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Through Deaths Gates

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"Through Deaths Gates"

Construction of the camp began after Heinrich Himmler ordered its creation on April 27, 1940. Auschwitz continued to grow until 1945 when it was evacuated by the Nazis. Auschwitz was composed of three large camps and 45 sub-camps. Auschwitz I, which was the main camp, was the original section of the camp that was built near the Polish town of Oswiecim. At the entrance of Auschwitz I stood the infamous sign that stated "Arbeit Macht Frei," which means work makes one free, because this death camp was so crowded, Auschwitz II or Birkenau was built approximately 1.5 miles away from Auschwitz I and was the real killing center of the Auschwitz death camp. It was in Birkenau where the dreaded selections were carried out on the ramp and where the underground gas chambers laid in waiting for the innocent victims. Auschwitz III or "Buna" was built last as housing for the forced laborers at the Buna synthetic rubber factory (Vock). Auschwitz was the most efficient mass killing centers ever created and was one of the five "death camps" constructed by the Nazis during World War II.

Between 1933 and 1945 Germany was rules by Adolf Hitler, who supported an Aryan racial ideology and wanted the destruction of Jews. Upon arrival to Auschwitz, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, criminals, and prisoners of war were gathered and stuffed into cattle cars on trains, and sent to Auschwitz (Fischel). When the train stopped at Auschwitz II, prisoners were forced to exit from the train and gather upon the landing which was known as the ramp. On the ramp, SS officers would make selections. Most women, children, and those that looked unfit or unhealthy were sent to the left; while most young men and others that were fit would be sent to the right. Though these people did not know this at the time, the left line meant immediate death at the gas chambers and the right meant probable death from hard labor. The majority of the people sent to Auschwitz were either sent directly to the gas chambers or they were sent after a few months of hard labor (Vock).

Auschwitz is notorious for using science, technology and industry for the use of mass extermination. Auschwitz not only "perfected" the use of camouflaged gas chambers and crematoria, Auschwitz also became a location for medical experiments that used humans as the guinea pigs. Most notorious of the doctors of these experiments was Josef Mengele whose favorite experiments were on twins. Mengele took his turn as the selector on the ramp he would get very excited when finding twins. Many SS Officers would help unload the transports paying special attention to picking out twins, dwarf, giants or any other humans with a unique hereditary trait like clubfoot. After the twins had been taken from the ramp they were taken to the showers. Since they were "Mengele's children," they were treated differently than other prisoners. Twins were often allowed to keep their hair and allowed to keep their own clothes. The twins were then tattooed. They were given a number from a special sequence. Generally, every day, every twin had to have blood drawn. Blood, often in large quantities, was drawn from twins fingers and arms, and sometimes both their arms simultaneously. The youngest children, whose arms and hands were very small, suffered the most: Blood was drawn from their necks, a painful and frightening procedure. It was estimated that approximately ten cubic centimeters of blood was drawn daily. Another cruel experiment he did was attempting to fabricate blue eyes, injections or drops of chemicals or dyes would be put in the eyes this often caused infections or permanent blindness.

The daily meals in Auschwitz consisted of watery soup, distributed once

a day, with a small piece of bread. In addition, they got extra allowance

consisting of 3/4 ounce of margarine, a little piece of cheese or a spoonful of

watered. Everyone in the camp was so malnourished that if a drop of soup spilled prisoners would rush from all sides to see if they could get some of the soup. Because of the bad sanitary conditions, the insufficient diet, the hard labor and other torturous

conditions in Auschwitz, most people died after a few months of their arrival.

The few people who managed to stay alive for longer were the ones who were

assigned better jobs. The prisoners slept on three shelves of wooden slabs with six of these units to each tier. They had to stand for hours in the wet and mud during role

call, which was twice a day. Some people thought the reason hundreds of people

died, daily, was because when it rained they lay with wet clothes in their

bunks. In place of toilets, there were wooden boards



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