The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was the largest of its kind established by the Nazi regime. It included three main camps, all of which deployed incarcerated prisoners at forced labor. One of them also functioned for an extended period as a killing center. The camps were located approximately 37 miles west of Krakow, near the prewar German-Polish border in Upper Silesia, an area that Nazi Germany annexed in 1939 after invading and conquering Poland. The SS authorities established three main camps near the Polish city of Oswiecim: Auschwitz I in May 1940; Auschwitz II (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau) in early 1942; and Auschwitz III (also called Auschwitz-Monowitz) in October 1942 (Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2010)The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was subordinate to the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps. Until March 1942, the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps was an agency of the SS Main Office, and, from 1941, of the SS Operations Main Office. From March 1942 until the liberation of Auschwitz, the Inspectorate was subordinate to the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office. Defined as the mass extermination of European Jews during World War 2, the Holocaust took a toll on the lives of those Jews who resided in Germany, and were not considered to be of the pure Aryan race. Adolf Hitler considered the Jews to be a reason for the failure of Germany in World War 1, and further perpetrated the already prevailing hatred against Jews. Nazi concentration camps started out as the place to hold captive prisoners of war, and opponents of the political regime. As the Second World War began, the brutal face of Nazism became clearly visible, as millions of Jews were captured and sent to concentration camps, in what they called a '’purification drive’'. What ensued was the establishment of over 9000 concentration camps, of which the most infamous camp was Auschwitz. The extermination drive was at its prime in the years 1942 till the end of the Second World War, when with the fall of Adolf Hitler, the concentration camps were destroyed, though some were converted into memorials. These camps consisted not only of Jews, but also criminals, prisoners of war, physically disabled, mentally disabled, Polish laborers, Russian Jews, Italian Jews, and even Catholic priests (Lalwani, 2011). Unlike the perpetrators, the victims were perpetually exposed. They were identifiable and countable at every turn. Jews and non-Jews alike, the victims as a whole, however, have remained an amorphous mass. Millions of them suffered a common fate in front of pre-dug mass graves or in hermetically sealed gas chambers.
Although the Holocaust is perceived by many to record the suffering of people of the Jewish Faith, no records on any aspect of the Second World War can fail to record that in addition to the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered at least an equal number of non-Jews was also killed, not in the heat of battle, not by military siege, aerial bombardment or the harsh conditions of modern war, but by deliberate, planned murder.
The Nazi plan displaced millions of families from all over Europe. Through their massive concentration camp system, with well over one thousand camps of various sizes, all designed to imprison innocent humans, considered sub-human by Nazi standards. Every human right was replaced by Nazi laws, rules and arbitrary decisions. Almost every major German city had at least a slave labor camp nearby. The inmates of these camps were forced under the pain of death to work for the German war effort, with no pay, inadequate food and other necessities to survive. Death camps, constructed for the sole purpose of mass executions by means of poison gas, shootings, starvation, disease, and torture were used by the Nazis to exterminate those fellow humans, men, women children and infants, by design. people were killed, but not millions. Historical facts have proven time and time again, that Nazi Germany planned and implemented their plan to rid Europe of those whom they considered sub-human. Accurate numbers for exactly how many humans died as a result of the Nazi plans are simply not available and never will be. Research by some of the world’s most able historians place the number of Holocaust victims murdered by government policy to be not less than twelve million and probably more. “Auschwitz-Birkenau, which also functioned as a concentration camp and a work camp, became the largest killing center as far as the number of victims is concerned. It is estimated that between 1 and 2 million were killed in the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during its day. The first gassing experiments, involving 250 Polish and 600 Soviet POW’s, were carried out as early as September 1941. The extermination camp was started up in March 1942 and ended its ghoulish work in November 1944. 9 out of 10 victims in the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau were Jews. The remaining victims were mainly Poles, gypsies, and Soviet POW’s.
Majdanek began its gassings in October 1942. The camp functioned in the same way as Auschwitz-Birkenau, and also included a concentration- and work camp. In the autumn of 1943 the camp was closed after claiming between 60,000 and 80,000 Jewish victims.
Apart from the six “known” extermination camps in Poland, organized mass murder was carried out in at least two more camps: in Jungfernhof (in Latvia) and in Maly Trostinets (in Byelorussia). Here, mass extermination was carried out in the form of shooting and gassing of Jews and Soviet POW’s.” (Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2010) Concentration camps ended in the year 1945. This was the time the Allied forces were able to enter Germany and freed the prisoners in the concentration camps. These camps were set up all over Germany, some to be used as forced labor.