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The Holocaust Camps by Ann Byers

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In the book The Holocaust Camps written by Ann Byers, explains the different types of camps, and what goes on in those camps, and how the Concentration camps came to be. Also in the book, it describes his hate for Jews and the actions he takes against them and communists.

The treaty that ended World War 1, The Treaty of Versailles, was supposed to bring “eternal peace”, but in Europe, peace was the opposite of what was going on in the 1920’s. War was not happening, but things between nations were still boiling with hatred. The war had drastically ruined Europe. Roads, bridges, and train rails were demolished. Buildings such as factories, shops, and homes were all leveled. Then Adolf Hitler came into the picture. He had total control of the Nazi party, and fifteen-thousand-members on the private police force.

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Hitler had a strong determination to destroy all of the Jews. He attempted to destroy an entire group known as the Holocaust. Until his suicide, he managed to kill six million Jews. Some died from starvation, but others were executed by armed death squads for the purpose of murder. The greatest number of deaths, were from the concentration camps.

Years before Hitler became powerful, he wrote Mein Kampf. He wrote a letter stating his determination of anti-semitism. “It’s final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews all together” (pg. 14). One major obstacle that stood in the way of Hitler’s plans, was the fact that Germany was governed by laws that would not accept anything like that. On January 30, 1933, he immediately began a process that would eventually create a network of over one thousand concentration camps.

There are a few steps to create a concentration camp. The very first step, was to establish a legal basis for acts of brutal inhumanity, such as political maneuvering, scare tactics, and bullying. Hitler was given an act known as the Enabling Act. This act states that as chancellor, Hitler had the power to suspend the constitution he swore he would protect. “It allowed him to make laws without the approval of any other person or group-laws that could be completely contrary to those he had taken an oath to uphold” (pg. 16). He used this power to put second brick in the wall of the concentration camps, which means to dehumanize the Jews. There were a series of laws that the Jewish people had to follow. Rule number one, was that they weren’t allowed to hold government offices or to work as lawyers, jurors, or judges. They were removed from serving as doctors and dentists. Most Jews could not attend a public school. One law, barred Jews from the arts and entertainment.

The final step to construct a concentration camp, was the use of brutality to terrorize the people into submission. They taunted crowds into rioting against Jewish property. In the city of Nuremberg, over two hundred incidents were recorded between 1922 and 1933 of the discretion of Jewish graves. Since the Jewish people were the number one enemy of the state , the brutality against them was not punished. Hitler encouraged it.

The first concentration camps were not built for the Jewish people. The first ones weren’t even planned. Hitler accused his enemies of endangering the security of the country and had them arrested. The jails in Germany did not have enough room for all the arrests, so empty factories and fortresses were hurriedly converted into temporary detention facilities. Three days before the Enabling Act was passed, Heinrich Himmler, the chief of police for the city of Munich, announced that a gun-powder factory was turned into a concentration camp where all the Communists and other officials who endangered state security are to be held. The following day, two hundred Communists were brought to the camp. The first camp, was in the operation outside the city of Dachau.

Labor Camps was one ready source of the concentration camps. Additional facilities were under construction in the planning stages, so the camps were reformed to slave-labor operations. There were different types of labor during this time. Some of the camps near mines, forged metals into weapons. Others assembled bombs that could destroy their homes, and sewed uniforms for their captors. Camp inmates constructed or restored the facilities that enable the soldiers continue to fight. Labor camps near the eastern Poland, drained the marshes along the Russian front and built fortifications there.

Deaths in the Labor camps were quite common. They happen because of the unquestionable weather conditions. The buildings were not heated. Blankets, coats, and clothing were short in supply. The food was scarce, therefore many people died from starvation. Each day, men would receive a thin slice of bread, sausage or cheese. And a choice of cabbage or turnip soup. “At Dachau, men received each day a thin slice of bread, a small piece of sausage or cheese, and cabbage or turnip soup” (pg. 41).

Along with all those issues, the camps were disgustingly dirty and overcrowded. In some places, five people would sleep in the same bunk just to fit everyone. In Nogerratstrasse, prisoners were crammed into dog kennels nine feet long, six feet wide, and only three feet in height. The supply of water in some camps were nonexistent. Medicines were rare which made it almost impossible to treat what the filth brought in. Fleas, lice, rats, and sickness were all brought into the camps. Illnesses such as typhus, dysentery, and many other plagues killed thousands of people in the labor camps.

Overall, the book had a lot of similarities between all the camps, and the brutality in them all were very harsh. The conditions and time it took for all the camps to happen were very long and time consuming, and I think that the camps were honestly unnecessary, because they could have just been executed for their crimes, instead of making them suffer and go through what they did. 

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