: (1) INTRODUCTION The Holocaust is the most horrifying crime against
humanity of all times. "Hitler, in an attempt to establish the pure Aryan
race, decided that all mentally ill, gypsies, non supporters of Nazism,
and Jews were to be eliminated from the German population. He proceeded
to reach his goal in a systematic scheme." One of his main methods of
"doing away" with these "undesirable" was through the use of concentration
camps. "In January 1941, in a meeting with his top officials the 'final
solution' was decided". Jews were to be eliminated from the population.
Auschwitz was the concentration camp that carried out Hitler's "final
solution" in greater numbers than any other. In this paper I will discuss
concentration camps with a detailed description of the most well- known
one, Auschwitz. (2) CONCENTRATION CAMPS The first
concentration camps were set up in 1933. In the early days of Hitler,
concentration camps were places that held people in protective custody.
Victims for protective custody included those who were both physically
and mentally ill, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and
anyone against the Nazi regime. "Gypsies were classified as people with
atleast two gypsy great grandparents." By the end of 1933 there were
atleast fifty concentration camps throughout occupied Europe. "At first,
the camps were controlled by the Gestapo (police), but by 1934 the S.S.
(Hitler's personal security force) were ordered, by Hitler, to control
the camps." Camps were set up for different purposes. Some for forced labor,
others for medical experiments and, later on, for death/ extermination.
Transition camps were set up as holding places for death camps. "Henrick
Himmler, chief of the German police, the Gestapo, thought that the camps
would provide an economic base for the soldiers." This did not happen.
The work force was poorly organized and working conditions were inhumane.
Therefore, productivity was minimal. Camps were set up along
railroad lines, so that the prisoners would be conveniently close to
their destination. As they were being transported, the soldiers kept telling the
Jews to have hope. (3) When the camps were finally opened, most of the
families who were shipped out together ended up being separated.
Often, the transports were a sampling of what went on in the camps,
cruelty by the officers, near starvation of those being transported, fetid and
unsanitary conditions on the trains. "On the trains, Jews were starved of
food and water for days. Many people did not survive the ride to arrive at
the camp." Jews were forced to obey the guard's orders from the moment
they arrived at the camps. "If they didn't, they would be beaten, put into
solitary confinement or shot." The prisoners usually had marks on their
clothes or numbers on their arms to identify them. The sanitary conditions of
the camps were horrible. "There was only one bathroom for four hundred
people. They had to stand for hours in snow, rain, heat, or cold for