LIFE IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS
One often hears the phrase "Man's inhumanity to man". However, there is no more horrific example of that- not the Crusades, not the Inquisition, not the Turkish slaughter of Armenians or Saddam Hussein's disposal of tens of thousands of Kurds in Iraq- than the systematic herding together, then disposing of million s of Jews, Poles, Russians, Gypsies, homosexuals and those physically impaired. The Germans, heirs to Goethe, Schiller, Hegel and Nietzsche, turned into inhuman hordes of men (and women) who delighted in the task of eliminating Europe's Jews from the face of the Third Reich. Volumes have been written, and still no real answer to "why?". Here we will concentrate on the "how".
The conditions in the camps were, of course, unlivable for most. It is interesting to note that, at first, it was not the zyklon gas chambers and crematoriums which were responsible for so many deaths. It was disease. "The great killer in the German camps was of course typhus, spread by lice in the constant traffic with the east. In the rapid expansion of the camps in Poland, in 1941-1942, the Germans were able to anticipate this dangera. However their countermeasures largely failed and typhus epidemics broke out in summer 1942. The figure for the number of recorded male ordinary deaths at Auschwitz, in the period 1 June - 19 August, has survived; it was 11,920' (Butz 2003 1). The facts are that epidemics of communicable diseases ruined the idea of "using" camp inmates for forced labor, as well as medical experimentation, and thereby hastened the need for some sort of quick extermination procedures. Deprivation of nourishing food, separation of families, work details that weakened already starving inmates hastened the submissiveness of those forced into the "showers".
As systematic as the Nazis were, they even designed and built a special camp near Berlin called Ravensbruck, which served ...