My second Blog will look into greater depth of the experience of Auschwitz Birkenau. We can never even start to comprehend how victims would be feeling. As for what was to come would be their darkest hour… They would have no control over their lives anymore.
Firstly, the victims would be squashed onto the train and then they would get off at the Judenrampe. This was the stop which was at the center of Auschwitz Birkenau and we see in a round 6 weeks approximately 437,000 Hungarian Jews were transported to Birkenau. The Jews were quickly taken off the train and told to gather into two groups. Men on one side and children/women on the other. The victims were falsely told they would get their possession back but it was taken off them and left to be shared among the Germans. The selection process immediately saw children under 14 sent to the gas chambers while a doctor examined the men and women left. Just imagine that the victims were speechless, their children were just separated from them. They now owned nothing with all their final possession taken from them and it only got worse from here. You had no control of anything. These few moments would decide your fate, by a flick of a thumb you were either told to go to the gas chamber or told to get to work in the camps.
The barracks were cramped and unhygienic. Victims were given hardly no food or drink with the daily calorie intake being around 600 calories a day. This is nowhere near the recommended daily amount, 2500. Work duties were long and in dirty environment wile when it came to toilet breaks, they were only allowed two breaks a day. Infections and disease spread in the barracks with it being so cramped. Some victims said it was better to see death by going to the gas chambers than working in these inhuman conditions.
Auschwitz Birkenau was a vile place with an unfortunate 1.1 million people murdered there. It was a total of 6 minutes from the unloading ramp to the gas chambers. The experience to the gas chamber being full of deceit with victims being told they were going for a shower. They were told to remember their peg number as they undressed then a poisonous gas would murder them in seconds. This process was upon rotation like everything else happening on the Birkenau site. Crews cleared the dead bodies readied to be burnt in the crematoria while more trains came to drop off passengers.
As well as learning about the conditions of the camps during the Holocaust; we met virtually holocaust survivor Manfred Goldberg. Aged 13, Manfred Goldberg was transported to a concentration camp with his mother and younger brother Herman. Manfred was forced to work laying railway tracks but when the red army came near to the camp, the Germans evacuated and he was a slave worker. Manfred was sent on a death march in some of the most appalling conditions upon the Germans abandoning the camps just days before the war ended. He was finally liberated on May 3rd 1945. Manfred’s experience was truly shocking and upsetting to me. While he also talks about how he never saw his brother after entering the camp, Herman. It was only till recently that he accepted that his little brother was murdered.
In my final blog piece, I have tried to show how the Germans did not care about how they treated the Jews and the conditions of Auschwitz Birkenau shows this. The events of the Holocaust are truly unjustifiable and it shows us the need to humanize the genocide. The holocaust was the death of six million Jews. Six million humans. Like you and I…
This educational project has truly increased my awareness of the holocaust while showing me that the victims were ordinary people. The conditions of the camps were shocking and we are fortunate to see some remnants today to remember them. Let us not forget those who perished under the Nazis and always call out on hate. Like Manfred conveyed the silence from those who did good was dumbfounding and let the hate take over leading to this unfortunate genocide to occur.