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Auschwitz

AuschwitzToday marks the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz’ final closing, on January 27th 1945 and the few survivors from the camp left, were back then children who suffered silently the horrors of the Nazis. Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish question”.

From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp.Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 6,500 to 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 15 percent of whom were later convicted of war crimes. Some, including camp commandant Rudolf Höss, were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the camp or its railways remains controversial. One hundred and forty-four prisoners are known to have escaped from Auschwitz successfully, and on October 7, 1944, two Sonderkommando units—prisoners assigned to staff the gas chambers—launched a brief, unsuccessful uprising.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. As a human being I could not let pass this date without at least making reference to what occurred back then, shall we never forget or dare to repeat such a somber and heinous act.

Now a museum struggling to stay open, Auschwitz serves as a clear historical footprint of our past and a place which many survivors and their relatives still visit every yearly, helping to serve the purpose of keeping our history present so we are not bound to eventually repeat it, and no matter our differences, such a horror shall never come to pass again.

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2015 by in society and tagged , , , , , , , .

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