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Auschwitz Essay

1780 words - 8 pages

EN130 English Composition

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 (Schutz Staffel) 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. Auschwitz was originally intended for Polish political prisoners and other Poles. In June of 1940, the first load of prisoners ...view middle of the document...

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 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”. 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 and everything, but none of them 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, they 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 had the worst fate though. The conditions at Auschwitz were unthinkable. Prisoners slept 6 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 them ones underneath while they slept. Sleep was impossible for most though; beds were hard plank boards, overcrowded and infested with lice, ticks and bed bugs. The rats were so bad that if a prisoner died in the middle of the night, the rats would have eaten them.

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 held 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 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...

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