Auschwitz. A place known by most, feared by all. A place of murder, reeking of death.
The most famous of concentration camps, over a million Jews passed through its gates, but only a few came out. Recognized as the most deadly camp, Auschwitz had one really special-and deadly- weapon. Its gas chambers. Able to kill hundreds at one time, this was WAY more efficient than firing squads, or large ovens, and emotionally easier (if they had emotion) on the guards. They no longer had to kill directly, although they did for sport. Prisoners were forced to escort the new arrivals sentenced to death into the gas chambers, then operate it.
How the gas chambers REALLY worked was that the new prisoners, fresh off the over packed cattle cars (By now dehydrated and exhausted, most sick), were lined up- women and children on one side, men on the other. The old, frail, sick, pregnant, children and those with children were sent straight to the chambers. They were sorted- Left or Right. Those on the unlucky side were marched off by prisoners called Sonderkommando, who had been there for a long time, and given a higher position. Told that they were going to the showers, the Jews were marched off to a large, square building.
When the taps were turned on, it was not water that came out. Zyklon B gas hissed from the spouts. Death was slow and painful. A window in the chamber allowed the Nazi guards to torment and tease the people as they died. When everyone was dead, the door was opened. Most bodies were mangled beyond recognition, piled on top of each other, having been searching for any fresh air left.
It wasn’t just the chambers that made Auschwitz so deadly. Guards had guns, and killed for sport. Beatings were commonplace. To strip Jews of their humanity, those who didn’t die straight away were ordered to take off all their clothes and go through inspection. They were given numbers, tattooed on their arms. Surrounded like animals, hundreds were pushed into crammed barracks, always infested with rats and lice.
Diseases were rampant. They were kept in by electric fences and those with guns, shooting on sight. Once having gone through all that inhumanity, they went through even more torture. Either used as guinea pigs in experiments, to change hair and eye colour by using VERY harmful chemicals, or to see how much pain a human can endure, or injecting fatal diseases onto their blood stream. They were dissected, still alive.
All without aesthetic Others were forced to work either in labour camps or factories on site, fed only 100 grams of bread a day, if they were lucky. Death was common place, mostly by the harmful substances. Just before the war ended, 19 days, to be exact, the inmates were taken on death marches. These were meant, of course, to kill. The biggest one came from Auschwitz, with over 56 thousand inmates taking part, marching 56km (35 miles), then loaded on a train.
One in four died on the march, either from hunger or exhaustion, or killed outright. Anyone lagging behind was shot. It was the last few steps and the last footprints many of them would make and take. Death is rampant. Kids ask, “Why do we need to learn history? It’s so boring!” Well, the answer to that is that so it is not repeated. “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic.
” “To the world, a man is nothing. To his family, that man is the world”