The Camps
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The Camps



Briefly introduces the concentration camps used by the Nazis during WWII.

Briefly introduces the concentration camps used by the Nazis during WWII.



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  • Forgotten Voices: Barbara Stimler, pg. 157; Leon Greenman, pg. 158; Roman Halter, pg. 159
  • Leon Greenman, pg. 159; Anna Bergman, pg. 162
  • Forgotten Voice: Jan Hartman, pg. 162
  • Forgotten Voices: Michael Etkind, pg. 174; Freddie Knoller, pg. 175; Alfred Huberman, pg. 175; Kurt Klappholz, pg. 175
  • Forgotten Voices: Albin Ossowski, pg. 219

The Camps The Camps Presentation Transcript

  • Lisa Pennington Social Studies Instructional Specialist Portsmouth Public Schools
    • What?
    • The Holocaust : A systematic program to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe. The Holocaust affected many different types of people, although the total number of Jewish victims is greater than any other group. The Nazi plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe is known as the “Final Solution.”
    • When?
    • Concentration camps had been around since 1933. The first death camp was opened in 1941, with many more camps to follow. Poland had six death camps, the largest at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which opened in 1942. Auschwitz was the largest death camp. It is estimated that over 1 million people died there.
    • Where?
    • Germany occupied most of Europe, and had concentration camps scattered throughout the continent.
    • Who?
    • Many types of people were victims of the Holocaust, although the Jewish people, having lost 6 million, were the largest group. The Holocaust wiped out 2/3 of the Jews in Europe.
    • Who?
    • The Holocaust also targeted Romanies (Gypsies), mentally or physically disabled people, Soviet POW’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Polish intelligentsia, homosexuals, and others deemed undesirable by the Germans.
    • Why?
    • Hitler was a racist, and convinced many Germans through the use of propaganda that the Jews were an inferior race. He also blamed many of Germany’s problems on the Jews. (Germany had many problems after WWI.)
    • Why?
    • Hitler was an excellent public speaker, and took advantage of the radio to reach a large audience. He used false information to convince many people the Jews were inferior. Anyone who spoke out against Hitler was brutally attacked by Nazi storm troopers.
    • Why?
    • Hitler was telling people what they wanted to and needed to hear. Germany willingly elected him Chancellor. They believed the propaganda, and Hitler was able to carry out the Final Solution.
    • Dachau, the first concentration camp, was established in 1933.
    • Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis established about 20,000 concentration camps with varied purposes. There were forced labor camps, transit camps, and death camps. Sometimes the camps would have dual purposes, such as Auschwitz.
    • The purpose of the death camps was to carry out Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Six of these camps were established in Poland, which had a large Jewish population. Auschwitz became the largest extermination center. It is estimated that 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz. 1.1 million of those were killed.
    • Prisoners were deported to the camps by train. The trains were crowded and uncomfortable, and many died along the way. Hungarian Jews arrive at Birkenau.
    • After arriving at the camps, prisoners went through a selection process. If you were deemed unfit for labor you were sent immediately to the gas chamber. If the SS guards thought you would be useful, you were forced to do hard labor. Hungarian Jews line up for selection at Auschwitz.
    • “ It was late at night that we arrived at Auschwitz. When we came in, the minute the gates opened up, we heard screams, barking of dogs, blows from...from those Kapos, those officials working for them, over the head. And then we got out of the train. And everything went so fast: left, right, right, left. Men separated from women. Children torn from the arms of mothers. The elderly chased like cattle. The sick, the disabled were handled like packs of garbage. They were thrown in a side together with broken suitcases, with boxes. My mother ran over to me and grabbed me by the shoulders, and she told me "Leibele, I'm not going to see you no more. Take care of your brother.“”
    • Leon Schneiderman, 1990 interview
  • Hungarian Jews on the way to the gas chamber.
    • If you were chosen for work, you were forced through a humiliating process. All clothing and personal belongings were taken from the prisoners, and their hair was shaved off. They were given a striped uniform and a pair or shoes that were most likely the wrong size. When the prisoners were registered, they were given a number, which was tattooed on their arm. Auschwitz was the only camp to use this method of identification. They began tattooing the number onto the left forearm in 1943.
    • Prisoners slept in crowded bunks. The buildings had no foundations. There were only two small heaters in the center of the building. The bathroom was shared by everyone in the barrack, and was often overflowed.
    • Each morning prisoners had to stand for roll call (Appell.) They could stand for hours in extreme heat or cold, if someone was missing. They had to stand for roll call again in the evening, after returning from work.
    • After roll call, prisoners were put to work. Usually it was hard labor that took place outside in harsh conditions. Some prisoners did work inside factories, though the work was still difficult. While working, Nazi guards kept a close eye on the prisoners. Prisoners work on a hospital for the SS.
    • Food was scarce. Prisoners were often fed a bowl of thin soup and scraps of bread. The hard labor combined with the lack of food killed many.
    • Muselmann were prisoners who were in the last stages of starvation and had given up the will to live.
    • There were privileged prisoners in the camps. These prisoners were in charge of a block of other prisoners and kept order. They received more food and were not forced to work as hard.
    • The prisoners who were assigned to assist with body disposal were automatically given a death sentence. These sonderkommandos worked in the gas chambers and crematoria. The Germans only worked these prisoners for several months before putting them to death because they thought the work would eventually drive them crazy.
  • We’ve covered a lot of information about a difficult topic in a short period of time. What thoughts/questions/comments do you have about concentration camps?