Seventy years ago, today, the Nazis established the Auschwitz concentration camp at Birkenau. Jews and million of other innocents were defamed, demonised and dehumanised, as a prologue to extermination at the same site. We look at the horrors of the Holocaust
One of the first Nazi concentration camps, opened in March 1933, and at first interned only known political opponents of the Nazis: Communists, Social Democrats, and others who had been condemned in a court of law. Gradually, a more diverse group was imprisoned, including Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, dissenting clergy, homosexuals, as well as others who were denounced for making critical remarks about the Nazis.
A complex consisting of concentration, extermination, and labor camps in Upper Silesia. It was established in 1940 as a concentration camp and included a killing center in 1942. Auschwitz I: The main camp. Auschwitz II (Also known as Birkenau): The extermination center. Auschwitz III (Monowitz): The I.G. Farben labor camp, also known as Buna. In addition, there were numerous subsidiary camps.
Nazi camp and killing center opened for men and women near Lublin in eastern Poland in late 1941. At first a labour camp for Poles and a POW camp for Russians, it was classified as a concentration camp in April 1943. Like Auschwitz, it was also a major killing center. PMajdonek was liberated by the Red Army in July 1944, and a memorial was opened there in November of that year.
Nazi extermination camp in western Poland. Established in 1941. It was the first of the Nazi extermination camps. Approximately 150,000 Jews were murdered there between late 1941 and 1944, although not continuously. In comparison to the other extermination camps, Chelmno was technologically primitive, employing carbon monoxide gas vans as the main method of killing. The Nazis dismantled the camp in late 1944 and early 1945.
Extermination camp on the Bug River in the General Government. Opened in July 1942, it was the largest of the three Operation Reinhard killing centers. Between 700,000 and 900,000 persons were killed there. A revolt by the inmates on August 2, 1943, destroyed most of the camp, and it was closed in November 1943.
Nazi extermination camp in eastern Poland. Erected in 1942. Approximately 550,000 Jews were murdered here in 1942 and 1943. The Nazis dismantled the camp in the fall of 1943. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe.
The Concentration Camps
In the beginning of the systematic mass murder of Jews, Nazis used mobile killing squads called Einsatzgruppen. They consisted of four units of between 500 and 900 men each of which followed the invading German troops into the Soviet Union. By the time Himmler ordered a halt to the shooting in the fall of 1942, they had murdered approximately 1,500,000 Jews. The death camps proved to be a better, faster, less personal method for killing Jews, one that would spare the shooters, not the victims, emotional anguish.
OTHER GENOCIDES IN HISTORY
The Great Leap Forward (China)
From his ascension to power in 1949 to his death in 1976, Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China has been blamed for the deaths of over 34,300,000-63,784,000 people, most of them in 1958 when his five-year plan “Great Leap Forward” was implemented. Thirty million farmers were said to have starved to death. Another 30 million also died during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1969.
The Great Purge (Russia)
In Josef Stalin’s efforts to consolidate power, there’s no knowing how many people may have lost their lives in Russia. In the Great Purge from 1937 to 1938, hundreds of thousands of people were arrested, imprisoned and executed. If the number of people who died in the famine during that period is counted along with those who lost their lives in the Great Purge, the toll stands at 23 million.
The Great Calamity (Ottoman Empire)
Also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Great Calamity involved the systematic killing of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire during and after the First World War. Carried out through massacres and deportations, which involved forced marches designed to cause the death of the deportees, about 1 million to 1.5 million is said to have lost their lives.
Khmer Rouge (Cambodia)
Cambodia’s population was around 7,100,000 at the beginning of the reign of the Khmer Rouge, followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, in 1975. The Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot wanted to eliminate anyone involved in free-market activities. Through the next ten years, 3,300,000 people (including men, women, children, and foreigners) were killed.