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
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...
Cited: Bülow, Louis. "Adolf Hitler." 2006. 23 paragraphs. 15 November 2002. .
Fensch, Thomas. "Two on Schindler 's List Recall Horror." Oskar Schindler and His List.
Forest Dale: Paul S. Erickson/1995. Pages 241-242.
Hilberg, Raul. "Concentration Camp." Encyclopedia Americana. 1998 edition.
Kornblum, Aaron T. "Concentration Camp." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2002 edition.
Whissen, Thomas. Inside the Concentration Camps. Eugène Aroneanu.
Westport: Praeger Publishers/1996. Pages 3-144.
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