Auschwitz: The Camp of Death

by Suhas Rachaveti

During World War II, the Nazi regime implemented the Final Solution in an attempt to remove Jews from German society. The Jews were transported into ghettos, which were neighborhoods created for Jewish isolation from society. Starting in 1940, the Jews were transported from the overfilled ghettoes into concentration and death camps.

Auschwitz was a Nazi camp that functioned simultaneously as a concentration and death camp. The main groups of people sent here were the Roma (gypsies), Jews, and Poles.

This is a picture of the entrance to the camp. The sign reads “Work Liberates”.

As soon as the prisoners arrived at these gates they were separated based on a process called “Selektion”. The young and strong women and men were sent to work, while the mothers with young children, old and sick were sent to the gas chambers.

Among the prisoners that were deemed physically fit to work, there was a strict hierarchical order. The topmost positions were called functionaries, which usually consisted of Jews and Poles who were given better food and shelter. There was also a strict racial order in this camp in which German prisoners were at the top, then came non-Jewish European ethnic groups such as the Slaves, and then the Jewish and Roma people.

This was the living quarters that the camp prisoners used to sleep in.

The typical day began at 4:30 in the morning, with the prisoners being forced to go to the public restrooms to wash up. Next, there was a roundup of all the Jews in which they were forced to stand still for roll call.

These roll calls can sometimes last for hours due to missing persons. After roll call, prisoners were sent to work on their assigned roles such as working in construction sites or lumber yards.

Lunch was served at approximately noon, consisting of a soup that was mostly water with meat four days of the week and vegetables 3 days of the week (it was rumored that the people at the front of the line got mostly water and the people near the back of the line got more meat and vegetables).

They continued work until the evening for their dinner, which was a piece of bread with cheese or butter or sausage in small portions. There was a second roll call in the evening at 7, and the prisoners had free time to wash up until 9, at which time there was a curfew installed.

Sundays were the only days in which prisoners didn’t work and were instead forced to take their showers and clean their barracks.

One person who endured these conditions was Irene Fogel Weiss, who now lives in the United States. Irene was born in Czechoslovakia to a low-income community in 1930.

Soon after the part of Czechoslovakia, she lived in was annexed into Nazi-controlled Hungary. They were immediately shunned from society through being beaten up by locals and having their businesses and money seized.

Later, in 1944 after Hungary was occupied Germany, the Hungarian Jews were taken to Auschwitz. Immediately after arriving, Irene, her older sister, her older brother, and father were forced into slave labor, while her mother and other siblings were executed in the gas chambers. Both Irene and her sister eventually survived, but the rest of their immediate family were killed.

Another person who survived Auschwitz was the Polish-born Joseph Mandrowitz. He was training to become a tailor when he was deported to Auschwitz in 1943.

He was almost executed when he tried to steal a tomato in Auschwitz, however, the doctor stopped him from entering because he saw potential in him.

The soldiers all came to him to get their uniforms fixed up after they discovered he was a tailor. The doctor performed an experiment on him and eventually saved his life.

These prisoners were treated in brutal conditions and were eventually liberated on January 27th, 1945, with only a minority of prisoners surviving.

Now the Auschwitz camp serves as a state museum to the public. The horrors of this camp have helped our society develop to become more peaceful and accepting of other people.

This has been achieved through the creation of the united nations in which most of the nations in the world come together to maintain peace. Most former Nazis have been tried and sent to prison or executed during the Nuremberg trials.

After this mass genocide, global societies have started prosecuting crimes committed during the Cambodian and Rwandan genocide.

We can connect these horrors to today's society through the support of the Black Lives Matter campaign by people from all walks of life. It is clear that equality between all people has not yet been achieved, but we are much closer than we were a couple of decades ago.


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