The History of the Holocaust - Life in Auschwitz

The History of the Holocaust - Life in Auschwitz
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The History of the Holocaust lesson plans - Life in Auschwitz - Life in concentration camps

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  • 1. SELECTION PROCESS
  • 2. ARRIVING AT AUSCHWITZ
  • 3. LIVING CONDITIONS
  • The selection process in which Jews and other ethnic groups were taken to concentration/death camps began with identification. Jews, gypsies, enemies of the Nazi regimes, prisoners of war, and others were identified and forced onto trains that brought them to a variety of camps, one of which was Auschwitz. In all, over 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, and of those, 1.1 million were murdered.
  • 4. LABOR / ROUTINE
  • Deportees arrived at Auschwitz mostly by train. Several trains arrived daily beginning in 1942. In 1944, tracks were laid directly into the camp to support the transportation of 440,000 Hungarian Jews. Upon arrival, they were forced off the trains, leaving all possessions behind. Immediately, prisoners were identified as able or not able. If they were deemed too weak, they were sent immediately to their deaths.
  • 5. PUNISHMENTS / INFRACTIONS
  • Prisoners who survived the initial selection process were forced to endure deplorable living conditions. They were assigned to wooden barracks, where up to several hundred prisoners would be housed. There was little protection against natural elements, and barracks generally contained two small stoves for heat, and no windows. Sanitation was essentially non-existent, and prisoners were forced to utilize the little resources available to carry out everyday sanitary functions.
  • 6. DEPARTURE
  • Every morning, roll call was taken. Roll call could last for hours, as prisoners endured weather conditions. Each prisoner was assigned to a task at Auschwitz, and most labor centered around expanding the camp, harvesting resources, or disposing of the deceased. However, if a prisoner's labor was lacking, they were killed. At the end of the day, another roll call was taken, which again could take hours. Days were long and strenuous on the already weakened prisoners.
  • In terms of infractions, anything and everything could be deemed punishable. Infractions included stealing extra food or clothing, or not performing labor to the Nazi overseers' expectations. More often than not, punishment usually meant death for any and every infraction to ensure obedience, and remind everyone that resistance was futile.
  • Of the 1.3 million people brought to Auschwitz, 1.1 million were murdered. Auschwitz became a primary death camp towards 1944-45, as many were brought there for the mere purpose of being executed. However, the camp was liberated in 1945, and several thousand survivors were still there, weak and ill. Escape was far and few between. As Soviet forces approached, many were forced on death marches to other camps.

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