The Atrocities and Liberation of Concentration Camps

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The Atrocities and Liberation of Concentration Camps

If you combine sadistic Nazi soldiers, a "license to kill," and twenty-six million people

whom they took their aggression out on, you have the Holocaust. From torture to murder, the

concentration camp prisoners experienced almost every despicably, inhumane act one can

imagine. Hitler's Nazis will never be able to justify this ultimate example of cruelty and

unfairness. Although the Holocaust occurred nearly seventy years ago, the world will never fail

to remember the horrible acts that were committed against millions of innocent people in

concentration camps.

Whether the camps' establishments were for labor purposes, or simply because Hitler

despised the Jews, the prisoners could expect nothing less than being treated like pathetic

animals who were guilty of the "crime" of being born. According to Raul Hilberg, two principles

were used for deportation purposes: "One was the ‘security arrest' of persons suspected of

‘tendencies' against the state. The other was the ‘preventive' arrest of [potential] and ‘habitual'

criminals'" ( "Concentration Camp" 498). Among those deported were Jews, Poles, Gypsies,

Soviet POWs, socialists, Communists, homosexuals, priests, ministers, and many more. They

were deported to Vernichtungslager, or death camps, such as Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek,

Sobidor, Treblinka, and the most infamous, Auschwitz (Kornblum).

Suffering didn't start for the prisoners with their arrival at the camps. Deportees endured

many hardships on the trips to the camps, and some weren't strong enough to survive. Many

deportees had to walk up to eighty kilometers in the snow while the Nazi guards beat them.

Because they were given no foods for periods up to a week, many deportees had resorted to

eating snow. However, perhaps the most gruesome tragedies happened on the boxcars. Up to 140

deportees were crammed into these forty-man boxcars after they had been stripped naked. They

couldn't sit or crouch, and many died of suffocation because the vents and the windows remained

shut. A bucket was placed in the center of each boxcar for the deportees to relieve themselves,

but in a few hours' time it had overflowed and caused and unbearable stench. Therefore, they

were forced to relieve themselves where they stood. The Nazis gave the deportees bread and soup

only twice during the trips that lasted for eight to ten days. In his book, Thomas Whissen

translates a statement made by a deportee who traveled on a boxcar:

"All of us were racked with thirst. I saw some of my comrades pushed to the point of

drinking their own urine, others to licking the sweat off the backs of fellow prisoners, while still

others tried to catch the occasional drops of water that condensed on the walls of the boxcar." (4)

Although many found these conditions unbearable, only a few attempted to escape because all

attempts were futile. Others went mad and accounts of deportees brutally killing each other were

not unheard of ( Whissen 3-7).

When the deportees arrived, their discomfort refused to wane. As they filed off the

boxcars, the Nazi guards beat them with their rifle butts, bayonets, leather whips, clubs, and

rubber truncheons. The guards let their dogs loose on the deportees, and the dogs responded by

ripping them to shreds. After they exited the boxcars, they were forced to unload the cargo from

the boxcars, which included the corpses of those who had died on the trip. Then they proceeded

to throw the corpses and those who were sick into a pile. Afterwards, the deportees were branded

with red-hot irons and given tattoos of numbers. The Nazi guards then confiscated all their

personal belongings, including their money, gems, rings, and shoes. They also pulled out their

gold teeth under the pretext that they were...
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