The Part Of WWII That Is Still Hard To Talk About
CULTURE | February 24, 2017
An era of bloodshed, bombs and totalitarian power are the watermarks left by World War II. With over 60 million lives taken, World War II was one of the largest and bloodiest wars in history. The outcome of the war resulted in the end of the German Third Reich and saw the United States and Russia becoming global powerhouses.
The first concentration camp was established in January 1933 and weeks after Hitler was appointed as chancellor, the SS protection squad was organized. Death was the main course served during World War II and Nazi Germans were excellent chefs. The Nazis developed a specialized method of killing large groups of people. These concentration camps, as they were called, held captive people who Nazi Germany deemed a real or perceived political threats.
Captives in these concentration camps were used for forced labor. The prisoners were made to perform construction and expansions on new concentration camps and pre existing ones under horrendous conditions. The prisoners were also made to perform construction on a number of other projects in coal mines and stone quarries. The held captives were mistreated by SS authorities and deliberately undernourished, while still having to perform back-breaking construction efforts.
During World War II, the Germans had figured out a way to systematically kill millions of people. Their targets included Jews, Slavs and people deemed inferior by Nazi Germany, which included people of color, Roma, physically and mentally disabled people, Poles, Serbs and later on Russians. The Germans used several different methods to exterminate mass groups of people, primarily gassing and mass executions. The hardship that these captives faced in these death and concentration camps also accounted for the high mortality rate due to having to work through starvation and performing dangerous and extreme tasks.
To the Germans there seemed to be a distinction between concentration camps and extermination camps, one was used as forced labor recruitment and the other served a more ghastly purpose. To the captives held in these camps it was all the same, if death wasn’t immediate from the gassing or from the execution style killing performed by SS soldiers, then the extreme labor, starvation and disease would ultimately carry these captives to their untimely death.
The Germans used cyanide based poison gasses to exterminate train loads of prisoners who were tricked into thinking that they were being relocated. Other victims were buried alive, then excavated and the bodies were incinerated to hide the evidence of mass genocide. Able bodied camp prisoners were separated and made to survive on slave rations while performing forced labor. Thee remaining camp prisoners were immediately killed in gas chambers. The able bodied victims would then be made to remove the dead bodies from the gas chambers for burning. The execution style killing method did not last long due to the fact that those pulling the trigger expressed that is was psychologically damaging to them, the killers sometimes went mad and ended up killing themselves.
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Kennita Leon Rose