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The Book Thief: Concentration Camps And Death Marches

2908 words - 12 pages

World War II was a grave event in the twentieth century that affected millions. Two main concepts World War II is remembered for are the concentration camps and the marches. These marches and camps were deadly to many yet powerful to others. However, to most citizens near camps or marches, they were insignificant and often ignored. In The Book Thief, author Markus Zusak introduces marches and camps similar to Dachau to demonstrate how citizens of nearby communities were oblivious to the suffering in those camps during the Holocaust.
Much of The Book Thief revolved around a common German family hiding a Jew. During the Holocaust and the book, Jews and other people seen as insignificant were imprisoned in concentration camps. Max, the Jew that the Hubermanns were hiding, could cause them to get into deep trouble. However, they still hid him. The Hubermanns lived in a town close to a concentration camp and often saw marches of prisoners through town. Even with a potential prisoner living in their residence, the Hubermanns, along with most everyone else in Molching, were unaware of the events that actually happened in the concentration camp and marches.
Dachau and its sub camps were awful places in general, but living as a prisoner in these camps was even worse, just as the marches were. The physical characteristics that made up Dachau and its sub camps were horrifying. The prisoners that had to face the extreme conditions of camps were certainly not oblivious to everything that was happening. Marches were a significant part of prisoners’ lives during the later parts of World War II. Lives of prisoners during World War II were horrendous throughout. This was the life Max most likely endured after he left the Hubermanns’s.
As Nazi control began to increase, camps like Dachau were created. The first concentration camp in National Socialist Germany was Dachau. It was created in March 1933. The camp was located on a previous gunpowder factory near Munich. In The Book Thief, Dachau was also near Liesel’s town, Molching. Dachau was originally used for “all Communist and, where necessary, Reichsbanner and Social Democrat officials… [who] cannot be allowed to remain free as they continue to agitate and to cause unrest” (Dawidowicz 51). In other words, Dachau was originally used for political prisoners. Dachau was known after the war for its horrible medical experiments. One experiment tested on Dachau prisoners was used “to determine the length of time German air force personnel might survive under reduced air pressure or in frozen water” (“Concentration Camps”). Many of the experiments were deadly and based on illegitimate science.
Soon, main camps became exceedingly large; therefore, sub camps were often created. Sub camps of Dachau were established in the summer and fall of 1944. Sub camps ranged in size, but Dachau had over thirty large sub camps. These sub camps housed over thirty thousand prisoners in...

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