The Horrors of the Holocaust
Eighteen million Europeans went through the Nazi concentration camps. Eleven million of them died, almost half of them at Auschwitz alone.1 Concentration camps are a revolting and embarrassing part of the world’s history. There is no doubt that concentration camps are a dark and depressing topic. Despite this, it is a subject that needs to be brought out into the open. The world needs to be educated on the tragedies of the concentration camps to prevent the reoccurrence of the Holocaust. Hitler’s camps imprisoned, tortured, and killed millions of Jews for over five years. Life in the Nazi concentration camps was full of terror and death for its ...view middle of the document...
These centers also used the Jews for labor exploitation.6 The eleven concentration camps were created "to house large numbers of people in a limited, structured, and defined area . . . until they died or were killed."7 Although thousands of camps existed, these were the Big Nineteen. The smaller camps "were attached to, allied with, or under the supervision of the Big Nineteen."8
The basic purpose of the camps was to use the Jews for labor and then kill them. There was more to it than that, however. Konnilyn G. Feig describes the purpose of the camps as follows:
The system strove to develop from a primitive incarceration project to a vast unprecedented network for the suppression, containment, exploitation, and extermination of millions of people of various nationalities who were designated as enemies of the state or as members of a nonhuman or inferior population.9
Hitler thought of the Jewish population as a worthless society and treated the individuals as worthless creatures. When Hitler came to power, he established the camps "for the purpose of isolation, punishing, torturing, and killing Germans suspected of opposition to his regime."10 The Germans wanted to guarantee the death of as many Jews as possible "while extracting some useful labor from the doomed."11 The camps were set up technically and psychologically to dissolve the prisoners’ sanity and eventually their bodies.12
The treatment of the Jews of the concentration camps was sickening. "In every camp the prisoners could expect brutal treatment, starvation, sickness, and/or death. The prisoners died – of murder, gassing, torture, sickness, overwork, disease, and hunger."13 They were "beaten at every opportunity."14 They were literally worked to death. They were made to work in conditions that no human should have to endure. One survivor recounted his experience:
One time I was taken to do a little work carrying steel beams. It was winter time, very cold. Fifteen or twenty guys were lifting each side of the beam because it was a wide beam. Eventually they told us to place it somewhere. But when we tried we couldn’t tear away our hands from the steel because they were frozen to the beam. The skin came off and started bleeding. They didn’t permit us to put any kind of cloth over our hands. We had to carry it bare. The next day we put this same beam back in the original spot.15
Another survivor told how he was beaten to unconsciousness because he kept his uneaten soup under his bed. After he was beaten, his friend gave him a cup of coffee, enabling him to get up from his...