Auschwitz: a prisoner camp, an industrial camp, and a death camp
“…Imagine now a man who is deprived of everyone he loves, and at the same
time of his house, his habit, his cloth, in short, of everything he possesses: he will
be a hollow man, reduced to suffering and needs, forgetful of dignity and restraint,
for he who loses all often easily loses himself. He will be a man whose life or
death can be lightly decided with no sense of human affinity, in the most fortunate
of cases, on the basis of a pure judgment of utility (Levi 23).
This description might be overwhelming, but the truth is that this is a factual description of millions of people that suffered in concentration camps located all over Europe during World War II; although these concentration camps were like living hell, one concentration camp was more infamous than the others camps. For many people Auschwitz may be synonymous of death chamber, death factory, genocide, holocaust and many others horrifying symbols that this place has gained after World War II. The impact of Auschwitz is the horror that millions of people suffered in this place and the psychological impact over the world. Auschwitz plays a major role in the holocaust history due to the massive killing of Jewish, gypsies, homosexuals, war prisoners and more (Downing 26). Auschwitz began as an ordinary Polish town named Oswiecim which afterward was changed to Auschwitz; later this place became a concentration camp, a death camp, and a factory camp, run by bureaucrats, and SS guards; a camp with multiple identities and goals that impacted the world (Dwork and Jan van Pelt 11).
Auschwitz original purpose differ from the infamous reputation that this place gained after World War II; also the origin of this place started as a need for a expansion of a concentration camp for Polish prisoners that represented no harm for the German, to subjugate them to obey German’s law, and to deport them to another place; as explained in Auschwitz 1270 to the Present:
The removal of persons of alien race from the annexed eastern territories of the
deportation polices, Greifelt explained (May 1940) to his co-workers. While one
of the most important aims to be achieved in the German East, it is equally
imperative to regain for the German nation the German blood in these districts,
even in cases where the person concerned is Polonized in language and religion. It
is an absolute national-political necessity to screen the annexed Eastern
territories… (qtd. In Dwork and Jan van Pelt 165). One of the officers, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, pushed forward for the creation of a concentration camp for Poles. Since he could not move the whole population away, he will imprison them and force them to labor. However, after a while prisons needed to be expanded; as later on in the same book, it explains why the creation of Auschwitz was necessary.
The situation in the prisons has become untenable, and the new local
government officials in the recently annexed parts of Upper Silesia flooded Bach-
Zelewski with letters demanding immediate action. The police chief of the
Kattowtiz region, which included the former duchy of Auschwitz, also
insisted in more space for prisoners. A second commission was sent to
Auschwitz and on February 21 Glücks reported to Himmler that the former
labor exchanged and Polish army base in Zasole could be used for a
concentration camp… (Dwork and Jan van Pelt 166).
Soon after the camp was created in a small town named Oswiecim; however, German called this place Auschwitz. Rudolf Höss was assigned to be the commandant of the concentration camp. Auschwitz I started with a capacity of 10,000 prisoners. The first prisoners to arrive were Germans, common criminals and political opponents. After the arrival of the first Poles prisoners, Höss began fencing in the prisoners’ compound with barbed wire; however he had difficulties doing this simple work due to the difficulties that he...
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