Essay about The Holocaust: Nazi Camps

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The Holocaust: Nazi Camps

“ATTENTION! HITLER IS AT OUR DOORSTEPS! VACATE YOUR PREMISES

NOW OR DIE IN THE NAZI DEATH CAMPS!” “Hanging high in the center of town, it was a

Nazi flag… here was the first time I saw, with my own eyes, the Swastika.”(Spiegelman 32)

Holocaust has begun. The Jewish community was targeted by Hitler and they didn’t get any

warnings like the one stated above. Mainly because WWII didn’t start until 1939, but Hitler was

already planning on constructing Nazi camps in 1933. The term “Nazi Camps” is being used

because there were different types of camps. Some were for labor and some were for strictly

annihilating the Jewish population. Hitler’s plan, referred to as the “Final Solution”, was to

exterminate every last Jew in the world. “The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six

million Jews during the Nazi genocide- in 1933 nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of

Europe.” (Louis Bülow) Imagine 2/3 of a population vanishing. That’s a horrific image, the

Holocaust was responsible for those six million lives. The concentration camps were responsible

for at least half of those deaths. Not only did the Jewish community suffer from the camps, but

so did the handicapped, the homosexual, and the mentally disabled. Two major camps of the

holocaust were Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Buchenwald.These camps were the largest and were

responsible for taking millions of lives.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of all camps, was established on April 27, 1940.

Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of this camp near Oswiecim, Poland. Auschwitz was

formed mainly to serve as a prison for Poles that resisted German law. Most of these Poles were

killed and new prisoners were transported to Auschwitz. By March, 1941 the population was

10,900 and soon enough, the camp got it’s name for killing several prisoners. Mass-shootings

were the methods used at first to kill these prisoners. The population grew rapidly and increased

daily. This is the origin of Auschwitz I. Birkenau or Auschwitz II, was formed in 1941, 2 miles

from the main camp. “When construction began in October 1941, it was supposed to be a camp

for 125 thousand prisoners of war.” (Piper) This was the initial idea. But, “The decision was

made in 1941 to locate mass extermination facilities adjacent to the camp that was under

construction in Birkenau-gas chambers for the mass killings of jews brought to Birkenau as part

of the Third Reich leadership’s plans for the chambers went into operation the following year.”

(Piper) Birkenau was classified as a extermination camp. In March, 1943 Birkenau introduced a

new method of exterminating large amounts of people at a time using Zyklon-B. “We knew the

stories- that they will gas us and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944… we knew the stories.

And here we were.”(Spiegelman 157) Upon arrival, people would be sent to gas chambers

disguised as “shower rooms” and Zyklon-B would be released, killing everyone in the room

within 20 minutes. Their corpses were sent to the crematoria, here they were burned and never

spoken of again. "'Do you see that chimney over there? See it? Do you see those flames? (Yes,

we did see the flames.) Over there-that's where you're going to be taken. That's your grave, over

there.'" (Wiesel 28) The “flames” are coming from the crematories in which millions of bodies

have been incinerated to nothing but ashes. Several Jews and POW’s being transported to these

camps would arrive to smoking chimneys and a sky filled with ashes. “‘Was there a single place

here where you were not in danger of death?”’ (Wiesel 37) Birkenau was indeed a dangerous

place and large amounts of people died everyday. Buna-Monowitz or Auschwitz III was

established on May 31, 1942 as a work camp. This camp became known as the “industrial zone”

of Auschwitz…