Tuesday, January 27, 2015

70 Years Ago: The Word Gets a Glimpse of Hell

Seventy years ago today the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was liberated. About 7,500 inmates were found. The rest had been killed or forced into a death march back to Germany by the SS in an effort to eliminate witnesses to their crimes. Although the exact figure will likely never be known, virtually all reputable historians agree that during its years of operation somewhere around a million people were killed there by a combination of starvation, disease, shootings, hangings, torture and psuedoscientific medical experiments. But the vast majority were systematically murdered by gassing carried out on an industrial scale. The mass killings reached their height during the summer of 1944 with the gassing of around 12,000 men women and children every day as part of the planned liquidation of the Jews of Hungary.

Hungarian Jews waiting to be taken to the gas chambers.

Around 90% of those who died in the camp were Jews, with the rest being a combination of Soviet POWs, non Jewish Poles, Gypsies, political prisoners, criminals, homosexuals and others classified as undesirable or subhuman by the Third Reich. Overall it is estimated that about one in every six Jews killed by the Nazis died at Auschwitz. Today large parts of the camp remain preserved as a permanent memorial to the dead and although only one of many extermination camps, Auschwitz has become a global symbol of Nazi brutality.

Tens of thousands of shoes from those gassed.

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