Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by Germans in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city that was annexed to the Third Reich by the Nazis. Its name was changed to Auschwitz, which also became the name of Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.
At its height, Auschwitz had received a staggering amount of victims (the numbers say at or just under a half million) with 10% being deemed fit for work and the rest were murdered at a rate of over 10,000 per day.
The direct reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing “local” prisons. Initially, Auschwitz was to be one more concentration camp of the type that the Nazis had been setting up since the early 1930s. It functioned in this role throughout its existence, even when, beginning in 1942, it also became the largest of the death camps.
More than one million people were killed at Auschwitz in Poland during World War Two. The majority were Jews and the former extermination camp is the world’s biggest Jewish cemetery.
The site was also the death place for many people who did not fit into the Nazis’ view of their world. Poles, lesbians, homosexuals and the disabled were amongst those also killed here.
Many of the concentration camps set up by the Nazis in World War Two were razed to the ground, but Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated before it was completely destroyed. Now it’s a museum.
Survivors laid wreaths and light candles at the so-called Death Wall at Block 11 on January 27th to mark 70 years since the camp’s liberation, and remember those who never left.
I could post a million of my historical photos in my massive collection from WWII, Nazi camps, the Holocaust and bring you so many stories of the most horrific of human events.
I could tell you family stories from my great aunt and uncle who spent time at Bergen-Belsen and show you all of the photos I’ve personally taken of EVERY Nazi camp in Europe. But if you read social network and other blogs as well and watch the news and TV documentaries, you’ll see all that you will need to get an idea of the truest cut to human kind. Maybe not a full ‘in-your-face’ kind of understanding, but definitely an idea. The only way those of us who never experienced it would be to go there and see, touch, personally.
So I will go about this a little differently.
I don’t deal in “what ifs” so let me phrase this in a different manner….
Thinking back historically (& academically, retrospectivly), if the Brit soldier had decided to kill an already wounded Hitler in WWI (as they say “finish him off”), how different the world would have been.
– There may have been no Nazi Third Reich (although granted, someone with more military experience & know-how might have been Furher, but maybe not)
– There may not have been a Holocaust. Anti-Jewish sentiment did exist, but not on the level influenced by Mein Kampf, Hitler’s incessant rambling and Goebbels propaganda machine . Some early factions of Nazism were disturbed by growing anti-semitism within the party. The Nazi party as we know it needed a scapegoat, a rallying cry and Jews fit the bill, along with Catholics, gays, the peaceful White Rose movement – practically anyone and everyone could be targeted. Jews were the largest group of them all and were considered the biggest threat and the most horribly stereotyped of any.
– USA & Russia would not have exited WWII as a dominant power, the Cold War would have not existed. More than likely, Britain and France would have remained the dominant power in Europe in the 20th century.
– Anne Frank would have developed as a writer, maybe even a Hollywood starlet, but would her writings mean as much to us now? She was smart, lively and imaginative, so she would have probably enthralled us with other things to write about.
I could go on and on – no Pearl Harbor, no 11 to 12 million murders in camps, no approximately 50 killed in WWII, etc. etc. ad nauseam. But the fact remains, all of this did happen, every bit, and these are the cards we are dealt and have to play, this is life as it is.
So we remember, hopefully learn, discuss, and never forget.
Robert H. Jackson was United States Attorney General from 1940 to 1941 and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1941 to 1954. He was also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
In his Opening Address to the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg on November 10, 1945, he said,
“The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”
As I’ve painfully mentioned without hesitation in social media:
With almost every Nazi atrocity came justice….I’ve been to every concentration camp in Europe & photographed them all. The scale at which the Nazis developed mass murder on such an industrial level is terribly sad, utterly shameful and mind-boggling horrific.
I would like to think art and personal belongings were eventually returned to families, and in many cases every effort was made to do that. I would like to think that the many victims are now at peace and for the most part their murders were avenged. I think to some extent, we are assured of the latter than the former; but even with the number of Nazis who faced justice and were punished, that many more slipped away. I would like to think they as will we all, be judged and answer for our transgressions. These war crimes above and beyond any are the truest cut of all to humanity.