. It could last anywhere from one to forty-eight hours standing at attention in the broiling sun, in pouring rain, and even in frigid, subzero weather with howling winds (Adelsberger 48). Following the roll call, the prisoners were forced to do labor know as “sport.” “Sport” in Auschwitz consisted of jogging in place until the Kapos instructed them to hop like a frog, until they were told to run again. After that there was a fifteen-minute lunch break, then some form of class. For example, sometimes the Jewish prisoners were made to sing anti-Semitic songs. Following that was another time block for “sport”, and then the roll call completed the day (Gutman 111).

The prisoners slept in three-tiered wooden bunks with half a dozen men to each bunk. There were no mattresses or pillows. There was also no heat or ventilation at all. There was no segregation of those with diseases, so sometimes whole barracks would become infected. If someone died during the night, the rats would usually devour the corpse before morning. The dead prisoner would still be expected at roll call the next morning, so the remaining prisoners would be responsible for dragging the corpse out of the bed and to the line (Friedrich 40-41).

Of all the different blocks, block 11 was the harshest. One form of torture inflicted on the prisoners was where the SS would slowly pull out the prisoners’ fingernails with a pair of pliers. Another was the Boger swing. It was a steel bar, which the prisoner’s wrists and ankles were tied to. Gestapo Deputy Boger, who invented the device, would then run at the prisoners with a club, usually aiming for the genitals, who spun head over heals. There were also standing cells that the prisoners were sentenced to. They were three-foot by three-foot vertical tubes where the prisoner got no food, no water, and could not lie down (Friedrich 54-56).

Block 10 was even worse. Here, thousands of prisoners underwent pseudo-medical experiments. Doctor Josef Mengele, known as “the Angel of Death”, was most known for his experiments practiced on twins, women, and dwarfs (Gutman 111-112).

As the Germans began to lose the war, they sped up the extermination process. With such a large amount of prisoners being killed each day, and the crematoriums not doing the job fast enough, Hoess ordered nine gigantic pits dug on a slant. The bodies were thrown into the pits and burned so the fat of the corpses would run down the slopes of the pits and could be used again to help burn the next set of prisoners (Friedrich 73).

On January 12, 1945, the Soviet Armies, which had been stationed just outside the camp for more than a week, launched a full attack on Auschwitz. On January 18, the Germans ordered a full evacuation and everything burned. The prisoners were made to get into columns of five outside the camp. The prisoners, Kapos, and SS began their march through Silesia. Even as they tried to escape, the Russians opened fire on the Germans (Friedrich 74).

At the beginning of the march, over 60,000 prisoners started to head toward Gross-Rosen cap, which was a hundred and fifty miles to the west. Soon, they were made to run. Any prisoner who fumbled or fell was shot. One third of the prisoners died along the way (Friedrich 75).

Auschwitz was the largest graveyard in human history. The number of Jews killed in the gas chambers at Birkenau is estimated to be over one and a half million men, woman, and children. Best said by Isreal Gutman, “The horrors of Auschwitz have become legendary, and the name itself has passed into international usage as a byword for all that is bestial in humankind.” (Gutman 117).

Adelsberger, Lucie. Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Story. Boston: N.U.P. 1995.

Friedrich, Otto. The Kingdom of Auschwitz. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Gilbert, Martin. Auschwitz and Allies. New York: Holt Rinehart Winston, 1981.

Gutman, Isreal. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan, 1990.

Meltzer, Milton. Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of the European Jewry. New York: Oxford, 1990.