Auschwitz-Concentration Camp Essay, Research Paper
Auschwitz, located in Poland, was Nazi Germany’s largest and most terrible
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 was the camp commander’s headquarters and administrative
offices. Auschwitz was called Birkenau and it was the death camp with forty
gas chambers. Auschwitz was a slave labor camp (Funk and Wagnalls New
encyclopedia). 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 (Gilbert The Holocaust ) . 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 (MicrosoftEncarta).
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 (Internet: Auschwitz Alphabet). Everyone in the camp was so
malnourished that if a drop of soup spilled 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 (Gilbert The Holocaust ).
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 (Microsoft Encarta). 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 (Funk and
wagnalls New Encyclopedia).
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 (Microsoft Encarta).
Over the gas chambers were well kept lawns with flowers bordering them. When
the Jews were being taken to the gas chambers, 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 (Funk and
Wagnalls New Encyclopedia).
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 (Gilbert The Holocaust ) .
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 (Microsoft
Encarta). 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 (Gilbert The Holocaust ). 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 (Microsoft Encarta).
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
(Internet: Auschwitz Alphabet). 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 years 1940 and 1945. In 1946 Poland
founded a mueseum at the site of the Auschwitz concentrarion
camp in remembrance of it s victims (Microsoft Encarta).