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Auschwitz - Research Paper Example

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Auschwitz The name “Auschwitz” will be remembered as one of the most terrible places in the modern world. It was originally a small and quiet Polish town called Oswiecim until it was invaded by the Germans at the beginning of World War two and turned into a concentration camp…
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Download file to see previous pages It has a solemn educational purpose to teach future generations about what happened there, in the hope that this knowledge will help to ensure that such a thing never happens again. The first thing that strikes a visitor to the museum is the large entrance which has the words “Arbeit macht frei” over the gate. This phrase means “work makes you free” in German and it shows what kind of image the Nazis wanted the place to have. It was supposed to look like a work camp, and these words of encouragement suggest that if the people work hard, they will one day be free. In fact, however, this was a false encouragement, because the people came into this camp to be worked until they died, or to be exterminated in a mass programme of genocide. There is a railway track leading up to the entrance, and the rail tracks just stop there. This is a symbolic reminder that the people who were brought here in cattle trucks day after day would not be going anywhere else. This place is the end of the track. The camp was set up in 1940 under the orders of Heinrich Himmler as the seventh concentration camp after Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenburg Mauthausen and Ravensbruck. (Steinbacher and Whiteside: 2005, pp. 22-23) The main camp was built first and called Auschwitz and the second camp called Birkenau came next. Many smaller areas were built as well to provide sleeping areas for the increasing numbers of workers. The area had been an army barracks before, and many of the buildings from that time were used for this new purpose. A mortuary was turned into a temporary gas chamber, which was used to kill people in large numbers. As the population grew bigger and bigger, further chambers were built. The first inmates were Polish people who were in some way seen as a threat by the Nazis. Later on there were more Jewish people. It is hard to understand why people treated the inmates at Auschwitz so badly. The many photographs and information posters in the museum describe in very great detail what happened to them. They were usually brought in large wagons over long distances and they arrived hungry and thirsty, and suffering from the cold in winter or the heat in summer. The prisoners were divided into groups and each group was taken away to learn its fate. Men and women were separated, and Jewish people were often taken straight to the gas chambers. Those who remained were forced to have a number tattooed on their skin. This is an inhuman thing to do, because it treats people like animals, or like objects, which are just numbers in the big Nazi project to change Poland into a German territory and remove any people who were not part of their big plans. There were other people in the concentration camp, apart from Jewish people. Political opponents of the Nazi regime were sent there, and a lot of Roma gypsy people. The living conditions were terrible: very crowded with very little sanitation. The Birkenau camp was even worse than the main camp. It was built originally for 180 people to sleep in huts, but the Nazis forced 700 people to live there. Food was very bad and not nearly enough. Many thousands of people died of starvation. There were also babies born there, and they, too were tattooed and imprisoned with their mothers. The camp was managed by the elite SS part of Hitler’s army. Some of them had already gained experience in other concentration camps and they ruled everything with an iron hand. If ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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