The infamous concentration camps of the Holocaust first began to sprout up in 1933. Dachau was the first to be built, closely followed by multiple others. The intent of the concentration camps was not to murder everyone upon arrival. Before they went to work, they were stripped and shaved. The prisoners of concentration camps were forced to complete intensive manual labor, while being fed an insufficient amount of calories. They lived in disease infested, unsanitary barracks. Needless to say, under these conditions many deaths occurred; if a person was incapable of continuing at an acceptable pace, he or she was murdered. Random murders frequently occurred also.
Towards the middle, and especially the end of the Holocaust, a new type of camp began to arise called extermination camps. The sole purpose of extermination, or death camps was to kill massive amounts of people. Belzec and Treblinka are good examples of extermination camps. In Treblika 900,000 Jews alone lost their lives, and in Belzec over 600,000 Jews were murdered. Some camps were both extermination and labor camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek. When a new group of prisoners arrived at one of these camps each individual was carelessly inspected and immediately sent to the right or the left; one direction led to the gas chambers and the other to the barracks. In Auschwitz over 1,000,000 Jews were murdered.
There were other methods of death besides the gas chambers. Often time prisoners were required to dig a large pit. After its completion a group was lined up, they were shot, fell into the pit, a thin layer of dirt was sprinkled over their bodies, and another group was lined up. This process continued until the hole was filled with bodies.
Besides the inhumane living conditions, another terrible possibility of the concentration camps was something to be feared. Doctors used the inmates as human guinea pigs to test hypotheses and complete experiments. Humans in the camps were subjected to unspeakable tortures in the name of science. In reality, most of the experiments were not for advancement in science, but to see what the best way to destroy people happened to be. For example, in some experiments, groups of people were infected intentionally with malaria.
Other experiments were performed to see how long German pilots could stay in the ocean after a crash without dying of hypothermia, and after they were affected by hypothermia, what the best way to revive them would be. Nobody was safe from the monsters carrying the title of camp doctor. They experimented on young children, middle-aged men and women, and on the elderly. Sometimes doctors traded patients. If one doctor needed a group of young children and another was in the market for a group of teenage women, the two may make a trade. The value the Nazi party placed on human life is absolutely sickening.
In Mauthausen, prisoners were forced to climb 186 steps
(http://www.remember.org/camps/mauthausen/mau-stairs.html) with tons
of granite on their backs. Often the blocks would fall and crush or
kill people behind them. If you fell, you were beaten. The SS guards
would have competitions to see who could make it to the top first and
whomever won/survived would have to do the Parachute Jump. The Parachute
Jump was a jump off the edge of the cliff, if you survived the stairs,
to your death below. In 1944, the SS led 47 Dutch, American, English
officers and flyers, barefooted, to the bottom. On the first round,
the men were forced to carry 25kilograms of stone on their backs. If
they made it, they had to do it again with more weight on their back.
All forty-seven died.
Images courtesy of Daniel Keren