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The Terror of Auschwitz The Holocaust refers to any widespread human disaster but it is more widely known as the almost complete destruction of the Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany During the 19th century European Jewry was being emancipated and in most European countries Jews achieved some equality of status with non-Jews Nonetheless at times Jews were vilified and harassed by anti-Semitic groups Indeed some anti-Semites believed that Jewry was an alien race not assimilable into a European culture but they did not formulate any coherent anti-Semitic campaign In 1940 Germany began sending Jews to Concentration Camps a place where selected groups of people Jews are confined usually for political reasons and under inhumane conditions One of the largest concentration camps was located thirty-seven miles west of Krakow Poland Auschwitz was the camp where Jewish people were worked and killed This camp out of all the rest tortured the most people Auschwitz began as a barracks camp in the town of Oswiecim for the polish army in the early 1930s Germany then captured Poland and needed another location for Polish political prisoners In 1940 the German SS sent a commission to Oswiecim to see if the barracks there could be used The first inspection reported that it could not be used however a later inspection stated that after a few minor changes it would be useable On May 4 1940 Rudolf Hoss officially established it as a German concentration camp Hoss was Auschwitzs first commandant Auschwitz was originally intended for Polish political prisoners and other Poles In June of 1940 the first load of prisoners arrived 728 Poles and a handful of Jews Soon though it became a melting pot of prisoners Male Czechs Soviets Yugoslavs Jews and Gypsies were housed there Not until 1942 did women arrive In January of 1942 it was decided that Auschwitz would become the main Jewish extermination camp Thereafter cattle cars brought in ship loads of Jews monthly
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