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Conditions Of The Concentration Camps During The Holocaust

1113 words - 4 pages

Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 and his sudden control over Germany sparked a new age of reform within the new “Nazi-state” (Hunt 848). As Nazism became a major aspect of everyday life in Germany, Hitler plotted against his enemies and those he blamed for Germany’s defeat in World War I: the Jewish race. In his biography, Mein Kampf, Hitler discusses the artistic, social, and technological superiority of Germany (“Aryans”), why he believes the Aryans are the ultimate dominant human race, and he makes many anti-Semitic remarks against the Jews. (Lualdi 224). In 1935, the “Nuremberg Laws” were enacted to deny Jewish Germans of their citizenship; this ultimately led Hitler to carry out his “Final Solution,” in which he hoped to fully exterminate the Jewish race from all of Europe (Hunt 864). After gathering the Jews from their “ghettos” and forcing them into concentration camps all across Europe, Hitler and his Nazi advocates began one of the most destructive and horrifying genocides in history, known today as the Holocaust. Only after being introduced to the conditions of these concentration camps, the hatred and abuse put towards the Jewish, and the gruesome lifestyle they were trapped into living can one understand why the Holocaust affected so many as it did. What exactly were the conditions of these camps, and how did a few lucky survivors prevail while their friends and families perished?
The concentration camps and labor camps, also referred to as “extermination sites,” were scattered all across Europe (Hunt 865). While a few in Poland were designed strictly for the immediate genocide of certain groups of Jews, such as Auschwitz, other camps were designated for labor from the captured Jews, until their services were no longer required and they would then be killed as well (Hunt 865). Sam Bankhalter, a survivor from Auschwitz, recalls that upon arrival to the camp, the women, young children, infants, disabled, sick, and elderly individuals were taken directly to the gas chambers (Lualdi 236). The select others, usually consisting of stronger-looking young males and teenagers, would then be searched, stripped of their possessions, disinfected of any germs or disease, have their heads shaved, and be given tattered clothing (Hunt 865). These victims were subjected to living like abused, wild animals. As described in the novel, The Tragedy of Nazi Germany, “Camp inmates were degraded and debased to a subhuman level…They were scarecrows with match-stick thin limbs. Their shaven heads were hangdog and dirty, their skins scaly and scabby with sores and starvation,” (Phillips 185). Inmates were malnourished, for they were given the smallest scraps of food only to suffice for energy to produce labor; lack of clothing and food during the harsh conditions of the winter caused many to fall ill and die of disease; they were punished for the simplest mistakes, and these punishments consisted of “cruel beatings and torture which often killed the...

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