Holocaust4 Essay

This essay has a total of 3393 words and 19 pages.

Holocaust4



TABLE OF
CONTENTS
Introduction page 1 Concentration Camps
pages 2-5 Death Camps page 6 Buchenwald pages 7-11
Conclusion page 12-13 Endnotes pages 14-15 Bibliography
page 16 (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 "undesirables"
was through the use of concentration camps. "In January
1941, in a meeting with his top officials, the 'final solution'
was decided". The Jewish population was to be eliminated.
In this paper I will discuss concentration camps with a
detailed description of the worst one prior to World War II,
Buchenwald. (2)
CONCENTRATION CAMPS The first
concentration camps were set up in 1933. In the early days
of Hitler's regime, concentration camps were places that held
people in protective custody. Victims for protective custody
included those who were either physically or mentally ill,
gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and anyone
against the Nazi regime. "Gypsies were classified as people
with at least two gypsy great grandparents." By the end of
1933 there were at least fifty concentration camps
throughout occupied Europe. "At first, the camps were
controlled by the Gestapo (police), but by 1934 the SS,
Hitler's personal security force, were ordered, by Hitler, to
control the camps." Camps were set up for several 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 mirrored 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 guards' orders
from the moment they arrived at the camps. "If they didn't,
they would be beaten, put into solitary confinement or shot."
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 roll 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 rationalized 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 these items
were then 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 usually 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." People who could not run away from
the camps were often able to survive because they dreamt
about revolt. Special areas of a camp were set aside for
medical experiments. Doctors in one medical unit performed
experiments 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 in order (5) to 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 the
purpose of extermination. 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 true death camps; Chelmno, Treblinka,
Auschwitz (Birkenau), Sobibor, Maidanek, and Belzec.
These camps used gas from shower heads to murder their
victims. A seventh death camp, Mauthausen, used a method
called "extermination through labor". Most would not
consider Buchenwald as a death camp because it had no gas
chamber, but it did have special rooms for mass shootings in
which hundreds of prisoners died in every day. (7)
BUCHENWALD Buchenwald, located in Poland, was built
on the site of Mt. Ettersberg, near Weimar. The camp,
surrounded by walls and barbed wire, was encircled with
guard towers at spaced intervals. Buchenwald was actually a
series of internal subcamps with wooden and stone
barracks, old horse stables, and tent cities. The "little camp",
built beyond the roll call area, acquired the worst reputation.
In one part of it the SS set aside primitive barracks for
emergency needs, crowding 40,000 inmates into them. In
another part, the SS forced the inmates to buy their food,
and if they couldn't they would die. In July 1937, the Nazis
began building Buchenwald. It officially opened on July 19,
1937. The first commander of Buchenwald was Karl Koch.
He headed it until he was relocated in Majdanek. The first
inmates there were professional criminals. After the
criminals, political prisoners were sent there. These politicals
were favored over the rest of the prisoners. On arrival,
prisoners were asked their status. If they responded political,
they were supplied with better boots and warmer clothes.
These small items were essential for the prisoners' physical
and mental shape. They also received the highest positions
available for prisoners. The first whole Jewish transport was
composed of politicals. They arrived in June 1938 because
of an action against "asocial" Jews. In the summer of 1938,
2,200 Austrian Jews were transferred (8) from Dachau.
Later that year, arrests after Kristallnacht more than doubled
the amount of Jewish prisoners in Buchenwald. The newly
arrived 10,000 Jews lived in recently built huts, and suffered
far more than the non-Jews. Of the new-comers, 244 died in
their first month of imprisonment. By spring 1939, most of
the prisoners were released, deprived of their property and
compelled to leave Germany. The vast majority of the
thousands of prisoners died at Buchenwald each year died,
soon after their arrival. They usually died of exhaustion,
physical and psychological or due to their loss of desire to
live. Their lives before the camp didn't prepare them for this
type of exhaustion. A survivor of Buchenwald said, "It took
a long time for a mind, torn from the anchorages of the
outside world and thrust into life-and-death turmoil, to find a
new inward center of gravity." The German soldiers were
always especially cruel, mentally and physically, to the
Jewish prisoners. At that time, the Germans considered
Jewish human life not equal the worth of an animal. Mentally,
they would try to depress the morale of the prisoners,
preventing the development of fellow-feeling or cooperation
among the victims. The "politically backward" "individualists"
knew nothing of organized action so they couldn't survive
long in Buchenwald. If hunger so demoralized a person to
steal another man's bread, he wasn't reported to the SS. The
room attendants took care of him, and if he didn't die from
beating, they injured him so brutally that he was only fit for
the crematorium. This was (9) done to maintain morale and
mutual trust. Some men used the typhus wards, which the
SS would not go near, to hide men whose names had come
up on the death lists. The Nazis physically abused the
prisoners in many ways. Next to the shooting chambers,
where hundreds died daily, there was a crematorium. Aside
from the huge ovens, there were 48 hooks for hanging pairs
of prisoners at a time. If they were not dead in the set five
minutes, they would be clubbed to dead and then thrown
into the incinerator. The bathrooms prisoners used were 20
feet long, 12 feet wide, 12 feet deep open pits with railings
along the side to squat. The soldiers would throw people in
the hole while they were doing their business. In October
1937 alone, ten people suffocated from excrement when
thrown into a hole. These overflowing pits were emptied at
night by prisoners with nothing but small pails. There were
about 30 men working on the slippery ground and often as
many as ten men fell in. Until the work was done and the pits
were empty, the workers weren't allowed to remove the
corpses. In December 1942, the camp received German
criminals who had been handed over to the SS by the prison
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