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On 28th June 2007, the UN World Heritage Committee officially announced that the new name of the concentration camp of the Nazis in Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940 -1945) (Auschwitz Concentration). In an attempt to dehumanize the victims of the Nazis and as a testament to the resilience of a few of the inmates of the camps, the mentality of the brutal Nazis is worth a topic to remind each and everyone that the universe needs to be protected under the shield of peace and love.
Tortures beyond human thoughts and suffering to the furthest extent create numbness in the minds of every reader of the Nazi camps. Located 37 miles west of Krakow, Auschwitz was the camp where gruesome killings of innocent Jews took place. Auschwitz I was the administration center, Auschwitz II Birkenau was the extermination camp and Auschwitz III Monowitz was the work camp. The camp commandant Rudolf Hoss testified at the Nurenberg Trials that up to 2.5 million people had died at Auschwitz.
Auschwitz I was founded on May 20, 1940. (Auschwitz Concentration).
It contained several blocks of which Block II housed a ‘prison within the prison’ where violators of numerous rules were punished. They had to spend nights in “standing cells” a 1.5 m square area containing 4 men who could do nothing but stand. ‘The basement had “starvation cells” where prisoners were incarcerated without food and water till they were dead’. (Auschwitz – Nazi Concentration Camp). The basement also had “dark cells” with only a very tiny window and a solid door. Here prisoners gradually suffocated to death. The SS – the officials in charge, would light a candle in the cell to use up the oxygen more quickly to hasten the death of the prisoners. Operated by Heinrich Himmler’s SS, the execution of the prisoners took place in a rather brutal manner.
Some prisoners were made to hang with their heads behind their backs dislocating their shoulder joints for several days. The execution yard was the place where individual execution of important personalities took place. They were either shot or suspended from hooks. The infamously famous Doctor Josef Mengele, conducted experiments to determine the effects of injection of caustic chemicals into the uterus of women. Many women died in pain. He also performed castration with anesthetics. Prisoners in the hospital camps were regularly killed by a lethal injection of phenol.
The condition of the prisoners in Auschwitz II Birkenau was no less awful. Four gas chambers were installed about 1600 prisoners were killed every day under the effect of the highly lethal cyanide-based pesticide, Zyklon B. The gas chambers resembled shower rooms where they were neatly stacked in groups. The prisoners who were transported to this place by train were often violently dropped off the trains during the course of the journey. Initially, they were escorted in two lines, one for women and one for men. Later, they were divided into 4 groups according to their physique.
The weaker women and children and those who couldn’t work were gassed to death. The second group was the workers whose clothes were taken away, heads shaved, sterilized, given black and white clothes to wear, and sent to the industrial factories for hard work. The third group consisted of twins and dwarfs, specially selected by Doctor Josef for his inhuman experiments to determine how long it would take a person to die. He cut off body parts and reattached them to different parts of the body. The fourth group was the women prisoners; rudely called “Canada”. The role of Oskar Schindler is worth mentioning. He had miraculously saved 1100 Jewish Poles from execution, beatings, starvation, and sickness.
The atrocities on the prisoners in Auschwitz III Monowitz who were mainly Jews, Poles, and Germans were horrendous. Prisoners moved in lines of two into a place where a procedure called ‘Selektion’ took place. The ones who could work were not killed at this time, while the women’s children and the others who couldn’t be gassed. Some of the prisoners who couldn’t react or move became what was known as ‘Muselmann’. The dreaded part of the camp was the ‘Appell’ or Roll call. In this, the prisoners were sent out into the cold night after a hard day of work, lined up and shot dead or gassed. The worst part of the chores of the inmates was the ‘Sonderkommando’ where the bodies of the dead prisoners were burnt in the crematoria.
Apart from these, the prisoners were given tattoos in their right arms as an easier way of registration. Around 405000 prisoners are estimated to be registered. The daily routine of the prisoners was to wake up at dawn, clean the areas and arrange for the roll call. They walked to the worksite, where regular inspection was done and the Doctor picked up his ‘suitable specimens’ for various experimental activities. It is believed that at times the people were tattooed on their chests and the Jews, the worst sufferers had metal plates stitched to their arms as roll numbers. “The tattoos of the survivors have come to symbolize the utter brutality of the concentration camps.” Apart from this the prisoners were arranged according to series of A U – Soviets, Z- Germans, A- men, B- women.
The prisoners in the three prison houses were made to sleep in groups of 4 on a bunk made of wood barely a few inches wide and long. The weaker ones have shoved off their beds for execution. The prisoners, after waking up lined their way to the different sections they were led to. Daily inspection and routine executions made the prisoners accustomed to the ritual of human sacrifice. Most of the prisoners died due to forced labor, inhuman treatment, systematic starvation, lack of disease control, individual execution, and the so-called medical experiments.
Forced labor emaciated the prisoners to such an extent that they were reduced to a bundle of bones within no time. Gruesome work ranging from carrying the diseased and the dead, long hours of work in factories without water and food, inhuman working conditions reduced the people to a shadow of their former selves. The inhuman treatments that they were subject to prevented them from being able to protest or rebel. Those who planned to escape and those who were caught were given capital punishment. Barbed electric fences around the prison house stopped prisoners from escaping. Torch lights of high voltage worked at night to spot any escaping prisoner. Guards kept a 24-hour watch over the whole area.
The prisoners were given hardly any meal to be able to stand up to work. Food was rationed and as the number of prisoners to each prison house increased the former inmates were put to death to accommodate the new ones. Living under sub-human conditions, women, children, and the weaker men suffered from fatal diseases which were not attended to. Women and children suffered the worst consequences. Yet another gruesome act was individual execution where the prisoner faced death either by a bullet or by hanging down from a nail. This punishment was given to those prisoners who occupied a distinguished rank either in society or in the army.
The death of Hitler put an end to the sufferings of the Jews, the Soviets, and the Germans. The three prison houses were destroyed and the prisoners were taken to safer places. Though not completely destroyed, the prison houses remained a site worth visiting. Each prison house has told endless tales of woe while being a constant reminder of the savagery of man against man.
Shame on the Homo sapiens who regard themselves as sane and rational creatures and yet commit the worst crimes worth remembering! It’s barely 63 years since the first gas chambers for humans were constructed. It is getting worst still as different parts of the world are becoming prey to murderous activities by extremist groups and terrorists in the name of religion, caste, and race. One need not mention the made race after imperial glory and political power of a few ‘glorious’ personalities.
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Auschwitz Concentration. Wikipedia. 2008. Web.
Auschwitz – Nazi Concentration Camp. 2008. Web.