Arbeit Macht Frei translated to: workwill give you freedom. This was the first lie the prisoners saw upon enteringtheir death at the camp known as Auschwitz. The camp itself held many partsinside of it including Auschwitz I, Birkenau, and Monoschwitz. As well as 44sub work camps. This camp spread out 40 square kilometers, or 15 miles, andheld 28 two-story brick buildings. This was the biggest and most tragic of allof the work camps the Nazis made.
` In the 1940s in Oswiecim, Polandstood Auschwitz. Surrounding the camp was electric barbed wire fences thatinsured the prisoners would never leave. The barracks held the prisoners, whilethey slept, and were made of wood and were extremely crowded with 800 to 1,000people in each barrack. At Auschwitz between 1940-1945 there were an estimated1,095,000 Jews deported to the camp and 960,000 of that amount died. Among theJews, there were 147,000 Poles deported and 21,000 died. As for the rest ofpeople, such as gypsy, homosexuals, mentally disabled, or birth defectedpeople, there were 25,000 deported and 12,000 of those human-beings died. Spreadthroughout this awful camp was pits used as graves for thousands of stacked,naked bodies.
One grave could hold 107,000 people. The first camp, the main but the smallest,being Auschwitz I, was established in April 1940. This held the commandant’s officeand living quarters, the “death block” which held the criminals, the prisoners’kitchen and infirmary. It also held the main guard station, the firstcrematorium and gas chamber.
As well as the Gestapo camp and the group gallows.Around Auschwitz I was nine watch towers and double barbed wire electricfences. The second part of Auschwitz, wasknown as Birkenau; built in March 1942.
This was the largest section of Auschwitzand the worst of them all. This camp in particular had absolutely no runningwater or sanitary equipment. At one time, it held 200,000 prisoners. AtBirkenau and Auschwitz I, the commander SS Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Hartjensteinwas in charge from November 1943 to May of 1944. Picking up right after thatwas SS Captain Josef Kramer to November of 1944. This camp in particularcontained the gas chambers and Crematoria II, III, IV and V. The death chamberswere located near the barracks and reminded the inmates of constant death. Thisalso held the “experimental block.
” This camp was surrounded by 28 watch towersand the barbed wire electric fences. Moving on to the third part of Auschwitz wasMonoschwitz. It was established in October of 1942. This camp was known as thework section where the prisoners made synthetic fuel and rubber.
Some prisonersworked at the IG Farben Factory that made chemicals, such as Zyklon B used inthe gas chambers. The commander of this part of the camp was SS CaptainMeinrich Schwarz; started in November of 1943 and completed his duties inJanuary of 1945. Life during the Holocaust in thecamps for the victims was anything but pleasant. Death became the normalitythere and sickness ran faster than light. Disease spreads throughout everyvictim. As soon as the prisoners arrived at the camp they were separated betweenthe sexes. Then they were looked at by a team of doctors and soldiers and wereselected to either work or be killed right away.
The inmates were employed onhuge farms, stone quarries, coal mines, or fisheries. If they were chosen towork they were given a uniform to wear with a number sewn into that becametheir new identity. The guards recorded personal details such as height andweight.
The number assigned to the victim was tattooed onto their left arm.Their hair was cut off with dull, unsanitary scissors that pulled the hair off.They were then sprayed with disinfectant and showered with scalding hot water. Before dawn the prisoners had toawake for roll call and were required to make their sparse wooden beds and werepunished if it wasn’t to the guards’ liking. Then they would line up outside inrows and were called upon each prisoner and were made to stand out in rain andsnow for up to four hours. The uniforms assigned weren’t washed for months onend and gave no protection against the weather. If one prisoner did somethingwrong the penal roll call was given for the whole group and they were leftoutside at night to stand in the cold and were given beatings, some were evenshot on site. After the roll call in the morning they were given breakfast.
This overall wasn’t enough. They were given ten ounces of bread with salami orbutter, and coffee without sugar. After breakfast, a siren would go off andthey were herded to their work groups and escorted by the guards with guns anddogs.
They were labored 11 to 12 hours every single day. Coming to the noon hour they weregiven soup to eat which was water, a few carrots and rutabagas. Then they weretold to resume work till dusk.
After work, they had to sit through a four-hourroll call. The final meal was bread with more rotten salami or butter andsometimes with jam. They even received a piece of rotten skim cheese. The feceswere everywhere around the camp considering they were allowed to use thetoilets (that had no running water) for a monitored 10 seconds. They were madeto sleep with 10 people per bed and lay sideways to fit more people. Among theminsects and vermin scattered around. While the life was terrible for the commoninmates, some of the prisoners were selected to have experiments done on them.
The doctor known for the massive twin experiments was Josef Mengele. He selectedin particular 3,000 sets of twins. He traced genetic origins of variousdiseases. He also conducted research on heterochromia and collected the victim’seyes as “research material.” He was hoping to find out how to artificially changethe colors of eyes. He also documented the disease Noma, as it ran throughout thecamp.
This disease destroys the mucous membrane of the mouth and other tissues.Most of his victims inevitably died. He was hoping to finish his research as Habilitation. He never accomplished thishowever and fled Auschwitz in January of 1945.
During this time of death someprisoners tried to escape. One of the well-known resistance was the Birkenau Revolt.This occurred on October 7th, 1944. Several hundred prisoners weretold to go to Crematorium IV and they rebelled as soon as they realized theywere being lead to their deaths. During the rebellion, the prisoners managed tokill three guards and managed to blow up the Crematorium and adjacent gas chamber.The prisoners used explosives smuggled into the camp.
They got them fromneighboring Jewish women who worked in armaments factories. The Germans soonfled in and killed almost all of those prisoners and the Jewish women werepublicly hanged. Overall for the people who survivedspeak now for their abuse and for the people who didn’t make it through the camps.One man, whom we learned about, Elie Wiesel, speaks now about his experience hewent through at Auschwitz.
All he knows is the men who ran those camps didn’thave a heart and never once saw those innocent lives as human. On the daily theinnocent prisoners went through constant abuse but still managed to rebel. Thethings these people went through is sickening and affects everyone who knowsabout this terrible time known as the Holocaust. Today Auschwitz stands as a reminderand as a grave for the lost souls.