Nazi Deathcamps

The Holocaust
Oscar Schindler
Hitler and Nazis
Nazi Deathcamps
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How did the Nazis carry our their policy of genocide?

In the late 1930's the Nazis killed thousands of handicapped Germans by lethal injection and poisonous gas. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, mobile killing units following in the wake of the German Army began shooting massive numbers of Jews and Gypsies in open fields and ravines on the outskirts of conquered cities and towns. Eventually the Nazis created a more secluded and organized method of killing. Six extermination centers were established in occupied Poland where large-scale murder by gas and body disposal through cremation were conducted systematically. Victims were deported to these centers from Western Europe and from the ghettos in Eastern Europe which the Nazis had established. In addition, millions died in the ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease, and execution.

When was the first concentration camp established?

Dachau was the first concentration camp established and was opened on March 22, 1933. The camp's first inmates were primarily political prisoners (Communists or Social Democrats), habitual criminals, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and anti-socials (beggars, vagrants, hawkers). Others considered problematic by the Nazis were also included (Jewish writers and journalists, lawyers, unpopular industrialists, and political officials).

What is a death camp? How many? Where?

A death camp camp is a concentration camp with special apparatus especially designed for mass murder. Six such camps existed: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Tremblinka. All were located in Poland.

What was Auschwitz-Birkenau?

Auschwitz-Birkenau became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill  prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.

What was Cyclon-B?

Zyclon-B was the poison used to murder millions of Nazi victims. It was dropped in crystal form, through a small hole in the ceiling, into the gas chambers. The pellets turned into a lethal gas once in air. Previous to its use in gas chambers, Zyklon-B was a common insecticide.

Did the Jews resist?

Many Jews simply could not believe that Hitler really meant to kill them all. But once the Nazis had complete control and the Jews were being relocated to ghettos, rations were reduced, conditions were horrible and the Jews did not have the strength, physically, emotionally, or militarily, to resist. There were uprisings in the camps, but it was incredibly difficult and rarely successful. Elie Wiesel put it this way: "The question is not why all the Jews did not fight, but how so many of them did. Tormented, beaten, starved, where did they find the strength - spiritual and physical - to resist?" Those attempting to resist faced almost impossible odds.