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Imagine you’re celebrating your sixth birthday with your family. As you are about to blow out your birthday candles, a strange man busts down the door shouting at all of you to go outside. He shoots you, father, when he questions what is happening, you then know to remain quiet. He crams your family and 20 other families into one cattle car, and no one knows what is happening. You arrive at a strange building and are all forced inside. He explains that this is your ghetto, and if anyone disobeys the rules or tries to leave, they will be killed. While you are here there is limited food and many people died, however your mother, your older brother, and you are fortunate enough to survive. You stay here for a few weeks and when you are finally used to the terrible living conditions, you are forced back in the cattle car. This time, you arrive at Auschwitz. You and your mother go to the left, but your older brother goes to the right. They tell you that you’re getting a shower, and you are beyond excited, considering it is your first shower in weeks. You and your mother enter the shower with smiles from ear to ear but never make it back out.
The word holocaust is defined as destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war. The Holocaust was a point in time during World War II, that the Nazi Party of Germany, wanted to completely annihilate the minority races. The minorities, some groups more than others, were targeted because of their religious beliefs, physical disabilities, and many other reasons. During this time, mainly the Jewish race was targeted, but many other races such as Poles, Gypsies, and many more. The Holocaust included the systematic killing of over 11 million innocent men, women, and children. The survival rate of anyone involved in the holocaust, including nazi soldiers was 25.9 percent.
During the Holocaust, there were many ways that the Nazis killed minority groups. They began with removing them from their homes and placing them in overcrowded Ghettos. When the minorities traveled, they were transported in overcrowded cattle cars with over 100 people per car, which had a carrying capacity of 50 people. In the ghettos, many died of starvation and illness. Illnesses were spread very easily during this time due to the crowded living conditions. Often when one person became ill, their whole block would become I’ll as well.
The largest ghetto during the holocaust was the Warsaw Ghetto, located in Warsaw, Germany. This ghetto was surrounded by brick walls, covered in barbed wire, and guard towers, located all over, and anyone caught trying to escape, was shot upon sighting. In Warsaw, the Nazis confined over 4,000 Jews in less than a single mile of land. There were over 1,000 ghettos during the holocaust, and there were three main types of ghettos: closed ghettos, open ghettos, or destruction ghettos. In open ghettos, no one was allowed to enter or exit the ghetto, but there were no walls or fences surrounding the ghetto. Closed ghettos were the most common, they had fences with barbed wire or brick or cement walls surrounding the area, for a more secure environment. In destruction ghettos, there was a wall or a fence with barbed wire and maximum security. Most people who went to a destruction ghetto were killed by the nazis.
They would stay in the Ghettos until the Nazis relocated them into concentration camps. There were over 42,000 concentration camps. When they arrived at a concentration camp, depending on the camp, everyone would be killed upon arrival. But at some camps, those deemed “Fit for work” would not be killed. The person who made this decision, Doctor Josef Mengele, was known as the minority as “ The Angel of Death,” and he was located at the entrance to Auschwitz. The largest concentration camp was Auschwitz. Auschwitz was the most populated concentration camp during the holocaust. One in six people who died in the Holocaust died at Auschwitz.
Auschwitz had three parts: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II, and Auschwitz III. Auschwitz I was the main camp, located in Oswiecim, South Poland. It was constructed for three main reasons: to incarcerate real and perceived enemies of the Nazi and German regime, to provide forced laborers for SS-owned construction, and to serve as a killing site to target small groups whose death was determined by the SS (USHMM). Doctor Mengele was also in charge of the medical experiments at Auschwitz.
His experiments consisted of operating on twins, pregnant women, and anyone else in the camps. He focused on family members to further his education in hereditary biology. Doctor Mengele did not use any anesthesia or pain medicine on any of the test subjects, and the tools he used were rarely cleaned. People who did not die from the surgery often got very serious infections due to the soiled equipment. He also kept very detailed reports of all of his experiments. When Auschwitz was being liberated, Doctor Mengele fled the country, taking all of his reports, where he lived in Latin America for the next 30 years, until he died because of drowning.
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