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The Horrors Of Killing Centers During The Holocaust

1201 words - 5 pages

Poland was devastated when German forces invaded their country on September 1, 1939, marking the beginning of World War II. Still suffering from the turmoil of World War I, with Germany left in ruins, Hitler's government dreamt of an immense, new domain of "living space" in Eastern Europe; to acquire German dominance in Europe would call for war in the minds of German leaders (World War II in Europe). The Nazis believed the Germans were racially elite and found the Jews to be inferior to the German population. The Holocaust was the discrimination and the slaughter of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its associates (Introduction to the Holocaust). The Nazis instituted ...view middle of the document...

Zyklon B pellets transform to lethal gas when visible to air. They were proven to be the fastest gassing method and were used as a main killing agent in many death camps (Gassing Operations). At extermination camps, the Nazis conducted many medical experiments on the prisoners that resulted in many deaths. Between 1939 and 1945 medical research projects involving cruel and often lethal experimentation on human subjects were performed. These projects were supported, well-known organizations in the Third Reich and were categorized into three fields: research intended at cultivating the endurance and rescue of German troops, testing of medical techniques and medications, and experiments that pursued to approve Nazi cultural belief. More than seven thousand victims of these cruel medical experiments have been acknowledged. Targets of the experiments included Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals, and Catholic priests (Medical Experiments ).
At many of the killing centers, the Nazis created the Sonderkommando. These were groups of Jewish male prisoners chosen for their youth and good health. Their work was to get rid of corpses from the gas chambers or crematoria. Some did the job to setback their own deaths; some thought they could save their friends and family from harm, and some only did it for the extra food and money these men occasionally were given. The men were forced to do this job. The only other option was death in the gas chambers or being shot by an SS guard (Shields). The SS believed the killing centers to be top secret. In order to annihilate any traces of gassing procedures the sonderkommandos were required to do away with dead bodies from the gas chambers and cremate them. Some killing centers were masked to cover up the massacre of millions (Killing Centers: An Overview).
Soviet soldiers were the first to liberate prisoners in the final phases of the war. They penetrated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 and there found hundreds of ill and fatigued hostages. The Germans were forced to abandon these victims in their hurried escape from the camp. Allied troops and physicians tried to provide food for the surviving prisoners, but several of them were too weak to digest food and could not be saved. Despite many liberators’ hard work, many survivors died within days of being freed. Many survivors had varied feedback to their new freedom. While looking forward to being able to come together with other family members, some felt guilt for having survived while countless other relatives and friends had passed away. One survivor, Viktor Frankl said, "Timidly, we looked around and glanced at...

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