Auschwitz Essay, Research Paper
Auschwitz was not one but three different concentration and execution camps. Each camp had it own purpose. The first camp was called Auschwitz I. It was mainly used as a central camp for Nazi officers, producing economic and military-industrial enterprise, and holding enemies of the Nazis. It was originally used in 1940 to hold Poles and soviet POW’s (Prisoners of war). It became a death camp for Jews in 1941-42.
The second camp of the Auschwitz complex was Auschwitz II or Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was used mainly as a death camp which included five gas chambers and four crematoriums. Through the utilization of gas chambers up to 6,000 gypsies, a few hundred more Soviet POW’s, and between 1.5 million and 3.5 million Jews were murdered at Birkenau. It was the first death camp in Europe and had the highest death rate out of all Another problem was the shoes. The prisoners were thrown a random pair of shoes that were often mismatched. They were hard and wooden and often gave their wearers blisters and cuts. Many prisoners exchanged shoes with one another because of wrong sizes. The prisoners were then forced to work in the shoes. It was even harder for those with lost limbs.
The third camp was Auschwitz III or Monowitz. It was a slave labor camp where synthetic rubbers were made. Most of the people that died at Monowitz died from starvation and over working.
If there is one thing all three camps shared it was bad living conditions. The prisoners were forced to work long hard hours. Besides that they were given a 1600-1700 calorie diet. According to specialists a man could last 2-3 months on his reserves and that diet. Another thing that made living there hard were the toilets and sleeping arrangements. In each block there was an average of five toilets for about 700-1000 people. Often the toilets would get clogged up and since there were no maintenance workers, they were left like that for many days and sometimes weeks at a time. Even though the days were long and grueling sleeping wasn’t something the prisoners looked forward to as much as you would think. They slept in bunk beds that went up to the ceiling of the blocks. The beds were hard and uncomfortable. Most beds didn’t have sheets and the prisoners often slept several to a bed. It wasn’t rare to find cockroaches and such scurrying through the beds.
There were many ways of executing the prisoners in the death camps. One of the ways was by gas chambers. The Nazis would force large groups of prisoners into small cement rooms and drop canisters of Zyklon B, or prussic acid, in its crystal form through small holes in the roof. These gas chambers were sometimes disguised as showers or bathing houses. After the gas cleared the bodies were taken to the crematorium to be disposed of. Another way of execution was the firing line. The prisoners were told to stand by the “black wall”. Then the Nazis would line up and shoot them. Then the corpses were usually taken to large holes where the bodies were thrown into a “mass grave”.