According to prisoners who job it was to remove the bodies and transport them to the crematoria afterwards, the screams started as soon as the pellets were deposited into the hole. They recount that the victims were usually arranged into a massive pyramid shape with the strongest and most desperate individuals near the top. Often, the walls would have to be cleaned in between uses to remove the blood left by fingers scraped bloody by people trying, in vain, to claw their way out of the rooms (Levin, 1993).
At the death camps, the strongest prisoners were used to perform the most disgusting work of removing dead bodies and operating the crematoria; this was their only alternative to being gassed or shot themselves. Camps without crematoria used large open burning pits similar to the execution pits employed before widespread use of gas chambers. Sometimes, a prisoner on such work details would recognize individuals in the crowd headed to the disrobing area as a former acquaintance or neighbor. In such instances, they could not do anything to warn the victims of their imminent death without risking being thrown into the gas chambers themselves. In any case, warnings at this stage would have accomplished little but to add to the fear and horror undoubtedly experienced by victims of the Nazis in their last moments of life. Still, the psychological toll of this dilemma was great enough that more than a few working prisoners eventually threw themselves into the flaming pits where the corpses were burned to escape their situations (Guttenplan, 2001).
Work camps maintained extensive networks of prisoner barracks lined up in long rows that were visible to allied aircraft from miles above. Inside each barracks, prisoners slept on wooden slats with hay or dilapidated mattresses and usually in a single layer of thin camp uniforms without any winter clothes to protect them from the cold. Roll calls were held multiple times per day and prisoners who were too ill to get out of bed were simply removed and shot outside the barracks as examples for other prisoners or taken to the "infirmary" and shot their instead (Guttenplan, 2001). Generally, Cholera, Typhus, and Tuberculosis spread rapidly among the prisoners to the extent that even as work camps, more than half of all prisoners died within months of their arrival. Medical treatment for prisoners was nonexistent and usually consisted of a bullet to the head.
Those who managed to survive did so...
At Nordhausen and other specialty camps, prisoners worked in shifts, sixteen or eighteen hours at a time, round the clock, deep inside hollowed out mountains to manufacture components for the V-2 rockets meant for launch against Britain (Guttenplan, 2001; Levin, 1993; Morse, 1998).
Some of the worst atrocities included horrific experiments, such as those conducted by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, in which prisoners were submerged in ice water to develop data used for German pilot survival training, as well as other torturous surgical procedures without anesthesia, many of which had absolutely no scientific value whatsoever (Guttenplan, 2001; Levin, 1993)
The Aftermath and Historical Relevance of the Holocaust:
Approximately 6 million Jews were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust, and Hitler nearly succeeded in making Europe Juden frie ("Jew free"), killing approximately half of the world's Jewish population and nearly all of the Jews in most of Europe. After the war, the Allies tried the captured Nazi officers as war criminals at the Nuremburg Trials, where, to a man, each defendant disclaimed any personal responsibility and claimed innocence by virtue of just "following orders" (Guttenplan, 2001). Since then, the Nazi Holocaust has been taught as one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated by man, in connection with efforts to understand the psychological and sociological mechanisms through which such an event could transpire in modern times.
Guttenplan, D. (2001). The Holocaust on Trial. New York: W.W. Norton.
Kershaw, I. (2000). Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. New York: W.W. Norton.
Levin, N. (1993). The Holocaust: The…
Holocaust The sheer scale of the Holocaust can make it difficult to understand, because while human history is rife with examples of oppression and genocide, never before had it been carried out in such an efficient, industrialized fashion. The methodical murder of some six million Jews, along with millions of other individuals who did not fit the parameter's of the Nazis' racial utopia, left a scar on the global consciousness and
The asylum automatically granted under the Swiss constitution was denied for those seeking it for religious reasons. By 1942, only 9,150 foreign Jews were legally resident in Switzerland, an increase of just 980 since 1931. It was the Swiss government that requested the German government to help it identify Jews by stamping all Jewish passports with a prominent letter "J," following the Nuremberg acts in 1935. "By 1942, acting
At this point, it is easy to see how Hitler was able to be a success in his plans and how he used the basic human need for order to carry out his plan. However, one still must wonder why no one resisted. Regardless of the order that his methods created, what he did was horrific by any standard. One has to wonder why the people did not simply rise
My entire family was marched at gunpoint into railway cars ordinarily used for cattle and sent to one of the many Eastern European death camps established throughout the continent by the Nazis. My brother and I watched our family and neighbors being rounded up from where we were hiding on the roof of our apartment building two nights ago. He believes that our family might still survive the war at
11. Existentialism Existentialism is a philosophical perspective that emphasizes the larger reality of the external world beyond the specific human needs or goals of the individual. Its two most influential contributors are Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. 12. Information on the origins of Jazz Generally, Jazz is believed to have originated in New Orleans, Louisiana after the Creoles who were originally from the West Indies and lived under Spanish and then French rule became American
Holocaust is a catastrophe orchestrated by Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. It was an organized and systematic murder with the outcome being the brutal killing of approximately six million innocent Jews during the Word War II (Longerich 2007 p. 29). State involvement in the murder complicates the whole affair as it was contrary to expectations. This was in deep contrast by all standards given the reality among