Nazi Concentration and Death Camps essay

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The German suffering after the first world war and the humiliation of Germany with other nations gave the Nazis the opportunity to feed hatred of the Jews and at the same time promise that if the People gave in to the Nazi ideology, they would be in the land that would hold them a superior way of life. That the followers of Hitler followed the Ideals as true and that they also created in their own minds the need to eliminate groups of people who disagree like the communists and the Jews was the fundamental cause of the holocaust. Why did it come about? It was argued that while the political climate of the times did not show much promise, Hitler was able to deliver what he promised even if it was based on evil. This gave him ground support. One of the chief supporters of Hitler, and Aman who hated Jews more than Hitler was Heinrich Himmler -- the mastermind of the death camps.

The Nazis and the Camps:

The chief planner of the death camps was "Himmler, whom Hitler entrusted with the planning and implementation of the 'Final Solution.'" (Heinrich Himmler: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) and Himmler made the project clear in the first speech after the responsibility having come his way in October 4, 1943. In the speech Himmler endorsed the mass murder Jews thus: "the annihilation of the Jewish people…. Most of you will know what it means when 100 corpses lie side by side, or 500 or 1,000…. This page of glory in our history has never been written and will never be written….We had the moral right, we were obligated to our people to kill this people which wanted to kill us." (Heinrich Himmler: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) When it was evident that the war was to be lost, in the middle of 1945, Himmler tried to negotiate "with the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Stockholm. Pursuant to that Hitler stripped Himmler of all of his offices and ordered his arrest." (Heinrich Himmler: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) He was captured by the Allies and "killed himself by biting down on a cyanide capsule hidden in his mouth for that very purpose." (Heinrich Himmler: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Himmler had a chequered career, and after some learning he began his career as a chicken farmer. His ardent work for the Nazi party and the faith and zeal he showed soon made him rise in the party and by 1930 he was a well-known figure in Bavaria. Thus it came to be that "Himmler was elected in 1930 to the Reichstag as Nazi deputy" and under him the SS membership reached fifty two thousand, and was independent. After that he created the "Security Service -- SD under Reinhard Heydrich, originally an ideological intelligence service of the Party, and together the two men ensured that the Nazis consolidated their power over Bavaria in 1933." (Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945))

The rise in his career and the next step to the creation of the camps came in 1933, when he "was appointed the Munich Police President, and later Commander of the political police for Bavaria." (Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945)) by 1934 he became under the supervision of Goering, "head of the Prussian Police and Gestapo." (Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945)) He made the SS as an independent organization in 1936; Himmler had complete "control of the political and criminal police of the Third Reich," and as the Reichsfuhrer of the SS. It was he in 1933 who laid the first step for a concentration camp. (Heinrich Himmler: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) it was his view that "there is no more living proof of hereditary and racial laws than in a concentration camp. You find there hydrocephalics, squinters, deformed individuals, semi-Jews: a considerable number of inferior people." (Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945))

That there was a special system evolved for racial questions is evident from the fact that as the Reichsfuhrer of the SS, Himmler he was prejudiced to racial purity and this was evident where he encouraged the 'perfect' men from the SS procreate with "young girls selected for their perfect Nordic traits." (Holocaust Denial) He was instrumental in introducing the gas chamber as 'more humane means' of execution. Himmler believed in what was being done as the best possible. That is the irony of evil. Not only that he believed init himself but was able to convince the members of the entire SS that the camps and the deaths were natural and necessary. Thus he is reported to have said: "One principle must be absolute for the SS man: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood and to no one else." (Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945))

The camps begin with Euthanasia:

There were all forms of death victims. It was not that the Nazis targeted only Jews or political enemies. After Hitler's Reichstag speech in 1939 that blamed the Jews and the Bolsheviks, and the first step in this direction was not taken against the Jews or aliens. The first set of people who found themselves in the death camps was invalid. "German citizens killed as a part of the euthanasia program intended to destroy those unfit to become volksgenossen (racial comrades)." (Reed-Purvis 2003) Thus those who were physically or mentally challenged were the first victims. This was because the handicapped were looked upon as the carriers of genetic defects and 'eugenics' coined by Francis Galton in 1881. This was later was improved upon by Charles B. Davenport, who in 1910 proposed the sterilization as a means of keeping the population better. In USA during the 1920s prospective immigrants with unwanted defects were blocked. (Reed-Purvis 2003)

In Germany, eugenics was touted by medical professionals, who were indoctrinated into the Nazi doctrines of the German race. Thus all aberrations like homosexuality and other patients who could not be cured were treated as unnecessary. The German Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche first advocated 'mercy death' which was better than sterilization. These theories were current in Germany even before the Nazis. The Nazis resorted to forced sterilization from 1933 of the mentally and physically handicapped, and those with chronic illnesses. (Reed-Purvis 2003)

Thus there were four hundred thousand such patients who had to undergo sterilizations pronounced on them by 'Hereditary Courts'. (Reed-Purvis 2003) During the war "Hitler authorized the start of a secret program of mercy killing of handicapped children throughout the Reich, with or without permission from their parents." (Reed-Purvis 2003) it was code named Aktion. The euthanasia program was a state secret. This was expanded from children to adults using gas chambers using carbon monoxide gas in hospitals. One in a population of thousand would have met with a mercy death. Thus in the initial phase, over seventy thousand people were killed by doctors for being unworthy of living. This "was extended to all unproductive consumers of food during the war." (Reed-Purvis 2003) Thus a further one hundred and fifty thousand people died in euthanasia programs. (Reed-Purvis 2003)

The persons who administered the death were chosen carefully from party stand point-of-view. Thus the staffs were expected to be discreet. It was based on voluntary participation and there were no forced persons in the euthanasia program unlike in the concentration camps. The Gestapo investigated the candidates and the important posts were filled from the SS. These killing camps were controlled and directed by medical experts, who were "motivated by blood lust. Above all, their involvement in the euthanasia program presented them with an opportunity to further their careers." (Reed-Purvis 2003)

In 1940 the Chancellor Hitler replaced the law of euthanasia with "Law on the Treatment of Community Aliens." (Reed-Purvis 2003) Thus one million Germans were spared on account of this order. Later on the secrecy having gone, Henrich Himmler closed the euthanasia camp at Grafeneck in 1940, and according to him the reason was: "because what takes place there is secret, and yet is no longer a secret." (Reed-Purvis 2003) the program was also conducted in Poland using mobile gas chambers. These resembled coffee shops. (Reed-Purvis 2003)

The victims outside "Poland was handicapped Jews from Germany." (Reed-Purvis 2003) by 1941 three hundred and sixty five thousand people were ghettoes at Warsaw and Lodz. By 1942 Aktion T4 experts created Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobidor and Belzec camps for extermination. The system was the same as used in the euthanasia program. The method of "using an old tank engine to generate carbon monoxide gas" and also experiment by the SS was conducted using hydrogen cyanide or Zyklon B. Russian prisoners were the victims of this experiment and over one million persons were killed using the deadly gas at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. (Reed-Purvis 2003) it can be noted that of these…[continue]

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