Concentration Camps Essay Research Paper Concentration camps

Concentration Camps Essay, Research Paper Concentration camps are prison camps in which members of minority groups, political enemies or people of physical

Concentration Camps Essay, Research Paper

Concentration camps are prison camps in which members

of minority groups, political enemies or people of physical

irregularity are kept. In most cases it is a permanent

imprisonment. The concentration camps of Hitler?s era and of

the Nazi regime are normally associated with mass death,

torture and gruesome scientific experimentation. In

reference to the Holocaust, about three fourths of the

prisoners were killed never seeing freedom again.

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 at least two gypsy great


By the end of 1933, there were at least fifty

concentration camps through out occupied Europe(Israel 152).

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(Prince 518). Camps

were set up for different purposes. Some for forced labor,

others for medical experimentation. Later on, some became

death/ extermination facilities. Transition camps were set

up as holding places for death camps.

Henrick Himmler, chief of the German police, 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(Williams-Internet). Therefore, productivity was


Camps were set up along railroad lines so that the

prisoners would be conveniently close to their deportation

destination. As they were being transported, the soldiers

kept telling the Jews to have hope. On the trains, Jews were

starved for days. Many people did not survive the ride to

the camp.

When the camps were finally opened, most of the

families who were shipped out together ended up being

separated; males in one camp and females in another. 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. Gold fillings, wedding bands, jewelry, shoes

and clothing were taken from the prisoners when they first

entered the camps and were sold.

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. 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(Alder 43). 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 knew that sickness meant death. When

someone escaped from the camp, all the prisoners in that

group were shot.

Joseph Mengele, one of the most notorious of the Nazi

doctors. Hummed when selecting among the new arrivals for

the gas chamber or for medical experiments(Wiesenthal 182).

Some inmates were frozen to determine the best way to revive

frozen German soldiers. He also I well know for his work on

twins, using them to test different chemicals.

Once the camps became too full, they would invent new

ways to dispose of the prisoners. 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 confuse them into believing that they were

truly going into a shower. Most people smelled the burning

bodies and knew the truth.

There were several death camps; Chelmno, Treblinka,

Aischwitz, Birkenau, Sobibor, Maidanek, and Belzec are some.

These camps used gas from the shower heads to murdertheir


Auschwitz, located in Poland, was ultimately Nazi

Germany’s largest concentration camp. It was established by

order of Himmler on April 27, 1940. At first, it was a

small 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(Gilbert 15). 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. Until March 26, 1942, Auschwitz took women

prisoners, but after August 16, 1942 the women were housed

in Birkenau to make it easier for their destruction (they

were not as strong). 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 (moldy) bread. In addition, they got extra an

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

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 within a few

months of their arrival. The few people who managed to stay

alive for longer were the ones who were assigned better


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 concrete

troughs. Two or three hundred people could sit onthem 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 stench of burning flesh filed the air in the

concentration camps as well as the area surrounding them.

When people were loaded onto trains to be taken to these 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.

Jews were killed in the chambers by Lykon B (Williams-

Internet), 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


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 1.5and 3.5 million Jews were

murdered at Auschwitz between the years 1940 and 1945(Braham


Throughout history billions of people have been killed

by cruel techniques and torture, but never has there been

such carnage at one time except for during the Holocaust.

Millions walked into the concentration camps but only a few

walked out. As for the rest, death was the final result.

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