Essay On The Holocaust And Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps were a big part of the Holocaust. My first topic is the concentration camp Dachau. Then I will talk about another concentration camp called Bergen-Belsen. After that, I will tell you about the concentration camp Treblinka. Finally, the last concentration I will talk about is Auschwitz-Birkenau. Describing these camps will inform you that concentration camps were a huge part of the Holocaust.

Dachau was a devastating concentration camp of the Holocaust. Dachau was built in 1933. At first, it was a extermination camp for Jewish people and political prisoners. Then it became a full-time concentration camp for prisoners. In 1943, the Nazis decided to force the occupants into back-breaking labor. The Nazis made the prisoners make arms and supplies for the war. At this camp, they performed brutal medical experiments on the prisoners. Over 3,500 people had experiments performed on them and most all died. When the war was coming to an end, the United States liberated over 32,000 prisoners on April 29, 1945. This was one of the most devastating concentration camps of the Holocaust.

Bergen-Belsen was another horrifying concentration camp. This camp was a holding center camp. This means that the people that were sent there were going to be kept there until they died, or until the war was over. The people at this camp were usually killed by diseases like tuberculosis and typhus. The bodies were thrown all over and just disregarded like they were nothing at all. They had some mass graves to put the bodies in, but most were just lying around. The most famous person from this camp was Anne Frank. Her diary lead today s generation to fully understand this period of time. When the camp was liberated on April 15, 1945, the British found 10,000 unburied bodies, and 40,000 sick, starving, or wounded. Thus proves this camp was one of the most horrifying camps of the Holocaust.

Another camp called Treblinka was a pure killing center. This death camp opened in 1942, making it one of the last death camps to open. The whole purpose of this place was to kill Jews. They did this with 13 carbon-monoxide chambers. The people were sent to the camp by trains, unloaded, and sent into changing rooms. They were forced to give up their clothes and put new ones on. They were sent to either so called "showers", or a mass grave where they were shot. The carbon-monoxide chambers were disguised as the "showers." As soon as the Jews were in, they locked the doors and started pouring gas into them. This was the way they killed the prisoners. The Nazis killed about 50,000 people per month, making it the most efficient concentration camps ever made. This made Treblinka a pure killing center.

The most notorious concentration camp ever was Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz was opened in April of 1940. It became the first Annihilation death camp. It was also the largest death camp. It was so big, it was split into three parts. This place was called "hell on earth", because the prisoners were forced in, and killed almost immediately. Trains transported prisoners there every half hour. Almost all of the people killed there were from Poland. Over all, about 1.25 million people were killed at Auschwitz. All of this makes Auschwitz-Birkenau the most notorious death camp.

In conclusion, concentration camps were a big part of the Holocaust. The camps I talked about were Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. I chose them because they were bigger and more notorious than the other concentration camps. These concentration camps will be remembered forever for the numbers of people that the Nazis killed during the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.

WHAT WAS THE HOLOCAUST?
 
In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe.

Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorable conditions.

From the earliest years of the Nazi regime, German authorities persecuted homosexuals and others whose behavior did not match prescribed social norms. German police officials targeted thousands of political opponents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah's Witnesses). Many of these individuals died as a result of incarceration and maltreatment.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE "FINAL SOLUTION"
 
In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. Increasingly in the years before the outbreak of war, SS and police officials incarcerated Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethnic and racial hatred in these camps.

To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war years. The German authorities also established numerous forced-labor camps, both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in German-occupied territory, for non-Jews whose labor the Germans sought to exploit.

Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and, later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind German lines to carry out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist Party officials. German SS and police units, supported by units of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, murdered more than a million Jewish men, women, and children, and hundreds of thousands of others.

Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi German authorities deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories, and from the countries of many of its Axis allies to ghettos and to killing centers, often called extermination camps, where they were murdered in specially developed gassing facilities.

THE END OF THE HOLOCAUST
 
In the final months of the war, SS guards moved camp inmates by train or on forced marches, often called “death marches,” in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Germany, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners, as well as prisoners en route by forced march from one camp to another. The marches continued until May 7, 1945, the day the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.

For the western Allies, World War II officially ended in Europe on the next day, May 8 (V-E Day), while Soviet forces announced their “Victory Day” on May 9, 1945.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of the survivors found shelter in displaced persons (DP) camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Other Jewish DPs emigrated to the United States and other nations. The last DP camp closed in 1957.

The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely.

Further Reading

Bergen, Doris. War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003

Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975.

Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1986.

Gutman, Israel, editor. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990.

Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

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