Death Camps of Auschwitz; What was the Holocaust?
Death Camps of Auschwitz; What was the Holocaust? Auschwitz concentration camp was a very well organised network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Hitler set up the camps in order to eradicate Jews not just from German society but wholly from Europe or wherever he could locate them.
The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy. In Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945, concentration camps were an integral feature of the racist regime.
The persecution and genocide of the Jews were carried out in stages, first of all the German government passed laws to exclude the Jewish from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. A network of concentration camps was established starting in 1933 and ghettos were established following the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
The killings were systematically conducted in virtually all areas of German-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries. It was at its most severe in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939.
The first concentration camps in Germany were established soon after Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in January 1933, the German authorities established camps all over Germany.
The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933 – when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany – to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities.
The victims were being regularly transported by freight train to specially built extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. The campaign of murder continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945.
The use of such camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse.
Jews were targeted and methodically murdered in this largest genocide of the 20th century, part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazis.
Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the genocides, turning the Third Reich into “a genocidal state”. The fact something like this occurred in a so-called civilised society as much of the Western, 1st World countries like to claim, it only occurred 69 years ago, this is very recent history, one that I can visualise happening again.. Why did’t other countries stop it happening? How disturbing is it that so much of Europe knew yet did nothing!
Non-Jewish victims of broader Nazi crimes included Gypsies, The Polish, communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled and anyone who was different! In total, approximately 11 million people were killed, including one million Jewish children alone. How the hell can this happen only 69 years ago!?
German historian Eberhard Jäckel wrote in 1986 that one distinctive feature of the Holocaust was that:
‘Never before had a state with the authority of its responsible leader decided and announced that a specific human group, including its aged, its women and its children and infants, would be killed as quickly as possible, and then carried through this resolution using every possible means of state power’.
I felt really overwhelmed and saddened during my visit here, I just couldn’t grasp how humanity could do this to each other, If anything this tragedy could teach us is that we should never allow history to repeat itself.
Below are images taken inside the buildings, not for the faint hearted..
Insightful & Educational Films about the Holocaust;
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – 2008
- Schindler’s List – 1993
- Uprising – 2001
- Life Is Beautiful – 2007
- Defiance – 2008
- In Darkness – 2011
- Out of the Ashes – 2003
- The Counterfeiters – 2007
- The Pianist – 2002