Of the estimated 1.3 million people — at minimum — who were deported to the concentration, labour and extermination camp Auschwitz, between 1940 and 1945, at least 1.1 million were murdered, through mass exterminations, starvation, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.
Gross of the survivors still suffer the effects of the trauma they experienced during the Holocaust.
How the Nazi Killing Machines Developed
In the part of Europe which could not keep up to the agreements mad in Versailles after World War I fertile soil was created for economical and political unrest. Ideal to undermine the government was speaking along ideas the majority of the people had, giving certain people the fault or cause of all the misery.
Creating a scapegoat, the popular political figures had to make sure they could win more votes and as such knew they had to get away with the "problem" they had showed to the people. Best was also to create a pure people, done away with all what did not fit the picture of a good Arian soul.
Speeches creating hatred against one group of people, at first, took care lots of Germans started to believe that those who lived in big houses and had lots of shops, were the bad guys who had to be eliminated and their places given to the real Germanic race.
It took not many years before the lies about the Jews were accepted as a real truth to be handled. So people turned against the Jewish inhabitants and wanted them away. The Nazi government forced the Jews from their homes and herded them into railway cattle cars.
Initially, however, the Germans used killing groups called Einsatzgruppen (task forces) to round up and massacre entire Jewish communities.
Rivka Yosselevska, who testified at the trial of Adolph Eichmann in 1961, was one of a few who survived the Nazi massacre of 500 Zagrodzki ghetto Jews (near Pinsk in Belarus) in August 1942. Yosselevska lost her daughter, mother, father, and sister, as well as other relatives in the slaughter. She said her daughter had asked her when they we were lined up in the ghetto,
“Mother, why did you make me wear the Shabbat dress; we are being taken to be shot.”At the mass grave, she asked,
“Mother, why are we waiting? Let us run!”Yosselevska said,
“Some of the young people tried to run, but they were caught immediately, and they were shot right there. It was difficult to hold on to the children. ... The suffering of the children was difficult; we all trudged along to come nearer to the place and to come nearer to the end of the torture of the children.”
Although Yosselevska was shot in the head, she lived. For three days, she lay among the dead. The farmer who found her, hid and fed her. He also helped her to join a group of Jews hiding in the forest where she managed to survive until the Soviet army arrived in 1944.
Eventually, the Nazis decided that shooting as a method of mass killing was too expensive and inefficient. It required killing to be done one bullet at a time. And it demoralized the troops.
The Wannsee Conference Decides the Final Solution
In 1942, Nazi Party officials met near Berlin at the Wannsee Conference to discuss the “Final Solution” for the destruction of European Jewry. There they coordinated the deportation of Europe’s Jews to extermination camps that were already operating or were under construction in German-occupied Poland.
As many as 11 million Jews were to be transported to these killing centres, including residents of countries not then under Nazi control, such as Ireland, Sweden, Turkey, and Great Britain.
They decided that the mass transportation of these populations would be accomplished by train.
The SS and the police coordinated with local auxiliaries or collaborators in occupied territories to round up the victims and transport them to the death centres. In charge of all this was SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann, who was later to meet his demise at the end of a rope in an Israeli prison.
To disguise their intentions, Nazi authorities referred to these deportations as “resettlements” to labour camps in the “East.” In reality, they were killing centres for mass murder.
Find more about this terrible political and human offence: Endlösung der Judenfrage (Final Solution to the Jewish Question):
- Black page 70 years Release – commemoration Auschwitz
- World remembers Auschwitz survivors
- Polish commemoration of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Is it really true that Anti-Semitism will never be tolerated?
- Auschwitz survivors providing a warning of rising anti-Semitism and exclusion of free thinking