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Genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Concentration camps or Interment camps were designed to house the unwanted members of society such as the Jews, Slavs, and Gypsies along with prisoners of war.
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. "The action of ‘interning’; confinement within the limits of a country or place" . Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction between internment, which is being confined usually for preventative or political reasons, and imprisonment, which is being closely confined as a punishment for crime.
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of its systematic genocide against European Jewry during World War II, resulting in the final, most deadly phase of the Holocaust (Shoah). Adolf Hitler termed it: "the final solution of the Jewish question."
Mass killings of about one million Jews occurred before the plans of the Final Solution were fully implemented in 1942, but it was only with the decision to eradicate the entire Jewish population that the extermination camps were built and industrialized mass slaughter of Jews began in earnest. This decision to systematically kill the Jews of Europe was made by the time of, or at the Wannsee conference, which took place in Berlin, in the Wannsee Villa on January 20, 1942. During the conference, there was a discussion held by a group of German Nazi officials to decide on the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" . A surviving copy of the minutes of this meeting was found by the Allies in 1947, too late to serve as evidence during the first Nuremberg Trials.
By spring of 1942, Operation Reinhard began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands already had been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms. In Heinrich Himmler's speech at the Posen Conference of October 6, 1943, Himmler, for the first time, clearly elucidated to all assembled leaders of the Reich, in frank and brutal terms, what the "Final Solution" referred to.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of Nazi Germany's concentration and extermination camps. Its remains are located in Poland approximately 50 kilometers west of Kraków and 286 kilometers south of Warsaw. The camp took its name from the nearby town of Oświęcim. Birkenau, the German translation of Brzezinka , refers to the many birch trees surrounding the complex.
Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Oświęcim was annexed by Nazi Germany and renamed Auschwitz , the town's German name. Up to then, there had been no special significance attached to the name; for example, "Duke of Auschwitz" was for centuries one of the minor titles held by the Habsburg Emperors, which at the time was completely innocuous and unimportant.
The camp commandant, Rudolf Höß, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that up to 3 million people had died at Auschwitz. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has revised this figure to 1.1 million, about 90 percent of whom were Jews from almost every country in Europe. Most victims were killed in Auschwitz II's gas chambers using Zyklon B; other deaths were caused by systematic starvation, forced labor, lack of disease control, individual executions, and purported "medical experiments".
The first death camp established. The SS and police began killing operations at Chelmno on December 8, 1941. During the first five weeks, the victims were Jewish residents of nearby areas in Wartheland District. The SS and police transported them by from the places in which they lived by truck to the grounds of the castle in Chelmno. Guarded by members of the Special Detachment, the victims disembarked one truck at a time in the courtyard of the manor house. SS officials, often wearing white coats to induce the impression that they were physicians, explained to the deportees that they would go to Germany as laborers, but first had to bathe and have their clothes disinfected. The Jews then entered the manor house. Once inside they were led to a back room where they undressed and handed over their valuables against receipts to a Polish civilian, who was employed by the special detachment. SS and police personnel led the naked prisoners to the cellar, where they had to walk down a ramp sloping into the back of a large paneled truck that could hold 50-70 persons. When the back of the van was full, the doors were closed and sealed. The mechanic on duty attached a tube to the van’s exhaust pipe and then started the engine, pumping carbon monoxide gas into the space where the prisoners were crowded, killing them by asphyxiation. After the victims were dead, the tube was detached from the exhaust pipe, and the van, now full of corpses, was driven to the forest camp, where the bodies were transferred into previously excavated mass graves. Any victims found to be still alive as the corpses were being unloaded were shot by SS and police officials on duty at the forest camp.
The Combination of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II death camps.
Construction of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II began in autumn 1941. Wirth, who had played a significant role in the murder of institutionalized persons with disabilities in Germany between 1939 and 1941, applied his experience of killing with carbon monoxide exhaust fumes to the construction of the Operation Reinhard killing centers. In all three camps, Trawniki-trained guards, supervised by Operation Reinhard staff, murdered their victims by using carbon monoxide gas generated by stationary engines and pumped into gas chambers. After a few test gassings using Polish prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war, killing operations at Belzec began in March 1942. They continued until December 1942. Sobibor began operating in May 1942 and remained functional until October 1943. Treblinka II opened in July 1942 and was closed in August 1943.
My name is Rebekka Olson and I am a Group Social Studies Major with an emphasis on Secondary History Education. My minor is in English. I am an American History fanatic because I love to learn about the beginning of our great country. I am currently finishing up my junior year at GVSU and plan to graduate in the spring of 2011.