The Survival in Auschwitz

What impact did the Germans have during the Second World War in reference to the dehumanization of the countless people that had to endure life in a concentration camp?

The Second World War brought with it fear and terror not only for the fighters of that war and the civilians that had to suffer because of it, it also brought terror to a whole group of people Adolf Hitler thought were unfit to walk the earth.  This group of people mainly consisted of the Jewish populace.  Hitler’s regime, the Nazi party, would round up people and take them to concentration camps where they would either be exterminated right away or have to work as slaves in poor conditions.  The people were also thought as being expendable and were not properly taken care of; the dehumanization of theme took off from there.

The people who opposed Hitler’s Nazi regime or people that Hitler just all around disliked, especially the Jews, were prosecuted and made to work as slaves in concentration camps. Basically living as slaves, they took everything on a day-to-day basis.  The people of the concentration camps were just as dispensable as the slaves were to the plantation owners during the time of the civil war, “We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last – the power to refuse our consent” (41).  They had no rights at all.  They were told what they could and could not do.  If they did something wrong they were punished for it or even killed.  At the time, the Germans held no compassion for the people in the camps; they were like cattle eventually going to be slaughtered, exterminated from the earth.  The people of the camps were “transformed into slaves, have marched a hundred times backwards and forwards to our silent labours, killed in our spirit long before our anonymous death” (55).  The Germans tried to demoralize everyone in the camps; they tried to break the spirits of the people, giving them no hope of escape or rescue from the torture they were having to endure.

The Germans were trying to subjugate the Jews; they controlled them by force and held them against their will.  There was nothing the Jewish people could do except go along or get killed.  They lost their characteristics and qualities, “For living men, the units of time always have a value, which increases in ratio to the strength of the internal resources of the person living through them; but for us, hours, days, months spilled out sluggishly from the future into the past . . . for us, history has stopped” (117).  While they are in the camps they slowly lose all sense of time and day and just try to survive.  The Germans basically made the people into work mules, inferior than themselves and subject to their will.  The Jews have to resort to primal instincts and ruthlessness to even make it from day to day.  The Germans strove to dehumanize the Jews as much as they could, “The last traces of civilization had vanished around and inside us.  The work of the bestial degradation, begun by the victorious Germans, had been carried to its conclusion by the Germans in defeat.  It is man who kills, man who creates or suffers in justice; it is no longer man who . . . shares his bed with a corpse” (171).  The Germans put the Jews under the other creatures of the earth, they were no better than dirt, and that was pounded into their heads continually throughout the many years they had to suffer in the camps.  Reduced lower than that of a human being, “In the Lager, where man is alone and where the struggle for life is reduced to its primordial mechanism, this unjust law is openly in force, is recognized by all” (88).  The man of the working camp had practically no life left in them.  Even when they managed to be rescued from the hell they had had to endure they weren’t men, they had changed, been the ones on the bottom.

There were just no words to describe the horrors the people of the concentration camps had to undergo.  No one could even come up with a way to express what was happening to them, “for the first time we become aware that out language lacks words to express this offense, the demolition of a man . . . it is not possible to sink lower than this; no human condition is more miserable than this, nor could it conceivably be so” (26).  The pressure of having to bear on a daily basis the onslaught of humiliation, torture, and abuse both mental and physical.

The Germans exterminated over six million people and tortured countless more in an effort of one man to create a race of people he thought were exulted and to annihilate those he thought did not belong on earth.  The devastation of families and the effects of the Second World War have stayed with people.  The mass genocide of millions will remain a reminder in history of the power one man can weld and the mass destruction that that one man can cause.


~ by wolfangel87 on September 3, 2011.

One Response to “The Survival in Auschwitz”

  1. This is great analysis and insight on the struggle for survival for the Jews, and the exploration of man and humanity is profound. Survival in Auschwitz: If this is a Man, is a book beyond words. The intertextuality and the allusions to Dante and the Odyssey are crucial.

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