Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Holocaust - Part Two

The links below will help you with translating tools between English and Spanish. 
1. Audio  of a  words  in both English and Spanish. Will also translate phrases.
2. Google Search - Espana: The word can be typed in English, and the search finds results in Spanish, including images
3. Also Google Arabic is available.
4. Google Translate:Can work in any language necessary
5. Module Vocabulary


Imprisonment and Killing – The Camp System: 1939-1945

Wanssee Conference January 20th, 1942.

Fancy house where meeting was held
On January 20, 1942, fifteen high-ranking Nazi party and German government leaders gathered for an important meeting. They met in a section of Berlin where rich people lived.  

Reinhard Heydrich , who was SS chief Heinrich Himmler's most important helper, held the meeting for the purpose of discussing the "final solution to the Jewish question in Europe," meaning how would they exterminate all Jews. The SS had to get the cooperation of key (important) non-SS government leaders in order to make their plan work. (The SS were those in charge of the camp system, and those with the most brutal reputation of all Nazi groups. To be in the SS you were supposed to have  the most pure Aryan blood. Remember, an Aryan is what Germans claimed to be.)

Reinhard Heydrich - He was an SS officer. They were the ones who ran the death camps. Which symbol on his hat is most connected to the idea of death?

The "final solution" was the Nazis' code name for the deliberate, carefully planned destruction, or genocide, of all European Jews. The Nazis used the vague term "final solution" to hide their policy of mass murder from the rest of the world.

This report was used at the conference so the planners would know the number of Jews they were thinking about murdering

In fact, the men at Wannsee talked about methods of killing, about liquidation, about "extermination.“

The video below shows a scene from a movie about the Wanssee Conference. They are talking about the need to physically eradicate the Jews


Concentration Camp System – 1933-1945.
Early. In the earliest years Nazi control, various concentration camps were started to arrest political opponents of the Nazis. In the spring of 1933, the SS started Dachau concentration camp, which came to serve as a model for an expanding concentration camp system controlled by the SS.

Dachau Concentration Camp. Notice the guard tower, the fence that has electricity running through the wires, and the buildings where the prisoners would sleep
In fact those that ran the concentration camps came to be called the Death's Head brigade because of the symbol on their hat.

Notice the skull on the black band of the hat. The man with the glasses was the leader of the SS, Henirich Himmler

Later On. After the Wannsee Conference the development of the camp system expanded. It became very large from 1942-late 1944

Concentration Camp System. Even though most of the camps were in Poland, they took Jews from all over Europe

Work Camps In The Concentration Camp System.
After the December 1941 defeat of the German army in it’s 1st attack that was part of the German invasion of The Soviet Union,  and the entry of the United States into World War II on December 11, the German government knew  that Germany would have to fight a long war

Many of the men of working age were now in the German army. This resulted in shortages of workers to make  weapons, machinery, airplanes, and ships to replace German losses.  The SS, the ones that ran the Concentration Camps,  started  SS-owned companies to produce the needed equipment. It also agreed to provide workers to other companies located near concentration camps. This labor was really slave labor, because it was done by concentration camp prisoners.

Concentration camp workers formed up and waiting to go to work in a nearby factory

The factory where they worked was I.G. Farben. They lived in Auschwitz III.

Death Camps – Other Purposes.
Yes, the Nazis had camps where part of the main purpose was to kill.  The most infamous one was called Auschwitz, and was located in Poland.
You can easily see Auschwitz. All of the lines leading to it show railroads. Railroads from all over Europe. How do YOU think the Germans used them?

Medical Experiments: “Experiments” were also done at these camps. Hideous and perverted (VERY VERY evil and sick) medical experiments were done on prisoners against their will. 

Prisoner in water

Doctors looking at him
Nazi doctors at a concentration camp experimenting on how the human body responds to being kept in very cold water for long times. They used prisoners to do this.

Often they would die as a result. For example, in one camp called  Dachau, German scientists experimented on prisoners to determine the length of time German air force personnel might survive with little oxygen, or in frozen water (see above). 

In Sachsenhausen, various experiments were conducted on prisoners to find vaccines for lethal contagious diseases. At Auschwitz III, the SS doctor Josef Mengele conducted experiments on twins to seek ways of increasing the German population by breeding families that would produce twins.

The twins at the Auschwitz concentration camp who were left behind when the Germans ran away because the Soviet Union army was getting near

Death Camps – Death.
There were different ways in which the Germans would kill people at the Concentration Camps.
Some would be starved, and some would be worked to death. What follows here describes what happened to most of the people sent to Death Camps.  
It took them a bit of time to develop the system, but eventually it worked like a factory. Trains would bring people to the camps, where they would be sorted.  90% of the men, and 95% of all women  that arrived were sent to the Gas Chambers

All of these people just arrived on a train. The Germans standing in front of them have sorted them into those who would be allowed to live (so they could work as slaves) on the right, and those who on the left who would immediately go to the gas chambers where they would be killed.

Gas Chamber Inside

The Germans made the people take off all of their clothes (so they could give them to poor Germans back in Germany), forced so many of them into rooms like this that no one could move , let the temperature rise, and dropped in poison gas pellets that released a poison that would make them suffocate

Gas Chamber Outside
This is the outside of one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The actual gas chamber was underground. The part of the building you see was where the ovens were they used to cremate (burn) the bodes to dispose of them. If you look closely you can see a line of people on their way to the chambers.

Expanded Explanation (More details). First they were told to take off all of their clothes so they could take a shower.  Then the Germans and the prisoners they forced to help pushed the people into the room that was made to look like a shower room.  When it was so full nobody else could get in they made the children crawl in on top of the people. They filled it like this so the body heat would make the poison work more quickly. 

Zyklon B - The poison was actually green-white solid pellets that release poison gas when they were in the open air.

The gas would make it so the people could not breathe. After about 30-35 minutes, the moving and sound stopped. They waited a little bit more and then opened the door. After the gas was out, they sent in the prisoners to take the bodies to the ovens.  

Before putting the dead bodies into the ovens to get rid of them they checked the mouths so they could take out any gold teeth and filings they found. The Germans sent this to their banks in Germany to help pay for the war.

Hear a number of personal stories from Survivors by clicking on this link. It has stories about people that were held at the most infamous Work / Death Camp named Auschwitz.  

The pile in the front of the picture is of a bunch of the wooden bowls the prisoners had used for many different things when they were held here as prisoners. Over these train tracks many people were led to their death.

Liberation – 1944-1945
The people of the Soviet army were the first to find a major Nazi camp, reaching the Majdanek camp in Poland, in July of 1944.

See Majdanek at the red arrows

Surprised by the rapid Soviet advance, the Germans attempted to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp. German camp guards set fire to the large crematorium used to burn bodies of murdered prisoners, but in the their quick attempt to leave,  the gas chambers were left standing.
In the summer of 1944, the Soviets also overran the sites of the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centers. Look at this map and you can follow how the Soviet Army was moving forward. They were on their way across Poland to Germany.

As you see, there were many camps.  The most infamous (famous for a VERY bad reason) was named Auschwitz, and it was located in Poland. 

Auschwitz was actually 3 camps
  • Camp I the main base slave labor
  • Camp II, the death camp
  • Camp III, where people working in the nearby factory were kept. 
  • In addition, there were 45 smaller camps nearby.  The SS records say that as of January 1945 there were still 700,000 prisoners held in these camps.
When the Soviets started to get near to this camp the Germans started to march many of the prisoners away from the Soviets towards Germany on what came to be called Death Marches. You can imagine why they were given this name.

Death march away from Auschwitz. see the German guards with guns?

Personal Story
Following is a personal story of a Holocaust Survivor Named Henry. He is telling the story of the exact moment of his liberation.

Henry Greenbaum
 HENRY GREENBAUM: We were marching, we were sleeping over in that wooded area during the night. We came early in the morning, we heard them, wasn’t quite yet at midday because we didn’t have any watches but we could tell by the sun. That it was not quite midday yet. We heard a lot of commotion going on. A lot of, we could see the highway from the wooded area, we could see the highway. And there were a lot of tanks, jeeps, motorcycles, trucks and army soldiers, they were coming through, tons of them, but we didn’t know who they were. Were they Germans, were they Americans. We did not know who they were, so we kept looking, looking, looking, watching them, and then all of a sudden we turned around our two guards with the dogs took off, and they escaped, they let us sit there in a circle and didn’t do anything.
BILL BENSON: Out in the woods?

HENRY GREENBAUM: Out in the woods. So we were, they told us a lesson before, we tried to escape the previous time. That’s what happens to you when you try to escape. They killed all the wounded. So that was still in my mind, but everybody was scared to run anyway. We were sitting in a circle and just looking for them and we didn’t see them. I guess they were trying save their own skin. They probably knew that these were Americans with the, we didn’t know. They probably knew so they were trying to save their own neck and they ran away from us. And out of nowhere as we were sitting just in the column, a big tank comes off out of the column and comes towards us. It knocks over trees and underbrush and he rolls up…

BILL BENSON: And you still don’t know who…

HENRY GREENBAUM: …we still don’t know who he is, and we kept saying for sure now the Germans are going to kill all of us. Now we are all going to get killed, for sure and it so happened it wasn’t that. Who was it? It was an American tank, and the little hood, that little thing that they get out of. What do you call it?

BILL BENSON: The hatch.

HENRY GREENBAUM: The hatch, opened up and there comes another soldier with blonde hair, jumped up and he said “You are all free.” “You are free, free” I think he jumped off and he hollered for his partner to throw some rations down and we were fighting like cats and dogs trying to get a ration, I never got to one anyway. They would fight, and so he saw we were going to hurt each other. So he stopped and he told us to go across the road with him, follow his tank and he will take us across to the farm. There were quite a few of us and they are liberated, and there is plenty of food there. And we followed it.

BILL BENSON: Behind the tank?

HENRY GREENBAUM: Behind the tank, don’t walk near the side, he said just behind me. And we walked. It looked like forever, it was only maybe a half a mile but it looked like forever till we got there. So what did we do? We come there finally in the farm and right in front of the farmer’s house were three big pails of potato peelings with white powder all over, and what did we do? We never made the door inside to go looking for food, we saw this food here and when your hungry this look like, like one of the biggest steaks you could eat in your life, but we got on the floors started stuffing us up with these potato peelings with the white powder and I didn’t want any more food after that, I got through eating that, and once we opened the door we could not believe it that it was true. They had potato’s, boiled potato’s which we never got, and then they had milk and water and big breads that the farmers baked and they, all of them were sick in there moaning and groaning because they were overeating and not having food for five years and now all of a sudden you got all the food that you want. There with the medic, the guy that took us in with the tank, had to call for reinforcements. And they came in and people got medicine, I showed them my wound on my head, which was getting infected, they cleaned it up for me, put a bandage on it. I was with a human being, not with these animals that they, these sadistic animals. And when you look at them you think they can’t hurt a fly, but they are cold, they are hard, murder hearts they had on them people. Very bad.

Eventually the Germans were either caught, or ran away. The people they were holding prisoner were freed. They call this liberation. Eventually all the camps were liberated, either by the Soviet Army coming from the East, or the U.S, British, and Canadian armies coming from the West.

These pictures show some of the results of liberation