After being forced to disembark from the trains, the newly arrived prisoners at Auschwitz – Birkenau were led to an open space, where SS doctors subjected them to a criminal selection. Those whom the SS decided to send directly to their deaths in the gas chambers were separated from those whom they considered useful for their purposes (who were allowed to remain alive a little longer). This was decided on the basis of the camp needs at the time, including the fluctuating need for slave labor and for medical experiments conducted by SS doctors.
When the Germans running Auschwitz got word of the impending camp liberation, they bombed the gas chambers and crematoriums. I find it so ironic that later, in their pleas of innocence, the Nazis so often stated that they acted out of the belief that what they were doing was 100% right and justified, yet upon first word that the Soviet Army was coming to liberate the camp, they made attempts to cover their tracks, so to speak. Staring at the crematorium ruins, below, I asked Piotr, “Did they really think this would hide what they had done?”. It’s fascinating to think how irrational one behaves on the brink of defeat. Although I suppose the explosion squelched plenty of incriminating evidence that could have been presented in court.
This barrack for prisoners was adapted from the field stable of the German Army. When used as a stable, the area housed 52 horses. When used as a barrack, it housed 400 prisoners.
Makes me claustrophobic just looking at it. Imagine sleeping there.
When I noticed that a toilet system had been installed for the prisoners, I was shocked. I asked, “Isn’t that a little too humane for the Nazis?”.
I was told that, had the prisoners been given no other option than to relieve themselves in bed (as the barrack doors were locked each night), there would have been too strong an outbreak of diseases from the spread of fecal bacteria, which, of course, would have weakened the Germans’ labor force. ....should have known better than to assume it was designed for humanity’s sake, right?