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Auschwitcz Essay, Research Paper

Auschwitz was the most streamlined mass killing centers ever created and was one of the five “death camps” constructed by the Nazis during World War II. Construction of the camp began after Heinrich Himmler ordered its creation on April 27, 1940. Auschwitz continued to grow until 1945 when it was evacuated by the Nazis. Auschwitz was composed of three large camps and 45 sub-camps. Auschwitz I, which was the main camp, was the original section of the camp that was built near the Polish town of Oswiecim. At the entrance of Auschwitz I stood the infamous sign that stated “Arbeit Macht Frei”, which means work makes one free. Because this death camp was so crowded, Auschwitz II or “Birkenau” was built. Birkenau was built approximately 3 kilometers (1.5 miles) away from Auschwitz I and was the real killing center of the Auschwitz death camp. It was in Birkenau where the dreaded selections were carried out on the ramp and where the sophisticated and camouflaged underground gas chambers laid in waiting. Auschwitz III or “Buna” was built last as housing for the forced laborers at the Buna synthetic rubber factory.

Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, asocials, criminals, and prisoners of war were gathered and stuffed into cattle cars on trains, and sent to Auschwitz. When the train stopped at Auschwitz II: Birkenau, prisoners were forced to exit from the train and gather upon the landing which was known as the ramp. On the ramp, SS officers would make selections. Most women, children, and those that looked unfit or unhealthy were sent to the left; while most young men and others that were fit would be sent to the right. Though these people did not know this at the time, the left line meant immediate death at the gas chambers and the right meant probable death from hard labor. The majority of the people sent to Auschwitz were either sent directly to the gas chambers or they were sent after a few months of hard labor.

Auschwitz is notorious for using science, technology and industry for the use of mass extermination. Auschwitz not only “perfected” the use of camouflaged gas chambers and crematoria, Auschwitz also became a location for medical experiments that used humans as the guinea pigs. Most notorious of the doctors of these experiments was Josef Mengele whose favorite experiments were on twins.

Mengele took his turn as the selector on the ramp he would get very excited when finding twins. Helping SS Officers would help unload the transports paying special attention to picking out twins, dwarf, giants or any other humans with a unique hereditary trait such as a clubfoot or heterochoromia.

After the twins had been taken from the ramp they were taken to the showers. Since they were “Mengele’s children,” they were treated differently than other prisoners. Twins were often allowed to keep their hair and allowed to keep their own clothes. The twins were then tattooed. They were given a number from a special sequence. They were then taken to the twin’s barracks where they were required to fill out a form. The form asked for a brief history and basic measurements such as age and height.

Generally, every day, every twin had to have blood drawn. Blood, often in large quantities, was drawn from twins’ fingers and arms, and sometimes both their arms simultaneously. The youngest children, whose arms and hands were very small, suffered the most: Blood was drawn from their necks, a painful and frightening procedure. It was estimated that approximately ten cubic centimeters of blood was drawn daily. Besides having blood drawn, the twins were to undergo various medical experiments. Mengele kept his exact reasoning for his experiments a secret. Many of the twins that he experimented on weren’t sure for what purpose the individual experiments were for nor what exactly what was being injected or done to them.

Twins were forced to undress and lay next to each other. Then every detail of their anatomy was carefully examined, studied, and measured. What was the same was deemed to be hereditary and was different was deemed to be the result of the environment. These tests would last for several hours. Blood tests were also done on the twins; these tests would include mass transfusions of blood from one twin to another.

Attempting to fabricate blue eyes, injections or drops of chemicals or dyes would be put in the eyes this often caused infections or permanent blindness.

Mysterious injections that caused severe pain. Injections into the spine and spinal taps with no anesthesia. Diseases, including typhus and tuberculosis, would be purposely given to one twin and not the other. When one died, the other was often killed to examine and compare the effects of the disease. Various surgeries were also performed without anesthesia including organ removal, castration, and amputations.

The relatively small experimental gas chamber was built in Auschwitz I. The first gassing; using zyklon B gas first took place on September 3, 1941. The victims were 600 Soviet Prisoners of War and 250 other prisoners chosen from among the sick. After that experiment, four death installations, numbered II, III, IV, and V were built. Each gas chamber had the potential to kill 6,000 persons daily. The gas chambers were built to resemble shower rooms. The arriving victims were told that they would be sent to work, but that they first had to undergo disaffection and to shower.

Electrically charged barbed-wire fences 4 meters in height were built around both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II. The perimeter was guarded by SS men who staffed the many watchtowers and were equipped with machine guns and automatic rifles. In addition, Auschwitz II was surrounded by a network of canals, 8 miles in length. The whole complex of Auschwitz I and II was, moreover, enclosed by a chain of guard posts, about two-thirds of a mile beyond the system of barbed-wire fences.

Mass killings of this magnitude presented the SS with the problem of disposing of the bodies. Each of the four custom-built gas chambers in Auschwitz II-Birkenau had its own crematorium, giving a combined theoretical capacity of reducing 4,416 bodies to ashes every twenty-four hours. The SS soon realized that more then 8,000 bodies could be disposed of if the incinerators were emptied before the bodies were fully reduced to ashes and any remaining bones were crushed separately. Since the number of people murdered was far greater than the number of corpses that could be burned in the incinerators, a solution was adopted to pile up the remaining bodies and burn them in the open air. However, before the bodies were burned the victims’ hair was cut off and fillings and false teeth were removed. The hair was used to manufacture haircloth, and the metals were melted into bars and sent to Berlin.

By 1944, it became clear to the German officials that the end of the war was near. On October 7, 1944, several inmates blew up one of the four crematoria located at Auschwitz. In January of 1945, the Auschwitz survivors were freed by the Russian Red Army. Officials tried to cover up the evidence of the genocide that occurred at Auschwitz. Some prisoners of the camp were deported to camps inside Germany. Many Jews died as a result of these long marches which became known as “death marches.” The conditions of remaining concentration camps declined along with the German war effort.

To this day, the word “Auschwitz” is synonymous with evil and terror. In all, approximately 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz, this would be equal to the whole entire city of Los Angles.

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