Auschwitz-The Toture Camps Auschwitz, located thirty-seven miles west of Krakow, was the first concentration camp where Jewish people worked to death, or were automatically killed. This camp, compared to all the other camps, tortured the most people. At the camp there was a place called the Black Wall, this was where the people were executed.
In March of 1941, there was another camp that started its building. This second camp was called Auschwitz II, or Birkenau. It was located 1.9 miles away from Auschwitz I. In the town Monowitz, another camp was being built. This camp was called Auschwitz III, or Buna-Monowitz.
Other camps that were located close to Monowitz were moved to Buna-Monowitz. People that were forced to come to these camps were expelled from their homes, and their houses were destroyed purposely for building the camp, Birkenau. Birkenau had nine sub-units. Electrically charged fences that lined their borders separated the terrifying camps from each other. In August 1942, the women’s section at Auschwitz I was moved to Birkenau. Nine hundred and ninety-nine women from Ravensbruck camp and other women from neighboring camps joined them.
Birkenau now had over 6,000 women prisoners being held. The population of Birkenau was the most densely populated one out of all the camps. It also had the most horrifying and cruel conditions out of all the camps in the complex. The prisoners at Birkenau mostly consisted of Jews, Poles, and Germans. There were a number of Gypsy and Czech Jew family camps located at Birkenau for a period of time also.
Birkenau and all the other sub-camps were mainly forced labor camps. The most recognized of the labor camps were, Budy, Gleiwitz, Rajsko, and Furstengrabe. The prisoners here were worked to the point of death. Trains transported people to these camps, then the victims were violently forced off the train. All of their personal items were left in the confines of the train as well. The prisoners were separated into two different lines, one for women and the other for men.
The lines moved into the camp where a procedure called “selection” took place. The people who could work were not killed at this time. The nazi’s were going to get their work out of the new prisoners. The women, children, and others that couldn’t work were not so lucky, they were gassed. Tattoos were given to the selected prisoners on their right arm as an easy way of registration. Not all of the original prisoners had this tattoo.
The registered number of prisoners was 405,000. The prisoners that were picked to work, had their clothes taken, heads shaved, sterilized, and were given black and white striped clothes to wear. In the forced labor camps, the average lifetime was only a few months. A dreaded part of camp routine was the appeal, or roll call. In this practice, prisoners were sent out into the cold after a hard day of work, and were lined up. Anyone that fell to the ground was shot or gassed.
One of the most disgusting and depressing chores that had to be done was called Sonderkommando. This meant that you burned the deceased bodies of the prisoners in the crematoria. The daily routine in the complex differed in each camp, but the basic routine was the same. The inmates woke at dawn, cleaned their area up, morning roll call was taken, they walked to their given work site, worked for long hours, had to wait in long lines for food, then walked back to their bunks, block inspection was done, and then evening roll call was taken. There were also people who got picked for medical experiments.
The most widely known doctor at Auschwitz was Joseph Mengele. His experiments were mainly done on twins and dwarfs. He did a lot of experiments that had to do with death. He would see how long it would take a person to die if you did certain things to the body, torture. He also did experiments that had to do with cutting off body parts, and reattaching them to different areas of the body.
By January 20th, 1944, the population of the Auschwitz complex had reached 80,839. That number rose higher and higher as the months past by and more prisoners came. The first gas chamber to be used was built in Auschwitz I. The gas that was used in the chambers was called Zyklon-B.
In Birkenau, the largest number of people that could be killed in the gas chambers was 6,000 people, daily. The gas chamber looked just like a shower room. The prisoners were told they needed to be clean before work, and then the nazi’s would lock the doors, turn on the gas, and kill the innocent people. Starting in March of 1942, trains arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau daily, carrying Jews from Europe. On the borders of Auschwitz I and Birkenau, electrical fences were put up. Watchtowers and SS men lined the complex with automatic guns to be used in any escape situations.
Canals also lined the border of Birkenau. The prisoners knew how difficult it would be to try to escape, and live through it. A few brave souls did decide to make a run for it. When one of the camps was having a very difficult time, 667 prisoners tried to escape. Only 270 of them made it, and the ones who got ended up getting caught were executed. A group of women at the camp also destroyed one of the gas chambers in an uproar.
The leaders of this incident were found and executed on January 6th, 1945. During my Senior year, over spring break, my family took a vacation to Washington D.C. The second day we were there, we visited the Holocaust Museum. That will be one experience I will never forget. It was silent in there, except for the people that were softly crying to themselves.
They showed movies, had displays, and pictures. The most moving area, for me, in the museum was the hall that had the shoes in it. The walls in the room were white, and the only walkway was a bridge. The lights were dimmed low, and this particular room it was dead silent.
Beneath the bridge and crawling up the walls were dirty, faded shoes of all sizes worn by actual inmates. That really bothered me. It was an overall indescribable experience. In my opinion, these camps were one of the world’s largest tragedies in our history. What the nazi’s did to these people was demented.
Just reading through all my information, and getting a better idea of what went on, was terrifying. I saw numerous pictures, quotes, and stories and made me sick to my stomach. I have always been interested in concentration camps, and other topics related to this. So this was a very educational paper for me to write.