Lest We Forget
Bold, black, capitalized letters seized the top portion of the April 18, 2014 USA Today newspaper; “OUTRAGE AS JEWS TOLD TO REGISTER IN EAST UKRAINE.” The article reported leaflets were handed to Jews as they left their synagogue in the politically unstable Ukraine. The message, reminiscent of another time and another place, caused many to pause and reflect on the German concentration camps of World War II and the Holocaust. The atrocities of Dachau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, labor, prisoner of war and death concentration camps implemented under Hitler’s New Order must be deeply etched in memories for fear they be replicated.
Adolph Hitler, Chancellor of Nazi Germany, set out to conquer Europe and become the Third Reich or third empire in history. He designed a policy, the New Order, in an effort to rule over all of Europe and other nationalities (Cantrell 771). There were three main elements to the Order: (1) plundering, (2) slavery, (3) Endlosung or “Final Solution” (Cantrell 771). During the World War II invasion, the Nazis pilfered valuable belongings of the defeated people and drove them into slavery. The third element, Endlosung, or “final solution”, was the organized, systematic and brutal effort to find and exterminate all the Jews in Europe to “remove their unremediable polluting effect from humankind” (Cantrell 771). In January 1939 Hitler said if a European war broke out it would result in “the annihilation of the Jewish race throughout Europe” (Cantrell 772). On September 1, 1939 Nazi German soldiers unleashed the blitzkrieg or “lightning war” on Poland (Cantrell 725). In 1942 the Nazis began slaughtering men, women and children, most of which were Jewish (Cantrell 772). From the onset of Third Reich 1933-1945 the prisoners were interned in concentration camps; the first concentration camp in the eventual massive camp system was Dachau (Encyclopedia).
In 1933 on the edge of a small picturesque town in southern Germany, a camp was built by the Nazis at the site of an old World War I munitions factory (Dachau). The camp was named Dachau; a concentration camp specifically designed to spread fear and silence opposition (Dachau). According to the Encyclopedia, Dachau became the “prototype” and model for the other Nazi concentration camps and, eventual Dachau sub camps, where the SS, an elite force of Nazi guards, were trained. The prisoners were basically slave labor in an effort to support the war and all of the components of the war. The site was surrounded by filthy water filled trenches, electrified flesh ripping barbed wire fences and a wall with seven guard towers (Dachau). It had thirty two barracks; one was specifically for clergy, jailed because they resisted the Nazi regime, and one for medical experimentation (Dachau).
The first internees, about 4800, were, for the most part, political prisoners while later, victims were Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jews, imprisoned because “they were...