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Death camps of world war ii

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Death camps of world war ii

Starvation. Mass shootings. Gas chambers. Beatings. Mass murder. In the early 1940s, perhaps the most brutal attrocities ever committed on a people in our world's history took place. It was World War II. The Nazi Regime, led by Adolf Hitler, was waging war across Europe. Occupied Poland became the place where those prisoners and captives held by the Nazis were sent to be eliminated. From 1941 through 1945 a total of some 3.5 million Jews met their deaths in Nazi extermination camps. These 'death camps' as they are often referred to had the single goal of eliminating the Jews while hiding these crimes under a shroud from the rest of the world. Unlike the 'concentration camps' of the same time, where Jews were brainwashed and ordered to do labor for the Germans yet still often killed, the death camps were devised solely for the mass killings of prisoners. There was no discrimination. Men fit for work, women and children of all ages were not sorted and suffered the same fate. These events would be known as 'the Final Solution' to the Jewish problem faced by the Nazis.

Captive Jews were held in areas called 'ghettos' ultimately commanded by the Germans. Following through with the elimination of the Jews, the Nazis gave them fierce living conditions often housing dozens of people in small buildings. Food was administered in very small amounts. Those that did not starve to death were either shot or sent to camps. Some were sent to concentration camps. There were also labor camps. During some of these trips, prisoners would be told that they were being relocated. Many of these people instead arrived at the extermination camps never to be heard from again.

The Polish town known as Kulmhof, though more popularly known as Chelmno, was the first place where mass killings by gas took place as part of the 'Final Solution.' It was established in December of 1941. The first man in charge of this operation was Herbert Lange. This 'Sonderkommando' or special commander, was once in charge of a T4 euthanasia program in which he was the overseer of the murder of psychiatric patients in the town of Posen. He had control of about 150 assorted German security police and uniformed police. Twenty members had posts within the camp as well as many secondary units. There was also a group, called the Waldkommando, who operated in the surrounding forest to make sure no one could see what was happening inside. The shipments of prisoners, consisting almost primarily of Jews (there were also some Gypsies) came in on well guarded trains and a very few by truck. They were divided into groups of fifty and then told to hand over all of their valuables and told to undress. Next they were taken to their deaths. The victims were told they were to be showered and then relocated. Signs saying things such as 'To the Washroom' were hung in the castle passage (the town of Chelmno had a palace which was converted into appropriate headquarters and facilities for the Nazis) that led to a ramp angling down. Any hopes of resistance were halted by severe beatings. The passage led to one of three specially made vans which held 50 people and sometimes more at a time. Once packed inside, the driver would cut on the engine and a pipe leading into the sealed compartment would pump carbon monoxide into the chamber. After about ten minutes, all inside would be dead by asphyxiation. The driver would then make a 2.5 mile drive out to the woods. Here, Jewish prisoners had dug four mass graves according to accounts from survivor Jacob Grojanowski (the only other survivor who escaped was Moroka Podchlebnik). The bodies were taken from the vans by these same Jewish prisoners and dumped into the holes. This group of 'gravediggers' were selected from the deportees that came to Chelmno. They totalled usually up to forty people. The ones who could not meet the Nazi standards for work were simply shot and replaced come next shipment. At nightfall, they were taken back to the palace and held in a guarded room.

The camp operated from December 1941 through March 1943. ...

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