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Buchenwald in Ettersberg Near Weimar, Germany

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Out of all the examples of injustice against humanity in history, the

Jewish Holocaust has to be one of the most prominent. The horrifying period

was from 1933 to 1945. The brains of the whole operation was created by a

man named Adolf Hitler. His attempt was to establish a pure Aryan race, he

then decided that all mentally ill, gypsies, non supporters of Nazism, and Jews

were to be eliminated from the German society for good . His plan proceeded

to work in a precise and organized scheme."One of his main and most efficient

methods of his extermination with these "undesirables" was through the use

of concentration camps. The worst concentration camp prior to World War II

was Buchenwald in Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany." "At first, the camps

were controlled by the Gestapo (police), but by 1934 the SS, Hitler's personal

security force, were ordered, by Hitler, to control the camps." (Meltzer, Never to

Forget the Jews of the Holocaust) Hitler and his top officials held a meeting on

January 1941 that would announce and inform them all about the "final

solution."This was pretty much a strategy to eliminate the whole Jewish


(Photo 1) A view of the Buchenwald concentration camp after the liberation of the camp.

The first concentration camps was established in 1933 and by 1939

there were six main camps Buchenwald , Dachau, Sachsenhausen,

Mauthausen, Flossenburg, and Ravensbruck. In the beginning of Hilter's

regime, concentration camps were used to hold people in protective custody.

Victims for protective custody included those who were either physically or

mentally ill, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and anyone

against the Nazi regime. "Gypsies were classified as people with at least

two gypsy great grandparents."( Bauer, History of the Holocaust) By the end

of 1933, there were approximately fifty concentration camps, small and large

throughout Europe.

One of the major Nazi concentration camps was established in 1937

and it was called Buchenwald located in Ettersberg hill near Weimar. The

name "Buchenwald" was given to the camp by Heinrich Himmler in July

1937. Buchenwald first opened for male prisoners in July 1937. Women and

children were not part of the Buchenwald camp system until 1944.

Buchenwald was not only an extermination camp such as Auschwitz, but a

place where prisoners were starved, worked to death doing manual labor in

factories, extremely maltreated, SS executions and medical experiments. With

this they succeeded to kill and exterminated innocent men, women and


(Photo 2) A view of barracks in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

The first groups of prisoners were brought on July 1937. Following, a

large group of prisoners that began to arrive to the camp and by the end of

1937 there were approximately 2,651 prisoners in Buchenwald. By the spring

of 1938, the number of prisoners increased dramatically and reached about a

number of 8,000 prisoners. Another 2,200 from Austria were imprisoned in

September of 1938, all of them being Jews. A further 10,000 Jews were

imprisoned in November 1938 and at the end of November the camp prison

population exceeded 18,000. "In the eight years of its existence from July 1937

to March 1945, a total of 238,980 prisoners from thirty countries passed

through Buchenwald and its satellite camps, of these 43,045 were killed or

perished in some other fashion there in Buchenwald alone."


The work that was forced upon the prisoners was poorly organized

and the working conditions were inhumane. "Camps were set up along

railroad lines, so that the prisoners would be conveniently close to their

destination."( Bauer, History of the Holocaust). As they were being transported,

the soldiers kept reassuring the Jews to have hope that the camps

will give them a better life for them as well as their families. When the people

finally arrived and the camps were open, most of the ended up being

separated from each other. "Often, the transports mirrored what went on in

the camps, cruelty by the officers, near starvation of those being transported,

fetid and unsanitary conditions on the trains." "On the trains, Jews were

starved of food and water for days. Many people did not survive the ride to

arrive at the camp." (Bauer, History of the Holocaust)

Jews were forced to obey the SS guard's orders from the moment they



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