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  ISRAEL    
 
 
  THE HOLOCAUST  
 

The Largest Graveyard of the Jewish People
By Rachel Orian

Auschwitz. The Death Camp.

HOLOCAUST PHOTO: Entrance of Birkenau - Auschwitz - Shoah. Holocaust. Death Camp HOLOCAUST PHOTO: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death Camp HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death Camp

The camp was established on April 27, 1940 and was the largest Nazi extermination camp.  It was named after the Polish town Oswiecim in upper Shelezia close by.

At first, only Polish political prisoners were placed there. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampThey were brought to the camp on June 14, 1940, which at the time, was used as a base for the Polish horse rider army unit and had formerly served the Austro-Hungarian Military. The camp was later named “Auschwitz 1” (or “The Death Block”). In October 1941, an additional camp was established and was named “Auschwitz 2”, other wise known as “Birkenau”. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampThis massive camp included wooden and brick barracks and at first Soviet POW's, captured after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, were sent there. An additional camp was established 8km from “Auschwitz 1”, near the town of Monovich, serving as a base for several military and  civil industries. On May 1942 “Auschwitz 3” was established .

Thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were transported from “Auschwitz 1” and “Birkenau” (“Auschwitz 2”) to work at the factories of “Auschwitz 3”. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ - DEATH CAMP. THE HOLOCAUSTSome of those factories are well know even today: Simens, Krup, Herman Gering, and Werden Werka.

In the winter of 1941 Rudolph Hess, commander of “Auschwitz 1”, received an order from Heinrich Himler, head of the Reich security office, to prepare for the implementation of the “Final Solution”- a systematic extermination of all Jews.

On September 3rd, 1941 Himler, Hess, and Eichman first experimented with “Cyclone B”. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ - DEATH CAMP. THE HOLOCAUSTThe experiment took place at “Auschwitz 1”, where 600 Soviet POW's and 250 sick prisoners served as test subjects. As a result of excessive shipments of prisoners, the commanders of “Auschwitz 1” were unable to efficiently carry out the “Final Solution”, and therefore various killing devices were constructed at Bikenau such as a gas chamber and crematorium. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampPrisoners were ordered to undress and were taken to buildings named “Bunker No. 1” and “Bunker No. 2” (also called “The Red House” and “The White House”). In these bunkers, “Cyclone B” gassed the prisoners to death.

At “Auschwitz 3”, Military and civil industries labored the prisoners. The “Zonder Commando” was a special unit composed of Jewish prisoners and was responsible of removing the bodies from the gas chambers. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: The southern town in Poland - Oswiecim - Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampThe Germans were “industrializing death” in order to expedite and increase the number of people executed with a minimal amount of time and money spent. Thus, a new, more efficient process was born: “everything under one roof”. The process of sorting the prisoners was called “Selection”. Most prisoners and victims of “Auschwitz 2” during 1942 were Jews.

The Zonder Commando

At first, only a small number of prisoners served in the unit, some of them non-Jews. With time, only Jews were assigned to it, and at the peak of the extermination process it included approximately 900 men, all of whom were sentenced to death due to their classified occupation. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampOnly about 80-100 of them miraculously survived. It has recently been published that only 4 of these men are still alive.

“Final Solution” Fundamentals

Gas chamber operators were German SS. The victims were cheated into undressing by being told they were to be disinfected in order to improve their health prior to their transfer to labor camps. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampOnly when they were trapped with no chance of escape, the prisoners realized their fate. Other Jews were assigned to aid in concealing the crime.

They cremated their friends’ and families’ bodies, making the ashes disappear, participating in the Germans’ horrible crime.

“Everything under one roof”

The killing procedure was not being executed fast enough for the Germans, so they decided to shorten it. New buildings were built for the entire process and were put into use by the spring of 1943. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZAt the entrance, in a special hall, victims would undress and walk to the gas chambers, now located in the same building. Prior to cremation, golden teeth were removed from their mouths. However, even then, the killing pace was not efficient enough, and improvised installations were added. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampIn one case, thousands of Jews had arrived from Hungary and, due to a shortage of crematoriums, ditches were dug behind these installations into which the bodies were dumped. In 1944, the execution industry was operating to it's fullest capacity, when the Germans reactivated installation 2, which had been inactive throughout the previous two years.

The “Selection” Process

Canada 1 and Canada 2, the camp intended for personal belongings, was the prisoners’ first stop. An SS doctor sorted the prisoners into two groups. One group, consisting of approximately 80% of the shipment, would be immediately executed. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ - DEATH CAMP. THE HOLOCAUSTThe others, the healthiest of the prisoners would remain alive for the time being.  They would be put to work in factories while awaiting their death. Some jobs were considered better than others, as they came with the privilege of delaying death. Many of these jobs disregarded the most basic of moral human values and included Cabin Heads, Cabin Secretaries, Group Head, and the Punishment Commando. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ. January 27, 2005 - 60 years to the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau  by the Soviet ArmyMany of the people occupied in these jobs justified their cruelty to their fellow Jews with their need to save their own life, and some even caused the death of fellow Jews.

The Tattoo

Upon their arrival in Auschwitz, each prisoner’s left arm was tattooed with a number. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ - DEATH CAMP. THE HOLOCAUST. SHOAHThe Germans would often hold selections in order to filter out those who could no longer contribute. Many prisoners died of cold or starvations, and some from Germans’ beatings. Some prisoners were used as medical experimental subjects.

The Prisoners' Uprising At Crematorium No. 4 in “Auschwitz 2”

On October 7, 1944, Jewish prisoners who were members of the special unit Zonder Commando initiated an uprising putting Crematorium No. 4 out of order, killing 3 SS members and wounding others. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampThe Germans cut off the rebellion within hours, killing most of its initiators. This was the only planned armed Jewish rebellion ever to take place at Auschwitz. General underground members were supposed to take part in it but they did not.

In Nov 1944, when Germany’s defeat was clear, Himler gave the order to stop the killings in the gas chambers. However, shipments of Jews continued to arrive at Auschwitz. HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: Auschwitz - Birkenau. Shoah. Holocaust. Death CampOn Nov 26, 1944, high authorities gave an order to destroy all gas chambers and crematoriums so there would be no evidence left of the crime. In the summer and fall of 1944, Germans began evacuating the camp, transferring prisoners to concentration camps scattered in Germany and Austria.HOLOCAUST PHOTOS: AUSCHWITZ - DEATH CAMP. THE HOLOCAUST. SHOAH. Many died or were  shot during the long ‘death walks’, which were conducted in conditions of cold and starvation.

Estimated Number of People Killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau:

  • Jews killed at the camp: 1,300,000

  • Polish killed at the camp: 100,000

  • Soviet POWs killed at the camp: 23,000

  • Gypsies killed at the camp: 23,000

  • Total estimated number of people killed at the camp: 1,500,000

Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and Birkenau -- the occupiers' names for Polish Oswiecim and Brzezinka -- on Jan. 27, 1945.

 
   
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