Monday, November 10, 2014

Nazi Machine Of Death: Auschwitz

Those entering its main gate were greeted with an infamous and ironic inscription: “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Makes You Free.”
The camp streets are horrible, they have been left as it was: imagine the inmates were given uncomfortable wooden shoes, and were forced to walk on these streets and work under inhuman conditions, even in harsh winters.

Hitler (1889-1945), the chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, implemented a policy that came to be known as the “Final Solution.” Hitler was determined not just to isolate Jews in Germany and countries annexed by the Nazis, subjecting them to dehumanizing regulations and random acts of violence, he also became convinced that his “Jewish problem” would be solved only with the elimination of every Jew in his domain, along with artists, educators, gypsies, communists, homosexuals, the mentally and physically handicapped and others deemed unfit for survival in Nazi Germany.

Auschwitz, the largest and arguably the most notorious of all the Nazi death camps, opened in the spring of 1940.

Not all those arriving at Auschwitz were immediately exterminated. Those deemed fit to work were employed as slave labor in the production of munitions, synthetic rubber and other products considered essential to Germany’s efforts in World War II.

At its peak of operation, Auschwitz consisted of several divisions. The original camp, known as Auschwitz I, housed between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. Those entering its main gate were greeted with an infamous and ironic inscription: “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Makes You Free.” When we see it in person and know, that it was just an illusion, it really sends shivers down the spine.

Auschwitz II, located in the village of Birkenau, or Brzezinka, was constructed in 1941 on the order of Heinrich Himmler (1900-45),Birkenau, the biggest of the Auschwitz facilities, could hold some 90,000 prisoners. It also housed a group of bathhouses where countless people were gassed to death, and crematory ovens where bodies were burned. The majority of Auschwitz victims died at Birkenau.More than 40 smaller facilities, called subcamps, dotted the landscape and served as slave-labor camps. The largest of these subcamps, Monowitz, also known as Auschwitz III, began operating in 1942 and housed some 10,000 prison.

Entrance: the gate through which train loads of prisoners would arrive, not knowing what was in store for them

Birkenau: Remains of prisoner barracks

                                        The remains of the death factory, the barbed wire.









1940 - 1945

Eight hundred to a thousand people were crammed into the superimposed compartments of each barracks. Unable to stretch out completely, they slept there both lengthwise and crosswise, with one man's feet on another's head, neck, or chest.The prisoners slept in long rows of wooden bunks, lying in and on their clothes and shoes to prevent them from being stolen

                                                      Horrible Latrines for the inmates, they were allowed only 10 seconds to use it.

                                                     The dreaded Birkenau Death factory

             Jews were examined by a doctor here: those fit were asked to go the right, and those                      unfit (pregnant women, little children, handicapped people and old people were sent to the left). 
Though nobody had a clue, as to what was in store for them.
Upon arriving at the camp, detainees were examined by Nazi doctors. Those detainees considered unfit for work, including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and the infirm, were immediately ordered to take showers. However, the bathhouses to which they marched were disguised gas chambers. Once inside, the prisoners were exposed to Zyklon-B poison gas. Individuals marked as unfit for work were never officially registered as Auschwitz inmates. For this reason, it is impossible to calculate the number of lives lost in the camp.It is horrifying to see the marks made by thousands of hands trying to grip to the walls, unable to bear the poison gas. Although we have read and seen in many films, nothing can prepare you when you see it now, after so many years: the sight screams out at you, literally making you live through those horrors.
                                     Rollers used to level camp streets: you can imagine how heavy it  is

Some Auschwitz prisoners were subjected to inhumane medical experimentation. The chief perpetrator of this barbaric research was Josef Mengele (1911-79), a German physician who began working at Auschwitz in 1943. Mengele, who came to be known as the “Angel of Death,” performed a range of experiments on detainees. For example, in an effort to study eye color, he injected serum into the eyeballs of dozens of children, causing them excruciating pain. He also injected chloroform into the hearts of twins, to determine if both siblings would die at the same time and in the same manner. Young children were particularly targeted by the Nazis to be murdered during the Holocaust. They posed a unique threat because if they lived, they would grow up to parent a new generation of Jews. Many children suffocated in the crowded cattle cars on the way to the camps. Those who survived were immediately taken to the gas chambers.

                                                  Canisters  of Zykolon B pellets.
Shoes of so many people killed shoes of children and adults: it was so horrifying to see them lying there all piled up, each having a dreadful story behind them.

A replica of the gallows on which Rudolf Ross was hanged.
He was hanged on a short drop gallows constructed specifically for that purpose, at the location of the camp Gestapo. The message on the board that now marks the site reads:
"This is where the camp Gestapo was located. Prisoners suspected of involvement in the camp's underground resistance movement or of preparing to escape were interrogated here. Many prisoners died as a result of being beaten or tortured". The first commandant of Auschwitz, SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, who was tried and sentenced to death after the war by the Polish Supreme National Tribunal, was hanged here on 16 April 1947. Source: Wikipedia

The Black Wall
This black wall was built so that the gun shots would not go and spoil the beauty of the brick wall behind. Thousands were asked to face the Black Wall tortured and shot mercilessly.
The windows here near the " Black Wall" was darkened, so that nobody inside would know what was happening here. There was a secrecy maintained always by the Germans. For years many who heard about such things happening, did not believe, even when some of those who had escaped came with evidence. 
"Death, death, death,
Death in the morning,
Death in the afternoon
We lived with Death
How could a human feel".
Pavel Stemin ( a Polish prisoner)

Those who survived Dr. Josef Mengele’s experiments were almost always murdered and dissected. Many children were maimed or paralyzed and hundreds died. He was known by children as “Onkel Mengele” and would bring them candy and toys before personally killing them. He later died in a drowning accident in Brazil in 1979.

Twins fascinated Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (known as the “Angel of Death”). According to one witness, he sewed together a set of twins named Guido and Ina, who were about 4 years old, from the back in an attempt to create Siamese twins. Their parents were able to get some morphine and kill them to end their suffering.

One observer, noticed that the dirt at the Treblinka (falls under Auschwitz3) concentration camp was not brown but gray. As he felt the dirt trickle through his fingers, he realized the earth was “coarse and sharp and filled with the fragments of human bone.”

As 1944 came to a close and the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allied forces seemed certain, the Auschwitz commandants began destroying evidence of the horror that had taken place there. Buildings were torn down, blown up or set on fire, and records were destroyed. The torn down building still remain, left as it was left by the Germans, most of the buildings, the various torture rooms, the cold and crowded dormitories etc., everything left as they were.

When the Soviet army entered Auschwitz on January 27, they found approximately 7,600 sick or emaciated detainees who had been left behind. The liberators also discovered mounds of corpses, hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing and pairs of shoes and seven tons of human hair that had been shaved from detainees before their liquidation. 

The Nazis would process Holocaust victims’ hair into felt and thread. Hair was also used to make socks for submarine crews, ignition mechanisms in bombs, ropes and cords for ships, and stuffing for mattresses. Camp commanders were required to submit monthly reports on the amount of hair collected. There are even evidence to prove that human fat was used to make soaps. The Germans did not leave anything. There is a law suit going on against a tire company which was supposed to have used the inmates hair to make tires.
According to some estimates, between 1.1 million to 1.5 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, died at Auschwitz during its years of operation. An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Poles perished at the camp, along with 19,000 to 20,000 Gypsies and smaller numbers of Soviet prisoners of war and other individuals.
The Jews were the main target, but others too, who were against Hitler, and all those he and his men thought unfit to live had to go to the gas chambers. When one reads about Hitler and how he turned out to be like this, one can understand his dislike for Jews, but to turn into a monster, and try to wipe out the entire community, for no fault of theirs is really unimaginable.
I still cannot understand how a whole lot  of people blindly followed every word said by their leader and went about committing such atrocities. Many even after they were caught and punished, never showed any remorse for the crimes committed by them. 
Auschwitz was surrounded by high electric barbed wire fences, which were guarded by SS soldiers armed with machine guns and rifles. Some Holocaust survivors have said that not only did the barbed-wire surrounding Auschwitz tremble and howl, but also the tortured earth itself moaned with the voices of the victims.
Despite visiting this place with so many tourist around, you somehow feel all alone here, and  you only feel totally connected to the thousand of souls, that have wandered here in extreme conditions, you really feel from the bottom of your heart, that wherever they are now, they are happy, and you can only be grateful to have somehow escaped this ordeal.
Also one would not like to see the same people inflict similar atrocities on certain people just because they don't like them. We have seen over the past few years, some countries are getting more and more intolerant towards other countries, they go for war for ulterior motives, under the guise of bringing democracy to these countries, creating a real mess in so many people's lives. Instead of restoring democracy as promised they have only left them with anarchy and chaos. It is really sad, that we have not evolved even after witnessing such horrors like Auschwitz.
I never thought I would ever get the opportunity of visiting this place, and I am really grateful, that, opportunity came my way, and provided me the chance to visit it, and see for myself with my own eyes, this Nazi factory of death.
I am sure if you are ever in Poland you would never miss it.


  1. I think this is the first photo of you that I have ever seen where you are not smiling! There is Evil in this world and we never learn. The Khmer Rouge, Rwowanda, ISIS, and more all in our lifetime and the World remains silent. Nothing changes, no wonder you are not smiling.

  2. Yes Jerry , there is not left to really smile. As you have pointed out we have seen so much in our lifetime, instead of living in harmony we have now become more brazen and shameless. It also shows how the Jews have become the present Nazis, they have also not learnt from their own horrible past.
    Thanks Jerry for visiting.

  3. Been there. Very sad memories.

    1. Yes SG, it is terrible to think of so many people who must have wished with all their heart and soul that somebody would come and help them from their never ending misery. So many people have visited such camps, but have we learnt anything, we still mute to the atrocities that are still continuing in this world.

  4. Auchwitz horrors I have read, they are not worth reminding..

    1. I feel differently Renu. Just reading is not enough, whether it was our fight for independence, or the struggle of a whole community against injustice meted out to them, the more we hear about them in person, see them in person( if possible), only then will the depth of their suffering, their sacrifice would sink deeply within us. Can you say that you have read about Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and there was no need to be reminded about that or anything to do with our struggle for freedom for the British rule?
      The more we remember, the more we can be strong and fight against such tyranny, it does not matter where it happens.

  5. Man possesses both animosity and humanity. But this amount of animosity O!God wolf in lamb's coat.Shiver crawls from nerve to nerve, as you said Rama. Sewing human living bodies to produce siamese twins, the height of cruelty and notoriety.Thank you for sharing these experiences,Rama. It is really praiseworthy.

  6. I had commented on this.But not seen. I cannot leave it without comment.Here we see the pinnacle of animosity. Sewing live bodies to make Siamese twins,O! God are they humans? Really worth-knowing all these, as these much details we may not try to obtain. commendable post.Thank you for sharing this,Rama.

  7. Sombre mood you bare in!
    Im sure the atmosphere was stifling even after these many years and took you through into history as if you were an inmate.
    Reminds me of the many films that showed the horrors of Auschwitz. "Sophies Choice" being the foremost.

  8. Let me also mention that your narration,description was brief but crisp and poignant.

  9. Sad story really, have watched a couple of movies as well.
    You are not smiling for the first time. But probably apt for the post.

  10. Horror stories of Auschwitz concentration gas chamber.

    OMG! have heard gruesome stories and have seen in movies. It numbs my spine to even read about all those cruel things they could have done to humans and not sparing even children. This is one of the exhaustive write-ups on this subject that i have read. Thank you Rama.

  11. You have brought it all back, what I have read and seen in the movies (especially Schindler's list & Escape from Zobibor)
    Will be visiting this place when I go to Germany.

  12. These experiences are rattling and I had a similar experience when I visited Yad Vashem at Jerusalem where most of these memories have been kept intact! Although I wanted to see Auschwitz, but having seen Yad Vashem I did not want another soul stirring repeat which keeps one awake for many nights! Thank you, Rama for sharing this post!

  13. Ah, this is all gruesome! So much violence, sufferings and death seen from so near! It breaks your heart.

  14. It is horrible what happened to the Jews and others at these death camps. Thanks for sharing!