October 12, 2008
By Brian Margolis, Park City, UT

In 1941 the Nazi’s herded Jews into concentration camps as part of their on going effort to rid the world of Jews. The Nazi party led by Adolph Hitler believed that their race, or the Aryan race was superior. They felt that the Jewish race was a threat to the purity of their own race and therefor had to be exterminated. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the most lethal and the largest death camp in Europe. Millions of Jews were killed at Auschwitz in gas chambers or crematoriums. They also died from brutal force or disease. They used a gas called Zyklon-B for the gas chambers. The crematoriums burned many Jews. The history of Auschwitz, how it was built, and who it affected are all important in understanding Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was opened on May 26, 1940 in Oswiecim, Poland. The concentration camp was used to terrorize the Polish people. Auschwitz had two additional major camps, Birkenau and Monowitz. It also had 51 sub-camps. The population went from 18,000 people to 30,000 in one year. In March, 1942 a women's camp was opened which housed 27,000 women in one year was also erected. In 1943 the Gypsy camp was built. The Nazis also built the family camp around this time. They used a gas called Zyklon-B for the gas chambers.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was mainly used to hold Jewish community members. It also housed Soviet POW’S. Additionally, Auschwitz housed Gypsies and Slavs. It was broken up into 5 different camps. There was a Jewish women’s camp, a Jewish men’s camp, a Gypsy camp, a Soviet POW camp, and a camp for everyone else.

The people at Auschwitz were miserable. Anybody under 18 or over 40 years in age was killed instantly. The babies were thrown up in the air and used for target practice. If you were between 18 and 40 years in age you were a slave. In the 5 years Auschwitz operated 2.5 million people died.

After the World War II was over the Nazi’s left Auschwitz. Before they left they burned or destroyed the gas chambers and crematoriums. The people who were left had no food or water.

In the book Night one of the characters said, “the only one we can trust is Hitler because he is the only one that has kept his promise of exterminating the Jewish people.” Auschwitz played a great role in this.

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