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Auschwitz-Birkenau, Its Commandant and its Angel of Death

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the jewel in the crown of Heinrich Himmler's concentration camp system. After the defeat of Poland at the hands of Hitler's armies, Himmler's agents of death set about the rounding up all of their so-called National Socialist enemies. To do this, they expanded their concentration camp system within the occupied Polish territory. In 1940, Auschwitch, which was originally a military barracks, and later transformed into a tobacco factory, was taken over by the Nazi's. Auschwitz lay some 160 miles southwest of Warsaw and built around stagnant ponds, which was smelly and pestilential. After Himmler's visit, the camp was expanded and special installations added, including Badeanstalten (bathhouses) used for the gassing of inmates and Leichenkeller (corpse cellars) used to store the bodies prior the cremation. Experienced SS members staffed the camp. The staff was composed of Lageralteste (camp seniors), Blockalteste (block seniors), Studendienst (room orderlies) and Kapos (foremen of individual huts). Death transports flowed from all over Europe and it was estimated that between 3 and 4 million, men women and children died at this complex alone.

The camp consisted of three main parts, and which had no fewer than 40 sub-camps. Auschwitch 1 was the main camp, which was the oldest part of the camp. Than part of the camp was used mainly as a concentration camp rather than an extermination camp, Auschwitz 2, also known as Birkenau, was were all the special installations, as mentioned above, was built, This was the main This was the heart of the killing machine that was Auschwitz. The third part, Auschwitch 3, also known as Monowitz was mainly a slave labour complex were the inmates were expected to work at the purpose built Buna-Werke synthetic rubber and fuel plant which was based some six kilometres away from the Auschwitz camp itself. The factory was built during the war by the German IG Farbenindustrie.

RUDOLF FRANZ HOESS. (1900-1947)

Rudolf Hoess was born on November 25, 1900 at Baden-Baden. Hoess father, Franz, a local shopkeeper and staunch Catholic hoped that his son would join the priesthood but that was not to be, At the outbreak of the Great War, the young Hoess, who lied about his age, enlisted into the German army. After his basic training, Hoess was dispatched to the Turkish Front were he was awarded the Iron Cross, Second and First Classes. Hoess also was wounded in action on several occasions. After Germany's, Hoes enlisted in a right-wing nationalist paramilitary group calling itself the Friekorps. In 1923, along with Martin Bormann, he was arrested for the murder of a schoolteacher, whom had been suspected of betrayal, and was sentenced to imprisonment. As part of a general amnesty, Hoess was released from prison were he immediately joined the SS. Within a year of Hitler's assumption to political power, Hoess was attached to Dachau concentration camp. When Auschwitz was opened in 1940, Hoess was sent their as its Commandant with the rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer (captain). Under his guardianship, the camp became the heart of the Nazi killing machine. In 1945, In an SS report, Hoess was commended and referred to as 'a true pioneer'. In 1945, at the recommendation of his friend, Martin Bormann, Hoess became the deputy to SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Richard Gluecks, head of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, a post he would retain until the end of the War. On March 29, 1947, Hoess was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity and was hanged a few days later within the compounds of Auschwitz itself.

Josef Mengele- Angel Of Death of Auschwitz

Josef was born in Gunzburg, Germany on March 16, 1911. His father was the founder of the farm machinery factory of Karl Mengele & Sons. In the 1920s Josef went to study philosophy. There he learnt about the racial ideology of Alfred Rosenberg, which deeply impressed him. After he met Hitler, the young Mengele became an ardent supporter of the Nazis. Later, Josef moved on to study for a medical degree at the University of Frankfurt an Main. Mengele combines his studies of philosophy and medicine. He believed that like dogs, humans had pedigrees. He became obsessed with Genetic engineering. In 1939 he enlisted in the army as a medical officer within the Waffen-SS, with the rank of Untersturmfehrer (2nd lieutenant). He saw service in France and Russia, were he was awarded the Iron cross. In May 1943, he was attached as chief medical officer to the Auschwitz. Mengele viewed the camp as the ultimate human laboratory, with an unlimited supply of guinea pigs that he could pursue his research. Mengele was now an SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer (captain). To Mengele, Auschwitz was the ultimate human laboratory with an endless supply of live guinea pigs so that he could practice his own research. He was well known to attend most of the transports and pace up and down the ramps calling out for twins to show themselves. Twins destined for his experiments were housed in Barrack 14, which was located in Camp F in Birkenau, which was nicknamed 'The Zoo'. Inside this barrack block, they were given good food and a comfortable bed. Mengele wanted to ensure that his lab rats were in perfect health prior to being dissected. Many of Mengele's child victims affectionately called him 'Uncle Pepi' for Uncle Pepi would bring them sweets and play games with them. When the twins were ready to be experimented on, they were moved to the camp hospital, which was located in Block 15, in the Main Camp. In one instance, the twins were separated and he would slowly torture one of them, just to see if the other felt any pain or sensed that their other half was in danger. He was also known to collect human eyes that he kept pinned to wooden boards. All of these eyes had been removed from his victims after experimenting on them. He would strap one of his victims down, and inject blue dye into the eyeball; just to see what effect it would have on the victim. In most cases no anaesthesia was used, and the victims always died. Victim's bones would be bleached and sent to Berlin for more studies. On 25, May 1943, He sent over 1000 women suspected of typhus to the gas chambers. and a further 600 women at the end of 1943. In late 1944, the camp was experiencing a severe food shortage, so Mengele decided, so as to save rations, that he would liquidate the entire women's camp, for which he was still in charge of. During those ten nights that it took to empty the camp, truck carried their human cargo to their deaths as their screams filled the air. Mengele fled Auschwitz in January 1945, just before the Russian arrived to liberate the camp. After the war, he managed to escape to South America, were he lived a comfortable life, with the help of his rich family. Mengele died a free man.

SONDERKOMMANDOS and their ROLES:


The SS forced inmates to participate in the mass destruction of their fellow human being. These inmates were known as SonderKommandos (Special Detachments). They had to carry out various tasks within the camp and in exchange they were given extra rations and an extended life expectancy of approximately three to six months.
Other privileged inmates known as Kapos (foremen) kept them in line at the end of a whip or cudgel. Some of these Kapos became as notorious as the SS themselves.

SonderKommandos were used all over the camp. Their most grisly tasks occurred at the gas chambers and crematoriums. At the gas chambers they had to assist the SS in the packing of the chamber itself of inmates. Below is a typical example of the scenes that they had to endure:

The gas squads packed around 2000 naked victims into the death chamber that was disguised as a shower complex. From the ceiling hung imitation shower heads, the doors were closed, the air was pumped out and the gas was poured in, Zyklon-B, or hydrogen Cyanide, is a very poisonous gas that causes death by internal suffocation. As this happened, the gas squads had to endure the victims screams. Death could take up to 20 minutes. While the victims were dying the SS watched through peepholes. When the doors were opened, a bluish-grey haze would escape from the chamber. They found the victims in half-sitting positions in a tower like pile. Most were pink; others were covered with green spots. Some had foam on their lips whilst others were bleeding from their noses. Many had their eyes open. The majority was packed near the doors. The squads would then move in with hooks to pull the victims apart, sometimes they had to break the dead victims bones so as to separate them. They would them push the bodies down a chute to the corpse cellar where other prisoners would search the victims for gold teeth etc prior to stacking them for cremation.

Death at Birkenau

Doctor Joseph Menegle

The Angel Of Death